Renowned Hollywood Defense Attorney Peter Knecht Loses Battle with Cancer

Peter Knecht

Peter Leo Knecht, 78, the renowned Hollywood criminal defense attorney, died October 3, 2014 after a two-year battle with cancer. Knecht’s devoted wife of more than 20 years, the well-known love and relationship therapist and television personality Dr. Ava Cadell, was by his side. He is survived by his wife Ava, his son Chance, daughter Courtney and grandson Aaron.


Peter and Ava New Years Eve

Among Knecht’s client roster are entertainment world notables such as David Crosby, Sly Stone, Dennis Hopper, Andy Garcia, Peter Fonda, John Barrymore, Jr., Jason Priestly, Ike Turner, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, Rob Lowe, Heidi Fleiss, Robert Blake, Charles Bronson and Robert Downey, Jr.


Mr. Knecht has appeared as an analyst and consultant to the criminal justice system on national, international and local TV networks, including CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox Network, KCAL-Channel 9 and KCOP Channel 13. Some of his profile cases have been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America & Celebrity Justice. 


A service and memorial will take place at the Tanach Chapel within Mount Sinai Cemetery at 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, LA, CA 90068 on Sunday, October 12, 2014 beginning at 3pm.


Peter Knecht’s life was filled with many close friends and colleagues, and he had just received his 50-year plaque from the California Bar Association. He was famous in L.A. County courtrooms for his persuasive style and sense of humor, and continued a thriving practice up to the present time.


Born in 1936 in Vienna, Austria to loving parents Dr. Rudolph and Elizabeth Knecht, he fled with his family to the United States during World War II, landing in Los Angeles to begin a long, storied career that spanned decades of societal cultural change. Perpetually fascinated by the Criminal Justice System, he was always challenging himself, representing high profile cases against the largest opponent he could imagine: The United States of America and the State of California.


Peter Knecht is credited with forever changing search and seizure laws by taking adverse rulings to the Appellate and Supreme Courts of California and the United States. 


Below are some famous quotes from Peter Knecht:


“Judges should be empowered to mitigate sentences for sound reasons in the interest of justice. But, most of all, I think the American public, especially the politicians, should stop pretending that there are any quick and easy fixes to crime.”


“I’ve dedicated my career to the preservation of human rights. The state and the government also have rights. But with power comes the temptation for its abuse. We have to constantly search for that balance between individual rights and the protection of society.”


Knecht liked to use a famous phrase by Eleanor Roosevelt to describe his work ethic and philosophy “If you want to get something done; go to a busy man.”


In 1998, Peter Knecht suffered a horrific, near-death experience that added new meaning to the phrase “cut-throat lawyer.” At his home in the Hollywood Hills, Knecht had his throat slit from ear to ear, ironically falling victim to the kinds of men whose rights he often upheld in court. After saving the lives of his wife and mother by not allowing the assailants to enter his home, Knecht was left to rise from a pool of his own blood into a life of chastened values.  It is from that humbling vantage that he looked back on a storied legal career that spanned four tumultuous decades in Los Angeles.


His autobiography Blood & Justice on the Sunset Strip will be published posthumously.


Media Contact:

Jim Strzalkowski | Media Giants | (323) 363-5094 | [email protected]

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