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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

WHO WAS GEORGE BRAUTIGAM?

Now we are going deep. Way back into the recesses of history when Miami was a sleepy southern town and hotels in Miami Beach had signs that said "No Blacks or Jews"

The State Attorney history goes Richard Gerstein to Janet Reno to Kathy Rundle. There are still many lawyers around who worked for "the boss" Gerstein, and even more who worked for Janet. But what about before Gerstein? Things get murky. One old time prosecutor posted this: 

Richard Gerstein was not the first State Attorney. The Eleventh Judicial Circuit was established in 1911. The office of State Attorney has existed ever since then. It was during Gerstein's tenure that the office of county Solicitor was merged into the State Attorney's Office. The State Attorney before Gerstein was George Brautigam. Gerstein defeated Brautigam in his 1956 reelection bid due largely to unfavorable media coverage regarding Brautigam's attempt to suppress a grand jury report and his refusal to seek an indictment against a suspect in the murder of a little girl.

Then El Capitan weighed in: 

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

I REFER YOU TO A REPORT OF THE GRAND JURY, NOVEMBER 8, 1955

https://www.miamisao.com/publications/grand_jury/1950s/gj1955s4.pdf

[Rumpole notes: Listed as one of the ASAs is William Meadows who we knew -we think- as Bill Meadows- a wonderful man and older-timer when we first met him.]

FILED BY: State Attorney George A. Brautigam. Listed within the Report are the names of his eight ASAs including one named Adele Faske.

Dick Gerstein ran against the incumbent Brautigam in 1956 at the age of 33 and defeated him. He was reelected six times before moving into private practice. (Brautigam passed away in 1957)


So who was George Brautigam? And does anybody have a personal memory of him?  And who was before himHere is a short obit.  A Google search reveals he was a bit of crusading anti-communist, not unusual for the era. 

One brief thought about our covid-crisis: If only we had listened to the President and opened up earlier, like around Easter. Because the one thing we are learning is that the more you close your eyes really tight and ignore a serious medical issue, the more likely it is to just go away. 

REGJB TRIVIA 
Which former Chief Judge voluntarily resigned from the bench, left town for a bit, returned, was reappointed, and then became Chief Judge Of our circuit? Bonus question- what murder case did he preside over that garnered nationwide attention? 

13 comments:

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

WHO IS GEORGE BRAUTIGAM YOU ASK? Here is a history of who held the office of State Attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit from 1911 - 1956.

Here is what I know about George Brautigam. He was born in Chicago in 1906. Went to Notre Dame graduating in 1929. Law degree from Chicago Kent College in 1939. He moved to Miami in 1941. In 1947 he was appointed Associate Municipal Judge of Miami. In 1952 he ran against incumbent State Attorney Glenn Mincer. Brautigam won the election and served until he was beaten by Dick Gerstein in 1956.

Glenn Mincer was appointed State Attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit on June 28, 1945. He was sworn in by Judge George Holt. Mincer had previously served as an Assistant County Solicitor for 14 years. He replaces Stanley Milledge who took a seat on the Circuit Court bench. Both appointments were made by Governor Millard Caldwell. Mincer then went on to win election in 1946 over Frank Spain.

Stanley Milledge was elected State Attorney in 1942 defeating incumbent George Worley.

George Worley first took over as State Attorney in June of 1935. He served until 1942.

N. Vernon Hawthorne became State Attorney in 1927 and served until 1935.

J. Herman Swink became State Attorney in 1922 when John Gramling resigned. Swink served until 1927.

John C. Gramling became State Attorney in May of 1911 having previously served as a County Court Judge. Gramling served as State Attorney from 1911 - 1922.

And here is a little side note on our first State Attorney John Gramling:

As development flourished in South Florida from the early 20th century through the 1920s, restrictive covenants and Jim Crow laws barred black Americans in the Miami area from living outside of Overtown. Overtown, then called Colored Town, grew to be one of the most densely populated areas in South Florida. Several city blocks of Overtown homes were dilapidated shotgun houses with no electricity or access to municipal water and sewer, being host to a relatively high incidence of infectious diseases in many areas. Community organizings and advocacy by respected black businessmen and clergy, such as the works of undertaker Kelsey L. Pharr and Rev. John E. Culmer, informed the creation of the Southern Housing Corporation (SHC). Formed by seven white Miami-area attorneys and led by former state attorney John C. Gramling, the SHC garnered public support for the endeavor from Miami residents. It then lobbied the new administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the first 100 days for the creation of a new "negro colony" on what was-then the outskirts of the city to alleviate blight and to largely displace blacks from Overtown to spur further private real estate development in Downtown Miami. They created the area know as Liberty Square. Constructed as a part of the New Deal by the Public Works Administration and opening in 1937, it was the first public housing project for blacks in the Southern United States. Thus began the area we now know as Liberty City.

CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Joe Farina

REAL FORMER JUDGE said...

Chief Judge Joe Farina

Left the judiciary to California. Came back. Reappointed. Later elected Chief Judge.

Did he preside over the Joyce Cohen trial?

David Troyer said...

The answer to your trivia question is Judge Joseph Farina. As for the bonus, I'm not sure, but I think Judge Farina presided over the first trial of Miami police officer William Lozano.
-- Dave Troyer

Rumpole said...

David Troyer, who only old timers remember as Janet Reno's superstar chief of Narcotics is correct. Judge Farina tried the first William Lozano case (Guilty) but it was overturned on appeal on venue issues- the court found change of venue should have been granted- and Lozano was acquitted on re-trial in Orlando I believe.

BONUS QUESTION
name the prosecutors in both trials.

Anonymous said...

The prosecutors were John Hogan, now deceased, and Don Horn, now back working at the S A O as a senior A S A.

Anonymous said...

More trivia. W. Thomas Spencer, now deceased, presided over the 2nd Lozano trial. Judge Fredricka Smith presided over the Joyce Cohen trial.

Anonymous said...

Rumple. Interesting information about George Brautigam and the history of the State Attorney. Have you found out who Miami’s first state Attorney was yet?

Anonymous said...

Read Generation of Vipers if you want some descriptions of the prejudice and housing in overtown - it is not the focus of the book, but the descriptions are vivid.

On Brautigam, read 127 So. 2d 718 - he sued the Herald for libel and won. Note the lawyers - Paul Louis (who was an assistant for Brautigam), Bertha Freidus and Melvin Belli. 100k with punitive was a large verdict against a paper. The Herald appealed to the US Supreme Court - representing the Herald - Smathers (as in Senator George) Thompson and Dyer (as in David Dyer - who the old post office building is named after).

Bill Meadows was later US Attorney - he is viewed as a saint - ask Tom Cobitz about him.

Rumpole said...

I am really enjoying this discussion and these comments. Can people who worked with Bill Meadows write some memories about him?

Anonymous said...

You need to email Bob Josefsberg, Judge Martinez and Tom Cobitz re Meadows. They can fill you in.

Anonymous said...

As an ASA in the 90’s I remember meeting and then running into Mr Meadows several times a month in the lobby of the Graham Building, he was always with Tom Risavy

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting string about the SAO's history. In the accompanying comments re: "colored town," and housing deficiencies, I recalled that, when I began practicing in 1974, there was a Miami police division called the "Central Negro District."
As well, although certainly not done from altruism, (famous and flamboyant DUI attorney) Richard Essen's parents financed mortgages for blacks in the 50s, at a time when it was really tough for blacks to obtain mortgages (I assume, but don't know, that the GI Bill was of some help, but not available to non-vets). The Essens made plenty of money, but also performed a public service.