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Isaac Ginsburg (played by Peter Van Wagner) is an attorney in Atlantic City.



Ginsburg is Nucky Thompson's lawyer. He is Jewish. He has a strong reputation and is meticulous and ingenious. He is sometimes called "Icky".

Season 2[]

Ginsburg represents Thompson when he is arrested for election fraud. He arranges for Thompson to be released on bail. Ginsburg finds mention of two confidential informants in the warrant for Thompson's arrest.

Thompson refers Chalky White to Ginsburg when White is arrested for the murder of a Klansman. Ginsburg is also able to get White released on bail when White's original lawyer had failed to do so. ("What Does the Bee Do?")

Ginsburg attends Atlantic City Mayor Edward Bader's birthday party along with Thompson. The party is a bawdy affair with prostitutes acting as strippers. When Ward Boss Damien Fleming explains that the prostitutes were all originally from Philadelphia and came to Atlantic City to influence voters in the run-up to the recent elections Ginsburg has an idea. Ginsburg explains to Thompson that having the prostitutes confess to being transported across state lines by Thompson would place Thompson in violation of the Mann Act. The link to election rigging would force the case against Thompson to be included in a Federal Indictment. Thompson could then use his political connection to the Attorney General to have the charges dismissed. ("What Does the Bee Do?")

Nucky arranges a meeting at the Ritz Carlton between Attorney General Harry Daugherty, Department of Justice aide Jess Smith, US Attorney Charles Kenneth Thorogood and Ginsburg. Nucky is late for the meeting; Daugherty notes Nucky’s somewhat battered appearance and Nucky explains it away as sunburn. Daugherty introduces Nucky to Thorogood. Ginsburg confirms that they have discussed their plans. Ginsburg explains that Thorogood will submit a motion to transfer the charges against Nucky to federal court. Thorogood clarifies that he will argue that the combination of the election rigging charges and the Mann Act violations constitute an ongoing criminal enterprise operating across state lines. Smith explains that once the case is before a federal court the Department of Justice will intervene and drop the charges due to insufficient time and resources. Daugherty notes the absence of a thank you from Nucky and laughs off Nucky’s request for a guarantee. Ginsburg leaves telling the others he has to catch an early train. ("Gimcrack & Bunkum")

Ginsburg watches from the back of the courtroom as Thorogood addresses Judge Ketchum at a hearing regarding Nucky's election rigging charges. Thorogood proposes a motion to transfer the charges to federal court because of Nucky’s involvement in trafficking prostitutes across state lines. Solomon Bishop, the State’s Attorney who originally filed the election rigging charges, sits at the other table. Ketchum interrupts Thorogood, distracted by the lawyer's green shoes. Thorogood continues with his motion, annoying the judge by over-explaining the trafficking charges without establishing their link to election rigging. Bishop attempts to interject as Ketchum admonishes Thorogood but the judge refuses his request to be heard. Thorogood completes his lengthy proposal and wins over the judge by explaining that the prostitutes services were used to influence voters. Ketchum pauses and then accepts the motion. Bishop is visibly disappointed; he looks back at Ginsburg who raises his eyebrows and smiles. ("The Age of Reason")

At the Ritz Carlton Eddie opens a bottle of champagne as Thorogood recounts his success in court for Nucky's benefit. He recalls that his father told him that addressing a judge would be exhilarating. Ginsburg infers that Thorogood’s father is also a lawyer. Thorogood is surprised that Ginsburg has not heard of his father. Thorogood asserts that Nucky must know his father. Nucky is distracted by his phone call to Attorney General Harry Daugherty being connected. On the phone, Nucky jokes about the joy of becoming a federal defendant. Daugherty claims that Nucky now owes him a favour and Nucky disagrees, stating that they are will be even once the charges are dismissed. Daugherty brings the conversation to a close by asking Nucky to look after Thorogood and telling Nucky that he has a long friendship with Thorogood’s father. Hanging up, Nucky asks Thorogood to name his pleasure. Thorogood uses a nonsensical pie metaphor to request female company. Nucky refers Thorogood to Eddie and says they will get him a suite of his own. ("The Age of Reason")

Nucky meets with his Ginsburg in the office of his suite at the Ritz Carlton to discuss the assignment of Assistant US Attorney Esther Randolph to his case. Thorogood has been reassigned after Daugherty came under political pressure to assign a more enthusiastic prosecutor from Nucky's enemies. Ginsburg has done his research and presents Nucky with a file on Randolph while describing its content. She is a USC graduate with 10 years of experience as a public defender. She became a prosecutor after impressing Governor William Stephens in California and has risen to her current position. Nucky is surprised that she is working for Daugherty and Ginsburg suggests that Daugherty needs some of his people to appear honest. Nucky complains about having his case deliberately made federal. As the originator of the plan Ginsburg says that he has been waiting for Nucky to complain and offers the defence that if the Attorney General cannot help Nucky then there is nothing he can do. Nucky laments that there are others in Atlantic City who will lose out from a thorough federal investigation and Ginsburg points out that Nucky is the one they are targeting. Nucky details his former allies – The Commodore is incapacitated following his stroke while George O'Neill is believed to be in hiding. Nucky suggests that if Ginsburg cannot target Jim Neary, Alderman Boyd or Paddy Ryan to provide a solution then he does not know why he is paying him. Ginsburg states that he is paid to put up with Nucky’s rudeness. Nucky's assistant Eddie Kessler enters and announces visitors. Annoyed, Nucky tells Eddie he is in a meeting. Eddie nevertheless shows in Lucy and her baby. Ginsburg takes the opportunity to leave. ("Peg of Old")

