Thursday, November 8, 2018

Atty. Cohen

Attorney Jerry Cohen died Monday at the age of 84.  He was first assistant district attorney under DA Correale Stevens in the late 80's.  Cohen became district attorney after Stevens became a judge.

I used to call Cohen the "best paid fireman in the county."  Back then, there were a bunch of kids in the district attorney's office.  Smart, eager, ambitious-- but inexperienced.  On mornings when there were several trials, pleas, hearings, motions, and other activities, Cohen would be running from courtroom to courtroom, putting out whatever little fires the newbies started.

We had a chat in the courthouse rotunda one day, where Jerry admitted he really enjoyed the job.  His quote was "I always wanted to be district attorney.  I never wanted to run for it."  I get that.  The job is great.  The political minefield you have to maneuver to get there is not.

Cohen was not a publicity hound.  He never ducked me, and would always answer any question I had.  He didn't like going on the radio with me, but he'd do it.

Here is what set Jerry Cohen apart in my book.  During most of my time covering him, I was on the radio.  I was going up against three more experienced and much better known television guys, and two newspaper reporters who were legends in the courthouse.  I was the little unknown.  Remember that Howard Stern once called radio "the bottom rung on the show business ladder."  In spite of that, Jerry Cohen treated me as an equal.  I got the same things the others had-- the same stories, the same information.  More importantly, I received the same respect.  It was mutual.

My sympathy to Atty. Jerry Cohen's family and friends.  People of Luzerne county were fortunate to have him on their side.