Monday, November 30, 2015

2075 or 1955

UPDATE: So this is spinning out of control fast. 
The Defendant apparently had a list of priors. He was apparently on probation for a lot of cases. He was stopped for DWLS and at least one email stated there was a gun in the car. 

SO....assuming the worst... should a judge warehouse a defendant for sixty years for a non-violent violation of probation? 

Rumpole says-sixty years is still outrageous. We know that as people age, they age out of violent behavior. So even if this was a dangerous individual in his early twenties, a sentence of twenty or or twenty-five years AT MOST seems more appropriate. 

Now here's a more normal Broward post. 

Broward Judge Matthew Destry violated the probation of a young African America man last week for DWLS (in some reports its an NVDL, but we're giving him the benefit of the doubt.) 

He sentenced the young man to sixty years. 
60 years. 
More than half a century. 

He looked at this young man on probation and decided that for the crime of not having a valid driver's license he should stay in prison until 2075. 
Or look at it this way. If he had sentenced this young man in 1955, and he got out now, he would say- "yeah, that's about the right amount of time for someone to be in jail for not having a valid DL."

It's an outrage. 

There are various petitions floating around the web to seek this Judge's removal, and rightfully so. Anyone with the power to sentence a person who sends them to prison for sixty years for a non-violent offense should be removed from the bench. 

Nothing on the Broward Blog about this by the way. 

See You In Court. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015


They've re-made Point Break. Really? We needed another Point Break? Why tinker with a classic?

The Super Bowl rematches continue with the Steelers visiting the home of Starbucks and the Seahawks.  The o/u is 44 and the Steelers are getting 4.5. We like the over and the Steelers getting points coming off the bye week. But since the NFL has been trying to rematch super bowl games of years past, shouldn't the Steelers have played the Cowboys, since they've met three times in the SB?

Tampa Bay at Indy- over 45.

 Arizona at San Fran. We like the visiting red birds against the struggling miners -7.5.

Cheaters at Denver. Is this the week? Maybe. Broncos and Orange Crush -1.

See You In Court Monday.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Facebook killer found guilty of second degree murder. 
The defense did an admirable job in the face of very difficult evidence. Second degree was probably the best they could expect. And in Florida's messed up (we wanted to use a curse work) criminal justice system, the defendant can be sentenced to the same sentence as first degree murder. Which means, while the law recognizes a difference in why people kill, Florida says lock them all away for life. 
Coming soon: life for manslaughter and culpable negligence. 

Things we don’t like about Thanksgiving.
An overload of emails from vendors promising 98% off that supply of hand sanitizer we’ve been putting off getting.
Pressure of the Holidays.

Emails from clients long past, lawyers we never see, all compelled to wish us a happy thanksgiving.
Ditto text messages.
“How was your Thanksgiving?
Lousy. That client we represented in 1998 for Petit Theft? He never wished us a happy holiday.
But your local counsel in Sarasota on that drugs case in 2003 did text.
True. But still…”

Almost the entire Washington Post this week has been devoted to three things: Thanksgiving recipes and how to carve the turkey, getting us in the holiday spirit…. And bombing Isis and Donald Trump. 
And that means less coverage than Trump than usual and that’s disappointing.

Starbucks closes at six.

Monday in the REGJB sucks after court being closed for two straight says.
Some judges may work until 2.

We just got an email breathlessly announcing a sale on pens. And tide detergent. But only until six. Limit two per customer.

Certain obnoxious relatives who loudly announce “Can’t we try a thanksgiving with the TV off and no football?”

Every family has one. Move to China. Or France. Or Syria. No football or TV there. Otherwise shut-up and eat your vegan turfurky and look smug. 

Pass the gristle please.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Eve at the Gerstein Justice Building



Will be one of the following 23 attorneys who have submitted an application to the JNC for consideration to replace newly named Circuit Court Judge Charlie Johnson:

Michele A. Vargas
Elijah A. Levitt
Griska Mena Rodriguez
Karl S.H. Brown
Gordon C. Murray, Sr.
Alexander Spicola Bokor
Paul Aiello
Gina Beovides
Barbara T. Govea
Joseph J. Mansfield
Linda Luce
Ansley B. Peacock
Norman C. Powell
David Alschuler
Ramiro C. Areces
Carolyn G. Epstein
Julie H. Nelson
Peter S. Heller
Javier BaƱos Machado
Luis Perez-Medina
John W. Wylie
Jonathan Meltz
Robert A. Lesperance

The JNC can narrow the list before inviting some of the candidates for personal interviews.  They will then send between 4-6 names to Gov. Scott for his consideration.  Anyone care to weigh in on who are the favorites to wear the judicial robes?

