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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

WHAT RUMPOLE IS READING

As the summer doldrums begin,  no clients, no trials, hours spent in a quiet office dreaming of cooler climates, a blogger's thoughts turn to books. 
This is what Rumpole has been and will be reading this summer: 

What we have read so far: 

First- Chasing Hillary by Amy Chozick. A funny, fascinating story about a woman who first met Clinton as a teenager, who became the NY Times reporter assigned to Clinton's last two presidential campaigns. The tension between her admiration for Clinton, and her fair reporting which caused the Clinton team to shun her in a very "Trumpian" manner, makes this the best political book of the year. 

The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Fin.  A Hitchcock inspired "rear window" quick psychological thriller. Strictly beach or airplane material, but still a very fun and fast read. 

A Season in the Sun- The Rise of Mickey Mantle, by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith.  It's been so long that the memory of one of the very best to ever play the game is fading. This will re-kindle any baseball fan's knowledge of one of the greatest players, who's career was hampered by a myriad of injuries (ACL tears) that today could have been repaired. We can only imagine what Mantle could have done if he played the game on knees that worked. Still, his stats are, in retrospect, surprising for just how great he was. 

Grant, by Ron Chernow. Perhaps America's greatest General. An underestimated president and thinker. One of our best biographers turns his considerable talent to one of our most underrated leaders. A big book that covers a big life. 

Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kapur.  You don't read poetry you grumble. You should. Poetry is life. And this young woman is a genius. Pure and simple. This is a book you should not miss. And if you are not a millennial, there is some young adult or teen in your life, especially a young woman, who will treasure this book if you are smart and kind enough to give it to her. Do yourself a favor and take a break from life and read this book. 

On Deck:

Lincoln's Last Trial, by Dan Abrams and David Fisher.  The lost transcripts of Lincoln's last trial and his defense in a murder case to boot! A criminal defense attorney's dream book ( we hope). The reviews are great. 

Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson, Isaacon wrote "Jobs" the biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Now he writes a biography about another historical genius. Count us in. 

Alone, by Michael Korda. The cover says "Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk. Defeat into Victory." That's all we need to see to buy this book.  All Churchill and England did in 1939-1941 was stand alone against tyranny in the world. They may well have saved freedom for the rest of the 20th century. We've read 50 plus books on this subject. And it's never enough. 

That should keep our readers going for the next few months. And for those of you that wear black robes at work, we are sure most of these are available as audible audio books, since we realize reading is not your thing. 

From Occupied America, where we don't yet burn books, (but we do rip infants from the arms of their mothers) Fight The Power!

Friday, June 22, 2018

ASA BILL HOWELL RETIRES

He quietly put together a long and distinguished career as one of the best prosecutors and trial lawyers at the Dade State Attorneys Office handling the most serious murder and death penalty cases. He was fair and hard working  concerned about both victims and defendants. Defense attorneys frequently learned too late that  his disarming southern drawl was something jurors loved. 

Today Bill Howell retires and Miami loses yet another experienced prosecutor who served this community for decades and made a difference. 

There is a goodbye party this afternoon at American Social on Brickell. Readers should come by and wish Bill well. He was one of the really good guys and he will be missed. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

CALL TO ACTION

Readers, this is why we are lawyers. To see wrongs, and make them right. 
This is an email from Ms. Arias from FACDL:

"There is simply no humane way to detain families. Asylum seeking families should be given due process, not expedited removal. And the end of the road must be the end of family detention entirely." - Victor Nieblas Pradis, Former AILA President

Dear Colleagues and Friends, 

No matter what your politics, it’s time to get out and help immigrant families. Also, beware of any proposed bills that claim to end family separation at the border. Many of the provisions in these bills specifically take away safeguards in the law to protect the children as we currently have in place and also EXTEND the period of CBP detention in “cages”, “chain-linked enclosures,” “chain-link fenced cells” from 72 hours to up to 30 days for children, no matter what the ages. What we need is boots on the ground both here in Miami at at the various border detention centers.

So many of you have reached out to me personally, by FB, by email, by phone, begging for information on how to help the families detained at the border. I want to provide you some quick ways to help both financially and with volunteer efforts. I will be putting together a training to held in July specifically for those who may wish to learn how to help and then take a 5-day trip to the Border Detention Centers to help on bond hearings, asylum interviews, case-prep, translation, etc. The 5-day trip is put together with the help of CARA — a collective made up of The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Hence, the acronym CARA.

I sincerely hope you can either donate money, volunteer to work, volunteer to assist remotely (yes, that too can be done), and realize that help is also needed LOCALLY. Family separation happens in immigration court locally EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every day in immigration courts in BTC and Krome, Bond Hearings get denied and mothers and fathers are separated from their children for prolonged periods. This has a lasting negative impact on the children’s wellbeing, and on their development. If you are interested in volunteering at the local level, please sign up with AIJ here or with Catholic Legal Services of Miami here.



