Martin Shkreli’s Own Lawyer Apparently Can’t Stand Him [Opinion]

Martin Shkreli, the now-infamous “Pharma-bro” who once jacked up the price of an all-important HIV/AIDS drug in 2015, is already one of the most hated people in America. Now it looks like his own lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has joined the ranks. Shkreli is on trial for securities fraud in what has been described as a “Ponzi-like” scheme unrelated to the HIV/AIDS drugs he’s widely despised for.

On Friday, Shkreli spoke to reporters in the middle of the trial, breaking court protocol. When asked after how Brafman felt about that, Shkreli interrupted and said, apparently referring to himself in third person, “He can do whatever he wants.” He smiled widely while his own lawyer took a dimmer view of the situation.

He smiled widely while his own lawyer took a dimmer view of the situation.

“I was stunned that it happened and I’m hoping he doesn’t do it again,” Brafman said. Shkreli maintained his grin as Brafman admonished him.

Brafman reiterated that it wouldn’t happen again “if he listens to me,” something that Shkreli seems to have a major problem doing.

“I would very much appreciate it if he didn’t talk to the press because sometimes he doesn’t have a filter,” Brafman continued.

Reporters on Twitter expressed sympathy for the beleaguered lawyer, with one saying “Whatever Martin is paying Ben, it’s not enough.”

On Friday, Stephen Colbert used Shkreli as part of his opening monologue, showing footage from Shkreli’s widely blasted testimony before Congress in February 2016, where Shkreli lost eye contact with Congressman Elijah Cummings as the Congressman implored Shkreli to use his leverage to become a patient advocate. Shkreli grinned widely during that lecture, much to widespread public derision.

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Colbert went on to note that jury selection had been particularly difficult for Shkreli, with one potential juror saying, “I looked right at him and I knew, that’s a snake.” Owing to his notoriety, Shkreli’s lawyers were having difficulty finding people who didn’t already know about when he raised his HIV/AIDS drug prices.

Shrekli’s difficulty with the public stems not only from his price-gouging but his response to the subsequent outcry. Shrekli defended his decision to raise the drug’s price as a normal process for the industry, often shifting the blame from his personal decision to the system in general. It was his wealth-flaunting, however, that caused the most public relations damage, with Shrekli buying up a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album and showing it off on social media that generated considerable outrage. But perhaps nothing did more harm than his smile, with numerous outlets highlighting it to his detriment. RawStory named him one of their “most punchable faces of the year” in 2015.

[Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]