Friday, January 30, 2015


We all know the warnings. 
You have the right to remain silent….. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you, ….Once we are finished speaking with you and getting you to incriminate yourself, because we really don't respect or protect the constitution, we just figure out ways to work around it. 

The below video shows what happens when the right to counsel is invoked before the police finish with a suspect.  An 18 year veteran of the San Francisco Public Defenders Office refuses to back down, and gets arrested. 

Miami is different then San Fran. In Miami, the person taking the video with the I phone would have, tragically, been jumped and beaten senseless by unknown individuals as the police were looking the other way for a moment. We speak with authority on this because we once represented the owner of a video camera who filmed an arrest. They went to trial several months after leaving the hospital. We had the video as members of the crowd were able to get it away from the police. This was circa 1995. It was a quick NG. 

It's cool in South Florida now, but we sense a warming trend:

See you in court. Enjoy the beautiful winter weekend. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The cycle of CLE, trials, and Bench and Bar Mixers continues with another "come meet the judges y'all"  shing-ding at Pride and Joy, which is not a half-bad BBQ joint on Thursday, after work (or several hours after work for certain members of the judiciary)  Details below. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015



You Know it. 
You Love it. 
You can't live without it. 

The REGJB Lunch & Learn is back for 2015! 

This week's topic is especially enlightening, because no matter where we go, and regardless of with whom we speak, we are always asked about one of the topics to be covered. 

For example: 

A meeting in Tallahassee with some prominent individuals about a pending federal investigation:

Rumpole: "…so the Feds are like a big container ship. Even when they turn the wheel it takes some time before the ship responds. I know it's been three and a half years, but they still have eighteen-months on the statute of limitations and I don't expect any action until the end of the year. 

Client: "Listen, before I forget, my wife got one of those red light camera tickets in Miami. Weren't they declared unconstitutional?"

Apparently you can't park at TGK. Who knew? Who would want to? 
Apparently lawyers and doctors can't find parking, and since they moved the mentally ill to TGK,  (insert your random joke about the judiciary here) doctor/experts have been circling the parking lot in frustration, with nary a parking spot to be found. 
Can a valet service be far off? 

Here is Judge Sayfie's letter to the jail director. Note the cautious criticism, and the excessive courtesy, praising the director for having his finger on the pulse of the problem. You don't get to be a chief without knowing how to take care of the indians. 

Monday, January 26, 2015




MONA LISA VITO ...........................

More than once we have been referred to as the Mona Lisa Vito of reporters, when it comes to the reporting of judicial elections in Miami-Dade County.  And, following our reporting on the filing of Judge David Young last week, we received several emails requesting the lineup of who's up in 2016 for reelection.

Without further adieu, here is the list of Judges, both Circuit and County Court, whose terms expire in 2016.


32 Areces, Barbara

28 Bailey, Jennifer D.

10 Bernstein, Scott M.

34 Freeman, Gill Sherryl

52 Genden, Michael A.

62 Gordo, Monica

41 Hirsch, Milton

76 Eig, Spencer*** 

66 Luck, Robert

30 Rodriguez, Rosa I.

39 Rodriguez-Chomat, Jorge

45 Ruiz-Cohen, Samantha

74 Sarduy, George Alexander

59 Sayfie, Nushin Ghofrany

03 Schlesinger, John C.

12 Soto, Bertila A.

40 Thomas, William L.

20 Thornton, Jr., John W.


11 Gonzalez-Paulson, Michaelle

35 Graham, Wendell Mitchell

23 Kelly, Carroll J.

07 Newman, Edward

15 Rubenstein, Judith

05 Seraphin, Fred

There are 18 Circuit Court Judges whose terms expire at the end of 2016.  At least two of them will have hit mandatory retirement based on their age: Judge Genden and Judge Rodriguez-Chomat.

