A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

There will be a memorial meeting honoring Bernie Siegel, extraordinary attorney and past chair of the Criminal Justice Section, Monday, at 4 p.m., in Room 653 City Hall.  A reception in the City Hall law library will follow.


Bernie’s obituary appeared today on philly.com

Posted: Tue, Feb. 7, 2012, 3:01 AM

Bernard L. Siegel, 73, criminal lawyer, educator

By Sally A. Downey

Inquirer Staff Writer

Bernard L. Siegel
Bernard L. Siegel

Bernard L. Siegel, 73, of Northeast Philadelphia, a criminal lawyer and educator, died Tuesday, Jan. 17, of pancreatic cancer at Manor Care in Huntingdon Valley.

After establishing a law practice in Center City in 1986, Mr. Siegel represented clients charged with robbery, rape, homicide, corruption, and embezzlement and was involved in several high-profile cases.

In 1997, he was the attorney for Herbert Haak in the “Center City jogger” murder trial.

On Nov. 2, 1995, Kimberly Ernest, 26, was found fatally beaten in a stairwell at 21st and Pine Streets. Police said she had been on an early-morning jog.

Haak and Robert Wise were quickly arrested and charged with her murder.

At the trial, Mr. Siegel and Jack McMahon, Wise’s attorney, argued that key physical evidence – sperm, hair, and scrapings found under Ernest’s fingernails – did not match either Haak or Wise.

The prosecution’s case hinged on statements in which Haak and Wise ostensibly confessed to detectives.

Mr. Siegel and McMahon argued that their clients’ statements were obtained under psychological and physical pressure in the “darkness and the quiet and hidden recesses of the Police Department” because the police did not audiotape or videotape them.

The jury deliberated less than three hours before finding Haak and Wise not guilty of murder, rape, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, and possession of a weapon.

After the trial, Mr. Siegel told The Inquirer the jury’s swift verdict was a “statement to the city and to the Police Department. There was no evidence against our clients.”

Mr. Siegel was a defense lawyer and an assistant district attorney in Erie before becoming a special prosecutor in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office in Philadelphia in 1977. From 1978 to 1985, he was an assistant district attorney and deputy in charge of investigations for District Attorney Ed Rendell.

Mr. Siegel served on the Pennsylvania Crime Commission; was chairman of the criminal-justice section of the Philadelphia Bar Association; and was on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Criminal Procedural Rules Committee.

For 10 years, he was an adjunct professor of law at La Salle University and, since 1995, had taught advanced criminal-trial advocacy at what is now Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. He was on the faculty of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, teaching six seminars a year. He also conducted seminars for the National College of District Attorneys, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, and other professional organizations. He was a contributor to the books Pennsylvania Grand Jury Practiceand By No Extraordinary Means.

In 1988, Mr. Siegel was a founder of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and in 2005 he received its Josel Advocacy Award.

He received the Justice Thurgood Marshall Award from the criminal-justice section of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2004.

Mr. Siegel grew up in Pittsburgh and “was a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan, especially the Steelers,” his son, Jonathan, said.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brandeis University in 1960 and a law degree from Harvard University in 1963.

An avid reader who loved crossword puzzles and sudoku, Mr. Siegel enjoyed cooking and going to the movies and theater, his son said.

Besides his son, he is survived by a daughter, Sharon Sinder; two brothers; two granddaughters; and his former wife, Marcia Rapp.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, in Room 653, City Hall, Philadelphia.

Donations may be made to Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL), 115 State St., Harrisburg, Pa. 17101 for a fund in Mr. Siegel’s memory to be used for continuing education for trial lawyers involved in death-penalty cases.


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