Thursday, August 09, 2007


Today we say goodbye to a friend.

You will not soon be forgotten. Your kindness, humor and humanity have touched each one of us in a special way. We laughed at your jokes, marveled at your ability, celebrated your wins, and commiserated with you on your losses. Now we have lost you, and we must rely on each other to ease our pain. If we listen closely we can almost hear that familiar voice: "Hang in there kid. It will get better."

In the coming days and months and years ahead we will stand where you stood and will say "As Sy might have said Judge....." There will be smiles in court and knowing nods of the head.

Time will pass and those who follow us will hear about you. Stories will be told and re-told. Eventually time will move on and all of us who knew you will be in different places. Our names and yours will fade into the fast moving waters of history and time. Such is the nature of life.

But for now, we will gather tonight and laugh and cry and remember.

And for many years to come, it will often be said that in this place and time there was a man who was unique. He made us laugh and earned our friendship and respect. He did his job which was really his calling to the very best of his remarkable ability. And along the way he touched more lives than he could ever know.

Rest in peace Sy Gaer. You have earned a special place in our hearts.

The memorial service for Sy is this evening at the Mahi Shrine Temple at 7:00 PM. Viewing begins at 3:00 PM.


Anonymous said...

What is the difference between Sy and the dozens of other lawyers who have taken cases off the wheel for almost no money, the impossible cases the PD did not want. He would defend poor people for little money who did not want the pd, probably because of a prior bad experience. The amount of time he spent with a client was probably about the same as if they had the pd, and the pd have to take depos and visit their client or they are fired. Take away the occasional funny remark in court and many people were put off by his antics, most judges did not like them and I believe more than half did not like his presence. Most lawyers did not like him tying up the court's time with his jokes when there were 20 lawyers behind him on line like at a bakery and Not doing depositions when they are permitted by the rules and failure to do them can be grounds for a rule 3 is NOT a good example to young attorneys-especially the asas who will go on to do defense work. He was a great lawyer but some objectivity is lacking in the posts. Defending someone facing life in prison and not taking depos or visiting them in jail or taking their calls from jail IS NOT A GOOD EXAMPLE TO YOUNG LAWYERS OF TODAY. Rule 3s were almost nonexistent when he was practicing and now you get one for every life felony trial you lose. I believe this blog is doing a disservice to his memory by applauding and encouraging the way he practiced law- he got great results and helped the poor but very few can get away with the way he did and SHOULDN'T EVEN TRY. The best can get away with it- the rest of you should not try it. Just because Ali could rope a dope doesn't mean you can.

Anonymous said...

8:04, i totally agree. i cannot see why there is so much ado over this guy. he was a true hack, a walking rule 3, and his act got old decades ago.not taking calls from clients, no trial prep, a poor example for those who take this profession seriously. his clients would be better served by having the pd.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you guys truly are poor examples of humanity and not very bright either. You miss the point. We are celebrating Sy the man. His practice of law was a part, not the complete being. How he practiced law worked for him. It was his style. It worked for him and may not work for anyone else.

All lawyers should practice their profession in a way that enhances their talents and ability.

Obviously, you two lack any grace dignity. To post your remarks when people are celebrating the life of a good man is in poor taste and rude. Please do the rest of us a favor and do not comment further on Sy and please do not attend his services. You are not welcome. In the future, I hope that I am able to out live you both just long enough so that when the time comes, I can piss on your graves.

Anonymous said...

