Gustave Newman, Defense Lawyer in Sensational Cases, Dies at 90

“Gus told me that he has won more than 30 percent of his criminal trials,” Robert Giuffra of the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell wrote last year on Law360.com. “That’s an incredibly impressive percentage — sort of like batting .350. In federal court, the U.S. attorney wins more than 90 percent of all cases.”

Benjamin Brafman, who worked with Mr. Newman on a number of cases, said in a phone interview on Wednesday: “I know some very prominent criminal lawyers who have very good reputations who have never heard the words ‘not guilty’ in 20 years. That doesn’t mean that they’re not good criminal defense lawyers, but Gus had that extra ounce of perfection that caused him to win more than most.

“He was eloquent, charming and extraordinarily well prepared,” Mr. Brafman continued, “and there was instant likability that caused jurors to take him very seriously. He was able to wrap his client in his own personal credibility.”

Mr. Newman was so polished, another colleague, Ronald P. Fischetti, told The Washington Post in 1983 that “when you see Gus in a tuxedo, you have an irrepressible urge to put money in his hand and ask for a better table.”

Gustave Harold Newman was born on Jan. 5, 1927, in Brooklyn, the son of Jacob Newman, a construction union organizer, and the former Ida Levine.

He graduated from Samuel J. Tilden High School, served in the Army in the Pacific during and immediately after World War II, and earned a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from New York University.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, the former Winnie Goldberg; a daughter, Debra Newman Solowey; and two grandsons.

Mr. Newman’s scholarly courtroom demeanor and decades of trial experience (by one count, he tried some 400 cases) commanded respect from judges, juries and his peers. He…

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