Defense lawyer, Daniel (Danny) Brookman, has been a surfer and a Venice resident since the early 1960’s. That’s a lot of waves and lots of days as a “Venetian.” You could also say he’s a renaissance man and maybe even a superhero. – by Jack Neworth
You see Danny’s law practice specializes in rescuing those with drug addiction from getting trapped in the prison system but it’s always been an uphill battle. However, after forty years, the pendulum finally seems to be swinging in the direction of rehabilitation over incarceration. Some prominent Democrats and Republicans are working together toward substantial prison reform, which has been long overdue.
Danny even has a superhero history in his private life. A few years ago, while surfing in Venice, he single handily rescued two swimmers caught in a dangerous riptide. The EMTs didn’t arrive until after he had gotten them both on shore. But no, after the heroic event, Danny did not go into a phone booth and change into his Clark Kent outfit. (For starters, there aren’t any phone booths anymore.)
As for the “renaissance man” reference, it’s even reflected in his exercise. Part of his regimen includes boxing, a sport he loves. In fact, for the public’s use,he donated speed bag equipment at Venice’s Muscle Beach. It also includes surfing, which provides Danny with balance. After long, frustrating days in court, surfing ties him to nature and fosters his concern for the environment.
As for family life, Danny and his wife, Linda, a USC professor, have three sons and a wonderful home in Venice. With an office on Main Street in Santa Monica, Danny has been practicing law since 1972. He has represented thousands of clients, including the late drug guru, Dr. Timothy Leary, and actor Robert Downey, Jr.
But Danny’s primary focus is as an acknowledged expert in alcohol and drug related crimes, rehabilitation and intervention therapies. In helping those in legal trouble with these issues. his goal is to keep them out of the already overcrowded Prison Industrial Complex and, hopefully, get them treatment to facilitate getting their lives back on track.
Personally, Danny has traveled extensively through Europe, Asia, Central and South American. Professionally, he’s appeared in national magazines such as GQ, People and U.S. Weekly and on TV, including the Today Show. (He also “appears” for coffee every morning at Starbucks, which is how we met.)
It long ago became obvious to Danny that at the root of much crime (i.e. drunk driving, domestic violence, etc.) are issues of substance abuse. Addiction and abuse affects an entire universe of the individual. Family members, friends, jobs – are all impacted. In fact, sad as it is, it’s rare to find a family that has not been harmed by substance abuse. Everybody it seems has a parent, child, sibling or friend who’s experienced addiction.
Danny is gratified that our court system has finally begun to recognize drug usage as a social and medical issue rather than strictly a legal one. In many areas of criminal law, rehabilitation, intervention and counseling have begun to replace simply locking people up.
Sentencing reform is coming with good reason. While the U.S. accounts for 5% of the world’s population, it accounts for 25% of the world’s prisoners. We have more people in penitentiaries than China.
We also have more prisons than universities and, in some states, more prisoners than college students. We spend $80 billion a year on mass incarceration and yet a substantial percentage of inmates in prison are in for non-violent, drug-related crimes connected to addiction.
Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), at opposite ends on the political spectrum, are teaming up to reform sentencing guidelines. Even Texas senator and presidential candidate,Ted Cruz, (when not trashing Donald Trump and vice-versa ) is on board.
To his credit, Bill Clinton candidly criticized his own 1994 Crime Bill. “We wound up putting so many people in prison that there wasn’t enough money left to educate them.”
As Danny notes somberly, substance abuse is epidemic in America. It reaches across all strata of society, rich and poor, privileged and under-privileged. But, always fighting to make a difference, he’s continually inspired by the adage, “That to save a life is to save the universe.”