Conspicuously absent from the posts about SY are all the judges who did not like him lying to them, the asas who had to forget the ethical breach like saying his client was uneducated, illiterate, wrong age etc. and the attorneys who couldn't coordinate depos and discovery because he did not like the rules which require you coordinate schedules. In a multi-defendant life felony case having an attorney who does not believe in discovery is very frustrating. How many rule 3s did he have and has pending for not doing depos. He held court in the cafeteria mostly to criticize those who did not kiss his ass and have his ass kissed by inferior lawyers. He was the rumpole of the cafeteria, you are the written one.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong 956 but this blog is to encourage the free exchange of ideas and freedom of speech. All those wishing to glorify Sy did so at his party, wake, funeral etc. Young 20 something attorneys reading this blog ought to know the other side, that for the last 20 years the man performed a service to the poor where the end result was superior to what they would get at the public defender's office but the manner in which he did it on a regular basis bypassed the rules of dicovery, ethical rules requiring diligence and competence(not taking depos in a life felony case is borderline incompetent) and on a regular basis made misstatement of fact on the record to the tribunal which is an ethical breach which was overlooked because he was SY, if others tried it they risked bar sanctions or contempt and I know for a fact that for every judge who thought his "thing" was cute there were 5 who did not like him slowing their 40 page calendar down with his antics and I Will Reiterate that most judges don't like it when you lie to them on the record in a court full of people because one of thier canons of ethics is to uphold the integrity of the courtroom and the profession by controlling their courtroom. When someone says their client is a child when they are not, doesn't speak the language when they do, the audience thinks this is what their lawyer should be doing and if their lawyer does not blatantly violate the rules as well they question their choice. and the judge is the referee of all of this needless nonsense interjected by a frustrated comedian who should have retired 10 years ago and that is why not everyone liked the way he did his thing. He got great results- if most of us tried what he did on a daily basis especially in front of the several judges who came over from federal court we would have been held in contempt or referred to the bar. If I told a judge I had his wife's phone number I would have been handcuffed, if Sy did it it was a joke. This raises issues of selective enforcement, discrimination, equal treatment and even whether it had to do with religion and ethnicity. In short the man should be remembered as a GREAT SERVANT OF THE POOR WHO GOT GREAT RESULTS FOR THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO COULD NOT AFFORD THE ROY BLACKS OF THE WORLD. Please don't make him out to be something he wasn't , that denigrates him. He was allowed to get away with so much because he was in the building so long and held a lot of markers. He was like the superstar athlete who has a special set of rules- if Shaq is late to practice no big deal, the last man on the team and he is fined. If you do not want objectivity censor the remarks or remove them.

brian tannebaum said...

There's an old adage that if enough people hate you, there will be a few who will support you. These posts (which I was waiting for) prove the opposite as well.

Say a ton of great things about someone, and there will be those who say "wait a second."

Is there anything wrong with it? Sure, it's classless. Maybe the stuff is true. Hell, it's opinion. God bless the First Amendment.

But Sy hasn't been buried yet.

Can't we just just enjoy a few days of marking the loss of someone we all knew, who many loved and enjoyed, and who was a presence in our professional lives?

There is no one out there that everyone loves, no one.

But to feel the need to denigrate the memory of someone a couple days after their death says a lot more about you, then it does about Sy.

Anonymous said...

Sy was an icon. Maybe he didn't participate in discovery or hold the client's hand like other "great" attorneys. But, he certainly did achieve results. He could charm the pants off a jury, even wearing those ill-fitting baggy suits.

Sy Gaer's office was like a revolving door. Clients would come in and send their friends and families over and over again. You don't get that kind of repeat business by being ineffective.

Rest in peace Sy. You will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Is rumpole Lurvey?

He keeps putting the pic of Lurvey on the screen.

Anonymous said...

To Tannebaum: yours is the same mindset of selectively rather than objectively toying with the facts which is much more of a disservice to society than the honesty you and 956 cannot tolerate and it is the same mindset that leads a country to love a president because he is the president when in reality he is a war criminal who has our country killing innocent people by the thousands because of oil, cars and corporate greed. You can't handle the truth.

Anonymous said...

A few random thoughts from an aquaintance who observed Sy for 14 years. I first meet Sy in the Pickel Barrell when hanging out with another old time lawyer, now retired, name Frank Freeman. For 14 years he was always kind and polite and had a good word to say to me.

I have read the different comments so here are my two cents. On a personal level I have alot of respect for people who live their entire lives, personally and professionally, on their own terms. In other words he did things his way and the rest of the world could take it or leave it. Criminal lawyers, by their nature, are kind of a renegade lot. Sy was the ultimate renegade.

