In the middle of a Twitter and political firestorm, but as an attorney?
The last we wrote about Stanley Cohen was when he was released from prison in late December 2015, “Hamas lawyer” Stanley Cohen out of prison.
Cohen jumped right back into things, taking on the issue of New Jersey teenager Bethany Koval who was questioned by her school administrators over some pro-Hamas, anti-Israel tweets which the administrators claimed might constitute cyber bullying of other students. (She has walked back the pro-Hamas tweet and turned her account private.)
When Koval went public with the possible discipline, including secretly recording a meeting with a school administrator, it created a several day media frenzy, and Cohen was right in the middle of it.
I found out about Cohen’s involvement when I saw people tweeting the link to Cohen’s interview yesterday by Russia Today:
I was surprised that Cohen was introduced as Koval’s’s attorney.
Cohen’s New York law license was suspended by court order in April 2015 after his conviction on the tax charge that sent him to prison. As of today, the NY State Appellate Division still lists his license as suspended.
In the RT interview, Cohen did provide himself an out by saying that he didn’t represent Koval in “the classic sense.”
Yet a quick Google search reveals Cohen is being held out in numerous news outlets as Koval’s attorney. In a prior Russia Today article, Cohen was described as “a lawyer consulted by Koval’s family:
Stanley Cohen, a lawyer consulted by Koval’s family, said he that doubted that the complaints over her tweets would end up being a legal matter. He said he hoped school officials would looking beyond “the emotion of the moment and say ‘Move on, this is no big deal,’” adding that he believes that young people should be encouraged to express their opinions in an academic environment.
In a NY Times article, Cohen was describes as “a lawyer who advised Ms. Koval and her family, Tweets About Israel Land New Jersey Student in Principal’s Office:
Stanley Cohen, a lawyer who advised Ms. Koval and her family about the issue on Wednesday, said he doubted that the complaints over her tweets would evolve into a legal case. Mr. Cohen, a lawyer known for representing controversial clients, said he hoped school officials would “look beyond the emotion of the moment and say ‘Move on, this is no big deal.’ ”
The anti-Israel Mondoweiss website interviewed Koval, and stated that Koval “retained New York attorney Stanley Cohen”:
After reading an alarming tweet that her parents were “REALLY mad” and concerned about her situation at home, I spoke with Bethany Koval. She’s now retained New York attorney Stanley Cohen and evidently Cohen has put her nervous mom at ease, “He spoke with her and she really calmed down”.
Al Jazeera identified Cohen as “the attorney representing her”:
The school said Thursday that it was not planning disciplinary action against Koval, according to the attorney representing her.
“I assume that the school was trying to find a way to ratchet down the insanity,” said the lawyer, Stanley Cohen….
In the alleged recording of her meeting Wednesday at the school, someone who is apparently a school administrator is heard saying to Koval: “You can sit there with your smug attitude right now, but if it’s got to go into a bullying case because you think it shouldn’t be and the state says it is, you’re going to lose.”
Cohen, Koval’s lawyer, said Thursday that he believes the school’s attention to her tweets stems from oversensitivity to criticism of Israeli government policies.
“Whenever someone says something critical of Israel, people panic,” he said.
Is Cohen really Koval’s attorney? And if so, how can he do that while his license is suspended?
That’s a question asked by Dave at Israelly Cool, who points to a New Republic article about Cohen in which Cohen acknowledges the limits on his ability to offer what might be construed as legal advice:
After practicing law for over thirty years, Cohen is searching for a new hobby. Though he’ll be tempted to offer legal advice to prison mates, he is worried about tacking time to his sentence if he is perceived as practicing law without a license….
After completing his sentence, Cohen plans to reapply for his license to practice law in New York, then relocate to the Middle East to work at an international law firm.
In what capacity is Cohen involved in the Koval matter? Friend, activist, or attorney?
An email to Cohen’s prior law firm address bounced back as undeliverable, so I tweeted the question to Cohen.
I’ll let you know if I hear back from him.