On Friday, January 16, 2015, former Judge David Young filed to run in Group 39, Rodriguez'-Chomat's group. Coincidentally, on the same day, attorney Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts also filed to run in that group.  You may remember that Rodriguez-Fonts ran unsuccessfully in the most recent election cycle against Judge Martin Zilber.  Zilber beat Rodriguez- Fonts by only 2,316 votes out of nearly 152,000 cast; (50.8%-49.2%).

That begs the question: why didn't one of those two candidates file in Group 52, Genden's seat?  My guess would be that Genden has decided not to complete his term and we can expect that he will resign his seat sometime in the next year or so.

BREAKING .................

In the time it took to author this post, attorney Carol "Jodie" Breece has filed to run for Circuit Court Judge, in Group 52.  I would hope that Ms. Breece had a sit down with Judge Genden before filing to learn whether Genden intends to serve out his term.  If he were to resign early, Governor Scott would appoint the replacement and Breece would be forced to find a new Group if she wants to run in 2016.

You may recall that Ms. Breece filed in 2014 to run for County Court Judge against Incumbent Judge Ana Maria Pando and challenger Diana Gonzalez.  Ultimately, Breece withdrew her candidacy before the qualifying deadline.  She told me back then that she would definitely be running in 2016.  Looks like she kept her word.  Good luck Jodie.

***Judge Spencer Eig needs a new Campaign Treasurer.  Albert Corrada currently holds that honor.  Judge Eig ran unopposed for reelection in 2014 in Group 76.  The Division of Elections though was more concerned that Eig, more than once, filed late Campaign Treasurer's Reports.  On November 19, 2013, Eig was fined $525 for a late filing.  Again, on August 11, 2014, he was fined $400, for another late filing.

Now, if that wasn't poor enough record keeping for Eig and Corrada, for some reason, on August 26, 2014, Eig and Corrada filed papers with the Division of Elections indicating that Eig planned to run for Judge in 2016, again, in Group 76. At least that is what the Division of Elections is currently reporting.  We'll keep you updated on this.  ****We received an email from Mr. Corrada.  He has indicated that the paperwork filed on August 26, 2014 was meant for Judge Eig's reelection campaign in 2020.  Because the Division of Elections has not even opened a web page for that election cycle, they are reporting it as if Judge Eig is running in 2016.****

There are also 6 incumbent judges in County Court whose terms expire in 2016.

Of course, all of this is subject to change; judges getting elevated, retiring, etc.

Qualifying for the election is 15 months away and ends on May 6, 2016.  The election itself is 19 months from now and will take place on Tuesday, August 30, 2016.

CAPTAIN OUT ..................

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


When a federal judge previously quotes Gandhi  and warns you that "an eye for eye will only make the whole world blind"…..BETTER CALL SAUL!

When the Federal Judge writes that the internal feud between clients "blinded its counsel Bernardo Roman from adhering to the ethical tenets of our profession.. " in a motion for sanctions….BETTER CALL SAUL!

When the federal judges summarizes a hearing by writing that there "was no evidence or patently frivolous evidence" to support the Plaintiff's contentions….BETTER CALL SAUL!

When the federal judge dismisses your alleged good faith efforts with the zinger "you cannot make A silk purse out of a sow's ear"…BETTER CALL SAUL!!

When the federal judge begins the "Conclusion" section of the order with the oft repeated phrase "a man who represents himself has a fool for a client"BETTER CALL SAUL!

And finally, when the court awards over a million dollars in fees to your adversaries and refers you to the Florida Bar, well, YOU BETTER CALL SAUL.

Thus ends(?) the sad, strange, twisting saga of the Lewis/Tein law firm's representation of the Miccosukee tribe, and their ultimate vindication by the efforts of their counsel Paul Calli and his firm of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt.

The order sanctioning their opposing counsel who brought this mess upon himself is here.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Let's see… in no particular order of importance….

Today is NFL Championship Sunday. Four teams will vie for the right to go to the Super Bowl which has become a holiday of almost religious reverence in the United States. It's just a football game. 

