Jay Goldberg

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Jay Goldberg is an American trial attorney in New York City. He is best known for his representation of American President Donald Trump during his divorces and many real estate transactions. Goldberg has solidified his reputation as one of New York city’s best and brightest trial lawyers. His mastery of cross-examination has been cited to leave witnesses gasping for air and he has been lauded as one of the "lawyers you don't want to see across the aisle."

Goldberg is known for his work as acting United States Attorney for the Northwestern District of Indiana, by appointment of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Goldberg is also known for his significant representation of Bess Myerson, BONO, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Miles Davies, The Rolling Stones, Sean Combs, Matty "The Horse" Ianniello, Joe "Scarface" Agone and Vincent "Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo.

A tribute was paid to him on the recommendation of a Member of Congress for his dedication and study of the principles of the Constitution. Mr. Goldberg has been chosen by a Member of the Congressional Black Caucus of the House of Representatives to litigate before the United States District Court of the District of Columbia as to whether the House Committee on Ethics conducts its affairs in conformity with the United States Constitution when a Member of the House is charged with violating the House’s Official Code of Conduct.

He is the author of three books: Preparation and Trial of Criminal Cases Within the Second Circuit (2009) "Techniques in the Defense of a Federal Criminal Case", (2012), and "Preparation, and Trial of A Federal Criminal Case (2010).[1] He is often referred to as one of the best trial lawyers in history. In addition to his successful legal career, he completed his military service with rank of Lt. Colonel.

Personal life[edit]

Goldberg was born January 2, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, United States. In his early life he was considered an athlete, enjoying competitive boxing. In addition to recreational basketball and baseball. During his college career at Brooklyn College he engaged in football as well. He received his college degree magna cum laude from Brooklyn College and was elected as early as his junior year to Phi Beta Kappa. After college he considered a career in the law citing his many visits to the federal and state courts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

He graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

During law school he met Regina, "Rema," at Concord Hotel mixer "single weekends." Rema would later on become his wife. He is married to Rema Goldberg, in at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Rema serves as a jury consultant to attorneys.


Goldberg was acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, Special Attorney and Counselor to the United States Department of Justice, Washington D.C and an Assistant District Attorney, New York County. He has been a past lecturer on trial advocacy at the Harvard Law School. He served on the Congressionally mandated Joint Committee on Local Rules for the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. He was a member on the Committee on Grievances for United States District Court, Southern District of New York.

Goldberg was lead counsel in U.S. v. Bess Meyerson, where the former Miss America who was then a key city official, and had been a Senate candidate was accused, along with a State Supreme Court Justice of bribery in order to influence a pending case. In a book used in a number of law schools in trial advocacy courses, Prof. Iannuzzi [Trial: Strategy & Psychology (Prentice Hall)] reprinted Goldberg’s summation in the Meyerson case and wrote: "The trial ended in an acquittal in large measure based on Mr. Goldberg's summation. His summation is must reading for those studying trial advocacy."

During the filming of American hero - Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks, Goldberg was legal aid to James B. Donovan. At critical moments relating to the planning of the transfer of a captured Russian spy for one of our own, which was later accomplished by agreements between the governments of the United States and the East German authorities, Mr. Goldberg was at Mr. Donovan’s side during the planning stage.

Goldberg was profiled on Robin Leach’s popular and syndicated television show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in a major segment entitled “Toughest Lawyer in Town.”

At the Association of the Bar, City of New York he delivered a lecture entitled by others “Giant of the Trial Bar.”

Donald Trump writing, of his choice of counsel in his many litigations, in The Art of the Comeback (Random House), reflected: "What really piqued my interest in Goldberg was that he was a lawyer who, by reputation, was tough and fierce. Goldberg had long been earning the plaudits of lawyers for his outstanding defense work. I called Goldberg and arranged to meet with him that same day. I took an instant liking to him and retained him on the spot to act for me as my lead counsel."

On January 9, 2012, Mr. Trump wrote: “There has never been a lawyer more important to me than you. It is very important to me that you know that!”

Carl Icahn, multi billionaire financier, then CEO of TWA, was sued by the machinists' union and minority shareholders for selling off routes and stock of the airline in order to garner monies for himself. In this multimillion dollar suit for damages in the St. Louis County Circuit Court, he turned to the author to defend him. After a three week trial, judgment was entered in favor of Mr. Icahn. Other representations of him followed.

