Lawyer Introductions – LeRoy Costner

Speaker 1 (00:00):

This is Bill Umansky. I’m a lawyer and the owner of the Umansky law firm thrown out of three schools from a broken home. I felt lost and powerless and without direction, one day, someone gave me a second chance at life, created this podcast to provide you information, to help you find your second chance. Hey, it’s bill UMass. Get a law man. And today’s guest is attorney Leroy. Kosner Haley Roy. Hey, bell, Leroy. So like to give a little bits of information about you, about you to, uh, our clients and our potential clients. Uh, you’ve got a very, very interesting background, so, uh, let’s just get right in it. Okay. Uh, why did you want to become a lawyer,

Speaker 2 (00:43):

Roy? You know, it’s something that always was in the back of my mind. Something that it was always kind of there, but frankly, as a kid, I never really never really thought I could do it. You know, it was just, wasn’t a profession that was, was I thought obtainable and I think it wasn’t attainable. Um, you know, it’s funny because both of my parents were teachers. I was always taught. You can do anything with, through education. You know, that, that was how I was taught, but it just somehow or another, it just didn’t feel like that was the path for me to take, even though it’s what I wanted.

Speaker 1 (01:18):

Did you take, did you go, you, you were not straight to law school or late?

Speaker 2 (01:22):

No, I, I, I did start out in college. I did two years at Mississippi state and after two years it just wasn’t for me again, I, I enjoyed going to college. I did not enjoy going to classes I guess, is what it boiled down to and it just didn’t take. And so when you’re thrown out of school, no, I wasn’t thrown out of school, anything like that, but, uh, it just didn’t. I came home after my second year and I went straight through, I did, you know, that summer school after my first year went into my second year, came home. That, that summer after my second year and looked at my parents, I’m like, I’m never going back to school. You know, my mom’s got a PhD, my dad’s got a master’s. I think they both cried.

Speaker 1 (02:04):

So this is both very, very smart individuals. Their child comes home there and says, I’m done with college. So what did you do?

Speaker 2 (02:13):

I, I did everything. I worked in an auto garage for a while. I ran parts and then I was learning how to build carburetors and learning how to work on that. Um, didn’t, didn’t really stick with that either. Um, I ended up, I, before, before high school, before college and high school, I worked on an orange groves. So I went back to doing that. Um, what did you do with the orange groves? Oh God, I did everything. I, I plowed fields and you know, you hope between the rows you picked oranges. You, you know, you just did a little bit of everything.

Speaker 1 (02:55):

That’s that’s like tough workout in the sun. So tell me nonstop. Where did you learn from that kind of experience? I mean, that’s not many lawyers today that worked in orange groves. It’s, it’s

Speaker 2 (03:07):

Unbelievably hard work. Um, and you just, you do it, you get up every morning and you go and you try to, you don’t, you can’t sit around and wait, you gotta just get right at it. And, and you just got to go. So,

Speaker 1 (03:21):

Yeah, like what, what are the day look like on the orange groves? I’m just trying to understand that for our listeners,

Speaker 2 (03:27):

I would get up. I lived about an hour from where I live to, to the fields that I worked on and I would get up every morning at about four o’clock so that I could be there by five 30, the sun, you know, usually was coming up in that area around six. And so I wanted to be there as early as possible, get to work as early as possible. Cause you didn’t want to be working in the Noonday sun. So I’d start my day by 6:00 AM and I’d work until about 11. And then you’d take off from about 11, till about two, and then you’d work from two until this. You couldn’t see in front of your face anymore.

Speaker 1 (04:07):

So you worked in a auto garage before that you had worked in the fields, uh, which is just amazing to me. It’s such a great story.

Speaker 2 (04:16):

It didn’t feel great at the time.

Speaker 1 (04:20):

How much have you paid? Do you remember

Speaker 2 (04:21):

For 25 an hour? I made minimum wage to do that and I drove an hour to get there

Speaker 1 (04:27):

An hour to get there too. So why did you drive there an hour to get to work for four 25 an hour? I was,

Speaker 2 (04:36):

I was living at my parents’ house, you know, and so, you know, free, free rent. The, the groves that I worked in, you know, it’s just, it was a friend of a friend of a friend who owned them and was able to put in a word for me, not, not own them, but worked there also was able to put an order. So that was, that was where the job was.

