John Pacenti covers the details:
Senior U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler said after more than three decades on the bench that he planned "to continue to work until they carry me out."
It may not come to that. Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno in Miami sent a short memo last month reassigning Hoeveler's 21 cases effective April 1 "pending retirement later this year."
Appointed by President Jimmy Carter in April 1977, the World War II veteran quickly gained a reputation as a legal scholar. The 92-year-old judge oversaw landmark litigation on Everglades pollution, and he presided at the nine-month drug-trafficking and racketeering trial of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.
Hoeveler also oversaw some of the 2000 hearings on whether 6-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez should be returned to his homeland. A year earlier, he presided over a Port of Miami public corruption trial.
"The truth is he has left his fingerprints all across the district, not just on the Everglades, but on criminal, civil and environmental law," said former interim U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, now a partner at Lewis Tein in Miami. "When the chips are down, Judge Hoeveler is the guy who comes through."
Compared to Lincoln
How well-regarded is Hoeveler among members of the Bar in South Florida? Several lawyers compared him to President Abraham Lincoln.
"He acted like Abe Lincoln," said attorney Aaron Podhurst, a partner at Podhurst Orseck in Miami. "He never raised his voice, and he was a fabulous lawyer, and he was a great trial judge."