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

The judicial election for 2016 just got a bit more interesting.  Incumbent Judge Fred Seraphin will have opposition next year.  Attorney Milena Abreu has filed to run against Seraphin.  As of today, Judge Seraphin has not filed his papers indicating that he will run for re-election.  Assuming he does, that would create at least six contested elections, (four in Circuit Court races and two in County), for the 2016 election.

Milena Abreu has been a member of The Florida Bar for 14 years and she is currently employed at the Office of Regional Counsel.  Judge Seraphin was first appointed to the bench by Gov. Bush in 2001.  He was the first Haitian American Judge in the State of Florida.  He was an APD for ten years before becoming a Judge.  He last won election in 2010 when he ran unopposed.


UPDATED: After approximately seven hours of deliberations over the past two days, the jury returned a VERDICT of Second Degree Murder.  A PSI has been ordered and Sentencing is set for January 11th at 11:00 AM.

A long and well deserved four day weekend ahead for most in the GJB.  But jurors are still deliberating in the "Facebook" murder trial of State v. Derek Medina.  Jury deliberation began late Tuesday and continued for a couple of hours before adjourning for the evening.  Medina is charged with First Degree Murder in the shooting death of his wife, Jennifer Alonso.  The State has waived death, but 12 jurors are currently deciding on the verdict in the case.  They are also considering lessers including Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter.  During the deliberation yesterday, jurors asked to review at least two videos including a snipnet of the video of the victim and the defendant arguing near the kitchen, and the video of the interview by a detective of the ten year old daughter of Alonso.

What do our readers think the verdict will be in this case?

Happy Thanksgiving to all our loyal readers. 

CAPTAIN OUT .........

Monday, November 23, 2015


Ohh this post pains us to write. The agony, the irony of it all. But yet, we adhere to the bloggers' credo of "giving credit where credit is due...except when it relates to winning a case."

BROWARD JAIL AND ELECTRONICS -nobody (choking) does it better.
You are now permitted to bring your laptops, tablets, electronic devices into the jails without prior approval.  Over the last week I went to a few of the jails with my iPad and laptop and the staff was aware of the new policy.

Since we have started to receive discovery electronically, reviewing documents with clients in custody has been an ordeal.  Initially we needed to fax paperwork to the jail for pre-approval of bringing electronics into the jail.

BACDL, in an effort to make life easier, has worked with BSO over the last few months to formulate a new policy allowing attorneys to enter the jails, without pre-approval, with electronics to view discovery and take notes.
There are some restrictions so please read the attached new BSO policy and the acknowledgement form.  The staff at the jail will provide the form.
Some of the prohibitions are: no phones, you and/or your client cannot use skype, social media, internet or make or receive calls.


For those of you interested this is the email I received from Lieutenant Jason Eisenstein:

Mr. Mankes,
Attached is the revised interview policy and new form associated with it. The policy and form will be live beginning tomorrow morning. We have sent this out to all DOD commands for all staff to be advised of the changes in our practice of permitting the devices mentioned in the policy into interview areas. This is a substantial change in operations for our staff in dealing with electronic devices. We appreciate patience as the personnel you represent enter our facilities during the course of the next few days.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Lieutenant Jason Eisenstein
Compliance Unit
Broward County Sheriff's Office

Rumpole notes: Miami-Dade corrections could not even agree for months and months to let attorneys see their clients. And Broward decides to let electronics in jail without moaning that it will somehow lead to tweets to ISIS to attack Hialeah, or in this case, Cooper City.

"When asked to elaborate Miami-Dade Corrections policy, a spokesman stated 'Lawyers may bring one  number 2 pencil, not too sharp, a separate hand held eraser (see memo dated 11, October, 1982 "the possession and use of additional erasers and jail policy")  and exactly four pages of 8x11 legal paper-white not yellow for obvious security reasons. Using both sides of the paper, attorneys can take the equivalent of eight pages of legal notes, which is much more than they- in our considered opinion- need.'
When asked whether Dade-County Corrections would ever allow an attorney to bring in an electronic device to discuss discovery served electronically, the spokesman collapsed in laughter, and gasped 'oh boy, that's a good one. Wait until I share that one with the guys at the 11:30 security meeting. You're too funny.' 

Update: we were contacted by a Miami-Dade corrections spokesman who stated that the jail was actively reviewing it's policy towards electronics and that, although this was off the record, we shouldn't be surprised if starting in the new year attorneys would be allowed to bring their beepers into the jail. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015


3-0 last week. Having a blistering hot season. Come make some holiday flow. 

Dolphins are a +2 home dog versus the cowpokes. Tony Romo Returns as the Jedi Knight for the Pokes, and right up until the time  Suh  knocks him in to tomorrow, Romo will be fine. Then he will regret coming back. Fins +2.

