Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Bob Ohle

Defense lawyer Bob Ohle pushed for wins in court

ST. PETERSBURG — As a child, Michael Ohle often asked his father why he was defending yet another shady character.

Accused rapists, drug smugglers and murderers all sat beside Bob Ohle at one time or another. Some went away forever. Others walked free.

"I'd say, 'Dad, he's guilty,' " recalled Michael Ohle, 38. "He'd say, 'No, he's presumed innocent.' "

Armed with that conviction, Mr. Ohle went to work selecting juries — the most critical part of any trial, he said — and drew them in during voir dire with talk about the presumption of innocence. He used a soothing, almost hypnotic cadence that made people want to listen.

Taking on clients whose odds seemed stacked against them delighted Mr. Ohle, who pushed himself and everyone he cared about to do their very best. It was that kind of passion that drove him through more than 200 jury trials, most of them while working for himself.

Mr. Ohle died Monday at home, the likely result of congestive heart failure, his family said. He was 68.

"He was not a big firm kind of guy," said Anne Ohle, his wife. "He didn't want someone else telling him what to do."

Though he wasn't above the occasional shouting match with prosecutors in depositions, in court Mr. Ohle observed all written and unwritten forms of decorum.

"Bailiffs loved him. Judges loved him," said Michael Ohle, a lawyer who joined his father's firm in 2001. "I had instantaneous respect just from the Ohle name."

Away from court, he made up his own rules.

"He must have 100 suits. He dressed to the nines," his wife said. "At home he would be in a dirty T-shirt and say he looked fine to go to the Publix."

They married in 1996 after dating for 10 years. Mr. Ohle was a romantic, she said, insisting on opening every door and buying her flowers for no particular occasion.

Bernard Robert Ohle was born in Pittsburgh. A scratch golfer and a Catholic, he chose Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., because it was the only Jesuit liberal arts college with a golf course, his wife said. Mr. Ohle graduated from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham. A marriage to Karen Enlow lasted 18 years and produced two sons.

After law school, Mr. Ohle worked for his uncle, the late well-known Pinellas County lawyer Joe McDermott, who represented more than 50 defendants eligible for the death penalty.

McDermott influenced his nephew to go for broke. "It wasn't just, 'How are we going to work this out?' " said Michael Ohle. "It was, 'What is it going to take to win?' That gave me a unique perspective, because a lot of lawyers aren't that way."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248.

.Biography

Bernard Robert "Bob" Ohle

Born: July 19, 1945

Died: July 22, 2013

Survivors: wife, Anne Hafft Ohle; sons, Michael and Brian Ohle; sister, Mary Ann Carey; and two grandsons.

Service: 4 p.m. today; Brett Funeral Home, 4810 Central Ave.

Defense lawyer Bob Ohle pushed for wins in court 07/25/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 25, 2013 8:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.