In his autobiography, Waylon (Warner Books), country music star Waylon Jennings wrote "Jay Goldberg orchestrated my defense. He's one of the greatest lawyers in the world and when he got into his legal mode, he was an artist. When he walked in the courtroom the government didn't have a chance against him. I even wrote a song about him."

In a review of Preparation and Trial of Criminal Cases Within the Second Circuit, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Lonschein wrote: "[Jay Goldberg] holds the distinction of being one of the most skilled, if not the most skilled trial lawyer in the United States.”[2] Former President of the Criminal Bar Association Richard Levitt called Goldberg "one of the foremost litigators of this or any generation." [3] On the night Goldberg was recognized with an award from the Criminal Bar Association, former Chief of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office S.D.N.Y. Frederick Hafetz said: “I consider you to have the best killer trial skills I have ever seen in my 47 years of practice, and I have worked with the best, courtroom presence, capturing the jury’s attention through devastating cross and summations that have jurors on the edge of their seats.”[4]

Richard Levitt, a prominent lawyer in reviewing one of Goldberg’s books, wrote that Mr. Goldberg is “the finest litigator of this or any other generation.”

Frederick Hafetz, former Chief of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office S.D.N.Y. wrote: “I consider you to have the best killer trial skills I have ever seen in my 47 years of practice, and I have worked with the best, courtroom presence, capturing the jury’s attention through devastating cross and summations that have jurors on the edge of their seats.”

Judd Burstein, a premier NYC trial attorney, wrote: “I often tell people who compliment me on my trial skills that my mentor, Jay Goldberg, was a far better lawyer that I am. I talk about the fact that he commanded the courtroom like no other, and taught me to analyze a case without any preconceptions – yet always knowing that there was, in the end, a “silver bullet” to be found. You also would not believe how many of his expressions – such as “there are no new cases, only new faces” – that I have pilfered from him. I am not alone in this assessment. Through a very bizarre set of circumstances that I am prohibited from discussing due to confidentiality obligations, Donald [Trump] inserted himself into a dispute on behalf of the opposing party and I had some interactions with him. Out of the blue and I am directly quoting, Trump said the following to my opposing attorney: “Judd used to work with Jay Goldberg. He was the best lawyer that I ever saw, he won cases anybody else would have lost. I used to say: ‘How the hell did he do that?’”

In a poll conducted by a New York magazine, selected lawyers and judges were asked to answer this question: "Who Are Manhattan's Most Powerful, Talented, and Fearsome Prosecutors and Defenders?" The survey resulted in this statement: "Goldberg is a lawyer's lawyer, a defense attorney whom colleagues and prosecutors alike cite as exemplary of the mix of qualities that make a lawyer effective." The consensus, as reported in the survey, was that: "Goldberg is the best trial lawyer in town."[5]

In Prof. Seidemann’s book: In The Interest of Justice: Great Opening and Closing Arguments of the Last 100 Years (Harper Collins) two of the twenty courtroom summations selected are those of Goldberg. The book has been described as “America’s great courtroom speeches beginning with the summation of Clarence Darrow in the Scopes trial.”

Goldfarb, in his book Perfect Villains and Imperfect Heroes (Random House) wrote: of all the “hotshots” Kennedy brought to the Justice Department to fight crime, Jay Goldberg was probably the “hottest.” With the same assessment: Navasky, Kennedy Justice (Atheneum Books); Heymann, R.F.K. (Dutton); and Hersh, Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover That Transformed America (Basic Books).

Country music legend, Willie Nelson, for thirty years has chosen him as his lead counsel in a number of complex litigations. He has represented the New York Daily News, the jazz legend, Miles Davis, Bono, P. Diddy, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. He represented Andrew Loog Oldham, who discovered and managed the Rolling Stones. He represented Mick Jagger, as well as the Rolling Stones, as co-counsel in a trial conducted in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York.

New York Magazine's feature article listed Jay Goldberg as having been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in New York, Best Lawyers in America [Naifeh and Smith], Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in American Law, [Marquis] and in Martindale-Hubbell's Register of Preeminent Lawyers.

