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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

JUDGE PHIL KNIGHT PASSED AWAY IN MAY

Judge Phillip Knight passed away in May of this year.
We received this email:

Rumpole, you missed the fact that Judge Phil Knight passed away in May 2011. Could you please post something?

The reader is correct. We did miss the fact that Judge Knight passed away. The title of the post links to his obit.

Judge Knight was a brilliant man. An accomplished attorney and a great and well respected trial Judge, Judge Knight set the standard for running an efficient courtroom. Judge Knight often was in his chambers by 7:00 AM, reviewing files, reading motions and generally preparing for the days cases. It was not unusual for Judge Knight to have his calendar concluded by 9:30 and a trial started by 10:00 AM. Judge Knight was so efficient, and his court audit was so low, that we often heard from other disgruntled colleagues that Judge Knight must have had some agreement with the clerk's office to assign less cases to his division. Of course nothing could have been further from the truth. Judge Knight's audit was low because he was a hard working judge.

Judge Knight was human and like all of us he battled his demons. But Judge Knight was a great Judge and a valuable addition to the REGJB for the time he served as a circuit judge. It was gratifying to read that upon his retirement he lived a full and happy life in Sun City, Tampa,. Judge Knight was a true Miami original and we will not see his like in these parts again.


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Acting City Miami Police Chief opines that the comments on the police blogs about getting FHP are by non-cops who are trying to stir the pot and create a controversy between the police .
LOL
And I got some partially submerged land to sell out west of Krome
DS

Anonymous said...

I remember him well. Looked like Ernest Hemingway plus 200 lbs. when you entered his courtroom, it was dead serious business. He didn't take any BS from anyone. If every judge ran his operation like that, The golf courses and bars in town would be a lot more crowded after 1 pm.

RiverCopCrewe said...

Please list some "police blogs" so we can stir the pot.
Thank You.

Scott Saul said...

He was a mentor for new lawyers and took the cliche of "you're only as good as your word" a reality. He also set this young,overly aggressive defense attorney straight on how to conduct yourself when having to be in multiple courtrooms at the same time.

There were drinking and eccentricity issues but he was a strong asset to the criminal justice building and a very desireable division for a young ASA/APD.

They don't make 'em like that any more!

Anonymous said...

I was in trial in front of Judge Knight as a young Public Defender back in 91 in the old security courtroom ( remember the bullet proof glass?Nobody in the audience could ever hear anything), anyway we had picked a jury and were set for opening statements the following morning. Judge knight told me to be there at 9:15 ( he could do a morning calendar in 15 minutes no problem). I arrived at 9:25 to find the jury, the judge and the prosecutor and my in -custody client all seated and waiting for me. As I walked in Judge Knight told me to begin my opening statement. Like the wise ass I am I replied ( deadpan),that I believed that the prosecutor was supposed to go first.Judge knight even more deadpan retorted" she already has". OUCH!!! No bullshit with that man. A very Good Judge, of a kind not to be seen again!
Jason Grey

Anonymous said...

I liked Phil but, he started at 7:30 am and was toasted by 4:00 pm. His drinking did interfere with his work.

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget a marijuana possession case that I tried in front of Judge Knight in which he called us all sidebar halfway through the trial and told the prosecutor that he was going to grant my motion to suppress. One problem--I had not even filed a motion to suppress. Needless to say, sensing immediate victory, I remedied this problem by making an "oral motion" that was quickly granted. Many months later, in a social setting, Judge Knight explained the incident by telling me "Clay, nobody has ever gone to jail for marijuana in my court." He'd done so many jury trials that he must have sensed a guilty verdict and decided to abort the whole proceeding.

Despite this, Judge Knight was no bleeding heart--god forbid that you had a client convicted of a violent offense in front of him for sentencing--but he did have a very developed theory of punishment that minimized victimless crimes. He was an armed services veteran who had worked his way through law school (as either a librarian or in the post office) and eventually became a partner in one of the big downtown law firms (Fowler White?). Despite his well-documented problems, he was one of the most intellectually gifted and hardest working judges who have ever served in the Justice Building. And he had a great sense of humor. Once, around Christmas time, a young female defendant, represented by Sy Gaer, said to the Judge "you look just like Santa Claus" As Judge Knight smiled (trying to look even more like Santa Claus), Sy said to his client, "but wait until you see what he has as a present for you." The whole courtroom--including Judge Knight--cracked up.

CK

Anonymous said...

I spent my time as a line C and then line B prosecutor in front of Judge Knight. I most remember his contiuance policy on most felonies. One per side, no questions asked. After that if you were the prosecutor and asked for a continuance, it was "Madam Clerk, history of continuances for the State of Florida." If the answer was "one" it was quickly followed by the Judge saying: "Your motion for continuance young man is respectfully denied, do you have an announcement?" The only announcements he would entertain were a nol. pros or a very, very generous new offer to the defense which if refused brought you back to a nol. pros. It was the same for the defense. When the defense complained that they were not prepared for trial after having a continuance, his response was always: "That is between you, your client, and the Florida Bar. Wally bring down a panel." Of course, Wally the Bailiff had already brought down a panel and they were seated on the other side of the security glass behind you. You were guarenteed to pick at least one jury every week in the old security courtroom, two most weeks. I disagree with those that believe that his drinking interfered with his judging. It did not - at least not in the time that I was in that courtroom. It was a formative experience for me and many young lawyers in that courtroom. It was also a time when trial judges actually tried cases, every week. Now that I routinely look at division audits in the trial divisions I am oftern struck by the fact that the combined C ASA audit in some divisions is higher than the entire division audit for Phil Knight the time I was in front of him. I was very sad to learn of his passing.

Robert Bahna said...

I am sad to know that Judge Knight passed a way.
Back in Jan. 1987, I served as a juror in his room
I had just gotten my citizenship, I was so proud of it, I was also proud to serve as a juror and do what I was supposed to do as a citizen of our loved country.
I am Gay and I was very impressed with his striking presence, and handsome look.
He was very nice to us all and it seems that he liked me, (as a person), I saw him laughing a couple of time at my comments while we were been questioned and picked by the attorney's.
At one point I lift up my hand, and asked him if they can adjust the air condition, we were freezing, he said to me very firmly, Mr. Bahna, this is my court room and I like it like that, I suggest to you to come dress accordingly tomorrow, I said, this is Miami, if you will get us valet parking perhaps we could do that.
He laugh and ask the attorney to proceed.
I still have (framed) a little diploma he gave us, as he thank us for serving as a juror
I never forgotten him God Bless his soul

CHESSMAN said...

I was once a neighbor of the honorable Judge Knight back in 1991-1993. He was a remarkable man. His wife, Mrs. Knight was a sweetheart. He obviously left an impression on me as a youngster since I randomly decided to google him and found this blog. Rest in peace Judge Knight. Peace and blessings to your surviving love ones.