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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PACs

UPDATE: We have the video of Ferguson Officer Go F Yourself, which is how the fine, upstanding, well trained peace officer identified himself while pointing a semi-automatic rifle at an unarmed protestor while telling him- in a clear attempt to defuse the situation- that he would "fucking kill you."

No folks, this isn't the Ukraine, China, or Gaza. This is America 2014. 



PAC=Political Action Committee. 

PACs came into existence in the 1980's in response to changes in campaign finance laws. PACs are able to campaign for candidates they endorse, and spend almost unlimited amounts of money to promote a candidate. It is what is known as a "loophole."

Politicians like Senators, candidates for congress, Presidents, and Mayors, benefit from the activities of PACs who promote issues the politician is aligned with. So some yahoo Billy-Bob-For Congress campaign in Texas can be endorsed by the NRA and run for congress under a platform requiring all school age children to wear firearms while attending school. Yee-haw!

But what happens when say MAAD not only endorses a judicial candidate, but it's PAC spends $100,000.00 on billboard and direct mail for a judge in a judicial campaign? What happens when a DUI or DUI Manslaughter comes before this judge after s/he wins the election?  Do we want that in our judicial campaigns and do we want judges who feel beholden to industries based on PAC support?

PAC donations have become an issue in our current judicial campaigns, as an insurance company that litigates and defends a lot of PIP suits has formed a PAC and spent money on behalf of sitting judges running for re-election. And make no mistake about it: PIP litigation is a multi-millon dollar legal industry in Florida. For decades the plaintiffs bar has donated generously to support judges and judicial candidates. Now the insurance industry is fighting back. 

Is the only solution to remove elections from the judiciary? 

We're not willing to go that far, the memory of some truly awful judges being defeated for re-election too fresh in our mind to endorse a system that makes our robe wearers even more arrogant than most of them already are. 

What say you? 

See You In Court. 

UPDATE: VIDEO OF OFFICER GO F YOURSELF. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

VOTE FOR JUDGE RODNEY SMITH

Before we begin, Monroe County State Attorney Cathy Vogel says we were mistaken and she wasn't the ASA in the murder case we referenced in the prior post.  To that end, we have edited the post to remove any reference to her. 

Long time and careful blog readers know we average about a mistake a year. If our memory was faulty, and we have no reason to not believe Ms. Vogel, we apologize. 

And there's our mistake for 2014. 

KEEP RODNEY SMITH JUDGE. 

We are going to endorse only one candidate in one race this year: Judge Rodney Smith. 
He is a self made man.
He is a Miami native who came from a poor family and made his way through college and law school with scholarships and hard work. 
Upon becoming a lawyer, he immediately gave back to his community by becoming a prosecutor.  From the prosecutor's office, he applied for and became a judge. For a talented lawyer, that means removing at least one digit from the monthly paycheck. 

For our community to not just survive but thrive, we need more people like Rodney Smith becoming lawyers, and we need more lawyers like Rodney Smith becoming judges. 

We are lucky to have Judge Smith as a judge, and there is NO GOOD reason for any lawyer to have targeted Judge Smith. 

Vote for Judge Smith. He has earned your vote. He certainly has earned ours. 

See you in court. 


Monday, August 18, 2014

INFORMATION AND DISINFORMATION

In preparation for the battle of Midway, Admiral Nimitz had a decision to make: did his intelligence code-breakers successfully break the Japanese code and correctly discern that Midway was Japanese Admiral Yamamoto's next target? If Nimitz was correct, he could use his three remaining carriers (Halsey's Enterprise and Hornet- Fletcher's severely damaged Yorktown, nearly sunk in the battle of the Coral Sea was pressed into service and ended up playing a significant role in sinking the Japanese fleet at Midway) to ambush Yamamoto and give the Japanese their first significant naval defeat. 
However, to ambush Yamamoto, Nimitz had to leave both Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States virtually undefended. Yamamoto was betting Nimitz couldn't do that, and thus felt secure that his carriers were safe from attack. If Nimitz's intelligence was wrong and Yamamoto attacked Hawaii again or California, there were no US Carriers to stop the Japanese. 

Yamamoto had his own problems to contend with. In an era before satellites and primitive radar, he had to locate Halsey's and Fletcher's carrier groups. Yamamoto needed to know where the US Carriers were so he could send the bombers from his carriers properly armed to attach either the hardened shelters on Midway or the US Carriers. 

