Alan Dershowitz Deli Factory Worker
March 26, 2012 by staff
Alan Dershowitz Deli Factory Worker, Alan Morton Dershowitz (born September 1, 1938) is an American lawyer and law professor. He has spent most of his career at Harvard Law School, where at the age of 28 he became the youngest full professor in the law school’s history (this record was later broken by Noam Elkies), and is now the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School.
In addition to his teaching, Dershowitz has worked on a number of high-profile legal cases and is a prolific author who makes frequent media and public appearances.
As a criminal appellate lawyer Dershowitz successfully argued to overturn the conviction of Claus von Bülow for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny. An adaptation of Dershowitz’s 1985 book on the highly publicized case, Reversal of Fortune, became the 1990 feature film starring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close.
Dershowitz also served as the key appellate expert on the defense team in the criminal trial of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson, still the most-publicized criminal case in U.S. history and the subject of Dershowitz’s 1996 book, Reasonable Doubts.
Dershowitz is a regular commentator on issues related to Judaism, Israel, civil rights, civil liberties, the war on terror, and the First Amendment, and frequently appears in the mainstream media as a consultant on these issues.
Dershowitz was born in the Williamsburg neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, and grew up in Borough Park.Alan M. Dershowitz, Chutzpah (New York: Touchstone Books, 1992) 35. His parents, Harry and Claire, were both devout Orthodox Jews.
Harry Dershowitz (May 8, 1909â??April 26, 1984)”Harry Dershowitz”, “Social Security Death Index Search Results,” n.d., accessed November 1, 2006. was a founder and president of the Young Israel Synagogue in the 1960s, served on the board of directors of the Etz Chaim School in Borough Park, and in retirement was co-owner of the Manhattan-based Merit Sales Company.
Alan Dershowitz’s brother Nathan, at the time of their father’s death counsel for the American Jewish Congress, is a partner in the New York City law firm Dershowitz, Eiger & Adelson.”Obituary: Harry Dershowitz”, New York Times April 26, 1984; Nathan Z. Dershowitz, FindLaw.com, last updated December 31, 2005; both accessed November 1, 2006.
Dershowitz’s first job was at a deli factory on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1952, at age 14. He recalls tying the strings that separated the hot dogs and once getting locked in the freezer.Tom Van Riper, “First Job: Alan Dershowitz,” Forbes 23 May 2006, accessed November 1, 2006.
Dershowitz attended Yeshiva University High School, where he played on the basketball team. He was a rebellious student, often criticized by his teachers. The school’s career placement center, however, told him that he had talent and was capable of becoming an advertising executive, funeral director, or salesman.
Dershowitz later said that his “teachers said I should do something that requires a big mouth and no brain. . . so I became a lawyer.”Elizabeth Stull, “Son of Brooklyn Brings Home Legacy of High-Profile Trials: Alan Dershowitz Donates Archives to Brooklyn College,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle September 25, 2003, accessed August 12, 2006. Dershowitz said he “had never been very good in school,” but cites a camp counseller telling him at age 14 or 15 that he was smart as a significant life event for him.Tom Van Riper, “First Job: Alan Dershowitz,” Forbes 23 May 2006, accessed November 1, 2006.
Upon graduating, he attended Brooklyn College and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959. He later attended Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.Alan M. Dershowitz, Chutzpah (New York: Touchstone Books, 1992) 41. He graduated first in his class with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in 1962.
After being admitted to the bar, Dershowitz served as a law clerk for David L. Bazelon, the chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Dershowitz has said that “Bazelon was my best and worst boss at once…He worked me to the bone; he didn’t hesitate to call at 2 a.m. He taught me everything–how to be a civil libertarian, a Jewish activist, a mensch. He was halfway between a slave master and a father figure” (Riper).
During the 1963–1964 term, Dershowitz served a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg.
He joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming Harvard’s youngest full law professor in the law school’s history. He was appointed the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law in 1993, succeeding Abram Chayes.
Much of Dershowitz’s legal career has focused on criminal law, and his clients have included high-profile figures such as Patricia Hearst, Leona Helmsley, Jim Bakker, Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, and Harry Reems. While representing Claus von Bülow he had the case overturned on appeal; in a retrial, von Bülow was acquitted. Afterwards, Dershowitz told the story of the case in his book, Reversal of Fortune. In the movie version, Dershowitz was played by Ron Silver, and Dershowitz himself had a cameo as a judge.
Regarding the O.J. Simpson murder case, about which he wrote the book Reasonable Doubts (which includes “an extensive discussion of both the glove and the sock and the forensic evidence”), Dershowitz evaluates the importance of that case for jurisprudence and for his own overall career: “the Simpson case will not be remembered in the next century.
It will not rank as one of the trials of the century. It will not rank with the Nuremberg trials, the Rosenberg trial, Sacco and Vanzetti. It is on par with Leopold and Loeb and the Lindbergh case, all involving celebrities. It is also not one of the most important cases of my own career. I would rank it somewhere in the middle in terms of interest and importance” (“Looking back at the OJ Trial”).
For several years, Dershowitz has written the monthly column “Justice” and related articles in the pages of Pehuse* magazine and testified on legal issues pertaining to prnography.See photograph caption in “Photographs,” Edwin Meese, Attorney General’s Commission on P**nography Final Report (Meese Report), U.S. Department of Justice, July 1986, accessed April 12, 2006: “Alan Dershowitz, professor of Law at Harvard Law School and columnist with Pehuse* magazine, and Dottie Meyer, a former Pehuse* model and coordinator involved with circulation and Pet production, testified before the Commission during the New York hearing on January 21, 1986.”
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