Last month, I posted about New Jersey lawyer, Joseph Rakofsky regarding his representation of a criminal client named Dontrell Deaner in a murder trial in Washington, DC after The Washington Post’s article. Mr. Rakofsky is unhappy about the content of the post and believed it defamed him. Thus, I am included in the Supreme Court of the State of New York civil action of Rakofsky v. The Washington Post Company, et al. As a fellow criminal defense practitioner, I regret this misfortune that has befallen Mr. Rakofsky. To the extent that I have in some way perpetuated others’ comments on his professionalism, I wish that had not occurred.
Much like the late night pundits comment daily on other public figures, the blawgosphere has heaped a great deal of abuse and criticism against Mr. Rakofsky regarding this representation. The Washington Post article speaks for itself. It did not, it appears, have the benefit of the full five days of trial and Mr. Rakofsky’s performance to critique. It cited the judge’s comments from the bench in a small snipit in time over a lengthy proceeding. If Mr. Rakofsky’s allegations in his lawsuit are accurate, the Washington Post failed to include that he had petitioned the court to withdraw as Mr. Deaner’s counsel due to an attorney-client conflict, but instead indicated that a mistrial was declared over [his alleged] incompetence. If so, this was not an accurate representation of all of the facts per Mr. Rakofsky.
It is easy to pick up these articles and run with them because it makes for interesting posts. Nevertheless, we should all endeavor to look beyond the content that newspapers print to the people behind them. There is a great deal more to know about Mr. Rakofsky than what was written in my blog. No doubt, his course of conduct going forward will give better insight into the kind of man and lawyer he is. I, and perhaps many of the other bloggers who cited to the Washington Post’s article, did not have the benefit of the entire story. We should have done better.
Mr. Rakofsky has chosen to speak in court rather than commenting on various blog posts. Those who have formed conclusions one way or another about Rakofsky have taken the bloggers’ bait, alas, it would seem such people cared for the salacious headline rather than to paint a complete picture. I am responsible for my blog post and I was wrong not to be more comprehensive in my comments. Give Mr. Rakofsky the benefit of the doubt until you know the whole story, then make your own conclusion. Mr. Rakofsky believes he has been harmed by people who came to conclusions about him without benefit of having all the necessary information. I too, did not have the full benefit of the entire trial transcript before quoting the Washington Post’s article.
Mr. Rakofsky seeks to have his day in court in this matter against one or more of the defendants. An impartial judge will determine if he has made his case in accord with the facts and the law. The defendants, likewise, will defend their words. In the end, the blawgosphere will move on to another target of its daily discussion. Mr. Rakofsky will begin the task of rebuilding his practice and reputation. Only time will tell if he will succeed at either.