Federal Judge Spellman Dies After 11 Years on Bench
MIAMI (AP) _ U.S. District Judge Eugene P. Spellman, an 11-year veteran of the bench who was known for innovative sentences and supporting social causes, died Saturday at age 60.
Spellman, who had cancer, was absent from the bench only a week before his death.
Spellman crafted a novel sentence that withstood a challenge in the tax- evasion case of millionaire industrialist Victor Posner, who was ordered to give $3 million to the homeless and serve meals in a shelter.
″He was a judge who was known for his fairness to all litigants, and he will be especially missed because of his efforts in behalf of the homeless,″ said U.S. District Judge Edward Davis, who visited Spellman at Mercy Hospital hours before his death.
In other cases, Spellman decried ″underhanded tactics″ used by U.S. immigration officials against Haitian immigrants and freed an AIDS-afflicted prisoner on bond after ruling the U.S. Bureau of Prisons did not offer adequate medical treatment.
In a religious freedom case, Spellman ruled public health needs outweighed the religious tenets of the Afro-Caribbean Santeria cult and upheld Hialeah city ordinances banning animal sacrifices.
Spellman presided over the 1985 trial of Colombian financier Hernan Botero, who was convicted of laundering $57 million in drug money, as well as drug cases involving former government ministers of the Turks and Caicos Islands and an ex-FBI agent.
The Dade County Bar Association planned to recognize him next Wednesday with its outstanding jurist award.
Spellman is survived by his wife, Robin, and sons Michael and James.