Attorney at Law Magazine Minnesota November 2013 : Page 16

William J. Mauzy Making of a Criminal Defense Lawyer By Lynette Carrington

William J. Mauzy

Lynette Carrington

Making of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Attorney William Mauzy’s experience and criminal defense expertise have made him one of the most sought after attorneys when a serious criminal matter is at hand. In state and federal court, Mauzy has crafted defenses on matters ranging from securities fraud, tax fraud, and bid rigging to bribery and murder – and everything between. But it is his innate ability to connect with his clients and uncover the truth that has given him a respected reputation among his clients as well as others within the field of law.

The Making of a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Lawyers who practice law so intensely and at such a high level sometimes find it helpful to have a sense of humor. Mauzy explains his foray into law by connecting two very different points of view. “The tale is told of Edward Gibbon sitting on Capitoline Hill overlooking the Roman Forum and having that moment where he decides that he is going to write ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.’ I didn’t have quite that epiphany, but I did get arrested which helped,” mused Mauzy.

Mauzy, who grew up in Livonia, Mich., an inner ring suburb of Detroit, was attending Carleton College. His best friend’s father had secured summer factory jobs on Detroit’s East side for his son and Mauzy, with Mauzy taking the less-desirable evening shift. At the time of the Detroit riots in 1967, Mauzy leftwork at 1:30 a.m. amid a city on fire and a curfew in effect. “I had to drive home from work and I got arrested by the police in an area where there were arsons,” he explained. His own defense that he was only driving home fell on deaf ears and he was thrown into a large jail cell holding drunken rioters. At his morning court appearance, the judge chastised the prosecutor for prosecuting a case with criminal intent so lacking in Mauzy’s instance. “Th at was my introduction to the criminal justice system and I didn’t like the prosecutor much.” Not only did that event end Mauzy’s “criminal” career, but it did give him the best story for “What Did You Do Over the Summer.”

After his less-than-glorious introduction to law, Mauzy went on to law school while working for the state public defender’s office writing briefs for criminal appeals, and also handling cases with the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office.

The former chief in the criminal division of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, John Brink, recalled Mauzy’s exceptional work. “In the early ‘70s, Bill represented an indigent client pro bono in a burglary case. The defendant’s plan was to burglarize a building on Minneapolis’ Franklin Avenue,” said Brink. “Unfortunately, he chose to share this idea with a friend who was also a police informant. The informant told the police about the burglary. The police watched the defendant commit the burglary and arrested him shortly after with the loot. Although the police and the informant denied it, Bill convinced the jury that the defendant was not guilty by reason of entrapment as he argued that the police had conceived the crime, and the informant, as agent for the police, convinced the defendant to commit it.”

After law school, he continued to work for the public defender and then went to work with Joesph Friedberg doing criminal defense for about five years before setting up his own practice. “Trying cases in the public defender’s office and then with Friedberg was the best experience a young lawyer could have,” stated Mauzy.

“Bill Mauzy started working with me when he was a mere boy in the ‘70s. In order to test him I gave him the three most impossible cases I could avoid working on myself,” said Friedberg. “He defended an assault against a totally handicapped elder person, asserted an entrapment defense to the burglary of a pharmacy and interposed the insanity defense to the uttering of a forged prescription. He got acquittals in the first two in front of the same judge who was next seen jumping up and down on the files in his chambers and negotiated a magnificent outcome on the third from a very confused and overmatched prosecutor. He has improved from there.”

Success After Success When Almost Everything Was Against Him
Mauzy’s list of accomplishments on behalf of state and federal criminal defendants is endless. For example, Mauzy represented the head of a nonprofit foundation who was found not guilty of tax fraud; the chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party found not guilty of illegal corporate campaign contributions; a Minneapolis city councilman acquitted of all bribery charges; the CEO of a Minnesota defense contracting corporation found not guilty on all counts of defense contract fraud after an 11-week trial in Louisville, Ky.; the president of a Minnesota defense contracting company in a trial in Aberdeen, S.D., found not guilty on all 36 counts of unlawful distribution of explosive materials and false statements, conspiracy to defraud the United States and export crimes; a lawyer of a medical device company who after two months of trial on felony charges, the charges were dismissed and defendant entered a plea to a misdemeanor with a probationary sentence; a manager of a Pocatello, Idaho company found not guilty of all but one count of federal environmental crimes, the remaining count was reversed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the charge was dismissed; a plant manager from St. Paul acquitted of all federal felony environmental charges; a construction company owner from Spring Grove, Minn. and later, a construction company owner from Rochester, both found not guilty of all charges in separate trials relating to criminal antitrust and fraud; and in the United States v. Durenberger, et. al, investigation, Mauzy successfully represented the Senator’s attorney and obtained a dismissal of all charges. Mauzy also represented an esteemed Minneapolis pediatrician who was acquitted of all charges of criminal sexual conduct.

Mauzy was the first criminal defense lawyer to successfully utilize the battered women’s syndrome expert testimony to support a self-defense claim to murder charges in Minnesota. The defendant, a minister’s wife, shot her husband while her husband was sleeping. Mauzy’s client was found not guilty of all charges.

