Trapping O.J. Simpson: An Atypical Lawyer and His Methods by LawCrossing

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                            Trapping O.J. Simpson: An Atypical Lawyer and His
                            Methods
                            [By Mary Waldron]
                            Jonathan Polak does not fit the typical, cliché lawyer image. He is not fast-talking, conniving, or deceptive. In fact, he is
                            probably the nicest, most humble lawyer around. But do not let that fool you into thinking he is a pushover. Although Polak has
                            a glowing integrity that beams even over a phone line, his determination when it comes to winning his cases is illustrated by his
                            approach to law.




By accepting the challenge to constantly            One of the smart people that Polak learned             before he graduated from law school. He was
find new, creative solutions to cases, Polak        a lot from was his mentor and teacher,                 offered jobs with both firms upon graduation
keeps his practice fresh and his own work           Professor Kobylka. Kobylka was one of                  from SMU School of Law. Polak accepted
interesting and stimulating. His most current       Polak’s undergraduate political science                an offer from a lawyer he had worked for
case involves representing the Goldman              teachers, and he has had a great deal of               who was transferring to another Dallas
family in obtaining O.J. Simpson’s rights to        influence on the ways Polak tackles issues in          firm called Harder, Hadden, Johnson, and
publicity. Simpson owes them and the Brown          law. “He was just so smart about the way he            Bromberg.
family $33.5 million from a 997 wrongful           analyzed issues. Even though he was not an
death civil case for the deaths of his ex-wife,     attorney, he had a very lawyer-like approach           After two years with Harder, Hadden,
Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend,               to the way that he looked at civil rights              Johnson, and Bromberg, Polak made the
Ronald Goldman.                                     issues and those types of issues where law             decision to change his pace by moving to
                                                    and politics intersect.”                               a litigation boutique firm in Dallas called
From the time that he began to excel on the                                                                Calhoun & Stacy. This move was crucial to
debate team in high school, Polak knew that         Polak got a jumpstart on his career when he            his future success because he was given a
he was cut out to be a lawyer. He earned            clerked at a couple of law firms the summer            variety of opportunities to try cases and really
his B.S. in Political Science and his J.D.                                                                 dive into litigation. “In the span of the two or
at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in                                                                  three years that I was there, I took probably
                                                        Q. What are your interests and hobbies?
Dallas. Attending the same university for               A. When I get a chance, I love to play with        50 to 250 depositions and tried about 0 or
law school that he did as an undergraduate              my three kids. I’ve got a nine-year-old and        2 cases. I really was able to cut my teeth on a
was a valuable experience for Polak. “It                a six-and-a-half-year-old little girl, and         true litigation practice,” he said.
allowed me to take advantage of some of the             I’ve got a little boy who’s about two and a
relationships that I had already built there,”          half years old. Occasionally, I’ll get out and     Once Polak and his wife decided to move to
he said.                                                play a little golf.                                Indiana to start a family, he began working
                                                                                                           for bankruptcy and real estate firm Dann,
                                                        Q.What CD is in your CD player right now?
While Polak was at SMU, he was active in                                                                   Pecar, Newman & Kleinman. It was here
                                                        A.I listen to Nickelback, and I recently
student government and eventually served as                                                                that Polak took his practice and its focus
                                                        downloaded my favorite band from high
student body president during his senior year                                                              to a whole new level. Building his firm’s
                                                        school, Iron Maiden.
as an undergraduate. He also participated in                                                               intellectual property department from the
the school’s law review during law school.              Q. What is the last magazine you read?             ground up, Polak became a master in that
Although working on the law review was                  A. ESPN Magazine                                   area of law.
not the most thrilling activity for him, he                                                                Last February, Polak became the chair of
gained an abundance of legal knowledge                  Q. What is your favorite television show?          Sommer Barnard’s intellectual property
and understanding. “I got to work with some             A. 24                                              department in Indianapolis. Close to 70% of
really smart people, and I think that’s the                                                                his current work is devoted to intellectual
best thing about practicing law. You get to be          Q. Who is your role model?                         property litigation and consulting.
                                                        A. As corny as it sounds, both of my
around a lot of really smart people, and you
                                                        parents are truly my role models.
can learn a lot from them,” he said.                                                                       Some of Polak’s latest cases in the area of
                                                                                                           intellectual property rights have concerned


