Big Joe Beltrami, often considered the father of modern criminal law in Scotland, died in Glasgow on February 24, 2015. He was 82. Mr Beltrami led a well-regarded legal career, appearing in courts all over the country. This included acting in more than 350 murder cases.
A Pioneer
Joe Beltrami, also known as Big Joe, was the first lawyer in Scotland to specialise in criminal law. He thus laid the path for future legal experts and provided an example full of integrity for all Scottish lawyers to follow. His is a name that most current legal students aspire to when they think of fighting for justice in the nation’s court system.
Throughout his career, Mr Beltrami successfully defended the infamous Glasgow Godfather, Arthur Thomson, on a number of occasions. The phrase, “Get me Beltrami,” was well-known throughout the city as a result.
Big Joe also won a dozen cases for the defendant where the death penalty was one of the many possible outcomes. Finally, he assisted two individuals by securing their freedom through a Royal Pardon.
His track record and passion led to him becoming a legend amongst Scottish lawyers especially since he was known to take on some of the more difficult, high profile cases and successfully fight for the defendants. These individuals included figures such as Patrick Meehan, a safe blower wrongly accused of murder, and Johnny Ramensky, a safe-cracking commando from World War 2.
The Future
Joe Beltrami passes on leaving his legal legacy to three sons, one a Chief Crown prosecutor in Wales, another a Queen’s Counsel in commercial law, and the third a lawyer here in Glasgow.