Monday, November 24, 2014

The way we were...'Little blonde girl lawyer' in 'sweaters and tight skirts' puts hoods in jail

Miami News, Nov. 4, 1962.


Girl Puts Hoods in Jail

by Miller Davis
Reporter of the Miami News

A little blonde with a tough mind is helping State Attorney Richard Gerstein send bad people to jail.

Assistant prosecutor Ellen Morphonios ... is 105 pounds of bad news to women who get in trouble...

"Most jurors melt under her tender gaze," says one of Miami's top criminal lawyers who has several clients behind bars, courtesy of perky Ellen.

Adds the same attorney ruefully, "and in a good old-fashioned cat fight between Ellen and a lady defendant, the defendant usually leaves the witness stand with tears and mascara dripping down her face."

Almost every weekday Mrs. Morphonios stands in front of Judge Jack Falk's bench, hands on hips, tapping a high-heeled pump, and her voice is as warm and gentle as a Minnesota frost.


Born on the outer banks of North Carolina, Ellen grew up to a pleasant-looking 35-22-37 and came to Miami with a high school education, a legal pad and pencil, and a fierce interest in the law.

She served as a legal secretary for seven years for veteran Miami attorney Roscoe Brunstetter and used her natural endowments profitably as a part-time photographers' model.

But pride gleams in her blue eyes, as she recalls that she was admitted to the bar on a Thursday in 1957 and tried her first law case the next day before the Florida Supreme Court...

Gerstein named her an assistant in 1961, and her batting average for successful prosecutions is 94.1 per cent.

Sweaters and tight skirts help in some cases, claims prosecutor Morphonios, and then there are times when a girl lawyer comes to court in something demure.

"It's a simple matter of when and how you want to distract somebody," she noted, with the matter-of-factness of an infantry officer sizing up a battlefield.


"Right now I'm happy...I think I'm doing a man's job..."

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