By Chloe Sarnoff
All anyone can talk about these days are the allegations of attempted rape against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the now former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Stories about DSK, and others involved in the case, have appeared on the front page of nearly every newspaper and news website since his arrest. Everything about this case is juicy and high profile and would make anyone raise an eyebrow (if not two). The Forum has a particularly vested interest in the upcoming trial because one of our very own film festival guest speakers, Benjamin Brafman, has been named lead defense attorney for DSK. Brafman is no stranger to highly publicized cases, and is well versed in how to handle celebrity clients.
While DSK may not have been considered a celebrity, his recent stay at the Sofitel Hotel in New York City has made him the type of well-known name with whom Brafman is used to dealing. Brafman’s list of previous clients include: pop icon, Michael Jackson, NFL star, Plaxico Burress, rapper, Sean “Diddy” Combs, New York State Senator, Carl Kruger, celebrity jeweler, Jacob Arabo, night club king, Peter Gatien, real estate mogul, Charles Kushner, and mafia boss, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante. Adding the Managing Director of the IMF, and a man who was, until his recent hotel folly, a favorite candidate in France’s next Presidential election, seems like a nice addition to Brafman’s list of famous clientele.
Beyond his extensive history of cases, Brafman’s life is full of other interesting tidbits that make the stories about DSK and his lawyer an even more fascinating read. Brafman was raised in a very religious, Jewish household in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn. His family members were Holocaust survivors, but despite the solemn atmosphere at home, Brafman still knew how to make people laugh. Brafman is said to have been a class clown during his days at the Yeshiva, and his taste for humor even landed him several stand-up comedy gigs in the Catskills when he was a young man. Another interesting fact about Brafman is that, unlike many of his fellow lawyers who are on to marriage numbers 2, 3, or 4 (well certainly not number 1), he has remained married to his (first) wife, who he met as a teenager in synagogue. As if Brafman’s client list isn’t impressive enough, as an assistant in the Manhanttan District Attorney’s office, he tried 24 cases over a four-year period and only lost one. And to add to the intrigue surrounding Brafman’s case history, of the many cases he has tried, a fair number have dealt with organized crime. Brafman is certainly a character who has proven that no case is too big or too public for him to take on. These quirky and intriguing facts about the man responsible for restoring the reputation and career of DSK only add to the gossip and curiosity surrounding his upcoming trial.