» Notable Cases of McKenney & Froelich
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» Q&A With Jerry Froelich
» The Bill Campbell Trial
» Tokars attorney takes the stand himself
» Campbell Lawyer: Corruption not mayor’s fault

 

 
With cases ranging from fraud to murder, veteran criminal defense attorney Jerry Froelich has represented some of the most high-profile clients in the South, including former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell. "We had all the cards stacked against us," said Froelich of the much-publicized case, which followed a five-year
investigation. "The jury pool assumed where there's that much smoke, there's gotta be fire." With more than 80 witnesses called to the stand by the government, Froelich meticulously unraveled the case, winning an acquittal on the charges of racketeering and bribery - and adding yet another victory to his illustrious career.
WITH THE LONG HOURS THAT YOU WORK AND THE OFTEN CONTROVERSIAL CLIENTS WHOM YOU REPRESENT, HOW HARD IS IT TO SEPARATE YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE FROM YOUR PERSONAL ONE?
It's impossible. When I get involved in a case, it's 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week. I once had a relationship that lasted through a five-month trial, but not much longer. I had one case where I spent over 90 hours a week for nearly 18 months straight and ended up in the hospital suffering from complete exhaustion. I don't let that happen any more. My personal life consists of a great family [including seven siblings and 27 nieces and nephews], a present girlfriend and close friends all over the world.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST NOTORIOUS CASE TO DATE?
My defense of Fred Tokars, the attorney who was convicted of having his wife murdered. [Tokars was convicted, but saved from the death penalty].

TO WHAT DEGREE DO YOU ASSESS THE GUILT OR INNOCENCE OF A PERSON BEFORE DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT YOU TAKE THE CASE?
Very little. I interview the person to determine whether he or she interests me and whether the facts of the case interest me. Then I assess whether I think the client will partner with me in the defense. And, of course, I pragmatically determine if he or she can afford me.

WHAT IS THE MOST UNEXPECTED THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU IN THE COURTROOM?
I had just come down to Georgia from New Jersey and was cross-examining a witness in federal court in Gainesville. As part of his alibi, the witness testified that he had been eating breakfast at the time in question. Specifically biscuits and gravy. I then stated, for the record, how ridiculous it was to eat biscuits and gravy for breakfast. The judge called me to the bench and informed me that people did eat such a thing for breakfast - himself and half the jury included.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE YOU WANTED TO BE A LAWYER? WHY CRIMINAL LAW?
I never wanted to be a lawyer. I was an athlete. I played football and loved it. That is where I believed my future was, particularly in coaching. However, while in college, I was hitchhiking back from Mardi Gras in New Orleans and accepted a ride from a guy in a Porsche. By the time I realized he was intoxicated, it was too late as we hit a tree at nearly 100 miles per hour. My legs were broken. I did regain use of my legs and pursued coaching, but I knew that my physical limitations would hold me back from a career in sports. I started studying law at night school and became enthralled with criminal law which provided the thrill of competition that I love. After law school I became a county prosecutor, then a federal prosecutor and now a defense attorney.

YOU HAVE OBVIOUSLY MADE A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF MONEY IN YOUR CAREER, WITH SOME OF YOUR CIVIL CASES SETTLING FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. HOW DO YOU ENJOY THE FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR?
I love to travel and have been all over the world. Every year I try to take four to five weeks of vacation time. I'll rent a house in the south of France or take a trip anywhere that interests me. I also have been fortunate in having met heads of state, including two or our presidents. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. One of my greatest thrills was going to South Africa with Andy Young and meeting Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu and Justice Richard Goldstone, who has remained a close friend.


Reprinted from the Summer, 2006
issue of Southern Seasons Magazine.
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