Speaker 1 (04:59):

So that’s, you know, that’s a life lesson itself. You drove an hour in the morning, five o’clock to get there at six in the morning for a job about $4 and 25 cents an hour. Yeah. What’d you learn from that job?

Speaker 2 (05:13):

I learned that I didn’t want to work that hard for that little money. It was just determination. You know, you gotta get up, you gotta do the work. You can’t put anything off. How long did you do it for? I worked out there for almost a year. And then, you know, then after that, I, I was able to get a job at Disney, which paid a whole lot less or sorry, Disney paid a whole lot more. It was a whole lot closer, you know? So it just, I went and worked retail at it. I worked at a cash register out at Disney.

Speaker 1 (05:46):

And what’d you do after that?

Speaker 2 (05:48):

Um, funny enough with, with Disney working a cash register. I met someone there who worked in marketing at universal studios. And so I then started working for both ended up working at universal that’s, where I met my wife in the marketing department there. But while we, when we were going to get married, the marketing and, and, uh, hospitality is not the same as marketing anywhere else. It is a 24, 24 seven business. And so we were both taking time off for our honeymoon and our supervisor goes, you both, you both can’t be gone at the same time for, you know, for a week. And you’re like, here’s the deal? We’re, we’re both going to be gone during that time. And we’re only asking for a week. We’re not even taking off the time leading up to the wedding just the week after. And they said, no, so we both quit. Wow.

Speaker 1 (06:46):

So you’re how old at the time that you quit this job at universal, twenty-five just gotten married, no kids at the time. No kids just got married. So what’s the next plan for,

Speaker 2 (06:57):

I went to go work at a bank, uh, again, friend of a friend who had a, uh, was working as a bank teller at a small credit union. And so I went to go there and I’m sitting there, um, about six months into, into that job. And I’m looking at the supervisor and, you know, the, they were transitioning from branch manager or from, from teller supervisor to branch manager. And I’m sitting there and she’s a great person, but I’m sitting there thinking I I’m as smart as she is. I can do that job. And so I went to the vice president of the bank that I worked at. I’m like, what does it take to do that job? She goes, you got to have a college degree. Okay. Does it have to be in banking? And she goes, no, mine’s on anthropology. It can be, she goes, I just want you need a four year degree. So I went back to college that day. I left, I left the bank. I drove to Florida Southern had a campus here in Orlando, and I left a couple minutes early, drove to Florida Southern and registered for classes that same day.

Speaker 1 (08:03):

Wow. And then did you work while you were in college?

Speaker 2 (08:05):

I did. I ended up working two full-time jobs while I was going to full going to school at night. I worked for that, that bank that I was working for. And then I worked for a second bank on weekends. Wow.

Speaker 1 (08:16):

So you put in what, 60, 70 hours a week

Speaker 2 (08:19):

At least. And then school on top of that. That’s pretty

Speaker 1 (08:22):

Amazing. Um, so, uh, you’re, you’re thinking at that time about getting into a career?

Speaker 2 (08:28):

I, I was absolutely, that was my focus. I was walked into a business law class. It’s actually taught by one of the now retired traffic hearing officers from Seminole County. And so I walk in and I sit down and we are 20 minutes under the first lecture and all of those childhood dreams of being a lawyer suddenly it was like, you know, I’m in college. Why do I have to go for finance? I’m three years into my four year degree. I don’t have to be a banker. I could be a lawyer. I went home that night told my wife she’s. She just goes okay. And within, by the end of the semester, and she saw that I was actually serious. She went out, she bought me books on, on the L set.

