Monday, July 02, 2007

A Lawyer in the Arena

UPDATED. JUDGE ROSS SPEAKS TO THE PRESS. And yes, as you can see below, he did it again.

A cry for help arrived late Saturday night.
Ever the altruist, we are glad to help.

A young lawyer, full of angst, writes:

Random Off Topic Saturday Night Thoughts –
I am a young single Miami attorney.
I have been reading all of the news articles and thinking about the recent actions of Broward judges. I thought being a member of the Bar was going to be a lot different than it has turned out to be. Sometimes I look around and say to myself, "These people are attorneys." Maybe it is just that I am stressed out about bills, student loans, doing the right thing, etc. Even the thought of a handsome date does not appeal to me anymore. What is wrong with me?

My dear young reader- do not despair. Put down that pint of Hagen Dazs as we shall endeavor to help.

We remember the day we walked into the REGJB for the very first time. Full of hope and trembling with excitement. This was the big leagues. We had arrived.

It didn’t take long for us to be shocked into the same type of despair you are now feeling as we became acquainted with the Judges who ruled the roost at that time. There were at least two poor (pour?) souls who were alcoholics and were useless past 1:00 pm. Another Judge, extremely bright and well respected for efficiency and fairness was at least a functioning alcoholic. One morning in his chambers we were asked (before 9:00 AM) to join him in a shot. It wasn’t the first time we had a shot before 9:00 am., but it was the first time we indulged without having been up and out all night.

There were Judges who were proud of their ability to be on the golf course before noon; Judges who regularly berate us for actually insisting the case proceed to trial- didn’t we know they had more important things to do? Justice; fairness; the hard work we had put in preparing the case, all mattered little to those mediocre, self indulgent Judges.

And then, we’d appear before a Judge like Herb Klein; a young Fred Moreno in County Court; Ralph Person (who despite his problems was one of the finest Judges we have ever seen); a young Jeffrey Rosinek; Arthur Rothenberg; Henry Oppenborn (a former paratrooper who said the pledge of allegiance every day before the start of court and invited everyone else to join in). There were others. But the point was that these Judges were bright, hard working, honest, even handed (although not always even tempered), and intensely interested in “doing the right thing.”

The hardest part of our job then, and still a continuing concern now, is to not let the fakers get you down. The Judges (and lawyers) who are just out for themselves will eventually get their just desserts. Keep your eye on the prize. Hard work. Integrity. Do the right thing for your client every time (be it an individual or the people of the State of Florida.)

Have perspective: As Judge Moreno used to remind us “you will lose bigger cases than this one.”

Never forget why you worked so hard in law school. And over time, the successes will begin to mount. If you are a defense attorney or PD, you will remember standing up to Judge who wanted you to plea out the case so he could take the afternoon off. You will remember the hard time he gave you in trial, and you will remember the satisfaction of that not guilty verdict and how you held your head up high as you walked out of that courtroom because despite the pressure, you did what you knew was right.

Those types of “moral victories” are out there. They will sustain you in the tough times. But they are not easy to obtain. You must remember that every case, no matter how mundane, is the most important case to your client. Visit the crime scene. Take photos. Double check the complaining witness's driver’s license to see if they needed glasses to get their DL. Don’t be rude- but in the words of Ronald Reagan “trust- but verify.”

A great local lawyer recently won a case not with his brilliant courtroom tactics, but by listening to the very end of every one of the dozens of tapes the Feds had provided. And you know what he found that even the prosecutors didn’t know about? The lead agent’s anti-semitic remarks about his client that even the agent didn’t realize were being recorded.

The bills will be paid. Somehow. Some will be late. Don’t worry, the financial system of the world is not hinging on your next student loan payment. As Janet Reno likes to say “do your level best.”

Times will get better. “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

As to your personal life, well, take it from someone who can now look back on many lonely nights. “Life has more imagination than we do.“ There are people out there for you.

Sometimes it takes time.The Buddhists say “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.”

Guard your personal integrity like your professional integrity, and I promise you, the payoff is worth the price. This profession can be tough on relationships.

