Saturday, December 05, 2009


There's a lot more going on that we need to get to, from changes in County Court to a mistrial in a capital case, but we start with this wonderful piece sent to us by the Honorable Maynard (Skip) Gross about his friend and colleague the late Richard Essen:

Back in the more serene days of the late 1960's where a few lawyers could even be found in the Halls of the REG wearing white suits during the summer, I was an ASA and together with my Division Chief Ellen Morphonios, Mike Hacker and Dick Essen, was assigned to the division presided over by Judge Carling Steadman(sp?). The SAO and the Judge(a former ASA himself) did not enjoy the best of relations in those times and being a prosecutor in his division could often be both tedious and uniquely challenging. The prevailing atmosphere required a brilliant, eloquently-spoken attorney to step up and present, usually rather quickly, legal arguments to prevent the State's case from being summarily blown out of the water by the Judge. To give you a better picture of the relationship which existed, let me just say that it was the only division I've ever heard about in Miami-Dade County criminal judicial history in which the State would consistently object when the defense would try to waive trial by jury(yes, non-jury trial were quite commonplace in those days of yore.
Dick was one of the finest attorney's I've ever had the pleasure of observing and working with. He was innovative and consistently had to "think outside the box" to avoid what would have become another ignominious loss; he was an invaluable member of Team Morphonios.His voice resonated in that large, historic courtroom on the REG's 4th floor and many times it was only his skills which saved the day. After leaving the SAO Dick handled some significant criminal litigation until he found his calling in the uncharted DUI field. His success there needs no commentary nor embellishment. The talent which came out of that office is reflective of his wealth of knowledge and attention to detail.
His passing is truly a loss to the legal community and he will be missed by those of us who knew and respected him.

"Maynard "Skip" Gross"


Jonathan Blecher said...

That was a great post by Judge Gross.

I worked for Richard Essen from 1986-1992. I came in on the ground floor to join Mike Cohen, Bobby Reiff and Helene Raisman to help create Richard's vision of the largest DUI Defense law firm in the country.

Those were cramped days in the musty halls of the Dupont Plaza office building, which was falling down around us. But the challenging quarters (where we shared offices) gave us a sense of camraderie and we really enjoyed the brainstorming sessions around the conference table. I think I can let it out now that Bobby Reiff made a great (and irreverent) board game about us.

Richard had a amazing mind. A MENSA member, he would love to bounce "outside the box" ideas around the room. Those ideas, put to work by us in court, paved the way for DUI defense challenges and a new focus on DUI prosecution by the SAO.

Richard was a master lawyer, but more significantly knew how to market the business of law as well. He was one of the first to send direct mail. Unfortunately, that idea led to 50 others in your mailbox. He went on TV (Donohue, Larry King, 60 minutes Ed Bradley did a segment on us) and had a radio talk show.

He taught me the law and the business of the law. And he rewarded his lawyers very well each year. We even referred business to one another after I started my own practice.

Some of the names that passed through: Michael Cohen, Jonathan Blecher, Helene Raisman, Pat Nally, Bobby Reiff, Mike Roffino, Vicki Sigler, Elliott Snyder, Rob Malove, Gary Kollin, Joe Fernandez, Mike Braxton, Andrew Parks, Jim Best and Rene Palomino. Apologies to those that I missed.

Jonathan Blecher.

Anonymous said...

you forgot frank gaveria who wins more dui cases then all of them.


Anonymous said...

I hope that my lasting legacy in this world is something more than defending a bunch of drunks. Isn't it odd how no one mentions Essen being a great mentor, father, husband, friend? Maybe his death should make us take stock in our own lives and what counts when we're gone. This is not to say he was an evil or bad man... just seems like his legacy is pretty shallow.

Rumpole said...

I think your comment is way way off base. Most of us are colleagues from work. Therefore, when we remember someone, our knowledge of them is mostly from work. I'm sure Mr. Essen's family had wonderful things to say about him as a family man. For Instance- I know Judge Gross. He is an excellent Judge. I don't see him much anymore after he left the REGJB. But when he was there he was certainly a Judge I was happy to have when he was assigned a case. He is smart, fair and experienced. If- forbid- he passed away- that's what I could write about him. I don't know anything about his home life. But I'm sure his family has many wonderful memories that have nothing to do with his courtroom work.

