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Howard Weitzman, Hollywood Lawyer Who Repped Michael Jackson Estate, Dead at 81

Celebrity attorney also briefly represented O.J. Simpson prior to 1994 murder trial

Katy Winn/AP

Howard Weitzman, the Hollywood power lawyer whose clients at one time included Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne, the Michael Jackson estate and O.J. Simpson, died Wednesday at the age of 81.

Weitzman’s son Jed confirmed to Billboard that his father died peacefully at his Los Angeles home following a battle with cancer.

“Our beloved friend and partner Howard Weitzman passed away yesterday,” Weitzman’s firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump LLP said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “A renowned trial lawyer and dealmaker, Howard skillfully handled some of the most famous cases in Hollywood. Howard’s wit, charm, and brilliant legal mind are legendary, and we will miss him dearly.”

Before becoming a powerful Hollywood entertainment lawyer, one of Weitzman’s first brush with celebrity came in 1973 when he was the court-appointed lawyer for Manson family member Mary Brunner. A decade later, Weitzman represented John DeLorean during that automaker’s cocaine trafficking trial. DeLorean was ultimately found not guilty, with Weitzman helping to establish a defense that undercover federal agents had coerced DeLorean.

Weitzman also briefly represented Simpson in the days after the killing of the football star’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman, with the lawyer on hand when police initially interrogated O.J. about the murders. However, citing an already-heavy workload, Weitzman withdrew from the case in June 1994, and was quickly replaced by lawyer Robert Shapiro. (Weitzman was not a part of the “Dream Team” of lawyers Simpson assembled for his subsequent murder trial.)

In 2009, the co-executors of the Jackson estate enlisted Weitzman to lead litigation matters ranging from a royalties dispute with producer Quincy Jones to a copyright battle with Disney — which Weitzman settled in December 2019 — to the estate’s legal dispute with HBO and the Finding Neverland documentary.

Over the course of six decades in entertainment, Weitzman’s stable of clients grew to include Marlon Brando, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Courtney Love, Morgan Freeman, Axl Rose, Sean Combs and more.

From Rolling Stone US