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

Monday, May 02, 2016

NEW STUFF

El Chapo cafe at the REGJB is now open for business. There was a soft-no-announce opening last week. Probably because the coffee was horrible and the food worse, and there wasn't- according to reports- a lot available. 

Judge Sayfie still has opposition. 
Can this really be the lawyer who thinks she is qualified to challenge Judge Sayfie?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Rosy Aponte, who is currently the subject of investigation by The Florida Bar, is the long time cohort of the self proclaimed king of foreclosure defense, John Ruiz, who has himself spent the batter part of the last five years mired in a myriad of cases consisting of foreclosures, repossessions, and attempts to collect debts related to his la ley "empire". Ms. Aponte luckily managed to avoid payment of her debts through a discharge she obtained in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Interestedly, Ms. Aponte's complete ineptitude has been highlighted recently by the Hon. A J Cristol who barred her from practicing before the United States Bankruptcy Court as a result of her confession that she had no clue what she was doing in a contested chapter 7 case. Ms. Aponte's stellar representation resulted in the debtor and multiple family members of the debtor, including his elderly mother being held in contempt of court, faced with incarceration and substantially sanctioned. Unbowed, in yet another case pending before the Hon. Laurel Isicoff, Ms. Aponte was ordered to show cause and sanctioned as a result of filing an unsuspecting alleged debtor in bankruptcy without ever having met her client. Her excuse was simple, someone in her office used her credentials . It is a sad day when a distinguished, hardworking and well respected jurist is challenged by a puppet who sole qualification is a hispanic last name.
Monday, May 02, 2016 12:27:00 PM
 Delete

And Judge Jacqueline Schwartz is still a judge. 

And in case you didn't see our edit of Sunday's post*, Assistant Federal Public Defender Abby Becker won the Gregg Wenzel Young Lawyer's award for her work in spearheading the Federal Public Defender's Office's clemency project and her obtaining the release of a woman sentenced as a first offender to life in prison for one of those drug conspiracy cases in the 1990's that the Clinton Administration wrought by their desire to pander to the right. 

See you in court. 


* Many federal practitioners are a mild lot. They don't get trained to throw the elbows in close quarters that those who rose through the ranks of the REGJB did. But apparently our slight in not mentioning Ms. Becker by name in our original post brought out the worst in her supporters, not to mention their thesauruses. 
There's only so many ways one can be called a rude, ignorant bore by otherwise mild mannered litigators before you've had enough. We've had enough. We surrender. Ms. Becker has received her well earned, much deserved, due. 

Now stop sending us threatening emails with the words "a good thrashing" in them. 


Sunday, May 01, 2016

FACDL AWARDS DINNER

UPDATED Below with a full list of the award winners. As we said, we are an ocean away. 

The FACDL had their 263rd awards dinner last night at the Last Stop Bar in Florida City. Yes, the tradition dates back to a bunch of Calusta Native Americans sitting on a mound of shells in Florida Bay and handing out fresh lobster and oysters as an award. 

Actually, and because we are still in Europe involved in Brexit, we have pieced together events based on the numerous emails we have received in the last 8-10 hours. 

Federal assistant Public defender Abby Becker received the Greg Wenzel young lawyers award for doing something really good. Nobody knows for sure, the acoustics were awful. But we're sure it's well deserved.   for her work in spearheading the Federal Public Defenders Clemency petitions. This is great work that was and is really needed. Well done.  (okay? Everyone needs to stop sending us  mean and nasty  emails now. We weren't there. We don;t know who did what to whom.)

Beji Waxman received the "Against All Odds Award" for writing a winning brief in the Florida Supreme Court and his prior decade of litigation for a client in the infamous Casey Nickelodeon murders in Broward. Eventually Waxman was able to convince the Supreme Court that the Broward rule that identity need not "really be proven" in a Broward murder case was, well,  not entirely kosher to use some Latin. 

Judge Mary Jo Francis deservedly received the Justice Kogan award for her work on the bench, especially in jail court  misdemeanor cases, where 99.9% of the cases involve defendants suffering from mental illness. 

Edith Georgi won the Sy Gaer founders award for her lifetime of wonderful, dedicated, and top notch advocacy at the Public Defenders office. 

Alex Michaels won the Gino Negretti "Courtesy in Court" award, for obvious reasons. 

