Judge Won’t Continue Trial So Attorney Can Enter Hemingway Look-Alike Contest

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You’d think a judge who likes Ernest Hemingway would be sympathetic to a request by a lawyer who looks like Ernest Hemingway. And maybe he was sympathetic, but he still refused to grant the motion.


Hemingway, not this other guy

Florida attorney Frank Louderback, who will be representing a criminal defendant in a case set to begin on July 9, asked U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday to suspend trial briefly on July 20. The reason: Louderback had plans to compete in the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West. (I couldn’t find any pictures of Louderback online, but he presumably looks something like this.) The winner is declared on July 21. Louderback pointed out that he had also been required to pay non-refundable deposits on hotel rooms, and so would be prejudiced by a denial of his request for that reason as well.

Judge Merryday seemed to believe that a murder trial should take precedence.

Louderback is representing a man accused of involvement in a murder-for-hire scheme. His client is accused of hiring someone to kill a man in 2007 so that he could marry the victim’s widow. The briefly happy couple and the hitman are all scheduled to stand trial on July 9.

In the order, the judge invoked Hemingway himself: “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.… Perhaps a lawyer who evokes Hemingway can resist relaxing frolic in favor of solemn duty.” I don’t think Hemingway would have used a word like “perfervid,” but otherwise I have no objection to this.

Hemingway, of course, has appeared in these pages before. Or at least his cats have. See Legal Battle Rages Over Future of Hemingway’s Mutant Cats,” Lowering the Bar (July 19, 2007) and Battle Over Cat Jurisdiction Enters Fifth Year,” Lowering the Bar (Nov. 20, 2007).