Izzy Michel, Jersey City attorney and eccentric, was for many years a prominent fixture in the courtrooms at 595 Newark Avenue.
A certain local resident had the bad luck to suffer a career setback; the police nabbed him while taking numbers. One lawyer promised that for $5,000 the charges would be dropped. Another lawyer quoted a price of $1,000 with the assurance of no jail time, but probation was a possibility. Izzy Michel offered to take the case for $300 with no guarantee.
This was the bookmaker’s first arrest. Plus, he had a full-time job and a family. So, this numbers runner felt that the odds were in his favor with Izzy’s $300 legal fee.
It was a bad bet. The result was a conviction with a sentence of one year in jail.
That guy he represented was my dad. The judges & police in Union City were also pinched at the time including Paul Lombardo (safety commissioner) which is in the witness protection program.
I’m posting years later, but just came across this and smiled (not meaning disrespect for Izzy’s unfortunate client). I well remember Izzy’s appearances at the calendar calls in Jersey City, usually wearing a lime green suit or some other amazing, neon attire. Judge Geronimo often seemed exasperated with him. According to a story I heard, Izzy used to display a sign in his window, “Izzy Michel, Musician and Attorney”, until the Bar complained that it was disparaging to the profession. Izzy’s response was to give the law more respect by giving it top billing in a new sign: “Izzy Michel, Attorney and Musician”. The Bar then said that this violated the rule against mixing professions in a sign or advertisement. So, Izzy’s next move was to break the original sign in half, allegedly over his knee, and display it in 2 windows: “Izzy Michel, Musician” in the first window, then, in the next widow, “……and Attorney.” Say what you will, Izzy had fun.
This is also being written years later but I googled is you to see what became of him.
I had heard that the sign originally said “ Band leader and attorney.“ I heard than that is he removed the attorney part.
A friend of mine actually was trying a case against Izzy, who introduced himself to the jury by saying “my name is Izzy Michel. I have rings on my fingers and bells on my toes..” My friend almost fainted when he Shook his shoe, making the sound Of little bells in his shoe.
I don’t remember ever hearing that Izzy ripped anybody off though. He also was friendly. Just very colorful and inept As an attorney.
Great “Izzy story” about the shoes and his line to the jury, Ellen! Thanks for sharing. He was certainly a character, and the stuff of courthouse lore and wonder.