Feud for Thought

This much is certain: On August 27, 1990, Michael Catalano, a Dade County attorney specializing in defending DUI suspects, was in his brown four-door Mercedes driving south on U.S. 1 when a police car drove up behind him and began flashing its lights. When Catalano pulled over and checked his rear-view mirror, he saw a familiar face behind the wheel of the patrol car. Catalano stepped out of his Mercedes to meet Alan Davis, a Coral Gables police officer with a burning desire to put drunk drivers behind bars. Fortunately for Catalano, he had not been drinking but, according to Davis, he had been driving too fast and dangerously zipping his car back and forth between lanes. Catalano vigorously denied those charges and drove away from the encounter with two tickets and a determination to redress what he saw as a grievous wrong.

Five months later a Dade County traffic-court magistrate told the 36-year-old attorney that he would have to pay $25 for each ticket but that no points would be assessed against his driving record.

A calmer person with an ability to put things in perspective might have accepted two traffic fines as a minor inconvenience. For Michael Catalano, the incident was tantamount to disaster. "When I walked out of the courtroom, I wanted to commit suicide," he recalls in a solemn voice. "I was so upset I said to myself, 'I want to die.' I stared at the ceiling at night. I could not sleep for at least a week and when I don't sleep I get sick. I really haven't slept well since then. I lie awake thinking about the injustice of it all. Even talking about it now causes my blood pressure to go up."

So much suffering, especially when it wracks the sensitive frame of an attorney, usually inspires legal action, and Catalano's angst was no exception. Ultimately, he made a federal case of it, filing a lawsuit two weeks ago against Davis for continued harassment. In addition, those two $25 tickets Catalano received three years ago generated one of the longest and most contentious traffic infraction litigations in the history of Dade County, if not all of South Florida. But the tickets are just two paper potshots in a larger war fought, not only in courtrooms, but also in lawyers' offices, police stations, and the great outdoors since the two enemies first squared off in 1989.

Since then, Catalano has been battling Davis by filing complaints with both the Coral Gables Police Department and the Dade State Attorney's Office, and this month he finally decided to seek damages in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for what he calls Davis's "pattern of harassment." The lawsuit, filed January 7, also names the City of Coral Gables and its chief of police as codefendants, alleging that the police department was unable or unwilling to control a loose cannon. Over the years, Catalano asserts, Davis has chased him by boat as well as by car, and he says he fears the pursuit will never end.

The boyish-looking Davis denies harassing anyone -- and blames Catalano for continuing to stir up trouble. He also claims he harbors no ill-will toward a man who has filed the majority of complaints composing his hefty police department internal-affairs file. He says, however, that cumulative controversy generated by that file eventually affected his work and persuaded him to resign from the DUI task force he founded and nurtured.

Davis and Catalano are well matched. No one questions Davis's zeal in pursuing drunk-driving suspects, nor Catalano's in defending them. But with both men having fought so fiercely on opposite sides of the issue, and with so much at stake personally, when they finally met a battle was inevitable.

Davis's crusade against drunk driving began after an incident in September 1988 when a boozy motorist, later convicted, killed Davis's friend, seventeen-year-old Alicia Atienza. Davis didn't make the arrest but he knew her family well. The teenager's death, he says, compelled him in 1989 to found a new lab A named after Atienza A to test DUI suspects and to establish a task force that has now grown to about fifteen members. Davis took such strong interest in DUI suspects that he often showed them Atienza's photograph hanging outside the new testing laboratory. Although he resigned from the task force in 1991 A thanks, in part, to his nemesis Catalano A he still spends much of his free time giving presentations about drunk driving at Dade County high schools. He is currently a detective in the Coral Gables Police Department's Youth Resource Unit.

Until his resignation, Davis led the DUI squad in arrests of intoxicated drivers, he says, booking up to twice as many suspects as other officers. "The Coral Gables Police Department never had any real enforcement of DUI till I started working on it," he boasts. "I jumped in with both feet. I wanted to do it right." Indeed, he has won commendations from anti-drunk-driving groups and from his own police chief.

But there is a dark side as well. Some prosecutors and defense attorneys say Davis's overzealous commitment often impaired his judgement, poisoning his opinion of Catalano and other lawyers defending drunk-driving suspects. There's a kernel of truth in those charges, and so Catalano, with his brownish-red hair, wiry frame, and Type-A personality, seems to have captivated Davis the way a fluttering cape draws a bull. Catalano is one of the more visible, aggressive, and successful DUI attorneys in South Florida. An October 1991 Miami Herald survey of DUI attorneys rated him second in the region in terms of successful defenses.

