Larry Seidlin

gay football 2 Abercrombie Ftich Above the Law blog.jpgActually, as it turns out, Judge Jeffrey Levenson DID say he was sorry — immediately after making the ill-considered gay football / “wide receiver” crack that made him our Judge of the Day. And he apologized repeatedly during the course of the hearing, too.
But that hasn’t stopped the hue and cry. From the Daily Business Review:

Bar leaders and the public defender issued new calls Thursday for sensitivity training for Broward judges after Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson made an off-color joke in his courtroom about a teenage boy who allegedly had sex with an adult male defendant.

“If this incident doesn’t scream loudly how desperately we need diversity and sensitivity training in this circuit, then I don’t know what will,” said Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. “In a matter of a year or two years, we had a judge insult Haitian-Americans, another insult African-Americans, had a third judge insulting blacks, Hispanics and Catholics, and a fourth judge insulting gay people.”

Maybe Judge Levenson should skip the sensitivity training and become a television judge. After all, TV judges get PAID to insult the litigants.
Food for thought: Why does Florida produce so many TV judges? It is because of their penchant, noted by PD Howard Finkelstein, for being rude and abusive?
The following are former Floridian jurists who left the state bench for the boob tube: Marilyn Milian, of the People’s Court (previously discussed here); Alex Ferrer, a/k/a “Judge Alex”; David Young, the gay TV judge; and the notorious Anna Nicole Smith judge, Larry Seidlin (not on air yet, but rumored to arrive in fall 2008).
Broward Courts: New chief’s honeymoon over [Daily Business Review]
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Jeffrey Levenson

Larry Seidlin Judge Lawrence Seidlin Above the Law Anna Nicole Smith.jpgJudge Larry Seidlin is best known for tearfully presiding over the Anna Nicole Smith proceedings in Florida state court. But perhaps it’s the American people who should be shedding tears right now. From the Daily Business Review:

Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin – the weeping probate judge who presided over the recent legal fight for custody of Anna Nicole Smith’s body – announced today that he is leaving the bench at the end of this month.

“It is now time for me to devote more of my daily life to my own young family and to pursue the many opportunities that have been offered to me outside the judicial system,” Seidlin wrote in his resignation letter to Gov. Charlie Crist.

So why should we shed tears over the departure of this fine jurist?

It has been rumored that Seidlin has a television show in the works.

Update: The rumors appear to be true. Seidlin reportedly has reached a deal with CBS.
Judiciary: Judge Seidlin resigns [Daily Business Review]
Anna Nicole Smith Judge Larry Seidlin Cuts Deal With CBS [Fox News]

Miami Beach Golden Girls Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgMake that EX-judges of the day, since they’ve both resigned from the bench — one after being arrested on drug charges, and the other after allegedly making inappropriate comments to a female prosecutor.
What is up with state court judges in South Florida?
(Remember this guy?)
Judge accused in pot-smoking case resigns [Daily Business Review]
Courts: Judge abruptly exits [Daily Business Review]
Resignation of Judge Klein [Rumpole via Southern District of Florida Blog]
Earlier: Bong Hits 4 Anna Nicole Smith Judge?


Anna Nicole Smith 3 Anna Nicole Smith photo photograph pic picture Above the Law Above the Law.JPGHere’s an interesting analysis of the underlying merits of the litigation over J. Howard Marshall’s estate. It contains some bome bad news for Anna Nicole Smith’s infant daughter, Dannielynn.
From a Legal Times piece by Professor Horace Cooper (who narrowly missed being a colleague of Kiwi Camara, and probably isn’t unhappy about that):

[T]here is little chance that this child will inherit millions. Why? Because Anna Nicole Smith’s legal claims on J. Howard Marshall’s estate were always tenuous.

And once the courts act, they will likely extinguish the claim altogether. That means Dannielynn is more likely to be saddled with legal bills and other debt from litigation associated with her mother’s estate than she’s likely to inherit any portion of Marshall’s estate.

We’ll spare you Professor Cooper’s detailed examination of the case, which deploys such fancy-pants legal terms as “de novo” and “res judicata.” We’ll just give you his bottom line:

A separate trial in the Bahamas is going forward to determine who Dannielynn’s biological father is. Once that is answered, will the biological father continue his efforts to secure custody after all the legal claims on the Marshall estate are extinguished?

I predict that once those claims are finally exhausted, even King Solomon himself might not have the wisdom to find a father for this baby.

And Judge Larry Seidlin is no King Solomon.
Anna Nicole’s Daughter Is No Million-Dollar Baby [Legal Times]

Anna Nicole Smith kissing J Howard Marshall kiss Anna Nicole Smith ANS J Howard Marshall Above the Law.jpgOr maybe not, thanks to two pesky vigilant police officers.
P.S. Don’t get your hopes up: the toker in question was Judge Lawrence Korda, who played a secondary role in the Anna Nicole Smith case. Judge Larry Seidlin, who handled the bulk of the proceedings, was not caught smoking pot. ‘Cause to get THAT crazy, you need to use the harder stuff.
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up [Concurring Opinions]
Anna Nicole judge cited for pot in park [Associated Press]
ANS Judge Busted For Smoking Weed [dlisted]

For all of the references in his introductory remarks to being “dignified,” Judge Larry Seidlin was anything but. We’re mortified.
Words don’t do him justice. Just watch this video clip of his ruling in the Anna Nicole Smith matter:

Some highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be):

(1) Judge Seidlin’s theatrical sigh, around the one-minute mark;

(2) the start of the full-blown breakdown, at about two minutes;

(3) the judge’s tear-suffused repetition of “I want her to be buried, I want her to be buried”; and

(4) Judge Seidlin’s wannabe poetic conclusion: “It’s a long order. It’s a long order.”

