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RON KUBY Printer Friendly Page

The Legal Left Comes to Pirate's Defense
By John Perazzo
May 1, 2009


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  • New York-based Marxist attorney
  • Has represented Islamic terrorists, American terrorists, and cop killers
  • Represented 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman
  • Former co-host of a WABC radio program

A disciple of the late radical attorney William Kunstler, Ron Kuby is a New York-based attorney who thinks of himself as a "movement lawyer." He told the The New York Times in 2002, "Movement lawyers live vicariously through their clients. Movement lawyers identify especially with the people they represent." Along with his colleagues at the pro-communist Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyer's Guild, Kuby has represented Islamic terrorists, American terrorists, drug dealers, cop killers, and mentally ill assassins.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1956, Kuby developed a penchant for activism at an early age. He was expelled from junior high school for publishing an underground student newspaper that criticized the school's administration.

For a brief time thereafter, Kuby seemed inclined to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a devotee of the Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League. At age 13, Kuby himself joined the League. This pro-Israel stance would be short-lived, however. As an attorney years later he defended El Sayyid Nosair, who ultimately was convicted of Kahane's murder (as well as nine counts of conspiracy and murder for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing). In 2000, Kuby explained the process by which his views about Israel had changed:

"I suppose what cured me of that type of Zionism was actually emigrating to Israel [in the 1970s]. I was expecting to see this paradise of Jews working together, living in peace and harmony with their neighbors, building a country. Instead, what I saw was this terrible racist country in which a small elite of Zionists controlled a Jewish working class and terrorized the Palestinian population. It was like being in the United States, except instead of the White establishment it was the Jewish establishment. I found out that the people I had more in common with, the people whose physical company I enjoyed more, were the Palestinians."

Kuby attended Cornell Law School in the early 1980s, during which time he interned for William Kunstler; the two formed a bond of friendship and collegiality which would remain strong until Kunstler's death in 1995. Though they never formalized a business partnership, the two attorneys collaborated on a number of notorious criminal cases.

Kuby earned his Juris Doctorate in 1983 and then began practicing law. Among his many infamous clients was Colin Ferguson, a black gunman who -- on December 7, 1993 -- walked up the crowded aisle of a crowded Long Island, New York railroad car, shooting white and Asian passengers. Six were killed and nineteen were wounded. Kuby and Kunstler defended Ferguson in court, introducing a novel argument in his defense: "black rage." They attempted to convince the court that years of living in a supposedly racist and oppressive society had so clouded Ferguson's mind, that he was not acting willfully when he opened fire on the passengers. Ferguson rejected this defense strategy and dismissed the attorneys, choosing instead to represent himself before the court. He argued, in contradiction to dozens of police reports and eyewitness accounts, that he was innocent of the shootings and had been framed. Kuby and Kunstler then tried, unsuccessfully, to convince the court that Ferguson was insane. The defendant was eventually convicted and sentenced to six consecutive life terms.

In May of 2000, Kuby joined Ossie Davis, Mike Farrell, and members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in signing a letter supporting protests and civil disobedience on behalf of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal.

Kuby, who has represented a number of defendants with organized-crime connections, resents allegations that he is a mob lawyer. "Who's killed more people: John Gotti or the Ford Motor Company with their exploding Pintos?" he once demanded indignantly.

Perhaps Kuby's most notorious client was Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. "Sheikh Omar would have tried, I think, to prevent the World Trade Center bombing if he had known it was coming," Kuby said in a 2000 interview. According to Kuby, Rahman’s legendary tirades against the perceived enemies of Islam could not be interpreted as calls for their murder. To make this point, Kuby posed the following analogy: "Why wasn't the Pope taken into custody when he visited Denver? He is the spiritual leader of abortion-clinic bombers and doctor killers."

Other clients who have used Kuby’s services include the daughter of Malcolm X, Qubilah Shabazz, who was accused of plotting to murder Louis Farrakhan; Yu Kikumura, a Japanese Red Army member who was arrested in Amsterdam in 1986 when found to be carrying a bomb in his luggage; Glenn Harris, a New York gym teacher charged with kidnapping a ninth-grader; and associates of the Gambino crime family.

In 2004 Kuby donated $2,000 to John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

In 2006 Kuby wed Marilyn Vasta on the twentieth anniversary of the couple’s first date. Kuby and his wife have one daughter.

Until November 2007, Kuby was the co-host (with anti-crime activist and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa) of New York’s popular WABC radio program Curtis and Kuby, which aired weekday mornings and featured discussion and debate on current events. Kuby was fired from the program as a result of an arrangement to give the morning drive-time slot to radio personality Don Imus.

On June 3, 2008, Kuby returned to the airwaves to host a weekday call-in program with Air America Radio.

An avowed Marxist (and atheist), Kuby acknowledges the historical failures of Marxism but nonetheless maintains that those failures make no dent in his devotion to that ideology. "Christianity," Kuby analogizes, "has been around for 2,000 years and they haven't created paradise on earth. Should we throw Christianity out then? Marxism has only been around for 150 years, more or less. So we haven't created paradise yet." "I really believe that if all the countries of the world were socialist," adds Kuby, "then paradise might be possible."

By logical extension, Kuby views capitalism as a principal cause of evil and human suffering throughout the world. He contends, for example, that the capitalist United States historically has acquired its wealth from "slavery and ripping off the Third World."



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