Happy Retirment Jim

 

Outspoken prosecutor to retire after 30-year career

Prosecutor Jim Tylock retires this week from the Broward State Attorney's Office after some 30 years chasing down criminals -- and, some say, jurors.

BY SARA OLKON

Jim Tylock holds court in scattershot style, recalling in rapid-fire fashion the night he slept in a nun's convent in Dubrovnik, then skips back to the well-circulated story about how he chased a juror down the hall for delivering a not-guilty verdict.

''I don't physically run after them,'' he said. ``But I may have been screaming.''

After more than three decades, the 62-year-old prosecutor is retiring Tuesday from the Broward State Attorney's Office.

Colleagues will likely notice his absence.

''In an increasingly drab landscape awash with muted, neutral tones, Jim Tylock bursts forth like a brilliant field of sunflowers framed by an achingly blue sky,'' Assistant State Attorney Alex Urruela wrote in a tribute to the fiery prosecutor.

``The one characteristic which distinguishes Jimmy above the others is his total lack of pretentiousness. He is what he is.''

What he is is harder to pin down.

A former altar boy from Buffalo, Tylock was hired as a public defender in Broward County in 1973. He quit in 1975 and had no plans, but then switched to the other side five days later when Michael Satz, now the Broward state attorney, talked him into it.

Tylock isn't diplomatic. He once said jurors delivered an ''outer space verdict'' after they acquitted an alleged arsonist. He said crime hasn't changed much -- ''it's still all drugs.'' But he said he's seen a ''significant'' decline in the quality of law enforcement, something he blames on a bloated police bureaucracy.

A Vietnam veteran, Goldwater Republican and collector of antique clocks, he proudly gets his news online from The New York Times, Fox News, Al-Jazeera, The Moscow Times, The Nation and Granma International.

''Part of his charm is that you can never really predict what natural phenomena will come out of him,'' Urruela said.

Satz remembered the afternoon Tylock went fishing in his suit and tie. David Bogenschutz, a defense attorney, recalled Tylock in a full body cast at Il Giardino, a former Italian restaurant on Las Olas. Tylock had done ''a header'' off a motor scooter in the Bahamas. Bogenschutz later watched in trepidation as the prosecutor danced at a nearby urban cowboy bar, his cast bumping up against ornery cowboy types.

Maria Schneider, the juvenile chief for the Broward State Attorney's Office, said he once referred to her by every surname but her own during a trial, but said his forgetfulness is overcome by a warm heart. She said this year he offered to purchase tickets for the office holiday party for any staff member who didn't have the cash to spare.

Brian Cavanagh, head of the homicide unit for the Broward State Attorney's Office, called Tylock ``a man of limited patience but boundless generosity, who will uninhibitedly speak from the candid reaches of his prodigious mind to anyone about anything, and in loud volume.''

Tylock is not famous. He spent 21 years in the career criminal unit, a deep-in-the-trenches division that rarely gets publicity. But the unit has more trials than any other division, in part because the defendants face long prison sentences and aren't typically courted with sweet plea deals.

''Tylock is a damn good trial lawyer,'' said Mark Springer, head of career criminal unit. ``When he gets in front of the jury, he is so down-to-earth and understandable.''

Tylock was married once, about a decade ago, but he never had any kids -- a ``grave regret.''

And the criminals. They stay in his head. He said he relives the cases involving especially cruel acts every day, like the crack dealer from Hollywood who tried to remove his girlfriend's vocal cords with a fork.

That one got off.


Jim Tylock (left), Lee Simmons (horticulturist) and me on our

way to Spanish Wells, Bahamas.

From left to right: Larry, Jim Tylock, Dave and guess who.

 

North Eleuthera Airport Left to right bottom row: Dave, yacht broker, Patti, realtor, Lee, horticulturist, Larry, bar owner, Jim, prosecutor, Boom-Boom, photographer's girlfriend.  Top row, me, Dave, press aide.

 

Dear Jim - Laissez le Bon Temp Rouler!