Arnold Irwin Burns (April 14, 1930 – October 1, 2013) was an
American lawyer. He served as the
United States Deputy Attorney
General from 1986 to 1988 under President
Ronald Reagan and U.S.
Attorney General Edwin Meese. In March 1988, Burns, together with the
head of the U.S. Justice Department's criminal division William Weld
and four aides, resigned from office in protest of what they viewed as
improper conduct by Attorney General Meese, including personal
financial indiscretions. In July 1988, Burns and Weld jointly
testified before the
U.S. Congress in support of a potential
prosecution of Meese following an investigation by a special
prosecutor, who had declined to file charges. Meese resigned from
office later in July 1988, shortly after Burns and Weld appeared
Life and career
Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 14, 1930. His
mother, Rose Burns, was a homemaker, while his father, Herman Burns,
owned a jewelry store. He received his bachelor's degree in
political science from
Union College in 1950 and a law degree from
Cornell Law School
Cornell Law School in 1953. He later served as the Chairman of
Union College's Board of Trustees from 1982 to 1986.
Burns worked for a private law firm after law school. He then
co-founded Burns Summit Rovins & Feldesman, where he specialized
in corporate law for more than twenty-five years. He was appointed
United States Associate Attorney General
United States Associate Attorney General in late 1985 after
Attorney General Meese's first choice for the position was rejected by
the Senate Judiciary Committee. In July 1986, Burns was appointed
United States Deputy Attorney General, the second highest ranking
position in the Justice Department, a position he held until his
resignation in protest of Meese's conduct in 1988.
Burns joined Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendelsohn for approximately a
decade after leaving the Justice Department. He also published a
memoir, Preparing to Be Lucky, as well as two joke books.
In 1993, Burns and a Canadian lawyer, Yves Fortier, were asked to
investigate a controversy concerning the Hockey Hall of Fame. Gill
Stein, the outgoing president of the National Hockey League, had been
elected to membership in the Hall of Fame, but rumours arose that he
had placed undue influence on the directors of the Hall to ensure his
election. Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the National Hockey
League, retained Burns and Fortier, Canada's former ambassador to the
United Nations, to investigate the allegations. They concluded that
Stein had "improperly manipulated the process" and "created the false
appearance and illusion" that the owner of the Los Angeles Kings,
Bruce McNall, had put Stein's name forward. Stein denied those
conclusions, but ultimately he withdrew his name from the Hall of
Arnold Burns died from cardiac arrest and complications of Parkinson's
disease in Manhattan, New York City, on October 1, 2013, at the age of
83. He was survived by his wife of 62 years, Felice Bernstein, and
two children, Douglas Burns and Linda Burns.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Yardley, William (2013-10-01). "Arnold Burns,
Who Left Justice Dept. in Protest, Dies at 83". New York Times.
^ a b c "College mourns
Arnold Burns ' 50, former chair of Board".
Union College. 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
^ "Stein Is Scratched as N.H.L. Immortal," New York Times, August 18,
Appearances on C-SPAN