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Ironically, Jeffrey Richman’s career as a public speaker took off after he stopped handling jury trials and started handling appeals. It was then, about 11 years ago, that he began devoting his weekends to recounting the life stories of the guilty, the innocent, the famous and the obscure residents of Green-Wood Cemetery, the 478-acre, parklike expanse in western Brooklyn. Richman, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society, began a sideline career in the late 1980s as a historian and tour guide of the cemetery, which contains nearly 600,000 graves. More recently, he received a 2000 Brooklyn History Award from the borough’s president for his efforts, especially for a book he authored about the cemetery in honor of its 160th anniversary. Richman said that the research and writing skills he has developed as a lawyer — especially the ability to distill entire case histories into a couple of paragraphs — proved enormously helpful as he worked on “Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery: New York’s Buried Treasure.” By telling some of the fascinating tales behind the cemetery’s monuments, Richman writes in his introduction, the book “resurrects a vital part of New York’s past.” For Richman, a walk through Green-Wood is a walk back in time. Also, he said, at Green-Wood one finds some strange legal bedfellows. Lawyers, their clients and their adversaries are all buried at Green-Wood. “Those who didn’t get along in life rest close together now,” Richman said cheekily. Indeed, the juxtapositions at Green-Wood are as remarkable as its celebrities. “Boss” William Marcy Tweed, “Tiger of Tammany,” is buried there, but so is the prosecutor who exposed the graft involved in building his $12 million courthouse, as well as a few of the architects who worked on it. William F. Howe, who defended 650 murder cases during his career and is known to many as father of the criminal bar, is buried in an unmarked grave. And that is especially surprising, given that his firm, Howe & Hummell, attracted some of 19th century New York’s most infamous criminals and famous entertainers as clients with its 40-foot billboard advertisement across the street from the “Tombs.” Edward Stokes, the partner and murderer of the notorious financial manipulator Jim Fisk, is just one of Howe’s clients buried at Green-Wood, as is the reforming District Attorney William Travers Jerome, who put Abraham H. Hummell out of business after the death of partner Howe. Because of the enormous size of the cemetery, and more burials each year, there are always more stories to unearth. Richman traces his fascination for 19th century New York back to the 1970s, when he read Jack Finney’s “Time and Again” while a student at New York University School of Law. He claims the key to fostering present interest in the cemetery is continued research and advice from his readers and audience. Last year, Richman got a tip from a centenary essay on the famous Molineux case in the New York Law Journal. Apparently, he said, Henry Barnet, the man whose murder prompted the establishment of New York State’s rule regarding the admissibility of uncharged crime evidence in criminal cases, is buried at Green-Wood. And recently, Richman said, he got some feedback regarding a description in his book of the much-hyped 1850s trial of Emma Cunningham for the murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell, now a Green-Wood resident. The book describes how, after her acquittal, Cunningham, an unrelenting suitor and unabashed gold-digger, pretended she was pregnant with Burdell’s child. A doctor foiled her plan by cooperating with the police, and the baby she pretended was hers was promoted as a live attraction at P.T. Barnum’s museum. Richman said he had lost all track of Cunningham until a lawyer from Davis Polk & Wardwell called to tell him that she now resides at Green-Wood, only a half a mile from the man she pursued so obsessively all her life. Other legal notables buried there include Civil War hero and New York Court of Appeals Judge Benjamin Franklin Tracy, and James Brown Lord, designer of the Appellate Division, 1st Department courthouse at 25th and Madison Avenue. Richman said he has found that many of the judges whose “stern looking” portraits currently hang on the walls at the Court of Appeals in Albany are buried at Green-Wood. “When I go up to argue a case, I feel I can ask for their help in argument,” Richman said, laughing. “They have yet to intercede.”

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