March 12, 2004
So, Professor Dershowitz, you want to rumble?
Alan Dershowitz's attack upon Robert Morvillo, led counsel in the recent trial of Martha Stewart ("With Lawyers Like These . . . " editorial page, March 8) is both superficial and scurrilous.
Prof. Dershowitz, an academic who doesn't try cases, demonstrates his lack of trial experience in his criticisms of Mr. Morvillo. For example, he derides Morvillo for not "introducing testimony by dozens of others ? experts, eye witnesses, character witnesses -- who may have strengthened Ms. Stewart's case." He gives no indication as to the subjects upon which such experts might have opined, or the events such eyewitnesses might have observed. Nor does he mention the elementary fact that by calling character witnesses a defendant can open the trial to hearsay testimony about rumors and gossip, otherwise inadmissible, that could be far more harmful to Ms. Stewart than the testimony of friendly witnesses would be helpful.
Prof. Dershowitz also criticizes Mr. Morvillo for the fact that Ms. Stewart did not testify. But Prof. Dershowitz provides no basis by which one could conclude whether that decision was made by Mr. Morvillo or Ms. Stewart. No one, certainly not Prof. Dershowitz, can know what Mr. Morvillo's advice was on this matter, and Mr. Morvillo cannot respond to Prof. Dershowitz's charges without improperly revealing communications between himself and his client. Unfortunately, Prof. Dershowitz's modus operandi here -- attacking another lawyer knowing that he cannot defend himself without revealing privileged communications -- is the same tactic he has employed to garner press coverage for his Monday-morning quarterbacking in other high-profile cases.
Far worse than his posturing, however, is his unsupported and almost casual attack on Mr. Morvillo's ethics. He strongly suggests that Mr. Morvillo's trial tactics were motivated by his desire to protect the lawyers who originally represented Ms. Stewart and who chose to allow her to be interviewed by the government.
Prof. Dershowitz charges that these lawyers and Mr. Morvillo were part of an "old boy network of former New York prosecutors who sometimes refer cases to each other." On this alleged fact -- and this alone -- Prof. Dershowitz feels free to suggest that the decision not to have Ms. Stewart testify was motivated by Mr. Morvillo's desire to avoid "potential embarrassment" to his friends and that the decision "may" have been influenced by "considerations other than the interests of his client." This serious accusation, lacking as it does the slightest shred of supporting evidence, is reckless and irresponsible. Anyone who knows Mr. Morvillo knows his longstanding reputation for zealous devotion to his clients. To imply that he would rather see his client convicted than subject prior counsel to outside criticism is simply ludicrous. Moreover, Prof. Dershowitz's promise -- that the former lawyers would have been exposed by Ms. Stewart's taking the stand -- is erroneous. The lawyers had already figured heavily in the trial evidence and one of them actually testified.
Robert Morvillo has a reputation among fellow practitioners as a trial lawyer of great expertise who has always adhered to the highest ethical standards. Prof. Dershowitz has been frequently criticized for his conduct in cases. He would be well advised to stick to what he knows and resist the urge to view every guilty verdict in a high-profile case as just another opportunity for further self-aggrandizement at the expense of others.
Your serve, Professor Dershowitz.
Posted by Tom at March 12, 2004 7:28 AM |
It is too bad that Mr. Robert Morvillo did not read the full docket for Tinsley v. Quick & Reilly Inc., Case No. 2:00CV291, US Dist. Ct. E.D. VA; Tinsley v. Jones, Case No. 99-1822-A, US Dist. Ct. E.D. VA; and Tinsley v. Komansky, Case No. 03CV2919, US Dist. Ct. S.D. NY. After reading the aforementioned cases Mr. Morvillo, the Columbia attorney, should have had some very interesting questions for the the S.E.C. attorney in court ... .
Philip Tinsley, III
Columbia College '85
Yale University '93
Posted by: Philip Tinsley III at September 13, 2005 2:42 AM
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