Famed legal scholar and best-selling author Alan Dershowitz, who has defended such controversial clients as O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, Michael Milken and Claus von Bulow, will visit Western Carolina University on Thursday, March 1, as part of the Chancellor’s Speaker Series for 2000-01.
Dershowitz will speak on the topic “Why Good Lawyers Defend Bad People” at 7:30 p.m. in WCU’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center. The program, open to the public free of admission charge, will include a question-and-answer session, and will be followed by a book signing.
He also will meet in a smaller, students-only session that afternoon. The informal program will be held in the Grandroom of the A.K. HindsUniversity Center beginning at 3:30 p.m.
A professor of law at Harvard University, Dershowitz is among the nation’s best-known attorneys. Newsweek described him as “the nation’s most peripatetic civil-liberties lawyer and one of the most distinguished defenders of individual rights.” Time magazine called him “the top lawyer of last resort in the country — a sort of judicial St. Jude.” And Life magazine tagged him an “iconoclast andself-appointed scourge of the criminal justice system.”
Other notable Dershowitz clients include Leona Helmsley, Jim Bakker, Christian Brando, Penthouse magazine, Sen. Alan Cranston, John Landis, John DeLorean, David Crosby, Wayne Williams, Patricia Hearst, Harry Reems and Stanley Friedman. Dershowitz has defended death-row inmates and several prominent lawyers,including F. Lee Bailey and William Kunstler.
A prolific writer, Dershowitz has penned articles for such notable publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic,Saturday Review, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Herald and Chicago Sun Times.
His books include “The Genesis of Justice: 10 Stories of Biblical Injustice That Led to the 10 Commandments and Modern Law,” “The Vanishing American Jew,” “The Best Defense” and “Chutzpah.” His first novel, 1994’s “The Advocate’s Devil,” received “a thumbs-up verdict” from the New York Times Book Review, which praised it as “exciting, fast-paced, entertaining.”
Dershowitz received the William O. Douglas First Amendment Award in 1983 from the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith for his”compassionate eloquent leadership and persistent advocacy in the struggle for civil and human rights.” He has been awarded the honorary doctor of laws degree by Yeshiva University, the Hebrew Union College, Monmouth College and Haifa University. The New York Criminal Bar Association has honored him for “outstanding contribution as a scholar and dedicated defender of human rights.”
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Dershowitz graduated from Brooklyn College before going to Yale Law School, where he graduated first in his class and served as editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. He was appointed to the Harvard law faculty at the age of 25 and became a full professor at age 28, the youngest in theschool’s history.
Western’s Chancellor’s Speaker Series is designed to bring significant figures to campus to discuss major issues of the day, and to provide WCU students with an opportunity to interact with some of the people who shape and influence our world.
Past speakers have included former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, nationally syndicated finance columnist Jane Bryant Quinn, Emmy-nominated actor Danny Glover and fellow performer Felix Justice, U.S. Sen. John Edwards, University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball coach Pat Summitt, and three major players in the effort to unlock the mysteries of the human genetic code.