Fighting For Justice

The Man with the Fu Manchu Beard

While it has been rather easy to track information about the Swann Street Defendants’ counsel, after all criminal defense attorneys need the publicity, it has not been nearly as simple locating solid information about the prosecution.

There is no resume posted at the U.S. Attorney’s office Web site, nor is there any anything we can locate on Patrick Martin, who is also working the Robert Wone case.

We have, however, located a profile on Mr. Kirschner that ran in the Washington Times in 2002.

Read the entire piece after the jump.

A trying job ; U.S. attorney for homicides goes full tilt for convictions
990 words
8 March 2002
The Washington Times

Glenn Kirschner says he spends a lot of time on the job putting out fires – the kind of flare-ups that can erupt at any minute in the homicide section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District. The phone rings and Mr. Kirschner, 41, the department’s acting chief, rushes out to make arrangements for a search warrant.

Mr. Kirschner, who looks like a professional wrestler with his shaved head, Fu Manchu beard and weight-lifter’s physique, returns minutes later, explaining, “There are probably half a dozen fires that pop up every day.  Murder is unpredictable.”

The bulletin board next to his desk is covered with photos of his five school-aged girls. On the wall hangs a plaque with the engraved outline of Alaska, where he learned his trade during six years in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps.  His desk is covered with files, assorted papers and the picture of a dead man.

Photos of the man, who appears to have been shot in the chest and had his throat slashed, will be used as evidence in one of the 230 or so homicide cases in the District this year.

In his zeal for his job, Mr. Kirschner can sound like an auto salesman pitching an expensive sports car to a prospective buyer.

“One of the greatest joys about this business is going in and trying murder cases,” he says.  “It’s your job to do right and to do justice.  It’s a great job. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s always different.”

Much of his morning this day is taken up with the sentencing of a mother and daughter in a manslaughter case.

The pregnant, teen-aged daughter was beaten severely by her boyfriend.  After more threats at the girl’s home, her mother defended her with a gun. The mother pleaded guilty to shooting the fleeing boyfriend in the back.

Initially, the daughter lied and took the blame for her mother. Neighbors who witnessed the shooting revealed the truth to detectives, which earned the mother one 15-year sentence for manslaughter and another five years for obstruction of justice.

In the third-floor hallway of D.C. Superior Court, the family’s emotions erupt into one of those screaming, crying and yelling scenes that wrench the stomach and bring security guards running.

“It was a difficult case,” Mr. Kirschner says. “If the mother hadn’t lied, she would have been in a better position.”

The 19-year-old daughter is supposed to be arraigned for obstruction of justice just before noon, but leaves the courthouse and fails to return.  During a separate hearing, the judge and attorneys discuss whether to issue a bench warrant that could result in her immediate arrest and incarceration.

“She’s pregnant, she’s very pregnant,” argues defense attorney Renee Raymond. “Her aunt said she was having pains.”

Judge Judith Retchin says she will issue the bench warrant but stay execution of the warrant by police until Monday, giving the girl time to return to court on her own.

Mr. Kirschner says he would not object.

As she leaves the courtroom, Miss Raymond says, “The mother trying to protect the daughter and the daughter trying to protect the mother – how do you quantify the morality here?”

The girl returns to court later in the day and decides to plead guilty.

Minutes after the hearing, Mr. Kirschner grabs his trench coat and rushes down the stairs to a manslaughter and conspiracy hearing.

The defendant had already been convicted and imprisoned, but his attorney filed a motion for a reduced sentence.

The attorney says the defendant should get credit for time served and wants a clarification on whether the sentences for both charges are consecutive or concurrent. The judge clears up the confusion by saying the defendant would serve a total of three years in prison, which would include credit for time served.

In law school at the New England School of Law, Mr. Kirschner expected that 90 percent of his cases to be like the black-and-white issues of ethics he found in his law books.

In the reality of his workaday world, he says, only 10 percent of his cases are that simple.

The other 90 percent fall into a gray area where ethics are a matter of opinion and the role of the law is arbitrary.

In recent days, much of Mr. Kirschner’s time has been taken up with a reorganization of the homicide division. Rather than having a few homicide prosecutors handle specialized cases, such as child murders, sex-based murders and drug-related murders, they will all be integrated into a “community approach.” In other words, each homicide prosecutor will be assigned to one of six districts within the city to handle a variety of murders.

“I’ll be heading up the Fifth District,” Mr. Kirschner says.

Between meetings on the reorganization, the murder prosecutions continue.

“We’re gearing up for the Gallaudet double,” he says, referring to the slayings of two students at Gallaudet University.

When he’s not at his 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. job, Mr. Kirschner shuttles between ballet lessons, piano recitals, soccer games and swim meets for his children. “That occupies pretty much every spare minute when I’m not at work,” he says.

– posted by Craig

9 comments for “Fighting For Justice

  1. Clio
    12/14/2009 at 5:25 PM

    So, the latest photo of Glenn available to the public is that one above from his days on the gridiron for Washington and Lee? How mysterious!

    Can anyone assess him as a prosecutor? As Bea asked in the spring: is he any good?

    • David
      12/14/2009 at 5:41 PM


      In our meetings with legal folks around town they all speak highly of his capabilities, and believe he is up to the task of prosecuting this case, which is no small compliment in light of the mega-wattage eminating from the defense bench.

      David, co-ed.

      • Clio
        12/14/2009 at 7:41 PM

        Thanks, David. That is reassuring.

        Given the “complexities” of this “novel” case, however, is there someone on the prosecution side to interpret the lavender aspects of the case for him? On the defense side, of course, Schertler has Spag.

    • BenFranklin
      12/14/2009 at 8:19 PM

      There appears to one on Facebook that fits the general description of his current appearance with 50 mostly east coast friends. It may or may not be him, but it let me know what you think.

      In the profile photo he’s standing at the bottom of a staircase with a young woman, likely an eldest daughter, probably a pre-prom pose, lamp in background.


      • Clio
        12/15/2009 at 1:02 AM

        Ben, I did see that particular photo on Facebook, but I do not think that that person is our Glenn Kirschner.

        The Washington Times piece suggests, as late as 2002, that Glenn kept his figure into his forties with a shaved, not balding, head and a more mannered or “Fu Manchu” arrangement of facial hair. In other words, one imagines that, at the turn of our century at least, he would have fit in well at the DC Eagle, if only visually.

        • Michael
          12/15/2009 at 11:52 AM

          Glenn Kirschner maintains a profile on LinkedIn that has no photo and very little biographical information. He plays it close to the vest.

          – Michael

          • Clio
            12/15/2009 at 11:30 PM

            For Glenn, then, does the Wone case “fall into a gray area where ethics are a matter of opinion and the role of the law is arbitrary?” Or, does it provide, for him, clear-cut villians and saints, as he had hoped coming out of New England School of Law? Only his barber may know for sure.

            • Clio
              12/27/2009 at 8:34 PM

              I hate to answer my own question, but, for Glenn, the Wone murder should be in that 10% of cases with clear-cut rights and wrongs. That would make his September no-show at the status hearing in favor of a personal appearance in Lexington, Virginia, all the more astonishing!

              • Clio
                01/01/2010 at 6:45 PM

                Editors, have you found any biographical information on Patrick Martin, Glenn’s busy understudy, yet? Did he go to Washington and Lee as well, or is he an alum of William and Mary?

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