BY BUDDY NEVINS
The seemingly non-controversial naming of a courtroom after the late lobbyist/lawyer Michael Moskowitz has suddenly become controversial.
Gaylord Wood, the veteran downtown Fort Lauderdale lawyer and property appraisal expert who for years was a fixture in the property appraiser’s office, is complaining about the move.
Wood says courtrooms should only be named after late judges. His letter to the Broward County Commission states:
“I live in Broward County since 1946 and have been a practicing lawyer in Broward County since 1962. I am a Life Member of the Broward County Bar Association. Naming to honor is good for dead judges who toil for years in the judicial system. For example, Judge George W. Tedder Sr. honored the short stretch of S.E. 6th. Street where he was a Judge for 36 years. Another was his son, former Broward Chief Judge George Tedder Jr. There are many, many deceased lawyers whose names are in the Southern Reports and should never be named in a courtroom because they were not judges. Pioneering Black lawyer W. George Allen? No, but the BCBA building? Absolutely. Long time Broward County Attorney John U. Lloyd? No, but the County Attorney suite, absolutely. Mike Satz and Howard Finkelstein their names should never be affixed to a courtroom. The north wing of the Broward County Judicial Complex is now known as the Judge Thomas J. “TJ” Reddick, Jr. North Building in honor of the former judge and founder of the TJ Reddick Bar Association is a worthy honor.
“It is bad business for the name of anyone who was not a judge to have his or her name affixed to a Courtroom. Mike Moskowitz was never a Judge.
“One of the dangers of engaging in this practice is if a firm still uses the lawyer’s name. If I were representing a client in a case against the firm of Moskowitz Mandell Salim & Simowitz, and the Courtroom was affixed as “THE MICHAEL MOSKOWITZ COURTROOM”. If I had any proceeding scheduled in that room against that firm, I would immediately move to change the room.
“Mike Moskowitz was a mensch – but never a judge.
“I respectfully request that the Commission find some other way to honor Mr. Moskowitz’ many accomplishments, other than naming a courtroom after him.”
The idea that the courtroom should be named for Moskowitz comes from County Commissioner Mark Bogen.
Bogen said in his resolution naming Courtroom 15150 that Moskowitz deserves the recognition because of his “decades of contributions by Michael Moskowitz to the County and the Broward County community.”
Moskowitz was definitely an excellent lawyer, an outstanding advocate for his clients including many lobbying clients. But he was also a dedicated fund raiser for many community charities and a Democratic Party stalwart. His son is Jared Moskowitz, who is about to win a seat in the U. S. House from Broward.
Commissioners will now have to consider whether Moskowitz’s many achievements should be rewarded with the naming of a courtroom.
The resolution naming the courtroom is on the November 15 agenda.
One suggestion to limit controversy in the future: Perhaps guidelines should be established to determine just who would qualify in the future for this honor.
This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.