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Krieger wins Criminal Law Section’s Goldin Award

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Krieger wins Criminal Law Section’s Goldin Award

Jan Pudlow
Senior Editor

How’s this for fan mail from a judge to a criminal defense lawyer?

“Every aspect of your cross-examination: physical presence, voice, factual mastery, usually gentle confrontation, and relative brevity were a joy to watch,” Judge William Ingram, of the Northern District of California, wrote on February 12, 2001, to “the best defense counsel we had ever seen.

“Only once did I ever see you even mildly disconcerted. That was the day that you were arguing pretrial motions in the San Francisco courthouse, when your presentation was interrupted by a fairly sharp earthquake. To your credit, your East Coast reaction to a West Coast earthquake was exceedingly brief.”

Accolades flow freely when the subject is Miami attorney Albert J. Krieger.

In nearly 58 years of practice, he has defended clients ranging from Native Americans involved in the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee, to John “Teflon Don” Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family.

“One of my most cherished personal heroes” and “beloved legend of the law” is how Neal Sonnett describes his close friend in nominating him for the Selig I. Goldin Memorial Award presented by The Florida Bar’s Criminal Law Section.

Last year, Sonnett received that award, and this year the honor will be bestowed upon Krieger at a Bar Convention luncheon June 29, from noon to 2 p.m., at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

“Albert is a truly remarkable lawyer, perhaps the finest courtroom lawyer I have ever observed,” Sonnett wrote in his nomination letter. “He is also a very special man with unlimited intellectual ability, unimpeachable honesty and integrity, uncommon dedication and an uncanny talent for persuasion, both in and out of the courtroom.”

Noting he was one of the founders of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Rikki Klieman, an analyst for Court TV and former adjunct law professor at Columbia University, wrote that his “brilliant reputation swirls around him like a hurricane.” In her memoir, Fairy Tales Can Come True: How a Driven Woman Changed her Destiny, Klieman described Krieger as “a strong muscular man” who “carried himself with grandeur. And I was convinced that he was even larger than he appeared. His head was shaved and with his piercing eyes, he looked like a cross between Yul Brynner and Kojak. His voice was an operatic instrument, a booming baritone with a resonant bottom, and he used it with power.”

In the classroom, she said, students and faculty alike would imitate Krieger’s style: “And the right of the defendant to effective assistance of counsel is an inalienable right.”

“It’s a voice that would be at home in a cathedral. I’m sure he talks like that when he’s having breakfast,” Klieman said.

That voice has filled lecture halls around the country, teaching professional, trial, and ethics skills to thousands of lawyers

Krieger has served as chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section, and as a member of the ABA’s Justice Kennedy Commission, which issued landmark recommendations to improve the criminal justice system. Serving together on the ABA Task Force on the Treatment of Enemy Combatants, Sonnett said Krieger is “widely credited with initiating, more than 20 years ago, what has become a regular ‘dialogue’ process between the organized bar and the U.S. Department of Justice.”

When Krieger once gave a speech detailing lessons learned from the Wounded Knee trial, 11th Circuit Judge Joseph Farina called it “poignant, moving, and timely.”

“All Americans are indeed fortunate to have criminal defense lawyers such as yourself who are willing to give of themselves in order that the protection guaranteed to all under our Bill of Rights survives,” Judge Farina wrote to Krieger on April 28, 1995.

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