GAINESVILLE – Judge Maurice Paul of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida died at the age of 84 in Orlando on Dec. 29.
The late judge, best known for once throwing famed attorney F. Lee Bailey into jail, joined the court in 1982 under former President Ronald Reagan’s administration and served until his death.
“He was just a nice, modest man, but that didn’t prevent him from being a very forceful and very just person in his profession,” Paul’s son, James Jeffrey Paul, told the Gainesville Sun. “I would say he was a very quiet person. He was very self-contained.”
The late Jacksonville, Florida native spent six years on a case that involved 25 defendants who were caught up in a large drug smuggling operation. That case was said to have been the basis for Miami Vice.
Paul also was known for trying a case involving the French-American drug smuggler Claude DuBoc, who was represented by Bailey. After DuBoc pleaded guilty to drug and money-laundering, Paul sent Bailey to jail in 1996 for failing to turn over some of DuBoc’s assets. Bailey, who also defended O.J. Simpson in his high-profile murder trial, thought that he was entitled to some of the assets, including interest earned on stocks that were seized as part of the plea deal, because he had represented DuBoc.
“The thing most people say about him, on both sides of the aisle, is that he was remarkably fair and impartial,” Paul’s longtime judicial clerk Michael Dupee said about him. “He was very respectful to people in his courtroom. Even the defendant who was about to be sent away, Judge Paul called him 'mister' and wished him luck.”
Dupee knew the late judge for 23 years and never heard him say a mean thing about anyone nor did he ever hear him use profanity. He also remembers him as always making lawyers feel welcome in his courtroom.
Paul graduated from the University of Florida in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree and later attended his alma mater’s law school where he received his juris doctorate in 1960. In between undergrad school and law school, he was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, according to Ballotpedia.
The veteran began his law career as an interim instructor at the University of Florida College of Law and then worked in private practice in Orlando from 1960 to 1972. Paul later became a judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida until 1982, and then served the rest of his career ruling for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
Reagan nominated Paul to his seat on April 26, 1982 to fill a vacancy left by Winston Arnow.
Judge Stephan Mickle succeeded Paul.