We take back what we said yesterday. Please, television execs, for the love of God: Do NOT give this man his own TV show.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Anna Nicole Smith (scroll down)

Larry Seidlin 2 Judge Lawrence Seidlin Above the Law Anna Nicole Smith.JPGJudge Larry Seidlin has awarded custody of Anna Nicole Smith’s (rapidly decomposing) body to attorney Richard Milstein, guardian for Smith’s 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn. From the AP:

Blubbering as he announced his ruling, a judge said Thursday he hopes Anna Nicole Smith will be buried in the Bahamas, but he left the decision up to the guardian of her baby daughter….

The judge choked up frequently and wept as he explained his decision.

Now will someone please give Larry Seidlin his own TV show, so real-life litigants don’t have to put up with him? If breaking down on camera isn’t a recipe for a successful television career, we don’t know what is. Just ask Anderson Cooper.
Update: It looks like Anna Nicole Smith will be buried in the Bahamas, next to her son Daniel Smith. From TMZ.com:

After shredding each other for the past four days, Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead simultaneously announced, without any seeming anger toward each other, that Anna Nicole Smith will be buried in the Bahamas.

The announcement came just a few minutes after Judge Larry Seidlin decided that Dannielynn’s court-appointed guardian should mediate the dispute.

The wishes of Stern and Birkhead are relevant because Milstein was directed to make his decision about where to bury Anna Nicole Smith in consultation with the parties to the case.
Judge Gives Smith’s Body to Baby’s Guardian [Associated Press]
Hatchet to Be Buried With Anna? [TMZ.com]

Larry Seidlin Judge Lawrence Seidlin Above the Law Anna Nicole Smith.jpgWhile we were in line at a coffee shop yesterday, footage from the Anna Nicole Smith case was playing on a television above the counter. The customer in front of us turned around and said: “That judge is CRAZY.”
We agree. Judge Larry Seidlin, of Broward Circuit Court, has to be the most ridiculous judge to preside over celebrity litigation since Judge Lance Ito.
If you haven’t been following the litigation, here’s a good CNN write-up:

Judge Larry Seidlin, with his distinctive Bronx honk, down-to-earth approach and plain language, is as much a part of the show in Broward Circuit Court as the case he is presiding over.

Seidlin is hearing arguments over the status of the earthly remains of recently deceased tabloid fixture Anna Nicole Smith. But arguments over child custody and paternity have made their way into the courtroom.

Some legal observers, and even one of the participants, say Seidlin has allowed the proceedings to become a circus.

E.g., Jeffrey Toobin, of CNN and the New Yorker:

“This may be the most ridiculous legal proceeding I have ever watched,” Toobin said. “This judge is one of the least competent judges I have ever seen. He is letting this thing meander all over creation, mostly because he seems to enjoy being on television.”

Court TV’s Lisa Bloom concurs, observing that it’s all “wearing a little thin.”
But legal affairs reporters aren’t the only ones with low opinions of Judge Seidlin:

According to the Miami Herald, 22 percent of the lawyers responding to the 2004 Broward County Bar poll found Seidlin unqualified.

A blog of the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward concludes that Seidlin is, among other things, a victim of “his inner comedian.”

We’ve all seen judges like this (and we’ve all laughed, with exaggerated loudness, at their jokes). CNN suggests a motive for Judge Seidlin’s hamming it up in the Anna Nicole Smith proceedings:

The judge’s offbeat folksiness combines the directness of a Judge Judy with the touchy-feely common sense of a Dr. Phil. He could be auditioning for his own television show….

“He’s very entertaining, there’s no question about it,” [said Court TV's Lisa Bloom]. “But it’s not about entertainment. At Court TV we keep in mind that these are real people here.”

This is confirmed by TMZ.com, which reports that “Judge Larry Seidlin’s dream is to become a judge on a TV courtroom show” — and notes that his surname “is extremely similar to Judge Judy Sheindlin.”
Here’s a telling fact: Judge Seidlin is a former New York cabbie. You know when you climb in a cab, with a splitting headache, and just want to sit back with your eyes closed — but the cabbie insists on talking your ear off? Judge Seidlin sounds like he was one of THOSE cabbies, back in the day.
Please, Your Honor — spare us. We’re not interested in your thoughts on the war in Iraq (referenced in a lengthy spiel on Wednesday).
Just drive. Thank you.
P.S. Not all taxicab drivers turned judges are so problematic. See, e.g., Thomas Hardiman (W.D. Pa.) — who drove a cab before going to law school. But Hardiman, of course, is a federal rather than state judge.
If Anna Nicole Smith Case Is a Circus, Judge Is Ringmaster [CNN]
All Rise!!! Judge Seidlin Says He’s Ready for TV [TMZ.com]