By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on December 9, 2023
An Editorial Opinion
Hunter Biden is represented in his federal criminal cases by Washington, D.C.-based attorney Abbe Lowell, a partner in Winston & Strawn, LLP.
I personally worked with Abbe Lowell in the case of U.S. v. Richard Scrushy, an 85-count healthcare fraud case brought by federal prosecutors in Birmingham, Alabama against former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy from 2003 to 2005. At the time, Lowell was a partner in the Washington/New York law firm of Chadbourne & Parke.
Scrushy hired Abbe Lowell early in the case on the strength of his national reputation. I was the lead defense attorney in Scrushy's criminal case, a choice that did not sit well with Lowell.
In 2003, my track-record in state and federal civil and criminal trials was 152 straight victories, with 0 losses. I did not know of any criminal cases Abbe Lowell had tried that resulted in “Not Guily” jury verdicts for his clients.
In 2004, I allowed Abbe Lowell to take the lead in one of the many pretrial court hearings in Scrushy's case. Lowell was arrogant and awful. Lowell’s arrogance at the courthouse turned off courthouse security officers, courtroom personnel, the judge’s law clerk, and the U.S. Magistrate who was conducting the hearing.
After the hearing, I consulted with Scrushy and we fired Abbe Lowell. He was stunned by his firing, especially since the decision to terminate Abbe Lowell was made by a black attorney whom Lowell viewed was inferior to him in every way.
In my view, Abbe Lowell did not possess the knowledge, skills, and trial abilities necessary to win a high-profile, complex criminal case in a situation where losing was not an acceptable option. I ran the Scrushy criminal defense team like a Navy Seals rescue mission. I quickly discovered that Lowell was not capable of performing at the level expected of a Navy Seal. The other defense team members I had assembled could, and they did.
I later learned that Abbe Lowell’s national reputation and legal persona had been carefully crafted and widely promoted by Washington public relations firms.
On June 28, 2005, my defense team won Richard Scrushy‘s criminal case by defeating prosecutors on all 85 felony counts, via extensive pretrial motions and our full-court press on government witnesses during a trial that lasted six months.
No white-collar criminal defendant before or since the Richard Scrushy case has defeated federal prosecutors on 85 felony charges in a single-defendant case.
The Washington Post called the "Not Guilty" verdicts in Scrushy's case a "miracle," while the New York Times referred to them as a "stunner." Fortune Magazine called me,"The Man Who Saved Richard Scrushy."
My record-setting victory in Richard Scrushy's case is featured in a May 2020 Netflix documentary titled, “Trial by Media,” Episode 4, “King Richard.” Abbe Lowell's association and disassociation with the case is discussed in the documentary.
As expected, Abbe Lowell never congratulated me or my defense team on our landmark courtroom victory in Richard Scrushy's case. Lowell is a little man with a big ego.
U.S. v. Hunter Biden
Today, Abbe Lowell is best recognized for his criminal defense of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez in his first federal bribery trial (2015 to 2018). Subsequent to the jury deadlocking (reportedly 10 – 2 for acquittal), the trial judge declared a mistrial and acquitted Menedez's co-defendants of six of the collective eighteen federal charges against them based on arguments Lowell and co-counsel made. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its case against Mr. Menendez.
In September 2023, the Department of Justice indicted Menendez again on federal bribery charges. The case is pending.
Hunter Biden’s criminal cases will be tried in Delaware for the three felony gun-related charges and in Los Angeles for the three felony tax charges and six misdemeanors. Abbe Lowell represents Hunter Biden in both cases.
Biden is paying Winston & Strawn a fortune in legal fees for Abbe Lowell’s legal services. Lowell is actually gifted in milking his high-profile clients for legal fees.
To avoid a prison sentence for Hunter Biden, Abbe Lowell must win Biden’s two criminal cases on all charges in the indictments.
Absent a presidential pardon from his father, I firmly believe Hunter Biden will lose his criminal cases and go to prison because the criminal defense skills needed to win these cases is not present.
Finally, President Joe Biden should pardon Hunter Biden while he still has the mental capacity to do so. Hunter Biden, who is a recovering crack and powder cocaine addict, will not survive as an inmate in the federal prison system. Illegal and illicit drugs of all kind are plentiful inside the federal prison system. An emotionally fragile and struggling drug addict like Hunter Biden will likely gain access to these drugs again and overdose on them in a prison environment.