Daniel M. Petrocelli
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Daniel M. Petrocelli is an American defense attorney, known in part for his work in a 1997 wrongful death civil suit against O.J. Simpson and for representing Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling. He is a partner at the law firm O’Melveny & Myers. Currently he is representing Donald Trump in several legal cases involving Trump University.
Life and career
Petrocelli is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in economics (he began as a music major but switched to economics after two years), and then moved on to the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles where he received his Juris Doctor in 1980. He graduated first in his class from Southwestern and was also editor-in-chief of the Southwestern Law Review.
Petrocelli first gained national media exposure in 1997 when, as a partner at the law firm Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, he represented Fred Goldman, the father of murder victim Ron Goldman, in a wrongful death civil suit against O.J. Simpson. Petrocelli successfully argued the case, in spite of Simpson's 1995 acquittal in the related 1994 criminal murder case, and a jury awarded the Goldman family $8.5 million in damages. His book about the case, Triumph of Justice: The Final Judgment on the Simpson Saga (1998), written with co-author Peter Knobler, became a national bestseller.
In 2001, Petrocelli took on the legendary Bert Fields in Los Angeles Superior Court in the celebrated case of Stephen Slesinger Inc. v The Walt Disney Company, which remains active and is the longest-running case in that court's history (it was filed in 1991). Petrocelli won a dismissal of the case after Fields had won a $200 million preliminary judgment but was forced to recuse himself. The case concerns the merchandising royalties paid by Disney to the heirs of Stephen Slesinger, a branding pioneer who obtained merchandising rights from Pooh author A.A. Milne in 1929. The clash between the two famous attorneys was covered in depth by Joe Shea of The American Reporter, an online daily newspaper that now offers an archive of 28 articles about the case with an extensive discussion of Petrocelli's role.
Petrocelli's next high-profile client was former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, whom Petrocelli has represented since 2004, who was tried on charges of fraud and insider trading in 2006. Even though he had never previously handled a criminal case, Petrocelli became Skilling's lead defense counsel. Despite his defense, for which Skilling still owes a reported $30 million, a jury found Skilling guilty of nineteen out of the twenty-eight counts against him, including one count of conspiracy, one count of insider trading (although he was acquitted of the other nine counts of this particular charge), five counts of making false statements to auditors, and twelve counts of securities fraud. For these crimes, Skilling was sentenced to serve over 24 years in federal prison. In 2013 Petrocelli successfully negotiated a 10-year reduction to the original term, reducing Skilling's term to 14 years.
In December 2009, Petrocelli was retained by boxing celebrity Manny Pacquiao to sue Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Floyd Mayweather, Sr., Roger Mayweather, Oscar de la Hoya, and Richard Schaefer for false and defamatory statements accusing Pacquiao of taking performance-enhancing drugs. Filed in Nevada, the case sought compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $75,000, which according to Petrocelli was simply the minimum that one has to allege in order to sue in federal court, and that the actual damages to Pacquiao’s reputation were in the tens of millions of dollars, excluding punitive damages.
- "Lawyers in Trump University case seek maximum political pain". Politico. 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
- "BEST SELLERS: May 17, 1998 - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1998-05-17. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- "Enron's Skilling Strikes Deal for Shorter Sentence". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- Nathanielsz, Ronnie (1 January 2010). "Pacquiao files lawsuit". Manila Standard Today. Manila. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- "Pacquiao files suit against Mayweathers". The Philippine Star. Mandaluyong City, Philippines. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2010.