Devil’s Advocate History’s Most Controversial Lawyers

Since the beginning of modern civilization, lawyers have been stigmatized as being liars, crooks and soulless hell-spawn sent to Earth to do the Devil’s bidding. And while not all lawyers fit this description – after all, there are always two sides to every trial – many lawyers seem to fit this stereotype quite comfortably.

Listed below are some of the more controversial lawyers that have haunted our judicial system and fought valiantly in the name of murder, rape and genocide – gathered conveniently in one place should the Devil ever go looking for an attorney.

Edward Joseph O’Hare – aka “Easy Eddie”

Behind every good gangster is a good lawyer. It then shouldn’t come as a surprise that notorious mobster Al Capone had a very, very good lawyer. And it should serve as a testament to this lawyer’s capabilities that after a successful career in murder, gun-running, racketeering and other general gangster activities, Al Capone was only captured on tax evasion – and only that because Easy Eddie turned Capone in himself – a move that would later prove to have been ill-advised since he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting several years later.

But during his time working with Mr. Capone, O’Hare enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle at the hands of his “colleagues” in Chicago. And though he may have taken missteps in the world of his career, his son did go on to win a Medal of Honor as a fighter pilot in World War II – and later got his name attached to what has now become one of the world’s biggest airports – Chicago O’Hare.

So next time you have a layover in Chicago, just remember that if it wasn’t for Easy Eddie, Chicago O’Hare might have been named after some other famous Chicago figure – maybe something like Chicago Obama.

Giovanni De Stefano

If the Devil was hiring, he might be very impressed with the resume of the infamous attorney Giovanni De Stefano, who has made it a point to represent warlords, murderers and even convicted serial killers. The Devil might even be impressed by the enthusiasm and sense of pride that Stefano takes in his work, as he made clear in a 2004 interview with the BBC when he expressed regret for not being able to represent the likes of Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler – at which point the Devil might tell his secretary to get Mr. Stefano on the phone.

Indeed, it’s Stefano’s unusual attraction to high-profile murder cases that has even earned him the nickname “The Devil’s Advocate” by many in the media. One example is the work he was doing on granting an appeal to Harold Shipman – one of Britain’s most notorious serial-killers. However, Shipman killed himself in prison shortly after the appeal was made which meant poor Stefano had to look elsewhere for another homicidal psychopath to exonerate.

But Stefano’s a strong man – even overcoming charges of fraud and questions into his qualifications as a lawyer- and most recently has been hard at work defending Blackwater employees from charges of killing civilians in Iraq, fighting the execution of Chemical Ali and even producing his own music such as with the 2007 album Seriously Single which sold over 40,000 albums.

Jacques Vergs

You may remember Vergs when he made the news a few years back for offering to represent Saddam Hussein in 2004. Though this opportunity ultimately fell through, Vergs has had no shortage of monsters to defend in his 50-year-long career representing terrorists, Nazi war criminals and genocidal maniacs.

Having risen to prominence by taking on some of the world’s most controversial criminals, Vergs is perhaps one of the world’s most notorious attorney’s – a status that he doesn’t shy away from, as evidenced by the title of his autobiography The Brilliant Bastard.

“The public is always quick to assign the label of ‘monster,'” Vergs said in an interview with Der Spiegel in 2008. “But monsters do not exist, just as there is no such thing as absolute evil. My clients are human beings- people with two eyes, two hands, a gender and emotions.”

Well, at least his clients have those things, because his client’s victims sure don’t!

Johnnie Cochran

Okay, while Johnnie Cochran might not have represented clients as thoroughly evil as some of the others on this list, his involvement in the questionable defense of high-profile celebrities has at least earned him a “dishonorable” mention.

Most people probably recognize him as the defense attorney in the wildly famous O.J. Simpson trial in which he is credited for having coined the pop-culture phrase “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” Oh, and he’s also credited with having gotten OJ off the hook despite overwhelming evidence and extreme public outcry. Now, it might be unfair to question the court’s decision so casually – until you take into account that the same man he defended then went on to write a book called “If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened” and who was then recently arrested for armed robbery and kidnapping. But who am I to judge?

Aside from saving the ass of OJ, Cochran was considered the go-to lawyer of the rich and famous, defending the likes of Sean “Puffy” Combs, Snoop Dogg and even Michael Jackson. But I guess if you think about it, maybe he was just a big fan of music.

So ultimately how are we supposed to feel about these knights in shiny suits? It’s hard to tell – on the one hand, lawyers are integral to the proper functioning of the judicial system. But on the other hand, some of these guys are just dirt. Well, at least aspiring dictators, terrorists and psychopaths can rest easy knowing there are some people out there willing to defend them when their plans go awry – because I’m sure as hell not going to.