Famed Miami defense lawyer Richard Sharpstein died yesterday. It was a great loss to his family, the legal profession and our community. Like many, I felt like I was a friend of Richard’s because he made so, so many people feel that way. He was clever, brilliant, insightful and, always, an original. As a federal prosecutor I regularly crossed swords with him, once on the high-profile Mercado case where he represented one of the police officers we prosecuted. Even as adversaries he was always a class act.
Richard was an amazing lawyer, in part, because more than most he intuitively grasped where the jury was in a case. He understood the signals and clues that people project. It made him a wildly successful lawyer, and an equally popular friend.
On a personal level he was also very compassionate. Years ago he stepped into the life of my nephew Josh who was a friend of his own son, Michael. Josh had recently lost his father and brother to cancer. Josh wrote on his Facebook page yesterday: “In some of the most difficult moments of my childhood, he was always a bastion of kindness, empathy, and humor. His house was a sanctuary and second home for me”
On a few occasions I had the pleasure of watching him and his buddy Robert Hertzberg on one of their regular outings to the Miami Jewish Home for the Aged where they would regale the elderly residents with an authentic “Borscht Belt” routine. Richard’s instinctive comedic timing had them rolling in their walkers. His marvelous smile revealing a connection that was always personal and special.
Sometimes it’s difficult to separate someone’s death from their life. For me, I choose to remember his life. Richard was kind, and funny, and easy – so Sharpie please rest in peace.