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Howard Weitzman, Protection Lawyer for the Well-known, Dies at 81


Howard Weitzman, an leisure lawyer whose shopper record bristled with the names of among the nation’s most well-known, and notorious, celebrities — together with Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber and, for 2 days, O.J. Simpson — died on Wednesday at his house within the Pacific Palisades part of Los Angeles. He was 81.

The trigger was most cancers, mentioned Diana Baron, a spokeswoman for his spouse, Margaret Weitzman.

In a profession spanning 5 many years, Mr. Weitzman was the lead lawyer in additional than 300 civil and prison jury trials, representing greater than 1,000 individuals. His shopper record learn like a Who’s Who of the final half-century’s superstars, amongst them Marlon Brando, Magic Johnson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne, Morgan Freeman and Britney Spears.

He additionally represented main movement image studios in addition to the powerhouse expertise businesses William Morris, ICM and CAA, giving him a 360-degree view of the internal workings of the leisure trade and a Rolodex of top-level connections that enhanced his repute as a fixer. He was usually ranked as one of the vital influential attorneys within the nation.

“A famend trial lawyer and deal-maker, Howard skillfully dealt with among the most well-known circumstances in Hollywood,” his regulation agency, Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert, mentioned in a press release.

A grasp practitioner of the courthouse-steps information convention, Mr. Weitzman shot to nationwide fame together with his protection of John DeLorean, the flamboyant car govt who was accused of cocaine trafficking. In a 1984 trial throughout which the jury heard audiotapes of Mr. DeLorean making incriminating statements, Mr. Weitzman demolished the credibility of a key informant, argued that the F.B.I. had entrapped his shopper and gained an acquittal.

With cable tv in its infancy, Mr. Weitzman was one of many first attorneys to face round the clock tv protection of a giant trial. He rapidly turned it to his benefit, addressing the information media — and the courtroom of public opinion — from the entrance of the courthouse.

“A part of my reasoning for speaking to the media in any respect was to attempt to even the scales,” Mr. Weitzman told Southern California Super Lawyers magazine in a prolonged interview in 2008. “I realized then that on TV they have a tendency to take three phrases from the ten sentences you spoke. You study fairly rapidly to talk in sound bites if attainable.”

Reporters discovered him useful, congenial and entertaining, The Washington Post reported during the DeLorean trial. He gave them insights into his authorized technique, the paper mentioned, in addition to “a gentle provide of his personal humorous asides and extremely quotable denunciations of the federal government and its informer.”

Though he was greatest recognized for his celeb prison circumstances, Mr. Weitzman additionally had intensive expertise in enterprise litigation and making offers. As aggressive as he could possibly be in courtroom, he got here to favor settling circumstances out of courtroom.

Lots of the lawsuits towards his purchasers had a behavior of disappearing. After a 14-year-old boy accused Mr. Jackson of sexually molesting him, Mr. Weitzman and Johnnie Cochran Jr., one other celebrity protection lawyer, helped short-circuit the boy’s civil suit by having Mr. Jackson pay him a sum believed to be within the hundreds of thousands of {dollars}.

When a younger fan accused Justin Bieber of fathering her little one in 2011, she demanded that he take a DNA take a look at. Mr. Weitzman, representing Mr. Bieber, mentioned that his shopper would undergo such a take a look at — and on the identical time threatened to countersue the girl, saying she was making a bogus declare. She dropped her go well with.

He additionally represented Mr. Bieber when he was sued by his former bodyguard, who mentioned Mr. Bieber had punched him in 2012. Simply earlier than the trial was to start, Mr. Weitzman introduced that the 2 had reached an settlement, and the go well with was dropped.

Mr. Weitzman referred to his celeb purchasers as “individuals of profile.” He mentioned he believed they suffered within the prison justice system as a result of judges favored to make an instance of them. He made this level in 2007 whereas representing Paris Hilton, who was caught driving with out her license, which had been suspended after a drunk-driving conviction.

She was sentenced to 45 days in jail.

An outraged Mr. Weitzman advised reporters that the sentence ought to have been a lot decrease. “It’s clear she was selectively prosecuted due to who she is,” he mentioned. “Disgrace on the system and disgrace on the town lawyer for bringing this case.”

Town lawyer disputed Mr. Weitzman’s interpretation, saying the choose was merely displaying that nobody was above the regulation.

Howard Lloyd Weitzman was born on Sept. 21, 1939, in Los Angeles, the place his mother and father, Wilfred and Billie Weitzman, ran a grocery retailer. Working there every now and then, he developed a capability to converse with all kinds of individuals.

He studied at Los Angeles Metropolis Faculty earlier than transferring to the College of Southern California, from which he graduated in 1962 with a level in bodily training. He beloved baseball and hoped to make a profession of it, however when that didn’t materialize, a pal urged he strive regulation college.

He took the LSAT however didn’t rating excessive sufficient to be admitted to U.S.C.’s regulation college, in keeping with Southern California Tremendous Legal professionals. At that time, the journal mentioned, his baseball coach, Rod Dedeaux, referred to as the dean of the regulation college, who discovered a spot for Mr. Weitzman. Mr. Weitzman acquired his diploma in 1965 and started to apply prison regulation.

He left his regulation apply in 1995 to work as vp of company operations for Common Studios. He worked there until being ousted in a management reshuffle.

He mentioned later that his expertise at Common helped him higher consider whether or not to take a case to trial. “I used to be all the time extra inclined to attract traces within the sand earlier in my profession,” he mentioned. “Now I attempt to keep away from the precise trial and resolve it wanting litigation.”

Along with his spouse, Mr. Weitzman is survived by two sons, Armen and Jed, and two grandchildren. His first marriage, to Stacey Cooper Furstman, resulted in divorce.

For all his showmanship within the courtroom, Mr. Weitzman opted out of what the media referred to as the trial of the century: the case against O.J. Simpson, who was accused of the 1994 murders of his former spouse, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her pal Ronald Goldman.

Mr. Weitzman had accompanied Mr. Simpson to a police interview after the murders. However in lower than 48 hours, he dropped out, saying he was too busy.

After the sensational trial, throughout which much of the nation had ground to a halt waiting for the verdict — not responsible — Mr. Weitzman took the weird step of claiming that the jury had reached the fallacious conclusion. “That’s my opinion,” he advised Tremendous Legal professionals, “based mostly on time spent with him earlier than the incident occurred, time spent with him after the murders occurred, and observing at arm’s size the info introduced out throughout the trial.”

He mentioned he had no regrets about not collaborating within the spectacle. “Being within the eye of the storm,” he mentioned, “will not be one thing I wanted.”



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