Nimitz was right, Yamamoto was wrong, and the Japanese lost all four of their carriers that day: the Akagi, the Kaga, the Soryu, and later -from the Yorktown and Enterprise bombers, the Hiryu. 
The Japanese would never be on the naval offensive again in the war. 

Intelligence- the ability to discern the enemy's moves and disguise your own attack and defense, has been the sine qua non of military strategy ever since Sun Tzu wrote his classic "The Art of War."

These concerns play an important part in criminal defense and modern trial strategy.  A good prosecutor spends time wondering what the defense will be. A good defense attorney (should) spend time disguising his or her defense. Sending the prosecution off on irrelevant tangents can be a valuable way to get the state to waste time and resources while allowing the defense to attack the prosecution in areas not well defended. 

Defense attorney Stan Blake did that about two decades ago when he successfully defended a murder case. The prosecutor  brought her new fangled DNA testimony to a trial only to learn that the defense was self defense. The prosecutor  spent an enormous and un-needed amount of time proving the identity of the defendant, while Blake attacked the weak spot of the prosecution. The verdict was a not guilty. 

In a lengthy trial we had last year, the prosecution intended to introduce a long deposition of our client in a civil fraud case that turned into a criminal prosecution. We knew the prosecution was expecting us to object to the introduction of the depo, and we fostered that belief by objecting to their reference to it during opening statement. We also knew that the statement was clearly an admission against interest and we couldn't keep it out. We thus spent months pulling it apart line by line, and using every good answer by our client during our cross examination of their witness. Their witness was not prepared for a detailed examination of the depo line by line, and we turned a perceived weakness into a strong point of the defense, highlighting portions of the depo during our closing. 

When you approach a trial, how much time do you spend on figuring out what the prosecution is going to say and how much time do you spend on figuring out what the prosecution thinks your defense will be?  If you can get the prosecution to incorrectly assume and prepare for a defense you will not be using, you are half way home to a not guilty. 

As Sun Tzu said, "All warfare is based on deception."

See you in court. Maybe....

Friday, August 15, 2014

AMERICA 2014: THE MORE THINGS CHANGE....


FERGUSON, MISSOURI, 2014. 
LEFT: FERGUSON MISSOURI, 2014. RIGHT: BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, 1963




LEFT: FERGUSON, MISSOURI, 2014. RIGHT: ALABAMA HIGHWAY PATROL,  BIRMINGHAM, 1963.




FERGUSON, MISSOURI, 2014



TIANANMEN, SQUARE, CHINA, 1989.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

WHAT DAVID OVALLE MISSED WHILE IN FEDERAL COURT

(the following is a dramatization and has not been approved by the FDA and is not intended to diagnosis any medical conditions.) 

Here's a brief wrap up of the daily events at the REGJB this week that David Ovalle missed while over at the college of cardinals in federal court, sipping black coffee in a clean and sterile glass enclosed monolith of convictions and prison sentences:

-Alex Michaels and  Michael Von Zamft were seen peacefully having lunch together until Alex mistakenly squirted a packet of ketchup on MVZ, causing a ruckus that had to be broken up by two bailiffs, one of them a middle aged woman. 

-Judge Will Thomas denied all continuances for all cases set in his division, even in cases where defendants hadn't been arrested yet. For more and real Judge Thomas rumors, see below. *

-Judge Milt Hirsch issued a forty page ruling criticizing Marbury v. Madison and Pennoyer v. Neff, written entirely in iambic pentameter, fully footnoted in Sandskrit, with citations only to the Iliad and the third federalist paper. 

-Judge Brennan granted a bond, but quickly realized what she had done and reversed herself. 

-Judge Rodriguez-Chomat stayed awake during a voir dire. 

-A symposium entitled "Representing Broward Judges charged with DUI and other crimes" was held in courtroom 4-1 over lunch on Tuesday for 2 CLE credits and was well attended by lawyers looking to expand their practices. 

-The escalator between five and six briefly started working before an emergency response team of Miami Dade Building technicians swarmed in and jammed it up with gum and paper clips. 

It's our humble courthouse, and we love it. 

Now to some real news and rumors: 
Just what was being discussed at this high-level judicial pow-wow convened by Judge Thomas with several other Judges in attendance where Thomas wanted the other Judges to continue a slew of cases? Rumor has it that whatever his ultimate goal was, at least one judge refused to play nice and did not agree to continue her cases. Thomas is scheduled to rotate to civil in the coming new year (As Jack Nicholson as the Joker said "wait until they get a load of me") and he was trying to close out or try some monster case, but alas the best laid plans of mice and men.....





