Bill Taylor and Bill Murphy Named “Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers of the Year” for Greg Craig Acquittal

William W. Taylor, III_bio
William W. Taylor
William J. Murphy_bio
William J. Murphy

Zuckerman Spaeder is pleased to announce that partners William W. Taylor and William J. Murphy were named 2019 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers of the Year at the National Trial Lawyers Summit in January. The annual award, which is determined by the National Trial Lawyers Executive Committee-Criminal Defense, recognizes the criminal defense attorney(s) “with the most important and consequential acquittal of the year.” 

In selecting Mr. Murphy and Mr. Taylor, National Trial Lawyers pointed to the headline-making acquittal of prominent attorney Gregory Craig. Mr. Craig’s work for Ukraine was put in the spotlight as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which later referred his case to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. After the Zuckerman Spaeder team convinced the Southern District not to pursue charges, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division transferred the case to federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C. 

After Mr. Craig was indicted in D.C., the team successfully pursued a motion to dismiss one of the two charges brought by prosecutors. The trial that followed was closely watched, particularly as the DOJ had touted the case as a centerpiece of its enhanced enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). After just a three-hour deliberation, the jury found Mr. Craig not guilty. 

Following the acquittal, Mr. Taylor called the prosecution of Mr. Craig “massively unfair and unjust,” and said it “deserves more scrutiny than it has received.” The decision to indict “was not an evenhanded exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” according to Mr. Taylor, who also warned that when prosecutorial discretion is “clouded by priorities unrelated to the merits of a case, it can and often does produce the kind of profound injustice that was done to Craig and his family.” In accepting the award on behalf of the Zuckerman Spaeder team, Mr. Murphy recounted the highlights of Mr. Craig’s career, and noted the incongruity of such charges being leveled against such an outstanding lawyer and public servant.  He commented: “Thank God for the jury system.”

The Craig defense team also included partners Paula M. Junghans, John J. Connolly, and Adam Abelson, and associate Ezra B. Marcus.