Broncos at Bears. Bruins are another home dog that is barking. Broncos have a clone at QB, and the clone wars movie was not that good anyway, so take DA BEARS at home +3.

Bengals at Cardinals. Are the wheels off the bus in Cincy? A bad week last week, and now the Cats visit the Birds as former Bungle QB Carson Palmer welcomes them to the desert of Arizona. No reason why the Bungles don't start "breaking bad" and begin  a prolonged loosing streak now. Cardinals -5 over Cincy. 

Long shots:

Packers are also in free fall, and they visit the up and coming Vikes in Minnesotta doncha know. The Vikes are a small home dog, +1, but for a few bucks we like Minny to make the Cheese Heads miserable this holiday season.

Cheaters -7 over Bills. This is not a long shot. We just hate the cheaters. But the Bills just aren't that good, and Rex is no Yoda, while Belichick is Darth Vader reincarnate. But if you need the scratch on MNF, take the evil one.

Can it be? Does Rumpole say something nice about Broward? is the world coming to an end? Check in and see.

See You in Court.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was a young circuit court judge who had ascended to the circuit bench by winning a run-off election against an attorney with the unfortunate (for electoral reasons) name of Fritz Mann.

A candidate with the first name of "Fritz" just didn't play well amongst  Miami's Jewish voters, so a young man named Philip S. Davis, was elected to the bench.  Davis was known around the courthouse. He handled some criminal cases. He wasn't anything special, but then again, this is a judicial election we are talking about. So Davis beat Fritz Mann.

So much for name recognition in judicial races.

This was a time before the wheel, when any judge could appoint any lawyer on any number of cases. And did.

Then a darkness descended on the REGJB.  A cabal of Judges engaged in selling their robes, and judicial appointments, for cash. A rogue lawyer named Ray Takeff became a federal informant. And in 1992- a year that will in REGJB infamy- Judges Sepe, Gelber, Davis, and Shenberg and former Judge David Goodhart were indicted in what is infamously known as "CourtBroom". Shenberg, in a sting, sold what he thought was the name of an informant that would be killed for $50,000.00. He was on video stuffing the money the FBI handed him down his pants exclaiming that it was hard to send a child to college on a judge's salary.
A slew of lawyers were also indicted.
Gelber flipped and went to prison. Shenberg was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years for conspiracy to commit murder. Sepe had some acquittals and a hung jury and eventually pled out. All the lawyers either pled or were convicted and went to prison.

But Davis was acquitted although he admitted to taking over $30,000.00 in bribes. A stirring closing argument by former federal judge (He was impeached- don't ask- this is Miami) Alcee Hastings (who is now a congressman. Don't ask. This is Miami) resulted in Davis being acquitted based on an entrapment defense. (Don't ask....)
"And David came to Bar-perazm and David smote them there; and he said: The Lord hath broken mine enemies before me."
Samuel 5:19-21.

Davis's complete acquittal was biblical in nature. He was on tape and as guilty as could be. But he had a second chance.

(Cue Darth Vader Music).

Then in 2005 Davis was arrested and charged in Miami state court with an organized scheme to defraud, and grand theft involving a charity and government funds. He went to trial in front of Judge B. Butchko (Darth Vader music) and was sentenced to a whole lot of prison time; lets just say his probation starts in 2030. The death star destroyed Alderaan. And Davis was launched. Deservedly so. He sold his robes and then stole from a charity. Enough is enough.

Until a little item crossed our path. Davis is back, with an evidentiary hearing on a rule 3.850 motion before our own Judge Milton Hirsch, who as a prominent defense attorney at the time, must have watched the proceedings- as we all did- with a sense of abject horror and fascination. There is a reset date in early December on Davis's 3.850 motion. 

Davis wrought havoc and dishonor in this courthouse and the judiciary. He was often impaired on the bench. He said and did outrageous things on the bench, and humiliated defense attorneys and prosecutors alike, subject to his warped whimsy.

This is in all likelihood it for Phil Davis. He lost at trial and appeal and now the next fifteen years of his life hang by the thinnest of threads- a 3.850 petition.

His name evokes a dark era in the REGJB; when Judges sold their robes and office, and his colleagues stuffed money down their pants not caring that an informant would be killed. His fall from grace was breathtaking in its scope. He had it all. A secure job. Respect. Dignity. And even when given a second chance, he blew it for some easy cash, a charity be dammed.

The story of Phil Davis is a modern Shakespeare tragedy, in all it's ugly, gory, glory.
"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in our selves...."
Julius Caesar, Shakespeare.

See You In Court.