Defense Lawyers in the News

There are two great profiles of lawyers in the New York Times this week. One is of Reid Weingarten, lawyer for World Com's Bernard Ebbers, now on trial for fraud.

The other article is my favorite of the two because it's about my good pal Joe Tacopina, currently representing, among others, Bernie Kerik.

On tacopinalaw.com, his Web site, a flashing version of him appears in court with the words, "hottest criminal defense lawyer in New York." Readers are directed to notable cases and loads of press on him. A bit of ego? "Every criminal defense lawyer has to be confident to some degree, egomaniacal," he says. Mr. Tacopina calls himself a "regular guy from Brooklyn," but he has an office in Milan. He represents a branch of Ferrari North America. As a perk, he was given a $110,000 metallic gray Maserati. He tools around in it in Westport, Conn., where he lives with his wife, Tish, and their five children, ages 11 to 4.

Behind his desk is an artist's rendering of the police brutality trial involving the torture of Abner Louima. Mr. Tacopina, a former assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, came to prominence as the lawyer for Officer Thomas Wiese, who was accused not of the attack but of giving false statements to investigators. Officer Wiese's conviction for conspiracy to obstruct justice was overturned by a federal appeals court.

Mr. Tacopina's client roster is, in a word, eclectic. He represents one of Michael Jackson's associates, Frank Tyson, who was charged with conspiring to cover up for Mr. Jackson. There is the Brooklyn State Supreme Court judge, Gerald P. Garson, who was indicted on bribery-related charges. And there was an assistant deputy warden at Rikers Island, Benny Nuzzo, who was acquitted of charges that he masterminded the theft of a Salvador Dalí drawing from one of the jails.

The article doesn't mention the incredible hours Joe puts into his practice or how often he goes to trial and wins. He wins because he's prepared - and because juries relate to him. This is a guy who spends a zillion hours preparing his cross-examinations--chapter and verse. It's great to see him get some national recognition.

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