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August 9, 2011

By: Joel Cohen

The legendary Jimmy Breslin would often write anecdotes about "Klein, the Lawyer"—a fast-on-his-feet, Damon Runyon-like criminal lawyer in Queens County. "Klein" was a real character, to be sure, but one who appeared in the pages of the Daily News pseudonymously. Since departed, Klein was beloved not only for his quips in the courtroom, but also for those in the hallways of the criminal courts around town. One could say he presided as president pro tempore of "the Rotunda Bar Association."

Often his cases were called and the judges wanted them moved, but Klein had not yet received his "honorarium" for achieving justice for his clients (but not too much justice, if you know what I mean). Faced with that scenario, he would typically, with a wink of the eye, tell the judge that an important witness, "Mr. Green," had not yet arrived—and that Klein could not proceed without him. The judges usually would adjourn—or, if it appeared that Mr. Green was permanently missing, would let Klein out of the case, perhaps replacing him with a lesser light at the bar who would be compensated for his legal services from the state's coffers.

Klein, it seems, never needed to spout the time-honored "my client and I are having irreconcilable [conflicts or] differences."

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