Renowned Defense Lawyer Richard Hibey, Known for High-Profile Clients and International Dramas, Passes Away at 82

WASHINGTON (AP) — Richard Hibey, a well-regarded defense lawyer known for his courtroom flair and international expertise, passed away at the age of 82, his son David Hibey confirmed. Hibey built a reputation as a strategic legal thinker, attracting high-profile clients involved in cases that captivated public attention and sparked international intrigue.

During the 1980s and ’90s, he found himself at the center of some of the biggest global dramas. He represented Jonathan Pollard, the Navy intelligence analyst who leaked secrets to Israel, in a case that reverberated through US-Israeli relations. Hibey also took on the defense of ousted Philippines autocrat Ferdinand Marcos, who faced allegations of looting millions from the Philippines during his reign. Additionally, he provided counsel to Clair E. George, a former CIA chief accused of involvement in the Iran-contra scandal.

Hibey described himself as a legal “gunslinger,” emphasizing the importance of a fair adversarial process to administer justice. Despite his high-profile clientele, Hibey maintained a cautious approach, carefully discussing case details with journalists while avoiding comments that could potentially harm his clients.

In 1992, Hibey famously cross-examined Alan Fiers, another former CIA official, in the trial of George. He skillfully highlighted inconsistencies to challenge Fiers’ credibility, ultimately leading to a hung jury. Although George was later convicted, he was ultimately pardoned by President George H.W. Bush before receiving a sentence.

Hibey’s legal journey also included representing the Marcoses, who faced accusations of massive personal graft following their flight from the Philippines.

Over the course of his career, Hibey handled a wide range of cases, from defending CBS producer Mary Mapes in an investigation into documents used in a “60 Minutes Wednesday” report, to negotiating a guilty plea for Pollard.

Hibey, who graduated from Georgetown University’s law school, began his career as a public defender before transitioning to the U.S. attorney’s office. He later entered private practice and eventually retired in 2017.

Known for his down-to-earth demeanor, Hibey approached each case pragmatically, focusing on the facts and striving to provide the best representation for his clients, regardless of public perception.

Richard Hibey is survived by his wife of 56 years, Mary Ellen Leary, his two sons, Justin and David, a sister, two brothers, and three grandchildren. In reflecting on his legal philosophy, Hibey maintained that every client, no matter how unpopular, deserved the most outstanding legal representation possible.