When New York prosecutor Karen Friedman Agnifilo recused herself from District Attorney Cyrus Vance's case against former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, it was a minor detail amid the torrent of press coverage. But for as small a part as it was of the overall picture of the case, Friedman Agnifilo's recusal signified one of the defining trends in her own life: As a New York Times profile explores today, Friedman Agnifilo's role as chief of the trial division in the Manhattan district attorney’s office often throws her into conflict with her husband Marc A. Agnifilo, a partner in the law firm of Benjamin Brafman, which is representing Strauss-Kahn.
But unlike the myriad unique factors that have gone into the high-profile prosecution of an international financial leader on criminal charges of attempted rape and sexual assault, the delicate dance to avoid a conflict of interests in the Friedman-Agnifilo household is commonplace by this time. As reporter John Eligon points out, "in the nearly 18 months since Mr. Vance took office, the Agnifilos have been in this situation some two dozen times, creating the potential for awkward situations at work and home."
The two have become used to withholding information from each other, Eligon writes, and the Strauss-Kahn case, in which Friedman Agnifilo is still the manager of the prosecuting attorneys, is no different. "It’s never been awkward," Agnifilo told Eligon. "We’re pretty regimented about it. If she’s recused from a case, we really don’t talk about it." Though in a case this publicized, it must be hard to avoid a mention. In fact, the publicity makes up the bulk of their conversations about the case. Since Friedman Agnifilo recused herself, Eligon wrote, "the only discussion Agnifilo has had with his wife about the case concerned 'the raw volume of the press' coverage." It's doubtful, then, that conversation lags.