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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In Memoriam: Phil Resnick

Phil Resnick, who died yesterday of pancreatic cancer, was a fine lawyer. I first met him in 1981, while I was still in law school and clerking for Hennepin County District Court Judge Patrick Fitzgerald. Resnick came before the court defending a man named Isaac Brown.

It was a tragic and notorious case: an 18-year police force veteran, Richard Miller, was shot as he walked up to check on Brown's vehicle, which the officer suspected was stolen. Miller was alone in his squad car and back up couldn’t get there quickly enough. Brown shot him five times. Police hunted Brown for three days until he surrendered with the aid of his minister.

Faced with Brown’s confession and an eyewitness, Resnick put on a defense focusing on the fact that Brown was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol. The defense was meticulous, professional and spirited. (Brown was ultimately convicted.) I remember Resnick putting his hand on Brown’s shoulder at the counsel table during the trial. I didn’t think then and I don’t think now that it was only for the jury’s benefit. Resnick did a great job with an impossible task.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was the public relations director for Canterbury Park for several years. Phil was a gregarious man, who loved to play the horses with his friends. He was always a gentleman, and we once had dinner together. As a former reporter, I thought Phil had a brilliant mind, quick wit. Having been retired now for several years, I asked about him this past weekend. I was shocked and saddened by his death. I will always remember him as someone who was willing to defend the small and big. The legal community and the racing fans will miss him.