COURTHOUSE LOSS

Tom O’Connell lost his fight with bladder cancer today.  He kept fighting right up to the very end, and working too.  A familiar sight around the courthouse and political circles, his intelligence, humor, and unwavering belief in the plight of the underdog was contagious. Tom is survived by his wife Amanda, and a young daughter.

Kevin Kulik summed up the feelings of many: “one of my best friends of all time.”

Funeral information to follow …

57 thoughts on “COURTHOUSE LOSS”

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    A great guy and a tremendous lawyer just spoke to him a couple months ago about fighting cancer. Worked with Tom at public defender’s office. Will be missed

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    My Irish brother. My friend. You will have a place in my heart forever. May God accept you with open arms. So long…

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    Terrible news. I saw Tom a couple months ago and he was clearly fighting – but still dressed in a suit and tie going to court.

    Got to admire that!

    Tom was a great attorney who “got it” and knew what Due Process means. He had a lot of admirable results on tough cases and ran a successful practice.

    I will miss talking shop with him.

    My condolences to his family and loved ones.

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    I have many friends and fond memories from my days as a Broward APD, and knowing Tom was one of the highlights. Caring, intelligent, and a great friend to those who knew him.

    Condolences to his family.

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    I had the privilege of interning with Tom at the Public Defender’s Office. He was a role model and a true inspiration and was always there when I sought advice. Rest in Peace Tom, and may your legend grow ever larger. Thoughts, prayers and sympathies to the family.

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    I’ve known Tom since he started practicing. Great human being. A sincere loss to his family and the legal comminity. A great professional. He will be missed.

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    A true icon. One of the rare ones about whom absolutely no one ever had a negative thing to say. Always the consummate gentleman. Practiced law the old-fashioned way–covering his client’s ass before his own. I loved this guy. He will be missed.

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    Tom was a class act and an excellent attorney. His smile in the courthouse will be greatly missed. Until we meet again my friend…to be continued.

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    Your fight is over dear cousin. I am sure your Dad was waiting to great you. God bless you. You will be missed by many. I love you.

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    I heard an Irish lawyer died. I hoped it was ATurd💩. Figured his fat ass keeled over and died during the hurricane.

    Tom O’Connell was the guy who made up the NHI story about Judge Greene. Not cool.

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      Your a disgusting coward and typical legal nobody who will slither the darkened halls of your own mind. I don’t know anything about your comment other than it was tasteless cowardly and inappropriate The Irish turds big brother.

      Go to hell.
      Timothy Patrick O’Connell.

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      Pray really hard that God does not punish you for saying this. Know that the Lord has the final say on where your soul will end up. I will give you a hint. It is very hot even in January.

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      On the last second of the last day of your life, YOU will remember what you said. Your path to Hell has been paved. DAMN YOUR SOUL!

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      The NHI remark by the Judge is on the record. Tom stood up for what was right when the judge called the defendant – a person of color – “NHI”. Do you even know what that means????!!! It means “No Human Involved” and Tom was appalled that a Judge would be so racist and refer to Tom’s client in that way. Tom did what others in the court were afraid to do: He reported this Judge who was sanctioned and demoted and MOVED out of the Criminal Courts. As a result of Tom’s actions a LOT changed for defendants, lawyers and everyone. So – wow. Just wow that you would condone racist behavior by a sitting Judge.

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        Thomas showed time and again in a courthouse full of Satz/judicial ass kissing cowards that he would never look away from an injustice.

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        http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2007-05-02/news/0705020099_1_diversity-committee-judge-greene

        Judge requests reassignment in latest controversy
        May 2, 2007|By Tonya Alanez and Jon Burstein Staff Writers
        Broward Circuit Court’s diversity committee had its first case before it even had bylaws.

        “NHI,” or “No humans involved.” The initials uttered by Circuit Judge Charles Greene caused an uproar in the courthouse and marks the latest example of what many view as an insensitive, sometimes condescending bench.

        The committee hastily met Monday to hear its first case.

        Greene made the remark in April to two attorneys after a jury acquitted a man of attempted murder. The defendant, victim and witnesses were black. Greene, the county’s chief criminal judge, said the reference had nothing to do with race. He used the term, he said, to describe how the jury weighed the witness’ credibility.

        The judge said he didn’t mean for the comment to be misconstrued as racially insensitive. The committee members on Tuesday backed Greene, but he requested a new assignment to eliminate the unwanted focus on the circuit and criminal divisions.

        The committee’s chairman, Circuit Judge Elijah Williams, said the fledgling group is “traveling on new ground.”

        “The chief judge created this board to deal with these issues,” Williams said.

        These issues included a string of insensitivities that minority lawyer groups said damaged the public trust in Broward’s judiciary.