Like or not Sy Gaer will always be a legendary figure in the courthouse. Yesterday Judge Soto was qouted in the Miami Herald as calling Sy a "hero". I sort of look at him a little differently but certainly as a great attorney. 10,20, 30 years from now other lawyers in Miami will talk about Sy in the same manner as old time baseball fans talk about Joe Dimaggio, Micky Mantle or Sandy Koufax. Whether you liked Sy or agreed with his approach to the law you have to give him his props.People who tried cases with or against him will, remember him forever. I am gald I knew him.

There is a piece to this thread I am missing. I dont understand why anyone would want to trash him on the day of his funeral. Whatever happend to just a little bit of civility? If you didn't like him then so be it, he is now deceased and their is nothing he can ever do in the future to change your mind. Let him Rest in Peace. Let those who liked him pay their respects to him.

Fianlly, to the family and close friends of Sy I give you my condolences and a thought :

Once, at a funeral, I heard someone say during the service that the only thing a person takes with them , when they die, is what they leave behind. Sy Gaer leaves behind a legacy of good work and good will that many us could only help to emulate.

Mike Goodman

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, am I the only one who thinks that in keeping with the way this blog has operated, with the imput of Sy I might add, that the negative posts were intentional to lead to further imput from previously unheard sources of fond memories for the Legend on the day of his funeral. That's my take-break eggs to make an omelet-intentionally post a negative to receive more praise.

Sy Fan said...

I tried two cases against Sy. Won one. Lost one. I became a better lawyer by what I learned from Sy in the trial that I lost to him. And the little golden nuggets that he gave me in the hallway in passing were and are invaluable. Rest in peace Sy. You'll be missed. I'll miss you.

One off topic question: Was there a change in the DUI law? Does a 1st DUI now mandate jail? And did they change it that a DUI conviction now stays on your record for only 10 years instead of for life? Please advise.

Anonymous said...

To Sy fan: ever hear of the term legal research, the dui statute is 316.193. if u can't find the answer and have to solicit the answer anonymously not knowing the source of the advice or its quality then you have disgraced the honor of this great attorney who has passed on the day of his funeral and on the blog honoring his passing. you disgrace him more than his critics, all great people have critics, great people abhor incompetence which is what your question connotes.

Anonymous said...

You want objectivity? I tried cases against SY. He won at least 2 I can remember. I saw him handle a jury voire on an insanity defense which he won, better than any other lawyer I have ever seen. You attack him for his methods but are blind to his results. And your lack of class of not even waiting until he is burried is evident.

Anonymous said...

A true criminal defense attorney would show compassion towards an individual sick enough to criticize a man on the day of his funeral. Pity the poor soul- don't get angry that is what he would want.

Jonathan Blecher said...


i can't make it your service.

you kicked my ass but good 23 years ago and we talked about it just last month. you were a true gentleman while doing it and recalling it.

good bye old friend.


Anonymous said...

Tuesday August7, 2007 a great man and great lawyer passed away. Sy Gaer was a true legend and icon. He will never be replaced.For all you morons and god blessed idiots who bad mouth Sy anonymously I can only say to you one thing, go f*** yourselves. Not only don't you have the courage of your opinions, but you are wrong. Sy was a better lawyer, without taking any depositions, than all of you put together. I am of the opinion that it's okay to talk bad about other people as long as you have the courage of your opinion and you are factually correct. So my beef with you morons is not the fact that your not suppossed to talk bad about people that have passed on, but rather, the fact that you do not understand the man, the lawyer, the mentsch, that Sy was and will always be. I would try to explain to you, why I'm saying that but you are too stupid and I do not like to argue with stupid people, especially about someone as great as Sy. Rollover and die.

By: Alexander J. Michaels

fake alex michaels said...

Yeah. Just what Alex said. Dis is bull sheeeeet.

Anonymous said...

I may practice law very differently from what Sy did but, I must admit, I never saw him do anything improper.

