Thursday, January 14, 2010


UPDATE: here is the AOC announcement on Judge Carney with his background information.

Update: I can't believe I wrote about Judge Carney and forgot to mention Gus. Gus was his bailiff, and not to get too sappy, but at least as it went in court, they completed each other. This must be a tough time for Gus. He was a loyal employee, and a one of a kind bailiff.

It's really hard to know how to begin to remember former Miami Circuit Judge Tom Carney.

I guess the first thing that comes to mind is he had a very low tolerance for BS. And he had a definite way of letting you know that.

He was a consummate jurist.

He was an old time Miami guy who had a ton of war stories.

Prior to becoming a Circuit Judge he was a very successful civil trial lawyer. If I recall correctly, either in personal injury as a plaintiff's lawyer or a defense attorney.

I believe he was one of the first judges to run the old back-up system where cases were tried 5 hours a day and two judges shared one courtroom with one judge working the morning shift and the second judge working the afternoon shift.

Tom Carney was from a different era. It's hard to imagine him walking into a Starbucks and ordering a Latte. It's easy to picture him at the bar in the clubhouse after a round of golf drinking a cold one. Or two.

As I wrote before: He was a real judge. He was a real man. I've missed him ever since he retired to the golf courses of North Carolina for his well deserved retirement.

I remember him fondly.

Farewell old friend.


CAPTAIN said...

Absolutely one of my favorite judges. I always enjoyed appearing before him. And while he may not have taken any bs in court he was always respectful to those that appeared before him. I never had a problem with a judge expecting me to be prepared for court. Wish their were more Judge Carneys' on the bench today.

Anonymous said...

Old school, don't make em like that no more. . Jason Grey

Anonymous said...

He was a nice guy who would slam the client when s/he lost. But many a fond memory of 3-4. RIP

Anonymous said...

Tom Carney was indeed a great jurist, a bread on the verge of extinction. We need more of the old school jurists! The new breed of jurists is more concerned with “political correctness”of their decisions than achieving justice viz making the right call. They are overly concerned with making the electors and all those acronym organizations (MADD, PBA, FOP, etc.) happy. Their philosophy and blind adherence to “political correctness” is an affront to “justice.”

I met judge Carney when I was fresh out of law school. A class act. Not afraid to cut to the chase, and not afraid to make the right call, never one to worry about the “political correctness” of his ruling or concerned with whom his ruling would upset.

Boy do I miss those old school jurists; those who were successful in the practice of law and chose the robe as retirement, not a meal ticket of necessity. Those who never forgot what it was like to juggle multiple cases, deal with clients, worry about the finances, and still get the job professionally done. Regrettably, too many of our present jurists never made it in practice. Too many lack the grey that signals experience and maturity. Many of them have no clue what it is to run a practice, and others simply forgot and don’t give a hoot. The old timers knew all too well what it to run a practice. They knew that continuances were often driven by the financial realities of a given situation, not that we could not try a case at the drop of a dime. These old school jurists were real trial lawyers first and foremost, Tom Carney was one of those.

Anonymous said...

To 12:30 am: go take your Geritol and put in your dentures. There was much more racism in the old days (not that it's gone now). Hardly any women or minorities on the bench. More cronyism back then, too. The system is far from perfect now, but it's not like the "good old days" were really all that good. It's just that your rose-colored glasses make it seem that way.

Anonymous said...

Judge Carney's mantra was simple--show up prepared, cut to the chase, don't make some whacked-out argument and treat me with respect. In return, you got a judge who treated you respectfully, let you know where you stood in no uncertain terms, knew the law damn well and wasn't afraid to make the right decision, consequences be damned.

He wasn't warm and fuzzy like so many judges tried to be, but he had a wonderful dry sense of humor. And his head didn't expand when he put on the robe. He did not try to act like G-d and expect everyone to bow down to him.

I have to agree with all the comments here so far. Can you ask much more from a judge? I think not. RIP Judge Carney.

Anonymous said...

