News - Capital University Law School

CapLaw Represents: Brian McMonagle, Defending the Famous

3/8/2018  - 

Philadelphia attorney Brian McMonagle, L’84, has had quite a career since graduating from Capital University Law School. He began working in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, where he made his name as one of the youngest prosecutors to prosecute high profile homicide cases. His successes included the conviction of Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo Scarfo for First Degree Murder.

Today, Brian is widely regarded as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the country. He has obtained hundreds of acquittals for his clients, and has defended an array of famous people including an American cardinal, NBA superstars, international recording artists, numerous politicians, and a former deputy attorney general facing homicide charges. He has also served as a legal analyst on both national and local news programs.

Brian’s most recent brush with fame was his successful representation of the actor Bill Cosby in his jury trial for sexual assault. Despite overwhelming publicity that had caused many observers to conclude that conviction was inevitable, Brian and his team hung the jury, after a six-day trial.

Brian recently returned to Capital University Law School to speak to a gathering of students and faculty as part of a panel of high-profile law school alums who have achieved prominence in criminal defense and prosecution. During the panel discussion, Brian told students that working hard and maintaining demanding standards for integrity and truthfulness are essential elements of a successful legal career.

But contrary to the usual stereotype of the successful attorney, Brian is quick share the credit for his great success. “I would not be here today were it not for the chance I was given by Capital University Law School,” he said, “and the generosity of my former constitutional law professor, [the late] Brian Freeman.”

Brian recounted to the audience a touching story of how in his second year of law school, he had run out of money to continue is legal education and planned to drop out. Professor Freeman, who was a demanding and respected professor at Capital, had asked Brian to be his research assistant and advised him not to leave school. Unexpectedly, a few days after announcing that he was departing for financial reasons, Brian was called to Dean Josiah Blackmore’s office where he learned that because of his contributions to Capital, he had been awarded a new scholarship that had just been created by the law school.

Brian said that he believed the scholarship story until the day of graduation when Dean Blackmore confided that in fact, Professor Freeman had paid the full amount of the “scholarship” himself.

“That story sums up Capital for me,” said Brian. He was particularly gratified on this trip back to Columbus to meet with Professor Freeman’s widow, Mabel Freeman, who also attended the panel discussion. Brian and Mrs. Freeman enjoyed the opportunity to renew their acquaintance and to reminisce. They shared a touching moment, captured in the picture below, viewing Professor Freeman’s portrait, which hangs in Room 241 in his memory.

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