BY BUDDY NEVINS
Here is another example of why the public mistrusts the Florida Bar to police the legal profession:
Lawrence Charles Roberts Chris Roberts to a generation of Broward courthouse types got slapped on the wrist for paying off a judge in return for special public defender appointments.
Not disbarred. Not suspended.
He was publicly reprimanded.
What’s that? The Bar’s version of saying tsk tsk.
The Bar says: “Roberts gave gifts to a judge upon his request in order to receive special public defender appointments from the judge.
The judge who Roberts gave gifts to was the bizarre and odious Larry Seidlin. I hope the Bar deals with him.
In return for the gifts, Roberts got up to $50,000 worth of legal work from Seidlin over two years, according to the Bar order.
It gets worse.
The Bar says that during a lunch break on a trial, Roberts and the defendant went to the Galleria where Roberts bought the judge a shirt.
“After the lunch break and after receiving the shirt from (Roberts), Judge Seidlin made statements to the prosecutor about ‘problems with the case’ which resulted in negotiation of a lesser change,” state the Bar report.
That sounds like bribery to me.
A reprimand! Why is nobody being arrested?
The Bar gives as one excuse for the light sentence “self reporting.” Yeah, Roberts reported it two decades after the incident, according to the Bar, and then to a reporter.
The Bar also says other mitigating factors include that so much time has passed and the gifts were of minimal value. Seidlin solicted a shirt and a purse for his wife.
The Bar is saying that if you are a lawyer, cover up crimes for a long period of time and you’ll get a lesser sentence.
And if you bribe a judge, give him a Neiman Marcus purse for his wife or a shirt and not a sizeable gift.
In my book, a bribe is a bribe is a bribe, regardless of the value.
A reprimand for this is a disgusting example of the Bar failing to deal strongly with the ethically challenged lawyers.
Roberts has gotten breaks from the Bar in the past.
In 1996 he was given a letter of advice by the Bar. The letter was suppose to remind him of the Bar’s rules of conduct.
Roberts had flaunted a picture of himself with a circuit judge to sway a prospective client to hire him.
His 1981 arrest for being roaring drunk and waving a gun at another driver was front page news. That’s because Roberts at the time was a judge, a job that he lost.
Mike Mayo wrote that Roberts’ arrest earned him “his own place in the Broward Judicial Hall of Shame.
Now the Bar, too, has earned a place in the Hall of Shame.
Here is the Bar’s news release:
Lawrence Charles Roberts, 2801 N.E. 14th St., Apt. 3B, Fort Lauderdale, publicly reprimanded in the Southern Reporter, following a Jan. 28 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1972) Roberts gave gifts to a judge upon his request in order to receive special public defender appointments from the judge. Roberts failed to report the conduct to the Judicial Qualifications Commission or The Florida Bar.
(Case No. SC09-1790)