If you are interested in volunteering to head to the border yourself, the CARA ProBono Project is always recruiting volunteers. They train you, they give you specific expectations, you work, then you leave the case and the next set of lawyers pick up where you left off. See below.

CARA Project is currently recruiting volunteers indefinitely.
The greatest need is for attorneys, law students, and paralegals with interest and experience in asylum work. The project also encourages and appreciates the participation of return volunteers from both Artesia and Dilley, with their vast experience working in a family detention setting. To provide effective assistance to our clients and to have a meaningful experience, we recommend volunteers to either be fluent in Spanish or consider collaborating with an interpreter. Compassion, endurance, resilience, flexibility, and the commitment to ending the insidious practice of family detention are required for every volunteer. To volunteer, please complete the Dilley Volunteer Sign-up Form. To learn more about the Dilley Pro Bono Project, and how you can help, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Caya Simonsen at caya@caraprobono.org.

I hope this information is helpful to you. The criminal defense bar is in a particularly great position to help since you are all litigators and have a much better grasp of advocacy than some transactional attorneys who may have never been involved in adversarial hearings and the like.

God bless every one of you and I hope you will help in any way you can.

Best,

Maggie Arias
Partner

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

HAPPY JUNETEENTH

Hey Y'all. It's me! MillennialMe. Remember ME? 👸 The Girl who brought Emoji's to the famous Justice Building Blog? 

Here's a history lesson for y'all. Tuesday June 19, is Juneteenth! What is Juneteenth you ask?


Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19th,  1865  Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two and a half years after   January 1, 1863 when President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was issued.


The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.


One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."


The reactions to this profound news ranged from  shock to  jubilation depending on your view of slavery.


The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants of slaves over the years. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas, with the descendants of former slaves making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.


Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.


The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. In 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.


Happy Juneteenth!

MillennialMe, cause it's all about....ME!

Monday, June 18, 2018

SUMMER RULES

Summer is here. And that means gentleman lawyers ….must still wear a coat and tie to court as if it is December in Duluth, North Dakota, although it is 90 degrees out with 144% humidity. Miami court's are still in the 19th century when it comes to dress code. 

A reader writes us this: 

Have you read Lincoln's Last Trial by Dan Abrams? A transcript was recently found by the family of the murder defendant. It was the case that propelled Lincoln to the presidency and the only known transcript of a Lincoln trial to exist. Lincoln was an expert at bonding with a jury and knowing what not to say. The writer of the transcript was the same man who transcribed the Lincoln Douglas debates. 

And Rumpole responds: of course we have. Who do you think runs this blog?  

And a reader who wears a robe wrote us a short email complaining about the Lawyer's Bill of Rights and wants to know why lawyers are late, unprepared, disrespectful, texting in court, talking in court, never ready for trial, and other petty complaints. 

Why indeed? Perhaps our readers will respond. 

The President and Attorney General are separating children from their parents at the boarder and blaming the Truman, Kennedy and Carter administrations. 

From Occupied America, where conservative Republicans are all about family- unless the family has darker skin and is from another country- Fight the Power! 







Friday, June 15, 2018

THUNDER ROAD

Sometimes when the stock market is falling,  the president is doing something moronic again, deadlines to file motions are coming due and past-due, clients are calling and emailing and texting non-stop, and a judge who hasn't read case law since "walkin" Lawton Chiles was governor of Florida denies your motion, you just need a little of The Boss. 

Is there any more poetic rock song than Thunder Road? 

"You can hide 'neath your covers and study your pain
make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain 
for a savior to rise from these streets
Well now I'm no hero, that's understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now? 
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back you hair...

From. Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

TRIAL LAWYERS BILL OF RIGHTS V3.0

This will be the third time we have reprinted this post. 
It is just as relevant today, with summer vacations approaching (see right #2) this is just as relevant today as it was twelve years ago. It's one of our favourite posts. 

Originally posted January 1, 2006, but just as relevant today.

TRIAL LAWYERS' BILL OF RIGHTS.


The Trial Lawyer needs protection from their biggest enemy.
The one entity that can with a wave of the hand completely screw up years of hard work and preparation. We are speaking of course of the Judiciary, some of whom are our wonderful Robed Readers.

