Michael Weinstein confirms former role as 'zealous advocate' for Charlie Adelson; raises new Qs
Michael Weinstein submitted a formal reply, amended to to the Florida Politics column describing his relationship with the Adelson family. In this, Weinstein asserted that everything he did was within the law and his role as an attorney. That assertion does not contradict anything in the column.
But there’s a lot more to consider.
1) Weinstein’s response understates the role he played in defending Charlie Adelson and his family.
Weinstein didn’t just file motions and draft press statements. Well beyond that, Weinstein voluntarily appeared on local and major network television shows, presenting himself as a longtime family friend and spokesperson.
On ABC’s 20/20, Weinstein stressed that “the family had no involvement whatsoever” in Dan Markel’s murder and that Charlie, “a really easygoing, have a beer, relaxed kind of guy,” could never engage in such conduct.
Weinstein decided to play an important, public, and PERSONAL role in defending his friend. These television appearances were not protected by privilege. What national audiences saw was one man choosing to put his credibility and reputation on the line for another. At the time, the overwhelming evidence of Charlie’s lead role in murdering Markel had already been made public by law enforcement.
Which brings us to …
2) Weinstein’s response fails to differentiate between what might matter potential clients … and what matters to voters.
Surely, future clients would respect that Weinstein – in his own words – “acted as a zealous advocate” for Charlie Adelson. And the role of the criminal defense lawyer is critical in our legal system.
But we’re not talking about clients here. Because Michael Weinstein is running for State House, we’re talking about VOTERS.
Think of it this way: Rudy Giuliani is a “zealous advocate” for HIS client, President Trump. That’s certainly a legal, lawyerly thing to do. Everyone deserves representation. But if Mr. Giuliani ran for office again, voters would also be right to consider if they’d want to vote for a man who chose to align … to defend … to represent the interests of this particular client.
Likewise, the voters of District 81 deserve the chance to ask these kinds of questions, and wouldn’t be wrong to do so.
3) Weinstein's response did not dispute his role a go-between for communications between Charlie, Katie, and Sigfredo just following Sigfredo’s arrest.
Attorney-to-attorney communications are common and perfectly proper. But, the impact of these conversations seemed to matter in this case: Weinstein “assured” Sigfredo Garcia’s then-lawyer Jim Lewis that Charlie and “the family” wouldn’t talk with law enforcement. Lewis then shared this with Katie Magbanua. From there, she and Sigfredo felt safe to avoid cooperating, too. This is reiterated here only to underscore that Weinstein’s early role wasn’t trivial. In this very definitional “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” law enforcement had an uphill battle in eliciting cooperation due to these assurances taking place. Yes, Weinstein was just doing his job – but in this case, that meant that Florida residents had to spend much more time and money to get less justice in this horrific murder case.
Given Mr. Weinstein’s desire to earn the trust of voters, here’s a few questions that might help to start with:
1) Everyone would love to know why you “cut ties with the family.” You could have just declined to be his lawyer – why end a relationship with your groomsman and his entire family, too? And when did you “cut ties with the family” – immediately after David Markus took over Charlie’s defense, or some period of time after that?
2) Do you still stand by the statement you made on 20/20, regarding Charlie’s good nature and the impossibility of his family having played a role in Dan’s murder? If not, why did you go on national TV and say this then, even though law enforcement released the overwhelming evidence of Charlie and Donna’s involvement a week before this segment aired?
3) Based purely on the publicly available evidence, do you think that members of the Adelson family should be prosecuted for the murder of Dan Markel?
4) There is currently a grandparents’ rights bill before the legislature that would allow people like Dan Markel’s parents to petition the courts – what is your position on such a bill, and what has your family communicated to their close friends the Adelsons about their decision to cut off their grandchildren from their other grandparents?
5) The Weinsteins and the Adelsons have been close family friends for your entire life. Your father is Wendi Adelson’s godfather and a former Senate Majority Leader and Senate Judiciary Committee chair who no doubt knows longtime State Attorney Willie Meggs. Meggs was the one who made the initial decision not to prosecute Charlie Adelson, despite the Tallahassee Police Department’s recommendation to move forward and the overwhelming evidence. Are you and your father willing to have an independent investigator look at your phone records and release a redacted version of any communications between your father and Meggs or his associates in Tallahassee so that voters can judge for themselves the extent of your family’s involvement or influence in the Markel case?