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, AND THE POPE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Thursday, December 05, 2019

REQUIUM FOR AN HONEST PROSECUTOR

State Attorney Dennis Ward has known for years that one of his assistants- Colleen Dunne- who also worked as an ASA in Miami,- HID evidence in an attempted murder prosecution of a former City of Miami Beach Police Captain Bill Skinner. 

Skinner is serving life for a conviction that stinks to high hell, and Ward has kept his mouth shut although the Judge in the case found that Dunne hid evidence from the defense during the trial. 
Miami Defense Attorney Seth Lavey has made the exoneration of Bill Skinner a personal project for several years now. His work has gotten Dunne suspended by the Florida Bar for a year for her actions. See the Miami Herald article this week here.

Meanwhile State Attorney Ward did nothing although he had credible evidence (a finding by the trial judge, if that means anything ) that one of his prosecutors hid evidence in a serious trial. 

Dunne recently settled the Bar complaint with an agreement to a one year suspension, although the Florida Supreme Court has to approve the agreement, and that's not a sure thing. Things could get worse. Prosecutors are held to a higher standard. 

Meanwhile, Ward was sitting on a time bomb. Once Dunne admitted her guilt, Ward fired Dunne, giving her to the end of the month to pack her things and get out. Merry Christmas. You're fired. 

Where was State Attorney Ward lo these many years when he had a prosecutor working for him who had already been reported to the Bar based on a judge's findings? 
Where was the committment to truth and legal ethics? 
Where was the avoidance of the appearance of impropriety? 

This being the Florida Keys, somewhere at the bottom of French Reef we imagine.  

What Dunne did was wrong. There is a decorated cop serving life in prison because, in part, of her dishonesty. 
What Ward did was just as bad. He should hold his assistants and his office to  higher standard. But he doesn't see things that way. 

Tell it to Bill Skinner, a cop serving life in a case where a prosecutor hid evidence. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

JAIL HOUSE SNITCHES

The NY Times here details the story of a death penalty prosecution derailed outside of Tampa. The bloodlust of a prosecutor and detective denied, and how they took it out on an innocent man using an infamous jail house snitch who was fast becoming a professional witness.

As of this writing James Dailey is on death row in Florida for a murder that in all likelihood he didn't commit. He was sent their by a vicious, publicity hungry State Attorney and a jail house snitch who is a pedophile and has gotten away with it time and time again because of his ability to manipulate the system. 

You can say many things, but don't ever say we have the best justice system in the world. We do not. 

From the article:
It didn’t matter that Skalnik had few other details about the murder. Any questions as to his truthfulness were put to rest when Andrews called Halliday as her final witness. The detective vouched for Skalnik, testifying that the inmate had supplied him with reliable information in other cases, yielding “extremely positive results...It was with that imprimatur of credibility that jurors found Dailey guilty...

“I have placed 34 individuals in prison, including four on death row,” he boasted in a 1984 letter to Senator Lawton Chiles of Florida, in a request for favorable treatment — a number that, while inflated at the time, would ultimately prove accurate...
The full record provides a vivid picture of how jailhouse informants are used, showing which benefits Skalnik was afforded, which crimes he eluded punishment for and, most clearly, how the state attorney’s office put this witness, who was dubbed “a con man extraordinaire,” in the words of one warrant for his arrest, on the stand in cases where defendants’ lives hung in the balance...

The consequences of snitch testimony can be catastrophic. Of the 367 DNA exonerations in the United States to date, jailhouse informants played a role in nearly one in five of the underlying wrongful convictions...

Informants often end up on the stand when other evidence is weak; a case that is based on rigorous forensic work or witness testimony that can be independently corroborated does not need a snitch to paper over the gaps. The most unreliable witnesses, then, may testify in the least sound cases — and in cases in which the stakes are the highest

Dailey’s stay of execution will remain in place through Dec. 30. After that, Governor DeSantis can set a new execution date for as soon as January. When that day comes, Dailey will be asked to walk from his cell to the execution chamber, where he will lie down on the gurney. Leather restraining straps will be fastened across his body, and an IV line will be inserted into his arm. Finally, the signal will be given to the executioner to begin the flow of lethal drugs. At that moment, the State of Florida will be asking its citizens to trust that Dailey killed Shelly Boggio that night beside the dark water, and that he received a fair trial, and that justice has finally been served. It will be asking them, as it has time and time again, to believe the word of Paul Skalnik



