Jeanine Ferris Pirro born June 2, 1951 is an American TV personality, former judge, prosecutor, and Republican politician in New York. Pirro is currently the host of Fox News Channel’s Justice with Judge Jeanine.
She was the first female judge elected to the Westchester County Court prior to her election as the first female District Attorney of Westchester County. As District Attorney, Pirro gained considerable visibility in cases of domestic abuse and crimes against the elderly. Pirro briefly sought the Republican nomination for United States Senate against Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2006, but dropped out to accept the nomination for New York Attorney General. Pirro lost the general election to Andrew Cuomo.
In November 1993, Pirro was elected Westchester County District Attorney; she was the first woman to hold that position. She was re-elected in 1997 and 2001. On May 23, 2005, Pirro announced that she would not seek re-election to a fourth term as Westchester County District Attorney.
On December 31, 1993—within hours of Pirro’s midnight inauguration as District Attorney—Scripps newspaper heiress Anne Scripps Douglas was savagely bludgeoned in the head with a skull hammer by her estranged husband, Scott Douglas, as she slept in their Bronxville home. By the time police arrived, Scott Douglas had fled the scene, and Anne Scripps Douglas died in the hospital on January 6. Douglas subsequently committed suicide by jumping off the Tappan Zee Bridge. Pirro, already known as a passionate prosecutor of domestic violence cases, was a frequent presence in the media during the period between the murder and when Scott Douglas’s body washed ashore in Riverdale in early March 1994. This increase in Pirro’s national profile led to her surfacing as a frequent guest on network and cable television news in June 1994, when O.J. Simpson was arrested for the murder of his ex-wife, appearing frequently as a talking head for Nightline, Larry King Live, and Geraldo.
Within months of taking office, Pirro undertook a costly renovation to the district attorney’s facilities and expanded to an additional floor of the county courthouse. The largest expenses were a new kitchenette and a media room, costing $20,000, to assist Pirro’s growing profile; additional expenditures were made to remodel her personal office with mahogany.
Pirro was the first female president of the New York State District Attorneys Association. Also while district attorney, she was appointed by then Governor George Pataki to chair the New York State Commission on Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. Its report and recommendations resulted in legislation passing that enhanced protections of, and safeguards for, the victims of domestic abuse.
During her tenure as district attorney, she repeatedly refused to reopen the murder case of Jeffrey Deskovic. In 1990, Deskovic was falsely convicted of killing a 15-year-old girl and spent 16 years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA evidence.
On May 31, 2006, Pirro was unopposed for the nomination and became the Republican party’s official candidate for attorney general by acclamation at the state GOP convention. She also received the nominations of the New York Conservative and Independence Parties. Pirro lost the general election to the Democratic nominee, former Clinton Housing and Urban Development Secretary and future Governor Andrew Cuomo 58%–39%.
Later in life, Pirro returned to the private sector and began a new career as a TV personality and commentator. In 1997, People magazine named her one of its 50 Most Beautiful People.
In 1975, she married Albert Pirro of Mount Vernon, Westchester County, New York. The couple met while in law school. Together, they have two children, a son and a daughter. Following their marriage, they moved to Harrison, New York where Pirro began working as assistant district attorney and her husband began work as a lobbyist.
On February 23, 1999, Pirro’s husband was indicted by the office of United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York on one count of conspiracy, four counts of tax evasion, and 28 counts of filing a false tax return for hiding over $1 million in personal income as business expenses between 1988 and 1997. That day, Pirro appeared with her husband at a joint press conference in response to the charges, criticizing the investigation as “invasive and hostile.” New York Governor George Pataki released a statement saying that the Pirros had been personal friends for “a long time” and that he and his wife “wished them well.” With the trial beginning on May 15, 2000, and closing arguments given on June 19, 2000, the jury found Pirro’s husband guilty on June 23, 2000 on 23 of the charges brought against him and not guilty of 10. In November 2000, he was sentenced to 29 months in a minimum security federal prison but received some leniency in exchange for waiving his right to appeal. In the midst of the trial, Pirro had attacked the prosecution for bringing up matters which involved her, calling it a “desperate attempt by them to bring me into this wherever they can.”
