WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Monday, October 22, 2018

JUDGE BRUCE LEVY HAS PASSED AWAY

Sad news has reached us today. We forward the email we received that was sent by Jeff Weiner: 

Sad news: the death of a kind and compassionate fellow defense attorney and judge, D. Bruce Levy. Bruce was a former Assistant Public Defender and a circuit court judge. He was a true gentleman, and the kind of judge we all want to appear before. (Unlike too many judges), Bruce honored our Bill of Rights and was fair, smart and courteous to all. He was respected by everyone. To sum it up, Bruce was a great guy!

He will be missed.

Well said Mr. Weiner. 
Judge Levy was all of those things and more. In these troubled times, when many Judges, lawyers, and everyone else sometimes lack the courage to speak up, Bruce Levy was one of those people. He spent his professional life righting wrongs. What better way to live? He has been missed and he will continue to be missed and remembered.



A CARAVAN IS COMING

Item: A caravan of refuges escaping the gang violence of Honduras has grown to approximately 7,000 people. See the NPR story here

Many of these migrants are fleeing poverty and violence.

At the border, a woman named Maria tells James, "It was our decision."

"We asked for people to give us rides, we sold the little we had to come," she added. "I'm doing this for my daughters and granddaughters."

James tells NPR that people at the border say they'll do whatever is asked of them, as long as they aren't sent back to Honduras.
Over the weekend Trump called the people in caravan "Hardened Criminals."
That kid in the yellow shirt looks muy peligroso 





Any thoughts that the above actually means something, should be put to rest by this: 
From occupied America where words that once gave comfort to the world are tossed into the trash bin by an  utterly amoral idiot. So....FIGHT THE POWER.
Rumpole has been traveling in Europe. We haven't had full internet access for a while and we thank the Captain for keeping the posts coming. We can report that our European compatriots are completely puzzled by what we have done to ourselves. But they are now taking stock of a new world order, where the US not only doesn't lead in advocating for human rights, controlling and reversing global warming, and collective security and peace, but actually works against those goals. Mark our words. Europeans have written us off for the foreseeable future. And when this darkness that has descended upon us lifts, like a significant other that has discovered their partner is cheating, they will NOT welcome us back with open arms. We will have to re-earn their trust and respect and it will take decades. 


Friday, October 19, 2018

17 APPLY FOR TWO OPEN SEATS ON 3RD DCA .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

SO, YOU WANT TO BE A 3rd DCA JUDGE .......

The application deadline has passed, and you’ll be happy to know that Judge Michael Hanzman and Judge Milton Hirsch will not be leaving the trial bench any time soon. Neither of them applied for the two open seats on the 3rd DCA due to the resignations of Judge Leslie Rothenberg and Judge Richard Suarez. Judge Lisa Walsh though is one of the 17 applicants*** that will be interviewed next week. A total of nine current and two former judges are among the applicants. Two, Judge Alexander Bokor and Edward Guedes are also being interviewed for the three open seats on the Florida Supreme Court.

The interviews will take place on Monday, October 22, 2018 and Tuesday, October 23, 2018. Those being interviewed include:

Hon. Jason Bloch

Hon. Alexander Bokor

Jeffrey R. Geldens

Kansas R. Gooden

Hon. Monica Gordo

Edward G. Guedes

Hon. Eric W. Hendon

Hon. Timothy J. Koenig (Monroe County)

Hon. Fleur J. Lobree

Hon. Bronwyn C. Miller

Ann M. St. Peter-Griffith

Hon. Thomas J. Rebull

Oren Rosenthal

Hon. George A. R. Sarduy

Melissa Damian Visconti

Hon. Lisa S. Walsh

Hon. Angelica D. Zayas

***It was rumored that Rumpole was personally asked to apply.  In response to the request, he issued a one word PCA that read: "Overqualified".

Members of the public are invited to attend the interviews (they are being held at the law offices of DLA Piper) and also are urged to contact the commission concerning the applicants. Please consider emailing any comments concerning any of the applicants to the JNC Chair:

Harout J. Samra, Chair
DLA Piper LLP
200 S. Biscayne Blvd., Suite 2500
Miami, FL 33131-5341
Tel: 305-423-8534
Email: harout.samra@dlapiper.com


Predictions anyone ?????

CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

LEGALFUEL SPEAKER SERIES: TEN WAYS TO AVOID BAR DISCIPLINE .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

TEN WAYS TO AVOID BAR DISCIPLINE .....