Catalano doesn't bother with niceties when defending clients, according to several prosecuting attorneys, and he couples that fervor with a willingness to file complaints against cops and prosecutors. His face, with its thin lips, small nose, and freckled complexion, is as sharp as his personality, a piece of flint ready to ignite sparks. "Hey, I'm not saying everybody likes me," Catalano remarks. "But I am saying that I put my clients first, always."

Given their strong personalities, it's not surprising that the two foes have disagreed over practically everything -- including what actually happened during their confrontations. Listening to them is like viewing the documentary The Thin Blue Line: Everyone has a different version of the same incidents.

And those who know both Davis and Catalano say they were destined to clash. "Most criminal defense lawyers are bound to have a bad relationship with a cop at one time or another, but the length and breadth of this conflict makes it unusual," says Robert Reiff, the one DUI attorney ranked above Catalano in the Herald survey. "There is something about the two personalities involved that would just not let their dislike of one another go."

The roots of that hostility lie in depositions given by Davis in July 1989 in the cases of two DUI suspects, William Vernon and Catherine Smith. They were represented by Catalano after being pulled over for drunk driving on different nights in May 1989. The attorney says that as soon as he began the questioning of Davis, who participated in the arrests of both suspects, he knew he had a problem. "He gave me so much attitude that I couldn't believe it," Catalano remembers. "It wasn't so much what he said as how he said it. I've never met a cop so defensive and rude."

Catalano in turn is known less for his legal etiquette than for his ability to get under the skin of a hostile witness. He was determined to reveal Davis's personal animus toward all DUI suspects by quizzing Davis about his behavior during the case of Robert Smith, the drunk driver who fatally wounded Davis's friend Atienza. Davis did not attend Smith's sentencing hearing on June 20, 1989, but the police officer's wife read a statement he had prepared to the presiding judge asking for the maximum sentence. However, just one month later, during the Vernon deposition, Catalano could not get the police officer to admit having written the letter. Later when Catalano submitted a formal complaint to the police department accusing the officer of perjury, Davis explained the contradiction to police investigators by saying that Catalano should have asked him about his "statement" rather than any "letter" to the judge.

According to Mark Vargo, a former Dade DUI prosecutor who is now a county prosecutor in South Dakota, Davis may not have committed perjury during that deposition, but on the stand in other cases he was prone to such hairsplitting, especially when questioned harshly by Michael Catalano. "I never had a problem with Davis in a trial except when Mike Catalano was on the other side," Vargo remembers. "There was clearly a lot of antagonism there, and Michael knew how to egg him on. Catalano has this inimitable smirk when he knows he's winning. Davis would lose sight of the judge and jury and just focus on Michael."

Catalano, for his part, seized every opportunity to discredit Davis. Another conflict arose when Davis, while being deposed in the Catherine Smith case, acknowledged that he'd sought to illustrate the consequences of drunk driving by showing that DUI suspect the picture of Atienza on the testing center wall. Yet six weeks later, in testimony during the Vernon trial, Davis answered "No" when Catalano asked whether he was accustomed to showing the picture to every intoxicated suspect. "You do it with many?" Catalano persisted. "I don't recall doing it with anybody," Davis replied.

It wasn't only the contradictions that infuriated Catalano. In September 1989, in the hallway outside of a courtroom in which Catalano had just appealed Vernon's conviction, Catalano heard Davis use the word "slimeball" while the officer was speaking to Dade County Court Judge Catherine Pooler and two assistant state attorneys. Catalano knew that Davis was referring to him -- and he was right. The following week the enraged DUI attorney filed the first of several internal affairs complaints he would lodge against Davis over the next four years. This first set of charges accused the officer of perjury, allegedly committed during the July depositions and subsequent trials, and slander, stemming from the "slimeball" comment.

Davis began what would become an ongoing project; namely, convincing investigators that he was not carrying out a vendetta against Catalano and had done nothing improper. Both the internal affairs unit and the State Attorney's Office accepted Davis's explanation that the incidents of alleged perjury were nothing more than semantic misunderstandings between himself and the lawyer during questioning. But, in the opinion of the internal affairs unit, Davis's use of the word "slimeball" was clearly wrong A and (mildly) punishable. The epithet earned him a verbal reprimand on June 13, 1990, for conduct unbecoming to a police officer. Davis admits that he used the word to describe Michael Catalano, but refuses to discuss the incident. "The record speaks for itself," he explains.

