Born in Philadelphia on April 16, 1931; graduated from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania Law School; served two years in the Army; and worked as a private lawyer. He was a special attorney under Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. After teaching law at Penn for two years, he returned to the Justice Department in its research arm, the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. A year later, he became criminal justice coordinator for New York City under Mayor John V. Lindsay.
Mr. Ruth had broad experience in criminal law when he became Mr. Cox’s chief deputy shortly after Mr. Cox’s appointment as special prosecutor in May 1973. Five months later, on Oct. 20, President Nixon ordered Mr. Cox’s dismissal after he refused to drop his plan to subpoena tapes of the president’s conversations in the Oval Office. The firing prompted the two top Justice Department officials, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, to quit in what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre.
Mr. Ruth was credited with holding the office together. He gathered the distraught staff around him and persuaded them to stay on and preserve the evidence.
Mr. Ruth was special prosecutor until October 1975, when he issued a 277-page report on the Watergate investigation. It said prosecutors had thus far convicted or obtained guilty pleas from 55 individuals and 20 corporations.
Mr. Ruth’s first marriage, to Christine Polk, ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, Deborah Mathieu, he is survived by his daughters, Deborah, Diana and Tenley Ruth, and three grandsons.more » « less