Taking on work for Donald Trump for his record, second impeachment trial is not necessarily the sort of brief many lawyers would scramble for, but for Montgomery Country’s former top prosecutor it plays to an infamy as a power lawyer that doubtless suits him just fine.
But for Bruce Castor, 59, Montgomery County prosecutor from 2000 until 2008, the Republican lawyer is well known in Philadelphia and perhaps beyond for various reasons, if not exactly a household name.
An aggressive and sharply dressed attorney who loves publicity, he therefore shares characteristics with Donald Trump. His Republican politics also helps.
The Philadelphia Inquirer profiled the man who was named last weekend as a co-lead counsel with a criminal defense attorney from Alabama as the legal team to replace the previous legal team, which left when their client evidently insisted the defense focus be upon the lies that saw the 2020 election stolen from him.
1. He declined to prosecute Bill Cosby
Castor thought the case against the once popular comedian was not winnable – as distinct from his brief from Donald Trump – and he declined to prosecute on the basis that Cosby would not plead the fifth amendment during a civil lawsuit taken by former employee Andrea Constand.
There was no evidence of any written or oral agreement however, which did not go over well with the judge, who determined Castor’s testimony to be uncredible and inconsistent.
Cosby was eventually charged and dozens of women told reporters, investigators, and the world that he drugged and sexually assaulted them. Constand’s case was the one that ultimately sent Cosby to jail. He was convicted in 2018.
Castor later sued Constand, claiming she tried to interfere in his bid for reelection. He lost that one.
2. He’s a perennial political candidate
During his work as County Prosecutor he stood for state attorney general, a political campaign he lost. And then in 2007 he ran for the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, a three-member, county-level governing body.
The other two members of the County Board established an agreement that essentially iced Castor out of policy decisions, according to the Inquirer who later wrote the headline in 2008 when they referred to Castor as the “squeaky third wheel.”
In 2014, Castor, who once reportedly said he was “seduced” by the idea of being the governor, floated challenging Corbett in the GOP primary, although he did not do so.
However he did reclaim his role as Montgomery Country DA but lost when the Cosby case became a central issue.
3. He eventually became attorney general – for a short time
In May 2016, embattled former Attorney General Kathleen Kane created a new position called solicitor general, her No. 2, and announced Castor would fill it, even though Castor later said the two had met only twice. He made most of the major legal decisions while Kane’s law license was suspended as she faced criminal charges in connection with allegations she orchestrated a grand jury leak to hurt her political opponents.
Three months later, Kane was convicted of perjury and abuse of office and resigned, making Castor the acting top dog and giving him the job he had sought. He even delayed the public swearing-in ceremony so his elderly parents could attend, saying at the time: “They’ve waited 12 years for this to happen.”
Castor’s honeymoon in Harrisburg didn’t last long. Less than a week later, Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Bruce Beemer to serve as acting attorney general and fill out the remaining months of Kane’s term. Castor returned to private practice.
4. This is his highest profile case
Castor has worked on high profile cases before, securing convictions against numerous murderers including the serial killer John C Eichinger, sentenced to death for the murder of four people, (he is still on death row), but the Trump case propels him into the ‘power lawyer’ league.
Castor also handled a range of high profile clients while working in private clients, including former Grizzlies player Marko Jaric, accused of sexual assault.
In 2015, he also represented Stacy Parks Miller, the former district attorney of Centre County who was targeted by civil suits and ethics investigations after being accused of forging a judge’s signature.
The firm he worked for, van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn and Levin, sued Trump and the U.S. Postal Service, arguing delivery delays could imperil mail ballots in the forthcoming election.
Castor, though, has never defended a client quite like Trump, now the only president in American history to be impeached twice.
5. … Castor is unpredictable
He’s aggressive and indignant and often wearing pinstripes. Castor likes the spotlight and is not known for holding back, often creating the buzz that follows him. In 2008 when he was feuding with his fellow county commissioners, for example, he made sure the public knew that he hung the certificate making his job title official next to a toilet.
And in 2015 as criticism mounted for his handling of the Cosby allegations, he posted on Facebook that a reporter came to his home — which journalists often do to give a person facing public scrutiny a chance to respond — and that this did not make him very happy.
“This reporter will never know the danger he was in,” Castor wrote. “ … I have said everything that needs saying about this case. So reporters: stop calling my elderly parents, and never even consider coming to our house uninvited especially on a work day when my wife is alone, except for Mr. Ruger.”
Ruger is a gun manufacturer. There was outcry over the posts, and Castor shut down his Facebook and Twitter in the aftermath.
Since Trump’s announcement Sunday night, Castor has uncharacteristically said little, releasing a statement saying it’s a “privilege to represent the 45th president.”
“The strength of our Constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history,” he said. “It is strong and resilient — a document written for the ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always.”