It's moronic to write what you did on a blog that is work related. I would not expect Mr. Essen's brother or brother in law to write here about memories they have of him outside of work.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, what is "moronic" is for you to make Essen seem like a saint when the truth is that his professional career reached its summit when he got drunk drivers off on technicalities. You may not have the stones to print this but maybe you'll read it and take another perspective into account without resorting to name-calling when dealing with others with different opinions.

CAPTAIN said...


And our next County Court Judge is.....

Olankie Adebayo
William Altfield
Tanya Brinkley
Joseph Davis, Jr.
Mario Garcia
Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson
Monica Gordo
Tamara Gray
Robert Kuntz, Jr.
Steven Lieberman
Fleur Lobree
Anita Moss
Gordon Murray, Sr.
Silvia Perez
Margaret Rosenbaum
Lourdes Simon
Jeffrey Swartz
Marie Jo Toussaint
Andrea Wlofson
Angelica Zayas

They will be interviewed by the JNC on December 21, 2009 with up to six names being sent to the Governor after that.

FYI: Those from the original list that did not make the cut include:

Bart Haskell Armstrong
Kurt Stephen Berman
Robert C. Eber
Ivy R. Ginsberg
Ray (Ramesh) Gudur
Michael R. Jones
Stephen Mechanic
Bonita Jones-Peabody
Alan Adrian Taylor
Stephen E. Taylor


Rumpole said...

You really show your idiocy now. First- I haven't made him a saint. I didn't really know the man. I reported his death. Others have written in about him.

Second- One must assume that you have reviewed all of his cases, and not found one single solitary case where the police made a mistake and his client was innocent.

Third- what you so blithely label a "technicality" maybe something like the police not following the law, which necessitates in evidence being thrown out. It may not matter to you, until they come for you or a family member, and then you'll scream loudly about government or police misconduct.

Nobody says you have to like Mr. Essen. But your comment was astounding for its ignorance , unless you can demonstrate the requisite and intimate knowledge of both Mr. Essen's personal life and all of the cases he handled.

Anonymous said...

I know many of the names on the long list that could be good judges. personally I like Lourdes Simon and feel she is the cream of the crop.
She would be a very good judge!
D. Sisselman

Anonymous said...

Essen became the gold standard on DUI defense in the mid to late
80s. No, one can challenge that. What ever, one may think of him or his sucessfull practice, the list of respected attorneys that worked for him and then blossumed into todays mainstays, says all that needs saying. Hell. let the guy ;Rest in pease.

Anonymous said...

rumploe the technicalities include are reallu just delaying a case for 4 yers and then hoping a judge would dismiss a case when cops wouldnt show up.

the only lawyers worth a shit from that turd pile are canet and reiff and even reiff aint all that

Anonymous said...

rumpole - you make a lot of friends, eh?

fake jonathan blecher said...

"Richard trained great lawyers.

I am one of those great lawyers.

PS - does anyone have a snack?"

Anonymous said...

Can we have a revolution and send Anonymous Saturday, December 05, 2009 1:59:00 PM off on a tumbrel already.

Drunk drivers off on technicalities! God gave us alcohol! Do you really think he does not want us to drive drunk? Build safer cars and let me drink in peace.

Anonymous said...

12:28 should look at what he is or has become.Frankly sir, you disgust me.
Richard Essen was a good man. I knew him as an ASA and I knew him in private practice. He was a fine lawyer, but more than that, he was a good guy. He was always kind and a gentleman no matter what side of the aisle I practiced on. I am glad that I had the opportunity to know him.

Anonymous said...


You and 12:28 are both wrong. You are wrong to dismiss his substantive point. There is something to think about there (although, I ultimately disagree with his conclusion). However, 12:28 is even more in the wrong because this thread should be about remembering a human being, not criticizing him.

One of the things so wrong with our society is the utter lack of human decency. When a man or woman with whom you disagree passes, you give respect to their family, perhaps say a prayer for them, and then keep your goddamn mouth shut about your opinion.

I didn't know Richrd Essen, and I have never been a defense attorney. But I would never, ever make a negative public statement about a person in the days after their death. If you don't respect the man, the very least you can do is respect his grieving family.