He was always nice to me and I liked talking with him.

I recently took over a case he started and he had no problems giving the client back a bunch of money... how many us would have done that?

Sy, may you rest in peace.

Mike Catalano

Anonymous said...

The book "The Man to See" was a biography about Edward Bennett Williams who many consider to have been the best criminal defense attorney of the 20th century. At his funeral presided over by Catholic Priests Father John Brooks of Holy Cross stated, after a previous speaker compared his life to that of Sir Thomas More; " I can honestly say this morning that in all my life I have never known a man or woman who more fully reflected the person of Jesus Christ than did Ed Williams". p.16-17 author Evan Thomas. The difference between Williams and Sy Gaer is that Sy defended the poor. The criticism of his methods, and not results, is analogous to the Romans chastizing Jesus before they tried him and put him to death. The amount of people that Sy Gaer impacted, the number of people he saved from longterm incarceration, children who did not have to visit their father and speak to him through bars, marriages saved, suicides prevented etc. is analogous to planting a pine tree whose cones lead to a forest. Rest in peace and I am sorry I for one was an admirer from afar who never told you of my admiration for you while you were alive.

Anonymous said...

1:02, you are a giant among men, an arbiter of all that is right in this world. It is you who should judge everyone. You are the one we should all emulate.

Anonymous said...

I really hope those of you that post negative thoughts on the day of the man's funeral truly look into your soul and see what assholes you are. Despite what you think of Sy, this is not the time to speak negatively-not only for him but for so many that obviously love him and are hurting.
I only hope that you disclose your identity and die soon so we can all speak poorly of you. And please give us your mother's phone number so we can advise her of the negative posts so that she may read them while mourning your demise. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...


I move to strike the negative comments about Sy. They are shameful and those who posted them are shameless.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Please create a post of only positive comments about Sy.

Please make a separate blog for the jerks who insulted a nice guy.

I second the motion.

Rumpole said...

This is a fine line here. I want people to have their say. People who say things that are mean and untrue will have to deal with their own negative Karma. I removed a few posts that actually had little to do with Sy. Lets go people. Only a few more hours until the man is buried. Can we keep it civil in the best traditions of criminal lawyers, or will I have to go back to moderation?

Rumpole said...

By the way, to the person whose post I removed. If you knew Sy, you knew he really was a friend to anyone and everyone. Outside of some comments about dimwitted judges, I never really heard him say anything bad about anyone, and this is over 20 years of having coffee and chats in the courthosue or bar with the man.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole will certainly be at the funeral tonight. Make sure you take note of who is there so we can discuss tomorrow.

Rumpole said...

Yeah, you can be like the FBI and videotape all the people, just like on the Sopranos. If as I suspect, 300 or so lawyers will show up, you can take your best shot, and even then, there is no guarantee that I am in town and will be there. Have fun.

Anonymous said...

Having thought about Sy a lot the past few days, there is one thing that truly comes to mind--humility.

Sy playfully insulted every ASA in the building, but after he did so he'd pat you on the back and call you "kid" or "darling." When I was an ASA, he was a straight shooter and I enjoyed my dealings with him. He never got pompous, whined or lied to me. Most importantly, he never took anything personally; we would often joke about our past dealings when our next case came up. When I went over to the defense side, I would often see in in REGJB, he would always say hi, ask how I was doing and, many times and often share a nugget or two of his wisdom with me.

In this day and age attorneys have, rightly or wrongly, earned a reputation for being arrogant and pompous. Sy was 180 degrees from this sterotype. He treated everyone well, made everyone laugh and shunned the limelight. All he wanted to do is fight like hell for his clients, which he did and then some. If he disagreed with an ASA, he didn't whine or threaten to go aboe the ASA's head. He simply took his case to the jury, often with good results for his client. And that was all he truly cared about.

Let us remember Sy by laughing a bit more, treating everyone a little bit better and being a little less arrogant. If we all do this just a little bit, Sy's memory will live on..........

Rumpole said...

