Watch “Hannity” on Fox News and you can see Atlanta lawyer David Schoen, 59, provide expert opinions ranging from the removal of the Jewish sheriff, Scott Israel, involved in the Parkland school shooting to the overreach of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Schoen, who has offices in New York and Alabama, combines high-profile criminal defense work with civil rights cases involving fair housing, jails, voting rights, a voice for defenseless children and more. Known for being a pit bull, he also goes after Islamic terrorists for damages caused to Americans overseas.
He has represented the Mafia, accused rapists, murderers and international narcotics dealers. Yet the sanctity and security of Israel remain among his priorities.
Jaffe: How has your upbringing influenced you?
Schoen: My father, an FBI agent and draftee for the New York Yankees, died when I was 4. My stepfather died when I was 10. I watched my strong mother, Joan, who now lives next door to me, work long days and rear two children. She even ran a Ford dealership. I learned what it meant to face adversity and to fight hard to earn something. Without a father figure, I did not have a firm religious background. That part has changed. Religion now has a larger role in my life. I associate with Young Israel and Congregation Beth Jacob.
Jaffe: You have a case now against Broward County, Fla., Sheriff Scott Israel, well known from the Parkland school shooting.
Schoen: I am suing him for the family of an African-American IT engineer whom one of his deputies killed in cold blood. The case alleges that Sheriff Israel helped cover up the true facts, which were only uncovered after I went into the neighborhood and found courageous eyewitnesses, one of whom took a photo showing part of the cover-up and ended up in The New York Times.
Jaffe: Describe the situation where you sue terrorists.
Schoen: In two of my most meaningful cases, I have advocated for Americans killed by terrorists working for or with the PLO and the PA. In one case I worked on, the jury returned a judgment of $655 million, but the Court of Appeals reversed it. The Supreme Court must decide whether to hear it. I have just uncovered documents in which the PLO decided, after meeting with Condoleezza Rice, then secretary of State, that they would accede to jurisdiction in the U.S. and wanted to fight the case. Now that they have lost, they are trying to manipulate the system and, for political reasons, sadly appear to be having success.
Jaffe: You met with terrorists?
Schoen: I flew to Israel and cross-examined one of the most dangerous and despicable terrorists in the world, Ahmad Sa’adat, the head of the PFLP. He is in prison for the murder of an Israeli Cabinet minister, among other crimes. After I finished, he sneered, “I’ve been arrested by the Israeli police many times, but even the Shabak has never treated me as badly as you.” I took it as a compliment. He testified that he serves on the PLO executive committee and has homes and chauffeur-driven limos, courtesy of American taxpayer money.
Jaffe: Do you think the parents of Otto Warmbier, a Jewish student who was tortured in North Korea, have a case against that country?
Schoen: From the publicly available facts, yes.
Jaffe: You have had some comments about the Mueller investigation.
Schoen: Mr. Mueller has a questionable history, arising from his supervision of the corrupt relationship between an FBI agent (now in prison for murder) and an informant (Whitey Bulger). He has refused to answer questions about it. His deputy, Andrew Weissmann, was directly involved in the most troubling scandal in FBI history, and he was singled out by a federal judge for that role. Mueller put together a team full of conflicts of interest and from the same political party. I don’t think this is the group to conduct an objective investigation into the president if the whole world is to have confidence in the process and its outcome.
Jaffe: I’m getting mixed vibes. You’re not sounding like a liberal, yet you champion liberal causes.
Schoen: On many social and domestic issues, I am characterized as being on the left; on issues involving Israel, I am characterized as being on the right. My position on all issues is based on principles that I can defend using my understanding of the Constitution. My greatest professional honors were given by the ABA and Boston College Law School for my civil rights work. In honoring me with its national pro bono public award, the ABA announced that, according to federal judges it interviewed, my work has done more to change public institutions in the South than the work of any other lawyer of this era. I was very grateful for the thought.
Jaffe: Tell us something personal about you that we don’t know.
Schoen: I went through college on a full athletic scholarship and helped lead my team in the No. 1 singles and doubles tennis slots to its first NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference championship and won medals in the Maccabiah Games. When I was younger, I was picked up by the William Morris Agency as a country singer and was invited to audition for Neil Simon’s play “Biloxi Blues.” I felt law was the work that would be most meaningful.