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Ron Kuby

Ron Kuby
Ron Kuby (center) at the
"We Will Not Go Back" march and rally
called by Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to demand justice for the family of Eric Garner.
Born (1956-07-31) July 31, 1956
Cleveland, Ohio
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Kansas (B.A.)
Cornell Law School (J.D., 1983)
Occupation Trial attorney

Ronald L. Kuby (born July 31, 1956) is an American criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, radio talk show host and television commentator. He has hosted radio programs on WABC Radio in New York and Air America Radio. Kuby currently leads the Law Office of Ronald L. Kuby in Manhattan.[1]


  • Personal life 1
  • Partnership with William Kunstler 2
  • Notable cases 3
  • Radio and television personality 4
  • Pop culture references 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Personal life

Kuby was born in Cleveland, Ohio.

After his parents divorced when he was five years old, Kuby lived with his mother. At thirteen, he joined the Jewish Defense League under the influence of his father, who was a follower of Meir David Kahane.

In junior high school, Kuby says he was nearly expelled for publishing an underground newspaper critical of the school administration. He left junior high school in ninth grade and emigrated to Israel in 1971. He became disenchanted with what he perceived as the anti-Arab racism he found there, and was deported five months later, likely for participating in anti-government activities. He returned to Cleveland and lived in a commune for the next several years. He briefly attended an accredited alternative high school in 1973. He attended Cleveland State University for one year.[2][3]

Kuby dropped out of college in 1974, and moved to St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he worked on a tugboat and developed an interest in West Indian ethnobotany and medicinal plants. He moved briefly to Maine, then to Kansas in 1975 where he completed his degrees in cultural anthropology and history at the University of Kansas. Kuby was a free-speech and anti-apartheid activist while at KU, where he graduated with highest distinction, had a 4.0 average, and conducted and published original fieldwork, including the 1979 "Folk medicine on St. Croix: an ethnobotanical study", after returning to St. Croix several times. Kuby's arm was broken intentionally—as alleged by Kuby—by Kansas University police when they broke up an anti-apartheid protest during a commencement ceremony. Protesters were urging the KU Endowment Association to divest itself of investments in companies doing business in South Africa.[4]

Kuby earned his Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School in 1983. His grades entitled him to a position on the prestigious Cornell Law Review but Kuby turned down the invitation. He graduated as one of the top students in his class.

On January 23, 2006, Kuby married Marilyn Vasta, his life partner since 1986, remarking that the date was chosen because it was the 20th anniversary of their first date.[5][6]

Partnership with William Kunstler

While in college, Kuby interned with William Kunstler, a senior lawyer with twenty years experience, notable for many of his sensational cases including the defense of the Chicago Seven.[7] From 1983 until Kunstler's death in 1995, Kuby worked as an unofficial partner in Kunstler's law firm, with both men taking up "the fight for the poor, the oppressed and the downtrodden".[7] The two men declared that they were not only colleagues, but best friends.[7]

Kunstler and Kuby never formalized a partnership with a contract or tax filings. Despite a letterhead that read "Kunstler and Kuby", Kuby was paid as an employee and never shared in the firm's profits and losses. On this basis Kuby was denied ownership rights to the firm's case files, accounts, and name after Kunstler died. Kunstler's widow Margaret Ratner put her late husband's archives under lock and key. Kuby filed a complaint against her with the attorney disciplinary committee. The committee dismissed the complaint in August 1996. In December 1996 a court case brought by Ratner to restrain Kuby from using the name "Kunstler & Kuby" resulted in Kuby being denied any rights in the Kunstler firm.[8]

Notable cases

Kuby, with Kunstler, represented Gregory Lee Johnson, a protester who burned a U.S. Flag at the 1984 Republican National Convention; Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric who headed the Egyptian-based militant group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, accused of planning and encouraging terrorist attacks against Americans; Colin Ferguson, the man responsible for the 1993 LIRR shootings (who chose to represent himself at trial); Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, accused of plotting to murder Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam; Glenn Harris, a New York public school teacher who absconded with a fifteen-year-old girl for two months; Darrell Cabey, a youth who was acquitted of assault on Bernard Goetz and successfully sued him for shooting Cabey; Yu Kikumura, a member of the Japanese Red Army; and associates of the Gambino Crime Family. During the Gulf War, they represented American soldiers claiming conscientious objector status. They also represented El Sayyid Nosair, assassin of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whom Kuby's father had admired, and leftist radical turned health care activist Dr. Alan Berkman.[10]

