About Robert Phillips

Robert Phillips is a Miami lawyer still deciding what he wants to do for a living. Once a lover of Pynchon, Pinter, and any other artist whose work he barely understood, he has since "come home" to genre fiction and fandom, where he truly belongs. He focuses most of his fan-attention on his wife Elena and his three little girls, who will one day be a female president, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and a supermodel/astrophysicist. (He's not sure which one will be which yet.)

Botched Executions And the Murderers Exposed

“My planes, My guns. My money, My soldiers, My blood is on my hands…It’s all my fault.” I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, X. “It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man.” William Munny (Unforgiven) As a frequent critic of the death penalty, I get one question regularly when I’m asked to explain my position, and it’s a question I wrestle with myself: what about the victim?  I read it again yesterday when I posted on Facebook my outrage at the “botched execution” (already a cliché) of Joseph Wood two days ago.  I pointed out that Wood took two hours to die, and that he was reportedly “gasping and snorting” for a significant portion of that time. A Facebook friend commented on my post, “What did he do to deserve the execution?  Then, I’ll tell you if I have a problem with it.” Joseph Wood What he did was murder his ex-girlfriend and her… Read More…

My Friends Call Me Tex Cobb: a Personal Contemplation of Bravery and Loyalty

Someone who knows me as well as anyone in the world–someone I’ve known since the playground–once told me he didn’t think I was someone who “had his back.” In a difficult time, I was not a guy he would turn to for help. The context of his comments is forgotten. Maybe it was just a mean thing someone says during an argument to get the last word. Maybe he was recalling a specific incident when he said it, although I can’t imagine what.  The comments hit me like a jab to the temple.  I believe this guy would always have my back. Whatever the context, when someone says something like that, you have to soul-search, you have to contemplate who you really are. Are you brave?  Loyal?  If a friend is in need, are you there? Here’s another thing the same guy said, although not to me. He said it to an… Read More…

The Biggest Story Few of us Heard: British Phone-Tapping & American Media Apathy

Ladies and gentlemen, have I got a story for you. Please, take your seats and listen closely. It’s a story about the fall of the mighty and about personal tragedy. It’s a story that involves one of the most powerful men in the world. It features princes and sexual dalliances. It’s a story that speaks to our paranoia and justifies it, like the Snowden revelations and the US government’s wire-tapping program. And most important, ladies and gentlemen, it has murder. It has desperate parents and missing children. A mighty corporation, 168 years in existence, crumbles at our feet. This story has been out there for years.  The question is, why aren’t we paying attention? The British hacking scandal, which led to the end of The News of the World, has one element which likely saps most of our interest: it’s a British story. It happened far away, to people who speak with… Read More…

There Be Dragons in Minnesota: A Late Review of the Series “Fargo”

The season finale of Fargo aired last night, and what better time to review it than when it’s off network television? Of course, you may find it on Hulu, on Amazon Prime, or any of the other online venues.  And you should. For the past ten weeks, it was one of the two best shows on television with dragons.  OK, no dragons really.  No vampires…no ghost hunters and no real housewives of Bimidji, Mn. (where the show takes place). Every episode begins with the caption “This is a True Story,” which it is not. Yet despite all these outward trappings of reality it remained strikingly imaginative and clever. The series featured a female lead, a deputy who was politely smarter than all the guys in the room, and, surprisingly, it became to an extent a show about how we define “manhood.” That is, with a capital M, complete with squinting, hiking up pants… Read More…

Our Sanity Just Out of Rifle Range

Christina Taylor Green In the days after yet another school shooting, this time in Portland, let’s take a moment and reflect on how our attitude towards gun control and ownership has evolved in the past few years. The Sandy Hook tragedy took place on December 14, 2012, about a year and a half ago. Columbine was on April 20, 1999: 15 years ago. The Aurora movie theatre shootings, in which killed 12 people were shot and killed at the opening of the movie Dark Knight Rises, happened on July 20, 2012, almost two years ago. A friend of mine recently told me she was nervous about going to the movies; she was afraid of a gunman opening fire. Before 7/20/12, it probably never occurred to her that going to the movies could get you shot. Now, apparently, we should be afraid to leave our kids at school. It’s hard to… Read More…

