Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Phil Resnick, who successfully defended a University of Minnesota basketball player in two rape cases and another basketball player involved in the cheating scandal that cost head coach Clem Haskins his job, died Monday of pancreatic cancer at his Golden Valley home.
Resnick, who for most of his career had a solo law practice, was 63.
"He was known among criminal defense lawyers as being a giant in the courtroom," said Ron Meshbesher, another high-profile Minneapolis defense attorney.
In November 1999, Resnick served as former Gopher basketball player Antoine Broxsie's attorney. The NCAA gave immunity to Broxsie for his testimony in a NCAA violations case.
In a Nov. 21, 1999, Star Tribune article, Resnick said Broxsie testified that he received cash payments from Haskins and that Haskins twice asked him to lie about improper help he received from Jan Gangelhoff, a former office manager in the academic counseling unit who wrote papers for at least 18 players.
The university bought out Haskins' contract as head coach, but later sued to get its money back, saying Haskins lied about his role in the scandal.
In 1986, Resnick represented another U basketball player, Mitch Lee, who had been charged with third-degree criminal sexual assault in connection with an assault on a female student in 1985 in a dormitory where they both lived.
In 1986, Resnick represented Lee in a sexual assault case in Madison, Wis., that also involved two other Gophers basketball players, Kevin Smith and George Williams. The three were acquitted.
Meshbesher, who worked with Resnick on various cases over the years, said he was successful in front of judges and juries because he was "genuine."
"He was smart and well prepared," Meshbesher said. "He was just as good arguing before a judge as he was before a jury, and he was very effective."
The Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers plans to bestow its distinguished service award on Resnick in May -- a high honor, Meshbesher said.
Resnick was a regular guest on attorney Ron Rosenbaum's KSTP radio talk show. "He was a standup guy and a standup lawyer," Rosenbaum said. "He fought like a tiger for his clients."
Resnick and Rosenbaum were friends who took many trips to Las Vegas together.
"He was gruff, a man's man who didn't mind on a regular basis telling you that he knew a hell of lot more than you, and more often than not he was right," Rosenbaum said.
Not long after his cancer was diagnosed in July, Resnick had to give up his law practice. He continued to consult on cases until a week ago.
Resnick grew up in St. Louis Park and was a 1967 graduate of the University of Minnesota and a 1971 graduate of St. Paul's William Mitchell College of Law.
He is survived by his wife, Kandy; a daughter, Allison of Hopkins; a son, David of Golden Valley; two stepdaughters, Lauren Juster of Minnetonka and Briana Juster of Guatemala; his mother, Rae Resnick, of St. Louis Park, and a sister, Barbara Anfinsen, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Temple Israel, 2324 Emerson Av. S., Minneapolis. Shiva will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday at 135 King Creek Rd., Golden Valley.