A well-known defense attorney from Rutland died on Monday.
Fifty-four-year-old Mathew Harnett, who represented some of the most high profile criminal cases in Rutland County, battled cancer.
Matthew Harnett was born in New York City and got his legal training at the Vermont Law School. He served as a public Defender in Rutland at the start of his career but went on to private practice, becoming one of the state’s best known criminal defense attorneys. Mark Furlan is a fellow defense attorney in Rutland who was one of Harnett’s best friends.
"He was a giant in Vermont," Furlan said. "He was the go-to guy for anything. I used to discuss my cases with him when I could and he was so sharp and people all around the state relied on him for insight and advice on defending their clients."
Matt Valerio, Vermont’s defender general describes Harnett as an unrelenting advocate for his clients, who was incredibly smart, analytical and well versed in the law.
"I think it’s a big loss. They don’t get any better than Matt," Valerio said. "While it’s a loss clearly to the profession, it’s a loss to anyone who knew him I think."
Besides his passion for the law, friends say Harnett loved to be outdoors skiing and hiking and loved spending time with his family. He leaves behind his wife Lori and daughter Cassie.