Indeed, the reprimand is the only punishment of any kind meted out to Davis as a result of Catalano's accusations. Catalano's formal complaints, which cite five incidents in the past four years, form only part of his effort to have Davis removed from the force. The attorney's voluminous correspondence with both the Coral Gables Police Department and the Dade State Attorney's Office is peppered with negative comments about the "dangerous" officer and threats of legal retribution for failure to stop his "harassment" and "bad-mouthing." In an interview, Catalano now insists that Davis began his campaign against him in order to retaliate for that one reprimand. "He never got over it," Catalano says.

Perhaps. But as he traveled south through Coral Gables on South Dixie Highway on August 27, 1990, it was clear that Catalano still had not gotten over Davis. The police officer, maintains the attorney, had continued to toss negative comments about him around the courthouse within hearing of other cops and lawyers. But Catalano says he had left that and other cares at the office as he drove home from work that August evening. And he certainly had no idea that he was driving into what, for him, became a black night of unspeakable torment.

As Catalano tells it, he was driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the right lane of South Dixie Highway. Glancing over to the left lane, he noticed a Coral Gables police car and its driver, Alan Davis. "I said to myself, 'Oh my God! It's him!'" Catalano recalls. The petrified Catalano drove on, never exceeding 35 mph, he says, and never switching lanes until past the boundary separating Coral Gables from the City of South Miami to the southwest. But he kept an eye on Davis, who Catalano says was weaving in and out of traffic as if he were in a hurry. Finally, just past Red Road, Catalano saw lights flashing behind him.

The lawyer put his hand out to signal that he was planning to pull over. "I didn't want him to claim I was fleeing," he says, adding that he was searching for a safe, well-lit area crowded with potential witnesses. He eventually pulled over just off South Dixie Highway on 62nd Avenue near a Metrorail stop. Miraculously overcoming his fear for a moment, Catalano leapt from his car and marched back to Davis, who met him halfway. "I asked him what in the world he thought he was doing," the lawyer says. "But I did not raise my voice. He touched his gun several times and that frightened me. It was horrible."

So horrible in fact that the lawyer called 911 on his cellular phone and asked to speak to Captain Alan Headly, then head of the internal affairs unit at the Coral Gables Police Department. Headly was out, and the department responded to Catalano's panicked call by sending another police sergeant. Two South Miami officers, one off-duty, showed up as well.

"It looked like they were arresting Pablo Escobar," Catalano says. "In addition to being frightened, I was embarrassed. It was real obvious to everyone driving by that the schmuck in the Mercedes was in big trouble." To top it all off, he says, Davis initially gave him not two but three tickets -- the third for driving without proof of insurance. When he saw the ticket, Catalano admits he became angry. "I told the other police officers that I had given Davis the insurance card and I demanded that they search him." They refused, but the officers decided to void the third ticket when Catalano produced a duplicate card.

Davis's account of the incident, based on his testimony at Catalano's December 1990 trial before Magistrate Jose M. Rodriguez in the Dade County Court's Traffic Division and a recent interview, differs substantially from Catalano's. There was, he insists, no vendetta. He said at the trial that he didn't know who was driving the four-door Mercedes when he spotted it on South Dixie Highway, but he knew that whoever it was had thrown caution to the wind. Catalano, he said, was speeding and failing to use his turn signal as he cut from inside to outside lanes, causing other cars to brake.

Davis finally caught up with Catalano at the corner of South Dixie and SW 62nd Avenue after clocking him, he said, at 64 mph, well over the 45 mph limit. He also denies destroying Catalano's insurance card. Davis explains that when he first asked Catalano for the card, the lawyer could not find it, but when he produced it, Davis canceled the third ticket.

On December 5, 1990, Michael Catalano stood trial for the traffic incident that happened four months earlier. At the hearing, Magistrate Rodriguez told Catalano and his attorney, Terri-Ann Miller, that he was not going to permit questions about other complaints against Davis, but the two lawyers managed to fire a few questions at Catalano's adversary about past disputes between the two men. The judge tried to stop this line of questioning, but an obviously excited Catalano interrupted, "You need to know the history of this, Judge. This goes back a long way."

