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THE FLORIDA BAR SERIES
In Whom May We Trust? Interview with David Arthur Walters
October 21, 2010 Miami Beach, Florida By Walter Davidson, Alter Ego THE MIAMI MIRROR I encountered David Arthur Walters at Las Olas Café in South Beach. Walters is an independent journalist, and the founder of Three Stooges Media Unlimited, where he serves as publisher, editor, and writer. I was pleased to interview him after we practiced the few Spanish words we know besides curse words while ordering the $5 desayuno especial – huevos revueltos con jamon y queso, papas fritas, pan cubano y café con leche. Walters is always eager to be interviewed. He has a knack for inserting himself in front of television cameras whenever they show up on the Beach to cover something or the other, a practice he says he learned from jazz dance maestro Luigi in New York. But he is rarely interviewed by mainstream print journalists because he is nobody as far as they are concerned. Television journalists like to interview people on the street, but postmodern print journalists sit around in offices looking at computers most of the day, and their main concern is getting next to rich and famous or otherwise powerful people, so they shoo Walters away like a mere blogger when he tries to get next to them – nothing insults him more than to be called a blogger. In fact, Walters often refers to himself as nobody, adding that his hero is the Nobody who put out the eye of the Cyclops and rolled the rock away from the hole in the cave so he and his thieving Greek crew could disguise themselves as sheep and make off with the sheep so they would have something to eat during their search for the Golden Fleece. Walters has been griping on the Internet about The Florida Bar lately. Two legal experts, who prefer to be unnamed because they want to avoid the appearance of improperly associating with him, said Walters has made some good points in his efforts to poke out the eye of their own one-eyed monster, the Integrated Bar. Since Walters was paying for the chow, and we both love to talk loudly with food in our mouths, I figured The Miami Mirror would have nothing to lose over breakfast if I interviewed him on the subject.
MM: How long have you lived in South Beach?
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The Miami Mirror – True Reflections WALTERS: I lived on the cockroach-infested, southern end of Miami Beach in 1969 and 1970. It wasn't called South Beach back then, but I loved it. It was dirt cheap, a poor old person’s paradise – there were few young people around then. I fell in love with a Jewish American Princess, a photographer and B-grade movie actress whose sugar daddy had ditched her on the train down from New York. She mistakenly wound up at the Pennsylvania Hotel, now the Blackstone apartments, where I lived on the roof in the freight elevator housing. I was the night manager there. She came into the lobby complaining that nobody would give her change for a dollar. I gave her more than that, and followed her back to New York. After I moved away from the Beach, I returned several times on vacation. And then I settled here in 2004, almost flat broke, not realizing that I qualified for a subprime mortgage that could make me rich in short order. MM: An article published on the Internet says that you were declared insane by a highly placed Miami Beach official. What official would that be, and do you agree with the assessment? WALTERS: That would be Boss Gonzalez. Mind you, that is just hearsay. He is surrounded by blabbermouths, one of whom told me that he declared me "crazy" for writing about The Hole. Crazy is not insane. MM: Why not? WALTERS: There is a difference between crazy and insane, as the former term is politically incorrect because it reportedly demeans mentally ill people. If he actually said that, and I think he did because it is the kind of thing I would say, I would not be offended at all. I think everyone is a bit crazy. Normal people are the craziest people of all, and some of them wind up in high places because of the mediocrity they have achieved by compromising themselves to get on the top of the heap. MM: The Hole? What is that? WALTERS: A hole in the ground. A young lady whom I met the beach the morning after a Wine and Food Festival stepped knee-deep into a virtually invisible hole in South Pointe Park, scrapping up her leg badly. It's a wonder she did not break it. We reported The Hole to a patrol officer sitting in the parking lot. The officer became suspicious when my new friend did not want to give her name because she is related to a powerful political figure and was not supposed to be in South Beach, let alone drinking wine. I got her out of there, and wrote up an article called ‘The Hole’, thinking the city might fill it lest someone get badly hurt. MM: Was it fixed? WALTERS: After several months passed and I had pushed the matter several times, the city packed the hole with dirt and sand. But soon thereafter, some creature bored through The Hole, so there was quite a bit of speculation as to what sort of animal would do that if not a sand crab. I conjectured that chupacabras had tunneled in from Puerto Rico.
