Crime, Lawyer of the Day, Violence, Weirdness

Lawyer of the Day Weekend: Kathy Rentas

Kathy Rentas Kathy E Rentas Kathy B Rentas Kathy Brewer Rentas Above the Law blog.jpgA very strange story, from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (via David Markus):

A private attorney has been charged with physically assaulting a federal prosecutor in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom by shaking her hand up and down so hard that it injured her shoulder.

Kathy Brewer Rentas spent Thursday night in solitary confinement at the Miami Federal Detention Center. She was released on a $100,000 bond on Friday morning and ordered to get a psychological evaluation to see if she needs counseling or anger management training.

Jailed over a handshake. Seriously?
Update: The charges were subsequently dropped, in July 2008. See here.
Read the rest, after the jump.

So here’s how it started:

Brewer Rentas, 49, of Pembroke Pines, went to court Thursday morning for a hearing involving her husband, Anthony Rentas, who is on federal probation for distributing cocaine in New York. Rentas admitted violating the terms of his release.

After U.S. District Judge William Zloch ordered that Rentas be put on house arrest for 90 days and complete his probation, court officials said Brewer Rentas insisted on shaking hands with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Keene.

And she wanted Keene to “pull her finger,” too.

“Brewer forcefully grabbed onto Keene’s right hand and squeezed it, pulling Keene toward her, forcing Keene off balance. With Keene in hand, Brewer made an upward, then a quick downward motion and pulled Keene toward the ground moving her forward, almost causing Keene to fall to the ground,” the marshal wrote.

Keene’s head and neck were snapped forward, then backward, as a result of the force applied by Brewer Rentas, causing Keene’s shoulder and arm to be jerked forward, Kremenik wrote.

Gilberto Pay, a court security officer, told investigators that Brewer Rentas almost pulled Keene’s arm out of its socket.

OWWW!!! It was so bad, in fact, that Keene took off the next day from work.

It was unclear from court records precisely what probation violations Rentas admitted to on Thursday, but two allegations that prosecutors agreed to drop dealt with his arrest last October on charges of domestic abuse. Brewer Rentas testified in court regarding that incident that she was “never in fear for her life, but it was [her husband] who should have been in fear for his safety from her.”

Say it, sister. You’d expect someone accused of cocaine trafficking, like Anthony Rentas, to be pretty tough. But Kathy Rentas sounds like a total badass.
David Markus, who practices in Miami, identifies Kathy Rentas as an attorney at Becker & Poliakoff. From her firm bio:

Kathy Rentas is an associate in the firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group…. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Rentas was an associate in the New York office of Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP and the Miami office of White & Case, LLP.

Ah, S&C. They train them to be badasses over at 125 Broad Street. Maybe Rentas worked with Vince DiBlasi during her time there.
By the way, Kathy Rentas is clearly no slouch in the credentials department. In addition to her Biglaw gigs, she clerked on the Second Circuit, for Judge Fred Parker. She went to Quinnipiac for law school (and graduated summa cum laude).
We dropped Ms. Rentas a line but haven’t heard back from her. If we do, we’ll let you know.
AUSA allegedly assaulted by local lawyer [Southern District of Florida Blog]
Attorney accused of trying to injure federal prosecutor with handshake [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Kathy E. Rentas bio [Becker & Poliakoff, P.C.]

(hidden for your protection)

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