Last year David Berkowitz found it necessary to bring a lawsuit
against the man who for a short length of time served as his lawyer.
One of the duties of a lawyer with a prisoner for a client
is to hold for safekeeping his client's personal property, such as papers, documents, pictures, etc.
David had given his personal papers and documents and pictures
to lawyer Hugo Harmatz for safekeeping, because a prison cell is a difficult place to store valuable property.
Lawyer Harmatz then informed David Berkowitz that he considered
himself the owner of the property, and was going to use it to help the sales of a book he had compiled about David.
The book consisted mostly of letters that people had written
to David concerning how David's Christian testimony had helped them in their lives. Yet David had only given Mr. Harmatz
the letters to hold safe, and never gave any permission for them to be published.
The property included college papers, college diploma, financial
records, important prison documents, and family pictures of David's Bar Mitzvah, and his deceased mother.
He had told David that he was going to put together a "youthful
offenders program", but such a program never materialized.
So, David had to hire another lawyer, Mark Jay Heller, and
sued for the return of his property.
Judge Sherry Heitler decided in favor of the plaintiff, and
ordered Mr. Harmatz to return each item of David's property.
She also ordered that all profits from the sale of Mr. Harmatz'
book be given to the New York State Crime Victim's Board, to be distributed to the victims of the Son of Sam shootings.
This order follows the spirit of what is called the Son of Sam law. This law was passed to prevent criminals making
money from writing about their crimes.
David is very relieved that this long ordeal is over.