Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Letterman Extortionist Lawyer Bombs on Today Show, says People Magazine



Why would a lawyer turn down an invitation to go on the Today Show?

Just think, you go on the Today Show, get to meet Matt, Meredith, Ann, and Al, maybe a couple celebrities in the green room, and then, after your interview, get all those emails and phone calls: "Hey! Saw you on the TODAY SHOW! Awesome!."

This can lead to: "you should hire him, I saw that dude on the Today Show!" It also adds a nice touch to the website: "As seen on the Today Show."

But there's that moment when lawyers grow up, we hope.

Eight years ago I accepted an invitation to appear on national television. I was appointed to represent a high profile defendant that CNN named the most important case of 2003. After one appearance, I realized the most important question a lawyer should ask before appearing on national TV, or even giving an interview to the local paper:

"Does it benefit the client?"

I can hear it now: "The client?" "Dude, I'm going to be on national television! The calls will come pouring in to my office."

Exactly: Does it benefit the client?

I haven't appeared on national television in almost 5 years. Not for a lack of invitation, but for asking that question.

Yesterday's interview (above) with the lawyer for the accused extortionist of David Letterman, reaffirmed my philosophy.

He bombed. Ann Curry embarrassed him. But hey, then he made much more news, like on the website for People Magazine

When Curry pointed out that his client had cashed a $2 million check and had been recorded on a detective's wire, Shargel's response was to say, "I've been at this a long time." He also talked up Halderman's 20-year career as a respected TV producer and mentioned the name of Dan Rather, though it was not clear how the former CBS News anchor is relevant to this case.

Curry defined the moment: "I'm giving you access to media this morning and you are not giving your client's side of the story."

So I wonder. On the way to the Today Show in the back of the limo, what was this lawyer thinking? He's been a lawyer for 40 years. No question he knew what the questions would be, and knew he wouldn't answer them.

So why go on the show? Scott Greenfield asks the same question.

The answer is typically that the client is getting killed in the media, especially when the alleged victim is the "king of late night," and the lawyer should equally defend the client in public.

Can't argue with that.

But that's not what happened.

What happened was the lawyer got the national stage, and did nothing for his client.

I wonder if he got to hang out with Matt. I like Matt.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com

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