The couple separated in 2007 with their divorce being finalized in 2013.
Pirro revealed in her book, in her 2018 book Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, that she was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. Pirro is a practicing Catholic.
Pirro has been a regular contributor to The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. She is currently contributing to Today, Fox NY Good Day New York, is a Fox News legal analyst appearing on various shows, and has guest hosted shows such as Larry King Live, The Joy Behar Show, and Geraldo at Large. She was a frequent guest on Fox’s late-night satire show Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld.
In 2003, Pirro released the nonfiction book To Punish and Protect, describing life inside the criminal justice system. In 2012, with the assistance of author Pete Earley, Pirro wrote the novel Sly Fox based on her own experiences as a 25-year-old assistant district attorney in Westchester. Pirro appears in the HBO six-part serial The Jinx, recounting her perspective on the 1983 disappearance of Kathie Durst, a high-profile case for which she was the investigating attorney. Pirro was the host of the American reality prime time court show You the Jury, canceled after two episodes.
On May 5, 2008, The CW announced that Pirro would host a weekday television show to be named Judge Jeanine Pirro, part of the network’s CW Daytime lineup, with two episodes airing daily. The show was distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television and was carried by default on all CW affiliate stations.
Judge Jeanine Pirro was cleared for a second season beginning in fall 2009. Unlike its first season, the second season, which began in the fall of 2009, was not exclusive to CW affiliates. In May 2010, the show received its first Emmy nomination, and in 2011, received the daytime Emmy Award. In September 2011 the show was canceled due to low ratings.
Pirro is now the host of Fox News Channel’s Justice with Judge Jeanine, which premiered in January 2011. The program airs on weekends and focuses on the big legal stories of the week.
In 2014, Pirro claimed ISIL leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was “released by Obama in 2009”. However, Baghdadi was held in custody until 2004, when he was released under the Bush administration.
Pirro supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, while also noting that she was “infuriated” by some of his behaviors. After the release of the Access Hollywood tape, Pirro defended Trump, stating “I have been involved in a million situations with him and his children. He has always been a gentleman.”
After Trump’s election, Pirro was known for delivering fiery defenses of the president. The Washington Post described her show as “almost universally positive about Trump.” According to Politico, “From the outset of the administration, she has used her TV platform to hammer the president’s critics and to ding his allies, including Sessions, as insufficiently loyal.”
Pirro has called for arresting individuals who work for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the election of President Trump. Pirro called for “cleansing” those government agencies of people critical to the president. These sorts of attacks on the FBI and Justice Department have been criticized as dangerous, “despicable”, and strictly out of place with US traditions of constitutional democracy.
In February 2018, after two senior Trump administration officials resigned due to domestic abuse allegations, Pirro suggested that Barack Obama was to blame for the two domestic abuse scandals. In May 2018, Pirro said that Trump had “fulfilled” a “biblical prophecy” by moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
In June 2018, Pirro said Trump’s pardon of conservative Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of illegal campaign contributions, was “fantastic news” as she believes D’Souza was singled out for prosecution for his politics.
In June 2018, Politico reported that Pirro had repeatedly, since late 2016, told the Trump administration about her interest in becoming the Attorney General. On her show, Pirro had referred to current Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, as “the most dangerous man in America.” In July 2018, after Trump was widely condemned, including by numerous prominent conservatives, for refusing to condemn Russian interference in the 2016 election while standing on stage with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Pirro defended Trump. Pirro said, “What was he supposed to do, take a gun out and shoot Putin?”
That same month, Trump posed with Pirro and her new book in the Oval Office. That Trump would promote the book of a pro-Trump advocate raised questions about potential ethics violations.