        The perception had been so bad that minority lawyers’ groups, a year ago, lobbied Broward’s Chief Judge Dale Ross to offer diversity training for the judges. Despite the training, perceived insensitivities persisted.

        This spring, those ongoing complaints, including criticism of Ross for making sarcastic comments on the bench about Hispanics and rap music, caught the attention of the Florida Supreme Court. The chief justice asked the lawyers to help establish diversity training for judges.

        Soon afterward, Ross formed the circuit’s diversity committee, composed of four judges, “to field complaints, work with court administration, and the community regarding a wide range of matters of common interest for the betterment of the courts and the public.”

        The Greene incident fell into the committee’s lap two weeks before it was scheduled to meet with minority bar associations to gather input and establish policies, procedures and guidelines.

        The expression Greene used has traditionally been used among the law enforcement and justice communities to demean blacks, prostitutes, gays and poor white people and to justify a less than thorough investigation of their cases, said Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, who had called for Greene’s removal from the criminal bench.

        The diversity committee found Tuesday that Greene, 50, did not know his statement had any racial overtones.

        Regardless of whether they were racial, they would be insulting and disturbing, especially from a judge, said Heidi Beirich, a spokeswoman for Southern Poverty Law Center.

        “It’s a nasty term,” said Beirich, who said she is most familiar with the term’s use to devalue prostitutes. “It means these people are less than deserving of equal treatment and common decency. ”

        In an interview Monday night, Greene said he had no idea that the “NHI” term could carry racial connotations.

        Greene, who was first elected to the bench in September 1990, said he is particularly in tune with the damage disparaging and discriminatory comments can have — having experienced anti-Semitism during his college years and early in his career.

        “I never ever had an inkling that the context of the phrase had anything to do with race,” Greene said. “If ever there was a statement that the maker of the statement didn’t have an Earthly clue, this is it.”

        One of the prosecutors handling the case, Liz Mercer, said the state’s case against the defendant was strong.

        “The only logical explanation for the verdict was the fact that the jury must have thought these victims were not worthy of their time and attention,” Mercer said. “In my mind, the way I explained [the verdict] was, `Well, this jury didn’t care. … Judge Greene was interpreting the jury’s message.'”

        Beirich said the term has been around for years, but may be new to younger attorneys.

        Given that the term has been in legal circles for some time, “I find it a little hard to believe his explanation,” she said. Greene made the comment to defense attorney Tom O’Connell and prosecutor David Di Pietro immediately after the April 19 acquittal of James K. Thompson, 26, of Fort Lauderdale, for attempted first-degree murder, armed burglary and shooting at an occupied vehicle.

        Di Pietro said he didn’t interpret the comment as racist.

        O’Connell said he was taken aback by Greene’s comment.

        “If you are an African-American and you have a case before Judge Greene, are you NHI before the trial starts?” O’Connell said. “This hits at the core of the criminal system.”

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          Greene was as full of it at the time he disavowed the meaning of the connotation NHI as he is now and just as indicative of the racism existing on the Broward Bench under Former Chief Judge Ross.
          Williams was likewise just as much part of the judicial cover game as he was when he made his statement “I’m not going to carry the White Man’s Water in reference to the incident involving Judge Greene as he was in trying to provide the cover for a fellow judge for making such an outrageous statement in the first place.
          Neither Greene or Williams should have remained on the bench, and no amount of racial sensitivity training is going to erase what boils down to the self serving banter offered by either of them.
          As I recall, the sensitivity training went out the window for Broward judges after it provided the cover it was designed to serve for Greene.
          Mr. O’Connel was just brave enough to call out Judge Greene for a statement that was just as potent then as it remains today.
          NHI and the arrogance with which the statement was made will forever remain a blot on Greene’s judicial record regardless of his protestations about not knowing what it really means.

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            What I had heard was that (Mercer) Scherer was the lead and Di Pietro was the second. Back then, they could do no wrong in that Division. No doubt they were unhappy after the trial, which Scherer herself said was a slam dunk. After losing the trial, most likely Scherer and DiPietro were pouting about the loss. If you examine the timing of the comment , it appears to be an ill timed comment intended to make his prosecutors feel better after losing. I do not believe Judge Greene was or is a racist. Yes, the comment was wrong and Judge Greene was taken to task over it. Tom showed great courage in exposing this.

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              Greene was helped tremendously by being moved to Civil where by all accounts he does a fine job. In Criminal he was in a world he could not identify or understand in any way shape or form and all suffered for it. Tom was and always will remain a hero in any thoughtful person’s mind for the great service he did all of Broward in the Greene banishment matter, a service that is non-quantifiable given the immeasurable permutations each judicial decision has on not only a defendant but also their children, family and friends.