An Open Letter from God to the Pious Athlete

My children, I realize you may find it odd I chose this means to communicate with you. Given the nature of my message, I thought mymediadiary.com, a site in which such issues are addressed, would be perfect.  I enjoy the site…I particularly like that geeky Star Trek guy, I forget his name.  Yay, verily I say unto yo, I chose this alternate media to communicate with you for a simple reason: while the sin I would like to address is serious, I admit, my usual methods of communicating my irritation–floods, pillars of salt, Christian rock–may be disproportionate punishment. Before I criticize, you should all understand that I love you all with an infinite love that you cannot comprehend. The span of the universe cannot contain it. Be aware that all of you are equals in my eyes.  Regardless whether you are rich or poor, whether you live a pious life or you steal, whether you come… Read More…

“The Returned,” A Great Show to Read — Even in French

TV is getting to be annoying.  Like never before, it interferes with our personal lives.  We have no time for our chores after work, for example.  Maybe we have to clean our kitchens, bathe our kids, even feed our kids, but there are just too many TV commitments.  Just last night, for example, I set out to make dinner for my three little ones, so I baked the chicken tenders, boiled the noodles, and then Almost Human debuted, followed by The Walking Dead, and then came The Talking Dead.  At 11 pm, I went to turn off the kitchen lights to go to bed and I saw my three little girls, patiently sitting at the table, waiting for dinner.  (Before you call social services, I’m only kidding.  I remembered to feed them before Talking Dead at 10.) Now there are many ways to escape strict network schedules.  Any show can be DVR’ed,… Read More…

Go Pick on Someone the Size of a House: “Bullying” in the NFL

Yet another victim has fallen into the hungry maw of bullies. Another Rebecca Sedwick? Another Phoebe Prince? Thankfully, this is a man who did not die by his own hand, but still martyred himself to make us aware of an insidious problem. Jonathan Martin, an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins, endured a hardscrabble life, with nothing to go on but the example of a struggling Harvard professor for a father and a mother scraping by as a corporate lawyer. He grew to be a whisp of a figure, a mere 6’5″, 312 pounds, living no doubt on Ramen noodles and a paltry $390,000 salary in 2012. He was constantly mocked at work–at one point forced to pay for the expensive meals of his teammates. Ironically, it was at the lunch table that he’d had enough. He sat down, and everyone at the table got up. That was it. Off… Read More…

A Story So Frightening Your Hair Will Turn White…Eventually.

The loud crack of my stapler hitting the floor startled me out of my work and re-acquainted me with my surroundings.  I was in my office.  It was dark out. Halloween night, 2004, a Sunday night.  I had no kids and no holiday related plans.  I was there on a Sunday because I had a Motion to file in the Freeman case, and with trial a week away, I had a deadline to meet.  I had never been in the office that late before.  My day usually ended at 5:30 pm, and if I was on the phone when the 5:30 bell chimed, I hung up the phone abruptly and left.  I was not used to the stillness, the quiet.  I looked at my watch: 5:45.  The only sound was the buzzing of the hallway fluorescents, which also provided the only light besides my own office light.  All the other… Read More…

We Are Still Fans…Somehow

College football’s Nittany Lions won a thriller this past weekend, a tight game requiring multiple overtimes. I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, in a region teeming with Penn State grads and Nittany Lions fans, and I befriended a few of the rare ones who tolerated someone who went to Notre Dame. After the PSU game this Saturday, my Facebook page was abuzz with Penn State pride. One friend wrote simply “We are…,” to demonstrate her team-pride. Discounting the possibility her typewriter broke before she finished the phrase, and ignoring the fact the slogan just may be appropriated from another college team and a film with Matthew McConaughey, there may be some inadvertent significance to the fact the phrase read simply “We are…” The missing words, “Penn State,” once stood for college football dominance as well as decent academics and a diversified alumni, but to many, the words have come to… Read More…