Saturday, November 30, 2019

KNIVES OUT A REVIEW

UPDATE: Going to leave up the movie review-
We're done picking against the Purple Birds so Ravens/49ers are off our board. 
Texans at Cheaters- Over 45. 
Packers at Giants...don't know why but we like the home-dog Gints +6.5
Rams at Arizona- Over 47.
J..E...T...S  Jets Jets Jets. Gang Green on the prowl. -3.5 over  sad Cincy. 
San Diego at Denver. Chargers -2.5 in the snow. 

Survivor: Judge Faber rules for the Pack; Fake AM likes Seattle; Mr. Markus and Peter Sautter roll with the Panthers.  (OUCH- see ya, wouldn't want to be ya) 
Juan Gonzalez rolled with the Pack. Awaiting  And Lucy Lew lost last week with the Falcons.  and Dustin Tischler took the Rams.

MOVIE REVIEW 

This is a decent piece of writing. Not by Rumpole, but by a reader who left it in the comments section. We are intrigued, so we decided to put it on the front page: 




At The Cinema said...
At the Cinema

“We’ve been here before” my fellow cinema attendees seem to say as they settle into their 
reclining seats to view “Knives Out” Rian Johnson’s ensemble “who-dun-it”. 
Maybe we have, and then again, maybe we have not. 
Which disgruntled family member killed patriarch-writer Harlan Thrombery 
(Christopher Plummer) in his twisty-turney mansion at the end of his 85th Birthday party 
when he is discovered with his throat gashed open? One of his disgruntled and recently 
disinherited children? One of their dysfunctional children? Did the butler do it ??? 
Except in this story the butler is played by ingenue Ana de Armas, the coquettish nurse who, 
by the time the movie is over, is from every country in Central and South America. 

First the clumsy part- the introduction of “famed” private detective Benoit Blanc
 (Daniel Craig), Johnson’s Hercule Poitrot. Blanc appears instantaneously,
 inexplicably assisting a couple of inept local detectives, one of which is 
inexplicably identified as a state trooper. Why is a traffic ticket writer assigned to a death?
 It’s never explained, and it doesn’t matter. 

The real question in this movie is not who did it, but what Craig and Johnson are
 doing with us? Do they think we are buying Craig’s putative southern gentleman accent 
and are cringing, or is the joke on us? There is everything but Craig breaking the fourth 
wall ala Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cops and pausing to wink at us. 

Eventually the will is read (did you think you were going to escape that tired old ploy?) 
the family gasps, and then the movie takes off in earnest. “Cui Bono” we ask in our 
criminal cases and in our murder mysteries (who benefits?). 

Craig/Blanc stops pinging one note on the piano, and in the penultimate and ultimate
 scenes Craig- ala Poirot ala Ms. Marple ala Holmes explains all. Don’t bother trying- 
you won’t be able to do it and Johnson doesn’t give you chance. It’s all a wink and nod- 
you pay for your ducat and some Snocaps and he takes you for a two-hour ride
 (there’s even a mild car chase). But even when the killer is unmasked- then as the
 infomercial says-“wait there’s more!”. 
Because in the end is it about life and morality and catching a killer… or in the end is it 
about the money? And this is where Rian Johnson wants to take us. Not to Agatha Christie 
and Sir Arthur C Doyle, but to Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman.
 Johnson has his popular vox popoli hits behind him- Star Wars and the like. 
Now he’s writing and directing for something bigger. 

Johnson wants his Seven Samurai, and Knives Out is his first attempt. 
The question at the end of this two-hour romp is not who did it? 
Intelligent viewers will leave the theater pondering what Knives Out will do to the genre? 
As Seven Samurai begot the Magnificent Seven, what will Knives Out beget? 

In Cinema Veritas… and next time the popcorn is on me.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

HAPPY THANKSGIVING


They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they can be used (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation (1620-1647)


Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty

Edward Winslow, Mort's Relation (1620-1621)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

THANKSGIVING DINNER

What does Rumpole dine on this time of year? 
Well, turkey and potatoes and stuffing are so humdrum. 

