Bill Moffitt departs the planet

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Apr 24, 2009 Bill Moffitt departs the planet

Not having found any online news on the following, I briefly post the sad news that criminal defense lawyer Bill Moffitt passed away today, after being hospitalized a few days ago.

I first heard of Bill when a fellow law student told me that he was defending Earl Clanton against the death penalty when I was obsessively getting the word out against the death penalty in collaboration with my law school’s Amnesty International chapter. Underlining my aversion to living in a state, Virginia, whose government is a constant execution machine, Mr. Clanton was executed soon thereafter.

I first met Bill in 1991 when I joined the NACDL before I had ever handled a criminal case. Bill inspired me to always reach for higher heights in fighting for justice. Like his law partners at the time (John Zwerling and Lisa Kemler), he was consistently generous with his time to teach at CLEs of the NACDL and the NCDC (neither of which pays for faculty time) and other organizations. All three gave me a respectful ear when I checked in with them about the path they had taken to reach the heights they reached.

Although I have only limited knowledge about Bill’s specific cases, I do know that he devoted six months of his life to co-counsel with Linda Moreno in their smashing trial success in defending Sami Al-Arian against terrorism-related charges in Florida federal court .

Having heard from other colleagues whom Bill inspired, his spirit and inspiration clearly live on. Thanks, Bill, for you.

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