Imaginary Guns and Real Bullets

I’m pressed up against a wall, waiting.  Hunting.  The gun I’m holding is inches from my nose, my two hands folded as if I’m praying.  My enemy, James Lyons, is around the corner, and I’m about to spring as soon as he comes into view.  I’m secret agent John Lennon, and besides making the greatest music ever, I also work for the government, saving the world.  Yesterday, I was Captain Kirk.  I’m 12 years old at 6th grade recess, the gun is imaginary, but I did actually save the world.  (Things are still going on, right?  You’re welcome.)  Let me tell you a little something not about myself:  I am not a gun advocate, a gun owner or (liberal alert) a gun tolerator.  I am a Tarantino film-lover, but that’s about the extent of it.  I m also not the rhythm guitarist/vocalist/composer for the greatest band ever.  I was never a starship captain,… Read More…

Autumn Falls in South Florida

Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile…William Cullen Bryant. I love seasons…that’s why I live in a place that skips the @#%ty ones…Daniel Tosh Autumn fell on us on a Sunday this year.  As I type this, it’s a brisk, autumny 85 degrees in downtown Miami. There will be a hard rainfall later today from about 5:45 until 6:05, depending on what time I get on I-95 to go home.  The rainy season will most likely be over sometime this month  It’s football season, and after the Sunday game, kids spill out of their houses to play outside in their favorite team T-shirts and shorts.  Since this is South Florida, the shirts will read NY Jets and NY Giants. We’ll all try to enjoy this last bit of outdoor activity before the winter makes the outdoors unbearable, with temperatures dipping down to the mid 60’s, when Floridians shut their doors and grab… Read More…

5 Great Horror Movies You’ve Never Heard Of – Mungo Scared!

It’s that time of year. Halloween is just around the cor—well, down the hall a bit. It’s time to connect with the true spirit of the holiday, which like all holidays, has been corrupted by outside influences…like Christmas was before people muddied it with a religious message. Halloween is not about costume parties and candy; it’s about turning off your lights, putting in a movie and having the wits scared out of you. Horror movies as a genre can be frustrating. Edgar Allen Poe was able to combine the dark, nightmarish ideas of comic books with high art. This combination allowed one young boy in particular (who thought he was an intellectual) to indulge his dark fantasy sensibility with the pretense that he was engaging his own artistic muse.  My years of self-discovery have revealed that I can no more argue Poe’s symbolism than I can conjugate Chinese verbs, but… Read More…

If You Meet Your Father On The Road…(Hanky Alert)

There is an old Buddhist proverb that goes something like this: if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. If you meet your father on the road, kill him.  I’m sure I got that wrong.  It’s been a long time since my “Eastern Religions” course in college.  The first part of the proverb reads like some vague comment a prophet might have screamed on a street corner, but that second part…kill my father?  I think I know what it means, or at least it has meaning for me which may in no way relate to its intended meaning, but as it turns out, I didn’t kill my Dad. Cancer did. My sister reminded me on Facebook that yesterday, 8/25, was my father’s birthday, but it’s not a day I’ve had cause to celebrate since that date in 1992. I don’t recall the celebration that year. Either it was… Read More…

My Small Dose of Insanity

Here’s something you don’t know about me if we’ve never met, something that the little Mickey Spillane picture attached to my bio won’t tell you: I’m remarkably handsome. To the extent that girls have to look away, that heterosexual guys are uncomfortable around me. There is some fairness to this world, however: God or fate or whatever you believe in balanced the scales by providing me about 40 pounds more than would normally be desirable for a man of my height and frame. So, the weight makes me almost look like a normal person. Yet for some foolish reason, I rail against the concept of fairness and try to reduce that comfortable 40. To that end, I introduced “Insanity” to my daily regimen, and I’ve been working on it for almost two months. Ladies, behave. In case you haven’t seen the ads or heard it discussed at the water cooler,… Read More…

