Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sleazy Lawyers and Numbskull Judges: I Love Them!

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

 Sleazy lawyers and incompetent judges are the meat and potatoes of my life. My fictional life.

 I've created Jake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer who proudly says, "They don't call us sharks for our ability to swim. And Steve Solomon, whose mantra is, "When the facts don't fit the law, bend the facts."

So, it shouldn't surprise me when real life shysters and judicial boobs hit the news...especially in South Florida. But I'm still shocked, innocent naif that I am.

Fort Lauderdale, just 30 miles north of my Coconut Grove home, is awash in judicial corruption and tomfoolery. Awash in booze, too.
The three mugshots above are not ladies of the night. They're Broward County Judges Cynthia Imperato, Giselle Pollack, and Lynn Rosenthal, all recently arrested on DUI charges. Judge Pollack allegedly caused an accident injuring another driver. Judge Rosenthal apparently showed up for work soused, banged her car into the courthouse parking lot gate, them slammed into a police patrol car. Details here: "Broward Judges in Hot Seat."

But the winner of the Fort Lauderdale Weird Judge Award goes to former jurist Ana Gardiner. The headline, "Ana Gardiner Disbarred for Texting Prosecutor While on Bench" does not do justice to the story. Ana Gardiner While presiding over a capital case, Judge Gardiner formed an "emotional relationship" with prosecutor Howard Scheinberg...WHO WAS TRYING THE CASE!

They exchanged nearly 1,400 text messages and phone calls DURING THE TRIAL. Scheinberg got a conviction, asked for the death penalty, and Judge Gardiner granted it.

When all this came to light, the Judge resigned, and just last week lost her law license. Disbarred. Prosecutor Scheinberg lost his job and was suspended for practice for three years. (The defendant got a new judge and was re-sentenced to life in prison).

Question for Patty Smiley and Jackie Winspear and the cop-scrivener Jim Born. Is that fair? Disbarring the female judge but only suspending the male prosecutor? Weren't they both public officials who violated their oaths?

Meanwhile, last week, another seven South Florida lawyers were disbarred or suspended for everything from stealing $665,000 from clients to arguing with judges, to failing to pay Bar dues.

To which I can only say...

Music to my ears.

Paul Levine


  1. from Jacqueline: They should both be fed to the sharks, frankly - or fall on their swords and take up another profession suited to their skills and ethics. Selling old cars comes to mind. Shame on them. And its also a shame that those sozzled judges are all women - I am sure male judges have played equally fast and loose with the bottle, on occasion. I remember when my lawyer cousin in the UK told me about one of her lawyer pals being stopped for speeding (apparently the cop said "Having a bit of trouble trying to take off, Wing Commander?") - fortunately, the knowing cop let him off with a stern warning because he knew a lawyer could well lose his law license for even the smallest reported legal infraction. So, going back to your examples here, Paul - how can a lawyer be trusted to represent the judicial system and speak for others in a legal capacity when they make a horse's you-know-what of the law and bring it into (further) disrepute?

  2. The judge's offense is greater, IMHO, because of the power invested in her position. Her lack of judgment in this case precludes her from ever holding any position of responsibility. The prosecuting attorney got what he deserved. I hope the powers that be take a hard look at what he's done during his 3-year suspension before allowing him to practice law again.

  3. And BTW, congratulations to Paul. His latest novel STATE VS. LASSITER was just nominated for a Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America. Good show, Pauly!

  4. James O. Born6/11/2014 2:47 PM

    First congratulations on the coveted Shamus nod. Well deserved.

    As for your question, I would've disbarred them both. I have sat on Bar Association committees and don't feel they punish officers of the court enough. A felon cannot work as a teacher or even a janitor at a school, but they can practice law. Aside from dipping into client's money, most offences are treated with minor rebukes. This may be because there are not many serious lapses. I have a lot of friends who are attorneys, you included, who I could not imagine ever doing something wrong. That's not sarcasm, that's sincere.
    Dammit, Patty, I get it now. Thank you for your complements. It is hrd to sound sincere in text.
    Anyway, good post and we're proud of you, Paul.

    1. Glad you finally got it, James O, but I was joking...NOT TRUE. We really love you.