We will start this Thursday with Widows Hole oysters, cultivated on just a few small underwater acres in the bays of Long Island, NY. 

Because fish, mostly cod and stripped bass, was integral to the Pilgrims survival, we will have some simply salted and battered fried cod filets with our oysters. Wine pairing: A Muscadet is a wonderful and inexpensive French wine. Crisp and clean, a bracing cold glass stands up nicely to the salinity of the oysters. We like the Domaine du Fief aux Dames Muscadet Sever et Maine Sue Lie.  It's a mouthful, but at $16.00 or so, a great value. Please get the 2017. 2016 was damaged by an early frost and just doesn't hold up. 

Money Bread was made famous by Ronald and Nancy Reagan. A Reagan family tradition, it garnered a lot of attention when served at the President's Thanksgiving dinner. While many recipes call for a sweet cinnamon-roll like bread, we like the plain round loaf of flaky dough, made with a liberal dose of butter. Pull off a piece and enjoy. 

Our turkey is made simply. We recommend brining in a simple solution of one and a half  cups of kosher salt and two gallons of water. (Traditional solutions are two cups of salt, but we worry about over salting the bird). Have some fun and add a half a cup of brown sugar, a cup of OJ, some thyme, and kick it up a notch with some chili powder. 

After 24 hours in the solution, pull the turkey out and let it rest at room temperature for two hours. Pre-heat the oven to 425 and reduce to 375 when putting in the bird. Liberally rub butter with seasoned salt under the bird's skin and baste infrequently (twice at most). Opening the oven to baste lets the heat out, which adds to cooking time at lower temperatures, which dries the bird out. The key to a juicy turkey is brining and roasting quickly at a high heat. Cook it all the way through and get it out and then baste to your heart's content. 

Stuffing is made from two day-old French baguettes, cubed with  a stick of butter, chopped garlic, chives, and a sofrito of mushrooms, shallots, salt, pepper, and chopped jowl bacon if you can find it (regular bacon is fine as well). 

You can mash some mashed potatoes (yawn) or put some whipped yams in a casserole dish with some mini-marshmallows on top, but really, aren't you bored with those pedestrian dishes by now? 

Since we live in the crossroads of the Caribbean, how about some coconut rice (just cook jasmine rice in coconut milk instead of water, top with scallions-throw in some chickpeas for your vegetarian guests and they will be happy). How about this for a change: scrape off the kernels from ears of corn, simmer in coconut milk, jerk seasoning, and some brown sugar. Wanna go crazy- put the mixture into a food processor and blend. Add almond flour until it becomes a paste (add eggs unless you have vegan guests), and fry like latkes.  

We will pair our meal with the 2016 Cade Cabernet blend of Cab, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. It's rated 96 points on Wine Spectator, and one of our favourites this year. 
For a white we like the Radio-Coteau Savoy. It's big, and buttery, and organic all in one. 

We aren't big on sweets and deserts. Some fresh fruit-mangos, late season cherries, and blueberries mixed with some crème-fraiche is a nice way to end the meal. 

And then the really best thing to do is go here and donate a few bucks to Habitat for Humanity. It's President James Earl Carter's favourite charity, and it provides housing for ...well...humanity, which is a good thing to do. 

Happy Thanksgiving to our readers. 
  




Monday, November 25, 2019

TRIAL UPDATE! Don't look now, but the "Trial of the Century" County Court style, scheduled for Monday morning in the misdemeanor division of County Court, with a bevy of heavy hitters on all sides, including everyone's favourite federal blogger, has washed out with a "conditional nolle prose" whatever that is. Maybe it's an "IF...THEN" scenario. "IF you eat Turkey AND stuffing, on Thursday, THEN we will dismiss the case." 
Either way it's a win. When you and your client walk out of court with no return date, it's a win (unless you pled to CTS, then it's  loss). 

Judge Hirsch's Constitutional Calendar for Thanksgiving is a repeat, but one worth repeating. And while we are at it, let's give a shout out to Probate's newest Judge, and his latest novel, available here on Amazon . A Judge. Criminal Court. Civil Court. A Museum Theft. What more could a reader ask for?

Well, perhaps the answer to this question: What does the 6th Amendment right to counsel, the decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, some Coca Cola and Whiskey, and Henry Fonda all have to do with the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure? The answer is below.



