Mad Dog Bites No More

In the latest twist to the Bangkok Six orangutan-smuggling case, Matthew Block's flamboyant defense lawyer takes his own life

"He wasn't particularly upset about that case," says William Osterhoudt, a friend and fellow attorney who represented Metzger in the matter. "But he felt [the judge and prosecutors] were wrong to attack his professionalism, that their emphasis on civility was at the expense of freedom of speech as well as the enthusiasm any advocate should have."

Metzger also was under investigation by U.S. Customs in connection with a large West Coast hashish smuggling operation. Customs officials decline to comment about Metzger's alleged involvement. But friends tend to agree that it probably wasn't professional troubles that prompted Metzger to take his life; most place the blame on problems related to substance abuse.

Matthew Block's appeal of his sentence to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will be delayed until he hires a new lawyer. "Metzger was a brilliant attorney," Block says. "He treated his clients more like family. He wasn't your typical defense lawyer who crawls into bed with prosecutors and is more concerned about his relationship with the prosecution than with his clients.

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