Miller chimed in: "This is not a simple traffic stop, Your Honor."
"I can see that," the magistrate sighed.
Catalano's harrowing account of his hellish night ultimately failed to impress Rodriguez, who declared him guilty as charged. It took Catalano two years for his case to wind its way through a lengthy appeals process before the decision was reversed. Even so, Catalano says that part of the appeals process damaged his own reputation -- not Davis's.

In March 1991 the Miami Herald quoted prosecutors from the State Attorney General's Office and the Dade State Attorney's Office as saying that two Dade County Court judges, Calvin Mapp and Harvey Baxter, had improperly interfered in Catalano's traffic-ticket case. After being found guilty of the traffic violations, Catalano had made a request for a new trial in early January 1991 to Mapp, who at the time was administrative judge of the Dade County Court Traffic Division. Mapp assigned the case to Baxter, who set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial on the grounds that the issue of the alleged Davis vendetta needed to be fully discussed. The Herald noted that Catalano had been manager of Mapp's campaign for judge the previous fall and had contributed $125 to Baxter's campaign. The article added that the State Attorney General's Office and the Dade State Attorney's Office had appealed Mapp's decision to grant Catalano a new trial.

Catalano eventually won the legal battle after the state District Court of Appeal granted a new trial before Dade County Court Judge Ann Mason Parker. On March 17, 1993, she found him innocent of all traffic charges. This time, Catalano had permission to make his case against Davis and to offer testimony about Davis's alleged vendetta. The judge also listened to tapes of police radio transmissions and Catalano's 911 call that had not been available earlier.

The entire legal process, from the first hearing to the final verdict, took over two years, generated reams of legal documents, and cost the government thousands of dollars in lawyers' and judges' time. Taxpayers thus bore some of the cost of Davis's and Catalano's feud.

That battle is hardly out of character for either of the two implacable enemies. Both are aggressive advocates of their cause, willing, when necessary, to test the boundaries of courtesy and propriety to get what they want.

At least three current prosecutors who have opposed Catalano in court say he occasionally crosses the line between strong advocacy and nasty behavior. "It got to the point where I would no longer take his phone calls," says one prosecutor who has dealt frequently with Catalano. For example, he accuses Catalano of fabricating the prosecutor's comments in letters "confirming" their phone conversations, a charge Catalano strongly denies. And according to Mark Vargo, the former DUI prosecutor, Catalano's swipes at opponents often take the form of official complaints.

"I think [Catalano] would bring charges of state misconduct faster than anyone else in the county," Vargo says, adding that he once faced a bar complaint filed by Catalano with the Florida Bar. The bar organization dismissed the complaint without action, Vargo says.

Catalano defends himself against such accusations, insisting that few of his complaints are frivolous -- and that he's only filed about four other charges besides those aimed at Davis. "I complain against people the legal way by filling out forms," he says. "I ask people like Vargo what they would suggest instead. Should we go to some alley and try to punch each other in the nose?"

Some in the legal community view Davis as vengeful, too. A Dade County Court judge, speaking on condition of anonymity, says Davis's obsession with drunk driving indicates an underlying personality problem. She calls him a "gung-ho officer" who often arrests first and asks questions later and should have been fired long ago. "I don't think he exercises a lot of discretion," she says.

Both Catalano and Davis have been willing to use any weapons available to pursue their causes -- and each other. For instance, in March of 1991, about the same time that Catalano was being stung by accusations in the Herald, he also discovered a chance for revenge against Davis. Ironically, his vehicle for retaliation turned out to be the media. Walking around the Dade County courthouse one day, he heard employees talking about Alan Davis's involvement in a controversial case. On October 31, 1990, just over two months after his encounter with Catalano on South Dixie Highway, the police officer had improperly confiscated and erased a private citizen's videotape of an arrest by Davis and another officer of a drunk-driving suspect, Nancy Frost. (See New Times stories April 24, 1991, and July 31, 1991.)

Though Catalano did not represent Frost, after learning of the incident, he took the lead in publicizing the tape erasure in late March and early April 1991. He called several news organizations and wrote letters to the Coral Gables Police Department and the Dade State Attorney's Office. Faced with bad publicity, Davis decided to resign from the task force on June 19, 1991, even before an internal affairs investigation had been completed. Davis and his boss, Coral Gables Police Chief James Butler, dispute Catalano's contention that the resignation was forced. "Officer Davis's commitment to fighting drunk driving ran him into some allegations, some of which constituted a malicious attack on him, that began to affect his work," Butler says. "He decided that it was in the best interest of the task force to move on." (Davis continued to work as a patrol officer until last August, when he requested a transfer to the juvenile division.)

