By Alex Andonovska
A South Florida attorney turned a lot of heads recently when he went to a federal courthouse wearing a full, disposable hazmat suit that he had obtained from a friend who sells medical supplies.
Miami based lawyer Samuel J. Rabin Jr. was on his way to the federal courthouse for his client’s sentencing hearing and decided he was not about to risk spreading or catching COVID-19.
Rabin wore a full hazmat suit, respirator, gloves, mask and face shield, and as he was walking toward the courthouse, police officers pulled up and asked: “Is there something we should be worrying about?” Inside the courthouse, security officers and marshals told him, “I don’t blame you, man!”
While Rabin had the option of appearing for the hearing via Zoom, he thought the sentencing was too delicate to do online, especially after failing to meet the client to go over his presentence investigation report.
That’s because, at sentencing, clients often need to confer with their lawyers about any issues that arise.
“A sentencing is the most important stage of a person’s life that’s facing a criminal case, and I just think a lawyer has an ethical obligation to be standing there with them,” Rabin told LAW.com. “Every defendant wants to talk to the judge and give his feelings, so I wanted to be there in case he had any questions or in case he wanted to talk to me before he spoke to the judge.”
Rabin’s friend Michael Schlesinger of the Schlesinger Law Group shared a photo of Rabin in the disposable hazmat suit that appeared on Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Southern District of Florida Blog, with the title “Sam Rabin is a legend.”
Rabin received several outfit tips for next time by onlookers, like adding a tie to the suit.
“It would have been a nice touch if he had worn a tie on the outside of the hazmat suit,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Miguel M. de la O commented on Twitter.
Rabin decided to take the extreme precautions amid rising concerns in South Florida about inmate safety.
In the end, Rabin secured approval for the sentence his client agreed to. Although he’s not planning on returning to the courtroom anytime soon, Rabin said he would bring the hazmat back for an encore if necessary.
“The judge had no issue with me wearing it,” the attorney said. “She understood, quite frankly, and wasn’t upset about it in any way.”