Ron Kuby at the
"We Will Not Go Back" march and rally to demand justice for the family of Eric Garner.
July 31, 1956|
University of Kansas (B.A.)|
Cornell Law School (J.D., 1983)
|Spouse(s)||Marilyn Vasta (m. 2006)|
Ronald L. Kuby (born July 31, 1956) is an American criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, radio talk show host and television commentator. He has also hosted radio programs on WABC Radio in New York and Air America radio. Kuby currently leads the Law Office of Ronald L. Kuby in Manhattan.
Early life and education
Kuby was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents divorced when he was five years old, after which Kuby lived with his mother. At 13, he joined the Jewish Defense League under the influence of his father, who was a follower of Meir David Kahane. As a teenager he emigrated to Israel, but returned to the U.S. after being disillusioned by "anti-Arab racism".
He returned to Cleveland and lived in a commune for the next several years. In 1973, he briefly attended an accredited alternative high school. After graduating, he attended Cleveland State University for one year.
Kuby dropped out of college in 1974 and moved to St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he worked on a tugboat and developed an interest in West Indian ethnobotany and medicinal plants. He moved briefly to Maine, then to Kansas in 1975, where he completed his degrees in cultural anthropology and history at the University of Kansas. Kuby was a free-speech and anti-apartheid activist while at KU, where he graduated with highest distinction, had a 4.0 average, and conducted and published original fieldwork, including the 1979 "Folk medicine on St. Croix: an ethnobotanical study", after returning to St. Croix several times. Kuby's arm was broken intentionally—as alleged by Kuby—by Kansas University police, when they broke up an anti-apartheid protest during a commencement ceremony. Protesters were urging the KU Endowment Association to divest itself of investments in companies doing business in South Africa.
Kuby earned his Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School in 1983. His grades entitled him to a position on the prestigious Cornell Law Review, but Kuby turned down the invitation. He graduated as one of the top students in his class.
Partnership with William Kunstler
While in college, Kuby interned with William Kunstler, a senior lawyer with 20 years' experience, notable for many of his sensational cases including the defense of the Chicago Seven. From 1983 until Kunstler's death in 1995, Kuby worked as an unofficial partner in Kunstler's law firm, with both men taking up "the fight for the poor, the oppressed and the downtrodden". The two men declared they were not only colleagues, but best friends as well.
Kunstler and Kuby never formalized a partnership with a contract or tax filings. Despite a letterhead that read "Kunstler and Kuby", Kuby was paid as an employee and never shared in the firm's profits and losses. On this basis Kuby was denied ownership rights to the firm's case files, accounts, and name after Kunstler died, and Kunstler's widow, Margaret Ratner, put her late husband's archives under lock and key. Kuby filed a complaint against her with the attorney disciplinary committee; the committee dismissed the complaint in August 1996. In December 1996, a court case brought by Ratner to restrain Kuby from using the name "Kunstler & Kuby" resulted in Kuby's being denied any rights in the Kunstler firm.
|“||[Kuby] was, nonetheless, every prosecutor's worst nightmare; a defense attorney who could charm and incite a jury, and bully most any witness. Not to mention his gift for making cops look like liars and fools. It was Kuby who had found to keep the courtroom open, a guerilla tactic ...||”|
|— David Nocienil|
- With Kunstler
Kuby, with Kunstler, represented Gregory Lee Johnson, a protester who burned a U.S. Flag at the 1984 Republican National Convention; Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric who headed the Egyptian-based militant group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, accused of planning and encouraging terrorist attacks against Americans; Colin Ferguson, the man responsible for the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting (who chose to represent himself at trial); Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, accused of plotting to murder Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam; Glenn Harris, a New York City public school teacher who absconded with a 15-year-old girl for two months; Darrell Cabey, a youth who was acquitted of assault on Bernard Goetz and successfully sued Goetz for shooting Cabey; Yu Kikumura, a member of the Japanese Red Army; and associates of the Gambino Crime Family. During the Gulf War, the pair represented American soldiers claiming conscientious objector status. They also represented El Sayyid Nosair, assassin of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whom Kuby's father had admired, and the leftist radical turned health care activist Dr. Alan Berkman.