But despite all the admonitions we just gave you about hard work, remember that on their death bed, no one regrets not having spent more time at work. We live in a virtual paradise (excluding Hialeah). Learn to SCUBA dive or sail, or fish. The Everglades has some amazing bike paths when they are not blocked with oversized mutant mosquitoes. It is often said that the Miami Ski club is one of the largest in the country. Even if you are a prosecutor, I think you would be welcomed on an FACDL Ski trip. And if you are so inclined, there are hundreds of gyms here turning out those hard bodies that sashay at the Clevelander on South Beach on the weekends.

Friends are everything. I can tell you this- the longest lasting friendships I have ever formed started during my first years as a lawyer in Miami.

So, dear reader, one or two or even a dozen or so Saturday nights alone does not mean the end. A few pompous Judges berating you should not mean you should chuck your law degree and sell insurance. These are the obstacles that life throws at us. In the end, you will be measured by how you handled these obstacles. What choices did you make? All of us know lawyers who made choices that turned out to be disastrous. Some are still in prison for the choices they made. And yet, there are hundreds of lawyers in this town their 30’s, 40’s and beyond, who are happy, successful, and profoundly glad that when they were facing the same choices you are now confronted with, that they did the right thing, took their lumps when they had to, and moved on.

“Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

We have faith in you.And you never know, one in day in court, after you do a great job against all odds, some older lawyer, hunched over and otherwise appearing nondescript, may just sidle up to you and say “see, I told you you could do it.” And give you a wink and amble away.

See you in court.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Teddy Roosevelt
Speech at the SorbonneParis,
FranceApril 23, 1910


He just could not help himself, and his farewell present to bloggers is a must read at the Sun Sentinel link above.

From the article:

Ross, 60, began his first two-year term as chief on Feb. 2, 1991. He was re-elected an unprecedented eight times to what he has termed a "thankless" job overseeing courthouse operations. "If I bought every one of my judges a Cadillac, they'd be mad at me because I didn't buy them a Mercedes," he said.

Rumpole says: Where do we begin with that? Umm....The problem Dale is not that you were buying your Judges Cadillacs, but apparently your Judges were calling up their "appointment pals" and asking them to arrange test drives at Maroone. Thats if they had time to take a test drive after spending all day on the tennis courts while their wives were compiling "wish lists" at the Galleria Mall. All in all Dale, we would have suggested a different phrase to indicate the thankless job you performed.

Ross bristles at criticism of his leadership: "One person doesn't get elected nine times as chief judge by doing things wrong."

Rumpole says- we have to admit. When Dale is right he is right. One need only look to Castro and Cuba to see the powerful logic of our comrade's argument.

Interventions North of the Border? Judge Tobin has an idea:

Tobin thinks a combination of stern, reasonable demands and "peer pressure" ought to bring judges in line."[The chief can] talk to someone in a reasonable tone and a reasonable fashion and ask them to do things in a reasonable way," Tobin said. "And you have peer pressure. We didn't have any interventions. It would be a great idea though, an intervention of your peers."

Rumpole says- this is just classic. Can you see it now?
Several Judges standing at a doorway, Tobin in front, Holmes next to him with her arms crossed, a bunch of Judges in the back standing on their tippytoes. Ross is at his desk.

Tobin: "Dale, we need to talk. We're all your friends here...."

Such sensitivity from a group that as a whole sends more defendants to prison at a rate higher than any other circuit in the state. Stop it Judge Tobin, or we may just cry.


Rumpole said...

For reasons too complicated to explain, when we updated the post with the comments from Judge Ross, we lost the comments from our readers. Sorry. Especially Toots who wrote in to say she was the one who snt the comment that fueled the post. Have at it again.

Anonymous said...

Is there really court today?

Fake Panunzio said...

yeah Dude.

Anonymous said...

With Rumpole a/k/a Alan "Huggy bear" Shuminer and his trusty sidekick Chris "CP tech Guy" Pracitto on vacation all this week, I will be watching to see just how active the blog is. Gonna put your feet to the fire Rumpy and make you and Chris run the blog while on vacation to try and prove to me you are not who we all know you are- Rump de la Rump.

Anonymous said...

ugh, do the "I have no life" idiots," have anything else to do except guess who Rumpole is?

Anonymous said...

