- Category : Writers-Fiction
- Type : GE
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Planning 3
American lawyer, professor and writer, one of the leading defense attorneys in the nation. He is the author of "The Best Defense," 1982 "Chutzpah," 1992, "Contrary to Popular Opinion," 1994, "The Abuse Excuse," 1995, "The Advocate's Devil," 1995, "A Vanishing American Jew," 1996, "Reasonable Doubts," 1997, "Sexual McCarthyism," 1998 and "Just Revenge" 1999. Best known for his reversal of the conviction of the Claus Von Bulow case he documented in his best-selling "Reversal of Fortune," 1986, later made into a film in which he was portrayed by Ron Silver.
The youngest of two sons of a dungaree wholesaler, Dershowitz was raised in the orthodox Jewish enclave of Brooklyn's Boro Park. While the family was cash poor, they were culturally rich. "I was a very happy kid," he said, "I was always the designated fighter in my group." Renowned as a hell-raiser in school and a terrible student, he considered all the confrontations as a part of the growth process. "It was a religious school and I was rebelling." Presenting himself to be such a disciplinary problem that he nearly missed a recommendation for higher education, he managed to get accepted to Brooklyn College, where he parlayed his personal rebellion into formidable ambition and joined Phi Beta Kappa. By 1962, when he graduated Yale Law School Cum Laude, he'd experienced a sufficient amount of anti-Semitism coupled with a gut-wrenching realization that the world at large was a far cry from the Jewish quarter of Boro Park. "I was first in my class, editor of the law journal, and I was rejected by 32 out of 32 Wall Street firms for a summer job. That made me an outsider...I'm a post-Holocaust Jew. I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. Every outsider does."
After Yale, Dershowitz worked as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and at age 28 became Harvard Law School's youngest full-time professor ever. He would remain there throughout his career. He soon began to take on cases having to do primarily with issues of free speech, such as Dr. Benjamin's Spock's anti-war actions and porno star Harry Reems of the controversial film "Deep Throat." Such cases gained him nationwide publicity, yet he consistently maintained he accepted these cases because they involved issues of civil liberty or constitutional rights. Vehemently denying the accusations that he sought high-profile cases strictly for the publicity, he cited his donations of time and talent to many unreported cases of falsely committed mental patients and prisoners on death row. He is an outspoken critic of what he perceives to be flaws in the American legal system and a fanatic on the behalf of every imaginable form of free speech. "I'm about as absolutist as you can get and be reasonable. I don't believe people should be prosecuted for pornography or for racist or sexist or homophobic or anti-Semitic statements."
Dershowitz is slim, 5'9" tall, and has bushy red hair. When his first marriage to his wife Susan ended in divorce in 1975, he won custody of their two sons, Leon, born 1961 and Jamin, born 1963. "The toughest job I ever had was to suddenly bring up two active, volatile teenagers. It was very difficult and very gratifying." He made a second marriage to neuropsychologist Carolyn, 12 years younger; their daughter Ella was born in 1990.