top of page


LESSON: As leaders confronted with extreme adversity, we must throw aside all excuses of “this is not fair” or “they owe me because I have been so successful.” The forces may align against us with overwhelming strength and control, but we must play the cards we are dealt. To rage against the system, or the universe, only furthers our decline into self-pity and victimhood. This guarantees defeat. We must accept what we feel is wrong and unfair and focus all our energy and intellect on overcoming what, to us, feels greatly unjust.


The following is an excerpt from my recently released Amazon #1 Best Seller, When Not If: A CEO's Guide to Overcoming Adversity, Forbes Books, 2024.


Following my peculiar 5-week trial in which the defense was thwarted at every turn by the 83-year-old Judge Robert Doumar, the Appeals Court provided a rare, extensive rebuke of the proceedings. I will simply list the quotations from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Order, written by Circuit Judges Duncan, Diaz, and Davis, describing the challenges a leader may be presented with if deciding to stand up for his company, employees, shareholders, and family:


· “(I)n light of the district court’s demeanor at trial and its statements during sentencing regarding the nature of the guidelines it is necessary for a different judge to be assigned to this matter.”

·       “(T)he district court’s actions were in error.”

·       “Interference in this case went beyond the pale.”

·       “The district court became so disruptive that it impermissibly interfered with the manner in which appellant sought to present his evidence.”

·       “We agree that the district court crossed the line and was in error.”

·       “The district court unnecessarily interrupted defense counsel’s presentation of the defense at trial.”

·       “The district court’s general interference in defendant’s trial— which included examining witnesses, interrupting counsel, and controlling the presentation—strayed too far.”

·       “Here, there was much more than an appearance of improper interference.”

·       “Considering the breadth of the district court’s actions, from questioning witnesses and counsel to interrupting unnecessarily, we find the district court strayed too far from convention.”

·       “At some point, repeated injudicious conduct must be recognized by this Court as a compelling basis for finding plain error.” [No. 13-4828, Doc. 214, Dtd. 01/07/2016]


Having the Appeals Court recognize Judge Doumar’s oversight of a bizarre trial was a short-lived victory for me. The good news is that Judge Doumar was removed. The bad news is that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, although consuming page after page of almost unheard-of reprimand and rebuke of a trial judge, stated nonetheless that, due to defense attorney James Broccoletti’s error to never once object to the “interference in this case (that) went beyond the pale,” they could not reverse the conviction and could not permit a new, fair trial. My conviction would stand.


My goose was cooked and if I believed the court, I had no one to blame but my own attorney and, of course, myself. I have been asked many times why James Broccoletti, a seasoned federal defense attorney with the hourly rates to prove it, never once raised an objection to the clearly bizarre and unreasonable proceedings of the trial. It would be improper, and unprofessional, of me to speculate why he did not preserve our opportunity for a new, fair trial.


My family, friends, and associates certainly have their own strong opinions. It remains an enigma, and he remains an enigma. Possibly, one day I may have an opportunity to ask him.


That’s what happened to me. I found out, too late, that a party that fails to preserve an error for appeal will be prevented from raising the error as a basis for appeal. Of course, again, going into this adventure I had no idea of these rules. Because of my attorney’s failure to simply object, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stated, “In light of plain error standard of review . . . we may not intervene.”


The challenges leaders will face, when not if, come with what seems like a never-ending pummeling of mishaps and tragedies that cause us to think this must be impossible. But soon, after so many repeated setbacks, we begin to accept them as simply part of our journey in the grand design. And this acceptance, again, helps us to aspire to more strength, intellect, and emotional stability. These strengths then empower us to find that path to survival, and possibly even victory.


Have a great week!


Order Amazon #1 Best Seller When Not If (Hardback, Kindle, Audio:

59 views0 comments


bottom of page