Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Today marks 5 years since the death of Gregg Wenzel. Gregg started as an assistant public defender in '94 and then went to The Florida Bar as Bar Counsel.

He then was hired by the Foreign Service and based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he was killed by a drunk driver, who was tried in absentia, convicted and sentenced to one year in jail. He remains a fugitive.

Gregg was an avid swimmer, often showing up to the PD's office after a 6am swim in the ugliest gym clothes you can imagine, walking by all the other "suits" down the hall and changing at 8:50into one of the half a dozen suits he kept in his office. (His office door was always required to be closed when David Weed was coming by for various reasons).

There are many Gregg stories, his filing of demands for speedy trial in every single case when he was transferred to the jail division, his daily use of the "necessity" defense in DWLS trials (bringing about the joke that the east wing of DCJ was going to be renamed the "Gregg Wenzel necessity defense wing."),and the blowing up of his briefcase in the hallway of Jackson Towers by Metro Dade Bomb Squad because his beeper was vibrating and no one could determine whose briefcase it was or what was inside. (Gregg was in trial and unreachable as his pager was... in the briefcase). In true Gregg fashion, he was not apologetic about the commotion he caused, he was absolutely furious that his piece of crap briefcase was destroyed.

Gregg was also a ten-time marathon runner and finisher, and three-time Ironman finisher.

He lived life to the fullest, on his tombstone is the Abraham Lincoln quote "And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

Visit his memorial website at HERE
and keep him in your thoughts today.
Brian Tannebaum

Rumpole says: Very well said Brian. You are a good friend.

Captain: I took down your post when I saw this, and we'll put it up tomorrow, OK? Thanks.


elliot said...

hear, hear!! the great wenzel's name continues to strike loudly in the halls of justice!

elliot said...

hear, hear!! the great wenzel's name continues to strike loudly in the halls of justice!

Mark Hanson said...

Thanks for the tribute / reminiscence about Greg.I knew Greg from swimming him with him those many mornings. You forgot to mention his participation in more than one of the races up the Empire State Building stairway. Quite a character.

Anonymous said...

what a cool cat he was. he was a real public defender. fearless and good hearted. tried many cases and was cool as the underside of the pillow. loved to party too.

elliot said...

long live the great W!

Anonymous said...

he actually called it the "greg wenzel lupus wing at DCJ" after he tried to argue that his clients were driving people with lupus to the hospital.
greg was a great guy and a great lawyer. he and opposed each other in court and he fought very hard on behalf of all of his clients but was always ethical and never made it personal between himself and the asa as so many youg pd's do.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Davidoff if you can make it a Beer and Chips event you can count me in.

Rumpole said...

Somone mistakenly posted a campaign fundraiser ad in this section and then realized it was not appropriate and asked me to take it down. That was the correct thing to do and I should not have posted it in the first place. The candidate had nothing to do with it and the person who wrote it obviously didn't think it would end up in a thread about a great young man who passed away way too soon. No worries mate. Problem fixed.

Anonymous said...

Wenzel was a hell of a guy. He proved what so many young lawyers seem unable to understand: you can fight as hard as hell for your client as humanly possible, but still be decent and ethical. Wish we had more like him.


Anonymous said...

kurt a marmar lives!!

Anonymous said...

No offense intended to Gregg Wenzel, who I did not know but sounds like a great lawyer in the true public defender mold.

But I think today also marks at
least the 10th year since the death of our current public pretender the not-so-honorable,
on vacation for the last 10 years
Bennett Brummer. Could you atleast
do a little work and defend someone these last six months you have in office.

attorney-rejected-by-the-princess said...

To be a decent and ethical lawyer in Miami is a damn hard thing for some attorneys. Glad to say Mr. Wenzel didn't fall into those cracks. Great, honest man with ethics and morals.

-Attorney Rejected By The Princess, proud member since 2008

abe laeser said...

I wish it was not true - but Kurt Marmar died many years ago.

He was a true friend and the most brilliant legal strategist I ever met.

More than that - he was humane and kind to those in need - almost beyond the realm of rational response.

Some of us still contibute every year to keep the U. of Miami Kurt Marmar Moot Court Award endowed.

A friend deeply missed!

Rumpole said...

someone wrote a comment not about gregg but about someone else and said that person did not like life.

I did not post it.

1- I don't know who the person who is dead was. I don't know how he died and why the person who wrote it would say that he did not like life.

2- under this circumstance I will not post such a thing. You can email me and we can discuss it or you can try again.

Anonymous said...

4:36 and BTDT, you described Gregg perfectly. I was an ASA against him in both County and Circuit court. He fought like a dog for his clients, but was always professional and ethical. Gregg never took anything personally whether he won or lost; on the contrary, he'd often joke about what happened in court if you caught him in a social setting. Rare to find these qualities in any lawyer, let alone a young lawyer. Plus he was a great, funny guy, fun to hang out with outside of court. He is sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

How nice that some still remember Kurt Marmar. Still missed. I knew him since grade school. What a terrific person and lawyer. Fake Anonymous

Anonymous said...


CIA names fallen officer 6 years after death Story Highlights
Gregg Wenzel died six years ago in Ethiopia

Obituaries said he was a U.S. Foreign Service officer killed by a drunken driver

At ceremony for fallen CIA officers, CIA Director revealed Wenzel was a CIA spy
updated 8:51 p.m. EDT, Mon June 1, 2009Next Article in U.S. »

By Pam Benson
CNN National Security Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- When Gregg Wenzel died six years ago in Ethiopia, the obituaries said he was a U.S. Foreign Service officer killed by a drunken driver on the streets of Addis Ababa.

CIA Director Leon Panetta spoke Monday at a ceremony commemorating fallen CIA officers.

Monday the public learned the State Department job was a cover for his real occupation: CIA spy.

At a ceremony commemorating those who died in the line of duty, CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed Wenzel's affiliation with the agency and noted Wenzel was a member of the first clandestine service class to graduate after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"He helped unite the class and kept its spirits high in the toughest moments," Panetta said.

Wenzel left his job as an attorney to join the agency. He was 33 years old when the car he was riding in was hit by a drunken driver who to this day remains a fugitive.

There are now 90 stars prominently displayed on the memorial wall in the spacious atrium of CIA headquarters, each commemorating an officer, like Wenzel, who died while serving the country.

The 90th star was added recently, but as with most of the victims, the person's name and nature of service will remain unknown to the public so as not to compromise secret operations.

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At the annual memorial service attended by hundreds of employees, retirees and family members, Panetta paid homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. "Their patriotism and leadership, courage and decency are models for all of us," said the director, adding, "their work is our work now. And their spirit abides with us."

Panetta also announced the beginning of a new tradition. Family members of the fallen officers will receive a replica of the star from the wall. The first star was given to the brothers of Douglas Mackiernan, the first CIA operations officer killed in the line of duty, shot to death in Tibet after fleeing China in 1950.
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