By James Crowley
Samuel Rabin, a Miami lawyer, took extreme caution when appearing in court for a hearing at the end of June. He donned a full hazmat suit to attend a sentencing hearing for one of his clients.
Fellow lawyer David Oscar Markus shared a photo of Rabin in his safety gear on Twitter on June 30, dubbing him “a legend.” On the day in question, Rabin was going to court for the sentencing of a client involved in a drug case involving weapons. After going through most of the process ahead of the sentencing via phone, the lawyer felt it was necessary to be there in person with his client for the hearing.
Rabin told Newsweek that even though he had the option of attending the hearing over Zoom, that wouldn’t create an appropriate dynamic. “We appear in front of the judge normally. There’s a back and forth between the judge and the lawyers as to what the appropriate sentence should be, and then the final thing that happens in a sentencing is, then the defendant speaks,” Rabin said over the phone on Wednesday. “I’ve been a defense lawyer a long time. Nine times out of 10, the client says to you before they speak to the judge, ‘What do you think I should say? Should I say anything?’ Typically, I give the client the appropriate advice based on the circumstance as to what—if anything—he should say.”
The lawyer added, “It was only appropriate that I be with him so that he could confer with me during the sentencing hearing. In fact, he did confer with me during the sentencing hearing and had questions.”
Rabin also explained that he wore the hazmat suit because his client had been in a jail that “had instances of COVID.”
“I had filed a request to continue the hearing that the judge had denied. So, I took the precautions that I thought were necessary,” he said. Rabin noted that the suit gave him a “sense of security.”
While a hazmat suit is not the standard suit most lawyers wear to court, Rabin said that just about everyone at the courthouse, including the judge, was understanding of his precautions. “Everybody that saw me going into the courthouse, including the court security officers and the marshals, were very supportive, and made statements to the effect of ‘I don’t blame ya, man,'” he said.
Miami Circuit Judge Miguel M. de la O tweeted a response to Markus’ June 30 tweet, suggesting that Rabin should’ve worn a tie over the hazmat suit. Rabin said that he would “absolutely” break out the hazmat suit again, if he needed to go back into court, and would even consider the tie suggestion.
“I did have a suit on underneath the hazmat suit, and I think that it would be a nice touch to have the tie on the outside. Yes, I would consider doing that,” Rabin said with a laugh. “The tie would be a cute thing peeking out from the suit.”
Rabin also mentioned that while most judges have been understanding and granted continuances for hearings so as not to endanger lawyers’ health during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that some lawyers may follow his hazmat lead, if they do need to head into court.
“I don’t think things are going to return back to normal in the court system until there’s a vaccine. I think most judges are being very liberal in granting continuances so that lawyers are not put in peril like this,” he said. “I see that most hearings, judges are trying to accommodate lawyers to prevent them from being in this position, but I think if lawyers are forced into court, where they feel they are exposed to danger, I think other lawyers may do this. But I think the instances will be minimal, because I think most judges are sensitive to it.”