The oceans are collapsing at an alarming rate and ocean life is approaching a point of collapse from which there is no return. The NY Times has the article here. 

And David Young is running for Judge. 

The announcement of Mr. Young's candidacy drew a multitude of comments in the last post. But it's our blog so we get the last word. (Although actually Mr. Young would have the last word should he care to write in.). 

First as to the Airline Pilots trial several years back. The pilots were charged with attempting to take command of a commercial airline filled with passengers while they were intoxicated from a night of drinking. It is an absolute rule of flying taught on the first day of flight school: "Twenty-four hours from bottle to throttle" and the pilots charged with a violating that rule were about twenty hours short of compliance. 

It has been alleged that Mr. Young in his capacity as a Judge rejected plea offers in the case because he wanted to try the case and use the publicity and notoriety of the televised trial for his own personal aggrandizement. It is not disputed that after the conclusion of the trial that Mr. Young was offered- and accepted- a job as a "television judge" ala "The People's Court" (also headed by a former Dade County Judge- the Honorable Marilyn Milian.). 

To accuse Mr. Young of turning down the pleas because of his desire to land a job on television, is akin to accusing Barak Obama's mother of faking the place of her son's birth because she knew that someday he was destined to be President of the United States. A far-fetched accusation, but one in which small-minded people are apt to believe. The same goes with Judge Young, and the logic is just as tenuous.  

Judges accept pleas all day long to a familiar litany of crimes- possession, robbery, assault, battery, DUI. But as we enter our third decade labouring in the hallowed halls of the REGJB, this is the first case we can recall with these type of charges. At times DUI practitioners would see a private pilot charged with flying while impaired, but we have never seen commercial pilots charged with such a crime. The magnitude of a disaster that could have come about if the pilot's impairment caused error which resulted in a crash is almost unimaginable. Besides the unfortunate souls on the aircraft,  Miami is a crowded urban center. The plane could have crashed into a school, or hospital, or the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant or even the Dade State Attorneys Office!!!  

If in the course of a career a judge rejects a plea or two, this is one of those cases ripe for such action. We see no nefarious plans behind Judge Young's actions. He had the authority, indeed the duty, to accept only a plea that he deemed acceptable in light of the nature of the crime. 

In all other aspects we welcome Mr. Young's return to the bench.  The qualities we seek in a judge are foremost the courage to do the right thing. Time and time again Judge Young spoke out for defendants he saw being mistreated. Defense attorneys applauded him for this, rightfully so. Shame on us for turning on Judge Young for his courage to reject a plea in a case where he thought the crime merited a more serious punishment. We should not criticize philosophical consistency; we should applaud the courage it takes to make a decision consistent with one's belief in the face of the  criticism of the vox populi. 

Seattle over Green Bay by ten, although we are rooting for the Packers. The Colts stun the Cheaters 34-31 when Luck leads his team on a last minute drive and game winning field goal. 

Enjoy the long weekend. No court Monday. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015





JUDGE LNU: Clerk, call the next case.
CLERK: State v. James Williams
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good morning, your honor.  The Captain, appearing on behalf of Mr. Williams.
JUDGE: Mr. Captain, good to see you.  Can you please approach the bench.
CAPTAIN: Of course, your honor.
JUDGE: Mr. Captain, you know I am running for re-election, don't you?
CAPTAIN: Yes, your honor.
JUDGE: Please take this envelope, (slipping the Captain an envelope); I noticed that you had not given to my campaign yet.
CAPTAIN: No problem, your honor.  Of course I will be donating to your re-election campaign.

***This actually happened to me while appearing in Circuit Criminal many years ago.  The Judge, who has since passed away, was a well liked judge and was thought by most, on both sides of the isle, to be a very fair judge.  But, to be clear, what s/he did was not legal under any of the judicial campaign laws at the time.

***And we all know that, when running for Judge, that it's all about that bass ($$$), and lots of it, that makes a campaign go; a treble (thin) bank account is a quick ticket back into private practice.

