• Robert Spicer

Radical Lawyers? An American Example

Tony Serra

Tony Serra, described as a “ponytailed, potsmoking criminal defense attorney famous for fighting the government”, was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment in 2007 for tax evasion. Serra’s reaction was to comment that he could do ten months standing on his head. The blacks loved him the whites loved him, the Hispanics and Asians loved him. He talked law 24 hours a day and he found that people in custody were far more interesting than the bourgeois people who populated society. He would prefer to get down with inmates. They were interesting and dramatic. They had overstepped the bounds of society. Some of it was high principle, some of it was low principle.

Serra served four months in prison in 1976 for failing to file tax returns as a protest against the Vietnam War.

Serra is reported to have no savings and no health insurance. Any money he earns is used to pay for the cases which he takes on free of charge.

When he missed a plane and a key hearing in a trial, the judge was unimpressed when he blamed his absence on “bad karma”.

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