You can love him, you can hate him (nobody really does), but one thing we can all agree about BRIAN L. TANNEBAUM, is that he and Senator Ted Cruz were born from the same mother and father.

The Florida Bar, you know, that organization that you pay $265 to every June 1st (or at least most of you pay on time), so that you can call yourselves real lawyers, has an enormous amount of resources most of us probably never use. Most recently, the BOG created the LEGALFUEL SPEAKER SERIES and this month, one of our own, Brian Tannebaum, is the guest speaker. His topic is one that every single attorney, young and those not so young, should care about, if they want to keep on being able to pay their annual dues every single year.

Take 28 minutes out of your very busy day and watch the online video of Brian’s Ten Ways to Avoid Bar Discipline. Oh yeah - you also earn CLE credit for taking the time to watch.


Here is the link in case the video does not work (depending on the browser you are using; hint use Chrome and it will work): https://www.legalfuel.com/legalfuel-speaker-series-ten-ways-to-avoid-bar-discipline/

Two very important phone numbers we should all add to our Rolodex; (for you millennials, Contact List):

FLORIDA BAR ETHICS HOTLINE: 800-235-8619
FLORIDA LAWYERS ASSISTANCE: 954-566-9040


Thanks Brian.


CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

Monday, October 15, 2018

AND YOUR NEXT THREE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES WILL BE CHOSEN BY GOVERNOR ?????


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

SO, YOU WANT TO BE A FLORIDA SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, PART TWO .....

Governor Rick Scott will not get the chance to choose the three new Florida Supreme Court Justices on his final day in office. So ruled the current Florida Supreme Court in an unsigned Order issued today.

Last Wednesday, we wrote a post entitled: "CAT 4 STORM TO HIT STATE CAPITAL, BUT IT’S NOT NAMED MICHAEL".   We described the controversy being litigated over which Governor, Rick Scott or the newly elected Governor (DeSantis or Gillum) would be the one to appoint the next three Florida Supreme Court Justices.

Today, the Florida Supreme Court issued the following Order in CASE NO.: SC18-1573, League of Women Voters, et. al. v. Rick Scott:

"The petition for writ of quo warranto against Governor Rick Scott is hereby granted. The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election has the sole authority to fill the vacancies that will be created by the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince, provided the justices do not leave prior to the expiration of their terms at midnight between January 7 and January 8, 2019, and provided that the governor takes office immediately upon the beginning of his term. Governor Scott exceeded his authority by directing the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission ("the JNC") to submit its nominations to fill these vacancies by November 10, 2018.

The sixty-day period after nominations have been certified within which the governor is required to make appointments, as set forth in article V, section 11©, of the Florida Constitution begins to run only when the governor with the authority to appoint has taken office. As the JNC is an independent body, it is not bound by Governor Scott’s deadlines.

The issue of when the JNC can certify its nominations shall be the subject of oral argument to be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 8, 2018. A maximum of twenty minutes to the side is allowed for the argument, but counsel is expected to use only so much of that time as is necessary."

In an interesting twist, Attorney Jeffrey Leonard Burns, today filed a VERIFIED MOTION TO INTERVENE FOR LIMITED PURPOSE, OR ALTERNATIVELY FOR LEAVE TO FILE INTERVENOR PETITION.

In Burns’ Petition, he claims that the three Justices, Pariente, Lewis, and Quince, should be disqualified from this action "due to their objective economic conflict of interest" in the case. He states in his Petition that "the Retiring Justices have an economic incentive to determine that their last day of work ends at 5:00 p.m. on January 8, 2019, as opposed to January 7, 2019. ... The three Retiring Justices will each lose one day of salary ($884.94) if they deny the Petitioners' request for relief."

Meanwhile, The Florida Supreme Court’s JNC met last Thursday and agreed to an interview schedule of the 59 applicants for the three open seats. The interviews will take place on November 3rd and 4th here in Miami and on November 8th and 9th in Tampa. The JNC had planned on sending the finalists names to Governor Scott on November 10, 2018.