But according to all emails, the highlight of the event was when moderator Milt Hirsch paused in his annual rendition of Federalist Paper #78 (on the judiciary) 

But it is not with a view to infractions of the Constitution only, that the independence of the judges may be an essential safeguard against the effects of occasional ill humors in the society. These sometimes extend no farther than to the injury of the private rights of particular classes of citizens, by unjust and partial laws. Here also the firmness of the judicial magistracy is of vast importance in mitigating the severity and confining the operation of such laws. It not only serves to moderate the immediate mischiefs of those which may have been passed, but it operates as a check upon the legislative body in passing them; who, perceiving that obstacles to the success of iniquitous intention are to be expected from the scruples of the courts, are in a manner compelled, by the very motives of the injustice they meditate, to qualify their attempts. This is a circumstance calculated to have more influence upon the character of our governments, than but few may be aware of...

whereupon Judge Hirsch introduced Judge Sayfie, to a rousing standing ovation of attorneys who all then made patting movements on their jackets and rummaged through their purses to mostly discover that, darn, they forgot to bring their check books. 

Judge Hirsch then returned to conclude with his rendition of "A Costly Ride" by Guy de Maupassant,  reprising his long-ago defense of a case in which he successfully argued the old "wrong place, wrong time defense."



A good time was apparently had by all. 

One of these years someone is going to invite us. 
Until then.... see you in court. 


CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...



The Captain Reports:

Rumpole - here is your Errata Sheet:

The last Award is called the Pearson-Prebish Founders Award named after the two FACDL-Miami founders. It is awarded for Lifetime Achievement.

There were two winners, both well deserved:

Edith Georgi and Rory Stein

Congrats to all of the winners last evening.

Cap Out .....

Friday, April 29, 2016

JUDGE SAYFIE HAS AN OPPONENT


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

BREAKING NEWS ..... JUDGE NUSHIN SAYFIE HAS DRAWN OPPOSITION .....

UPDATED BELOW

In a stunning move, Judge Nushin Sayfie, Chief Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division, has drawn an opponent.  Judge Sayfie is running for reelection in Group 59 of the Circuit Court.

Her opponent is attorney ROSY APONTE, who has been a member of The Florida Bar for, hold your breath, a whopping seven years.  Ms. Aponte maintains a law office in the City of Doral.  Ms. Aponte filed to run against Judge Sayfie earlier today.

Judge Sayfie began her career with the Public Defender's Office and worked for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit PD from 1994-1999 and from 2001-2007. She also spent two years with the PD in the Second Circuit from 1999-2001. Judge Sayfie became a Circuit Court Judge in 2007.  She was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist in 2007 and ran unopposed in 2010.

Judge Sayfie has currently raised $54,000 and loaned her campaign a total of $5,000.

We know nothing about her opponent.

UPDATE:

If Aponte decides to leave Group 59 and jump into another race, here are the Incumbents currently running unopposed. One of them may end up having a long, hot summer filled with shaking lots of hands:

John Schlesinger - $61,000**; $100,000***
Rudy Ruiz - $118,000; $3,500
Scott Bernstein - $76,000; $50,000
Bertila Soto - $108,000; $2,000
John Thornton - $189,000; $100,000
Jennifer Bailey - $156,000; $5,000
Rosa Rodriguez - $89,000; $0.00
Barbara Areces - $64,000; $10,000
David Young * - $222,000; $250
William Thomas - $188,000; $500
Milton Hirsch - $174,000; $100,000
Samantha Ruiz Cohen - $111,000; $25,000
Monica Gordo - $144,000; $0.00
Jorge Sarduy - $105,000; $500
*former judge with no current opposition
**the first number represents the amount raised
***the second number represents the amount the candidate loaned to their campaign

If Judge Sayfie is lucky enough to have Ms. Aponte move to another Group, I'm thinking that Scott Bernstein is shaking in his boots right about now.

COUNTY COURT .... GROUPS 15 & 35

The latest on Group 35 is that Judge Wendell Graham is down to one opponent; Antonio "Tony" Jimenez.  That's because his other opponent, patent attorney Ruben Alcoba, has jumped into the Group 15 race against Linda Luce and Eleane Sosa-Bruzon.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

20 QUESTIONS

UPDATED 
Why....

Why does life and practice of law in the REGJB need to be so difficult?

