A Florida attorney, Frank Louderback, from St. Petersburg asked U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday to suspend a murder trial on July 20 so he can attend the Key West's annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike competition.
According to The Miami Herald, Louderback is representing a Tampa man, Jerry Bottorff, accused of murder-for-hire, conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and a weapons offense following his involvement in the 2007 killing of Lithia, Florida's Thomas Lee Sehorne. The Miami Herald reports that Bottorff, who later married his victim's widow Christie, was charged along with a gunman Luis Lopez.
TampaBay.com reports that in his request to the judge, Louderback said: "Undersigned counsel, a perennial contestant in the Ernest Hemingway Look-alike Contest, is scheduled to appear... at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, Florida, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 20, 2012."
In his motion for trial suspension, Louderback argued that he would need to drive to Key West when the trial recesses at his request on July 19, that he had booked hotel rooms for family and friends, and that he had "payed non-refundable deposits."
But the U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday was not impressed by the suggestion that the Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest was more important or more urgent that the murder-for-hire trial at hand. The judge, with a literary flourish, responded: "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." (The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word "perfervid" as "marked by overwrought or exaggerated emotion; excessively fervent.")
According to The Huffington Post, the judge, displaying familiarity with Hemingway issues, quoted Dorothy Parker, who wrote an article on Nov. 30, 1929, in The New Yorker, in which she commented about Hemingway: "He works like hell, and through it... He had the most profound bravery... He has never turned off on an easier path than the one he staked for himself. It takes courage."
The judge, according to The Miami Herald, added: "Perhaps a lawyer who evokes Hemingway can resist relaxing frolic in favor of solemn duty." Then, he ended with a quote from Hemingway’s "The Sun Also Rises," saying, "Or at least, Isn't it pretty to think so?" and concluded, "Best of luck to counsel in next year’s contest. The motion (Doc. 127) is DENIED."
Daily Mail reports that Louderback had participated in the Hemingway look-alike contest three times previously. But he took the judge's refusal of his motion philosophically, saying, it only gave him more time to develop his Hemingway "look-alikeness." He said: "It'll give me another year to get older, fatter and greyer."
According to TampaBay.com, when Matt Gineo, a biomedical engineer from Jensen Beach who won last's year's Hemingway look-alike competition was told of the judge's refusal of Louderback's request, he said, "I don't think that's justice. (The judge) should let him go. If the judge maybe had a beard and came down for the festival, he'd maybe have a change of heart."