STRAIGHT TALK

THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS Harvard law professor and criminal-defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, whose list of clients has included Patty Hearst, Michael Milken, Jim Bakker, Mike Tyson, and O. J. Simpson, will be speaking in Austin on January 15.

There seem to be a lot of high-profile cases going on all at once: Kobe, Scott Peterson, the snipers.

Michael Jackson.

Yes, can’t forget that one. Do you ever look at the papers and think, “I’ve got to get me some of that”?

You can imagine that I get calls about these cases all the time. My phone rings off the hook. But remember: I’m an appellate lawyer. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that I’ll be involved if they go to appeal.

Sometimes, I bet, you’d like the phone to stop ringing.

It depends on the case. Yes, sometimes I literally stay away from the phone. But other times I wish they would call. It would be fun.

Any of these current cases ones you want to keep away from?

The sniper case is a difficult one. There but for the grace of God go any of us as potential victims. It’s hard to have sympathy for these guys. But I never turn down death-penalty cases, so if they called, I’d have to think about it. If I lived in Texas, by the way, I’d have a full-time job.

What about Michael Jackson?

It’s an interesting case. I don’t want to comment beyond that other than to say that we’re just seeing the beginnings of a complex matter.

Let me ask you about Claus von Bülow. Did you ever think, when you took his case, that you’d get to be such a big celebrity?

I never did. I still don’t understand why there was so much public interest in that case as opposed to any other. You know, I just won another case, in Florida, involving a doctor accused of lethally injecting his wife; in many ways, it was much more interesting. It got no attention at all. It was local news, but it never made the national papers. And I just got a conviction reversed on appeal in the case of the woman accused of killing the owner of Binion’s casino, in Las Vegas. Same thing. No news.

Maybe it was Ron Silver playing you in the movie.

The other person who was being considered was Richard Dreyfuss, who also would have done great. Ron overdid me a little bit, but that’s the nature of movies.

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