Monday, June 18, 2007

"How did you know Judge Paine was on vacation? He wore a plaid shirt to work."

That's from the Palm Beach Post's coverage of Judge James C. Paine's retirement from the Southern District of Florida. Judge Paine is a President Carter appointee and has been a favorite among SDFLA practitioners because he judges from the old school. More from the article:

If you ask a passel of South Florida lawyers about Paine - winners or losers in cases from all quarters - many will mention his impartiality and demeanor. That he is the perfect persona of a judge, and still a humble human being.
Paine, of Palm Beach, spoke at the reception, saying he was flabbergasted by the number of people who came out on the rainy day. "You folks are awfully nice to be here," he said in the genteel way the lawyers speak of.
That is not to say that he demurred from bold statements, very bold.
In 1991, Paine called for controlled substances to be legalized. Drugs. Marijuana. Cocaine.
In a speech to lawyers, he described how the federal courts were overwhelmed with drug prosecutions and that he believed the war on drugs was lost.
"Alcohol didn't cause the high crime rates of the '20s and '30s, Prohibition did. And drugs do not cause today's alarming crime rates, but drug prohibition does," the judge said then.
South Florida's chief federal prosecutor at the time recalls it was a stunner. Former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey said Paine's comments started legitimate debate on the topic. "When a person with that high level of respect makes those remarks, they continue to resonate," Coffey said.

All the best to Judge Paine. We'll miss having you on the bench.

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