Twenty questions:

1) Why aren't court documents scanned so they can be accessed electronically? 
Let's break this down in to two subsets. First, the Feds have a great system. You electronically file something and it is available for downloading from then on. This system was fully functional before the state instituted our filing system which does not make filed documents accessible. 
Second, what's the document attorneys wait in line at the clerk's office (now down to one clerk and counting) to copy? An A-Form on a new case. Why aren't those scanned so we can get them?
We can order a four course meal from a French restaurant on our phone and pay for it and have it delivered to the courthouse within an hour, but we can't get a copy of an a-form without waiting in a line for the same hour. 
You can apply for a freaking mortgage on your phone. But we can't an electronic copy of one damn pink piece of paper ("the defendant fraudulently applied for over 200 mortgages from his phone and was arrested after an investigation.") 

2) Why aren't informations provided to the defense? It's only the charging document. The prosecution doesn't give you one when they file charges and all the in court clerk will do is give you some vague promise about mailing it to you sometime before 2027. But why incur the mailing cost? Why not have a copy available? Or scanned and emailed? We realize we're being picky here. It's only the charging document. The piece of paper that is bringing your client to court and may send her to prison for life. Other than that, it's not that important. 

3) Why can't clerks in court certify a copy? Why do we have to get a copy of an order in court and then have to trek up to nine and wait in line for the clerk (down to one every other day and counting) to get it certified? 

4) And if the in court clerk could certify a document, then a motion to transport a defendant could be certified in court and handed to a corrections officer. Instead, here is the procedure (edited for brevity) : i) Go to court; It's not on calendar. leave; ii) Re-set the motion; iii) Go back to court; iv) Get the order signed;  v) Walk or ride the elevator up to nine;  Go see the clerk (down to working twice a week and counting); vi) Get six certified copies;  vii) Walk down to six. Go to corrections. Give them six certified copies. They want seven. vii) Go back to court. Court is finished for the day; viii) Call the JA and ask the case to be put back on calendar. JA asks for a written motion first. Email the motion. JA sets it on calendar in six weeks; ix) Go to court. Get motion signed. Judge comments she already signed this. "It's too long to explain judge. Just sign it again." x) Get order. Take elevator up to nine;  xi) Wait in line for clerk. xii) Get sixteen certified copies; xiii) Take certified copies to corrections. "Why do you have sixteen certified copies? We only need three." ; xiv) Look for window to jump out of.  

Rinse. repeat. 

5) Why do we have to call over-worked JAs to calendar a case? We can schedule an appointment with a heart surgeon over an app on our phone. We can buy a car on-line, book a trip to Bali, make reservations at Per Se on our phone. We can short Apple and go long on Bank of America with three clicks on our phone. But we have to call a JA to schedule a two minute motion. 

Why does the practice of law in the REGJB have to be this difficult? 

There are Apps for everything these days. Uber is changing the world. In San Francisco most of the parking spaces downtown are being electronically monitored so an App can find a parking space for you. But in the REGJB if you want almost anything, you need to wait on line and ask for a paper file which the odds are 50-50 cannot be found, and then copy the item in the file. It boggles the mind how far behind the times we are. 

Five questions about five simple issues for which the technology exists to do it better, cheaper, and easier. 

15 questions left. Post yours in the comments and we will consider using them. 

See you in court, where you must turn your beeper off before entering a courtroom. 

UPDATE: Question # 6

6) WHY CAN'T WE GET DECENT WI-FI in the courthouse? 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lot 26 Woes

"Ebony and Ivory live together in perfect harmony."

So goes the song. 

Not so much for criminal defense attorneys and law enforcement officers. 

Lot 26, the parking lot adjacent ("next to" for our robed readers) to the REGJB, has become a flash point of sorts once again. This is the parking lot young ASAs tramp through every day, lugging carts teeming with disorderly conduct and DWLS cases while sipping Starbucks and snapchatting and walking right down the middle of the lot oblivious to the line of cars creeping  behind them looking for a parking space. 

But more of the issue is police officers who are not good neighbors, parking lot wise. Which reminds us, as Donald Trump is wont to say, tall fences make good neighbors. 


