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Public defender, private defender


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001

When the Public Defender's Office takes on a high-profile case, you can usually count on seeing a silver-haired attorney in the courtroom.

Lyann Goudie, an assistant public defender widely respected for her intensity and skill, has defended some of the office's best-known clients.

She served as co-counsel for Valessa Robinson, who was found guilty of the lesser charge of third-degree murder for killing her mother.

She also represents Silvio Izquierdo-Leyva, accused of going on a killing rampage that began at the Radisson Bay Harbor Hotel in 1999.

But now Goudie will be leaving public service.

Goudie is going into private practice with defense attorney Rick Escobar, also known for his commitment to clients.

Escobar recently lost two of the four lawyers in his firm, who decided to go out on their own.

"I just think it's a good opportunity for me to grow," Goudie said Wednesday, after a long day in court spent defending a client on trial for a double murder.

Before joining ranks with Public Defender Julie Holt about two years ago, Goudie, 41, spent most of her career on the other side as a prosecutor. She was one of former State Attorney Harry Lee Coe's top prosecutors until he unexpectedly fired her in 1997 without explanation. After a brief stint in private practice, she was hired by Holt.

She was just as single-minded as a defense lawyer as she had been as a prosecutor.

"It's been my pleasure," Goudie said of working for Holt.

No word yet on who will take over her cases.

TAKING A SPIN: Figuring he had a flair for more than cop calls, Temple Terrace police dispatcher James Cheshier auditioned and won a spot on the Wheel of Fortune last month when officials with the television game show came to Tampa looking for talent.

Cheshier, who grew up playing the game "hang man" with his grandmother, made the ensuing trip to Los Angeles a family reunion of sorts, taking his uncle and meeting his dad there.

So, how did he do?

"Very well," he said happily, remaining mum on the amount he won so as to surprise co-workers planning a viewing party for him at Beef O' Brady's to celebrate the airing of his segment, which runs April 27. He did say he intends to buy a pool table, so we know he at least won something.

His best phrase? "Don't knock it till you try it," which he thought was made difficult by the show adding an extra letter to the word 'til. And while Cheshier had a great time, there was one lingering effect: his co-workers discovered the nickname he had on the show, one given to him because of his penchant for karaoke, and have taken to addressing him as such.

"They call me Jukebox Jim," he said.

DUNK 'EM, DANNO: If you'd like the chance to see some law enforcement brass and local media have the floor yanked out from beneath them for a good cause visit the Tampa Police Department on Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It's a fundraiser for Special Olympics that includes a putting green, door prizes and a dunk tank. The tank, called "splash for cash," will feature shifts with such dignitaries as Tampa police Lt. George McNamara and Maj. Rick Duran and sheriff's Maj. Gene Stokes.

If your aim is lousy, 10 bucks gives you an automatic dunk.

- Got a tip? Contact Amy Herdy at (813) 226-3386 or, or David Karp at (813) 226-3376 or

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