One month after Davis's 1991 resignation from the DUI squad, a five-member police panel unanimously voted to reprimand the officer. Although the State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Davis for petty theft or tampering with evidence, Dennis Bedard, the investigating assistant state attorney, sharply criticized the officer in his September 1991 report on the videotape incident. "He has a very simplistic sense of moral righteousness that he has allowed to interfere with his impartiality as a police officer," reads the report. Bedard, who also investigated Catalano's 1989 perjury complaint against Davis, still stands by his harsh comments. "My impression was that he was so personally involved in

DUI cases that it clouded his objectivity," Bedard said in an interview. "Davis had crossed the line to where he was no longer able to function as police officer."

Davis responds to such criticisms by citing the awards and praise he has received for his work against drunk driving. But perhaps his best defense comes in the letter he wrote when resigning from the task force. "I may have been labeled a radical by different officers, judges, and lawyers," reads the letter, "but the fact of the matter is I earned their respect as someone knowledgeable who does not put together a half-assed case. With a 95 percent plus conviction rate I think the numbers speak for themselves." (No record of conviction rates are kept for Gables officers, but such high rates certainly are possible for regular DUI officers, notes a spokesman for the state attorney's DUI division.) Without naming names, Davis also criticized DUI attorneys who use "criminal tactics" to win cases and engage in "harassment" of police officers.

Davis and Catalano, it seems, share another trait in common: They both consider themselves victims of the other.

In Michael Catalano's mind the events of May 12, 1992, still unfold like a bad dream. Standing in a Dade County courtroom before Judge Nancy Pollock, he is trying to concentrate on the defense of his client, a drunk driving suspect named Gaspar Contreras. But, as he tells it, he can sense a malicious presence behind him. Although Alan Davis was involved in Contreras's arrest on April 22, 1991, he has been supposedly excused from this trial. Catalano can not figure out why the officer is still here, in the gallery. As he speaks to the judge, he can hear sniggers. Finally, after Contreras is found guilty and sentenced, Catalano can stand it no more. He turns around to confirm that Davis is laughing. The officer keeps it up even as other defendants not represented by Catalano are sentenced.

The day after the incident, however, Catalano was the one thinking he'd have the last laugh, having filed yet another internal affairs complaint against Davis. "Officer Davis' name was removed from the witness list," Catalano wrote. "He had no reason to be in court but to continue his harassment of me and other people. I watched him openly laugh at defendants who were being sentenced for DUI. He acted rude and unprofessional."

Davis later called that accusation "a bunch of crap." The version he told a subsequent internal affairs investigator coincided with Catalano's on only one point A he had been excused from attending the trial by the then assistant chief DUI prosecutor, Edwin Saar. Saar refuses to comment, but both Davis and Catalano agree that the prosecutor, an acquaintance of Catalano, didn't want to risk the distraction of a Catalano vs. Davis confrontation in the courtroom. As the result of a clerical mix-up, however, a secretary in the court clerk's office mistakenly sent Davis a subpoena to appear. When Davis received the subpoena, he decided to attend the trial, assuming Saar had changed his mind.

In any case, Davis says he stayed in the courtroom after receiving permission from Judge Pollock. He adds that he never laughed at any defendant being sentenced. "I don't think DUI or people being sentenced is a laughing matter," he explained. Internal affairs investigators exonerated Davis, saying they could not find anyone, except Catalano, who saw Davis laugh.

Things looked fine for Michael Catalano when he woke up on Sunday, September 20, 1992. The sky was clear, the air was warm, and best of all, he had not seen Alan Davis in several months. Catalano, a skilled boater, had decided to spend that Sunday on his seventeen-foot Boston Whaler, traveling up and down the coast near his waterfront home in South Miami to view damage caused by Hurricane Andrew. Four people accompanied him -- two neighbors, both retired military officers, as well as Saar from the State Attorney's Office and Mike Hannau, a businessman. When the group entered the inlet leading to Matheson Hammock, they spotted a man whistling and waving to them from the shoreline. The man was a park ranger, who was trying to tell the group to leave the inlet, a restricted area. But since he was not wearing a uniform, Catalano and company ignored him at first. That was a mistake.

