Criminal Justice

Judge's Loafers Lucky Fit for FL Inmate

Wearing the trial judge’s loafers may have been the final sartorial touch that helped a Florida inmate win an acquittal on cocaine trafficking charges.

Michael Fernandez, 22, was mistakenly brought from jail to his Fort Lauderdale trial Tuesday in his jail uniform. Although officials sent for—and received—his street clothes before he took the stand, somehow his shoes were still forgotten, reports the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

At that point, with Fernandez still wearing jail flip-flops, Broward County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson stepped up to the plate. “He took off his black loafers and said, ‘Use these,’ ” says defense lawyer Jim Lewis. “And sure enough, they were just about a perfect fit.”

After his testimony, jurors acquitted Fernandez, who was released later in the day. The judge said he didn’t give much thought to the shoe switch at the time.

“I take great pains to ensure that the defendant’s custody status is not disclosed,” Levenson says. “I just wanted to make sure he was covered. I guess I didn’t really think about it, I just acted.”

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