Judges are a funny lot. Take them to lunch or dinner (you're paying) and they will endlessly gossip and trash their fellow robe wearers. But attack one of them in print and they band together like a swarm of African bees protecting the hive.
It was in complete ignorance of these principles that attorney Michael Tein took a belated and untimely if not unwise writ of prohibition to the 3rd DCA seeking to overturn Judge Dresnick's denial of a motion to recuse.
Tein and his partner Guy Lewis got their fingers caught in the teepee. Having denied under oath that their fees were being paid by the Miccosukee tribe in their three million dollar defense of a tribe member in a wrongful death suit (memo to the Miccosukees: we would have done it for half that amount), the plaintiff's found themselves in possession of cheques from the tribe to the law firm for three million dollars- pretty solid evidence contradicting the testimony of Tein. Motions were filed and things went downhill from there for the embattled federal attorneys who are finding the Dade County Courthouse a far cry from the federal glass palace they usually inhabit.
Tein and company complained that Judge Dresnick had "lost control" at a hearing and threatened poor Mr. Tein. Judge Rothenberg authored an opinion that has a decidedly "au contraire" theme:
"A review of the transcript of the March 19, 2012, hearing, however, paints an entirely different picture—one that reveals great restraint by the trial judge, and an attorney who either lost control or was intentionally trying to bait the judge.."
Both lawyers get stung by Rothenberg's opinion:
We also feel compelled to note that the unprofessional conduct of the Lewis Tein law firm was not confined to Mr. Tein’s behavior at the March 19, 2012, hearing. The petition filed in this Court, signed by Mr. Lewis, fares no better. The language, mischaracterizations, and “spin” employed speak volumes...
What we have here is a lawyer, and now lawyers, who have acted recklessly and unprofessionally, and are now concerned that their behavior may have tarnished their image...
Moral of the story: Wasn't it Sun Tzu who said "When you strike at the king, make sure Judge Rothenberg is not judging the attack."?
Stick to federal court guys.
See You In Court.
UPDATE!: As David Ovalle reported for the Herald, it was all a big misunderstanding and Michael Tein apologized for the unfortunate misunderstanding. Can't we all just get along?
Here's the opinion: