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Friday, October 14, 2005

RIP, Arizona Lawyer and CrimProf Darrow Soll

SollDarrow Soll of Phoenix, one of Arizona's top criminal defense lawyers, died last week at 39.  Darrow's parents named him after Clarence Darrow; as an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona, he was an inspiring figure to law students interested in criminal defense.  Darrow represented Padre Matt Bush, boxer Mike Tyson, and numerous pro bono clients. Here's Darrow in a 2000 New York Times Magazine interview talking about juvenile incarceration:

"I had juvenile referrals when I was a kid," says Soll, who is now a criminal defense attorney with a posh Phoenix firm. "And if I came into the system now, I'd probably be incarcerated. I wouldn't have gotten into the military. I wouldn't have gotten an education. I sure wouldn't have entered the bar." One of Soll's oddest moments as a public defender came when he was called upon to represent a 15-year-old boy charged in criminal court and facing a possible four-year prison sentence for stealing a golf cart and setting it on fire. "What was weird about it was that I had done virtually the same thing when I was that age," says Soll. He is 34 and a natty dresser with a bemused, cherubic face and a roster of well-heeled clients. But he grew up working class in Glendale, Jeff Stackhouse's neighborhood.

"O.K., in my case, I took the golf cart and drove it into the pool at school -- big prank," Soll explains. "But I went to court, and I had this Roy Bean-type judge who said, 'Son, in the old days I could have sent you into the Army, and I can't now, but that's what I'd do with you.' And I did go into the Army, and I became a paratrooper, and it was a great educational experience for me and a lot of other rough-and-tumble kids like me. A whole lot better than fending off gangs in the state pen. If I'd done that today, I'd have a felony conviction and they wouldn't even let me in the Army." He whistles under his breath. "Boy, you don't want to be the parent of a teenager these days."

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