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The Miami Mirror – True Reflections
MM: Get out of here! Chupacabras don't exist! WALTERS: So call me crazy. Anyway, the matter was taken care of for good when the park was shut down and completely renovated. MM: I understand you criticized the new park. WALTERS: I loved the park the way it was because I used it every weekend, so I was mad at the city for closing it, and said the iceberg sculpture planned as its centerpiece represented the icy heart of city management. But now I am glad they did it. The new park was worth waiting for. It is definitely heartwarming despite the iceberg, which does not resemble an iceberg very much because it is postmodern art. MM: You said you are a truly independent journalist. What do you mean by that? WALTERS: An independent journalist is most often an unemployed writer, say, a frustrated newspaperman whom the press will not hire for one reason or the other, probably because he has no credentials, and out of bitterness he sometimes likes to bite the hand that refuses to feed him, bitterly taking the press to task for not reporting what he believes to be the truth about any subject, and he may refer to employed writers as media whores or press putas. MM: You have taken up attacking The Florida Bar lately instead of the Miami Herald. Some people say you are a lawyer-hater who is trying to revive the revolutionary cry, "Kill the lawyers!" WALTERS: I don't hate lawyers, and I would be one if I were not, so to speak, crazy for not being what I should be, for I would do a great job fighting for freedoms in the courts. This would not be a free country without our lawyers, but the legal system is turning too hard against the most of us lately. Yes, some justice still trickles down. I think lawyers have won too many freedoms for petty outlaws since they managed to legalize their own crimes. Still, the law is what rich people’s lawyers do. Lawyers and the judicial elite they are beholden to for their livelihood have too much power. Judges cotton to or are members of the power elite at the apex of the friendly fascist pyramid. I mean the invisible forces of darkness behind corporate board tribalism. Their Florida Bar, the bar integrated with the bench and ruled by the Florida Supreme Court, is one of the most arrogant and unaccountable organizations I have ever encountered. MM: You wrote that its structure endangers democracy and deserves people's unbridled contempt. WALTERS: Yes, I wrote that, but too hastily, for structures should not be blamed for what people do. Still, good people deserve a better structure. MM: You sound like a socialist or communist.
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The Miami Mirror – True Reflections
WALTERS: That I am not. I am a welfare capitalist. MM: What's that? WALTERS: If you want a great plantation, treat employees well, be nice to people, love your customers, capitalize good will and prosper. MM: You have had a lot to say about the prestigious Greenberg Traurig firm's lawyers, whom you said helped Allen Stanford write the banking laws in Antigua and set up a unique Florida trust that allowed him to bilk billions out of innocent people and also launder money for God knows whom. WALTERS: Right, and then there's Scott Rothstein, the highly regarded, powerful lawyer who personally followed in Mr. Ponzi's footsteps. And now we have the esteemed Lewis Freeman, supposedly one of the most trustworthy lawyers in the United States, the fraud lawyer and fiduciary accountant who got caught stealing eggs in the trusty henhouse just so he could enjoy more and more luxuries – so many fraudsters are luxury addicts. Whom can you trust if you can’t trust the most respected lawyers in the state? Lawyers run the state and the country. They must be reigned in before we are robbed blind and our rights altogether lost. MM: What would you do to regulate lawyers? WALTERS: I would begin by disintegrating the Bar, splitting the disciplinary and traderepresentative functions, placing the power over discipline in the executive branch, and the disciplinary committees and boards would be in the hands of a lay majority assisted by professional disciplinary counsel. This sort of reform has already been accomplished in the mother country of English law. MM: Great Britain? WALTERS: Yes. But I think the mistake the Brits made was the quid pro quo. MM: What? WALTERS: Attorneys practiced independently together in chambers there, but part of the reform was to allow them to practice together as law firms. One of my pet peeves is that powerful law firms ride roughshod in this state. When you complain to The Florida Bar about a powerful law firm, you are told that law firms are not regulated, only particular lawyers. Ironically, the law firm you complain about may even represent The Florida Bar, as Greenberg Traurig did. The law firm can say, after one of their lawyers is caught red-handed, that it does not tolerate misconduct, has investigated the matter and has fired the errant attorney, leaving the corrupt firm to do business as usual, so the culture of corruption survives. I would dissolve the firm to break up the habitually bad influences its partners and members have on one another. I would also consider
