David Oscar Markus, a Miami trial attorney who has been called “a reincarnation of the old school criminal defense lawyer” and has represented clients from the head of the Cali Cartel to Fortune 500 companies and their CEOs, has partnered with rakontur, the lauded storytellers behind Cocaine Cowboys, The U and 537 Votes, to launch a new podcast series called For the Defense.
The podcast focuses on the work of the least-respected but perhaps the most important profession in America: the criminal defense attorney. In each episode, Markus will interview a top criminal defense lawyer about one of their most gripping trials.
Sadly, the criminal defense trial lawyer is a dying breed. The Feds have manipulated the system -- which was founded on the idea of trial by jury -- to force almost everyone (occasionally including the innocent) into pleading guilty to avoid trial. If you dare to go to trial, you risk going to prison for decades longer than had you surrendered and pleaded guilty. The system has shifted from valuing and encouraging trials to punishing those who dare exercise their constitutional right to have a jury decide their guilt. In the 1980s, over 20% of cases went to trial -- now less than 3% do so.
Having tried cases all over the United States, Markus is well-positioned to speak to other leading criminal defense lawyers in the country and explore with them the decision they made in a high-profile case to proceed to trial, including their trial strategy, the risks involved, and the clients themselves.
In the premiere episode, available now on all podcast platforms including Apple, Spotify and Google, Markus discusses the Harvey Weinstein case with his lawyer Donna Rotunno and what it was like for her to represent the most hated man in America against an entire movement.
New episodes will be available on Tuesdays. Among the highlights of Season One:
How did Roy Black flip the prosecution witnesses in his favor during the trial of a police officer charged with killing a black man during an altercation in an arcade?
Why did Tom Messereau initially want to call Michael Jackson to the stand but ultimately decide against it?
What was going through Marty Weinberg’s head when his client, a lawyer, decided he wanted to give part of the closing argument?
How did H.T. Smith deal with a judge who was wearing handcuffs as his tie-tack?
How did F. Lee Bailey, just a year out of law school, land the most followed trial of the day, Sam Sheppard (the defendant who ended up being the inspiration for The Fugitive)?
CONTACT: email@example.com, DMarkus@markuslaw.com
Judge Jed Rakoff
Southern District of New York Judge Jed Rakoff has been a prosecutor, a defense lawyer, and a federal judge, so he has a unique perspective of the criminal justice system. He has written a fascinating book about the system and its issues. In this bonus episode, David Oscar Markus discusses some of the main problems with the system and how to fix them.
Michael Tigar for Terry Nichols
The Oklahoma City Bombing is one of the deadliest domestic terrorism cases in U.S. history and it struck right at the heart of the criminal justice system. Would anyone represent Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols? Not only did Nichols get a lawyer, he got one of the very best in history, Michael Tigar. Tigar is a renowned trial lawyer, appellate lawyer, scholar, and author. His memoir, https://nyupress.org/9781583679227/sensing-injustice/ (Sensing Injustice), is a must read.
Also featured in this episode is original music by Omondi Nyong’o, A Call to Arms. His music can be found at http://www.omotionmusic.com/ (www.omotionmusic.com).
Finally, if you are a Florida lawyer and have listened to all of Season 2, there is a CLE course code at the end of the episode. Thanks for listening to Season 2.
David Gerger for Robert Kaluza (Deepwater Horizon)
The Deepwater Horizon explosion was arguably the worst environmental disaster in United States history. In its effort to assign blame, the government scapegoated an innocent man - Robert Kaluza, the off-duty rig supervisor who was filling in for a few days. David Gerger discusses his successful defense with David Markus in this episode of For the Defense.
Abbe Lowell for Sen. John Edwards
Senator John Edwards was a rising star in the Democratic party. He was a popular senator from North Carolina. He was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004 and then a presidential candidate in 2008. But he was also a flawed candidate as he was having an affair while his wife was dying from cancer and while he was campaigning for the highest office in the land. Was the cover up of the affair and Rielle Hunter’s pregnancy a federal crime or simply a sin? You’ll hear David Markus discuss the fascinating federal trial with famed criminal defense lawyer Abbe Lowell, who successfully defended Edwards.
Jayne Weintraub for Yahweh Ben Yahweh
Yahweh Ben Yahweh had been convicted in federal court of conspiracy and sentenced to 17 years. But that was not enough for prosecutors who viewed him as an evil cult leader who ordered gruesome murders in South Florida. So they charged him with first degree murder in state court. The case involved tales of beheadings, cutting people's ears, and even a Temple of Love. Jayne Weintraub took over the defense and won.
Rob Cary for Sen. Ted Stevens
Senator Ted Stevens was charged in federal court right before his election. He turned the famed criminal defense firm of Williams and Connolly to defend him. Rob Cary, who tried the case with Brendan Sullivan, discusses defending a well-known political figure at trial and also what turned into one of the biggest cases of prosecutorial misconduct in this Nation's history.
Truly Amazing Podcast
I listen to a lot of Podcasts but this one is just fantastic. I usually listen in my car and I find myself still listening long after I reach my intended destination. I can’t wait for Season 3!!!!
Fascinating to hear David and his guests provide details of famous trials and insight into strategy. A podcast worth listening to for all.
David O. Markus and his guests over the last two seasons have been nothing short of spectacular. This podcast is simply the best.