Nucky narrowly survives an assassination attempt. The would be killer is shot by federal investigator Clifford Lathrop who has been tailing Nucky on orders from Randolph. ("Peg of Old")

Ginsburg accompanies Nucky to an informal meeting with Randolph and Lathrop at the Ritz Carlton. Ginsburg reads aloud from a list of charges against Nucky. Randolph and Lathrop sit opposite Nucky and Ginsburg while Eddie pours tea. The allegations include tax evasion, bid rigging, embezzlement of County funds, graft, gambling, prostitution and multiple Volstead Act violations. Nucky sarcastically wonders if they have omitted fair beating (using public transport without paying). Lathrop offers to amend the complaint and Randolph compares Nucky to an onion citing his multiple layers of criminality. Nucky jokes that he considers himself an artichoke and says that he wants to go on the record that the charges are baseless. Randolph reminds Nucky that the meeting is informal and Ginsburg wonders if they are pushing for a plea deal. Nucky says he would decline any such offer and maintains his innocence. Randolph suggests they discuss Nucky’s shooting and he acidly says that there are more pleasant topics. Lathrop wonders if Nucky is curious who was behind the attack. Nucky jokes that he wonders who the shooter was but that the list of those who could be behind it is too long to consider. Randolph asks if Nucky knows Torrio, Nucky denies a connection. Randolph insists that Nucky knows Torrio and Nucky wonders why she bothered asking. Lathrop reveals that the shooter was Vito Scalercio and that he lived in a building leased by Al Capone. Randolph warns that Nucky’s friends are behind the attempt on his life. Nucky asks why his friends are not the target of the investigation. Randolph states that she plans to pursue Eli and Nucky’s aldermen. Lathrop relays that they have already questioned some of the aldermen and Ginsburg interrupts to assert his right to review the transcripts of these sessions. Randolph agrees and teases that they make fascinating reading. Randolph moves the discussion on to Margaret, pausing for Nucky to clarify their relationship; he describes Margaret as his companion. She wonders how they first met and Nucky suspects that Randolph is again asking a question that she already has the answer to. She suggests that Nucky might have additional information and he wonders if she expects him to do her job for her. She offers that she has ways of showing her gratitude, packs away her papers and stands. Nucky rises to meet her and she surprises him by saying that it was Lathrop who saved his life. She pointedly observes that Nucky has yet to thank Lathrop and they leave. ("Two Boats and a Lifeguard")

Following the death of his father, Ethan Thompson Nucky announces his retirement and gets permission to go to Ireland to bury him. On July 2 1921 Ginsburg sends Nucky a telegram to say that his trial date has been set for August 23 1921. ("Battle of the Century")

Ginsburg meets with Nucky in the lounge of Nucky's home to discuss his election rigging case. Behind Ginsburg Nucky’s assistant Eddie and shoe shiner Harlan unload furniture from Nucky’s suite at the Ritz Carlton. Ginsburg is unenthusiastic about their prospects at trial and Nucky gets angry with him. Ginsburg complains about Randolph and blames her relentless nature for securing a court in Camden, New Jersey. Nucky latches onto Ginsburg’s claim that he has made calls and sarcastically says that his lawyer is worth every penny. Nucky wonders what Daugherty has to say and Ginsburg tells him that Daugherty believes that they are square after doing what he could. Eddie announces that Nucky’s desk is ready for use. Nucky complains to Ginsburg that the desk used to be in his suite at the Ritz when he ran the city. Eddie asks if there is anything else and Nucky dismisses him and then thanks Harlan. Nucky sits behind the desk and asks Ginsburg to detail his plans to keep the trial in Atlantic County so that Nucky can exert his influence on the judge and jury. Ginsburg suggests claiming medical hardship and Nucky bemoans the idea as his hand injury is not severe enough. Ginsburg tells Nucky that he will only be sentenced to five years imprisonment and will be released after just two. Nucky is dissatisfied with the idea of serving any prison time and acidly jokes that Eddie should call the Massachusetts anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti to recommend Ginsburg. Ginsburg says that the difference is that there is a possibility of innocence with the anarchists. Eddie enters and asks if Nucky wanted something. Nucky says to “get the fuck out.” Eddie leaves and Nucky clarifies that he meant Ginsburg and says that he is fired. Ginsburg sighs and exits. Nucky later replaces Ginsburg with Bill Fallon. ("Georgia Peaches")


Memorable Quotes[]


Season two appearances
21 Ourselves Alone A Dangerous Maid What Does the Bee Do?
Gimcrack & Bunkum The Age of Reason Peg of Old Two Boats and a Lifeguard
Battle of the Century Georgia Peaches Under God's Power She Flourishes To the Lost