- After Kunstler's death
After Kunstler's death, Kuby continued the work of his late mentor. In 1996, he won a judgment of $43 million for Darrell Cabey against Bernhard Goetz in connection with the 1984 New York City Subway shooting. He also won nearly a million dollars for members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club who were wrongfully arrested by the New York City Police Department. He won the 2001 release of two men imprisoned 13 years, for a murder they did not commit, and a judgment of $3.3 million for the pair. He secured a reversal of a murder conviction for a mentally ill homeless man whose candle accidentally caused the death of a firefighter. In 2005, Kuby won close to a million dollars for another wrongfully convicted man who spent eight years in prison.
In 2006, Kuby was subpoenaed by the defense to testify at the second trial of John A. Gotti, the son of Gambino crime family leader John Gotti, which included the charges for the kidnapping and attempted murder of Kuby's then on-air co-host, Curtis Sliwa. Kuby testified that in a 1998 conversation, Gotti said he had wanted to leave organized crime. "He told me he was sick of this life", Kuby told the court. "He wanted to rejoin his family and be done with this." Sliwa reacted angrily to his longtime co-host's testimony for the defense, calling him a "Judas", though Kuby claimed he was following the law by answering a subpoena to testify.
In April 2009, Kuby spoke about the capture of Abduwali Muse, a Somali teenager apprehended during the rescue of Richard Phillips, the Captain of the MV Maersk Alabama, a freighter briefly captured by Somali pirates. Kuby said he was discussing organizing a team to defend Muse, suggesting he was invalidly captured while immunized by a flag of truce.
In September 2009, Kuby appeared on behalf of Ahmad Wais Afzali, an imam accused of lying to authorities in a terrorism related case. Afzali had told Najibullah Zazi that authorities were asking questions about him. Kuby mocked the charges against Zazi as internally inconsistent and the very idea that Afzali would deny having a conversation that he knew had been taped. Kuby won Afzali's release on bail and negotiated a plea bargain to a reduced charge of lying to agents, with deportation in lieu of imprisonment.
Kuby defended[when?] Raphael Golb, the son of a biblical scholar. Golb had sent emails wherein he impersonated critics of his father's and falsely admitted committing various defamatory acts, including academic fraud; he was arrested in 2009. Charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors, Golb was convicted at trial and appealed to New York's Supreme Court, which affirmed the charges. Golb then appealed to the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York City. They dismissed some of Golb's convictions, such as identify theft and aggravated harassment (striking down the latter as unconstitutionally vague and overbroad), but they upheld others, including criminal impersonation and forgery.
Radio and television personality
Kuby has appeared on local television news programs, typically ready to give colorful commentary on behalf of his newsworthy clients.
From 1999 to 2007, Kuby and Curtis Sliwa co-hosted a daily radio show titled Curtis and Kuby in the Morning on WABC-AM 770, in New York City. After an eight-year run, WABC replaced the show with Don Imus and retained Sliwa. Kuby and Sliwa then shared a short-lived midday television program on MSNBC. Kuby began broadcasting on Air America Radio in 2008, at first as a replacement for Randi Rhodes, then later with a regular show, Doing Time with Ron Kuby. In May 2009 Air America moved Kuby's show to a new time slot, which took him off of the schedule for many affiliates. By June, his show was removed from Air America's schedule.
On January 2, 2014, Curtis and Kuby returned to WABC in the noon-3pm (Eastern) timeslot. He was released from WABC in late May 2017 for budgetary reasons.