On January 20, 2015, SCOTUS will hear the case of LANELL WILLIAMS-YULEE, PETITIONER, V. THE FLORIDA BAR, RESPONDENT.  The Daily Business Review covers the story here.

The case comes directly from the Florida Supreme Court and you can read that court's opinion here.

The Florida Supreme Court's opinion starts out this way:

"We have for review a referee’s report recommending that the Respondent, Lanell Williams-Yulee, be found guilty of professional misconduct. The referee recommended that the Respondent receive a public reprimand as a sanction. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 15, Fla. Const.

For the reasons explained below, we approve the referee’s findings of fact and recommendation that the Respondent be found guilty of violating Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-8.2(b) (Judicial and Legal Officials, Candidates for Judicial Office; Code of Judicial Conduct Applies) for personally soliciting campaign contributions in violation of Canon 7C(1) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. We therefore reject the Respondent’s constitutional challenge to the ban imposed by Canon 7C(1) on a judicial candidate’s personal solicitation of campaign contributions, and hold that the Canon is constitutional because it promotes the State’s compelling interests in preserving the integrity of the judiciary and maintaining the public’s confidence in an impartial judiciary, and that it is narrowly tailored to effectuate those interests.


We approve the referee’s recommended sanction of a public reprimand."

In September of 2009, attorney Lanell Williams-Yulee decided she would become a candidate for County Court Judge in Tampa.  One of her first acts as a candidate was to sign a campaign fundraising letter where she personally solicited campaign contributions.

The Campaign:

Judge Dick Greco, Jr was elected to the County Court bench in 1990 and reelected in 1996,  He left the bench and returned to private practice in 2002.  In 2009, Governor Charlie Crist appointed Greco to an open seat on the County Court bench.  He ran for "reelection" in 2010.  Ms. Williams-Yulee filed to challenge incumbent Judge Greco.  In the primary, Judge Greco garnered 80% of the vote, defeating Williams-Yulee.

The Bar:

The Florida Bar investigated the charges against Williams-Yulee, which included misconduct and minor misconduct, violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and violations of supervisory responsibilities.

The relevant part of the referee's findings, as they relate to the case before SCOTUS, is the finding of guilt by Williams-Yulee of directly soliciting for campaign contributions.


The Bar has retained heavy hitter Greenberg Traurig partner Barry Richard (he of Bush v Gore) to represent the interests of The Respondent.

The Petitioner, Williams-Yulee, is challenging on First Amendment grounds, Canon 7C(1) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, which bars judicial candidates from soliciting campaign contributions.

Amicus briefs were filed this week by some of the most respected attorneys in the State, on behalf of the Bar, including Major B. Harding, Harry Lee Anstead and Stephen Grimes, all former chief justices of the Florida Supreme Court; along with four others who are past presidents of the Florida Bar.

The Bar's amicus supporters believe that Canon 7C(1) "strikes a proper balance between a judicial candidate's right to free speech and the right of future litigants to due process, while placing a minimal burden on the former." (At least 33 other states have a judicial Canon similar to Florida's).

Let's face it, even though judges are not supposed to ask us directly for money, who's kidding who here.  Every candidate, and Judge, running for reelection, knows who gave to their campaign and who gave to their opponent.  It's online, it's public record.  So, what's the big deal if we eliminate the middle man and just let the candidate/judge do the asking? 

What do you think?


JUDGE DAVID YOUNG, is running for Judge, again:

Judge David Young, who served on the County and Circuit Court bench from 1993-2007, and then became a TV Judge (2007-2009), has most recently been mediating and serving our community on several boards.  He announced today that he has entered the race for Circuit Court Judge in Group 39.  That seat is currently held by Judge Rodriguez Chomat.  Chomat is retiring (aged out) and therefore cannot seek reelection.  Qualifying for the seat ends on May 6th of 2016 and the election will take place on August 30th.