Howard Weitzman, a popular Hollywood power attorney and partner with Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert law firm who represented top celebrities from Marlon Brando to Michael Jackson to John DeLorean, has died at age 81.
The death of Howard Weitzman was reported by Variety, which stated that the family are expected to make a statement on the death of the longtime power attorney on Thursday.
Howard Weitzman represented Jackson during his headline-making battles against child molestation allegation from a 13-year-old boy in the early 1990s to mid-1990s. Weitzman also gained fame as the first attorney to represent O.J. Simpson in June 1994 when the former football great was investigated and arrested on suspicion of the double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Howard Weitzman bowed out after a few days when attorney Robert Shapiro stepped in. Simpson was acquitted in 1995. Weitzman was later vocal in interviews that he believed Simpson was guilty of the brutal crime.
“There are people whose opinions are that the wrong verdict was arrived at in that trial. I am one who holds that opinion,” Weitzman told Los Angeles Business Journal in 2002.
Weitzman was well known throughout the industry as a fixer with connections to help sort out sticky situations. He worked closely with private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who relocated to Los Angeles from Chicago at Weitzman’s behest to work on auto magnate John DeLorean’s many legal entanglements.
Pellicano went to federal prison in 2008 after being convicted of wiretapping, racketeering, conspiracy and fraud. He was released in 2019.
Weitzman also represented the Jackson estate in a lawsuit over HBO’s 2019 documentary “Finding Neverland.” One of Weitzman’s biggest recent triumphs came when an appeals court reversed an unpaid royalties verdict for producer Quincy Jones, reducing the Jackson estate’s liability to around $2.5 million from $9.4 million.
Other clients in recent years included pop star Justin Bieber, producer Ivan Reitman, singer Axl Rose and mega showrunner Chuck Lorre during his 2011 battle with “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen.
Weitzman was a native of Los Angeles who earned a law degree from USC. He nabbed his first high-profile case in 1973 as the court-appointed attorney for Manson family member Mary Brunner, who bore a child with Charles Manson. He has also represented members of the Black Panthers in legal cases, according to a 2015 interview he gave to California Super Lawyers magazine.
Over his long career, Weitzman was a lead trial attorney in over 200 civil and criminal jury trials and represented over 1,000 individuals and companies on matters ranging from intellectual property and entertainment issues to family law and estate issues.
Other court cases involved huge awards in the Hulk Hogan and Erin Andrews invasion of privacy cases.
A-list clients for the litigator, transaction attorney and strategic adviser included every major motion picture studio, talent agencies William Morris Agency, ICM and CAA, and such high-profile names as John DeLorean, Morgan Freeman, Magic Johnson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and Sean Combs.
Weitzman’s high-profile and industry connections landed him cameos in such movies as 2005’s “Thank You for Smoking” and in a 2014 episode of the Steven Bochco TNT drama “Murder in the First.” He also served as a legal consultant to “Murder in the First” and Bochco’s 1995-96 ABC drama “Murder One.”
Survivors include his wife, Margaret Weitzman, and two sons.