Thursday, June 28, 2012


U. S. District Judge Steven Merryday may not be included in future literary anthologies, but his recent opinion denying a defense motion to continue in a Tampa capital Murder Trial  written as a homage to Hemingway's manly memory surely ranks as the sort of biting legal bon mot molotov cocktail that your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney enjoys seeing thrown into the legal battlefield now and then just to spice things up, especially when I'm not the object of the Court's ire.

The Judge's order as noted in Above the Law quotes the attorney's request for a continuance for the following reason: "Undersigned counsel, a perennial contestant in the Ernest Hemingway Look-alike Contest, is scheduled to appear as a semi-finalist at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida."

The Court then cuts to the meat of the denial remarking on Hemingway's courage, Hemingway's uncompromising values. Here is the Judge's order: 
Tampa Federal Court Murder Trial will not be continued
This lawyer won't be in Key West
Between a murder-for-hire trial and an annual look-alike contest, surely Hemingway, a perfervid admirer of “grace under pressure,” would choose the trial. At his most robust, Hemingway exemplified the intrepid defense lawyer. 
The Court then notes that the following quote is a description of Hemingway by Dorothy Parker in The New Yorker (the best written magazine in the English language) Nov. 30, 1929.
"He works like hell, and through it. . . . He has the most profound bravery. . . . And he has never once compromised. He has never turned off on an easier path than the one he staked himself. It takes courage."
Perhaps a lawyer who evokes Hemingway can resist relaxing frolic in favor of solemn duty. Best of luck to counsel in next year’s contest. 
Your Clearwater, Largo Criminal Defense Lawyer is pleased to read the best written order from a Judge in the Middle District of Florida since the infamous 2006 Rock Paper Scissors order, even in a murder trial it's good to see the Judge has a sense of humor.