(Aixa Montero Holt)
Miles A. McGrane III, a former president of the Florida Bar, retired from his law practice with a bang.
After 38 years as a trial attorney, McGrane closed the McGrane Law Firm in Coral Gables on Christmas Eve, but he was in the middle of a high-profile case. He had been called on to represent the state Judicial Qualifications Commission in the ethics trial of Broward Circuit Judge Laura Watson.
The three-day trial concluded Wednesday in the Broward County Courthouse before Fifth District Court of Appeal Judge Kerry Evander, chair of the hearing panel.
Throughout the case, McGrane traded barbs with his feisty opposing counsel, Robert Sweetapple of Sweetapple Broeker & Varkas in Boca Raton. But when Sweetapple approached the panel to give his closing arguments, he started by congratulating McGrane on this being his last case.
Afterward, McGrane said one of the things he most appreciated about the trial was it was the first time his son was able to watch him try a case. Miles A. McGrane IV is an assistant state attorney in the Broward state attorney’s office.
McGrane, Bar president from 2003 to 2004, plans to become a mediator.
He specialized in medical malpractice cases and became one of the most prominent South Florida attorneys representing smokers in tobacco litigation. He also helped represent flight attendants after a landmark secondhand-smoking settlement resulted in the creation of a foundation to support research into tobacco-related diseases.
McGrane also represented his father-in-law, real estate attorney John Lukacs, in the first individual verdict flowing from a disbanded class action against tobacco companies. The 2002 verdict for $37.5 million in compensatory damages was the largest given to a single plaintiff against tobacco companies at the time. Lukacs died at 77 before the appeals ended.