CBS' Keteyian On Feisty Interview

Alan D. Eisenberg, a flamboyant and feisty Milwaukee attorney, in an interview with CBS News Chief Investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian in December 2008.
CBS News Chief Investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian interviewed Alan D. Eisenberg in December 2008.

I knew I was in for a fight when I saw the purple fedora.

The hat, as it were, was perched on the head of one Alan D. Eisenberg, a flamboyant and feisty Milwaukee attorney.

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My visit to his unusual "home office" - it was actually a historic site - was prompted by the fact Eisenberg had long represented the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology - or SIST - a controversial religious group accused of being a "cult" and the force behind a so-called "hit list" of prominent members of the city of Shawano, Wisconsin, including the current mayor.

Of all the interviews I've done over the years Eisenberg was undoubtedly one of the most challenging and interesting - a full-on heavyweight fight.No sooner did I open my mouth with a question then he jumped down my throat. Cantankerous, condescending, intimidating, and completely off the charts (I thought), Eisenberg seemed like a character out of some wacky David Lynch film - detached from reality but at the same time intensely smart and deeply committed to the cause. In this case, defending every action of SIST and making me look like as much of an idiot as possible.

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Late last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided to revoke Eisenberg's law license for filing what it called a harassing and malicious lawsuit nine years ago.

"Attorney Eisenberg is apparently unable to conform his conduct to the standards expected of all members of the Wisconsin bar," read the Court decision. "While the current misconduct, standing alone, would not warrant revocation, the behavior at issue here is the latest in a long line of episodes of misconduct permeating Attorney Eisenberg's entire legal career."

Those episodes date back to 1970 and cover four disciplinary actions, including three separate suspensions of Eisenberg's license for issues ranging from harassment of a judge to conflict of interest, offensive personality and misrepresentation.

Eisenberg called the decision a "death sentence," adding that it's "a catastrophic disaster that reaches into every corner of my life, emotionally, physically, medically, financially."

The revocation takes effect April 1 and Eisenberg must wait at least five years before he can ask to have his license reinstated.

I must say from my perspective he will be sorely missed. There just aren't many characters like him around these days.

During our boxing match one of Eisenberg's counter punches came in the form of a wager: "I'll bet you a steak dinner that CBS will not air this interview," he charged with all the bluster of Ali in his prime.

The piece aired two weeks later. Six long minutes in length.

So, Alan - where do you want to meet?

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