Sam Dash, former Philadelphia district attorney, native of Camden, defense attorney, law professor and most famously, chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, died on Saturday at 79. TalkLeft has a nice remembrance and roundup of obituaries on Sam.
He used to love to tell stories. Some of his best were of Frank Rizzo (who was mayor when Sam was D.A.) and of Jimmy Hoffa, who he represented. Rizzo, he said, loved to wear a pair of chrome-handled .45s, although he denied owning them later. Rizzo was also a virulent racist (which is what made him so popular in Philadelphia) who called black people "animals." (Believe me, it sounds nastier with a Philly Italian accent.) Sam's job was to talk him down and explain to him that everyone had civil and constitutional rights, no matter what color their skin was.
The Hoffa stories were a hoot. Hoffa apparently had a tenuous grasp of criminal procedure (or he had to explain it to associates who were pretty thick themselves). When coaching them on what to do under questioning, Hoffa would tell them to invoke their right against testifying against themselves by saying, "Remember, take FIVE." And Sam would splay his fingers out, imitating Hoffa's beefy hand.
Come to think of it, most of what Sam did was explain the law to people, because he believed in the rule of law. And when his sensible advice was not taken, and people didn't follow the rules, he made others aware of it, such as when he resigned as Kenneth Starr's ethics advisor rather than continue to provide camoflauge for a politics-and-media-driven investigation.
He made the world a better place.