By Attorney David Engler
Michael Georgiadis was a brand new puppy lawyer in Trumbull County back in the early 80’s. Like most new lawyers he cut his teeth on getting court appointments. Every person has a right to lawyer and one will be appointed to them if they cannot afford to pay a lawyer. It is a constitutional right.
Attorney Georgiadis who has now been practicing for 30 years told me the story of his early brush with celebrity criminal law. Judge Bernard sat on the Girard Municipal Bench and it was clearly his court. No one dared challenge him for the position or his son who followed in his footsteps. Some people were born to be Judges precisely because they never judged anyone until they had heard the facts, considered the law and then most importantly applied their well-earned common sense. If you asked prosecutor and defense attorney alike who their favorite Judge would be; the Bernard father and son will always be at the top.
Attorney Georgiadis, skinny as a rail, meets his new client. The Defendant, a black man in his late 50’s is accused of stealing from a K-Mart some merchandise that could be easily converted into cash. He got caught red-handed. Mr. Jones had been down on his luck, he told his new court appointed attorney in court that morning. He needed some cash to catch a bus back to Detroit or maybe it was for a fifth. Detroit where was he had made his way to standing almost in the ray of fame of his band leader, the one and only Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown. Jones was the Godfather’s drummer. Of course Jones did not carry a certificate with him to prove his claim and the young lawyer had no way of knowing if this were true, but Jones had a quality of celebrity to him even if his clothes were ten years too old and alcohol and drug use had etched his face into that of a much older man.
The Great Judge Bernard presided in a court the sat on the second floor of Girard City Hall. It was cramped and normally hot at all times the year. It had a fake wood panelling that made you think you were in someone’s rec room. The prosecutor’s office looked like a closet and was a place where justice needed to be dealt quicker than 5 card stud because everyone had someplace else they needed to be.
The case of State v. Jones is called and up comes Attorney Georgaidis and his maybe one time famous client, Jones. “What do you want to do Counselor?” asked the Judge. After a few stumbles about burden of proof and whether Jones actually made it out of the store with the goods…Georgiadis says to the Court, “Well really your honor my client simply wants to get back to Detroit and try to resume his career where he was the drummer for James Brown. “Really”, says the Judge. “Is that true Mr. Jones?” At that little encouragement Jones grabs two pencils from the bailiff’s desk which sat to the right of the judge’s Bench but somewhat lower and he proceeded to perform a rather nice drum solo on the judge’s Bench moving down to the right. Once he got to the corner of the Bench and the Jury Box he gave a slick spin with pencils in hand then continued the beat down the entire length of the wood rail in front of the then empty jury box. When he got to the final post he finished with a flourish, gave a final spin then went into a deep leg split. The deputies, other defendants waiting with their attorneys , court clerks and the Judge gave a well-earned applause.
“That is enough for me”, said the Judge. “I will find you guilty of the charge of theft but suspend all jail and fines and order you to return to Detroit at once”. “But you honor… thank you but I don’t have any money for the bus ride.” At that Judge Bernard reached into his pocket and pulled out a twenty and ordered the prosecutor and the young defense lawyer to do the same. “Son”, the Judge said to Attorney Georgiadis “take this man to the bus stop and buy him a ticket to Detroit”. Attorney Georgiadis dutifully complied and once at the bus stop, bought the ticket and gave Jones the extra change. “Thanks” said Jones, “Stay real.”
That night Georgidis’ young wife asked if he made any money today. Michael said “No it actually cost me $20 but the Godfather of Soul has his beat back.”
Attorney David Engler
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal