Geoffrey Fieger

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Geoffrey Fieger
Personal details
Born Geoffrey Nels Fieger
(1950-12-23) December 23, 1950 (age 63)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Kathleen Fieger
Alma mater University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor

Detroit College of Law
Website Official website

Geoffrey Nels Fieger (born December 23, 1950) is an American attorney based in Southfield, Michigan.[1] Fieger is the senior partner at the law firm of Fieger, Fieger, Kenney, Johnson & Giroux P.C., and is an occasional legal commentator for NBC and MSNBC. His practice focuses on criminal defense, litigation and medical malpractice cases.

Fieger is best known as the defense attorney for Jack Kevorkian and as the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan in 1998.

Early life and family[edit]

Fieger grew up in Oak Park, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit, Michigan, the son of June Beth (née Oberer) and Bernard Julian Fieger.[2] Fieger's father was Jewish, and his mother was of Norwegian descent.[3] He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1976 and his J.D. from the Detroit College of Law (now the Michigan State University College of Law) in 1979.

Fieger is the older brother of the late Doug Fieger, lead vocalist of the late-'70s/early-'80s rock group The Knack, best known for their hit song "My Sharona" in 1979. Fieger and his wife, Kathleen ("Keenie"), have several children and live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Legal career[edit]

Fieger has been involved with a variety of high-profile or controversial cases. In 1994, he represented Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the first of several doctor-assisted suicide trials. Kevorkian was acquitted in that trial and all subsequent trials where Fieger represented him. (Kevorkian was convicted when he represented himself in his last assisted suicide trial in 1999.) These events were made into a movie, You Don't Know Jack, aired on HBO, in which Fieger was portrayed by actor Danny Huston.

Other notable clients and cases include:

  • the family of Scott Amedure in a 1999 wrongful death and negligence suit against The Jenny Jones Show
  • the family of Isaiah Shoels, who was killed in the Columbine High School massacre
  • Ralf Panitz, accused of killing his ex-wife Nancy Campbell-Panitz in July 2000, following their appearance along with Panitz's new wife, on a segment of The Jerry Springer Show. Panitz was convicted in 2002
  • Robert Turner, a 6-year-old boy, whose 911 call to the City of Detroit was allegedly not taken seriously, resulting in the death of Turner's mother, Sherrill[4]
  • Lorraine Hayes, shot in the head and chest by her boyfriend and whose call to 911 on January 12, 2005, was ignored, resulting in her paralysis from the waist down[5]
  • Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver, a U.S. soldier who defused roadside bombs in Iraq and claims to be the main character in The Hurt Locker[6] Sarver's case was dismissed, and under California law, was required to pay the defendants' attorney fees of $187,000.[7]

Other activities[edit]

In 1997, Fieger donated four million dollars to the Detroit College of Law, now the Michigan State University College of Law, to start the nation's first trial practice institute for law students, which was named the Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute.[8]

In 1998 Fieger ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan. During the campaign Fieger made several inflammatory and controversial comments and statements, including

  • an assertion that his opponent John Engler was the product of barnyard miscegenation;[9]
  • a claim that "rabbis are closer to Nazis than they think." [10]
  • a radio appearance characterizing Michigan appellate judges as "jackasses" for overturning a 15 million dollar medical malpractice judgment he had won. (A lower court reprimand based on these comments was eventually upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court.)[11]

Fieger appeared as one of the attorneys on the reality TV show Power of Attorney, and was opposing counsel in an episode of NBC's The Law Firm.

Trial and acquittal[edit]

In August 2007, Fieger was indicted on federal campaign finance charges; the U.S. government alleged that Fieger had illegally funneled $127,000 to John Edwards' 2004 presidential campaign. Fieger was defended by famed defense attorney Gerry Spence, who announced this would be his last case. A jury acquitted Fieger of all 10 charges, and Fieger's co-defendant and law partner Ven Johnson on five charges, on June 2, 2008. Johnson stated that the charges were politically motivated.[12]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Howard Wolpe
Democratic nominee for Governor of Michigan
1998
Succeeded by
Jennifer Granholm