At the Center of the Spectacle: Bruce Cutler
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Legal Jobs >> Legal Articles >> Law Job Star >> At the Center of the Spectacle: Bruce Cutler
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At the Center of the Spectacle: Bruce Cutler


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Cutler's father, Murray, was a former NYPD detective who went on to be a criminal defense lawyer, which probably influenced Cutler to pursue law as well. Cutler graduated from Hamilton College in 1970, where he was the captain of the football and lacrosse teams—perhaps foreshadowing his aggressiveness in the courtroom. Upon completing his undergraduate education, he attended Brooklyn Law School and graduated cum laude.

Cutler went on to become a King's County assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, New York. His excellent work there ultimately led him to become the office's most successful homicide prosecutor. Eventually, following in his father's footsteps, Cutler switched to criminal defense.

In the 1980s, Cutler represented and befriended mob boss John Gotti, helping him receive "not guilty" verdicts in three trials. But in 1991, after years of defending Gotti, Cutler was banned from representing him when rumors spread that he was allegedly acting as "house counsel" for the Gambino Crime Family, of which Gotti was the boss. Years later, U.S. District Judge Thomas C. Platt sentenced Cutler to three months of house arrest, fined him $5,000, barred him from practicing law in federal courts for six months, and ordered him to perform 600 hours of community service for giving out unauthorized information in media interviews during the last Gotti trial he handled.

Geez. That's a lot of trouble for one client.

After the Gotti trials, Cutler went on to write Closing Argument: Defending (and Befriending) John Gotti, and Other Legal Battles I Have Waged, which came out in 2003. The autobiography includes Cutler stating his support and admiration for John Gotti.

Today, Cutler is back in the spotlight, representing Phil Spector in the trial for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. And judging by Spector's notoriously creepy get-up featuring a bowl-shaped blonde wig and colorful 1970s-inspired suits that he sports each day in the courtroom, Cutler has his work cut out for him.

As he progressed through his law career, Cutler began to find his trademark attorney attributes. His cross-examination style has been called "Brucification," as he tends to rigorously question and almost push prosecution witnesses. During the Gotti trials, his questioning would actually drive prosecution witnesses to reveal strange behavior that would ultimately dissolve their credibility.

In the current Spector case, Cutler's cross-examination style has been true to form. Numerous women have stepped forward in this case alleging that Spector pointed guns at them on various occasions. During his cross-examination of one of these women, Dianne Ogden, Cutler was admonished for his aggressive questioning and commenting by Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler.


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