Saturday, January 30, 2016

Michael J. Kennedy, Lawyer for Underdogs and Pariahs, Dies at 78 - The New York Times

Michael J. Kennedy, Lawyer for Underdogs and Pariahs, Dies at 78 - The New York Times:

Michael J. Kennedy, Lawyer for Underdogs and Pariahs, Dies at 78

Mr. Kennedy, right, at a news conference in 1982 with his client Bernadine Dohrn and her fellow former Weathermen member William C. Ayers, whom Ms. Dorhn married that year.CreditDavid Handschuh/Associated Press


 Michael J. Kennedy, who as a criminal lawyer championed lost causes and deeply unpopular defendants — including John Gotti Sr., Huey P. Newtonand Timothy Leary — and finally won freedom for Jean S. Harris, the convicted killer of Dr. Herman Tarnower, the Scarsdale Diet doctor, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 78.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, which developed while he was being treated for cancer, his wife, Eleanora, said.
A steadfast defender of the underdog and the First Amendment, Mr. Kennedy represented radicals including Rennie Davis, Bernardine Dohrn and Mr. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. His clients also included the Native American protesters at Wounded Knee, S.D., the family of the rogue real estate heir Robert A. Durst; Mr. Leary, the LSD guru; and Mr. Gotti, the mob boss.
He also represented High Times magazine from its inception (and was later an owner) and shared its agenda to decriminalize marijuana possession. As matrimonial counsel for Ivana Trump in 1991, Mr. Kennedy publicly rejected as insufficient a divorce settlement — trumpeted by her husband, Donald J. Trump — in which she was to receive more than $10 million and their Connecticut home and Manhattan apartment. The settlement was renegotiated.
Photo
Mr. Kennedy, right, at a news conference in 1982 with his client Bernadine Dohrn and her fellow former Weathermen member William C. Ayers, whom Ms. Dorhn married that year.CreditDavid Handschuh/Associated Press
Mr. Kennedy prided himself on membership in a reviled circle of radical lawyers from the 1960s on, including William M. Kunstler, Gerald B. Lefcourt and Michael E. Tigar, who could often afford to represent shunned clients at a discount because of the hefty fees they collected from defending organized crime figures. (Mr. Kennedy was said to have been paid $250,000 in the mid-1980s Pizza Connection drug-smuggling case; his client, a former Sicilian Mafia don, was convicted.)
Mr. Kennedy was so aggressive as a guardian of constitutional rights that he sometimes needed a lawyer himself.
In 1968, he was ejected from a congressional hearing investigating the violent demonstrations during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The next year he was held in contempt with three other lawyers byJudge Julius J. Hoffman for failing to appear at the trial of eight leaders of the previous summer’s protests, including Mr. Davis.
Mr. Kennedy was even the stuff of fiction. The actor Raul Julia consulted Michael J. Kennedy, Lawyer for Underdogs and Pariahs, Dies at 78 - The New York Times:

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