Well said. It sums up Sy very well and reflects the feelings of many of us who had similar experiences with Sy. David S Markus will tell you that Sy was very humble. He had many high profile cases over the years, including a very high profile string of murder cases in California of all places. Can you imagine a Sy case on Court TV these days? he would have been an instant Star. Sy never went to the media, never sought publicity and did his job well. Every client who hired him knew exactly what they were getting. They knew there would not be depos and they knew their lawyer would be the most experienced trial lawyer in the courtroom. In fact I wager you could multiply the trials any prosecutor and any judge had (when in private practice) and they would not equal the number of trials Sy did in five years. I would guess Sy tried 30 cases a year for over 30 years. He probably had more than a thousand jury trials. That is a mind boggling number.

Judge Rob Pineiro said...

On my way to say my final goodbye to an old friend, I perused the blog to read what others were saying about Sy Gaer.

I was gratified to read some eloquent praise from many and briefly angered at some idiotic comments from clueless individuals who obviously didn't know Sy and don't the difference between good lawyering and the way they apparently practice, given the criticism.

I said "briefly" angered as I immediately thought of Sy and knew his obvious reaction to such infantile censure would be a laughing fit. He would recognize the jealousy for what it is and he never really cared what anybody thought of him, anyway. He cared about what he could honestly feel about himself. To himself he was true.

So, if Sy would cavalierly laugh off the unwarranted opprobium, why am I wrting here? I'm writing to give the lie to the statement that judges really had a low opinion of Sy. After 17 years on the bench following 13 years lawyering at the Justice Building I can honestly state I never heard one single negative comment about Sy from a fellow colleague whether judge or lawyer.

If Sy said something to me I would believe it. If Sy was not sure whether the facts were accurate, he would always preface his statement with disclaimers such as, "I've been told..." or "my client tells me..." No colleague has even challanged Sy's veracity.

The inappropriateness of Sy's antics has been called to question. Please, chill out--we have more than enough deadly serious business not to appreciate and welcome a little levity--a fresh breeze of irreverance.

That he took up too much courtroom time has been raised in detraction. Sy never took up too much time. He was the master of the sound bite. He knew the reality of our modern day, rapidly shrinking attention span. He embodied the Bard's advice: "brevity is the soul of wit".

Sorry for the pontification on this day, Sy. I'll miss you. Just let me have, for once, the last word--GRANTED.


Stephen Talpins said...

It's a shame that someone like Sy can't be celebrated without some bitter attorney bashing him.

Sy was a true mensch and a pleasure to litigate against. I'll never forget him. I had a case against him as a first year prosecutor. One of the more senior prosecutors warned me about his piercing wit and proposensity for trashing prosecutors. I laughed through the hearing. Then I saw the transcript. He crushed me. I was too busy laughing at his insults to see what he was doing. It was a great lesson.

Ten years later, when I supervised County Court, I always laughed when a prosecutor complained about Sy or talked about how he or she was going to slam him.

Sy was a terrific law. I saw him win cases that bordered on unwinnable. More importantly, he was a great guy who actually cared about the people around him. Say what you want about his lack of preparation, I'll always believe he was one of the better lawyers and he will always be one of my favorite people.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Judge

Rumpole said...

Thank you Judge Pinero. Granted indeed. In a way, Sy wouldn't want to get anything he didn't earn, so lets just say you granted his motion after a lifetime of legal representation.

Rumpole said...

You see, If I didn't leave the patently stupid comment about Sy up, Judge Pinero might not have been so moved to write and straighten that idiot out.

Anonymous said...

the 1201 blogger already pointed out that the insensitive blogger did so on purpose to invite further positive comments. for a bunch of judges and lawyers you sure do need to brush up on your machievelli.

Anonymous said...