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            Greene was always a loser even when he was in the State Attorney’s office. His explanation of being picked on when he was in his formative years in school is just as pathetic as it sounds. Add to that a robe in a backwater podunk town like Broward under a chief judge Moron like Ross and you got a recipe for the making of a small time tyrant like Greene whose been sliding his way to what he figured as a major achievement. I guess maybe it is for a punk like Greene whose done nothing but suck at the public trough for his entire lackluster career.

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    Tom was a great guy and a good friend. We knew each other over 30 years and I admired his passion during that time. He made a difference for his community and his clients. He will be missed.

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    Tom was not only a fantastic attorney, but he was a wonderful human being, husband, father and loyal and true friend. My life was certainly bless for having known him, albeit only 3.5 years, but in that short time I learned what a truly devoted person he was. May his family find some respite from the pain. God bless Tom and his family.

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    It was a pleasure knowing Tom and a gentleman he always was. Rest in Peace and condolences to his family. A true loss to the profession.

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    While Tom had many great successes in the practice of law, his legacy will always be the NHI case. 99.9% of the lawyers in this town, including myself, would have celebrated the win and let the NHI comment go. He knew calling out a Judge by exposing the comment would bring him trouble. For Tom, it was an easy decision, it was right thing to do.

    RIP

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    I knew Tom for 30 years. I met him when he was a PD and he was representing the co defendant in a trafficking case we tried together. That was one my favorite trials, not only because we won, but I loved watching Tom politely destroy the credibility of the lead detective testimony about his observations. He was almost apologetic for having to do it.
    A Class Act …… A Great Attorney….. A great Human Being
    He will be missed

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    My heart sank when I read the news because I believed Tom would somehow beat cancer like he defeated so many other worthy foes. We were in law school together, legal interns at the Broward PD office, and colleagues long afterward. Tom was the salt of the Earth, a great friend, a terrific trial attorney, and he loved his family more than life itself. Rest in Peace Tom and I wish your family my deepest regards.

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    So sad! His legacy will always be standing up for what’s right regardless of the cost. Total admiration!! Rest is peace and prayers and love to his family!

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    A few years ago when the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy took place I was looking for Financial Sponors since I was hosting a ,Car Wash Fundraiser Benefit for the Victim’s families. I somehow went into this building and bumped into this “Saint” who did not hesitate to write me a check so that I would have the money to buy food which I would cook and then sell to raise monies for the fallen victim’s families left behind. When this fine human being named Tom O’Connell heard what I was doing he immediately rushed up to me to ask me how he could help me out with his noble cause of mine which due to his generosity was a huge success. So therefore I was 1 of the lucky fortunate people who got to witness his giving and loving nature. From what I heard from others this was the kind Of person Tom was. When it came to anything related to Helping Children Tom never paused or hesitated. Tom You really were a “Champion of the People”. RIP.

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    From my days in Broward Tom was an advocate for his clients while being professional in every contact I had with him and as has been said a fine human being. Thoughts and prayers to his family. RIP

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    How far has Jaablog fallen that it is now viewed as a mainstream outlet of expression for the those affiliated with the Broward County Courthouse. What a joke, Bill. Bawahahahahahaha!

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      Ok, Bill, you made your point a couple posts ago – you’re proud of this blog that Esquinazi started….we get it.

      But it wasn’t YOU who brought publicity to this site years ago, and everyone knows which attorney did.

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    Oh yeah, just what Bill Gello envisioned… a community crier blog that would provide a source of shout-outs for the mainstream courthouse personnel. Bawahahahahahaha!

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      So, wait….will this REALLY come down to a vote between Gordon and Jim Lewis?!!

      Oh, and Josh throwing his ‘hey Pauly’ hat in the ring is any better?

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      I’d start with checking the backseat of Erin’s car, Rene. You know the car.
      If paper towels are in such short supply for an office that defines the term waste in terms of PD supervisors sitting around with no cases counting sheets of paper towels, maybe you’d do better to start an investigation so you can continue to pretend you’re actually doing something.
      The joke isn’t going unnoticed. Bone up.
      The only thing exceptionally liberal about the PD’s office is your work schedule.

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    I heard there was a massive portable generator spill of oil at one of the employees homes and it required an entire Costco run of government Bounty towels that had been earmarked to supply an entire month of all the PDO break rooms paper towel needs to clean and uh uh girl, we can’t have that.

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    Here’s my 2 cents. This is not a good look. For the office to make this about taking supplies is ridiculous. Shows how truly clueless they continue to be. Employees should join forces and support another candidate.
    The office stopped giving a shiiiiiii (if they ever did) around 2014! Which Is why I (and so many) left during the PD exodus of 2015-16.
    Wise up and RISE UP!

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