If you've ever wondered how some big-name lawyers get attached to high-profile defendants without money, check out the NY Times article about lawyers jockeying to defend Darryl Littlejohn. Littlejohn, the bouncer of former SoHo bar and restaurant The Fall, is accused of murdering John Jay graduate student Imette St. Guillen, whose body was found late February off the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, bound and wrapped in a blanket.
St. Guillen's murder caused fears that a serial killer could be on the loose and concerns about nightclub safety, and her death became a national story. Which may be why lawyers are eager to represent Littlejohn. The practitioner in residence at Brooklyn Law School, Gerald L. Shargel, tells the NY Times, "Lawyers often see high-publicity cases as an entree into the big leagues. Publicity is all about name recognition."
Kevin O'Donnell, the lawyer who had been representing Littlejohn early on, was dismissed after Littlejohn complained to a judge. And after that, there have been a number of lawyers appointed to or claiming that they have the right to defend Littlejohn. Right now, Littlejohn's lawyer is Joyce David, a 56 year old lawyer who has defended Mark Gastineau as well as someone accused of stabbing Reverend Al Sharpton. She spoke to the Daily News last week about how the case presented a challenge:
"The fact that this is a woman victim doesn't make it any less heinous than if it were a child, or other victims. As a human being, I feel for the victims. Whether it's male or female isn't really the issue. Obviously, I'm a woman, but I'm an attorney first when it comes to this.
He's got a record. He's on parole, he's the perfect patsy here. It's not my job to prove who did it. There are a lot of unanswered questions."
The Times says that David's book,
What You Should Know If You're Accused Of A Crime, is popular at prison libraries. David, who is working on the case pro-bono, even has the whole book online.