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It’s difficult to judge the accomplishments of Reid Weingarten without making it personal because he takes these things so very personally. He bonds with people, certainly with clients, generally with juries, perhaps even with witnesses. “When Reid takes on somebody’s case, he is their champion, their protector. He identifies and internalizes the case. It’s not them winning or losing . . . it’s him winning or losing,” says nationally renowned San Francisco trial lawyer John Keker. “He internalizes the defendant’s plight, and he communicates that when he talks to a jury.” His demeanor at trial is part of his appeal. Weingarten, 56, is down-to-earth and conversational, more comfortable in button-down sleeves than French cuffs, his necktie a tad askew. His opening and closing statements can draw an audience, although his most important listeners are always the jurors. Says Keker: “We’re a hundred years away from the time when you could stand up and give a three-hour, bombastic speech, use huge words, and expect the jury to be blown away by your oratory. You have to connect.” That’s what Weingarten does. His star quality first became evident when he was prosecuting cases for the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since then, Weingarten has won acquittals in major trials, including those of Mike Espy, the former secretary of agriculture; Mark Belnick, former general counsel at Tyco International; and Ron Carey, former president of the Teamsters. There have been some tough losses. In 2003, Franklin Brown, former chief counsel at Rite Aid, was convicted on conspiracy charges. Last year former chief executive Bernard Ebbers was convicted in connection with the fraud that destroyed WorldCom. But Weingarten also knows when to cut a deal, such as the 11th-hour plea bargain that he helped fashion for Enron’s former chief accounting officer, Richard Causey, in December � just weeks before the start of the big Enron trial in Houston. When he was facing a 36-count indictment, Espy says, he quickly realized he could trust Weingarten. On their first meeting, Weingarten already had mastered the esoteric reform plans that Espy was enacting at the Agriculture Department. Before long, they were friends. They rejected three government plea bargains, and then they went to trial. Espy recalls sitting at the defense table, watching his lawyer work the courtroom. “He’s got a sway,” says Espy. “I think it’s unconscious. He rises from the chair and moves toward the witness, shifting his weight gently from left to right. Reid is like the cobra rising from the snake charmer’s basket, swaying so you can almost hear that flutelike music. A shift of his head, then the chest follows, and the hips and the legs. It’s only a fraction of an inch, left and right, left and right. His movement is mesmerizing, somehow out of rhythm with the questions, gently, slowly, left-right, left-right, left-right. Then boom! � the cobra springs forward with a question that decapitates the witness.”

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