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In Memoriam – David Wasserman

First Amendment lawyer David Wasserman died Thursday, Sept. 25 by his own hand. He reportedly suffered from depression for the past 16 years.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Wasserman, 52, was a passionate defender of the First Amendment who loved a good fight and reveled in speaking his mind, those who knew him said. He was the Christian Coalition’s nightmare, a guy whose credo was naked bodies are no big deal. And none of the government’s business.

A human run-on sentence, he was eager to preach his gospel of First Amendment freedom.

I knew Wasserman personally. I made my entree into First Amendment law when David and I were both representing an adult bookstore in Florida. David sponsored me for admission into the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association. However, it did not take long for me to sense that he was the kind of guy who seemed to always be followed by a cloud of bad luck.

I am a firm believer in the following law of power: “You can die from someone else’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as diseases. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster: The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.

Applying that wisdom, I chose to avoid him. However, we had many common acquaintances and business connections. Accordingly, I watched from the stands as he spiraled downward in a morass of bad decisions. I never enjoyed watching him drop, but I wasn’t ever surprised.

I don’t bring this up to malign his memory. In fact, I’d prefer that all who knew him remember him as a “passionate defender of the First Amendment” — a statement that is 100% true. However, Wasserman is a good cautionary tale for those who think that they want to break into the field of adult entertainment law. This is a field for those who are passionate defenders of the First Amendment — but it is a field where the consequences of judgment errors can magnify and multiply rapidly.

Those in the First Amendment bar are some of the most eccentric and unique personalities in the legal profession. David was a morass of imperfections (as we all are), but he was one of us just the same. I would not falsely call him my “friend,” as I did not know him well enough to take that title. Nevertheless, I proudly call him my brother in the struggle to protect the Constitution.

In honor of David, the Legal Satyricon flag shall be lowered to half-mast. Have a good journey, brother.

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