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Inside O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson’s Connections to Controversial Attorney Alan Dershowitz

When high-profile athletes get into legal trouble, many have an advantage. Due to their huge net worths, they often have access to the highest-priced (and therefore most successful) defense attorneys. One of the most famous defense attorneys in the world is Alan Dershowitz, who’s represented two famous sports stars: O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson.

Who is Alan Dershowitz?

The lawyer is also a Harvard Law professor. According to Vox, Dershowitz served as a proponent of civil liberties in the ’60s as a young attorney. He often took on cases pro bono and joined the Harvard Law staff as an assistant professor. When the ’80s rolled around, Dershowitz’s career shifted. He became known as an attorney to the stars, taking on famous clients, like Claus von Bulow.

In recent years, he’s been linked to controversial figure Jeffrey Epstein, providing Epstein’s defense in 2005 when he was under investigation. One woman involved with Epstein accused Dershowitz of wrongdoing, though Dershowitz has repeatedly denied this and has not been brought up on charges. Dershowitz also represented United States President Donald Trump during his impeachment proceedings. 

The Harvard Crimson reported that Dershowitz joined the legal team of movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who was accused by multiple women of rape and sexual assault. Here was Dershowitz’s explanation: 

“I am a criminal defense lawyer. My role is to help to anybody who is charged with a crime no matter how serious, no matter how heinous, no matter how unpopular … I have represented O. J. Simpson, Mike Milken, Anatoly Shcharansky, Bill Clinton. Of course, I am going to accept a role in helping to provide due process and constitutional protections to anyone charged with a crime.”

When the ’90s rolled around, Dershowitz had built a reputation for being a skilled orator and legal arguer along with defending clients who weren’t always so popular in the public eye. It was this decade in which he received two of his most famous clients. 

Two of Dershowitz’s most famous client-athletes

Alan Dershowitz and O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson talks with his attorney, Alan Dershowitz | REED SAXON/AFP via Getty Images

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Dershowitz was a member of Simpson’s famed “Dream Team,” an all-star crew of defense attorneys meant to get Simpson off the hook for the alleged murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. Dershowitz joined a legal team that included Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, and F. Lee Bailey, among others. Rarely has a more impressive set of legal minds gathered to defend one man. 

Another famous trial in the ’90s was Tyson. The boxer was accused (and later convicted) of rape. Dershowitz attempted to help Tyson overturn the conviction. 

How Alan Dershowitz defended O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson

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In the case of Simpson, Dershowitz, and the rest of the Dream Team were successful. The jury acquitted Simpson, though the decision was not without controversy.

Many people across the nation felt Simpson was guilty; however, the talented defense team poked multiple holes in the prosecution’s case, casting doubt over their contention that Simpson was the culprit. Simpson went free but was later found liable for the deaths in a civil court. He later served jail time but for a different crime.

Tyson wasn’t as fortunate as Simpson, however. While Dershowitz attempted to assist Tyson in getting off the hook, he could not. Tyson was convicted and went to jail before being released in the mid-’90s. Dershowitz certainly has a controversial list of clients and past associates. Add Tyson and Simpson to an already infamous list of people who the public had a negative opinion on whom Dershowitz represented.