Defense Attorney Matthew Newburg, of Newburg Law, shared his experience as defense counsel for Larry Nassar, former Michigan State University sports physician and USA Gymnastics national team doctor, who pleaded guilty to child pornography and 10 counts of sexual assault. Newburg’s Feb. 20 presentation, "Defending the Notorious Client," at WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus was hosted by the law school’s Career and Professional Development Department and the Criminal Law Society.
While sharing his experiences about working as a defense attorney, Newburg said that, sometimes, the attorney is the only friend an unpopular client may have.
Pictured, from left: WMU-Cooley Career and Professional Development Director Karen Poole, Matthew Newburg, and Associate Dean of Career and Professional Development Charles Toy.
“The client is listening to the advice you are giving, [but] that doesn't always mean your client asks for advice before making a decision to do something you would not recommend,” said Newburg. “As was in the case of the letter Mr. Nassar wrote and sent to Judge Aquilina during the trial without my knowing.”
Newburg also spoke about the importance of the jury selection process for high-profile cases, especially when there are very strong feelings in the community, or even nationally about the client. He noted that social media is the first place he looks when reviewing jurors for any trial.
While addressing whether the criminal justice system still works as it was originally intended and how the defense attorney is looked upon, Newburg noted, “If I do my part, the police do their part, and the prosecutors do their job, then the system works,” said Newburg. “As a defense attorney, I don't make anyone happy. This is my job. This is not who I am, it's what I do.”