Member in the Spotlight: Our NCDD Founding Father
Back to the beginning, “Honestly, I can’t recall who came up with the idea of the College. My best recollection is that it was initially three or four of us, and we contacted those we felt to be the leaders in the field to meet in Chicago to form some sort of national organization. I do recall that we focused primarily on education …as a former law professor, I approached the administration at Harvard.”
Larry Taylor has led the fight in the United States against the erosion of the Constitution when it comes to DWI. He started the NCDD. He served as the first NCDD Dean. He has written 13 books and 35 legal articles. He has given over 200 lectures on DWI in 38 states. He wrote the most relied upon and preeminent DWI textbook (Drunk Driving Defense, now in its 7th edition after 33 years), recently recognized as leading authority in the United States Supreme Court’s recent landmark case of Missouri v. McNeely by Chief Justice Roberts. What drives such a leader? Where did the passion come from? From a true and pure heart, in Larry’s own poignant words, “I liked my clients. I liked wearing the “white hat”. I learned the science being used to prosecute my clients was bogus: the prosecutor was offering false evidence and, unlike in most criminal cases, I was the guy who was trying to present the truth to the jury. I felt like I was the guardian at the gate of the assault on the Constitution. Because of the increasingly politically incorrect nature of DUI- akin in the public’s eyes to child molesting- constitutional rights were increasingly being ignored, both in the courts and in the legislatures. Legislators, bureaucrats, prosecutors, and judges were stumbling over themselves to appear tough on drunk drivers.”
It takes guts and smarts to lead. This defines Larry. After graduating high school, he spent six months hitchhiking Europe in a quest to seek true world cosmopolitan knowledge. He returned to serve our country for 3 years in the United States Marine Corps. He then graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law (working as a beach lifeguard putting himself through college). While in the Marines and at Berkeley, he boxed. After graduating law school, he worked with the L.A. County Counsel assigned to the “courts and cops” division representing judges, DAs, and sheriffs giving him excellent perspective on the realities of power. He then joined the L.A. Public Defender’s office and learned how to protect the “little guy” against the abuses of power. Rounding out his full perspective, he then became an assistant district attorney at the L.A.’s District Attorney’s office bringing compassion, mercy and justice to those accused. After his public service and private practice, he decided to share his knowledge and turned to teaching. Among his many accomplishments, Larry was voted professor of the year at Gonzaga University School of Law. He was also a visiting law professor at the Pepperdine University School of Law, and was awarded a Fulbright professorship at the Osaka University School of Law in Japan. Not only did Larry share a passion for giving back by teaching, but his respected sense of justice was so valued that the Attorney General of Montana made him the Special Prosecutor on a one year grand jury probe of governmental corruption. It’s this kind of world and domestic respect that makes Larry Taylor one of only two DWI lawyers in the country to merit a biography on Wikipedia.
Because of Larry’s expertise, it is no surprise that he is a familiar face on numerous national television and radio programs as well as featured for legal analysis in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. It goes without saying that he is AV peer review rated since 1995, a Southern California “Super Lawyer” of many years voted upon by 65,000 of his colleagues, listed in Who’s Who in American Law and The Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He is of course board certified in DUI Defense and was awarded the highest national honor for a DWI defense lawyer, the “Richard Erwin Lifetime Achievement Award” by the NCDD in 2002.
So what advice does the “Father of DWI” give to other practitioners? Quoting Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true, and it shall follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Truth and character are the forces of a great lawyer, a revolutionary leader. Larry truly lives this motto.
Larry has been married to his beautiful wife Judy for 24 years. His son Chris, “a born trial lawyer” of whom he is most proud, is following in his fathers’ footsteps and now manages the firm after working as a public defender. He is enjoying his granddaughter Addison, with a grandson on the way in December! Larry’s big heart also extends to helpless cats. He is involved in the “Pretty Good Cat” non-profit cat rescue group. Thanks to Larry’s generosity, the cats now have a sanctuary.
When asked about his hopes for the government’s role of DWI in the future, Larry remarked “I’m afraid, after 44 years of watching the steady deterioration of our Constitutional rights…I’m doubtful about the future… Edmund Burke said ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’” Well Larry, you have led the war for truth and justice in DWI. You lit the torch. You created our Olympic training of highly skilled DWI representation, when none existed. You are one good man who certainly did do something. Larry Taylor, we at NCDD thank you for all that you have done and pledge to do our best to always keep the torch you lit for justice burning. You are our hero.