When they finally did make for the main channel, they realized they were being followed by a Coral Gables police boat. Only when the pursuing boat pulled alongside did Catalano feel that familiar tightening of his stomach, that unmistakable increase in heart rate, and those beads of sweat popping through the pores on his high forehead. Davis was on the boat!

But Catalano noticed that his adversary was showing uncharacteristic self-restraint. He did not draw his pistol and leap Errol Flynn-like onto Catalano's vessel. He did not even say a word. There were two other officers on board, and the one driving the boat merely warned the lawyer and his guests to stay out of restricted areas. Catalano was free to go, and he did, but the ease of his escape made him suspicious; he could not help but toss one glance back. What he saw enraged him once again: Davis looked him straight in the eye and blew him a kiss. While Davis now denies the allegation, at least one passenger on Catalano's boat says he witnessed the gesture. "[Davis] had a smirk on his face as he did it," says Mike Hannau. "He looked like a real smart aleck. It was one of those little events that was totally uncalled for."

The kiss never happened in Davis's version. He acknowledged that he was on the boat -- as a certified diver, he had been helping driver Randy Hoff and another officer clear hurricane debris in Gables waterways. They were patrolling when the Matheson Hammock ranger flagged them down and told them about the intruding boat. None of the officers boarded Catalano's boat.

Catalano had escaped. He was traveling south in the Bay, putting distance between himself and his nemesis. After about two nautical miles and no signs that Davis was in pursuit, the lawyer decided to turn his Boston Whaler into one of the southern canals to view hurricane damage to expensive homes there. When they hit a dead end, Catalano and his party headed back to the bay. He almost made it.

Coming toward him, growing not just larger but, in his mind, more threatening, was another Coral Gables police boat with inflatable sides and a fiberglass bottom. Deborah Herbst, one of two police officers on board, jumped over to Catalano's boat and began performing what she termed a routine inspection. But according to Catalano, Herbst's inspection was excruciatingly detailed and drawn out -- she even opened his box of flares and checked the expiration date on each one.

After the incident, Catalano decided another complaint was in order. He discovered that Hoff A while making sure that neither he nor Davis boarded Catalano's boat A had called Herbst on the radio to request that she do so because, they later claimed, they were concerned that Catalano's boat was overcrowded. In an October 7 letter to then Coral Gables Police Chief Charles Skalasky, Catalano accused Davis of yet another instance of harassment and the four other officers of participating in the "set-up." The five law enforcement officials, including Davis, denied the accusation, and in June 1993 the internal affairs investigation exonerated all officers involved.

Michael Catalano has tried again and again to persuade some official in some office to take action against Alan Davis. Virtually all his efforts have failed. Still the tenacious attorney refuses to concede defeat. In his newest legal action, he is attempting to widen the battle to include those ultimately responsible for Davis's actions. His complaint in federal court lists the City of Coral Gables and its police chief, James Butler, as codefendants. The complaint for damages recounts Davis's "active 'campaign' of threats and intimidation tactics against [Catalano]." It alleges that Butler and other officials knew about the campaign yet stood by and did nothing to stop it.

Davis says he's surprised Catalano is still determined to carry on the war. He points out that he has not seen the lawyer in over a year. But he is ready to meet Catalano's legal challenge. "Hey, if that's what he wants, I say let's go for it and let the court decide once and for all who's harassing whom," Davis says.

Catalano, too, wants an end to the ugly affair because, he claims, he's fed up with being pursued. "I've been chased in a car and a boat," Catalano says. "Since I sometimes fly an airplane, I just hope the Coral Gables Police Department doesn't have an air patrol. I drive through the Gables now with my asshole so tight you wouldn't believe it. I'm not kidding. I'm so tired. I've even written to the mayor. He and everyone else over there just laugh at me. They think it's all funny. Maybe they'll be satisfied when [Davis] finally shoots me."

No one expects either Davis or Catalano to resort to armed action, but Dennis Bedard, the assistant state attorney, jokes that one or both combatants is likely to be buried before the hatchet is. "I get the feeling that the only way this will stop is if one of them dies," he says. "Their personalities are such that Davis couldn't have chosen a worse attorney to go pick on and Catalano couldn't have chosen a worse cop.

"In all of Dade County you couldn't have found two people more diametrically opposed -- they were just born to hate each other. If I had been either one of them I would have walked away from this and not let it become the thing driving my life. But then I'm not them -- thank God.


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