Here is the interview schedule:


Miami International Airport Hotel
Terminal E; Level 2 to hotel lobby (7th floor conference rooms once in hotel)
(Door #11 if arriving from outside the airport)
305-871-4100

Nov. 3 – Miami
 
9:00 a.m. Alexander Bokor
9:30 a.m. Amy Boulris
10:00 a.m. Jeffrey Burns
10:30 a.m. Howard Coates
11:00 a.m. John Couriel
11:30 a.m. Cynthia Cox
1:00 p.m. James Duncan
1:30 p.m. Manuel Farach
2:00 p.m. Jonathan Gerber
2:30 p.m. Edward Guedes
3:00 p.m. Bradley Harper
3:30 p.m. Terrance Ketchel
4:30 p.m. Mark Klingensmith
5:00 p.m. Jeffrey Kuntz
5:30 p.m. Bruce Kyle
 
Nov. 4 – Miami

9:00 a.m. Barbara Lagoa
9:30 a.m. Norma Lindsey
10:00 a.m. Robert Luck
10:30 a.m. Mark Miller
11:00 a.m. Carlos Muniz
11:30 a.m. Hayden O’Byrne
1:00 p.m. William Roby
1:30 p.m. Cymonie Rowe
2:00 p.m. Leonard Samuels
2:30 p.m. Edwin Scales
3:00 p.m. Anuraag Singhal
3:30 p.m. Elijah Smiley
4:30 p.m. Donna Greenspan Solomon
5:00 p.m. William Thomas
5:30 p.m. Daryl Trawick
 
Tampa interview location:
Airport Executive Center
2203 N. Lois Avenue
Tampa, FL
(813) 348-4963

Nov. 8 – Tampa
 
9:00 a.m. Michael Andrews
9:30 a.m. J. Andrew Atkinson
10:00 a.m. Ross Bilbrey
10:30 a.m. Hunter Carroll
11:00 a.m. Angela Cowden
11:30 a.m. James Daniel
1:00 p.m. Bryan Gowdy
1:30 p.m. Jamie Grosshans
2:00 p.m. Laurel Lee
2:30 p.m. Robert Long
3:00 p.m. Mark Mahon
3:30 p.m. Scott Makar
4:30 p.m. Michael McDaniel
5:00 p.m. Timothy Osterhaus
5:30 p.m. Thomas Ramsberger

Nov. 9 – Tampa
 
9:00 a.m. Eric Roberson
9:30 a.m. Clayton Roberts
10:00 a.m. Samuel Salario
10:30 a.m. Tatiana Salvador
11:00 a.m. Stephen Senn
11:30 a.m. Pat Siracusa
1:00 p.m. Jonathan Sjostrom
1:30 p.m. Adrian Soud
2:00 p.m. John Stargel
2:30 p.m. Anthony Tatti
3:00 p.m. Matthew Thatcher
3:30 p.m. M. Kemmerly Thomas
4:30 p.m. Waddell Wallace
5:00 p.m. Thomas Winokur

You have to feel for Judge William Thomas and Judge Daryl Trawick. They will be the last two applicants interviewed on day two. I sure hope the JNC members are taking their no-doz, (do they still sell that stuff), that day.
 
It will be very interesting to see how all this plays out.

CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

NFL WEEK 6 2018

Another perfect week for our picks last week. And now we will endeavor to do it again. 

Ravens are on the road for the third straight week. We don't like that. Titans at home giving up 2.5. Take Tennessee

Florida's team- the Jags, are in Dallas playing the hapless cowpokes. Take Jax + 3 and under 40. 

Browns are giving up one to the homeless Chargers. We are riding the Browns to the Super Bowl. Brownies -1 at the mistake by the lake.  Cleveland has done something no other team has done in the NFL. Ever. They have won in OT; lost in OT. Tied in OT. Won in regulation and lost in regulation. How cannot you not love a team like that? Think 69 Mets. 

Bears at Miami. Tannehill is out. Not sure what that does to the line. 52nd Street Irwin isn't answering his texts. If you got Bears and +7 earlier in week you are great. Any line with the Bears is good. They are going to win. 

Game of the week: KC at the cheaters. KC is getting three. We aren't touching this game because the last few weeks KC has been playing shaky. Maybe they were looking to this game and if they were, we would pick them. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

THE QUALITY OF MERCY

In 2000, in a courtroom in Brooklyn, two brothers aged 20 and 21 appeared for sentencing for the murder of a gang member who had sexually assaulted one of the brothers' wife. 
As recounted by Darnell Epps, one of the two brothers, in this NY Times Op Ed piece, the judge could have sentenced them to forty years to life, almost ensuring that they would spend the rest of their life in prison. 
But, inexplicably, NY State Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach did not condemn the two young men to a life in prison. Justice Reichbach, in the face of the prevailing attitude then (and now) that people are unredeemable and should be always sentenced to the maximum sentence-especially in a murder case (even where the victim was a gang-member rapist), sentenced the brothers to 17 1/2 years to life, allowing them to seek parole after 17 1/2 years. 

