Friday, August 20, 2010


Today, as I approach a milestone here at Random Pixels - my 1,000th post - I'm introducing a new feature called, "Faces."

From time to time, I'll retrieve a photograph from my archives and write a little blurb about the subject.

I'm kicking off the feature with a photograph I shot in the early 90's of Miami criminal defense attorney Richard A. Sharpstein outside federal court in Miami.

Sharpstein, a former Assistant Dade State Attorney, has been in practicing law in Miami for more than 30 years.

His firm's website says that "he has tried hundreds of cases across the spectrum of criminal defense, civil fraud and civil rights litigation in high profile and complex cases representing corporate executives, politicians, international bankers, police officers, and other public figures."

And reporters covering Sharpstein's cases know they can count on him for highly printable quotes and sound bites.

In 1990 when he was representing a client involved in the case of former Panamanian strongman, Manuel Noriega, the Miami Herald said this of Sharpstein, "a big fan of metaphors and twisted cliches, he approached Noriega at his bond hearing and, after a few jokes, asked him for help in answering a few questions about the case. Noriega agreed. Sharpstein openly relishes his involvement in the case, which he calls the Starship Noriega."

What follows, are some of Sharpstein's more colorful metaphors and twisted cliches.
Sharpstein represented embattled Dade County commissioner Joe Gersten in the early 90's. When Gersten was spotted signing autographs at a bar, Sharpstein told the Herald: "He's out on the campaign trail. He's been signing a lot of autographs lately and, like Elvis, he's been spotted in a lot of places."

In the mid-80's, Sharpstein represented one of eight Miami cops who were implicated in the beating death of career criminal Leonardo Mercado.

At trial, Sharpstein had this to say of Mercado: "Leonardo Mercado was a cockroach who bred a new generation of baby cockroaches."

Sharpstein called Mercado's stepsons - whose last names were Soto, and who admitted to selling dope and lying on the stand - "Teenage Mutant Ninja Sotos."

In the early 90's, Sharpstein represented one of four executives of home builder GDC, who were accused of conspiring to cheat thousands of home buyers during the 1980's. Prosecutors said the four broke the law when they brought buyers to Florida on trips to see homes -- but the trips, the prosecution said, prevented buyers from learning about the local real estate market.

Sharpstein scoffed at the charges.

"If you're going to charge these men with a crime, you might as well indict Vanna White for hiding vowels."

In the mid-80's Sharpstein represented a top manager with the City of Miami, who along with dozens of others, was accused of buying stolen clothes from Emeterio Marino Pijeira, a man who kept his small Miami duplex filled to the rafters with racks of suits, dresses, ties, belts and shoes. The Herald reported that Pijera "didn't accept credit cards and charged no sales tax."

Said Sharpstein of the charges, "It's not the crime of the century. Wasn't it Woody Allen who said that in his family it was a crime to buy retail?"

And in 2000, Sharpstein represented a Miami cop accused with three other officers of taking part in the cover-up of the 1997 shooting of a homeless man.

One former cop, Rolando Jacobo, agreed to testify against his fellow officers. Sharpstein told reporters how the prosecution convinced Jacobo to cooperate: "They put his feet to the fire, they seasoned him, they basted him, put him on the spit and turned up the fire to see if he'd flip over. Then they told him: `We have your goose cooked.' ''

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