In Fred Haddad’s all-time favorite non-white-collar criminal defense case, he defended alleged members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who had, in his words, “tried to buy a Stinger missile for use in the war against Northern Ireland.” The three men, Kevin McKinley, Seamus Moley, and Joseph McColgan, were brought to trial in late 1990 and Haddad and his co-counsel won an acquittal on all but one minor charge against them.

“An informant had advised the FBI that a few Irish guys living in Palm Beach County were very pro-IRA. It came to be that the government offered to provide them a Stinger missile, and this led to a long undercover investigation with an actual Stinger missile being mocked up and brought to these guys,” says Haddad. The trial lasted six weeks, and Bernadette Devlin, a major Irish republican activist and former member of the UK parliament, was brought in to testify on the defendants’ behalf. “That was my favorite case, my two co-counsel—who are two of my best friends—on that case’s favorite case, the judge’s favorite case, the favorite case that any of us ever tried—an incredible trial.”

These days, Haddad splits his time doing white-collar and non-white-collar criminal defense, although, he says, “White-collar has slowed down, so the murders are back.” For Haddad, a great criminal defense lawyer must have a wide range of experiences and the instinct, background, and personality to relate well to people. Haddad himself has a big personality and congenial manner that, when combined with his intelligence, make him as formidable as he is personable. 

“I flipped a coin somewhere over whether to go law school or go to grad school for a PhD. and teach historical economics,” notes Haddad. “The most enjoyable thing about practicing in my field is seeing that the Constitution is applied, that the accused are given a fair trial and a chance at freedom, and that the system works the way it’s supposed to. It’s challenging work, but if it were easy anyone could do it and I find it very enjoyable.”