After Kunstler's death, Kuby continued the work of his late mentor. In 1996, he won a judgment of forty three million dollars for Darrell Cabey against Bernhard Goetz.[11] He also won nearly a million dollars for members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, who were wrongfully arrested by the New York City Police Department.[12] He won the 2001 release of two men imprisoned 13 years for a murder they did not commit, winning a judgment of 3.3 million dollars for the pair. He secured a reversal of a murder conviction for a mentally ill homeless man whose candle accidentally caused the death of a firefighter. In 2005, Kuby won close to a million dollars for another wrongfully convicted man who spent eight years in prison.

In 2006, Kuby was [13] Sliwa reacted angrily to his longtime co-host's testimony for the defense, calling him a "Judas", though Kuby claimed he was following the law by answering a subpoena to testify.[14]

In April 2009 Kuby spoke about the capture of flag of truce.

In September 2009 Kuby appeared on behalf of Ahmad Wais Afzali, an imam accused of lying to authorities in a terrorism related case.[16][17] Afzali had told Najibullah Zazi that authorities were asking questions about him. Kuby mocked the charges against Zazi as internally inconsistent, and the very idea that Afzali would deny having a conversation that he knew had been taped. Kuby won Afzali's release on bail, and negotiated a plea bargain to a reduced charge of lying to agents, with deportation in lieu of imprisonment.

Kuby is currently defending

  • Official website
  • Air America Radio show site
  • Newsmeat, Kuby's Federal Campaign Contribution Report
  • A free speech warrior
  • Jonathan Leaf Talks With Ron Kuby
  • Saddam Hussein's Defense Transcript from the Paula Zahn show of a debate between Ron Kuby and David Horowitz

External links

  1. ^
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  7. ^ a b c Tobias, Ted. "In Tribute", Pg 84
  8. ^
  9. ^ David Nocienil, The Brass Wall, pg 252
  10. ^
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  19. ^ City Lights: Stories About New York, Dan Barry, page 161
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  • In the film The Big Lebowski, Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges) demands representation either by Mr. Kuby or Bill Kunstler during the Malibu Police Station scene.

Pop culture references

Unlike defense lawyers who usually suppress specifics as to their residence, family and habits, Kuby agreed in 2012 to be featured in the weekly New York Times "Sunday Routine" photo report on prominent or colorful New Yorkers.[24]

On May 16, 2008 he was interviewed on the WBGO program Conversations with Allan Wolper". He discussed how the media sometimes convicts criminal suspects in the court of public opinion[23]

He is also a frequent pundit and substitute anchor on Court TV and has appeared several times on the Discovery Channel program Oddities offering legal advice.

On January 2, 2014 Curtis and Kuby returned to WABC in the 12pm - 3pm (Eastern) timeslot.

From 1999 to 2007, Kuby and Curtis Sliwa co-hosted a daily radio show entitled Curtis and Kuby in the Morning on WABC-AM 770 in New York City. After the eight-year run, WABC replaced the show with Don Imus and retained Sliwa.[20] Kuby and Sliwa then shared a short-lived midday television program on MSNBC.[21] Kuby began broadcasting on Air America Radio in 2008, at first as a replacement for Randi Rhodes, then later with a regular show, Doing Time with Ron Kuby.[22] In May 2009 Air America moved Kuby's show to a new time slot, which took him off of the schedule for many affiliates. By June, his show was removed from Air America's schedule.

Kuby has appeared on local television news programs, typically ready to give colorful comment on behalf of his newsworthy clients. Kuby is a tall man with a beard and ponytail.

Radio and television personality

In addition to providing legal counsel to David Hampton, a petty con artist who made headlines for his brazen claims, Kuby struck up a personal friendship with him that later continued.[19]


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