No stranger to controversy, David Schoen weighs in on police misconduct, representing Roger Stone and having some fun acting in a Jeffrey Epstein docudrama. He often appears on Fox News to discuss high-profile criminal defense work.
Schoen has worked with accused rapists, capital murderers and international narcotics dealers. “I represented all sorts of reputed mobster figures: alleged head of Russian mafia in this country, Israeli mafia and two Italian bosses, as well a guy the government claimed was the biggest mafioso in the world.”
On a current hot topic, Schoen said, “I think the so-called ‘defund the police movement’ is misguided, and the violence attending the protests is way out of control and inexcusable.”
Here he takes on current topics:
Jaffe: After an investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller, political consultant and lobbyist Roger Stone’s 40-month sentence for witness tampering and obstruction was commuted by President Donald Trump in July. What was your relationship?
Schoen: He approached me shortly before trial to take over as lead trial counsel. I asked his lawyers to move for a 30-day continuance to be fully prepared. They refused. As with many lawyers in similar situations, they were put off by Roger’s decision and didn’t think they needed help.
I found that Stone was very bright, full of personality and flair. I was retained prior to his sentencing in February so that I could give some input into the sentencing approach, but I was formally retained just to handle the appeal. I thought he had some great appellate issues. While I fully understand that his public persona does not engender a great deal of empathy, objectively the case against him was very unfair and politicized. The Mueller team’s agenda was to bring a process crime charge against him to force him to tell them what they wanted to hear about Trump, even if untrue. Then the outrageous juror misconduct and the judge’s reaction to it finally made clear that [Stone] could never get fair consideration; thus he dropped challenges to his conviction. He couldn’t put himself through that again.
Jaffe: You trained as an actor. How did you execute your role on the Discovery Channel show on Jeffrey Epstein, believed the longest-standing child trafficking case in history.
Schoen: I studied at The Actors Studio and Herbert Berghof Studio.
The producer approached me while in D.C. on the Stone case. They sent a production team from New York, rented a townhouse, and filmed there. No lines to learn. They just asked me questions.
It aired as a three-hour special on Investigation Discovery channel. I did some interviews to promote it on Fox, Good Day New York, and (UK) Daily Mail. There is an upcoming HBO special I’ve been asked to appear in, but I’ve had enough. Takes too much time away from legal work. Three different agents have called.
Jaffe: A big area of your practice is police misconduct.
Schoen: I represented a guy who had his head held under the tire of a car with the engine on and another beaten nearly to death to get confessions; had a client killed in cold blood by cops lying in wait (only got the truth by making a deal with one of the shooters). I’ve represented a guy who hired two New York cops to kill for the mob, and family members of victims killed by a corrupt FBI agent working with an underboss.
Seen lots of police misconduct. I turn down most of these cases only taking ones in which the misconduct is crystal clear. The vast majority of law enforcement officers are trying to do their jobs in the best possible way and believe in protecting and serving. My father was an FBI agent, and our law enforcement officers and fire fighters are true heroes.
I understand the frustration of seeing bad cops get away with horrible brutality; that happens far more than is reported. The answer is not violence or stripping of resources. It is very difficult for a police officer to report misconduct by a colleague. The men and women on the job know who the bad apples are and need to do a better job of calling out misconduct.
Jaffe: Last word on Jeffrey Epstein.
Schoen: I still think he was murdered.
An active member of Congregation Beth Jacob, Schoen has offices based primarily in Alabama and New York and is not a member of the State Bar of Georgia.