On May 16, 2008, he was interviewed on the WBGO program "Conversations with Allan Wolper". Kuby discussed how the media sometimes convicts criminal suspects in the court of public opinion
Unlike defense lawyers who usually suppress specifics about their residence, family, and habits, Kuby agreed in 2012 to be featured in the weekly New York Times "Sunday Routine" photo report on prominent or colorful New Yorkers.
Pop culture references
- In the film The Big Lebowski (1998), Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges) demands representation either by Kuby or Bill Kunstler during the Malibu Police Station scene.
- "Ron Kuby Official Site - Criminal Defense - Civil Rights". Law Office of Ronald L. Kuby. New York City.
- JULIE SALAMON (June 7, 1995). "AT LUNCH WITH: Ronald L. Kuby; Crispy Fries and Radical Causes". New York Times.
- Alex Michelini, Samson Mulugeta and Virginia Breen (September 6, 1995). "Kunstler's Fire Burns in Disciple". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-06-01.[permanent dead link]
- Salamon, Julie (June 7, 1995). "At Lunch With: Ron Kuby". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
- Ric Anderson (August 17, 1996). "KU Edition". Lawrence Journal-World.
- "Former WABC N.Y. personality Ron Kuby chosen host of "American Afternoon" by Air America Radio". Business Wire. New York, New York. June 9, 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- Cityfile.com https://web.archive.org/web/20111005051644/http://cityfile.com/profiles/ron-kuby. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Missing or empty
- Wadler, Joyce (January 15, 1998). "Public Lives: Leftist Lawyer Reaches Right for Audience". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
- Tobias, Ted. "In Tribute", Pg 84
- Hoffman, Jan (Dec 19, 1996), "Ruling Curbs Use of Name of Kunstler", The New York Times, retrieved 2009-06-01
- David Nocienil, The Brass Wall'", p. 252
- Michael Steven Smith (June 8, 2009). "Remembering Activist and AIDS Hero Dr. Alan Berkman". The Rag Blog.
- Nossiter, Adam (April 24, 1996), "Bronx Jury Orders Goetz to Pay Man He Paralyzed $43 Million", The New York Times, retrieved 2009-06-01
- Gearty, Robert (September 11, 2001), "Angels Shine in Lawsuit", New York Daily News, archived from the original on August 11, 2007, retrieved 2009-06-01
- Zambito, Thomas (March 7, 2006), "Sliwa Radio Pal Backs Jr.'s Story", New York Daily News, archived from the original on August 11, 2007, retrieved 2009-06-01
- Martinez, Jose (March 8, 2006), "Sneering Sliwa Shtick's it to Kuby, But Static Might Just Be Good Radio", New York Daily News, retrieved 2009-06-01[permanent dead link]
- "Somali pirate being flown to New York to be tried in U.S. federal court". CBC News. 2009-04-20. Archived from the original on 2009-04-20.
- Tina Susman, Josh Meyer (2009-09-21). "Lawyer for imam charged in alleged terrorism plot says he is a scapegoat". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2009-09-21.
- Anthony M. Destefano (2009-09-21). "Flushing imam ordered held without bail in terror case". Newsday. Archived from the original on 2009-09-22.
- "People v Golb (2014 NY Slip Op 03426)". Courts.state.ny.us=.
- Barry, Dan (n.d.). City Lights: Stories About New York (? ed.). p. 161.
- Hinckley, David (November 5, 2007), "Kuby says he's loved every arguing minute", New York Daily News, retrieved 2009-06-01
- "Woes of 'Donahue' Cast Shadow Over MSNBC", The New York Times, August 19, 2002, retrieved 2012-05-11
- "Air America Hires Ron Kuby", The Star-Ledger, NJ, June 3, 2008, retrieved 2009-06-24
- "Eboni Williams will replace Ron Kuby on WABC radio talk show". New York Post. NY.
- "Listen On Demand". WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM - Jazz Public Radio Station. NJ and NY. Archived from the original on 2014-06-09.
- "Coffee, Couch Time and a Trip to Jail", The New York Times, January 22, 2012, retrieved 2012-05-11