Retired Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has become embroiled in a public controversy and several lawsuits. Dershowitz represented Jeffrey Epstein and had a role in negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement tor Epstein.
Recently, one of Epstein’s accusers, who is represented by David Boies, has accused Dershowitz of inappropriate conduct. The full details of the allegations are contained in court papers in the case captioned Giuffre v. Dershowitz 19-cv-3377 (S.D. NY). There have been other lawsuits between and among Dershowitz and other lawyers who represented Giuffre or who objected to the extraordinarily lenient terms of the Epstein deferred prosecution agreement. The New Yorker recently ran a story detailing the controversy. Dershowitz has consistently denied the claims of Giuffre. Indeed, Dershowitz has denounced the allegations with such vigor that he has been sued for defamation at least twice, once by Giuffre and once by her former lawyers.
I not offering an opinion on the truth or falsity of the allegations that have been made. I’m more interested in the question of how a practicing lawyer should respond to allegations of this type.
I do not recommend that any lawyer respond to allegations in this manner. Instead, I strongly recommend that, when confronted with allegations of this nature, the lawyer respond to any media inquiries with a general denial (assuming the denial is true) and refusing any further comment. By commenting at length, there is some risk that the lawyer may inadvertently reveal a confidence of a client or make further errors. Each time the lawyer speaks he may contradict himself or offer a slightly different version of the events. In short, my advice is to shut up.