Every Lawyer's Nightmare

How infuriating is Joe Blake? Let's put it this way: His attorney is accused of trying to have him murdered.

All of this is taking place under the pall of the Garcia case, though, which he says results in at least two phone hangups every day. What galls Blake the most is that, throughout the two years during which charges have been pending against Garcia, the attorney has not only been out on bond, he has continued to practice law. "If you or I had hired a hit man, we'd both be in jail until trial," Blake declares. "You call the Florida Bar and they give him the best recommendation."

Ana Alvarez, a legal secretary with the Miami office of the Florida Bar, confirms that Garcia "is in good standing with us." She explains that whenever criminal charges are filed against an attorney, a Bar complaint is filed as well, and a judge determines if the attorney has violated any Bar rules. This is exactly what happened to Garcia, she says, and no disciplinary action was taken.

Again Blake isn't surprised. Nor is he surprised that the prosecutor handling the Garcia case, Ruth Solly, is pushing for a plea bargain. Solly would not comment for this story. In general, though, if a prosecutor wants to offer a plea agreement against the victim's wishes, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle herself has to approve the deal. A trial date has not yet been set for the Garcia case.

"I've been tortured for two years," Blake seethes. "I jump every time the phone rings. I wake up in the middle of the night screaming. The doctor's doubled the strength of my thioridazine [an anti-anxiety medication] to keep me out of a padded cell."

As Blake's voice rises, his two hearing aids emit a piercing whine. Undeterred, he roars on. "They told me he wouldn't spend a day in jail, but he'd lose his license to practice law for five years, and maybe do some community service. This is typical Janet Reno-style politics. 'He's an attorney! We've got to help him!' I've suffered for two years, and that son of a bitch is going to suffer also."

He pauses. The fact that he is an activist, he admits, probably doesn't help the case against Garcia. "They're arresting people like me every day, all over the country." He sighs. "Every day, I expect to meet up with either a bullet or a cop come to arrest me.

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