Joe Tacopina, the attorney who emerged last weekend as the voice of Alex Rodriguez in his public feud with the Yankees and Major League Baseball, has never been one to shy from a confrontation or spotlight.
Tacopina's client list as a defense attorney includes former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik; "Sopranos'' actor Lillo Brancato; former NYPD officer Kenneth Moreno, who was acquitted of rape, and Dutch native Joran van der Sloot, who was arrested twice but not charged in the 2005 disappearance case of Natalee Holloway in Aruba.
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Tacopina's experience with high-profile cases led him to join A-Rod's lineup of lawyers nearly three weeks ago. But during the weekend, Tacopina became the public face of the four-man legal team. He accused the Yankees of, among other things, holding back medical information from Rodriguez during last year's playoffs. That story in Saturday's editions of The New York Times kicked off a back-and-forth with MLB and the Yankees that brought the feud to a boil.
"We had to deal with this onslaught of leaks that were false, damaging, [meant] to destroy Alex, so we had to push back,'' Tacopina said. "There was a limit and the limit was surpassed."
His media tour yesterday included stops on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" show and NBC's "Today." There, he was presented with a letter from MLB that purportedly would authorize MLB to release the evidence against A-Rod. "A cheap publicity stunt," Tacopina said.
Serving as a legal team's forceful public voice is not uncommon for Tacopina. But he said he is uncomfortable being seen as the face of Rodriguez's fight.
He is appealing a 211-game suspension from MLB for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs and impeding its investigation. Tacopina said he and David Cornwell (who won Ryan Braun's appeal in 2011) will try the case if it goes to an arbitrator. The team includes attorneys Jordan Siev and James McCarroll, Tacopina said. "It's not just me, not by a long shot,'' he said. "This is a team effort and we all play to our strengths."
Raised in Brooklyn, Tacopina, 47, went from Poly Prep Country Day School to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, where he captained the hockey team and set a school career record with 355 penalty minutes.
Tacopina went to University of Bridgeport Law School, now known as Quinnipiac University School of Law, and began his career as a prosecutor with the Brooklyn district attorney's office. He switched sides in 1994 and has made his name representing high-profile defendants.