Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RIP Jay Hogan and Bill Richey

I'm so sorry to report that two great men and great lawyers passed away yesterday. Please share your memories/stories in the comments and I will post them. Sad.

From Judge Bob Scola on Jay Hogan:

"One of the true legal legends passed away last night. I tried a seven month long trial with him in Tampa and he was the real deal. It was like participating in a legal seminar every day ( and morning since we met at 5:30 am each day to get ready for that day's session). He invited me to share space with him after the trial and I was with him for 4 years until taking the bench. He was an invaluable resource and had the rare combination of exceptional talent coupled with an incredible work ethic. He was generous with his time, advice and in all other ways. He will definitely be missed."

From Judge Vance Salter on Bill Richey:

I saw your piece on Bill Richey and Jay Hogan this morning—tragic, shocking, I have to say. Bill was an associate at Steel Hector & Davis, following Janet Reno there from the State Attorney’s office (before Janet ran for the office herself). A trial lawyer’s trial lawyer, laser-guided but unfailingly polite and professional. Harlingen, Texas to HLS—big jump. He will be missed.

From Steve Bronis on Jay Hogan:

I was so saddened to learn of passing of Jay Hogan. Like Judge Bob Scola, I was honored to share office space with Jay for many years. He was a cherished mentor. He was a true gentleman and a masterful trial attorney. He had an uncanny ability to foster a great rapport with the jury. Jay was the most skillful cross-examiner I have ever known. I was privileged to be co-counsel with him on many cases including the famous Court Broom federal trial. Jay’s cross-examination of Ray Takiff in that case was absolutely stunning. It should be required reading for every trial attorney. He was one of a kind and will be greatly missed.

From Robert Kuntz on Jay Hogan:

I was a reporter then and covered Court Broom from voir dire to the verdict.

Jay Hogan was just amazing to me. Tall, long elegant hands, big-toothed smile -- and that unlit cigar that I don't think they'd let you walk around with in the courthouse these days. He was a consummate gentleman of the old school. He was totally at ease in the well of that imposing Central Courtroom and when he was up, every eye in the enormous place was on him. Judge Gonzalez didn't exactly defer to Hogan, but Hogan very certainly had the run of the place.

Ray Takiff, lead prosecution witness and literal bag man, had been all bombast and swagger (at least as much as he was capable of while claiming to be so debilitated with a heart condition that Judge Gonzalez reduced his testimony to half days). Hogan on cross was understated, leonine, and he stalked Takiff from the start. He built Takiff up, asking about some of his exploits. (Takiff told a story about walking through a police line of a surrounded house, saying he would speak with "his client," and get him to surrender. Takiff said he then got into the house, handed the barricaded STRANGER a business card and got the case on the spot. True? Who knew? But Takiff told it like it was.)

Then Hogan smoothly went in for the kill.

I won't recall verbatim after all these years, but there was a moment. Takiff had claimed that, if not for being barred from taking the case (since he was by then in the secret employ of the government), he'd have walked General Noriega, who had been tried in that same courtroom. Part of what Hogan asked went something like:

". . . and you'd have gotten him off?"
"You'd would have WON that trial?"
"There wasn't anyone better than you?"
"No one."
"You would have saved the guy?"
"I would have."
"It would have been the case of a lifetime, right?"
[Starting to break] "Yes."
"But instead, all you are now is a rat?"
[In tears] "Yes. I'm a rat."
"You're not a lawyer anymore, you're just a rat?"
[More tears] "Yes. Yes. I'm a rat"

Anyway, that's how I remember it more than 20 years later. But I'll bet, if you pull up the transcript, it was even better than that.

From Judge Jonathan Goodman on Bill Richey:

This is the first comment I have ever posted on a blog, legal or otherwise. But Bill Richey's passing is an extraordinary event.

Bill hired me out of the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1988. I became partners with him, Kirk Munroe and Alan Fine less than a year later.

Bill taught me many things. Some of those things concerned the practice of law and being a trial lawyer.

On the law side, Bill was a master of strategy, planning and investigation. That man knew how to take a deposition, let me tell you.

But other things Bill passed on to me were about being a good person, how to deal with people, how to be a mensch and other life lessons.