Speaker 1 (09:21):

You’re doing the L side. And then you went to law school right after

Speaker 2 (09:25):

They ended up with almost a year between college and law school, just because of money. I needed to stay at the bank. I, I actually left the credit union that I was working for to go work for another credit union, because they were going to pay for college. They would end up paying for law school. If I’d stayed there while I was, I had just gotten accepted to law school and the bank went out of business. Wow. It ended up, uh, getting absorbed by what’s now bank of America. Did you work in law school? No, I should have, but, but I didn’t. And that was, I, I wanted to just, just for the first time, since I left high school, I wanted to just focus on one thing. So

Speaker 1 (10:09):

After you, uh, yeah, I mean, you worked since high school in the fields, you were a bank teller, you worked as a little bit, uh, in, in the auto parts, industry, marketing, Dean parks. Um, that’s just a lot of different experience. And then working, you know, 78 hours a week while you’re in college is a tough deal. So probably felt like you probably did well in law school because that’s the only thing you could focus on. Like you’re saying, is that right? You know,

Speaker 2 (10:36):

The first semester of law school was probably my worst because suddenly I had all this free time, you know, before, when I was an undergrad, if I had five minutes, I had a textbook in front of me and I was studying. And then suddenly I was like, you mean I have 24 hours in a day. Right. You know, I’ve got, and when I got my grades back the first semester, that was a real wake-up call, you know? And then I had to turn around and suddenly start treating it like the 80 hour work day. You know, our library opened at 7:00 AM. I was there at 7:00 AM. They closed at midnight, I was there till midnight. Did you have any kids in law school or? No, my actually my daughter, my old, my oldest daughter was born just before we went. I started law school. She was about just over a year old, just under a year old. Wow.

Speaker 1 (11:24):

I started, so I went to law school with a new wife and new baby. It’s pretty tough. Um, did you, uh, what did you do after law school?

Speaker 2 (11:33):

I went to go work as a prosecutor down in the keys.

Speaker 1 (11:37):

That sounds like a nice gig is like it just hang. Or did you actually work for a living? Oh, I worked, um, where’s your prosecute down there

Speaker 2 (11:45):

Out with, you know, possession of undersized, lobster, possession of over the bag limit of grouper, you know, things are, you know, coming from Orlando I’m life, there’s a, there’s a law about that, you know? And so it just, you know, you start there, you start with second degree misdemeanors and then you just kept working your way up.

Speaker 1 (12:05):

So you did a lot of wildlife, uh, fish and wildlife crimes, which you defend people now. Right?

Speaker 2 (12:11):

Uh, I do. And, and I, and frankly that knowledge, I mean, I, I’m always surprised when I meet officers up here because so many of the officers that work in the greater central Florida area, I knew from my days as a prosecutor, it seems like the FWC starts a lot of people down there and then they transfer out. Wow. And so I I’ve come across probably dozens of officers that I, I prosecuted case their cases. And now I’m defending their cases.

Speaker 1 (12:41):

That’s pretty cool. We should do some videos, uh, on different, uh, fish and wildlife stuff. Uh, I may, I may have, uh, Jeff talked to you about that. That’s something you might be down with doing, cause you have a lot of knowledge in that area. I know you’ve helped a lot of people, especially in those fishing cases. Um, so, uh, tell us, um, what, what did you, what did you, did you work your way up into felonies?

Speaker 2 (13:05):

I, I did. Um, I started in our upper key and the upper keys office. There, there were four prosecutors. It’s an entirely different world down there than it is anywhere else. Um, number of cases are, are, are different than here than they are here in orange and Seminole. But I started in the upper keys office spent two years there, prosecuting every misdemeanor you can think of under the sun. Then I moved to the middle keys to marathon. There were only two attorneys that were, were in that office. There was the division chief and there was me. He took all of the cases that had dead bodies. If somebody had died, it was his case. If nobody was dead, it was mine. And I, at that point, even though on paper, I was technically a, a County court prosecutor. I handled everything under the sun. Uh, if there was a crime that occurred anywhere in the middle keys, I was the one prosecuting it,

Speaker 1 (14:05):

Tell us what crimes robbery, daft grant that

Speaker 2 (14:08):

Out of, uh, in the middle keys, there were a lot of, a lot of drug related charges that was where most things came from. And then thefts and, you know, specifically like government thefts, people who worked for the government stealing from the government or was a large number of those, what kind of drug charges? Uh, the possession of cocaine. Um, we didn’t have a big problem with math, but cocaine, heroin, um, the pills, you know, things like that. Those were really the, the big drugs there. And it was all coming in, you know, through the keys, through the keys.

