Monday, August 27, 2007

"After 30 years, judge working hard until ‘they carry me out’"

There is also a five part video series from the interview, with Part I here. It's a little hard to hear Hoeveler but if you turn your volume up, it's definitely worth watching. It's pretty rare to get a judge on the record like this, so it's fascinating...

Here are some of the Q&As from the article:

Do you regret speaking out about the Everglades case?
That needed to be said. I was disturbed that our settlement and order pursuant to that was torpedoed by the Legislature after just a few days. And the lobbyists’ role in the matter didn’t please me either. But [Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno] has the case now, and he’s a fine judge. He’ll do well with it. But I probably spoke out too much.

Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?
Yes. The environment and the Everglades are one of my favorite causes. I take environmental positions when they are correct and don’t when they are not.

What other causes are you passionate about?
The First Amendment. I’ve had several important First Amendment cases. I feel extremely strongly about the right to speak out. The First Amendment is an extremely important area. I’m a Constitution lover. I’m distressed at what is happening now to the Fourth Amendment [right to due process]. It is being chipped away … the right to privacy. But I better not say anything more about that, some cases might come before me.

Do you regret any of your rulings?
No. I’m comfortable with all my rulings.

How has the bench changed since you first arrived?
In the ’70s, we handled a lot of drug cases. Also, our bench has grown much larger. We had six or seven judges then, now we have 16 or 18. We’re getting more civil cases now because we have more judges.

Has the quality of lawyering before you changed any over the years?
Not much. They have excellent career prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office and lots of new young lawyers who are good. Both prosecution and defense are pretty high quality here.

Who are the best trial lawyers you’ve seen in action?
Roy Black, Albert Krieger, Pat Sullivan, Dick Gregorie, Neal Sonnett.

We hear a lot about activist judges. Do you believe there are activist judges?
I read a lot that there are. But I don’t think there are. They don’t please everybody. [He reads a passage from his well-worn copy of the book “The Imitation of Christ,” a 15th century Christian spiritual book.] “And he that neither coveteth to please men nor feareth to displease them, shall enjoy much peace. From inordinate love and vain fear ariseth all disquietness of heart and distraction of the thoughts.” All judges should follow that.

Have you ever received a death threat?
Once. I received a phone call at my house threatening me from someone when I was hearing the Omega 7 case in 1984. [The case involved an anti-Fidel Castro group accused of bombing the Venezuelan and Mexican consulates]. For two weeks, we had marshals around the clock. I don’t know how they got my home phone number because it’s not listed.

Were you afraid?
My wife was moved by it.

What was your hardest decision on the bench?
The rock mining case. But I can’t get into it because it’s on appeal.

Who are your heroes?
Former Chief Judge Clyde Atkins. 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Peter Fay. My contemporary judges are all my heroes, and some of the newer ones. Dwight Eisenhower. Jimmy Carter. He wasn’t that well-thought of but I thought he was a good and honest man. The writer Thomas Merton.

What about John F. Kennedy?
I didn’t like him. He played around too much.

Do you pray? [Hoeveler is a devout Episcopalian].
I pray every day. I pray before I rule.

Do you have any hobbies?
My hobby is my wife, Christine. We married three years ago. She was my physical therapist.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I’m proud of being a federal judge and doing what I think is right. Maybe I was wrong sometimes, but I have no regrets.

How long do you plan to keep working?
I’ll continue to work until they carry me out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jack Thompson, Attorney, writes:

I had the privilege of clerking at the Knight, Peters, Hoeveler firm when my wife Patricia and I first moved to Miami in 1976.

Mr. Hoeveler was unfailingly kind to me. He was an encourager.

When someone writes the history of the practice of law in this state, Judge Hoeveler will be one of the heroes, one of the saints, if I may use that term, in the book.

This is a man who only has wanted to serve, and anyone who has been touched by his life has known that.

As a Christian, I appreciate his transparency in his faith. It is what animates and sustains him, and in troubles I have had recently with my profession and with The Bar, his life and his faith have served as an encouragement to me, 31 years after I first met him.

May God continue to bless Judge Hoeveler as this manhas, without knowing, blessed all of us and the profession we love.