Howard Weitzman, lawyer for Jackson, Bieber, DeLorean, dies

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FILE - Howard Weitzman, attorney for Paris Hilton, leaves the Los Angeles Municipal Court Metropolitan branch on May 4, 2007. Weitzman, an attorney in decades of front-page trials whose clients included Hilton, Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber and auto maker John DeLorean, has died. Weitzman's wife says he died Wednesday, April 8, 2021, after a brief illness. He was 81. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

LOS ANGELES – Howard Weitzman, an attorney whose clients included Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, and auto maker John DeLorean, has died. He was 81.

Weitzman died Wednesday in the Pacific Palisades section of Los Angeles after a brief illness, his wife, Margaret Weitzman, said.

Weitzman came to national fame as defense attorney for DeLorean, who was accused of cocaine trafficking in 1982. Weitzman argued that the FBI had entrapped DeLorean and got a not guilty verdict from the jury in 1984.

“This case is a sick case. It is a tragedy and a travesty of justice,” Weitzman told jurors during the trial.

On a day when his lawyer delivered a particularly blistering cross-examination of an FBI agent, DeLorean told reporters, “All I can say is I thank God for Howard Weitzman."

Weitzman's news conferences on the courtroom steps during the trial brought him a nationwide audience, and the admiration of reporters, which would last for the rest of his career.

"He helpfully puts his more obscure courtroom questions into context, indicates his current strategy and delivers small homilies on the dangers of a government entrapment operation gone wild,” the Washington Post said at the time.

The fiery side he showed during the DeLorean trial and occasionally during others came out rarely. He was mild mannered and amiable in court and outside it, and gladly sought settlements to avoid trials.