In 1997, Mauzy represented the chief executive officer of a national insurance company that the Office of the Independent Counsel prosecuted for fraud in the criminal investigation of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Michael Espy. After obtaining across-the-board acquittals for his client in Washington, D.C. federal court, Mauzy’s client was understandably elated. At the same trial, the co-defendant was represented by nationally prominent attorney Ted Wells — the same lawyer who got acquittals for Secretary Espy and later represented Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in the famous federal trial. Commenting on Mauzy’s trial skills, Wells stated, “Bill Mauzy is one of the best jury trial lawyers in America. He has a disarming Midwestern charm that makes jurors trust him. He is also a brilliant trial strategist and has a great sense of how jurors will react to various defense themes.” Theodore V. Wells, Jr. is Partner and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department of Paul, Weiss in New York. The elite American College of Trial Lawyers agreed with Wells; it inducted Mauzy into its highly exclusive ranks in 2002.

Because he is so hands-on with his cases, Mauzy gets a chance to know his clients and what makes them tick. “The thing about defense work is that almost all the cases contain shades of gray and there’s no certainty of guilt or certainty of the degree of guilt,” explained Mauzy. “By the same token, there’s rarely a situation where that person is completely without some degree of blame-worthiness. I have found that with everyone that I’ve represented. I don’t treat them as ‘the defendant.’ I know that they are individuals and they all have individual stories. One of the goals that I have as a defense lawyer is to have a real appreciation for the individual who is sitting across from me and what makes them so unique and without exception, I’ve gotten to know the individuals well during representation. Getting to know them enables me to understand how they came to be accused of what they are accused of.” Not assuming any level of guilt, Mauzy learns about their habits, their family life, their friends, their inattentions, their approaches, their lack of experience and their perceptions. Th at understanding gives him the strongest information to understand his client and build their defense.

“At a minimum there are always mitigating circumstances. It’s critical to learn that information from the person I’m representing. I have to be able to argue to a jury or explain to a judge why this person, with the sole exception of the criminal activity—alleged or admitted—is actually a good human being,” Mauzy noted. “No one wants to be judged by the worst moments in their life.”

Saving Busy Signal
One recent case that Mauzy had was one where he represented Glendale Gordon, a Jamaican reggae superstar better known as Busy Signal, who coincidentally grew up in St. Ann Parish, where Bob Marley was raised. Gordon’s father immigrated to Connecticut and eventually brought the family to the United States. Gordon completed high school in a rough part of Hartford. After high school, he worked as a disc jockey in a local nightclub and maintained Jamaican contacts. He had a music industry friend from Kingston who offered to send several pre-release CDs of reggae music, which were unavailable in the United States, with another Jamaican (a person unknown to Glendale), who was traveling to Minneapolis. “Th is person, as it turns out, was arrested when he got off the plane in Memphis and they seized a substantial quantity of cocaine from him,” Mauzy explained. “Being faced with some serious charges of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, he decided to ‘inform’ on Glendale and say that Glendale was the person who was the buyer of the cocaine.” Drug enforcement fl ew their newly minted informant on to Minneapolis to meet with Glendale. Glendale didn’t know the delivery guy, thought he was getting CDs and no money was exchanged, but drug enforcement moved in and arrested Glendale.

The reggae artist was represented by another attorney and, according to Mauzy, felt pressured to plead guilty. Gordon jumped bail, didn’t show up for his trial and went back to Jamaica. While there, he rose to stardom as a reggae artist and traveled the world, except for the United States where there was a warrant for him. Ironically, Gordon produced a video called “I’m Not Going Back to Jail Again.” Customs agents watched the video and figured out it was Glendale Gordon from the Minneapolis 2002 incident. They obtained an extradition warrant while Glendale was on a European tour. When he arrived back in Jamaica, Glendale was arrested on an extradition warrant for failure to appear at trial and sent back to the United States.

Mauzy was contacted by Gordon’s Jamaican attorney for representation in the United States. “The extradition laws really are arcane, but it is an area of law that strictly enforces the terms of the extradition treaty,” Mauzy said. “He was extradited on the offense of failure to appear, but we prevented him from being prosecuted for the underlying possession with intent to distribute drug case.” Gordon otherwise would potentially have faced 10 years in jail. The judge accepted an argument regarding a “rule of specialty” because he was extradited solely for the offense of failure to appear, he could only be properly prosecuted in the United States for that offense.

“Glendale has always asserted his innocence on the drug case and I believe him. I prepared for Glendale’s sentencing by doing video interviews of his parents and brothers in Hartford, a very loving family. I then went to Jamaica and lined up Busy Signal’s video crew and we went back to St. Ann Parish,” explained Mauzy. “I interviewed his grandmother at the home where he grew up in very modest circumstances with his mom, brothers, sister and cousins. I went to Kingston and interviewed several people in the music industry to talk about how important Busy was to the local economy and to his employees and to attest to the type of person he is.” Mauzy also discovered that Gordon had worked with a television station to put together a tour of 25 high schools where he spoke about abstinence and AIDS protection and staying away from drugs. Gordon had been doing a great deal of good in his community on his own. All of the interviews were compiled in a DVD that was presented to the federal judge as part of the sentencing advocacy. Glendale received a sentence of six months which was about the time he had spent in jail since his extradition.

Mauzy remains in contact with the singer and his family to this day. “I am overwhelmingly satisfied with what Bill did for me. And he was much more than just an attorney, he was like a father to me. I would highly recommend him to anyone in the world,” said Busy Signal.

Whether it’s exceptional representation in the courtroom, working one-on-one with his clients or working out in the field on behalf of his clients, Mauzy gladly does it all to get to the very heart of his cases. It is that deep dedication to the many facets of his clients’ lives that continue to give him the necessary insight and edge to successfully defend those cases at the highest level.

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