I love the story about Sy being threatened by a judge with a $100 fine if he didn't stop arguing, and without pausing pulling out a $100 bill, throwing it on the clerk's desk and continuing to argue. And if you heard that story without being told who did it, if you knew anything about the justice building you'd know it was Sy. That's why he was so great and why people will be telling stories about him a generation from now. As a PD, I look at the court calendar the day before to see if I have anything on it. Whenever I saw "Gaer, S." printing out I'd get a little jolt of anticipation of what I might hear the next day. "Gaer, S." is on my judge's calendar tomorrow, and looking at it today and realizing that it didn't mean he'd be there--well, it sucked.

I could care less whether he took depos. I could care less how many Rule 3's were filed against him. I could care less what he charged. I could care less what percentage of judges liked him. He was a great defense attorney because he fought for his clients. Every day. Until he died. Period.

Dan Tibbitt

Anonymous said...

what greater tribute to a man who defied the odds and won acquittal after acquittal sometimes against impossible odds than for one of his admirers, in honoring him, pulls the wool over the eyes of the readers of the blog by purposefully inciting a defense of Sy by intentionally putting disinformation out there so that more admirers (i.e. Judge Piniero) will contribute to the blog. Now there have only been a couple dozen contributors- where are the rest of you people with the Sy war stories which were solicited or do I have make more untrue comments about Sy to draw you out of the woodwork. This was my tribute, none of you got it or figured it out, just like the dozens of asas over the years who could not figure out what he was up to until the trial was over. This was my tribute- if some of you thought it inappropriate I apologize.

Anonymous said...

Hell, I saw Postman hold Sy "in contempt" and order him to bring in donuts. The next day Sy came in and called up his case and Postman asked where the donuts were? Sy reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out one donut wrapped in a napking and slapped it on the clerk's table.

I actually filed a rule 3 "against" Sy. Not against him, but in a case he did. When you handle serious cases it happens to all of us. Sy was a gentleman and it never affected our friendship. The rule 3 was denied.

The best part was this from the transcript. There was a lull in the proceedings and then Sy pipes up "Judge if you smell smoke it is because Lipensky just ran out of here so fast that he set the carpet on fire. The state waived the death penalty and he is gone."

I have laughed about that for years and have the transcipt somewhere in my office.

Phil R.

Anonymous said...

Sy Gaer taught me a valuable lesson and I employed it numerous times and saved at least a dozen clients jail time because of it- half at sentencings and half in telling them to take a plea and what I learned from observation is this: HE WAS THE FIRST LAWYER I EVER SAW, AND I HAD BEEN PRACTICING ABOUT 10 YEARS WHEN I FIRST SAW HIM DO IT, TO TELL THE COURT HIS CLIENT WAS STUPID, AN IDIOT, UNEDUCATED, DRUNK ETC. I never in my wildest dreams would have said something negative about my client before seeing him do it. I saved someone a life sentence, they got 30 as an hfo where the crime was on video, by saying my client was an incompetent non-violent felon and that is why he had priors and shouldn't get life on his first violent offense where he was convicted of attempting a violent felony-ok 6 violent felonies. I saved another 4 years, and by insulting my own client in discussions about whether to go to trial they took pleas. For instance I told a client you were stupid enough to confess on tape after they told you you didn't have to talk to them, in another case I told him you voluntarily went to the police and confessed, the case law is clear that there is no duress when you went to them. I became a better lawyer by observing him and I helped at least a dozen serious felony cases because of it and probably saved those young men over 100 years in prison for which they were entirely ungrateful which is the nature of criminal defense. And I never told him that he taught me and that I stole from him and for some of you young lawyers out there do not be afraid to tell your client that if they had kept their mouth shut the plea would be better or if they didn't leave their dna or use the stolen credit card etc. That is what he told me.How many tens of thousands of years in prison, especially all the vops he did, did he save young men by being brutally honest to the sentencing judge who are so used to being lied to. If you don't believe me attend 1 50 page felony docket in Miami and see how many times the judge is lied to and knows it, why were you late, did you give the clerk your new address, are you going to hire a lawyer, etc. etc. That was his essence- he had credibility by being brutally honest when appropriate and would the client rather do 2 years instead of 12 by being called a drunk, junkie or idiot who should have stayed in school by his own lawyer. THANK YOU TEACHER!

