Tampa, Fla. based attorney Frank Louderback has conflict of interest. Louderback is a perennial contender in Key West’s annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest. He rents out a suite of rooms for family and friends every July for the contest and this year was no exception. Problem is Louderback has a prior engagement. It seems that the annual contest is being held on the same day Louderback has to be in court…for a murder-for-hire trial.

So what’s a lawyer to do? Soberly affirm jurisprudence and the law that defines our nation’s liberty? Or ask for a day off and head down to Key West for a night of drinking?

Mr. Louderback elected the latter.

Of Ernest Hemingway’s work ethic, friend and drinking partner Dorothy Parker once remarked that Hemingway “works like hell, and through it.”

It seems that one of his lookalikes does not espouse to a similar ethic. Below is  U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday‘s amazing response to Louderback’s request, replete with a final flourish containing the last line of The Sun Also Rises.

Jerry Alan Bottorff stands accused of murder-for-hire, conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and a firearm offense. For four months the parties have known with particularity when the trial begins – July 9, 2012; the parties requested the special setting. Nonetheless, Bottorff’s counsel asks (Doc. 127) to suspend the trial on Friday, July 20th.

Undersigned counsel, a perennial contestant in the Ernest Hemingway Look-alike Contest, is scheduled to appear as a semi-finalist at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida at 6:30 P.M. on Friday, July 20, 2012. In order to be able to be in Key West at the appointed hour, undersigned counsel has planned to depart St. Petersburg after the trial recesses on Thursday, July 19, 2012, and drive toward Key West[,] arriving on July 20, 2012.Undersigned counsel has secured a block of six rooms to accommodate family, friends, and fans and has had to pay non-refundable deposits.

Between a murder-for-hire trial and an annual look-alike contest, surely Hemingway, a perfervid admirer of “grace under pressure,” would choose the trial.At his most robust, Hemingway exemplified the intrepid defense lawyer:

“He works like hell, and through it. . . . He has the most profound bravery. . . . He has had pain and the kind of poverty that you don’t believe[;] he has had about eight times the normal allotment of responsibilities. And he has never once compromised. He has never turned off on an easier path than the one he staked himself. It takes courage.” —Dorothy Parker, The Artist’s Reward, The New Yorker, Nov. 30, 1929, at 28-30 (describing Hemingway).

Perhaps a lawyer who evokes Hemingway can resist relaxing frolic in favor of solemn duty. Or, at least, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Best of luck to counsel in next year’s contest. The motion (Doc. 127) is DENIED.

More on this story can be found at The Tampa Bay Times.