Speaker 1 (14:46):

So, uh, how long did you work as a prosecutor?

Speaker 2 (14:50):

I was there for a total of years. My last year I was in key West and there it was any felony, you know, we, on average, the keys only, only gets about two murders a year. So it’s, you know, it’s a pretty safe as far as that goes, but, but otherwise, if you can think of it, I mean, I, I prosecuted some guy for carjacking, you know, I, at one point in time when my elder daughter was in the second grade, I prosecuted her second grade teacher. Oh, wow. Cause it’s just a small, small town.

Speaker 1 (15:24):

What, what, um, how many trials did you have as a prosecutor or how many trials did you work on or first chaired second chair.

Speaker 2 (15:31):

As, as first chair I have, I have done as a prosecutor. I, it was about 75 jury trials as second chair, almost equal to that amount. Um, we did a lot of non jury trials in the keys. You know, people would there there’s, uh, a particular type of crab and I can’t think of what it is, but people harvest them and then sell them. They’re used, they’re used in fit in people’s tanks and, you know, things like that. Those were always non-jury trials. You know, we did a lot of that, you know, um, I was always surprised when know defense attorney would do like a domestic battery as a non-jury trial, but, you know, so we did a few of those, but, but most everything was a jury trial.

Speaker 1 (16:17):

Um, and so why did you leave the state attorney’s office?

Speaker 2 (16:21):

My family was up here. My wife’s family is over in Bravard County. We had two children. Our second daughter was actually born in key West and it was just, it was time to be back with family. It was things were happening in our families and it just, and we weren’t there to be a part of it.

Speaker 1 (16:39):

So what did you, what, what did you do right after the state attorney’s office?

Speaker 2 (16:43):

I actually opened my own practice. Wow.

Speaker 1 (16:45):

That’s pretty, that’s takes a lot of guts to do that.

Speaker 2 (16:48):

It was much more difficult than I ever imagined, you know, in television and movies, it’s just, you graduated from law school and you know, and here’s your paycheck and, and it’s not that it is 24 seven, which I am good with, but there’s just, there’s so much. And I mean, you obviously know this there’s just so much that goes on with running the business of a law firm that has absolutely nothing to do with being a lawyer.

Speaker 1 (17:20):

Yeah. A hundred percent. And that’s a very, very tough to do everything on your own. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (17:25):

And that was just not, you know, I needed help. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (17:30):

And we’re glad you started helping us out and you’re doing such a great job that we brought you in, sat inside the house, uh, which was great. Now you’re helping a lot of clients. Let’s talk about, uh, why you became a defense attorney.

Speaker 2 (17:43):

It was important for me to help, help people. Um, I interned at the state office in orange County when I was in law school. And it was just such a, a massive organization, you know, know, you could talk to people and you could go to other prosecutors. You can say, here’s this case. What should I do? And the response from some prosecutors was, Oh, that guy’s a dirt bag. You should throw the, you know, throw the book at him. Well, how do you know he’s a dirt bag? You, you haven’t even read anything. You just know the charge, you know, or I ended up doing three trials. And one of the, the trials that I was told to do, you know, talking with my supervising attorney, I’m like, I, I don’t, I don’t think this needs to be a trial. Why can’t we make a different plea offer?

Speaker 1 (18:34):

You’ve had hundreds of trials, but at the time that you had three trials, you were an intern. Right. And so you’re saying that that was just a situation where, as a young intern, you put and forced to try a case that you didn’t feel comfortable trying.

Speaker 2 (18:49):

Yeah. And it was, and I think part of it was everything that I had done in my life leading up to that, I had an entirely different outlook on cases. Um, one of the, one of the charges that I, I, you can see that has the most direct effect on people, it’s driving on a suspended license charge. It starts out as a second degree, misdemeanor gets enhanced to a first degree, then becomes a felony. You end up losing your driver’s license for five years. Most of these come from somebody got a speeding ticket that they couldn’t afford to pay. How has taking somebody who can’t afford a hundred dollars speeding ticket, and then giving him a criminal charge with $300 in court costs, but he couldn’t pay the hundred. Now he’s got 300 on top of that, then you’d go again. And now you’re talking about jail time. How does somebody dig out from that? And I think having all of the experiences that I did, you know, spending so much of my life working to make $4 and 25 cents an hour, knowing that if I’d gotten those speeding tickets, I would have been in the same boat as that guy. You know, it just, it was an entirely different perspective than somebody who went from high school to college, to law school and had never worked a real job in their life.

