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    For lawyer, caseload of unusual is normal

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001


    Jeffrey Scott Durham, devoted bank robber and transvestite aficionado, is in the news again. Seems he can't help it.

    This time, Jerry Springer isn't bringing the spotlight to Durham. It's John Trevena, a Largo attorney who is no stranger to publicity himself.

    In recent years, criminal cases with bizarre and outlandish twists have developed a habit of falling to Trevena's thriving law practice.

    Remember the guy arrested for wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the initials of the Los Angeles Police Department? A Trevena client.

    How about the accused killer who ended up marrying a police officer while on the run from, you got it, the police? Yup. A Trevena client.

    In recent weeks, Trevena got the case of Matthew Damiani, who was convicted in Pinellas of impersonating a Wells Fargo courier and stealing more than $30,000. Damiani said he was innocent. Durham, serving time for bank robbery, confessed, and Trevena is trying to clear his client's record.

    Alas, a straightforward case. Trevena figured it was interesting, but not weird. Then he heard the story's punchline.

    Durham had once been a guest on the Jerry Springer Show.

    In May 1998, Durham appeared on an episode called "Men Living as Woman." He sat in a chair next to his transvestite lover, Amber, who is a man with augmented breasts.

    The happy couple met at a laundry.

    If it's news of the weird in Pinellas County, be sure of one thing: Trevena probably represents one of the players.

    FOR ONCE, AN HONEST POLITICIAN: St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Louis Miceli has billed himself as the working person's candidate for mayor. While other candidates go on and on to answer a question at candidate forums, Miceli usually offers a one-sentence, often humorous answer, and ends it by saying, "That's it!"

    All candidates get a question sooner or later that falls outside their area of expertise, and Miceli is no exception. But not all handle it as directly as Miceli did at Wednesday's St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce candidate forum.

    Moderator Vern Farnsworth asked all the candidates, "What would you do to make St. Petersburg a user-friendly place to operate a business?"

    Miceli turned the question back on Farnsworth: "What would you do to make St. Pete more friendly?"

    "You are the candidate," Farnsworth replied sternly.

    "If I don't know what's going on, how can I tell you?" Miceli said to Farnsworth, seeming a little irritated. He threw up his hands and passed the mike to the next candidate.

    PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FALLOUT PART XXXV: Monday, the senior members of St. Petersburg's administrative staff held an orientation for everyone running to be a City Council member or the next mayor. Those staffers educated the candidates about the workings of the government, but they also got a chance to introduce themselves and list their achievements.

    As former President Clinton's staffers did last month, some or all of Mayor David Fischer's top executives could find themselves hunting new jobs when his successor is elected March 27. That fact remained mostly an ignored elephant at the conference table during the daylong affair.

    Except once, when City Council candidate John Bryan poked fun at the executives' potential expendability: "As your administration leaves office, you're not going to remove any of the keys from any of the keyboards, are you?"

    (True Insiders will remember that many departing Clinton staffers took the 'W' keys from their keyboards last month in protest of incoming president George Bush.)

    Bryan didn't get an answer -- and barely got a chuckle.

    - Times staff writers Bryan Gilmer and William R. Levesque contributed to this report.

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