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7ABC sits down with newly appointed U.S. attorney Trini Ross

"We want to make society better. That's really my role here."
U.S. attorney Trini Ross_1.jpg
Posted at 3:11 AM, Dec 01, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Buffalo native has made history in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Trini Ross is the first African American woman to serve as U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York.

Ross is a Hutchinson Central Technical High School graduate.

She was appointed by President Joe Biden and was sworn into office on October 13, by Chief U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.

She sat down with 7ABC’s Pheben Kassahun to discuss her background and how she hopes to serve Western New York in this new role.

She is your average Buffalo native.

"I think it's probably the same as many young people who grew up in a modest neighborhood. I was very blessed with an intact, loving family who cared about us very much,” U.S. attorney, Trini Ross said.

She is also personable.

"I like to watch a lot of documentaries, podcasts,” Ross said.

However, when U.S. attorney, Trini E. Ross steps into the office, she means business when serving the people of the Western District of New York.

"We want to make society better. That's really my role here,” Ross explained.

She said creating a better society has always been her calling.

She earned her juris doctorate cum laude from the University at Buffalo School of Law, earned her masters from Rutgers University and earned her bachelors from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

She explained, "Education was key, very important to them, to my parents. With siblings, just enjoying life as a child."

Her lengthy resume continues: she is currently an adjunct professor at UB’s School of Law, served as the director of investigations in the legal division of the National Science Foundation’s Office of Inspector General since 2018, has been an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York for 23 years (1995-2018) and the senior litigation counsel and the Chief of the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Section for 5 years (2012-2017). She was also an assistant counsel with the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility (2007-2009).

Pheben Kassahun sits down with newly appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, Trini E. Ross.

Pheben: Can you tell me when you wanted to pursue law and politics and why?

"Not politics, though, but law yes,” she explained. “I’m a doer. I want to make a change and don't want to just theorize about what's happening. I want to be part of the process to change it. That's when I switched my career goals from being a professor to being a lawyer.

Ross is new to the position, but she is not necessarily new to the office. She was an assistant in the office for more than 23 years, having served from 1995 to 2018.

Pheben: You're the first Black woman to oversee the U.S. Attorney office for the Western District of New York. How does this feel and what does this mean to you?

“Ross said, “Being a Black woman brings perspective, a different lens and a different voice to the office. It feels like I've been preparing for this. I'm ready for this just as an attorney, as a career prosecutor."

Coming off from a year ago, where Black Lives Matter protests took place worldwide and the credibility of law enforcement was being questioned, Ross said it is imperative to her that residents have faith in law and justice.

She said, “All I can do is show them by our actions what that means. I plan to interact with the communities, go out into the communities, listen to them. What are their needs? What are their hopes? Their fears? Their desires?”

Other items on her to-do list are tackling violent and white collar crime.

“I take that very seriously as well. From every angle of crime, whether it be white collar crime, violent crime, human trafficking, we're here to make sure that anybody who pursues that course of action of defrauding or harming another person comes to justice."