My sincere condolences to Mr. Essen's family and colleagues.

Pick Em Paulie said...

Wow, 3-1-1 last week. Maybe we're starting to pick up. Or not. Too many 3-2 and 2-3 weeks and we still linger around .500. Good luck to the suicide pool guys. 12 weeks running is pretty good.

Each bet for $500

TB/CAR Under 40.5
STL CHI Under 41
Houston -1
NYG +1
Baltimore +3.5

2009 record
28-29-3 49.12% -$1950

Rumpole said...

Don't have many friends. But I win lots of cases.

Sisselman- my choice is Bill Altfield. Class act. Good guy. Would be a great Judge.

Anonymous said...

8:25...........says what I've been trying to say, but far more eloquently. It's sad how many people abuse the opportunity to post anonymously by bashing others.

I didn't know Essen; though I did litigate against many of his attorneys back in the day. I didn't like many of the tactics, but they always did the best they could for their clients and earned my respect.

RIP Richard.


PS----4:06.........Reiff actually is an excellent DUI attorney, particularly in motions. He understands the intricacies and complexities of DUI law as well or better than any defense attorney in the state.

CAPTAIN said...


The Captain thanks you as always for your comments on our judicial post and values your opinion on some if your picks.

Simon and Joe Davis have good chance to make final cut.

Cap Out .......

Anonymous said...

And so it is with all of us.... "ANTONY:
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me."

RIP Mr. Essen.

Anonymous said...

Interlock devices should be standard operating equiptment on all vehicles driven in the US. At a minimum interlock devices should be offered as an option on all vehicles. (Wouldn't we like to know our own BAC levels as we leave the holiday parties this season? Wouldn't the parent who is ingratiating their teeager with a car want such a feature before handing over the keys?) The technology exist, the will does not. It is a shame this simple application is not made to this potentially dangerous piece of equiptment.

Anonymous said...

The fault dear Rumpole, lies not in our cars, but in our selves.

Kissimmee Kid said...

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

Anonymous said...

You are right Bill Altfeild would be a good Judge. But Monica Gordo, Tammy Gray , Anita Moss, Gordon Murray, as well as Lourdes Simon would all make Fine Judges. All are wqell seasoned and even temperered. They all so possess common sense.

anonymous said...

The fault lies only partly in the cavalier unknowing hurtful comments on someone's life. Their rightness is secondary to the facility of their angry use and communication. Never should reckless abuse of a life well-lived be the basis for sheer brutality. It is sadness of the lowest order.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Richard for 8 years. The experience was at different times challenging, frustrating, and fun. Every boss and job can suck at times. Richard was probably the smartest lawyer I've met in my 20 years as a lawyer. Richard was very generous to me.

If any of his lawyers was having personal difficulties he was always there to help. He never turned his back when any of us needed help.

He always remarked that he admired my relationship with my family. I used think that ironic because he was always thinking and talking about his family. He adored his wife, daughter and grandchildren. I still admire his special relationship with his son. They were inseparable. To hear them debating current events or politics during our conference room lunches was a real treat. Richard could out debate anyone and somehow he always ended those exchanges with his son saying something like "I think your right, again."

My resignation from the firm was not pleasant and I never spoke to Richard again. Despite that I harbored no ill will towards him. During my campaign he reached out to let me know that he was supporting me and would help me in any way I needed.

I had the honor of working with a great group of lawyers there: Carlos Canet, Lloyd Golburgh, Randy Goodis, Mike Braxton and Andrew Parks.

I knew him so I can say he was, most importantly, a great father, husband and friend. He also happened to be a brilliant lawyer and businessman.

Joe Fernandez

Anonymous said...

I just heard of Richard's passing today. I am not a lawyer, just his bookkeeper for a short period of time. I briefly read the posts and I can say that the first thing that came to my mind about Richard is that he loved his son Michael more than anything and would do anything for him. I would have been proud to have had a father like Richard. Sure, he was a great lawyer. But for a certainty, and I saw him in action, he was a better father. So to whomever it was that wrote his legacy was shallow, you obviously just didn't know him enough. My condolences to his family and those who were loyal to him for many years.