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, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

JAY HOGAN AND BILL RICHEY HAVE BOTH PASSED AWAY

It was an era when being a criminal defense attorney meant being a trial lawyer. And two of the very best trial lawyers of that era were Jay Hogan and Bill Ritchey and both have passed away within the last 24 hours. 

Jay Hogan was one of the true superstars of the Florida criminal defense bar. He looked and talked and dressed and acted like a trial lawyer, and it was a case of if you can walk the walk and talk the talk. When judges got into trouble, Jay Hogan was called. People still talk about his performance in the Miami Court Broom Corruption case. When Jay Hogan walked into the courtroom, prosecutors took notice, judges took notice, and jurors, even through they may not have known his reputation, quickly learned they were in the presence of greatness. 

Bill Richey was an alumnus of the Dade State Attorneys Office when Richard Gerstein and then Janet Reno routinely turned out legal superstars. Bill was the type of prosecutor unrecognizable today- his word was his bond, he was concerned with justice, and defendants weren't punished for taking discovery, filing motions, or going to trial. When Bill Richey left the SAO he went into the world of criminal and civil practice and we didn't see him as much, but Judge Jonathan Goodman has some great memories which are on DOM's blog here. 

We lost two more legal giants today. The ranks are thinning fast. 

See you in court. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2016- WHO YA GONNA VOTE FOR?

Early voting has started for the judicial elections. 
People are talking. 
There is a buzz...oh wait, that's the Judge Stan Blake Memorial WiFi which still doesn't work a damn (Blake was instrumental in getting the first wi-fi system installed, which was powered by several hamsters kept on a wheel in the back of the clerk's office.)

Anyway, people are talking and now there is a cottage industry analyzing our local elections. Soon there will be segment on Morning Joe: "Coming up next, a local law professor takes a look at the county court judicial races in Miami-Dade County. Mika, we have some close races in Miami, and the Zika virus outbreak isn't helping turnout..." 

Well until that occurs, we do have in fact a local law professor who has invested a significant amount of time going on campaign websites, poking around court, observing courtroom demeanor, and he has posted his recommendations on his blog which we are linking to. 

UM Law Professor Michael Froomkin County Court recommendations. 

UM Law Professor Michael Froomkin Circuit Court recommendations. 

Judges Bloch, Newman, Graham, Sarduy and Luck get the nod from the Prof. 

See You In Court with the "Kiss Me I voted Today" sticker. 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

BREAKING NEWS ..... JUDGE STANFORD BLAKE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT ......

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

To paraphrase a line from the infamous 1971 movie DIRTY HARRY .....

..... "You’ve got to ask yourself one question. DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?"

For the past 22 years we have been very lucky. Thousands of prosecutors, Assistant Public Defenders, and private bar attorneys have all felt lucky. The clerks, bailiffs, correction officers, and courthouse staff have all felt lucky. But most of all, the citizens of Miami-Dade County have been luckiest of all to have a Judge named Stanford Blake on the bench.

He began his career as an Intern in the Public Defender’s Office in 1972. At the time, he was attending his third year of law school at the University of Miami. He said of those first days appearing in court: "Your deodorant was failing you in 10 minutes, but afterward you would say, 'What a rush!’" He accepted a job at the PD’s office and worked there for five years. Then it was on to 16 years of private practice before getting elected to the Circuit Court bench in 1994. Most of us know him from his years on the bench at the Gerstein Justice Building where he led the Criminal Division as Administrative Judge for eight years. He left us a few years back and went first to the General Jurisdiction and then to the Family Division where he serves today.

He will tell you that his favorite case ever sitting as a Judge was the case of State of Florida v. John Connolly that was tried before him in 2008.  In 2005, Connolly was indicted on murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges in the 1982 slaying of John B. Callahan and the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler, owner of the World Jai Alai sporting corporation. Callahan was murdered by John Martorano who left the corpse in the trunk of a Cadillac in a parking lot at Miami International Airport. Prosecutors alleged that Callahan was killed on the orders of Whitey Bulger and Stephen Flemmi after Connolly told them that the FBI was investigating Callahan's ties to the Winter Hill Gang in their ongoing investigation into Wheeler's death. Wheeler had been killed by Martorano in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May 1981.

Only in the movies, (they made one called The Departed based on these gangsters), could you ever see a cast of characters like those that showed up to testify in Judge Blake’s courtroom daily during the course of that trial. During the trial, Bulger associates Steve "The Rifleman" Flemmi and John "The Executioner" Martorano testified for the prosecution and admitted to murdering more than three dozen people.

