The role of a district attorney is often difficult work. It's an important middle cog in the legal justice system, one that helps the machine go. But Thompson was unique. He didn't see his role as to simply help put away suspected bad guys, he fought for justice for all; the wrongfully accused, the people chewed up and spit out by the system.
New York City needs to find a way to honor Thompson. First, his replacement should be equally dedicated to social justice, someone as interested in reform as making arrests.
The task is up to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who could simply let Thompson's office handle the duties until the next election in 2017. Chief assistant district attorney Eric Gonzalez was named by Thompson specifically to handle the job while he battled cancer, and Gonzalez should be the guy at the helm until the election.
Next, the city should honor his legacy. Thompson was so impactful in his short career. Not only was he the borough's first African-American district attorney, but his conviction review unit is a model across the country.
The loss of Thompson this week was a titanic one. And it's now on New York City to make an even larger effort to make sure all of Thompson's great work as a man and lawyer is not forgotten.