Michael P. Koskoff, scion of a legendary lawyer, who wielded legal skills to increase staffing levels of blacks and Hispanics discriminated in Bridgeport’s public safety ranks, has passed away.
The law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder issued this statement:
“It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of a dear friend, colleague and mentor. Michael P. Koskoff spent his entire career working to thwart injustice, stop corporate and governmental abuse, and give a strong voice to the disenfranchised. For those of us who were privileged to work with Michael on a daily basis, he was a constant source of inspiration–and creative approaches to complex issues. His dedication, his energy, his optimism, and his courage will be missed by us all.”
In 2017 Koskoff and his screenwriting son Jacob premiered the riveting story of Bridgeport attorney Sam Friedman and Thurgood Marshall defending a black chauffeur accused of rape by his white employer in her Greenwich mansion then gagging her and pushing her off a bridge. Decades before appointment as the first black on the Supreme Court, Marshall was an attorney for the NAACP. The movie tells the story of the legal bond between Marshall and a young Jewish lawyer defending a black man before an all-white jury in Bridgeport in 1940. The defendant Joseph Spell was found not guilty.
CT Post court reporter Dan Tepfer has more:
A lion of the state’s legal system roars no more.
Michael P. Koskoff, who for more than 40 years defended people’s civil rights and protected residents from medical malpractice, died Wednesday morning with his family at his side. He was 77.
… “It is thrilling to have participated in one of the important trials of the last 50 years,” Koskoff said later in an interview. “My father and I set out to prove that a black radical could receive a fair trial and we succeeded. We did our part and fought for our client’s right to a fair trial. The system worked.”
Shortly after that trial, a group of black Bridgeport police officers asked Michael Koskoff to represent them in a civil rights case against the department.
The case, Bridgeport Guardians v. Civil Service Commission, resulted in a court order requiring the city to hire and promote more minorities in the police department.
Full story here.