In 2017 both brothers were paroled after serving the minimum sentence.
Darnell Epps, who authored the op-ed piece, is currently a student at Cornell majoring in government. His brother Darryl is enrolled in the Justice In Education Program at Colombia University. 
Both brothers went from the NY State Correctional system to Ivy League schools within a year of their release. 

Darnell Epps wrote the op-ed piece to highlight the help he and his brother received from the prison "old-timers": the men serving life sentences who at ages 50, 60, and beyond, provided guidance to the brothers and other young inmates. 

We cannot help thinking about another hero in this case: Justice Reichbach. Justice Reichbach saw something in the two young men before him, and he made  the politically, socially, and legally un-popular decision: he did not sentence two young black men convicted of murder to the maximum sentence. 

It is unfortunate that we write that such a decision (and yes, race is most definitely a factor in sentences) is remarkable for how rare it is. And we write this in the (small) hope that some Judge somewhere may read about this case and realize that the ability to total the maximum years of a lawful sentence is not the distinguishing factor about what makes a judge "good". There should be no pride in a judge who has a reputation as a tough sentencer. Rather, it should be a badge of shame, the moniker  proof that within the judge there is no humanity or, more importantly, no ability to see the spark of humanity in a defendant appearing before them at the worst moment of their life. 

The triumph is the wisdom of Justice Reichbach in this case-his "Mercy": "It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown". The tragedy is that there are far too few Justice Reichbach's in the legal profession. And as a result, there are far too many "old-timers" in prison. 

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thron├Ęd monarch better than his crown.



Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Billy Shakes


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

CAT 4 STORM TO HIT STATE CAPITAL, BUT IT’S NOT NAMED MICHAEL .......

UPDATE: WE RECEIVED THIS COMMENT: 
Anonymous steve bousquet said...

Rumpole:

You and your writing staff are to be commended on what I consider to be one of the best blogs I have had the occasion to read. I am the Tallahassee Bureau Chief for the Tampa Bay Times and I read many blogs. Your writer's commentary today on the firestorm brewing up here in the state capital is spot on. Keep up the good work.

Steve Bousquet
Tampa Bay Times
Wednesday, October 10, 2018 1:26:00 PM
Delete
Rumpole Responds: Dear. Mr. Bousquet:
Thank you for the nice comment. Welcome to what is generally
considered the finest legal blog in the land; nee the Universe.
The writing is superb; the opinions spot on, and we are read by all the movers and shakers of the legal community. And beyond that, we are also read by those who wear black robes to work. And if you can get beyond the hoi polloi, you will find a blog that informs, entertains, and provides football picks that are usually 100% winners (like last week). In short, we report ….you decide. (hmmm that seems familiar). No fake news we. We hope you and your community made it through the storm, although if you took an honest poll of the residents of South Florida, there isn't one person who wasn't experiencing schadenfreude at the Panhandle's misfortune. See, no other blog uses words like schadenfreude or hoi polli even though a substantial portion of our readers (see the above comment about black robes) do not know what those terms mean. 

Yr obt svt,
H Rumpole, 
Blog Proprietor.  




THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

BREAKING NEWS:

The Florida Supreme Court JNC met today and voted to interview all 59 applicants.  The interviews will take place in Miami on November 3rd and 4th and in Tampa on November 8th and 9th.  The JNC will then meet on the evening of the 9th and into the 10th, if necessary, with the plan of sending the names of the finalists to the Governor on November 10th.


SO, YOU WANT TO BE A FLORIDA SUPREME COURT JUSTICE .......

On Monday, January 7, 2019, a convergence of significant events will take place in Tallahassee, Florida. If you thought the effects of Hurricane Michael were going to have a major effect on the surrounding community for a long time, the Hurricane that I speak of will be one hundred times stronger and will last for one hundred years longer.

