Top Prosecutor Named Irish Person Of The Year







You can always tell when Brian Cavanagh is trial.

Walking down a courthouse corridor, you can hear his thundering voice through the closed doors of a courtroom.

It is that booming voice and Cavanagh’s unrivaled legal skills that has sent dozens of murderers to the slammer during his 37-year-career as a Broward prosecutor.

The State Attorney’s Chief of Homicide, Cavanagh, 63, is a spectacle in court.


Brian CavanaghBrian Cavanagh in court 



At 6-foot, 5-inches, he dominates the room as he alternates between the theatrical and the deadly serious. Whether he is thrusting a finger in the defendant’s face or dramatically waving damaging evidence, his histrionics are all carefully measured to sway a jury. It works, much more often than not.

Cavanagh might not be a household name. He may have never appeared on a ballot. He is just one of those unheralded folks who by fighting for justice have made Broward a better and safer place.

So it is natural that the legal/political Emerald Society of Fort Lauderdale finally roped a reluctant Cavanagh into accepting their Irishman of the Year Award.

The award will be presented at the group’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration and scholarship breakfast at the Bahia Mar Beach Resorts, Sunday, March 15.

“They must have run out of Irish people,” Cavanagh joked. “I demand a recount.”

Cavanagh now joins a long list of some of Broward’s leading political, government, business and courthouse figures who have received the honor.

The prosecutor’s connections with Ireland are very typical. His grandfather emigrated from Ireland a century or so ago, eventually landing on the New York City police force. Thomas Cavanagh Sr. was a well-known detective in the 1920s and 1930s.

Thomas Cavanagh Jr. – Brian’s father – was also a New York City detective and was the inspiration for the Kojak television series.

Despite his success, Cavanagh’s detective father insisted Brian reject a job offer from the police and instead go to law school. He graduated from the University of Miami Law School and took a job with State Attorney Mike Satz in 1978. He’s has been locking up bad guys ever since.


Untitled 45

Brian Cavanagh kissed this week by Broward Mayor Tim Ryan at Maguires Hill 16 Irish Pub (from Facebook)


About his award, Brian Cavanagh said his Dad would be proud.

“It’s very humbling,” he said. “I don’t look at myself as worthy of it.”

But dozens of families, whose loved ones were murdered, would disagree with Cavanagh’s self-deprecation. They would no doubt believe that Cavanagh, the victim’s champion, is exactly the type of Irish person who deserves the honor.



For further information about the award and the breakfast, click here. 


Previous Emerald Society Irish Persons of the Year:


2014: Hon. Michael J. Ryan; 2013: John P. “Jack” Seiler; 2012: Jim Gregory; 2011: Dan Reynolds; 2010: Patrick Hanrahan; 2009: Charles Whitelock; 2006: Lori Parish, Broward Property Appraiser; 2005: Ed Kennedy, Broward Clerk of Court; 2004: Paul Sallarulo; 2003: James A. Weldon; 2002: Monsignor Patrick McDonald; 2001: J.R. Dunn; 2000: Kathleen Kearny, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families; 1999: Vickie Coceano, Mayor of Miramar; 1998: Susan McCampbell; 1997: C.K. “Mac” McElyea, Mayor of Dania Beach; 1996: James Patrick O’Hara; 1995: Stephen McInery; 1993: Ron Cochran, Sheriff Broward County; 1992: John Hart, Commissioner Broward County & Miriam Oliphant; 1991: Wally Brewer; 1990: Joseph Gerwins, Ft. Lauderdale Chief of Police.




16 Responses to “Top Prosecutor Named Irish Person Of The Year”

  1. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    I’ll use Yiddish to describe an Irishman. Cavanagh is a real mensch.

  2. John Henry says:

    Seeing Oliphant as the 1992 winner makes this whole society look like a joke.


    The 1992 honor was a decade before her screw up as supervisor in the 2002 elections. She had been just appointed to the School Board and was largely unknown.

  3. ziggy says:

    ill go only if they limit his speech to 3 hours and 6 seconds and no more that 57 jeepers creepers comments

  4. Alice McGill says:

    Viva los Irish! But seriously, Miriam Oliphant??? Must have been a really slow year or someone nominated her as a joke and it was blown out of proportion.

  5. just beachy says:

    Kudos!! A winner from years back as listed above, Charlie “Mac” Mc Elyea is a legend whose history and that of his Dania pioneering family, goes back to the very root of the birth of Broward County!
    Would love a post on him to share his stories!

  6. Lt Colombo Homicide says:


    I just want to ask a couple of questions concerning this thespian Brian Cavanagh the State Attorney’s Chief of Homicide about his role in the Maguire Hill 16 Irish Pub Shooting.

    1: As an Official Eye Witness was he making statements to the press as a prosecutor regarding Shotwell’s actions or ensuring the language is correct to close the case.

    2: Official spokesman to the media about the facts prior to the investigation being completed [Brian’s version as seen through the bottom of an Old Fashion Baccarat Harmonie Tumbler No.2 while sipping Macallan “M” whisky]

    3: Were the witness’s all accounted for? How many politicians were escorted out the back door? What was the BAC of all involved?

    4: BTW Tim Ryan is usually kissing Brian much lower…. Posterior, butt you wouldn’t be allowed to post that photo.

    5: On the menu which do you recommend, Bangers & Mash or the Irish Lamb Stew.

    In closing for now Brian Cavanagh you do have a future in Hollywood {Florida}

  7. T.Slofsky says:

    I am glad that a prosecutor got some recognition from the media rather than this constant focus on the criminal’s rights perpetrated by Howard Finkelstein. They do have right and so does the victims who depend on Cavanagh and others for justice.

  8. Irish?? says:

    Was he born in Ireland? How many generations removed does it take to be an American rather than Irish?

    How far back do Miriam’s Irish roots go?

  9. Susie Novak & Michael Minor says:

    Brian Wow you are the BIG man this year congratulation great story
    You are quite the figure
    We will be in the audience to applaud you and your accomplishments

  10. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    A group of Americans start a group to celebrate one of their own and the reaction from the clowns amongst the bloggers here is to re-hash old political stories that have NOTHING TO DO WITH TODAY?

  11. Lady Lawyer says:

    Brian is an example of a dedicated prosecutor who could make much more money in the private sector. Congratulations for the very deserved honor.

  12. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Congrats” Top of the mornin to ya”. I do find his closings etc to be somewhat silly. W/ his banter and yelling etc- (although you got “Big Tony” sweatin out”. )

  13. Chaz Stevens, I am Festivus says:

    Since we’re in the 21st Century, don’t you think it’s about time to start nominating some Black Irish?


    Maybe that’s what they were doing by awarding Miriam Oliphant in 1992.

  14. Lamberti is a Criminal says:

    Congrats Brian…thank you for making Broward safer in spite of Help Himself Howierd

  15. Who Knows the Fat Man says:

    The Fat Man may be full o’ Mularkey and full o’somethin else too, but if you tilt a pint o’Guiness with the Fat Man at Maguires you may end up as Irishman of the Year!

  16. Scotty O'Rothstein says:

    Who was the worst pick yet?