The Stone & Webster legal team didn’t lose any
of the cases. Two of the major ones were settled
for what they considered reasonable amounts.
“When she’s in the courtroom, she’s a rock
star,” Tadler says. “I remember when I first
started out in law school, there was a way you
were expected to be as a woman in a courtroom,
and it began with a ‘B.’ But whenever someone
was nasty to Susan, she always took a deep
breath and came back with a zinger that came
out like a song. It would be like, “Mr. So-and-So,
I think what you just said was this, but you might
want to reconsider in light of da-da-da. My gosh,
she’d reel them right in.”
In 1994, U.S. District Court Judge John R.
Bartels appointed Campbell as adviser to the
cleanup of the most notorious, and largest,
garbage dump in modern American history:
the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. The
hazardous eyesore was impossible to miss. It
stood 225 feet high, 75 feet taller than the nearby
Statue of Liberty.
“I became an expert on landfills: the sheer
quantity of the garbage, the practical reality of
where this stuff was going to go,” she says.
“It took my partner and me months and
months to get a handle on what was going on,
but she picked it up very quickly,” says Matthew
Pavis, attorney for Staten Island Citizens for
Clean Air. He adds that the case involved 20
years worth of documents, several environmental
statutes and a number of federal regulations.
“She was very radiant, had a cheery, optimistic
IN 1995, MUDGE ROSE FOLDED, AND CAMPBELL
demeanor. But she knew the political realities,
and she hammered down on the attorneys she
was working with because she knew they’d put
the pressure on the higher-ups.”
The landfill was shut down, and now the 2,200
acres are being turned into a park three times the
size of Central Park.
took her clients to Hughes Hubbard & Reed,
where she chairs the environmental group.
“She is very single-minded,” says Ned Bassen, her
husband and a fellow partner at Hughes Hubbard.
“She works nonstop from the second she gets in to
“When I was clerking, I thought [being a judge]
the second she leaves, with the occasional break. No
chatting in the hall, no reading the newspapers, and
she always works through lunch at her desk.”
Every other work day, she walks the four miles
to her Lower Manhattan office from her home in
Brooklyn, rain or shine. “She is always on the go,”
Bassen says. “Regardless of the weather, even if
there’s a blizzard, that’s what she does.”
For a woman constantly on the go, Campbell is
exactly where she wants to be.
had to be the noblest of professions,” she says.
“But the fact is, I don’t like to be in the middle.
When I’m moot courting and I have to be a judge,
I’m pretty bad. The compromise aspect doesn’t
appeal to me, and I want to say to the kids, ‘Why
didn’t you argue this?’ Living by advocating for
someone? That’s what appeals to me.”