Anonymous said...

There should be a plaque at MJB. After 50 years of hard work and kindness Sy should at least get plaque. If someone organizes it I’m good for 100

Anonymous said...

God bless you Sy. I miss you already.

Clay Kaeiser said...

I'm reading an appellate transcript of a trial (actually two trials, since the first trial ended with a hung jury) that Sy did with Larry Sparks. Larry was court appointed, and it looks like Sy did the trial as a favor to help Larry, since he was clearly beginning to deteriorate. What a shame that they're both now gone. Say what you want to about Sy, but, among all of his other talents, he knew how to protect an appellate record.

Anonymous said...

Judge Pineiro: You moved me to tears, thank you!!!!!

E. Garcia

Batman said...

Goodbye Sy. I never had more fun being in court than watching you work.

Anonymous said...

Two comments about tonight's memorial service:

1) Stan Blake was actually appropriate, and

2) David S. Markus showed tremendous humility and spoke beautifully about his friend.

fake hyman roth said...

As much as anyone, I loved him -- and trusted him. Later on he had an idea -- to defend those who could not defend themselves. That kid's name was Sy Gaer -- and the place he owned was the MJB. This was a great man -- a man of vision and guts. And there isn't even a plaque -- or a signpost -- or a statue of him in that building.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad I attended the funeral.

I have a few questions:

1. Who was the pastor/minister/rabbi or whatever?
2. If Sy was really Jewish, why the open casket?
3. How come no one introduced his family?

Thanks to all the speakers. You were ALL great and your comments were appreciated by all.


I had breakfast nearly each and every weekday morning for approximately two years with Sy at Au Bon Pain. Yes, each and every day Sy was there with few exceptions.

Whenever I arrived (between 7:15 - 7:30 AM) there was Sy sitting in his customary chair. Wide awake and with his legendary little black book he was preparing for his day.

One morning I had the gall to touch his black book and got a swift hand smack -- last time I ever attempted that act.

Though we have had hundreds of hours of discussions, I have NEVER heard Sy say an unkind word about anybody. He often expressed concern and empathy for people who were experiencing difficult times whether it was another's misfortune due to illness, bar problems, or emotional issues. This concern was manifested by not only words but those facial expressions that show an individual's sincerity.

Sy was a foot soldier in the Korean War and was a forward observer -- an extremely dangerous job. He saw a lot. He often spoke about how General MacArthur always tried to protect the common soldier. He had an affinity for the common man because he was himself an uncommonly common man. A boy from the East Bronx who found himself in the meat grinder of Korea at the age of 19.

He was a hard working guy who made his way through law school and built his career.

A couple of months back he was painfully ambling down the street out of breath. He stopped numerous times and never came to the restaurant. I went looking for him but could not find him. The next morning he said he was feeling ill and found an empty courtroom to lie down in.

Yet each and every morning there was Sy Gaer at 7:00 AM preparing for his workday. I never heard a complaint from the man. It was clear he was failing in health.

He ate bland food, due to his ilness, usually grits which he first ate as a marine. Sy the former Marine, I the former Air Force guy and Bailiff Bernie Jaeger the former sailor would guffaw about military food. In particular Sy, to this day, would not eat Pineapple-Raisin Ham because he got ill from that in the Marines. These were the funny kind of stories we often exchanged.

Some have commented on his courtroom witticisms and have opined whether they were appropriate or not.

Yet Sy was far deeper then the thin witty patina he evinced. He was a very well-read man who could discourse on any number of topics in history, philosophy, and literature. He often spoke about Shakespeare's plays, about Voltaire's Candide, about Conrad's Heart of Darkness. His knowledge was vast.

I looked forward to each and every morning having breakfast with this gentleman.

On a personal note he gave me some excellent and encouraging advice concerning a problem I was grappling with.

He was uncommonly kind -- a rare commodity. I will miss him.

Rumpole said...

What a wonderful comment. Thanks so much. Sy was indeed so much more than met the eye.