In my previous post, I discussed how Neil Entwistle’s attorneys, Elliot Weinstein and Stephanie Page, had conducted an extensive sit-down post-trial interview with Massachusetts Lawyers’ Weekly, which appeared in the July 14 2008 edition of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Weinstein and Page said several things in that interview, and I’d like to respond here with a few facts. By way of full disclosure, I also submitted a Letter to The Editor to Lawyers Weekly, which was published in the August 4 2008 edition of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, citing some of the same points I will mention below. (However, due to editorial restrictions at Lawyers Weekly, that letter was capped at 1500 words, preventing a broader and more detailed discussion of the facts.)
Herewith follow excerpts of some of the more interesting points in the July 14 2008 Lawyers Weekly interview, and my responses to each of those points (Note: “MLW” refers to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly):
Weinstein/Page Assertions in MLW: Referring to media analysts, Mr. Weinstein states: “Their comments build upon a cynical view of the law, the courts and lawyers …Their views and opinions showed a total disregard and disrespect for the basic principles of what our criminal courts are all about.”
My Response: This type of hyperbole strains credulity. First, I will remind both these lawyers: The commentators they made reference to, like myself, are or have been either prosecutors or criminal defense attorneys. Defending “the basic principles of what our criminal courts are all about,” is what we have devoted our professions to. Despite what they might think, Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Page are not the ‘white knights’ defending our criminal justice system, while the rest of us are its enemies.
Second, that Mr. Weinstein would accuse lawyer commentators of stating opinions publicly “because it would give them their 15 minutes of fame” would be laughable if it weren’t so hypocritical. Mr. Weinstein has on several occasions in the past done the very same thing, on cases where he has not been involved as counsel. Indeed, his own practice web site, under “Professional Activities,” identifies him as a “Media Analyst and Commentator.” Are people to assume that if the Boston Globe or a national media outlet called Mr. Weinstein and asked him to comment on a case in the media, criminal or civil, he would decline? Or that his commentary is noble while other lawyers are shameless ego-maniacs? Please.
Fact: Weinstein and Page went to quite some lengths in their MLW interview, to disparage what they perceived as excessive criticism of them and their trial strategy, by media legal analysts, myself included. The fact is, I defended these two lawyers in my media analysis of this case, on more than one occasion. In response to much public criticism aimed at the defense team for advancing the “Rachel Did It” murder-suicide theory in their closing argument, I defended these two attorneys in my blog posting dated June 25 2008, as follows: “Since the defense closed yesterday by advancing this theory, many people have expressed to me how “disgusted” they are that an attorney would offer such an unlikely defense, in the face of the overwhelming evidence in this case implicating the defendant. I understand their feelings, but only because I know that they don’t understand that the defense must do all that they are legally and ethically allowed to do, to defend their client. This is not “sleazy lawyering.” It’s zealous advocacy, and it’s expected of a good criminal defense lawyer.” (Bold emphasis original.)
I’ll discuss more in a third, and thankfully final, post on this subject later this week.