What Happened To Melanie McGuire's Lawyer After Her Trial?

Attorney Joe Tacopina defended Melanie McGuire against charges of murdering her husband in her 2007 trial. McGuire's husband, Bill McGuire, was shot and dismembered in 2004, and his body parts were found in three different suitcases in the Chesapeake Bay area (via ABC News). The gruesome way McGuire's body was disposed of led the press to nickname the accused the "suitcase killer."

The case against McGuire unfolded over the seven-week trial in New Jersey, which aired on television. The sensational nature of the crime seemed to only increase public interest in the case. During the trial, it was revealed that she was having an affair, and her lover, Dr. Bradley Miller, ended up testifying against her. The jury only deliberated for 14 hours before they returned a guilty verdict, according to the Office of the Attorney General. She was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. Since her conviction, McGuire has maintained that she is innocent of the crime. This courtroom loss, however, did not slow the momentum of Tacopina's legal career.

His career has thrived representing the famous

Later on, in the same year he handled the Melanie McGuire case, Joe Tacopina got his name in the papers for helping radio personality Bernard McGuirk — who worked with Don Imus (shown above) — with a defamation case (via the New York Post). Tacopina also counseled Imus on other legal matters, according to New York Magazine. Imus sang the attorney's praises to the publication, saying, "That guy works magic. He is the real deal."

Tacopina also seemed to hold no grudges when he took on Jared Paul Stern, former New York Post reporter for its Page Six column, in 2007. Before defending Stern on charges of trying to extort money from Ron Burkle, he had called Stern to chew him out for a newspaper item about one of his other clients (via GQ). Tacopina also worked with a number of hip-hop artists, such as Foxy Brown and Sticky Fingaz. The sharp-dressed attorney made a number of media appearances as a legal expert on CNN and "The Today Show," among others.

He tackled high-profile criminal cases

Joe Tacopina continued to court controversy in his choice of clients. He represented actor Lillo Brancato (shown above) on murder and burglary charges in 2008, per The Guardian. Brancato and Steven Armento tried to break into an apartment in Yonkers, New York, on December 10, 2005. The pair hoped to be able to steal some drugs from the person who lived there, but all they did was attract the attention of a police officer named Daniel Enchautegui, who lived nearby. Armento was carrying a gun, and he shot and killed Enchautegui during a confrontation. Enchautegui returned fire, striking Armento six times and Brancato twice. During the trial, Tacopina pointed out that Brancato was unarmed and unaware that his accomplice had a weapon.

While he was acquitted on the murder charge, Brancato was still convicted for the attempted robbery and received a 10-year prison sentence (via The New York Times). It wasn't long before Tacopina tackled another headline-grabbing case. He defended New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate against charges stemming from a physical altercation with his girlfriend Karla Giraldo in 2009, per The New York Times. Tacopina helped Monserrate avoid a felony charge for cutting Giraldo's face. But the politician was convicted on a lesser assault charge.

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Tacopina doesn't shy away from notorious clients

Becoming part of an internationally known case, Joe Tacopina aided Joran van der Sloot (shown above), who was suspected of being involved in the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Hollway in Aruba in 2005. The attorney started working with van der Sloot after he was accused of murdering Stephany Flores in Lima, Peru, in 2010 (via CBS News).

While some are critical of Tacopina for taking on such infamous clients, he has expressed a deep commitment to the justice system. He told CT Insider, "If there's a conviction based on the evidence and the jury finds 'Guilty,' I can live with that. That means the system is working. But if there's an acquittal because the evidence isn't there, or a juror had a reasonable doubt, or if we start cutting corners for those that we 'think' are guilty, then the system starts to bend."

He's involved in sports in and out of court

Joe Tacopina went to bat for New York Yankees star player Alex Rodriguez in 2013. Rodriguez initially lied to Major League Baseball officials about his steroid use, but he later cooperated with federal agents to get limited immunity from prosecution, per New York Magazine. Tacopina saw this as a win for his client, helping avoid the legal woes that derailed the careers of such players as Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

Not only does Tacopina represent athletes as an attorney, but he has also branched out into sports himself. He merged his interest in sports with his Italian heritage to become an investor in Italian football, according to The New European. Tacopina first went to Italy when he was in his 30s and fell in love with the place. "I come from New York, where everything is a competition, everything is a race. My best friends in Italy don't necessarily have a lot of money, but they're the happiest dudes I've met," he told the outlet. After working on teams in Bologna and Venice, Tacopina now runs SPAL, a team based in Ferrera.

He fights hard for all his clients

A determined attorney, Joe Tacopina spent years representing rapper Meek Mill (above) and trying to correct what he believed to be judicial misconduct. Mill received a two- to four-year prison sentence for violating his parole in 2017 (via Vibe). Tacopina explained that he believed Judge Genece E. Brinkley mishandled the case and ignored the recommendations of Mill's probation officer and the district attorney, who asked for the rapper to be given no jail time. He also criticized the judge for repeatedly extending Mill's probationary period over minor infractions.

Mill's legal battle finally ended in 2019 when the rapper pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. In releasing the news, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office also offered Mill an apology for the decade-long legal saga. District Attorney Larry Krasner said Mill "was unfairly treated in a case that exemplifies the destruction caused by excessive supervision, instances of corruption, and unfair processes in our criminal courts." All other charges against Mill were dropped, and his probation was ended.

When not representing the famous and infamous, Tacopina has taught law courses and workshops at such schools as Harvard Law and Sacred Heart University (via his official site). He and his wife, Tish, have five children and live in Westport, Connecticut, per GQ magazine.