Commonwealth Journal


July 4, 2014

Stanziano left behind a grand legacy

Somerset —

It should be no surprise that Mark Stanziano was an Oakland Raiders fan. Back in the day, Raiders owner Al Davis always looked for the good in a football player— regardless of their sometimes less-than-sparkling reputation.
Davis took chances on guys like Otis “The Martian” Sistrunk. Ted “The Mad Stork” Hendricks. Bad boy John Matusak was one of his favorites. Everyone said Jim Plunkett was washed up. Davis didn’t buy it.
Davis and Raider coaches John Madden and Tom Flores took these bizarre characters and won Super Bowls.
Mark Stanziano believed all people deserved a chance in our legal system. No matter how dirty the deed his client was charged with. ... No matter how disgusting his client might seem to the general populous.
Mark felt they all deserved someone who would fight for their rights.
And fight he did.
Of course being a warrior for the “criminal element” didn’t always endear Mark to the people entrusted to putting the “bad guys” behind bars.
Yet Mark’s lack of popularity within some sectors of law enforcement didn’t seem to bother him.
Just as Al Davis proudly wore the black and silver in Oakland, Mark embraced his role within the criminal justice system.
“You know everyone thinks you’re Darth Vader,” I told Mark a few years back, when he revealed to me he was planning to run for circuit judge.
“Could be worse,” he responded. “At least they don’t think I’m Jar Jar Binks.”
The fact is, without people like Mark Stanziano, our legal system would not work. If there were not men and women with the courage to defend the seemingly indefensible, can you imagine the one-sided nature of a criminal trial in America?
Mark was one of the very best at what he did. He practiced law with passion. And he lived his life with passion.
No one can ever say Mark Stanziano didn’t make a difference. If you don’t believe it, ask his clients. Ask his courtroom opponents.
Better yet, ask his family — his wife, his daughters, his grandchildren.
Mark was taken from this life far too soon. But the legacy he leaves is epic.
JEFF NEAL is the news editor of the Commonwealth Journal. Reach him at:

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