Howard Weitzman, an attorney whose clients included Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, and automaker John DeLorean, has passed away
April 8, 2021, 9:14 p.m.
3 min read
Weitzman died Wednesday after a brief illness in the Pacific Palisades section of Los Angeles, said his wife Margaret Weitzman.
Weitzman became known nationwide as the defense attorney for DeLorean, who was accused of cocaine trafficking in 1982. Weitzman argued that the FBI captured DeLorean and received a not guilty verdict from the jury in 1984.
“This case is a sick case. It’s a tragedy and a travesty of justice, ”Weitzman told the jury during the trial.
On a day when his lawyer interrogated an FBI agent particularly violently, DeLorean told reporters, “All I can say is that I thank God for Howard Weitzman.”
Weitzman’s press conferences on the courtroom steps during the trial earned him a nationwide audience and reporter admiration that would continue for the rest of his career.
“He helpfully puts his darker questions in the courtroom in context, outlines his current strategy, and gives little sermons on the dangers of a state containment operation,” the Washington Post said at the time.
The fiery side he showed during the DeLorean trial and occasionally during others rarely came out. Meek and gracious in and out of court, he liked to seek settlements to avoid trial.
In the last few years of his life, Weitzman was best known as an attorney for the Jackson estate, a role he assumed from the start after the pop superstar’s death in 2009.
He defended the property against collaborators and creditors seeking a piece of the money Jackson left behind and two men who alleged Jackson molested them as a boy, and also led the lawsuit against HBO for making those allegations in the Had broadcast the documentary “Leaving Neverland”.
Weitzman, who also represented Jackson throughout his life, was among the singer’s most vocal defenders amid abuse allegations and rarely missed the opportunity to publicly proclaim Jackson’s innocence.
Weitzman was born in Los Angeles and worked in his parents’ grocery store as a child. He sought a career in baseball and won a national college championship as a second baseman in 1961. When hopes for a career in the major league faded, he attended law school at the University of Southern California.
He began his criminal law practice in 1965 and established himself as a staunch defense attorney in sometimes infamous cases. His specialty was murder, and in 1970 he won an acquittal for Mary Brunner, a member of the Charles Manson family.
He represented the well-known mob figure Louis Tom Dragna, who was convicted of extortion in 1979, and Barbara Mouzin, ringleader of a so-called “grandma mafia” of drug dealers.
In later decades, Hollywood stars were his most notable clients when he became a founding partner of the elite law firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump LLP.
He successfully defended Bieber in a 2011 paternity lawsuit and represented him in several subsequent lawsuits.
Weitzman is survived by his sons Jed and Armen, along with his wife.
Follow AP Entertainment reporter Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton