Motown lawyer TV personality Henry Baskin has died at 88



Henry Baskin was the kind of lawyer who fought for his clients in the courtroom and maintained lifelong friendships with the opposing lawyer outside of it.

“He was a brilliant lawyer. He was always prepared. And he would go to the ends of the earth to defend his client,” said family law lawyer Edward Gold. “We could fight like cats and dogs when we had an affair. But when it was over, we were still friends.”

Mr. Baskin, a lawyer, legal activist and television personality known for representing the icons of Motown, pioneering entertainment and media law in Michigan, and working to make complex legal matters accessible to the public, died on Saturday October 2, 2021 at his Bloomfield Hills Home. He was 88 years old.

Mr. Baskin passed away peacefully in his sleep with his son, Marc Baskin, and daughter Dana Baskin-Coffman by his side, his son said. Mr. Baskin had a heart attack in September, Baskin said.

Often referred to as the State “First major lawyer specializing in entertainment”, Mr. Baskin practiced at the Baskin law firm, which he founded in 1958, for more than six decades and had active business until his death, according to his son.

“He was very charismatic, sort of lighted up a room when he walked in,” Baskin said. People seemed drawn to him, and he cared about the underdog. “

Mr. Baskin was a founder and past chair of the Michigan State Bar’s Family Law Section, which awarded him his Lifetime Achievement Award.

Henry Baskin in court in May 2014.

Among a sprawling list of accolades over his career, including being recognized as one of Michigan’s most influential lawyers by Lawyers Weekly and as one of America’s best lawyers for more than a decade and a half he received the 2002 Champion of Justice Award from the State Bar.

In his work, Mr. Baskin has lobbied for new standard contracts in the music industry, representing Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and Barbra Streisand throughout his career. These, his son said, were “clearly a highlight of his career” for him.

As a lawyer, he has also worked in the areas of intellectual property law, information technology, defamation, privacy rights and broadcast licensing, among others. He manipulated Michigan’s first biracial custody case sued a Rhode Island governor for paternity and ruled the first grandparents’ custody case.

“Of course he loved the media and the media loved him,” said Gold, who has known Mr. Baskin for 50 years. “He represented most if not all of the presenters at the various stations in Detroit.”

He has represented media figures and has become a sort of media figure himself. For more than a decade in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he hosted “Due Process,” an award-winning local television show on Detroit’s public broadcaster WTVS, at the time the show’s program. oldest public affairs office in Michigan.

On the program, Mr. Baskin eminent lawyers, legal experts and public figures to explain to the viewer how to navigate complex legal issues.

The episodes helped viewers understand their rights, covering interactions with landlords, doctors and intruders, while also providing custody information in divorce cases and the debate over same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

“He was very proud of the show,” his son said, adding that people often stopped the family on the streets when they dated Mr. Baskin to thank him for covering topics that affected them.

Henry Baskin with his parents, Gladys and Max Baskin in 1985.

Family, friends and colleagues have all also testified to Mr. Baskin’s philanthropic work. His son said the impetus for getting involved in so many charities and doing pro bono legal work was his own upbringing in poverty, as the son of first generation immigrants who had to rely on donations and welfare checks to survive.

Mr. Baskin founded two organizations, the Mental Illness Research Association and the Family AIDS Network. He has also worked with, among others, the Association Against Children’s Substance Abuse, Variety-The Children’s Charity, and served on the board of directors of Haven, an Oakland County organization helping victims of domestic violence.

“Variety is very grateful for the time and attention that Henry has devoted over two decades to improving the lives of children. Her generous support of Variety has touched almost every grassroots program, ”Michelle J. Murphy, executive director of the organization, said in a statement.

“Henry’s energy and enthusiasm was a constant in all his endeavors, and he will be sadly missed by so many people. Our hearts are with his family during this difficult time.”

Linda Solomon, a photojournalist who described Mr. Baskin as a “dear friend I can always count on”, said what people knew about his philanthropic work did not scratch the surface of all he actually had. fact, a feeling his son echoed, even saying he was unaware of some of them.

Solomon also said it was just an extension of his generosity with his time and resources in his private life.

Birmiingham lawyer Henry Baskin speaks with L. Brooks Patterson, a former Oakland County executive, during the Circle of Friends luncheon at the Townsend Hotel on August 9, 2013.

“He was going out of his way to just help anyone who called him, emailed him, texted him. He was there no matter how busy he was, and you never had that sense. was always available. “

Besides his son and daughter, Mr. Baskin is survived by his sister, Carolle Hampson; and four grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are private.


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