Herewith [ and we strongly invite submissions] is our Trial Lawyers Bill of Rights:


A TRIAL LAWYER SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT

1) TO BE FREE FROM BEING EMBARRASSED AND CHEWED OUT IN FRONT OF OUR CLIENT.
We know we say and do stupid things from time to time. But Judges have chambers- and there’s sidebar. We have enough troubles with our clients without having to deal with them after a Judge has just dressed us down for something in court. [ Half the time the judge is upset because we’re late. Well, usually we’re late because we just spent 45 minutes doing an arraignment in front of the Governor's latest new nominee to the bench. ] 

2) TO AT LEAST ONE WEEK AFTER RETURNING FROM VACATION BEFORE STARTING TRIAL.
This one really frosts our ass a little bit. (Hat-tip to the late, great Neil Rogers on the frost-our-ass- phrase). 
We have an important trial. And when the Judge suggests a date, we tell the Judge we have an FACDL Ski trip for that week. So the Judge gives us a big smile and tells us that sure, she’ll accommodate our vacation, “after all , lawyers are entitled to a vacation as well.
And then she sets the trial for the Monday after we return that Sunday.

Hey- wake up!
Do  you know what’s involved in a trial? Do  you realize that no matter how well an attorney plans and prepares that there are literally dozens of last minute problems that spring up in the weeks and days before a trial? 

No. We can’t fly across the country Sunday night, stagger home at 1:00 am and be fresh as a daisy and ready to go to trial Monday morning dodging the multiple minimum mandatory sentences the prosecution is hurling at us.

 If Judges don’t want us to believe that the reason the majority of them became Judges is because they couldn’t try a case, then show some common sense and give us at least a week when retuning from a trip before trial. This may surprise some of you future Supreme Court nominees, but other than the really successful or truly awful lawyers, the rest of us have more cases than the one case clogging up your precious docket. We have clients that want to see us, employees that need guidance and your equally dense colleagues who want us to try a case in their division on the day we return from vacation.

Sometimes, and we really mean this, we wonder how some of you even got into law school.


3) THE RIGHT TO AS MUCH TIME AS WE NEED IN VOIR DIRE.

First of all, many lawyers who get stuck in a trial don’t try a lot of cases and couldn’t conduct a good voir dire with  Gerry Spence sitting with them as second chair. So you needn’t worry about them taking too much time. They ask a few moronic questions about which section of the Herald the juror’s husband reads and if they will follow the law, and then they stagger back to their table sweating bullets and grab their law school text on opening statements to see what to do next. For the rest of us, the ones who devote time and energy to our craft, a good voir dire is crucial. It is the most important part of the trial. We are not asking you to give us a long leash. Keep the leash short. But as long as we’re asking the right types of questions, then our clients (be it a defendant or the people of the state of Florida) are getting their moneys worth from the advocate they hired. Just leave us alone and let us do our job. Surprisingly, when that happens, the Jury system works just fine.

You want a short voir dire? Get an appointment to the Federal Bench.


4) THE RIGHT TO BEGIN AND END THE TRIAL AT A DECENT HOUR:
We see this with a lot of new Judges, especially in County Court. Trying to establish some sort of macho reputation, they work until 11 PM and then send the jury out at midnight to deliberate. 

What are you people thinking? 

Would you want the most important day of your life in the hands of someone who has been in the Justice Building since 8 AM? Do you really think jurors will make the "wise and legal decision" that the jury instructions tell you to tell jurors we are depending on them to make after they have been in the REGJB for 16 hours later? What is  so difficult about coming back the next day?

The first step to being a good judge is giving everyone, including jurors, the time necessary to perform their part in the machinery of justice. 

That’s a good start. We have cast our bread upon the waters. Lets see what readers contribute.


2018 Edition: THE TRIAL TAX
It's not really a bill of rights issue, but have you (as a judge) ever considered the terrible price on our justice system a "trial tax" exacts? "What's a trial tax?" you say quizzically. For that .00000000001% of judges who don't know that the rest of your colleagues routinely impose stiffer sentences on a defendant who proceeds to trial and loses, a trial tax saps the life out of the justice system. And just as insidious as the trial tax, is that "innocent" little you speech you all give defendants before the trial begins in which you "innocently" inquire as to whether the defendant knows that the current probation offer could become forty years in prison if they lose. As if you all are shocked! Shocked to learn that a defendant who is told by a judge that if they lose they "could" receive a 40 year prison sentence (although you earnestly assure them you have not in any way made up your mind since you don't know the facts of the case) actually has a coercive effect on the defendant's decision to proceed to trial. 
Really. Just stop the charade. You know the facts. And we all know what you are doing. And it stinks. You want to be a judge that subverts justice and threatens defendants? Go put on a robe in Broward. For the rest of you, totaling the maximum possible prison sentence does not a judge make. A five year old with a calculator could do that. 
Ok. Now we feel a little better after that rant. Of course, it rarely applies to us, as we rarely lose.