Young Lawyer,

My advice is this: Get out while you still have your youth, health, and soul. Yes, there are some good days. But overall, being a lawyer is frustrating, stressful, and depressingly unfulfilling. Over the years, I've worked at various places and on various sides, and every job has sucked for one reason or another. Sadly, I think it's too late for me. But you still have time. Get out while you still can!


Anonymous said...

We just had to know that Dale Ross could not bow out gracefully.

He has been an abusive prick to everyone for so many years.

I wish he would just go away and practice law.

Could you imagine Dale at a traffic calendar in North Dade saying... Hey, is this ticket dismissible?

Kinda like Al "punch your opponent in the face" Milian now doing criminal defense work....

When all else fails, they end up defending.

Anonymous said...

Al Milian has more integrity and ability than you ever will Mr./Ms.
11:29 am .

You are a worthless, envious no backbone criminal defense scumball for taking a cheap shot at Al.

Anonymous said...

First month with no Shumie on the bench. I'm bummed. The spot on the 3rd was hers for the taking. My hero sold out....agggrrrr...I can't take it any more. I'm moving to Broward.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole wrote:

"Ross bristles at criticism of his leadership: 'One person doesn't get elected nine times as chief judge by doing things wrong.'

Rumpole says- we have to admit. When Dale is right he is right. One need only look to Castro and Cuba to see the powerful logic of our comrade's argument."

Rumpole, for your information, Castro has never been elected to anything in Cuba. The only contested election in which he ever participated was for student government in the university and he lost. Apparently, that's where his aversion to elections comes from. One of Castro's famous phrases was "Elecciones? Para que?" (Elections? For what?).

So please, inform yourself, because the elections for chief judge, even in Broward, are democratic elections. In Cuba, all they have is a show called "election" with a single candidate, Castro.

Anonymous said...

Dale Ross for the Third DCA! Or, maybe he should move to Dade County and run for circuit court.

Rumpole said...

5:26-my over sensitive Cuban amigo- No one is more anti-communist than I am, especially with my firm beliefs in property rights. I understand your anguish, however, the humor seems to have escaped you. What my post was saying was that Ross's elections were similar to Castro's- and just as legitimate- meaning not legitimate at all.

Jason Grey said...

Before you talk shit about Al Milan you should check out his work. Al does a good fucken job for his clients both in and outside of the courtroom.

ESOL said...

its the english language deficiency that prevents many Cubans/ESOL from grasping the subtle sarcasm, blithe innuendo and double entendre of american humour.

i hear it all the time from my latina wife. shes no dummy, but still cant always grasp the nuances of english language humour.

im sure english speakers would have the same difficulty with a spanish double entendre.

the problem is that Cubans become reactionary and the knee-jerk response is to think you're a commie sympathizer.

a line from 40 Year Old Virgin:

" I don't understand the big words you're using, so I'm gonna take it as a sign you are disrespecting me "

Anonymous said...

A Milian is a great guy and has great taste in music.

Joel Denaro

Anonymous said...

Al has some sweet watches, i'll tell you that.

J. Blecher

Anonymous said...

Al Milian's socks always match his ties. And his cologne is nice too.

A. Shuminer.

Anonymous said...

Too funny these die hard prosecutors that seek prison for every case and then turn to doing defense work. Hhmm, did Al ever announce a noll pross on a case that should not have gone forward on...or did he just follow in line like all the other robots under Satz?

Anonymous said...

Al shore has a purty mouth.

R. Black

Jason Grey said...

I thought only Hanfield had socks that matched his ties

Anonymous said...

But only Guralnick matches his boots and briefcases.


Anonymous said...

Maybe you guys forgot all the kind and gentle things Milian said and did to criminal defense lawyers when he was a prosectutor.

1. Punch in face.
2. Bar complaints.
3. Personal insults.
4. Calling a jury that said not guilty "lobotomized zombies and morons."

And the beat goes on.

Anonymous said...

Broward sucks because they dont do anything to bad prosecutors or bad judges.

They tolerated Ross until the shit finally hit too many fans.

They let former prosecutor Milian even punch people and the SAO did almost nothing.

They need to learn up there that respect for the law starts at home.

Anonymous said...

Men can change. Everyone deserves a fresh start.

Al is a good guy.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Al is a good guy. Just like Tinkler-Mendez is a good judge. I was before her recently. She has no clue.