     It was August, 1963, and readers of the Panama City News or the Panama City Herald could scarcely help but feel a sense of civic pride.  The front pages told of a local construction boom: A Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge on West U.S. 98, Gainer Funeral Home’s building on North Cove Boulevard, and the Florida State Employment Office’s new quarters on Ninth and Magnolia.  In the advertising supplements the Cook Motor Company trumpeted the sporty new Ford Falcon for $1,795.  And on the sports pages, big things were foretold for the Bay High School Tornadoes and junior halfback Joe Wayne Walker.

It was August, 1963, and Panama City, Florida, was small-town Dixie, an unlikely epicenter for a constitutional earthquake.

That same month, while the Tornadoes ran their two-a-day drills, Clarence Earl Gideon was tried for the second time – this time with the assistance of counsel – for the theft of 12 bottles of Coca-Cola, 12 cans of beer, four fifths of whiskey and about $65 in change from the cigarette machine and jukebox of the Bay Harbor Pool Hall.  Neither the trial nor Gideon’s acquittal received any particular notice in the Panama City News or the Panama City Herald.

But in the highest echelons of Florida government, notice was taken.  In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright and Gideon’s ensuing acquittal on retrial it was expected that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Florida prisoners would be filing habeas corpus petitions claiming that their judgments and sentences were unconstitutional because uncounseled.  The respondent in each such petition would be Louie Wainwright, the warden of the state penitentiary at Raiford.  Jurisdiction would lie in the circuit court of what was then Bradford County, a rural spot in the middle of the state that in 1963 had but one circuit judge; one judge, and hundreds, perhaps thousands of petitions.  Chaos would ensue.

Thus it was that as a result of Gideon v. Wainwright the State of Florida got what it had never had before: a rule of criminal procedure, aptly entitled Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure No. 1.  The rule provided that habeas petitions were to be filed in the circuit court in which the convictions under attack had been had. The expected flood of petitions would be fairly and evenly distributed throughout the state.  Chaos would be neatly averted.

Joe Wayne Walker and the 1963 Bay High Tornadoes never really got the chance to live up to expectations.  The big game against the Rutherford High Rams was played on the evening of Friday, November 22, and ended in a scoreless tie.  But President Kennedy had been assassinated earlier that day, and the football game didn’t seem so important.

The answer to the trivia question is mostly self explanatory based on Judge Hirsch's Constitutional Calendar, except for Henry Fonda, who played Clarence Gideon in the made for TV Drama about Gideon v. Wainwright. 


Sunday, November 24, 2019

NFL WEEK 12 2019

Coming this week: The world famous, secret Rumpole Thanksgiving menu, 🦃 recipes included!! 
We're going old school this year, starting with the Monkey 🐒Bread made famous in the Reagan White House Thanksgiving menu. 

The Survivor  pool drags on...the lucky seven now have twenty-one teams left to select to stay alive. It's harder than it seems, like walking through the dollar store on Saturday after black Friday, the shelves bare, picked clean by shoppers seeking to save a buck. 

The Browns are the favoured team amongst our players, who don't seem to learn. Two weeks ago they all jumped on Indy at home, only to see the Miami 22 win on the road. The same thing could happen again today in the land where rivers burn. Messrs.. Markus,  Lew, Tischler, Sautter and the Hon. Judge Faber all pick the Brownies. Lucy Lew likes the Falcons to fly at home, while Fake Alex M is rolling with the Bills in Buffalo


Our Picks, which aren't turkeys...🦃

Cowpokes at Cheaters. Looks good on paper. It won't be close. Cowboys don't travel well, don't play good teams well, and won't keep it close.  Cheaters -6 in NE. 

(WIN)
It's Bird vs Bird as Seattle goes to Philly, eschewing Turkey for Pats Cheesesteaks, wit of course. Hawks are coming off a bye week and getting 1.5. Nuff said. Pass the stuffing.  Seattle +1.5 over Eagles. 

(loss)
Bucs at Falcons. Diet after Turkey day...under 52. 

(Loss)
Fins at the Mistake on the Lake. Once again our hometown heroes are getting no gravy , 🥖, rolls, butter or respect,  and are 10.5 dogs in the dog pound. Cleveland ain't that good. Bet a Baker Mayfield dozen rolls on the Fins +10.5