Monday, October 15, 2007

Lawyers still spar, 30 years after Mandel case

After attending Friday’s forum on the 30th anniversary of Gov. Marvin Mandel’s sentencing, I was amazed at how emotional and animated the attorneys who worked on the case still are about the subject.

You could almost see the soap box underneath lead Mandel attorney Arnold M. Weiner’s feet when he turned toward his opposing panelists, saying, “It’s a shame he had to go to jail for 19 months for something that wasn’t a crime.”

Weiner was referring to a 1987 Supreme Court decision (McNally v. United States) that effectively negated Mandel’s 1977 conviction for mail fraud.

Lead prosecutor Barnet D. Skolnik countered with a speech about how Mandel’s actions were — at the time — still a crime, and used the word “bribery” at least four or five times.

But, much like athletes leaving their emotions on the field, both sides of the room clearly had a mutual respect for one another and could just as easily crack a joke.

Baltimore City Circuit Judge Charles G. Bernstein, a former defense counsel, was sharing a microphone with Weiner at the panelists’ table at the University of Maryland law school. At one point he remarked, “the most dangerous place in Baltimore City is between Arnold Weiner and the mic.”

Weiner also got the audience laughing when, referring to the deadlocked jury being “imprisoned” in the jury room, he said, “It almost looked as if the jury was going to spend more time in jail than any of the defendants!”

As a lawyer, can you always leave your emotions in the courtroom or do some cases stick longer than others?

-LIZ FARMER, Legal Affairs Writer


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