See You In Court. 

No truth to the rumor that tickets will be sold to his first motion calendar in civil, but still, there won't be a better show around as civil lawyers get "the treatment"


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TOP TEN REASONS


Top ten reasons why David Ovalle didn't like federal court:

10) Brand new courthouse lacks the charm and filth of the REGIB;

9) It is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy to pass through security and there are no long lines to wait to get in;

8) They serve good black coffee;

7) He was often confused considering the recent proliferation of state court judges appointed to the federal bench;

6) The lawyers are polite and the trials proceed in a professional manner;

5) There are no JOA's (rule 29's);

4) The use of 404(b) evidence makes even the simplest cases a confusing mish-mash of multiple incidents, some charged, some not;

3) There are no broken elevators or escalators; 

2) Everyone is convicted and sentenced to prison; 

And the number one reason David Ovalle didn't like covering a case in federal court this week:

NO TWEETING IN COURT. 

WELCOME BACK





DOWN GOES BIEBER

Justin Bieber, who is famous for something that we admittedly know little about, will plead guilty today to careless driving, as a reduced charge from DUI, and resisting arrest without violence. 

Famed Miami misdemeanor attorney Roy Black represents Bieber. The case is before Judge Altfield. 

Despite the media horde, Bieber will will not be present because the rules allow for a plea in absentia (literally "I'm busy") in misdemeanor cases. 

In other, less important news, a deal for the peaceful transfer of political power seems to have been worked out in Iraq. 

See you in court. 

Coming soon: check your mail, the gloves have come off in one judicial race with one candidate going completely negative in a large mailing. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

YOU BREAK IT -YOU OWN IT

First some good-local-REGJB news: Marie Mato has been named Prosecutor of The Year by the League of Prosecutors. Mato has tried some of the biggest cases of the year, including convictions in one of the men who killed Sean Taylor, and the recent case before Judge Pooler where the defendant was convicted of killing his wife decades ago and throwing her body into the ocean where it was never recovered. 
Mato is considered by the defense bar as a straight shooter and very good lawyer and this is an honor richly deserved. 
The League of Prosecutors is having an awards dinner in September at, we kid you not, Jungle Island. Go figure. 

YOU BREAK IT -YOU OWN IT:
When George W Bush was considering the invasion of Iraq in an illogical response to the Afghanistan based Al Queda's attack on NYC, secretary of State Collin Powell, who had been down this road before with Bush's father- George H W Bush, the 41st President of the U.S.  Powell told Bush 43 to be careful- "You break it, you own it."

We broke Iraq. We left the country after more than a decade of war in the hands of  Shia Prime Minister Maliki  who set out to punish Iraq's Sunni minority that held power for so long under Saddam Hussein.  Maliki ignored US entreaties to form a unity government, and the result is that ISIS has been able to unify Sunni arabs in Syria and Iraq  in trying to form a Muslim Caliphate state in the region. ISIS is employing brutal tactics, executing all non-sunni muslims and christians that it finds in its path- including beheading children. 

What is the US's responsibility in this civil war, a war we arguably created? Do we just stand by while innocent ethic minorities are slaughtered in a planned genocide? Would we tolerate a re-newed attempt to wipe out Jews in Europe, or white christians in Africa? 

We are not fooled by the news out of Iraq earlier this week.  Can the ISIS offensive against the Kurds in Northern Iraq really have been stalled because a few F-18's took out the equivalent of a machine gun on a Toyota Tundra? No. This is a long, dirty war, and the genocide against innocent civilians mandates that the civilized world and the United Nations put "boots on the ground" and stop this slaughter. 

We broke Iraq. And we didn't fix it when we left. There is the blood of children on our collective hands. 

Meanwhile, Nato confirms that over 40,000 Russian troops have massed on the Ukraine boarder. Russia will invade Ukraine. Guaranteed. Putin is waiting for an incident, one which he will manufacture if necessary. It is a play taken straight from Hitler's playbook when he invaded Poland and later Russia. And Putin will act when the world's attention is sufficiently riveted on the events in Iraq or the Ebola problem in Africa or re-newed fighting in Gaza. Sell your stocks, and short the market. 

See you in court.