South Florida is quickly turning into the Ponzi Scheme capital of the world. First there was Bernie Madoff, now there’s Scott Rothstein. Rothstein is accused of running a $1.2 billion scheme as well as creating a web of business interests and investments that the feds are currently clawing their way through. In addition to screwing hundreds of investors, he’s also an attorney. Well, he’s not one anymore.
Today, when I was reading the latest Rothstein news in the Sun Sentinel, I started going through all the photos they have of Rothstein’s seized assets and came across a very interesting photo. It’s a picture of a bunch of assorted junk that Rothstein had on his desk, the centerpiece being a button bearing the phrase, “A Good Lawyer Knows the Law. A Great Lawyer Knows the Judge.”
I said to myself, “How freaking coincidential is this?” The coincidence is that just yesterday, Luzerne County Judge Michael Toole was charged with honest services fraud for “secretly communicating[ed] with a plaintiff’s attorney to appoint a person that attorney had sought as a neutral arbitrator in an uninsured motorist case…Unbeknownst to the insurance company, Toole had a “long standing financial relationship” with the attorney, identified as “participant #1,” the complaint says. – TimesLeader.com”
This “great lawyer” did indeed “know the judge” and both worked to feather each other’s nests while throwing all honesty and integrity to the wind.
I’m beginning to wonder if there are any honest people in the business of lawyering and judging any more. I always respected members of the legal community as these were the people we looked to, to uphold justice and keep us on the straight and narrow. But now I have my doubts.
Granted there are plenty of honest, ethical and respectible members of the bench and bar and I have to believe that scum like Conahan, Civarella, Toole and Rothstein are those few bad apples in the bottom of the barrel. But I have to think about the young people who are taught to respect the legal system and abide by it suddenly seeing the very people they’re told to respect get led away in handcuffs.
What kind of message is that sending?