Disturbing the universe

by Mary Ann McGivern

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Last week, I showed the documentary "William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe" to a group of attorneys and other interested persons. It’s really an amazing account.

The two filmmakers are his daughters from his second marriage. They were in high school when he defended the accused attackers of the Central Park jogger, the accused killer of Rabbi Kahane who founded the Jewish Defense League, and the first World Trade Center accused bombers.

The young girls were embarrassed when their friends asked why their father would defend such men and Kunstler’s wife was terrified because the family was receiving death threats. Then Kunstler died of a heart attack. His daughters grew up to be documentary filmmakers and decided to learn themselves and tell the story of their famous father’s life.

My hope is that people will stay for half an hour after the screening to talk about the need for better defense than the overworked public defenders are currently able to provide. I would really like to have a group of attorneys who meet regularly to review not only claims of innocence but also parole hearings, jail conditions and misuse of prosecutorial power.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has a program for viewings like the one I’ve organized. You could set of a screening yourself -- or ask your public library to purchase it. William Kunstler was not a perfect man. Even his daughters see that. But he was a good man who believed everyone deserves a good defense.

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