Speaker 1 (20:07):

Tell me, like, what is your why of being a defense attorney? You could have been any kind of lawyer, family, lawyer, bankruptcy, lawyer, a personal injury lawyer. What’s your why for being a criminal defense attorney,

Speaker 2 (20:20):

The simple area, simple answers. I like helping people. Realistically, I could help somebody as a divorce attorney. I could help somebody with contracts, but going through law school. When I started law school, again, I came at it from a, an idea of being finance and banking. And I was pointed in that direction and sitting in my first criminal law class. Um, my, my professor is Joe [inaudible], who was the elected public defender in orange County for 20 years, you know, and sitting through that class. And he had a story about everything. He was a fantastic storyteller. I’m not the storyteller that he was, but reading the cases, seeing the stories, or hearing the stories, reading the cases, seeing how it affected everybody’s lives. It just, I walked out of that, you know, going this, this is what I want, you know, and I, I ended up taking classes that were not required.

Speaker 2 (21:24):

You know, criminal law was required for every first year student. First year law student, I ended up going into criminal procedure than an a Florida criminal procedure. And I took every course I could in criminal law. And every time I was going in thinking, maybe this is the class that’s going to dissuade me from something, you know, from this and every extra class I took, I was like, this, this is it. One of the most fascinating classes that I took was on, uh, and white collar crimes, you know, and we spent the entire, the entire year talking about banking crimes, which, you know, banking speaks to me. I understand it. And then the crimes and it just brought it all together.

Speaker 1 (22:05):

So let me ask you a question. Um, how long have you been practicing law?

Speaker 2 (22:09):

13 years. So, uh, and how old are you? I’m 46. I need my kids here to tell me,

Speaker 1 (22:17):

We’ll talk about that in a second. So you’ve been a lawyer for 13 years. You’re in your forties. What keeps you going now? What keeps you refreshed to keep getting up and doing the grind? That’s a tough grind. That it is what you have your, why? The, why is you want to help people, but what keeps you, uh, renourished to keep helping,

Speaker 2 (22:35):

You know, it’s it’s and again, it comes back to, to helping people. I mean, I, I have cases where you, you meet with the client and they tell you these, these stories that sometimes are just too big to believe. And then you start researching the story and you start pulling all the information out from them. You start talking to the witnesses and, and suddenly that story that was just too big to believe suddenly it looks like no, no, no, they were, they were underselling it. And so then you walk into to court, you know, sometimes you can get a prosecutor to listen, but you come into court and you present all of that in front of a jury. And the jury sees what you see and they, they walk away, you know, and you get the results for the client.

Speaker 1 (23:22):

So, uh, we talked a lot about, um, why you became a lawyer and how long have you been a lawyer and what refreshes you? And, um, that’s great. Let’s turn to your family. Um, so how did you meet your wife again? You said you met her at university, how’d you fall in love. How many kids do you have? That kind of thing?

Speaker 2 (23:41):

We, uh, we met working in the marketing department at universal studios. They, at the time part of the universal studios marketing plan was they provided concierge service to all the hotels up and down international drive. They don’t do this anymore. They, but at the time that was one of the jobs. And so I was working in one location and my wife, Suzanne got called in to that location to, to assist. And when she walked in, I just, I remember an had, I was talking to a friend of mine, you know, several days later, I’m like, she’s different. I don’t know what it is about her, but, but she’s totally different. And I didn’t see her again for probably another four months. Wow. And then we both got selected to work on at the Portofino Bay hotel when that was opening up. And so we’re in the meeting for that.

Speaker 2 (24:39):

And there’s 20 people in this room. And as soon as she walks out, I’m like that, that’s her, that’s the person I’ve been looking for. And I, I went up, I talked to her, um, she probably talked more than I did, which is normal. And, you know, by the end of that, that first day, you know, we had a date and I’ve never looked back. And how many kids do you have? We have two kids. We have a now 18 year old daughter and a 12 year old daughter. Wow. How long have you been married? 20 years. Wow.

