Monday, March 04, 2019


It's that time of the year when our newest judges spend an hour luxuriating in their victory. Some are fun, some are boring. But it's polite to attend and wish the robed reader a bon voyage on their new career. 

Upcoming this week on Thursday March 7,2019 Judge Lizzett Martinez and on Friday March 8, 2019 Judge Betsy Alvarez-Zane

we referenced in our post on Saturday, today, Monday March 4, marks the anniversary of the inauguration of our greatest President: Abraham Lincoln. 

Lincoln's first inaugural address pales upon his many other speeches and is outshone by his second inaugural. His first inaugural is a man contemplating the loss of his country. He beseeches the southern states to remain in the Union, assuring them he does not seek to end slavery, and will not give sanctuary to run-away slaves. Lincoln had so much more greatness in him then in this timid and tepid paean to the status quo. 

Tough times in the future- events more difficult than any president before or since had to handle-  would show that the man met his times. 

But Lincoln was our greatest wordsmith. And even in timidity and fear of losing the Union, his brilliance came through with an ending line that will last the ages:

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

The better angels of our nature. 

If poetry moves you. If brilliance inspires you.
Then Lincoln the man, the writer, the poet, the president, must be studied and never forgotten.  


Anonymous said...

Come on Rump. Lincoln? At least pay homage to those of us who desire nothing more than mediocrity by letting out a primal scream for Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur (he of the Port of New York), and Rutherford B. Hayes.

RBH.ORG said...


Anonymous said...

Yes!!!!!! 4:15. A slur indeed!! His election paved the way for Jim Crow and almost 100 years of terrorism against a black minority and recently freed slaves. I can understand why the DAR (Daughters Of The American Revolution) and KKK would be offended.

Anonymous said...


You have chosen to suppress relevant and important news because of your bias and love for the object of the news. Mr. Michael's suspension is an important lesson to young lawyers for the need of civility, professionalism and respect for the courts necessary in the practice of law and for the survival of our system of government. I understand and share your admiration for Alex's zealousness in the representation of his clients, but (even in light of your continued reminders that this is your blog) this decision and its ramifications are too important to not discuss. It is your blog, but your own ethics and principles are being compromised.

Rumpole said...

9:17- look at your comment. It's well written, thoughtful, respectful and raises important issues. Assuming you have written prior comments about Alex, they were not that way. Among other things you were kicking him when he was down.

I will allow a full and complete discussion of the Bar complaint against Alex in the context of what is allowable and not allowable in the representation of a client.

But comments like "he's always been an A$$hole and I'm thrilled he's gone" type of crap are comments I will not allow.

Anonymous said...


I have never written about Alex here before. I have never referred to him in those type of terms. On a personal basis he is personable and fun to be around. As I indicated before, I take no joy in any lawyer losing their ability to practice, especially with the passion Alex exhibits.

I will commence the discussion later today. The discussion of the conduct will be non-judgmental on the person, only as to its greater implications.

Anonymous said...

Alex Michaels discussion: the broader implications for all attorneys is to watch yourself for signs of mental disorders. If you feel yourself losing control or behaving in ways you didn't use to, you need to self-reflect. No one should be above asking for help. If Alex had sought help when his symptoms first manifested themselves then he wouldn't have been suspended and his mental health diagnosis wouldn't now be a matter of public record via the Referee's 10/29/18 report. And on a broader level, the same goes for drinking and drugs as well as mental health. It's something we attorneys need to take more seriously.

Roger Stone said...


See my Instagram on Alex (quickly before I am thrown in the can)
Alex was framed.
Alex was railroaded.
Alex is da man.

Bernie Madoff said...

The man is innocent, I should know.

Michael Cohen, Esq said...

Ethics are very important. A lawyer should be honest and straightforward and not lose his temper in court or with a client.

Honesty in dealing with everyone is also very important. Especially in dealing with courts or clients or congress or prosecutors.

And of course attorney client privileges should be sacrosanct.

I've carefully studied Alex's case.

I'm prepared to state under oath and on my reputation that he did nothing wrong.
Yes he has a strong accent. But it's not Russian. There is no Russian influence here. It's Romanian. He's clean

Paul Manafort said...

Say this about Alex. He didn't cooperate. He's no snitch.
Take it from me, no one should cooperate. It blows up in your face. Alex toughed it out. Like a man not a rat.
He has cred.

Anonymous said...


Always ask "what would the Q do?" and try and do that

Justice Kavanaugh said...