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The Miami Mirror – True Reflections disallowing law firms existence as such, only permitting them to practice together independently, in the same chambers or rooms if they like to share resources for the sake of efficiency. MM: But the courts have always disciplined attorneys. How can you do away with that? WALTERS: Of course judges would naturally retain their power to chastize errant attorneys who come before them and conduct themselves in a manner detrimental to the exercise of justice, holding errant attorneys in contempt, fining them, and the like. But I would like the attorneys to have the right to appeal the judges’ disciplinary decisions to the disciplinary appeals board, and I would make it easier for lawyers to criticize judges and have them removed from the bench. There is something else I would do, something very important. MM: Yes? WALTERS: The disciplinary process would be transparent. All information appertaining to complaints against attorneys and judges and inquiries into their conduct would be made immediately public whether or not they are ultimately deemed innocent or guilty. Consumers would at least have instant Internet access to summary information about attorneys and judges, the number of complaints made and when, the nature of the complaints, and so on. The Florida Supreme Court should be ashamed of the current policy that allows important information to be hidden and destroyed – complaints and the records that there even were complaints are forever destroyed if the complaints do not result in disciplinary action. It is said this is done to protect innocent attorneys and preserve the reputation of the Bar – but it is also done to conceal favoritism and corruption, to prevent the keeping of a record of a long history of inquiries and complaints that would establish patterns of misconduct by the attorneys concerned as well as misconduct of The Florida Bar as a disciplinary arm of the Supreme Court. MM: What are the chances of accomplishing all this? WALTERS: Almost nil. A constitutional amendment would be required, because the Bar would never contradict its own absolute power over attorney discipline. But never mind an amendment, for the subject matter is arcane to most folk, and they would defer to the prejudicial opinion of the very profession that needs reforming. Again, The Florida Bar, which is part and parcel of The Supreme Court of the State of Florida, with a selfdeclared “inherent power” not really subject to balancing by the legislative and executive branches, which are, by the way, filled with lawyers, cannot be expected to effectively self-discipline the conduct of its own trade. So we are at a great loss here, and will continue to be indefinitely. MM: Then why bother to talk about it?
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The Miami Mirror – True Reflections WALTERS: Why bother to talk about any ideal? The culture does change, even if ever so slowly. If we could bring more lawyers over to the side of reform – and many are those who do not like the bar system as it is – reform might be had sooner than later. MM: You’re not a lawyer, but you seemed obsessed with the practice of law, as if you were a frustrated lawyer. WALTERS: No, I’m a journalist who loves to write because writing about reality helps me to avoid being crushed by the way things are. I have been keenly interested in all kinds of subjects since a movie director showed me how a film of a fly buzzing around a fresh cow paddy can be a great work of art. A hole in the park that might break a leg unless the city does something about can be a great subject for showing off one’s talent. In fact there is no subject I am not interested in if I look into it. MM: But people who buck the system in so many words are viewed as crackpots. WALTERS: Okay, then, call me crazy, but not insane. If licenses were handed out for what I love to do freely, or if I were published by mainstream media, very few people would call me a crackpot, no matter how much I bucked the system in writing. It is up to them. Whether I belong or not is no problem to me. Both have long traditions. If I were paid for what I love to do, I would not mind being called a whore by struggling authors. And I could care less if people call me crazy because I am not paid a penny to write about such subjects as holes. Maybe I shall write an epic novel about Nothing next, or finish my twelve-volume suicide note and jump into a volcano with the manuscript.
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