Judge Carney was, I believe, the only Judge who remained at the RGJB from the date that I moved to Miami to work in the PDO (he was a County Court Judge then) until the date that he left the bench. While a County Court Judge, he volunteered to hear felony cases, because he loved jury trials, and Carl Vizzi and I tried one of his first big felony trials, a vile set of facts that the old-timers will remember as the "Chickenhawk Case." By the time the case was over, I had to convince Judge Carney not to hold the volatile Vizzi in contempt after he approached Dr. Valerie Rao on the witness stand while holding a 70 pound granite boulder over his head in a demonstration designed to impeach her testimony as to the cause of the minor three inch gash in the victim's head (Judge: "Put that rock down Mr. Vizzi!") and he had to convince "Dragon Lady" Judge Maria Korvick to not hold me in contempt, since I had missed her Monday morning "pleafest calendar" in order to help Carl with the closing arguments in the case. Carl's demonstration was about the only thing that worked in the case, as the jury found our client guilty of a host of felonies.

Judge Carney ended up sentencing this defendant to life, but it was one of the few times that I saw him give a discretionary life sentence. He later told me that he was a believer in the incapacitation theory of sentencing and preferred to give hefty non-life sentences designed to keep offenders in prison until they had exhausted their prime crime committing years.

Even though Judge Carney and I were politically far apart, we always got along (I think that he was amused by the fact that I am a distant relative of Richard Nixon). He was a great guy to shoot the breeze with (we used to call him the "Hall Judge"), a former Marine pilot, and a scratch golfer. Since he was a backup Judge, he heard the worst cases and had to deal with some of the most extreme defendants, but he never complained and did his job with dignity and humor. Those of us who knew him have missed him since the day he left the bench.


Anonymous said...

Tried my first case against Sy before Carney-didn't realize how good I had it.

Anonymous said...

I tried my first homicide case as a lead prosecutor before Judge Carney. It was an exceptionally pleasant experience - one which I will always remember.

He was an "old school" guy who knew precisely what he was doing. He was efficient, knowledgable, and eminently entertaining.

I distinctly remember his bailiff too - his name was "Gus." Gus was an interesting, albeit somewhat absent minded, fellow.

They were like an old vaudeville team. Like the Sunshine Boys.

Despite the relatively little experience I had at the time, Judge Carney treated me with the kind of respect ususally reserved for someone far more seasoned. He treated my adversary with respect too - and saw to it that both sides dispensed with any unnecessary foolishness. It was clear to me that he was having a good time presiding over that trial.

I'm very sorry today to hear of his passing. There were preciously few jurists in Miami (when I was there) who could be characterized or classified as in "his league."

Anonymous said...

Simply put, a good guy and treated me like a son.

I will miss him.

Anonymous said...

like women on the bench have made anything better. Ha!

bob said...

God Bless you Judge,
We were friends, with Gus , we were family. We were taught law, we were reminded why we had a duty to do what was right, every day.
He was my first Felony judge in 1987.
He treated me like a rock star, and invited me to lunch, knowing I was Cuban to a very exclusive club. He didn't care, the World was different in the 80's.
I believe Scott Sakin was my DC, who was crazy fantanstic. Amy Agnoli was one PD . We were given free reign, and justly reigned when needed.
I will miss To Carney.
Judge Rest in Paece.
Roberto "Bob" Pardo

Anonymous said...

12:30 is correct about the political correctness b.s. of the younger judges. We need to identify and elect old school judges.

Rumpole said...

I'm sorry for the word verification but I'm getting slammed with spambots. Let me try this for the weekend and see if it stops.

BTW- it appears that there are perhaps hundreds of pills that both enlarge certain parts of your body and make certain acts hundreds of times more enjoyable then you ever thought possible. And when that's done in 20 minutes (ok -8) there are lots of people who want to help make you rich and lose weight- many at the same time!

Anonymous said...

LOL. Maybe those companies know EXACTLY who you are Rump



PS---sorry, couldn't resist.

Anonymous said...

Old school judges?? You have had them and all you did was complain about them and force some of them off the bench. Live with what you have. Young, inexperienced, no work ethic and a complete lack of legal knowledge. But, they sure are pleasant. I guess ignorance is bliss