Genson is still around at 77, though ill, his usual candor honed by the approach of death.
“I have bile duct cancer,” he said in the paneled study of his Deerfield home. “Terminal cancer.”
Doctors gave him 90 days to live.
“That was a year and a half ago,” said Genson. “They don’t know what they’re doing.”
Even death wants nothing to do with him.
Perhaps this is a good moment to set the record straight.
Perhaps this is a good moment to keep his mouth shut and honor his duty to maintain the confidences of his clients. For criminal defense lawyers, there is no setting the record straight. There is the honor of upholding one’s ethical obligations and the disgrace of being Ed Genson.
Any insights into R. Kelly, the man? Guilty as hell?
“He was guilty as hell!” Genson said.
But he’s not done. Not only does he try to shed his flagrantly unethical conduct, but his claims are unadulterated bullshit.
I wondered if this statement might violate attorney/client privilege. But 1) Genson volunteered the information; 2) Kelly is no longer his client; and 3) attorney/client privilege doesn’t hold if a client is engaged in ongoing criminality or is perjuring himself. Both might be the case if Kelly is indeed found guilty.
The first argument relates to reporting Genson’s outrageous violation of client confidences, and there is no journalistic duty to conceal what an unethical lawyer spews. That Kelly is no longer his client is utterly irrelevant, as the duty does not extinguish when the relationship ends, even if Kelly has a new lawyer. The third is similarly nonsensical, as it’s not an ongoing course of criminal conduct but, if a crime has been committed at all, it’s discrete and individual, each independent of the other.
And regardless, no criminal defense lawyer would ever, but ever, say that his client, or former client, who was acquitted at trial, was “guilty as hell.”
It’s been suggested that Genson might be mentally incapacitated, whether by age, disease or senility, and that his violating his ethical duty to his client isn’t him talking, but the idiot now occupying the space in his head where his brain used to be.
I refuse to make excuses for him, even if this is senility violating one of the most fundamental precepts of the attorney/client relationship. You don’t do it. You can’t do it. And if you can’t control yourself for being the most disgraceful mutt of yourself possible, too bad.
We all possess secrets about people, about things that have happened in this world, that others who believe they can justify anything by whatever flavor of morality they prefer, would spill, or have us spill. What about the victims? What about the families? What about the children?
Yes, we know. We all learn the Christian Burial Speech in law school, and how it plucks the heartstrings of the emotionally manipulated. Maybe we have no heart. Maybe we’re some weird group of people immune for all sad tears. But criminal defense lawyers never, but never, reveal client confidences.
I don’t wish death on Genson, as I would never wish it on anyone. But as long as he lives, this will be his disgraceful legacy, his badge of dishonor. his shame. For revealing this, he is dead to the criminal defense bar, at least those of us who will take our secrets to the grave. And if you aren’t among us, if you fail to see the problem when your duty to your client conflicts with your feelings or feigned morality, you’re scum too. It’s too late for Genson, either way.