James S. Benjamin
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
James S. (Jamie) Benjamin is a native of Miami-Dade County, Florida. His father is a retired lawyer practicing over fifty years in Miami who obtained the rank of Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and was designated Judge Advocate General of the Navy Reserve of the United States of America. After graduating high school, Mr. Benjamin attended the University of Florida where he graduated in 1976 with a B.S. degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Directly thereafter, Mr. Benjamin attended law school at the Cumberland School of Law of Sanford University in Birmingham, Alabama. In his freshman year, Mr. Benjamin received the American Juris Prudence Book Award for the highest grade in his property class and was elected to the Honor Court of the law school. Mr. Benjamin served as a pioneer member of the Trial Advocacy Board at Cumberland Law School in his senior year. Mr. Benjamin also served as the Business Editor of the Cumberland Law School newspaper, Pro Confesso. Mr. Benjamin participated in numerous moot court and trial advocacy competition and exercises with an eye toward becoming a criminal defense attorney representing citizens accused of crimes in both state and federal court.
Shortly after graduating law school and becoming a member of the Florida Bar, Mr. Benjamin began work as an Assistant State Attorney in the State Attorney’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida, for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit. In that capacity, Mr. Benjamin tried countless jury trials and non-jury trials prosecuting a wide spectrum of criminal charges. Mr. Benjamin was named the Chief of the Special Obscenity Prosecution Unit of the State Attorney’s Office and was solely responsible for prosecuting obscenity cases in this newly created unit. Mr. Benjamin was the first prosecutor in Broward County to head the special obscenity prosecution unit. Thereafter, Mr. Benjamin became a felony trial prosecutor in Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida. During his tenure at the State Attorney’s Office, Mr. Benjamin prosecuted numerous high profiled cases in the community including the infamous "Mistress Carla" a notorious dominatrix running her business in Broward County. After prosecuting in the Broward County State Attorney’s Office for over three years and handling thousands of cases where defendants were accused of murder, drug trafficking, drug possession, aggravated assault, grand theft, felony obscenity charges and numerous other crimes, Mr. Benjamin retired from the State Attorney’s Office in 1984.
In 1984 James Benjamin and Daniel Aaronson began private practice forming the law firm of Benjamin & Aaronson, P.A. Almost instantly, the defendants that Mr. Benjamin prosecuted for obscenity and adult entertainment related charges while a prosecutor, sought out Benjamin & Aaronson to represent them concerning new charges. Over the next few decades more and more of Benjamin & Aaronson’s practice became concentrated in the area of adult entertainment criminal defense and First Amendment related issues. Over the years, Mr. Benjamin always retained a large criminal defense practice including concentrating in the area of Federal criminal indictments and other charges.
In a country where the conviction rate in Federal criminal court is almost 96 percent, Mr. Benjamin has successfully defended his clients to numerous acquittals of all charges and countless cases where juries have convicted of less serious charges than that which were originally charged in the indictment. Mr. Benjamin’s Federal Court acquittals include illegal gun possession charges, drug trafficking charges and various theft and other fraud charges.
Since 1984, James Benjamin has represented numerous politicians charged with crimes. Mr. Benjamin along with his partner Daniel Aaronson successfully defended Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Cary Cass Keno on extortion charges in State Court in election related matters. In a high profile case, the jury acquitted Mr. Keno of all charges. Mr. Keno was quoted in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper by thanking his attorneys, James Benjamin and Daniel Aaronson for getting him off the hook, "I think I’ve got the most brilliant attorneys in the world. They showed it for what it was, just a case without merit. They believed in me." Over the years, Mr. Benjamin has defended various other politicians including mayors, city council persons, and others elected and appointed representatives of government.
Recently, Larry Flynt desired to open Hustler of Hollywood stores in both Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach. As local co-counsel, Mr. Benjamin successfully battled both cities and obtained the desired results for Mr. Flynt, the opening of both stores which are still in business today. Further, in battling various City and County governments, both Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Aaronson have successfully battled for the openings of various adult entertainment establishments in South Miami, Lauderhill, Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Daytona Beach, Tampa, Pembroke Park, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Hallandale, Davie, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Twinsburg, Ohio, Toledo, Ohio, and numerous others locales.
Over the years, Benjamin & Aaronson have also represented countless persons and corporations charged with obscenity crimes. Actors in adult entertainment films, the wholesale distributors of the material, the owners and proprietors of large chains of adult book and video stores, down to the actual clerks that were alleged to have sold sexually explicit material in those stores have been Benjamin & Aaronson’s clients. Recently, James Benjamin has become counsel for Max Hardcore a/k/a Paul Little a famous star, producer, director and distributor of sexually explicit material, both internationally and in this country. After a long investigation, Max Hardcore was charged with criminal obscenity distribution charges out of an indictment in Tampa, Florida which is in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Benjamin & Aaronson are working with First Amendment lawyers, Lou Sirkin and Jeffrey Douglas, both former Presidents of the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association and close associates of Benjamin & Aaronson. Over the years, the firm has represented numerous actors and actresses in sexually explicit materials including Marilyn Star, Laura Monroe, and Screw publisher Al Goldstein.
In State Court, Mr. Benjamin has defended in jury trials, fifteen year minimum mandatory drug trafficking charges where his clients have been found not guilty and acquitted of all charges.
Mr. Benjamin has been active in many national, state and local professional attorneys organizations. After serving as a Board Member of the Broward County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (BACDL), Mr. Benjamin became Vice President of that organization in 1997 - 1998. Mr. Benjamin was elected President of the Broward County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 1998 and served through 1999. Mr. Benjamin continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the BACDL to date.
After contributing as a lecturer and member of the First Amendment Lawyers Association (FALA) for decades, Mr. Benjamin was elected to the office of National Secretary in the year 2000. In an ascending order of service as officers, Benjamin became national treasurer in 2001; Second Vice President in 2002; First Vice President in 2003 and in the year 2004 Mr. Benjamin became the President of the National First Amendment Lawyers Association, a National Bar Association of lawyers who practice in the area of the First Amendment. Mr. Benjamin continues to serve as chairman emeritus of the FALA to date.
Mr. Benjamin has served as a Chapter representative of the State Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the Florida Association of Criminal Lawyers (FACDL) for a period of five years before becoming a statewide, at-large Board Member for the last six years. He has served on the legislative committee lobbying in Tallahassee for the organization for several years. At one time, he headed the public relations committee of the FACDL. He continues to be active in this organization.
Mr. Benjamin has been recognized by numerous publications for his expertise and stature in the legal community. Mr. Benjamin has been listed in the Who’s Who in American Law for the past decade. Further, he has been recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer by the Law and Politics publication group. Further, the South Florida Legal Guide has named Mr. Benjamin a top lawyer for the past several years. The firm of Benjamin & Aaronson and Daniel Aaronson have been recognized in the South Florida Legal Guide as a top lawyer and a top law firm respectively. The South Florida Daily Business Review has recognized Benjamin & Aaronson as one of the top 250 law firms in the South Florida area. Mr. Benjamin has been listed in Bar Registry of Pre-eminent Lawyers by the Martindale Hubbell Company since 1999 to present. The Bar Registry of Pre-eminent Lawyers lists the lawyers that have obtained an "AV" rating by Martindale Hubbell which is their highest rating.