Thanks to Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, the more than two-decade-old case surrounding Erik and Lyle Menendez has been presented to a new generation of TV viewers. But even those who were old enough to remember when the Beverly Hills-bred brothers killed parents José and Kitty, there’s still plenty to glean from the NBC dramatization.
The supporting characters of the case, like Erik’s lawyer, Leslie Abramson, and Judge Stanley Weisberg, have received their fair share of the TV spotlight. In fact, the Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in particular has had an interesting effect on the viewers, thanks to some controversial rulings and his contentious relationship with the aforementioned Leslie.
Because he’s the buzz of the internet right now, it’s time to catch up with Judge Weisberg. Read on to find out more about him, and where he is now.
Stanley Weisberg graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1968, and went on to work at the LA District Attorney’s office as a deputy DA until 1986. In that time, he prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including Marvin Pancoast for the murder of high class call girl (and the “Bloomingdale Mistress”) Vicki Morgan, and multimillionaire Ricky Kyle for the murder of of his wealthy father.
In 1986, Judge Weisberg was appointed to the municipal court of LA County, and soon after he presided over the murder trials of Hare Krishna member Thomas Drescher. Two years later, he was elevated to the Superior Court, and in 1991, he was assigned to the Rodney King beating case. His controversial rulings at the time included barring attorneys from holding press conferences — which some saw as hindering news coverage — and relocating the trial to Simi Valley, which resulted in a mostly white jury pool. With these two changes, many credit (or blame) the judge for the acquittal of the officers charged with beating Rodney King.
Judge Weisberg married fellow lawyer and Superior Court Judge Jacqueline L. Weiss, making them one of the few (and potentially the first) husband-wife judge pairs ever on the LA county court. Jacqueline was already presiding over the Santa Monica Courthouse at the time of her husband’s elevation to the Superior Court.
He presided over both of the Menendez brothers’ trials, and spurred much conversation through his choices during the case. The 1993 trial, which allowed cameras in the courtroom, ended in a hung jury. Judge Weisberg then barred cameras from the second trial, and blocked many of the defense motions he’d allowed in the first trial. Thus, both Erik and Lyle were convicted in the second trial, and he sentenced them both to life in prison without the possibility of parole in July 1996.
The media went crazy over the trials in the mid-90s, to the point where those involved were parodied on Saturday Night Live — Phil Hartman took on the role of Judge Weisberg. Most recently, he’s been portrayed on Law & Order True Crime by ER and Top Gun star Anthony Edwards.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Both Judge Weisberg and his wife have retired from the bench — he in 2008, after more than 20 years of service. He’s now 73 years old, and living out of the spotlight.
The Menendez Brothers’ History of Sexual Abuse Is Complicated
You Can Rent the Home Where the Menendez Brothers Killed Their Parents
Meet the Wives of the Menendez Brothers