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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

HAROLD FIELDS AND LEE WEISSENBORN HAVE PASSED AWAY

The REGJB community lost two long-time and experienced lawyers in the last week: Harold Fields and Lee Weissenborn. 

Harold Fields was a former Dade Public Defender and a long time fixture around our courthouse, especially in the 1980's and 1990's.  We didn't see much of him lately, but we knew him during a time when he handled a lot of cases and always did so with professionalism, honesty, and decency. He was well respected by all who knew him. 

Lee Weissenborn is more of an enigma to us. We knew Lee as many of our colleagues did, as a hard fighting lawyer who handled a lot of post-conviction cases. And that would be the end of our recollection of him, if it were not for this wonderful article in the Miami Herald detailing his political career as a state representative in the 1960's and a state senator in the 1970's. Lee was a delegate to the famous 1960 Democratic National Convention that nominated JFK. There is a great picture in the Herald article of him with JFK. 

But, as we were shocked to find out, Lee was best known for his crusade to move the State Capital from Tallahassee, which in the 1960's was a backwater southern town filled with southern racism, to Orlando. 

Lee wasn't successful in his attempt, but he did get a lot of institutions in Tallahassee to integrate in response to his criticisms. The political big-wigs were so frightened about Lee's attempt to move the Capital that they appropriated money and built a new State Capital so big that it could never be moved. And then, according to the Herald, the legislators in Tallahassee did this:


Tongue in cheek, a sardonic bronze tribute to Weissenborn for his inadvertent role in motivating the new building was mounted in its lobby and reads:
This plaque is dedicated to Senator Lee Weissenborn, whose valiant effort to move the Capitol to Orlando was the prime motivation for construction of this building.

We knew Lee as an older gentlemen, always with a smile, lugging transcripts around the courthouse, fighting for clients who were convicted and seeking a new trial. Now we learn that in his youth he was a swashbuckling civil rights fighter who wasn't afraid to take on the racist-southern establishment in Tallahassee and who had the admiration of people like JFK. 

Shame on us for not taking the time all those years to sit down and have a cup a coffee with him and find this out. 

These were two good men who spent a good part of their professional lives in our small courthouse fighting for clients,  and they deserve to be remembered. 

From Occupied America, where the president unwittingly (without any wit) compromises intelligence sources in the oval office, Fight The Power!

Coming Tomorrow: Why Brian Kirlew  FACDL hates  doesn't really like us.





17 comments:

Steven Haguel said...

Does anyone have any details on Harold's passing? He was one of a kind. Always idealistic, yet always cool. A great friend. And let's not forget: one of the top ten most eligible bachelors in Dade County (back in the days of Tropic Magazine). A great loss for all of us who were his friends.

Anonymous said...

Big hearing in front of Judge Martin Zilber today. Thrilled to finally have a decent human being listen to my case and just be fair. He is a joy and is a champion of the Constitution. My client is thrilled to have the best judge ever.

Anonymous said...

If Brian complained about patting people on the back than why did they give Roy Black an award. He hasn't done anything in years, and when he has, it's never been for the downtrodden.

the trialmaster said...

I knew that Lee was a state rep in the 60s but did not realize that he was an early fighter for civil rights or wanted to move the capital to Orlando. Still not a bad idea. He was a gentleman and fought for his clients in a quiet but effective way. As for Harold, I knew him as a young PD/ He was effective in court and trials. He was voted the most handsome man in Miami at one point although I never quit understood why. He was far too young to pass so quickly. I wonder what caused his death and what he had been doing in the past years. I haven't seen him around in a long time. May they both rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:46. Black is vastly overrated and hasn't won a case in years where the jurors were not bribed. If I ever needed a great lawyer I would hire Jack Denaro who is a much better trial lawyer than Black.

Juan Gonzalez said...

I had a number of cups of coffee with Lee Weissenborn and considered him a friend. On some occasions when he had important conversations with Spanish speaking appointed clients he would ask me to interpret for him as he felt that a lawyer would better convey the meaning. His conversations with his clients were not just about the law and whether to plea, he was kind, he was respectful, he was wise and possessed a rare grace and bearing. I still remember the life advice he gave and wonder if he knew how impacted I was. I knew he had been a state senator but his humility kept him from talking about his momentous achievements. I am not surprised he associated with Camelot. My life was enriched by his friendship. Rest in peace my friend I will never forget you.

DMD said...

Very exciting to read of the early history and youthful accomplishments of those who we knew only as "older men" !!!! DMD

Anonymous said...

@ 8:49 AM--I was in Zilber today. It was a coverage judge and looked like arraignments only. What's with all these crazy Zilber comments lately?



Anonymous said...

Don't be a hater. Roy loves denaro.

Anonymous said...

What's the matter 10:46, no one has any thought of ever giving you an award? I believe Roy Black was a PD for about 7 years? Did he not represent the "downtrodden" then? Has he done nothing in his career (other than make you jealous of his success) to deserve recognition. Go back to your withhold court costs life and learn to congratulate those that you will never be like.

Steven Bustamante said...

I remember and respected both of these gentlemen. Sad but inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about these distinguished men. May they Rest In Peace.
This country and their media outlets are making a big mistake with Trump. To me, they are turning him into an underdog, which in the end will make him more popular. he will be president for eight years. The idea that he committed obstruction of justice in connection with his meeting with the Russian ambassador is a perfect example. I voted for Clinton.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:46, if you asked Kirlew, he would tell you that he was against giving Roy Black the award for the same reasons you stated. He didn't vote at the meeting because he wasn't allowed to vote unless there was a tie.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

Anonymous said...

The award winners were fair. Some good. Some could have been better.

It would just be nice if soem didn't reak of politics and Kirlew could have had more of a say.

Anonymous said...

11:06- I was in and around the PD office when Black was there. He said he used his clients as "guinea pigs" to see what type of defense might be swallowed by a jury. He also represented the so called "Bird Road Rapist" who got convicted. This poor guy was later to be found to be completely innocent. Guess that jury was not bribed. For my money I would hire Jack Denaro or Bill Clay if I ever needed top trial counsel.Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

MY FATHER WAS LEE WEISENBORNS LAW PARTNER IN THE 1960S AND 1970S LEONARD F BURR WHO PASSED AWAY IN 2010. RIP LEE