You see, on that date, Governor Rick Scott’s term concludes at the end of the day on that first Monday in January. And, at the exact same time, three members of the Florida Supreme Court will retire, including Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis, and Peggy Quince. It is also important to note that, the new Governor’s term begins on "the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January"; in this case that means on Tuesday, January 8th.***

Now, anybody that follows the decisions of the current make-up of this Supreme Court, and the one immediately before it knows what all this means. Until December 31, 2016, an overwhelming majority of the controversial decisions of the court were split 5-2; the five voting together included Pariente, Lewis, and Quince, along with Justice’s Labarga and Perry. When Justice Perry retired on the last day of 2016, Governor Scott appointed Justice Alan Lawson to replace him. For most of the past 21 months, the overwhelming majority of the controversial decisions of the court have been a 4-3 vote, with conservative Lawson joining the side of Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston.

So, as you can see, with the departure of Pariente, Lewis, and Quince, the three most liberal justices on the court, a win by gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis next month would result in a dramatic shift of the court to the right with a resulting 6-1 right wing majority. On the other hand, a win by candidate Andrew Gillum, would result in the court maintaining a razor thin 4-3 lean to the left.

Now that you understand what is at stake, understand that Governor Rick Scott, (whose successor will be elected on Tuesday, November 6, 2018), has decided that he, not the Governor-Elect, will appoint the next three justices to succeed Pariente, Lewis, and Quince.

That’s right, a lame duck Governor, who is term limited, has decided that, rather than let the voters of the great State of Florida decide, through their choice at the ballot box, whom between DeSantis and Gillum should choose the three new justices, Scott will do that for them.

*** Note that, in the recent past, Governors Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist, and Rick Scott, all took the oath of office well before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January so as to assume gubernatorial duties immediately on the first day of their respective terms.

In order to head off this constitutional crisis of Category Four proportion, last year, the League of Women Voters filed suit against Rick Scott. The League asked the Court to issue a writ of quo warranto against Governor Rick Scott prohibiting him from "filling any judicial vacancies on Florida's appellate courts that occur due to terms expiring in January 2019." The League's basis for filing the petition was Governor Scott's December 2016 announcement of his intent to appoint the replacements for three justices of the Court.

In their opinion issued on December 14, 2017, LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF FLORIDA, et al., Petitioners, v. RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR, Respondent. (No. SC17-1122), the Florida Supreme Court ruled, by a vote of 6-1, that the issue presented was not ripe for consideration, and the Court dismissed the petition. The lone dissenter was Justice Lewis.  The opinion can be read here.

Fast forward to September of 2018. On September 12, 2018, at the direction of Governor Scott and his legal counsel, the Florida Supreme Court’s JNC announced that they were accepting applications to fill the three upcoming supreme court vacancies as the result of the mandatory retirement of Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince due to all three reaching the age of 70. The application deadline was set for October 8, 2018.

On September 20, 2018, the League of Women Voters filed their new Petition Quo Warranto against Governor Scott. League of Women Voters, et al. v. Hon. Rick Scott, et al., (SC18-1573). The Docket can be read here.
 
On September 21, the JNC met to discuss retaining legal counsel to respond to the Petition. They hired former Justice Raoul Cantero. The League of Women Voters is repped by Former Speaker of the House John Mills.

By the deadline of October 8th, there were a total of 59 applicants for the three seats. Two of the seats are At-Large while one seat must be filled by a resident of the 3rd DCA jurisdiction (Miami-Dade and Monroe County).

On October 11th, the JNC will meet to discuss the 59 applicants and to consider and select applicants for interviews and further consideration to fill the three positions of Florida Supreme Court Justice.

For many voters around the State, the issues of jobs, the economy, the environment, health care, and immigration dominate the landscape. But for many in the legal community, there will be no more important decision made over the next decade than the one that involves the replacement of the three retiring justices.

As stated above, the Florida Supreme Court JNC received a total of 59 applications for the three open seats. Of those, a total of 11 are residents of the 3rd DCA. The applicants for that seat include four judges currently on the 3rd DCA:

Judge Barbara Lagoa
Judge Norma Lindsey
Judge Robert Luck
Judge Ed Scales

and two Circuit and one County Court Judge:

Judge William Thomas
Judge Daryl Trawick
Judge Alex Bokor

The remaining applicants include 12 DCA judges, 27 Circuit Court Judges, and 1 County Court Judge along with 12 private counsel.

We will be closely watching the current Florida Supreme Court as they review the legal briefs and then render a decision on this latest Petition for Quo Warranto filed by the League of Women’s Voters. (As of the posting of this story, the Court has not yet agreed to set the case for Oral Argument).

Anyone care to guess how they will rule this time .......

CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com