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the estates of late high-profile celebrities—   When news of an upcoming book release             like, we will be taking action to capture those
such as Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and         by Simpson arose and quickly disappeared,         funds. But if he never goes out and appears
Duke Ellington—and his clients’ battles to      Polak and the Goldman family were taunted         in public again, if he stays in that virtual
keep their rights to photographs and uses of    yet again by Simpson’s failure to make            jail cell that we put him in, then we will, at
late celebrities’ names and likenesses.         payment. He reportedly pocketed $.              minimum, have the moral victory of putting
                                                million for his hypothetical account of the       him in there,” Polak said.
In 200, putting a twist on his intellectual    murders of his ex-wife and her friend, If I Did
property practice, Polak joined forces          It, which was recently pulled from release.       Throughout his career, and specifically
with Karl Manders, who owns a private           According to Polak, Simpson created a             with the Goldman case, Polak has come
investigator firm in Indianapolis called        “sham entity” called Lorraine Brooke              to discover one of the keys to enjoying the
Continental Enterprises, Inc. Manders           Associates (based on the middle names of          practice of law. “Stay creative about the way
initiated the idea to help the Goldman family   two of his children), in which he has been        that you approach clients’ problems. When
obtain O.J. Simpson’s rights to publicity in    stashing his monetary gains in order to           everyone else is telling you ‘no, you can’t do
order to satisfy the payment that he has        shield them from the Goldmans.                    that,’ there’s always a way to find a way to
owed them for almost 0 years. “Rather                                                            do it. You just have to be creative, and you’ve
than chasing the money after it’s been paid,    Fingers are also being pointed at the             got to be aggressive, and you’ve got to find a
which is really a lost cause, we want to        companies that contributed to Simpson’s           path because that path is out there,” he said.
take possession of the property right that      payment for the infamous book and the TV
enables him to go and do these signings and     interview that was set to discuss the book.       “It’s really easy to fall into the tried and
get money,” he said. This means that if the     “The real villains in this are the people         true practices, but what makes layering
family wins this case, they will receive all    who acted in concert with him who you             fun, if there is such a thing, is to go places
payments earned by Simpson’s name and           would expect better from—companies like           no one has gone yet and to find ways to do
likeness until the judgment payment amount      HarperCollins, Fox Broadcasting, and News         things that no one else has tried and then
is met.                                         Corp.,” Polak said.                               to be successful at it…because then you are
                                                                                                  making law, and that can be really fun.”
“He has thumbed his nose at the legal           As Polak and the Goldmans prepare to take
system for so long; going out and striking      the issue on appeal, Polak said, “regardless      Because of his active interest in seeking new
deals and doing signings and autograph          of whether we are successful or not, we           ways to solve cases, Polak has managed to
shows, never really giving the Goldmans the     intend to push the envelope as far as we can      keep his passion for law alive and thriving,
benefit of any of that, even in part,” Polak    to see how far judges are willing to protect a    paving the way for a continuously exciting
said.                                           killer’s assets. Whether he was ever put into     career in law.
                                                an actual jail cell or not, he will remain in a
Although Simpson was found not guilty in a      virtual jail cell as long as the Goldmans have    ON THE NET
criminal trial for the 994 deaths of his ex-   anything to say about it and certainly as long
wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend,     as I am their attorney, and we are going to       Sommer Barnard, PC
Ronald Goldman, he was found guilty in a        continue to tighten our grip around him and       www.sommerbarnard.com
wrongful death civil case in 997.              his assets and make that jail cell smaller and
                                                smaller and smaller using legitimate legal        Southern Methodist University
The Goldmans’ case actually went to court       procedures that are available to us.”             www.smu.edu
last October but was denied by Santa Monica
Superior Court Judge Linda Lefkowitz            If the Goldmans do win and Simpson decides        HarperCollins Publishers
because she claimed that it would harm          to hide away in seclusion, the Goldmans           www.harpercollins.com
Simpson’s right to privacy…although             will still be justified in their actions. “The
Simpson does not appear to be attempting to     Goldmans are in the perfect position because
lead a low-profile life.                        we get victory either way. If he continues to
                                                go out and have public appearances and the




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