Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old former Marine charged with second-degree manslaughter in the subway death of a deranged homeless man, has had no problem rallying Americans to his righteous cause.
A legal defense fund set up on his behalf has already raised more than $2.7 million. That should afford Penny the best defense money can buy. So what talented lawyers have been enlisted to argue his case? The New York City-based law firm designated as the beneficiary of that money, and which seems to have a particular background in DUI defense, isn't saying.
Read the fine print on the fundraising site GiveSendGo, and you'll see that Penny hasn't actually established a legal defense fund. Instead, all donations to Penny are to be "sent to and managed by the law offices of Raiser & Kenniff, P.C." Any funds raised beyond what is needed to cover Penny's legal defense "will be donated to a mental health advocacy program in New York City."
We asked Raiser & Kenniff, which doesn't appear to have much experience defending manslaughter charges, whether the firm plans to bring on outside counsel to assist in a trial that is certain to attract national media attention. We haven't heard back. Nor have we gotten a response to our inquiry about what charity will receive the excess funds.
Penny's case, and his cause, are important to New York City and to the country at large. We fear this Good Samaritan, unfairly targeted by a corrupt and distorted New York City justice system, may now see his defense torpedoed by avaricious lawyers with little or no experience defending clients against such serious charges and under the glare of such overwhelming media attention. But unlike Penny, those lawyers will get no benefit of the doubt from us. The citizens opening their pocketbooks to fund Penny's defense deserve answers.