|Hemingway is skeptical of this plan.|
Judges postpone trials across Florida every day for all kinds of reasons -- delayed depositions, conflicts with other cases, motions from attorneys, illnesses in the family. (Just ask Carlos Bertonatti -- two and half years later, still no trial
But there's at least one reason that won't stick: Wanting to compete in Key West's Ernest Hemingway look-a-like competition. One Florida attorney asked for a hiatus in a murder trial for that noble cause
and got an earful of snarky Hemingway quotes back from the unamused judge.
Update: Riptide got in touch with the lawyer, who says he's especially disappointed in the ruling because he was close to making the finals. Click through for the interview.
Franklyn Louderback, a St. Petersburg-based lawyer, represents a Lithia, Florida, man named Jeffrey Bottorff who's accused of staging a murder-for-hire. Prosecutors say Bottorff -- a former Latin Kings gang member -- helped hire a gunman to kill his girlfriend's husband
, then quickly remarried the woman.
Bottorff's in custody now, awaiting trial along with his two co-conspirators on July 9. But Louderback asked the judge to move that start date back two weeks, to July 20.
His reason? He'd already booked himself a spot in the contest at Sloppy Joe's bar, Hemingway's old haunt, and booked up six hotel rooms for friends and family.
Louderback, who must be pretty confident in his resemblance to the great bearded one, didn't return a call or an email from Riptide to talk about the request.
Sadly, we also couldn't find any online photos of the attorney to handicap his chances in the beard-off. (Update
: The intrepid commenters at Above the Law
tracked down a shot of Louderback in an old St. Pete Times story. Take a look
. Not bad, but hopefully he's grown out the beard since then.)
It's a moot point anyway, since the judge angrily shot down the motion while showing off his Hemingway knowledge.
First, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday quotes from an old New Yorker profile of the writer. "He works like hell," it said. "He has never turned off on an easier path than the one he staked for himself. It takes courage."
Then, the Keynoter reports, Merryday wrote, "Perhaps a lawyer who evokes Hemingway can resist relaxing frolic in favor of solemn duty," before quoting from The Sun Also Rises
: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
Update 2: Louderback got back to Riptide to talk about his motion and what he calls the judge's "literary" rebuttal.
The lawyer says this year would have been his fourth in a row in the Hemingway contest -- a particularly crucial time to enter.
"The unwritten rule is you don't make the finals until your fifth year in the contest," he says.
But Louderback says he's wasn't being irresponsible by planning to enter the contest with a looming murder trial; the case was originally slated to be a death penalty case, which requires Department of Justice certification that can take months.
Instead, the DOJ unexpectedly waived the death penalty early last month, putting the trial on a faster track.
"At that point, I needed to file this motion," he says. "I had seven rooms tied up and it would have cost a pretty penny to cancel."
Louderback says he's disappointed in Merryday's ruling, but holding out hope that another delay might pop up anyway. Either way, he figures the Hemingway judges might cut him some slack by getting the contest free publicity all this week through his story.
"Maybe they'll give me Mr. Congeniality at least," he says.