Don't guzzle beers on the weekend in house parties with college girls who- 40 years later- will come back and try to get even for dousing them in beer.
Also here's a good tip- try and not hang out with guys whose nickname is Squee or squib or squab or squeegee or the like.

Anonymous said...


7:19 here. The greater discussion goes beyond the conduct for which Alex has been disciplined. The problem is that, although not necessarily as aggravated as Alex's may have been, the confrontational and defiant attitude exhibited is not unique. In particular the civility of how lawyers speak to each other, the way they address the court, their refusal to accept a ruling and the disrespect they show for the judge and the staff is becoming more the norm than the exception.

What must still be recognized is that our system of justice is an adversarial one. There are winners and losers. Young lawyers (those roughly under the age of 50) do not accept this winner take all thought process. They believe that every decision is one of equity, and expect the judge to give each something to take away. All this is precipitated by spurious motions, non-sensical arguments, and clearly erroneous interpretations of the rules of procedure in whatever court they may be.

The net effect is that young, inexperienced and sometimes ill-informed judges become intimidated. Concerned that they want everyone to like them, and afraid of their peers, they tend to ignore the rules and "split the baby" further encouraging the type of behavior and unprofessional conduct that brought about the judges discomfiture in the first place.

Some of us after hearing of Alex's difficulties were, or should have been, smart enough to know that something was not quite right. His mood swings and his reactions where too extreme, his quickness to anger in the face of what he knew was right, but he did not like, and his return to reason after the fact should have been clues, that those of us who cared for him as a friend and colleague should have been prompted to action.

The lessons learned here are multiple. We as attorneys have to know the limits of what we are permitted to do, and no matter how vehemently we believe in the cause of our clients, have to accept that the law is not always fair. In fact more times than not, it is not fair to one party or the other. Your duty to your client is to follow your ethical obligations to him or her, and to the law we are sworn to respect and observe, not fairness.

We have to learn to recognize unethical and unprofessional conduct for what it is. Although it may be entertaining, it is demeaning to our profession and the judiciary. We have to stop talking to and treating opposing counsel like an enemy. They, too, are attorneys representing a client, and if they go beyond the bounds, they must be, under the right circumstances, place and time, called out for it and resolved. Yelling, screaming and cursing is not the right response, and, as my mother said, two wrongs don't make a right, and goes beyond the duty you owe your client.

Lastly, where we see mental health issues, just as when we see substance abuse, we can not be afraid to confront it. Not only for the good of the system, but for the benefit of the lawyer suffering from these difficulties. It is not a violation of our duty to our client to come to the aid of the attorney in distress.

I repeat that I wish Alex well. I hope, when he has completed his suspension, he can convince the bar examiners that he has been fully rehabilitated, and return with a clear head and a continued love of the practice. His clients can only benefit from his zealousness, but only within the bounds of the law and the rules. The client rarely benefits from an attorney's misconduct.

Anonymous said...

Fake Judge Spencer Eig:

Find me the next Elian Gonzalez and I'll show you guys how to be a made man!

Anonymous said...

As much as I like and respect Alex, 5:20 pm raises a lot of fair criticisms and points (I to agree with virtually everything he or see said). I would just point out that many people with mental illnesses lack the insight into their conditions (in fact, lack of insight is common in folks like Alex). I wish he had gotten the help he needed a lot earlier because he really is a decent guy who cares about his clients, friends, and family.


Anonymous said...

Lots of people struggle with mental health issues, but they don't act like Alex did in court when things didn't go his way. Glad that this complaint was treated seriously by the FlSct, but he's been acting this way for years, and at most he only got a slap on the wrist. If he does get reinstated, it will only be a matter of time until he reverts to the same behavior he's displayed for so long. He should have been disbarred. THAT would have been a lesson to other attorneys.

Anonymous said...

5:20, your opinion is well written. However,you may want to walk in the shoes of the person involved. Alex started his career as a criminal defense attorney in communist Romania. While it does not excuse his improper behavior, it does give it context.

Anonymous said...

The Alex Michael problem (its not his problem, but that's what we're calling it now, I guess), is complicated and multifaceted. But there are some issues that contribute to it, and that get little air time:

1) too many lawyers competing for too few well-paying cases. Especially in the ham-and-eggs practice of law, the economic pressure on the practice leads to untold stressors on practitioners.

