It has been said that many that lawyers – through being liberal arts undergrads – secretly or not-so-secretly harbor literary ambitions. Some lawyers entertain these ambitions by reading for pleasure; others publish novels; some publish commercially successful novels (i.e., John Grisham); others participate in author look-alike contests . . .
The South Florida Lawyer’s blog writes that St. Petersburg attorney Frank Louderback’s passion for Ernest Hemingway got him into trouble in federal court. Louderback is a self-described “perennial contestant in the Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest”, which is held annually at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West.
Unfortunately for Louderback, the annual Hemingway look-alike contest conflicted with a specially set federal death penalty case in Tampa in which he was representing the defendant. To resolve this conflict, Louderback petitioned the district court to recess the capital case so that he could make it to Sloppy Joe’s on time.
Not surprisingly, Louderback’s motion for a recess was denied by the court. But even worse, U.S. District Court Judge Steven Merryday argued that granting the motion would go against Hemingway’s ethos. The judge noted: “between a murder-for-hire trial and an annual look-alike contest, surely Hemingway, a perfervid admirer of ‘grace under pressure,’ would choose the trial.”
In addition, the judge cited a 1929 New Yorker article to show that Hemingway “exemplified the intrepid defense lawyer:”
He works like hell, and through it. . . . He has the most profound bravery. . . . He has had pain and the kind of poverty that you don’t believe[;] he has had about eight times the normal allotment of responsibilities. And he has never once compromised. He has never turned off on an easier path than the one he staked himself.