I hope some of those lessons stuck, even a little.

Bill played a huge role in my life, and I will miss him dearly.

From Judge Milton Hirsch on Jay Hogan

Jay had a defendant in the famous "Court Broom" trial. Ed Carhart also had a defendant, and although "Court Broom" was tried in federal court, the case against Ed's client turned in substantial part on a question of Florida criminal procedure. Ed hired me to testify on that question as an expert, thus affording me a free front-row seat to one of the signature trials in modern Miami history.

So I testified. The government crossed. And then for no particular reason -- I honestly think it was to relieve the tedium of the moment -- Jay Hogan announced that he had a few questions for this witness.

I can, to this very day, reproduce from memory almost the entirety of his cross of me. (No, I'm not going to, but I can.) Ask me to recount a couple of highlights from my largely highlight-free career as a lawyer and a judge; at the top of the list you'll find, "I was cross examined by Jay Hogan."

I couldn't pick up my own bar tab for weeks. Every criminal lawyer in town was happy to buy my drinks just to hear me tell what it was like to be crossed by Hogan.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Judge Altonaga gives nod to IRS over Miccosukees

The Herald covers the big ruling here:

The Miccosukee Indians have lost a contentious tax case that experts say will strengthen federal government efforts to collect more than $1 billion in overdue personal income taxes.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga found late Friday that a tribal member must pay $278,758 in taxes, interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service for failing to file a tax return in 2001. The judge concluded her family's gaming income — a distribution of casino profits — was not exempt from U.S. tax laws, a ruling likely to have ripple effects on many of the West Miami-Dade tribe’s 600 members.
Altonaga's decision, which will be formally filed as a judgment against the Miccosukees and tribe member Sally Jim later this week, provides the IRS with the legal power to compel other members — including Chairman Billy Cypress — to pay personal income taxes on casino gaming distributions dating back more than a decade.

In other news, The Florida Bar just approved the 5th annual anti-human trafficking conference by the Hispanic National Bar Association on Friday 9/16/16 at St. Thomas University School of Law, Moot Court from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for 5 CLE credits. Registration is free. Please RSVP to:

The conference will cover trafficking in the Cambodia, a Congressional paper on trafficking in Latin America, religious organizations’ aid to the rescued, the correlation between environmental degradation and trafficking.

Monday, August 22, 2016


That's how this 7th Circuit opinion by Judge Easterbrook starts:
Rats. This case is about rats. Giant, inflatable rats, which unions use to demonstrate their unhappiness with employers that do not pay union‐scale wages. Cats too—inflatable fat cats, wearing business suits and pinkie rings, strangling workers. Here is what they look like, as deployed during a labor dispute in the Town of Grand Chute, Wisconsin:

As the pictures show, the rat and the cat are staked to the ground, to prevent the wind from blowing them away. Those stakes led to this litigation.

I can't see to get the pictures from the opinion to paste into the blog post, so go check out the opinion itself. It's pretty funny. And happy first day of school!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Eric Trump testifies in Southern District of Florida

Susannah Nesmith for Bloomberg has the details:
Eric Trump took a page from his father’s playbook Tuesday, telling a judge the billionaire’s renovations to a foundering Florida golf club he bought made it even better.
“We took something that had really gone bad and we made it great again,” Eric Trump, the executive vice president of the golf club, told a judge in West Palm Beach, echoing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan.
The Trump Organization saved Trump National Golf Club Jupiter because it was insolvent, Eric Trump testified. Most members love the renovated golf club now, he said. The suit was filed by former golfers at the club who say they were ripped off when Trump didn’t refund their deposits and barred them from the facilities.
After having insisted for months that people who resigned their memberships at the club didn’t lose access, Eric Trump admitted he was wrong on that point and that some had been barred.
“I’m the first person to have enough hubris to say when you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” he said.
The former members sued the golf club in Jupiter to recover almost $5 million in deposits that they say should have been refunded when the elder Trump changed the membership rules after buying the venture from Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. in 2012.

No jury in this one... it will be up to Judge Marra:

Both sides in the dispute agreed to waive a jury trial, so U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra will decide whether Trump must pay the club’s former members back.
Marra said at the conclusion of the two-day trial on Tuesday that he’d rule later.