2) wishy-washy judges. Maybe (probably) your client has a limited budget. The other side is playing games to obstruct and delay. The judge just says, "can't we all just get along, here's a free pass, try again". Sometimes its frustrating to be on the receiving end of a tough order, but rigid no-nonsense judges (like Cueto in state civil or Ungaro in Fed) provide litigants with a certain level of "cut through the BS" efficiency and predictability that minimizes expense and that normalizes the winning and losing of litigation.

3) Nobody goes to trial. This flows from the prior two points. Lawyers delay, and judges ask everyone to "meet and confer" a hundred times. And, before you know it, its been two years (or in state court 5 years) and your case hasn't gone to trial. Eventually, the judge sets the case for trial and everyone freaks out - cause no one in your 10 lawyer firm has actually seen a jury in years, and in any event, your client is behind on your bills and stands no chance of ever paying you to try the case.

Basically, if we had fewer lawyers, and judges with the backbone to judge and be wrong sometimes, I think a lot of this would be resolved.

CLEs on mindfulness and yoga will not cure the Alex Michael problem.

Anonymous said...

I posted an earlier comment (which as I write this has not yet been cleared) on some of the underlying causes of lack of civility in the practice of law. I just read the Alex Michaels Bar Complaint. (https://lsg.floridabar.org/dasset/DIVADM/ME/MPDisAct.nsf/DISACTVIEW/A77A3EF6F33FD3D385258339000B729F/$FILE/_20.PDF). Its quite a read. And I think it is more an indictment of "friendly" judges than of Mr. Michaels.

For example, in Count IV, the Bar alleges that Michaels was held in contempt after Judge Johnson ruled that “my authority, I believe, is completely eviscerated in front of the jury in terms of my rulings, which were ignored on certainly at least 50 occasions. . . . And recognizing that Mr. Michaels is disallowing me to proceed with this trial, I am finding Mr. Michaels guilty of contempt of court.”

50 warnings!?! Giving someone 50(!!!) warnings without consequence is as good as saying that bad actions have no consequences. The judge should have held him in contempt after the second, third, or fourth incident - not the fiftieth!

The Bar even alleges that "At a subsequent hearing on the contempt issue, [Judge Johnson] reiterated that [Michaels] had been previously ordered to refrain from making such speaking objections for at least the past twenty years, and yet he continues to engage in this misconduct." 20 years!?! Judges have basically trained Michaels to be a jerk in court. They let him get away with nonsense for two decades and then find themselves shocked, shocked mind you, that he keeps at it? Give me a break.

Another Judge, Judge Millan, apparently told Michaels that "he was aware of the 'Alex Michaels persona,' but that this was 'more than putting on a show for a client.'" Still, aware of the situation, and already observing that Michaels was getting out of line, the Judge let it go without consequence or effective check. Michaels then allegedly threw an exhibit at a prosecutor, which hit her in the face, during open court. And still, Judge Millan appears not to have taken meaningful action. Instead, it appears from the Complaint, that Judge Millan called a recess for Michaels to compose himself. Are you kidding me? Did Judge Millan think that Michaels was going to do some yoga and contemplate the impermanence of life?

The Complaint goes on to allege that "Rather than use the break to compose himself, Respondent continued to scream at the prosecutor in an angry tirade, calling her stupid, worthless and incompetent . . . Respondent was so loud that the bailiff could hear him all the way from the judge’s chambers, at which point he returned to the courtroom to make sure everything was okay." The fault here, lies equally with Judge Millan as it does with Mr. Michaels.

When judges fail to firmly control their courtrooms, this is what happens. Early in my career I got tagged by a federal magistrate for being too cute by half (and nothing near what Michaels is alleged to have done). It was the best thing a judge has ever done for me. The order and $500 sanction I paid was better training than any number of CLE's, professional responsibility classes in law school, or friendly chats with other lawyers. I learned, and learned quick, that pushing the line of professionalism was not a game to be played lightly, and that my actions would have consequences.

Anonymous said...

For once, it wasn't a Florida judge ...


Anonymous said...

Look, I like Alex but, he was acting crazy 30 years ago so, all I saw was Alex getting more and more aggressive and angry every day. That being said, lately, he looked rather calm and relaxed. If he had a medical problem them good for him for finding a solution.

Anonymous said...

Why does the bust of the late Richard Gertein fail to show his bad eye that was deformed and did not look normal?

Anonymous said...

Funny how the guy who is applauded for pushing the boundaries of zealous advocacy will throw his client under the bus when crossed for a 3.850