MENKIN IS AN ACCOMPLISHED
STORYTELLER, thanks in part to his days in
the classroom. The Bronx native intended
to be a college professor—on the wall
opposite Noriega hangs a Ph.D. in English
literature from Syracuse University.
A first-generation American, born to
Russian immigrants, the importance of a
good education was emphasized in the
Menkin house. His eyes twinkle when the
conversation turns to family. Menkin’s
office is a shrine to those he loves: from
his parents to Laurie, his wife of 40 years;
to his two sons and a daughter, to his
grandson, Aiden. The centerpiece is a
family photo taken in 1910 that shows
several generations of ancestors.
“They had the classic immigrant story,”
he says. “Three of my relatives came over
around 1904, penniless, and they worked,
and then brought the whole family over.”
It’s easy to imagine him in a courtroom
mesmerizing a jury with this story. But
before he was delivering impassioned
closing arguments, he was lecturing
students as an elementary school teacher
in New York City; and later, in the SUNY
system, as an assistant professor of
English. Menkin’s office still bears the signs
of his first love—like an oversized dictionary
and a print of “Shakespeare and His
Friends.” It’s easy to pick up on a passion
for language, too—he’s got a lot to say.
“I’m in love with myself,” he says. “I
know that, and I get it out there up front.”
Menkin insists every ounce of bravado
and confidence that exudes from him is
necessary for his clients.
“When your client has the next 20 years
of their life in front of them and faces
some terrible criminal charge that could
potentially destroy them, they want an
attorney who is bold, who is self-confident,
and who is ready to kick some ass,” he says.
So what compelled a young professor
with a bright future in academia to
“There wasn’t enough drama,” he says.
“While I was teaching, I was subpoenaed
to appear in court, and I just immediately
related to it as a theatrical production.
That was a seminal moment.” The man
who wrote his doctoral dissertation on
Shakespeare had found his stage.
At Syracuse University College of Law,
Menkin became friends with fellow student
Bill Fitzpatrick. They participated in moot
court together. “I could tell right away he
was a very talented guy,” Fitzpatrick says.
“We formed a friendship that has lasted
more than 40 years.”
Fitzpatrick, who was a year ahead of
Menkin, went on to play a significant role in
shaping his friend’s career.
“I recruited Eddie to join the DA’s office,
and he tried a bunch of cases here before
he went out on his own,” says Fitzpatrick,
who has served as the district attorney
for Onondaga County since 1992. “He’s
meticulous. His mind operates in a superior
manner, and he can usually see things
before the other side does.”
That’s why, in 1992, when Fitzpatrick
needed to recuse himself from the trial of
Walid Daniel, accused of murdering his
wife, Fitzpatrick reached out to Menkin to
step in as a special prosecutor.
“It was a very tough, very circumstantial
case, and the only person I would let touch
it was Eddie,” Fitzpatrick recalls. “He got
the conviction, and I always like to remind
him he was a better prosecutor than a
Despite his success in the DA’s office,
Menkin was drawn to the defense side
because it allowed him to fight for the
underdog and work alone.
“I’m a get-along guy—as long as you do
it my way,” says the sole practitioner.
One of Menkin’s ways? Navigating the
often-tumultuous relationship between
prosecutor and defense attorney, which
he’s done many times, particularly
At the forefront of their many battles
was the 2014 trial of Menkin’s client,
Ronald Meadow, charged with his wife’s
murder. The twist: It was a cold case.
Menkin’s client was brought to trial 29
years after his wife’s death, when, in 2013,
tech advances allowed decades-old DNA
material found under her fingernails to be
tested. Menkin says it was one of the more
challenging trials of his career.
“Dealing with Fitz is always a
monumental challenge because he’s such
a talented attorney,” he says. “But our
friendship is certainly compartmentalized
when we enter the arena.”
Menkin says the Meadow case was
difficult because much of the proof lay
in forensic analysis of evidence that was
nearly 30 years old.
“These are sciences and technologies that
have only recently come into significance,”
he says. “But the reality is, the discovery
you get from the original investigation is
without any of that sophisticated stuff—it’s
reconstruction of reconstruction.”
Though Fitzpatrick bested Menkin,
Menkin says the court got it wrong.
“The judge in the case was Tony Aloi—he
is a great guy,” Menkin says. “But he kept
overruling my significant objections.”
Menkin, in court, as a client is led to jail. He keeps this photo on his computer.
“It’s a case where I felt justice wasn’t served, and this serves as a reminder of
what I’m fighting for,” he says.