As time passes, memories tend to come and go. I am not sure why the story that I never included the story “Stop the Damn Car!!” in my two previous books. I think it is a good story. Well I rectified that and it is now part of chapter 15. I think it actually fits in this book quite nicely. This is where Judge Rasmussen comes into play. He was a very stern judge in Pasco County, who was known for his harsh judgments made against drunk drivers. I tried to find information about the details of the incident involving his daughter and the drunk driver. I was not successful in finding out any specifics. All I was able to find was an archived article in the Tampa Bay Times, entitled “Judge Rasmussen may be tough, but he is fair.”
Since he played a major part in a very important part of my life, I think he deserves a place in my book. The article was published in August 16, 1990. I have included part of the article as a tribute to his career and to his actions.
Joseph D. had occasion to appear before judge Rasmussen several years ago. Joseph opted to represent himself in a civil litigation matter against a former employer. He was warned by friends that Judge Rasmussen was the county’s “hanging judge,” but he didn’t let that stop him. People had warned him that he was tough, which made him wonder as to the validity of the previous story on Pasco County judges. Tough judges who are prosecution oriented often receive negative press. The reputation of being a tough judge is one that most law abiding citizens should be grateful for..
In his case before Judge Rasmussen the defendant was an area corporation with more “clout” than Joseph. They were represented by a prominent lawyer. The case lasted for several hours before. A representative of the corporation Joseph was suing testified for the claimant. As he served his own counsel he was allowed every courtesy afforded the defendant’s counsel. He was treated with respect and dignity. He however, was reprimanded several times by the judge. However, these rebukes were not overly severe and were geared to attaining an fair conclusion. Joseph had several thoughts after the case was concluded: “I had wanted my day in court and the right to present my case. I had been a witness to justice in action and as a direct participant, which most people seldom have occasion to do. I had been afforded every opportunity to question and testify, and win or lose, justice would be served.”
In the end the verdict was in Joseph’s favor. The little guy had won, and in doing so had beat a good practicing lawyer before the toughest judge in Pasco County. It was a verdict and a vindication. The system had worked. Joseph had often wanted to thank Judge Rasmussen for the way he was treated. He was treated with respect and dignity. In some ways Joseph wished heI had lost the case, then the sincerity of the letter would he posted to the editor bureau of the Tampa Bay Times would not be questioned.
Joseph appeared before this judge as a pro se litigant and was impressed with his integrity. When lawyers question the integrity of a judge he is very suspect of the attorney’s motivation rather than the integrity of the judge. He had not met Judge Rasmussen prior or since this instance; but if he had the chance to look him in the face today, he would say, “Forget what the attorneys say, judge, the people of Pasco County appreciate what you do; and law-abiding people throughout this country applaud tough judges.”