There’s an old saying that a good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer knows the judge. David Bogenschutz not only knows all the key judges, he married former Broward chief criminal judge Ana Gardiner a few years ago.
Bogenschutz’s experience in Broward law goes back to 1971, when his first job was as a prosecutor in the county solicitor’s office. A few years later, he created the special investigations unit for the state attorney’s office. These days, he’s a name partner with Bogenschutz, Dutko & Kroll, and is arguably the top criminal defense attorney in Broward County. While there are caricatures of sleazy lawyers who do anything for clients, like Jimmy McGill of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” Bogenschutz seems to have a moral compass.
Here’s a telling anecdote from the story about him in this issue, by Associate Editor Andrea Richard.
“Let’s say you come in and say, ‘I just have stolen $500,000 from my company and they found out about it and they are charging me, and I did it.’ My view of my job is, I say, ‘OK.’ We are not going to do anything that lies about it. We are not going to stand up and say, ‘My client is absolutely innocent!’ But what we are going to do is make sure that if they want to convict you of this crime, they can prove it.”
There are plenty of anecdotes in articles about Bogenschutz over the years that show how he is a master of preparation. In the trial of Ronald Melnik, who was acquitted of homicide in a 2010 New Year’s Eve shooting, the Sun Sentinel told how Bogenschutz raised the issue of not being able to retest a blood sample from the victim that had been destroyed. Bogenschutz said he didn’t trust the toxicology report that showed no evidence of drug use. Bogenschutz also noticed a vial near the victim that tested positive for ecstasy. Melnik was acquitted after Bogenschutz argued the shooting was self-defense.
Bogenschutz also is a master of getting the best possible sentence for his clients.
One example is the father and son development team of Bruce and Shawn Chait. They implicated an array of Broward County politicians they bribed to help get approval to convert two golf courses at Commercial Boulevard and the Florida Turnpike in Tamarac into residential development. County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for taking $25,000 in cash and membership to a golf club.
The Chaits originally faced 35 years in prison on the three counts against them. They pleaded guilty to unlawful compensation and received four years of probation.