However, the problem  with sharing (a skill covered in kindergarten) is percolating just beneath the surface:

Evidence this rant, which went the  FACDL listserv equivalent of viral:

Good morning,
Several years ago those of us who pay upwards of $100 a month to park in lot 26 were asked to share the parking lot with law enforcement officers who get to park there for free.
Throughout the years there's been conflict especially on Monday mornings when the parking lot tends to be over full.
Below please find photographs of a particular law enforcement officer who chose to park in a manner taking up two parking spaces on a Monday morning.
If we are all required to share we should all be courteous to those around us, especially if you were invited to park in our lot for free.
If someone knows who this officer is please advise he or she that they would benefit from retaking the parking class at the police academy. Thank you

Here is defense exhibit one, which to be honest with you, is more like the work of a City of Miami Crime Scene tech, then a good and clear picture of the problem. 





Monday, April 25, 2016

ELECTION CENTRAL UPDATE .... WENDELL GRAHAM UPDATE .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION CENTRAL 2016 ...................

COUNTY AND CIRCUIT COURT RACES

A whole lot of changes in the landscape of judicial races has taken place in the past week in both the County Court and Circuit Court.

COUNTY COURT

GROUP 15

We were the first to report (on March 8th) that Judge Judith "Judy" Rubinstein had decided to hang up her robe after 16 years on the bench.

As soon as Judge Rubinstein announced her intention to retire, two attorneys who had filed to run in Circuit Court jumped at the opportunity for a less crowded field and filed in her County Court Group. The first attorney, Antonio G. Jimenez, who had previously filed to run in Circuit Group 34, is still now running for County Court.  But, the second lawyer, Raul Perez-Ceballos, who previously filed to run in Circuit Group 52, then filed to run in County Court Group 15, has now firmly chosen to return to the Circuit Court race in Group 52 against Jodie Breece, Elena Ortega-Tauler, and Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts. Perez-Ceballos plucked down his check in the amount of $5,843.20 last week representing the filing fee to run for Circuit Court Judge.

GROUP 35

We previously reported to you that only one incumbent, Judge Wendell Graham, had yet for file to run for reelection in his Group 35 of the County Court. When we spoke with Judge Graham this past October, he indicated to us that he intended to run again. Judge Graham has been on the bench since 1994. With two weeks left in the filing period Graham has still not filed to retain his seat.  When we recently spoke with him again, he reiterated his intention to file.  The problem is, because he waited as long as he did, when he does file, he will now have to face two challengers who are attempting to take his seat away from him.

Filing to run in Group 35:

Antonio G. Jimenez. Yes, the same Jimenez that had first filed in Circuit Group 34; then moved to County Group 15, has now settled into running for the open seat in County Group 35.

Ruben Y. Alcoba. He joined the race this past Friday. Mr. Alcoba has been a member of The Florida Bar for the past 17 years. He is a patent attorney having handled over 500 patent and trademark legal matters.

GROUP 15

Wait, so if incumbent Judith Rubenstein first filed, then dropped out of County Group 15; and if challenger Antonio Jimenez first filed in this Group and then switched to County Group 35; and if challenger Raul Perez-Ceballos first filed in Circuit Group 34, then switched to County Group 15, only to switch back to Circuit Group 34,

Who, you ask, is left to run in County Group 15. Well, until a few days ago - nobody. Enter:

Linda Luce. She has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1995. We believe Ms. Luce handles primarily family law matters with an office in Coral Gables.

Eleane Sosa-Bruzin. She has been a member of The Florida Bar since 2005. Ms. Sosa-Bruzin is currently employed with Landau & Assoc., a large firm based in Hollywood. She began her career at the Broward PD’s office. She now handles PIP suits.

No doubt there will be a lot more hopping around between Groups and a few last minute surprise candidates as we draw closer to the filing deadline of Friday, May 6, 2016.

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

She's 90














And he died 400 years ago.



It's better to be in England, now that spring is here. 
Events at Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend.

WHEN OA AT THE SUPREME COURT GOES BAD 
Slate has the uncomfortable details here (h/t Mr. Markus).

Our read: The Supreme Court wants to require warrants in DUI blood tests for certain, and maybe even breath tests, but no competent lawyer can give them the facts they need. 

Interesting side note: the court talks a lot about "insta-warrants"- warrants obtained electronically in minutes,  and we're just wondering- original intent and original text wise- in which federalist paper that was discussed? 


EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK












EL CHAPO CAFE

Photo reprinted without the permission of El Chapo Cafe, but sent in by alert reader Kenneth Weisman, at great personal expense.