Robert Lance Andrews, whose biting wit and flair for high-profile and controversial cases made him a fixture in Broward County's court system for three decades, died Friday. He was 74.
After a 30-year career on the bench, Andrews suffered a stroke in 2008 and retired, a year after his wife Carole, a member of the Broward school board, died of cancer. He remarried and moved to Texas, and was living with a son in Georgia at the time of his death.
Andrews' colorful and outside-the-box approach first drew national attention in 1982 when he offered a long-time Fort Lauderdale prostitute a stark choice: five years in prison or a one-way ticket to California.
The woman went to Santa Monica, where she was quickly arrested for prostitution, and the police chief there sent an alleged sex offender to South Florida as payback. "We owed a few to Florida," the chief said.
During South Florida's epidemic of cocaine use in the '80s, Andrews struck down Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro's policy of random searches of bus passengers for drugs.
"This is not Hitler's Berlin, nor Stalin's Moscow," Andrews wrote in an opinion cited approvingly by the Florida Supreme Court, which upheld his decision.
Andrews once ruled that a Plantation couple could keep their two overweight dogs, even though their condo association had a weight limit on pets, because the couple had been denied a right to a hearing. In a historic preservation case that dragged on for years, he ruled that a developer could build a 42-story condo tower next to downtown Fort Lauderdale's iconic Stranahan House, the home of the city's pioneer settlers.