Speaker 1 (25:12):

So you have an 18 year old and a 12 year old,

Speaker 2 (25:14):

Both daughters, both daughters, right? Every one, a son. I always wanted a healthy baby. That was my, you know, I have a brother that’s got, got four kids and I, I know that he didn’t have children until he had the son, but he’s got three daughters and then a son, you know, and when people are don’t don’t you want more? I’m like, no, I, I, you know, two, two’s a good number. Don’t you want to sign? I’m like, I just want a healthy baby. You know what? My kids are both same way too. So you got to,

Speaker 1 (25:44):

Yeah, but I still wish I think I had a third. I wanted a daughter, I think so, but, um, I think you’re blessed to, you know, have a family been married together for a long time. Um, and you’ve got two kids, um, obviously had a lot of, uh, jury trial experience. So, you know, uh, w I like to just end this by just asking you when you have time, obviously you’re a family man, but when you have time for what Leroy wants to do, what are some of your interests?

Speaker 2 (26:14):

I’ve been, it’s hard to think of interests outside of, of children, but, uh, actually over the last year, I’ve started beekeeping, which is, uh, my parents did it off and on for years, which I didn’t really know because we were living in the keys. But last year, last April, I, I was, I got a beehive and that’s been fascinating to T you know, to deal with and learn about something entirely different. And it just way out of my perspective. So

Speaker 1 (26:44):

That’s pretty neat. Uh, besides the thing about like, pre-children, uh, like what are some of your interests that you think you may want to rekindle? Um, I think you happen to be a big football fan. If I’m not

Speaker 2 (26:56):

Mistaken. I am, I, I, I, I grew up going to Florida Gator games. I am a season ticket holder for UCF. Um, I love going to football games. I don’t care. Who’s playing. I don’t care when or where they’re playing. Uh, I, I will. I love going, are you in any fantasy football leagues? No, I’ve never quite figured out how you take a player from one team and a player from another and the scoring. And I I’ve tried doing that, but it just never, I just, I want to see it. I want to see two teams and preferably college football. You know, those are kids that are out there given everything. They’ve got, trying to make that, that next step. And it just, I love watching that

Speaker 1 (27:38):

That’s two D uh, diametrically opposed, uh, um, hobbies, football, and beekeeping. That’s actually pretty interesting. Anything else? Those are, um, yeah.

Speaker 2 (27:53):

Well, I was trying to think of what I did before kids, and it feels so long ago, we used to, we used to go to movies, you know, and you know, now that my children are getting older, you know, when your kids are little, if it’s not animated, you don’t get to see it, you know, but now that they’re older, we can, we can do other, you know, see other things, but it’s been, uh, just waiting to get, to be able to go back to concerts and movies and, you know, be around large groups of people.

Speaker 1 (28:20):

Your wife has a great talent. She’s a good marketer. She worked for a, uh, performing arts centers. Did some social media for us, kind of miss her. She was so great at it. Actually, that’s a little plug if you’re listening to your husband’s stuff, why don’t you back? So she did a great job with our social media, Ashley, she’s just so smart, so bright. Um,

Speaker 2 (28:43):

And she understands people like the marketing and the interacting with people on a, on a personal level that, you know, I’ve never quite gotten.

Speaker 1 (28:53):

Yeah. We all have different skill sets. You go to court and she can handle the marketing. So, but I mean, I appreciate you coming on the show. Uh, just want to give a, uh, a little bit of an insight into who you are as a person, as a lawyer. Um, so I welcome you to the show and we thank you very much. And, uh, I’m going to sign off the law man out. Thanks to the Roy. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Umansky law firm podcast. I’m bill Uman ski. If you’ve got any questions or you just want to reach out and talk, reach us at the Mansky law firm on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, or just give us call direct (407) 228-3838. I hope you found this information helpful to get you a second chance. If you like it, please share it with your friends, take care. And until the next episode, the law man out.

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    Lawyer Introductions – LeRoy Costner