Watching The Fish-Slapping Dance: An Unbiased Examination of British TV in America by an Anglophile

  I was the smug little kid who was laughing about the “fish-slapping dance” before anyone in my class had even heard of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I was 11, and I was hooked by the crazy, absurd imagination in that show, by the accents, and of course, by the fact that no one else had heard of them. I watched The Benny Hill Show, but everyone had heard of that, so I stuck my nose up and moved on to The Young Ones.  In college, it was Doctor Who.  Now, I smugly gear up to watch the first episode of Broadchurch.  Yes, it’s true.  I’m an anglophile.  There, I said it.  well, I wrote it.  It’s out there now, and I can’t take it back.  Pshew!  what a relief.  Whatever, I was a kid from suburban Philadelphia raised on British TV.  Even as I watch TV as an adult, after years… Read More…

The Method Is Madness

I write this (the first draft, anyway) at 11:45 am, Monday morning, August 5. There will be approximately 4 more working hours in the day. About 6,060 minutes stand between me and the end of the work day on Friday. Now 6,059.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m not a “clock-watcher,” someone who simply gets to work and runs out the clock until the end of the day.  I’m all about the work.  Still 6,059. To those people who are dedicated to their craft, who are willing to spend as many hours as necessary to chase some unattainable perfection, I salute you…to an extent. My legal practice helps keep my kids fed and their rooms filled with stuffed animals, it keeps my house out of foreclosure, it supports my wife’s efforts while affording the occasional birthday/anniversary/random present, and it keeps my dresser covered with novels and comic books.  My law practice helps… Read More…

“Brotherly Love” is Ironic? I’ve Never Heard That.

(Mike Schmidt, arguably the greatest third baseman to ever play the game, a career Phillie and a hometown hero.  In this photo, he’s in comic disguise to hide from Philly fans.) Look up the phrase “philly fan” in the online “Urban Dictionary” site and you will see adjectives like “obnoxious,” “juvenile,” and “unruly.”  It can be rough for visitors to our sporting events…well, it can be rough for home teams as well (see Mike Schmidt above), but visiting teams and their fans know that Philadelphia may be a great place to live, but you don’t want to visit. To a great extent, the reputation of Philly fans are over-rated. Are they full throated?  Yes.  Obnoxious?  Sure.  Homicidal?  You bet.  But if you’re wearing an opponent’s jersey and happen to visit The Link (Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles) or Citizens Bank Park (home of the Phillies), there’s a decent… Read More…

Save The Dates!

On October 11, 19-something, I got a call from an old college buddy. October 11 is apparently National Coming Out Day, a significant day in the gay community when LGBT people come out to someone close to them who doesn’t know.  I was shocked–I had no idea.  We had talked about girls for hours over beers and “za.”  (transl. pizza).  To help process the information, I called another friend, who was apparently sitting next to his wife when the phone rang. Me: “Mike, does the date October 11 mean anything to you?” Mike: “October 11th? No, what’s special about that date…OUCH…yeah, it’s my wife’s birthday.”    Most of us have heard by now about Eugene Han and Kirstin Davis, a married couple who will not likely ever forget their wedding anniversary.  They were on a date in a movie theatre in Aurora Co on July 20th, 2012 when a crazed… Read More…

How To Be A Good Defendant

  Here’s the fact pattern on a case I’m currently working on. The names have been changed to protect me should anyone involved ever see this article. Albert got in his car, backed out of his slightly hilly driveway and into the road. Vickie happened to be driving past the driveway–no stop sign, no yield, such a driveway alongside a road–and Albert backed right into her car. Rear bumper to passenger side doors. As I wrote previously, I represent people being sued for personal injuries, so guess which one of these drivers is my client.  You guessed it–Vickie is my client.  This Einstein Albert backed out of his driveway, paying inadequate attention to traffic on the road, and struck Vickie,who happened to be passing his driveway, and he is suing her. What a country! I’m not here to preach tort reform, because the fact people are sue crazy is the reason… Read More…