now that abe has gotten active, maybe he can tell us his greatest victories and his worst losses and who were the opposing attorneys with whom he has had the most difficulty with in trial. his comments would be most interesting.
abe laeser said...
Reply to 9:47 blogger: To the best of my recollection, I have lost jury trials to Ellis Rubin, Bob Rosenblatt (2), Steve Rosen, and Roy Black. The last one was in 84' and it was my best case - and worst loss.
At the end of 1982 City of Miami Officer Luis Alvarez shot and killed Neville Johnson in a video arcade in Overtown. The city burned for days in response. Ms. Reno asked Benton Becker and Robert Beatty to work with Ed Cowart on the prosecution of the case. I will only describe their control over the witnesses as lax - or maybe non-existent would be more correct. Becker and Beatty quit the case - and left the office - within only months of the trial. The late Judge Cowart was not focused effectively on the case, and Janet asked me to take it over.
After interviewing the witnesses, I found out that nearly all had made contrary statements to the media, and it became a case of doing more with much less. It would not have taken Roy Black to cross-examine when there were videotape interviews that contradicted virtually all of the sworn statements and depositions. And believe me, Roy did a wonderful job. However, I truly believed that the officer had acted unlawfully, and shot because of his own fears.
The trial was very lengthy, and was given daily detailed coverage in the press.
Many community leaders came to watch - with a cadre of officers on the other side of the courtroom. Ms. Reno insisted that I have round-the-clock protection (I never quite understood which side she believed would like to have me killed - activists or police). The verdict went against me.The City of Miami gave the Johnson family $ 1 million to settle the civil suit.
Why do I consider it a win? The leaders and even many of the activists personally thanked me for putting forth the best effort that I could. The real reward was that the community response, although there was some unrest, was rather tempered.
I always believed that part of the reason was that even the opportunists understood that the government had stood up for their rights. This may be my rationalization, but I see the result as a great win for the community, and given the evidence presentable - Justice was served.
The case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Thanks for letting me spend lunchtime in story telling.
Roy Black saw fit to write a response to Mr. Laeser's post: Of course we put in on the front page. This just keeps getting better and better.
Roy Black said...
The Alvarez trial was also a turning point in my legal life. It goes without saying that it was a hard fought battle with supporters on each side crying for blood and some even drawing it. The specter of another riot hung over the trial like an ugly dark cloud.
I was also protected at the end of the trial by a City of Miami SWAT team abetted by bomb sniffing dogs. Of course that protection was somewhat dubious since a number of them, the cops not the dogs, were later indicted in the Miami River Cops scandal. (During that trial we defense lawyers joked that SWAT meant suspended while awaiting trial).
One point I can make without fear of contradiction is that no lawyer in the SAO works harder preparing a case than Abe Laeser. This man knows how to wield the formidable tools at his command. He turned the Miami Police Department inside out to get the evidence he needed. Nor did he stop there. It seemed every low life from Overtown miraculously appeared in the witness chair and had a clear view of the shooting despite it occuring behind a column inside a game arcade.
Laeser had the brilliant idea of having an architect draft a floor plan of the arcade and by using the geometric tiles on the floor tried to re-enact the dance which led up to the shooting. This caused me many sleepless nights. His chart and expert testimony on this point should be taught to all the in-coming ASAs.
Alvarez’s trial was the first chapter of my book Black’s Law (yes, this is a shameless plug so I don’t need any sarcasm here Rumpole) just because Laeser turned the case into WW3. I agree he was saddled with less than agressive predecessors and Former Chief Judge Cowart was assigned the case for political reasons (big surprise for our SAO), but Abe quickly shouldered poor Cowart into the background and made up for lost time.
You know if you have tried a case against Abe Laeser you have met their best lawyer.
Rumpole says: 1) This is what this blog is all about. A place for lawyers like Mr. Laeser and Mr. Black (legal giants both) to provide us with their unique insights about our building, our community, and their cases.
2) Why is Mr. Laeser so successful? Probably many reasons, but let us give you one.
Here are the penultimate words of his post:
Justice was served. The case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Who among us has not pointed the finger at anyone and everyone after a loss?
Mr. Laeser did not do that. If he had, this City would have burned.
He did (as his boss liked to say) his "level best", accepted the verdict, and moved on.
Some cases demand that the lawyer fight the good fight and accept the outcome as a product of our system. Mr. Laeser did just that, and a community that had been (and would be again) up in flames remained quiet.
Why is Mr. Black so successful? Blind dumb luck. Ha ha ha (we had to interject some sarcasm after being told not to do so by Mr. Black.) Actually that is a post for another day. And if Mr. Black ever wanted to grace our humble blog again, we would love to hear his view on what it takes to make it in our business AND win cases. Too often "making it" just means collecting big fees (which excludes us from "making it.")
What a great day for the blog.
See You In Court.
Tomorrow: Money For Nothing. What would you do if you were ordered to return three quarters of a million dollars after working on a case for three years and spending 5 months in trial and deliberations?