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If the theatrical delivery and the red pocket square peeking from the sharp pinstriped suit seem familiar, they should.
"Your Honor, sometimes I wish they would throw all the laws out!" the 94-year-old says during a soliloquy in which he rails about mandatory sentencing, flatters the judge for being "assiduous in your pursuit of justice" and praises the "young prosecutor."
Turning to his client, he goes on: "The only person who was harmed was the defendant himself! He's a gentleman, in every sense of the word! A pure gentleman! There is no victim in this case except the defendant!"
Lucianna, a decorated World War II vet and an
Forty-five years ago, The Record anointed
That Lucianna is still practicing full time reflects an ironclad commitment. The law truly is his mistress, and his wife, Dolores, is OK with the arrangement. She long ago stopped begging him to knock off early on Fridays.
"I'm very thankful that I'm in love with this beautiful profession and the beautiful people in the courthouse," Lucianna says, adding that his desire to assist people in trouble also keeps him going.
But it takes more than passion for a man nearing the midpoint of his 10th decade to plug away in a demanding field. Criminal defenders deal with difficult people. They have to think fast on their feet. Testimony must be followed and processed; arguments and objections, made. They also must be on their feet, schlepping to courthouses and jails and standing before juries and judges.
The founder of Lucianna & Lucianna in
"He's had me with him for 35 years and we keep an eye on him," Diane says. "He's had the same secretary for 30 years. Physically, we help him. Like, he was wearing shoes that were way too heavy. I said, 'Dad, you need new shoes!' So we took him to the orthopedic shoe store for a new pair. Little things like that. But mentally, he's terrific. No one is covering for him."
Indeed, Lucianna is a source of marvel in the legal community.
One of those young lawyers is his junior partner
He takes care of himself. "I've got to get rest at night; otherwise, it's difficult to be in court," he says. "I try to get to bed at 10, 10:30, and I'm up at 6:30. Eight hours of sleep. I need to get up early and get to the office early, because I'm the centerpiece here. I have to show everyone that I will be here on time and let them in.
"This is a very consuming profession and it has taken a lot out of my life. I am constantly involved in preparing cases, and it's a tremendous strain, both mental and physical. Physical because when you go to trial in a case, your whole being is obsessed with trying to help the person you represent, and it places your body and mind under tension. I spend many sleepless nights ... I still have that anxiety. My life is constant effort to maintain my stability."
In a graying field - one in seven
After watching a video of Lucianna in action in court, Badger declared the lawyer "remarkable" and the embodiment of the old cliche "use or it lose it."
A native of
The article noted a Lucianna courtroom trademark - a hunch of the back. "I'm trying to convey to the jury what a burden I have to show my client is really innocent," he was quoted as saying. He still hunches, but now, age may have something to do with it.
Lucianna wondered whether his vintage works to his and his clients' advantage. "Jurors could feel a little more sympathy to me because I'm 94. I had some case in
Could there be a halo effect?
"I can speak only from a prosecutor's standpoint," says Higgins, "but by virtue of his charm and his age,
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Amazingly, Lucianna isn't even the oldest active lawyer on
The former state assemblyman is a partner in the Archer law firm. Unlike Lucianna, Burstein works part time and focuses on estate law.
The 94-year-olds run into each occasionally. Burstein holds his slightly younger colleague in awe.
"The obligations Frank takes upon himself are astonishing and well beyond the norm," he observes. "The norm is a guy like me sitting behind a desk, but to see Frank as a litigator is worthy of note and admiration - not only because he still has his intellectual capacities, but because of the physical element to the work he does. Even in my most athletic days, I would come back to the office exhausted if I had to be in court."
Burstein says he still practices because he enjoys giving counsel and seeing clients. "It's not that I don't have other things to do," he says, "but I have to say that if I felt I were losing my grip, as it were, then I would stop cold. The question is: Do you realize your limitations, or do you have to have somebody tell you?"
That's a question Lucianna and his family have pondered.
"He says he will never retire, that he will die in his office," Diane says. But asked on separate occasions what the future holds, Lucianna says: "If it gets to the point where I'm crazy and don't know what I'm doing, I'll stop." And this: "I hope God lets me continue doing this. I don't want to retire. I don't want to go to
(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)
Besides, Lucianna is one senior who's no fan of the Sunshine State. The busy lawyer and his wife had a place there but got rid of it because they hardly used it.
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