Criminal Justice

Lawyer Who Never Tried a Case Proud of Murder Mistrial on Facebook, Humiliated in Interview

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New Jersey lawyer Joseph Rakofsky appeared pleased in a Facebook post after a Washington, D.C., judge declared a mistrial due to the defense lawyer’s trial performance.

“1st-Degree Murder…MISTRIAL!” Rakofsky wrote, according to the Washington City Paper. Seven of his friends indicated they liked the status update. But in an interview with the publication, Rakofsky admitted he was “humiliated” by a press account of the proceeding.

Rakofsky had confessed to jurors weighing the fate of accused murderer Dontrell Deaner that he had never tried a case before, according to an account by the Washington Post. Judge William Jackson cited that inexperience in declaring a mistrial on Friday, saying the lawyer did not have a good grasp of trial procedures. The judge ruled after reviewing a motion by an investigator claiming Rakofsky suggested he “trick” a witness.

Rakofsky had tried the case with local counsel, but they often had disagreements, leaving Deaner “visibly frustrated,” according to the Washington Post account. On Friday, Deaner told the judge he wanted a new lawyer.

“People put lies on the record and people are reading about these lies,” Rakovsky complained in the City Paper interview.

Rakofsky graduated from Touro law school in 2009 and obtained a law license in New Jersey less than a year ago. His website, however, claims he has worked on murder, embezzlement and conspiracy cases. “When I say I’ve worked on those cases, that doesn’t mean I’ve worked on those cases on my own,” he told the Washington City Paper. “I was working with other lawyers, interning and stuff.”

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: ” ‘Astonished’ Judge Declares Murder Mistrial Due to Defense Lawyer Who Never Tried a Case”

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