My Philadelphia Story: Lynne Abraham

District attorney, Society Hill; 64

Are you allergic to cats? They live here in the office. This is their home.

We went from dogs to cats fairly rapidly. Always had dogs. My grandparents had a dog. And we’ve had poodles and dachshunds and everything. But you can’t have dogs and work the way my husband [radio personality Frank Ford] and I do. We’re never home.

I got no emotional stimulation from fish.

My husband says if I have a cold, half the city’s going to be infected—from people throwing their arms around me and kissing me. Bus drivers, they honk at me, cabdrivers, construction workers, and they all yell, “Yo, Abraham!”

I love strong, really resolute people. I love Theodore ­Roosevelt. I love Margaret Thatcher. Stephen Hawking. Galileo. Napoleon.

I couldn’t get a job out of law school. Remember, this was the mid-’60s — women were not welcome in any law firm. I was always told stupid things like, “How do you know you won’t get pregnant?” or “How do you know some partner in the firm might not have an affair with you?”

Over the course of my life, I have run into many of those men who insulted me and denigrated my talents—and they all feel like stupid jerks.

Which of course is what they were.

Rendell? I was in the D.A.’s office with him. Or he
was in the D.A.’s office with me. We were in the D.A.’s office together.

He was crazy, hot-tempered. He was the way he is now. He kicked in the separation in the courtroom one day. The bar of the court was not just a railing; it was a plywood separation that kept the public from where the court clerk, the stenographer and the judge sat. He got so mad at the judge, he just put his foot through that thing.

Rizzo got so mad at me, he engineered to have me fired. He later admitted he was wrong. He really liked me a lot. He didn’t know how to handle me, because he wasn’t used to dealing with any women.

I’ll give two commercials: La Colombe and Starbucks. I’ve got a plastic credit card at Starbucks, and I buy coffee at La Colombe and make that at home.

How many cups a day? Three.

When I did gang cases when I was assistant, I did all my own personal investigations. That means I went out to the scenes, I interviewed gang members, I knocked on doors in the neighborhoods. I’ve got to tell you, the gang guys all thought I was way cool.

But I was in these dangerous neighborhoods, and I would be there by myself. I always carried a gun with me in case someone tried to hurt me.

I don’t believe as a D.A. I should try to upstage my
assistants by going into court with great fanfare and panoply. I never liked it when Arlen did that. I always thought it was grandstanding.

Obviously the death penalty has been with us since the dawn of man. Sometimes it’s called war.

The art all over the office is mine. I love the Impressionists, I love Gerhard Richter. I like modern things.

I should have married my husband a lot earlier. We went together for a long time. But we’ve been married 28 years now.

I voted for the first George Bush, because I couldn’t stand Michael Dukakis. I thought he was a total fool. And when he said to Bernie Shaw that if his wife were raped and murdered, he still wouldn’t agree with the death penalty, that was it for me. I wanted to smack him right across his arrogant face.

I don’t walk around the city in fear. Never did.