On September 22, 2011, he was honored by members of the United States Congress for his dedication and study of the principles of the United States Constitution.[6]


  • “The Response of The Supreme Court for the Civil War Amendment In The Period Between 1866 and 1900,” October 2011.
  • “The Second Circuit Offers a Primer for Criminal Law Practitioners,” New York Law Journal, October 19, 2011.
  • “The Administration’s Problems with RFK as the Attorney General,” Federal Bar Council Quarterly, May 2011.
  • “The Use of Humor as a Trial Technique,” New York Law Journal, May 18, 2011.
  • “The Appropriateness of Military Trials for Terrorists,” White Collar Crime Reporter, June 1, 2010.
  • “Military Tribunals Versus Civilian Trials During War And Peace,” New York Law Journal, May 17, 2010.
  • “Allow Jurors to Arrive at a Third Verdict: ‘Not Proven,’” New York Law Journal, December 10, 2009.
  • “How to Get a Hearing Under FRE 104(A) To Test The Bona Fides of the Government’s Witness Cooperation Agreement,” New York Law Journal, November 20, 2009.
  • "Miranda Redux," White Collar Crime Reporter, July 25, 2009.
  • “Interrogations and the Law: Does 'Miranda' Work?” New York Law Journal, June 10, 2009.
  • “A Call to Action – The Need To Ensure Protection of New York’s Privacy Law - Civil Rights Law 50 and 51,” New York Law Journal, February 5, 2008.
  • “Reflections: The Robert F. Kennedy I Knew,” Champion, November, 2007.
  • “Testimony of Government Informers and Jury Knowledge of Risks,” New York Law Journal, August 11, 2006.
  • “When an Attorney Forfeits the Right to Fees,” New York Law Journal, May 15, 2006.
  • "The Power of the Jury: Is it Diminished by Court Rulings?" New York Law Journal, March 9, 2005.
  • "The Adversarial System in Criminal Cases," New York Law Journal, November 17, 2005.
  • "Multidefendant Trials: Sixth Amendment Rights Get Little Protection," New York Law Journal, September 12, 2005.
  • "RICO Conspiracy: The Need for Appropriate Jury Instruction," New York Law Journal, July 7, 2005.
  • "Caution to the Bar: The Reach of Federal Rule of Evidence 612," New York Law Journal, July 12, 2004.
  • "The Need to Assure That Justice is Done," White Collar Crime Reporter, June, 2004.
  • "Government Witness Cooperation Agreements: A Defense Perspective," New York Law Journal, November, 2003.
  • "The Need for Consistency When Dealing With the Right to Obtain Constitutionally Mandated Discovery" The Mouthpiece, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, October 2003.
  • "Why the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York Should Adopt a Brady Rule," New York Law Journal, June, 2003.
  • "Tape Recorded Evidence: A Little Known Impediment to Use of Electronic Devices To Gather Evidence, Even in a One-Party Consent State," Champion, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, April 2000.
  • "Counsel Beware: It Is Not Enough to Have One-Party Consent Before Recording a Conversation," The Mouthpiece, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, January/February 2001.
  • "A Little Known Hidden Problem Within the Federal Wiretap Statute," White Collar Crime Reporter, October 2000.
  • "A Seldom Used But Often Effective Rule of Evidence," The Mouthpiece, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, September/October 2000
  • "Nuances in Federal Law that Must Be Known by State Practitioners Trying Federal Cases," CLE Lecture August 25, 2000.
  • "Humor: Does It Have a Place in the Trial of a Criminal Case," American Bar Association, July, 2000.
  • "The Best Kept Secret in the Trial of a Federal Criminal Case," White Collar Crime Reporter, May 2000.
  • "Brady/Giglio and the Defendant's Right to Such Material," Champion, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, August 1998.
  • "Truth in Government Summations: The Need for Judicial Intervention," White Collar Crime Reporter, July/August 1998
  • "The Need for Enforcement of Brady/Giglio Rights," The Mouthpiece, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, March/April 1998.
  • "Awaken Defense Bar: Your Client's Rights Are Not Protected," New York Law Journal, March 12, 1998.
  • "When Will They Understand the Role of the Criminal Defense Attorney?" Champion, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, September 1997.
  • "Criminal Defense Is Often a One Night Stand," National Law Journal, July 21, 1997.
  • "Megatrials: The More, the Messier," White Collar Crime Reporter, November 1991.
  • "Problems in the Trial of a Multiple Defendant Case," New York State Bar Association, 1989.
  • "Essentials of Cross-Examination," New York State Bar Association, 1987.
  • "Multiple Representation of White Collar Targets and Witnesses During the Grand Jury Investigation," Practicing Law Institute, 1985.
  • "Remedies for Private Plaintiffs Under the Civil RICO Statute," Practicing Law Institute, 1984.