RFK Was a Crummy Attorney

A very short book excerpt

Joe McKendry

Edward Bennett Williams, the most famous defense lawyer in the nation by the late 1950s, complained privately that Bobby Kennedy was not only an inept investigator but also a lousy lawyer. Kennedy’s flaw, Williams said, was that he turned each case into a personal cause. “He divided everyone up,” Williams said. “There were the white hats and the black hats. If you weren’t for him, then you were against him. There was no middle ground.” Kennedy, Williams said, failed to understand that every man deserved a defense if the system was to work, and indeed, the Sixth Amendment guaranteed this right. Lawyers who battled each other by day in court should be able to enjoy each other’s company at night over beers in a bar.

— Adapted from Vendetta: Bobby Kennedy Versus Jimmy Hoffa, by James Neff (published in July by Little, Brown)