Ben Brafman of New York City successfully represented Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in his bribery and weapons case. I watched him do his best to defend Michael Jackson, until Jackson's entourage and antics made it impossible to deal with the case effectively. He truly is at the top of the food chain in the criminal law business. I have been on several speaking panels with him, and I always feel like a total dunce after Ben explains or discussed the most technical legal issue in a manner that is bother understandable and compelling to everyone in the room. I have often said that when he clears his throat he is more articulate that I could ever hope to be. I don't know Ben that well. Yet, when I got slammed in a New York newspaper one morning a while back, there was a call from Ben at my office before 9:00 A.M., offering his wisdom and assistance if I needed it. When I was writing this chapter I e-mailed him the question at 11:16 P.M. on Sunday night. At 12:19 A.M., I received the following response:
"I have often thought about the question you pose. To me it would be a terrorist. As the son of Holocaust survivors, and with children and grandchildren living in Israel, I would be the wrong guy to represent a terrorist intent on mass murder, suicide bombing, etc. It is important that the reader understand that I believe a terrorist is entitled to a defense; it is just that I am the wrong guy for that kind of case because of who I am as a person, where I come from, and what is today, very important in my life.
I have no difficulty representing a real criminal, even a very bad person. There are degrees of evil, however, and I am not the right guy to represent someone who looks to kill because of twisted hate, as so many in my family have been murdered because of twisted hate.
I think I am a very good criminal lawyer with real talent. My fear is that I would hold back and not permit myself to do what I do best in a case where the defendant is so despised by me. Hard to explain, perhaps, but it is part of who I am. I would fight for the right of that person to get excellent representation, but would never allow that lawyer to be me.
If you wish to discuss further, give me a call at your convenience."
Like I said earlier, Ben Brafman may very well be the most articulate lawyer I know- and a class act, as well.