A key witness in the Larry Seidlin civil suit is a courthouse attorney who once worked closely with the judge. I spoke with the attorney today on the condition I wouldn't name him or her and got an earful.
The attorney told me that Seidlin often spoke about Barbara Kasler, the elderly widow in his building whom he persuaded to hand over more more than a half-million dollars in cash and assets, according to the suit. Only the lawyer, who no longer works in the courthouse, said Seidlin never referred to her by name.
"He always called her the 'old lady,'" said the source. "He told me, 'I met an old lady in my building. She's out of her mind, but she's loaded.'"
The attorney also claimed to witness the judge and another attorney discussing Kasler's property. "They were looking over the survey and the deed of the property, and Seidlin said, 'We'll put in [daughter] Daxie's name; that way, they'll never trace it back to us.' It wound up being put in the wife's name, so I guess they
realized how hard it is to put property in a child's name."
Shortly after that, Seidlin brought up the property again with the source.
"He came back to me and said, 'You know that property I was talking about? I don't want you think about it. It's just a property full of rocks, and it's only worth two grand. I don't want to concern you with it,'" the attorney said. "A week later, he asked me how to write a will that can't be contested."
Seidlin eventually had Kasler's will rewritten to include his wife, Belinda, and daughter. Their names have been removed by family members. The land, located in Palm Bay, was actually valued at $50,000 at the time it was transferred from Kasler to Belinda Seidlin.
The attorney asked Seidlin to bring his mother to a wedding over which Seidlin was presiding. "Seidlin said, 'No, I'm bringing the old lady; it's important that she see me in my robes,'" the attorney told me.
The attorney also spoke about Seidlin's lax work ethic.
"He'd roll in a little after 9, and he would come in and order some clothes or jewelry for his wife over the phone," said the lawyer. "Then he would do the juveniles and then maybe some probate. At about 11 o'clock, his wife would come in... to shoot the breeze and go with him to lunch."
In the afternoon, Seidlin did what the attorney described as "drive-bys."
"He would come back in the afteronoon in his car, and he would sign what he had to sign out in the street," said the lawyer. "He would have someone in his office bring the files down to the corner, and he would sign them in the car. He would wear a hat and sunglasses like he didn't want people to recognize him."
The attorney said Seidlin actually checked with the state to make sure he wasn't required to work full business days. "He had his [judicial assistant] call someone in Tallahassee to see if there were any requirements that a judge had to work a seven- or eight-hour day," said the source. "She came back and said there are no requirements about how long you have to work so long as you get through the docket."
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And so Seidlin sped through his dockets, earning the nickname "Lightning Larry." While he was still judge, he was the subject of a gotcha report by Channel 7 reporter Carmel Cafiero in which she followed Seidlin to see how often he worked. "[W]hen we watched the judge April 10th and 11th and April 17th and 18th, Seidlin's lunch breaks lasted close to three hours," Cafiero reported. "If he worked at all in the afternoons, it was for about one hour. And by 4, he was at a tennis club three out of the four days."
Seidlin had little attention span, said the attorney, never read books, and had little knowledge of the law. "You could put all his knowledge of the law in a thimble and still have room left over," said the lawyer. "I don't know how he got a bar license; he had the worst attention deficit I've ever seen. He was always afraid people were going to figure out that he didn't know the law, but I always say Seidlin is the luckiest man alive."
The attorney was in contact with investigators in the criminal probe of Seidlin conducted by Miami-Dade prosecutor Howard Rosen but incredibly was never deposed: "They said they didn't have enough money to fly where I was and talk to me or to fly me there. Everything I've told you, I told them on the phone, but they disregarded it."
My feeling about Rosen's investigation is no secret. But the witness won't be shut out of the civil case. If it goes to trial, it's a given that the attorney will testify. Contact has been made with Kasler's attorneys, and there is reference to the attorney in the complaint.