Jorge Durand, 67

Jorge Durand, Miami bailiff and ex-jail officer, dies at 67

 
 
Jorge Durand.
Jorge Durand.

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

Jorge Durand, a longtime fixture at Miami’s criminal courthouse — first as a jail corporal, then as a bailiff — died Sunday of unexpected complications from an immune disease. He was 67.

He hailed from a well-known family in the criminal-justice system: His wife also served as a bailiff, and his two daughters are Miami-Dade County police officers.

Durand also was a longtime representative with the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, the police and corrections union, for which he also volunteered to help coordinate scholarships and community programs.

“He has left a gaping hole in the heart of the PBA,” said union president John Rivera. “He was not only a loyal friend but a mentor as well.”

Durand fell ill after a flu shot exacerbated a previously undiagnosed condition, an immune disorder known as Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Durand moved to Miami at age 18. He joined the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department in July 1975, working shifts at all the jails, including the then-new Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

One of his highlights: Durand was in charge of transporting serial killer Ted Bundy from jail to court during his 1978 trial in Miami. Bundy’s trial for murders in Tallahassee was moved to Miami because of overwhelming publicity.

During the transports, Durand told relatives, Bundy wouldn’t stop talking.

Durand was promoted to corporal in 1981 and spent much of his career in charge of the corrections unit at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building. Corrections officers maintain a heavy presence there, moving inmates from the adjacent jail, through the bowels of the courthouse and into the courtrooms.

His nickname there: Sitting Bull, because he presided over the ebb and flow of the courthouse like a chief, said his daughter, Rosa Durand-Alcazar.

“He sat at his desk and had it done,” Durand-Alcazar said.

His daughters followed him into law enforcement. Rosa Durand-Alcazar, 40, spent 17 years as a bailiff before joining the police academy. Now, she is a burglary detective with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

His oldest daughter, Michelle Durand, 45, is also a Miami-Dade police officer — assigned to courthouse security, working alongside her father.

After his retirement from the corrections department in 2007, Durand resumed work as a bailiff for newly elected Judge Jose L. Fernandez. He could not let go of the courthouse, Rosa Duran-Alcazar said.

“That building kept him alive,” she said.

As a bailiff, Durand was in charge of keeping order in the court, managing judicial dockets and serving as a vital liaison between jurors and the court.

“I cannot think of a trial where jurors did not fall in love with him,” Fernandez said. “He would bring them cookies or coffee.”

He was also known to dote over prosecutors and assistant public defenders assigned to Fernandez’s court. But he could be deceptively forceful: When the father of a sex-abuse victim attacked a defendant in court, Durand pinned him to the floor in the blink of an eye.

“Jorge was a judo black belt,” Fernandez said. “And a very good one, too.”

Durand is survived by wife Olga Durand, his two daughters, son Jorge Antonio Durand III, eight grandchildren, brother Agusto Durand and sister Rosa Gomez.

A funeral mass for Durand will be said at noon Friday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 3716 Garden Ave, Miami Beach. Immediately afterward, a gathering will be held for family members and friends at PBA headquarters, 10680 NW 25th St.

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