William L. Summers, Attorney at Law - Of CounselWith over 550 jury trials under his belt, Mr. Summers is one of the preeminent criminal defense lawyers in the United States and is a frequent presenter in criminal defense skills, techniques, and procedures.

Mr. Summers has defended numerous high profile cases and many of his cases have been reported on by national media outlets. The 2011 movie, “Kill the Irishman,” staring Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer, was about one of Mr. Summers clients, Danny Greene, a tough Irishman working for mobsters in Cleveland during the 1970’s. In 1975, Irish mobster Danny Green of Cleveland was out jogging along Lake Erie as he did daily. A car driven by Gus Palladino, with Mike Frato in the passenger seat, pulled along side the runner. Before Frato could get off a shot, Green pulled his own revolver and shot twice at the seated Frato, killing the Gangster. (continued below)

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They had been locked in a heated battle for control of the Cleveland trash hauling industry. Attorney Summers along with his then Law partner, Jim Burke, turned Green in and allowed him to be interviewed extensively. Palladino refused to be interviewed. The prosecutor relented after a few days and ruled the homicide to be justifiable.

After the bombing murder of mobster Alex “Shondor” Birns in 1975, Green was Interrogated extensively as a result of a feud known throughout the Cleveland underworld between Green and Birns. Mr. Summers represented and defended Mr. Green throughout the extensive questioning and investigation. As a result of Mr. Summers aggressive representation, and despite the fact that authorities truly believed that Green had placed the bomb under Birns’ car, he was never charged.

In 1976, Attorney Summers represented Mobster John Nardi in Miami Florida’s U.S. Federal District Court, where Nardi was charged with masterminding a 126,000 ton Marijuana conspiracy, along with four others. After nearly two months of Trial, and calling former White House advisors Eagle Crow and John Erlichman as witnesses, the federal jury returned all not guilty verdicts in favor of the later- slain Mobster, Nardi.

Additionally, Mr. Summers also succesfully defended Murder charges brought against Green associates, Kevin McTaggert and Keith Ritson.

Mr. Summers counts among his accomplishments, the successful defense of Larry Wayne Mahoney in the Carrollton, Kentucky bus crash case, where 24 children and three adults lost their lives in the worst drunken driving catastrophe in American history; and the famous “Cross Bow” murder case in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

He also received the NACDL’s highest honor, the Robert C. Heeney award I 1982 for his leadership in the New Mexico prison riot defense project. From 166 capital indictments, no death penalty convictions were returned.

He was elected as a fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers in 1987, and served as a 2-term NACDL Board Member, where he founded the Lawyer’s Assistance Strike Force, State & Local Liaison Committee and the Hot Line Panel of Experts. He has served on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College.

Currently, is a board member of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and served as chair of the Innocence Project. He is past chair of the OSBA’s Criminal Justice Committee, and is co-chairman of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Criminal Jury Instructions committee and serves on the State Bar’s counsel of delegates.

Argued before the U.S. Supreme Court: Local Number 93, International Association of Firefighters, Etc. v. Cleveland, No. 84-1999, 478 U.S. 501 (1986).

Court Admissions:

  • State of Ohio, 1969
  • U.S. Tax Court, 1971
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1972
  • State of Kentucky, 1988
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit (Life Member Judicial Conference)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 1970
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama, 1984
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 1985
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma, 1991

Professional Memberships:

  • American Board of Criminal Lawyers (1987-Present)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (1973-Present)
  • American Bar Association (1969-Present)
  • The American Judicature Society (1969-Present)
  • The Federal Bar Association
  • The Ohio State Bar Association (1969-Present)
  • The Greater Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (1970-Present)
  • Association of Trial Lawyers of America (1970)
  • Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers (1969)
  • Cuyahoga County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (1973-Present)
  • Kentucky Association of Trial Attorneys (1988)
  • The Kentucky State Bar Association
  • Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (1988)
  • Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (1978)


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