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Karen Burstein is a politician and former judge from New Yorkmarker. She was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for New York State Attorney General in 1994.


Burstein grew up in Lawrence, Nassau County, New Yorkmarker. Karen Burstein comes from a formidable family. Burstein's mother, the late Beatrice Burstein, was a judge of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Nassau County. Her father, the late Herbert Burstein, Esq., was a prominent labor relations attorney. Her sister, Patricia Burstein, was an editor for People Magazine before she went on to author biographies. Patricia's twin sister, Ellen, was a television news anchor but suffered from multiple sclerosis which hampered her ability to carry on. Her younger sister, Jessica Burstein, is a photographer who made the news some years ago when,as the first female photographer at NBC, she was linked to an incident with Frank Sinatra. Jessica later became the photographer for the Law & Order franchise, has had several books published, has had museum exhibitions,including George Eastman House and has recently completed work as the the commissioned fine arts photographer for the new Yankee Stadium. Burstein's younger brother is an actor and children's health advocate known as Slim Goodbody. Burstein's other brother started off as a criminal defense lawyer in New York City but has now moved into the civil side of the law.

Burstein served as a state senator representing Queensmarker in the 1970s. She later moved into the administration of former Gov. Mario Cuomo as the Chairwoman and Executive Director of the State Consumer Protection Board. Burstein then served as the Auditor General of New York City and then as a Judge of the New York City Family Court.

Burstein resigned her judgeship in 1994 to seek the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. In the primary she faced Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell, Brooklynmarker District Attorney Charles Hynes, and former prosecutor Eliot Spitzer. She won the primary and faced former U.S. Attorney Dennis Vacco of Buffalomarker in the general election. A week before the election, then Staten Islandmarker Borough President Guy Molinari announced that she was not qualified to serve as attorney general because she is a lesbian. The combination of Molinari's remarks, a strong national Republican showing, and the win of George Pataki in the governor's race, lead to Vacco narrowly defeating Burstein.

Burstein has since become an attorney in New York City. She unsuccessfully sought the office of Judge of the New York County Surrogate's Court since her defeat in the attorney general's race. In June 2006, she endorsed former White House staffer Sean Patrick Maloney for the Democratic nomination for state attorney general.

She is currently a practicing attorney and an adjunct professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Purchase College

1994 New York State Democratic Ticket


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