There are a host of qualities you find in our great judges: intelligence, judicial demeanor, empathy, patience, calmness, respectful, fairness, efficiency, courage, diplomacy. Judge Stanford Blake had all of those qualities, but he had something rarely seen in our "great judges", something that we wish a few more of our judges might show: a sense of humor. It was Stan’s sense of humor that lightened up the courtroom atmosphere on those occasions when, where things might have boiled over, it was exactly what was called for. He always kept his smile and sense of humor despite having to deal with some of the "characters" he had to deal with on our side of the bench too.

Stan, at last year's FACDL black tie gala.
He always keeps us smiling.

Judge Blake was recently presented with the Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence where he was commended for his "rare mix of humor, intelligence, courage and diplomacy". Stan was called "a man of stature, a man of compassion, of a strong ethical and moral compass and one who has a unique understanding of the human condition." Another praised him for his "genuine compassion for the people and parties that appear before him." Several letters of support emphasized that, Judge Blake’s "contributions have been made without any desire or expectation of recognition. This is the truest measure of an outstanding public servant—to find reward in the very act of service."

All of these accolades and more are so true of our friend Stan Blake.

In addition to his work on the bench, Blake has served on the Exec Board of the Florida Judicial College for 20 years; the College for Advanced Judicial Studies for 10 years; and has taught litigation skills at UM Law School for the past 18 years. Also off the bench, Stan has been a fierce advocate for organ donation having donated his own kidney to his brother in 1996. He has also been a member of the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club for nearly forty years.

Below is Judge Stanford Blake’s resignation letter to Governor Scott:

Dear Governor Scott:

After almost 22 years as a Circuit Court Judge for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, I am at this time announcing my retirement as of August 31, 2016. .......

I have been blessed to have had this opportunity to change lives and help people. Few people are ever put in that position and I remember daily how important the responsibility I have as a judge. You have made excellent judicial appointments to the bench for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and I am confident the JNC will send you very talented appointees for this seat. While I am sad to leave this position which I love every day, I will always cherish these past 22 years as a judge.

Sincerely yours,

Stanford Blake
Circuit Court Judge
Eleventh Judicial Circuit


Judge Blake: Thank you for your years of service to our community. We have been very lucky to have you. Good luck in all your future endeavors.

Readers: Please share your favorite Stan Blake story in the Comments section.

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

Monday, August 15, 2016

BRENNAN BROUHAHA

Update: Take our new Judge Brennan poll. 

This story was broken by David Ovalle of the Herald 


While angrily trying to boot her teen son’s drunk pals from her Key Largo home, police say a Miami judge used a metal pipe to smash the windshield of one young man’s pickup truck.
The episode led to a strange South Florida legal saga — for most of July, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Victoria Brennan quietly was facing an arrest warrant for criminal mischief in Monroe County, a period when she briefly sat on the bench presiding over criminal cases.

At a hearing last week, a Key West judge stayed the filing of the arrest warrant, putting the case in limbo after Monroe prosecutors decided to opt out of the investigation. Florida’s governor has now assigned Lee County prosecutors to review the case. Even if the case dissolves, Brennan could still face scrutiny over whether she properly disclosed to superiors and defendants that she was facing a criminal case while ruling on criminal cases.

On July 7, the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office “gave verbal OK” to have the arrest warrant signed, the report said. Key West Circuit Judge Timothy Koenig signed the warrant for second-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief.
The warrant, however, was not — and has still not been — entered into the clerk of court’s system. It was unclear Monday why the document was not filed immediately, which is standard in criminal cases.

Rumpole says: Judge Brennan is a good judge and we hope she will remain a judge. 

This however, is a lesson in humanity for all of us, including those of us who judge or prosecute others- "Let she who has not sinned, cast the first stone."

We are all human. The best of us, have bad days where we do something, upon reflection, that we regret. Such transgressions should not prevent a person from serving and serving honorably when they have done so in the past. We hope this is quickly and amicably resolved. 

See you in court, where we often represent good people who are being seen on their worst day. 



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article95847082.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article95847082.html#storylink=cpy




Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article95847082.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, August 13, 2016

DAVID PAULUS REMEMBERED

Every now and then we are brought back to earth and reminded that all of this is worthwhile and there are things more important than work. 

We received this amazing comment which is now posted in the blog post about her dad:

I just found this blog after 4 years I am 13 now and I know its late but I wanted to say thank you to all the people who supported my family and wrote these things. He really was the best parent and lawyer and I still miss him everyday. I also wanted to give thanks to the people who worked at the Justice Building with my dad because you gave him the best years of his life working there and sometimes I still think he is gonna come back from there with his briefcase. I remember take your child to work day and walking around the office talking to his co workers and friends I remember looking through some files and playing with the badges he had in his office. I am really proud of the man he was and I wish he could have seen me now and helped protect the streets. He fought a long battle and actually lived longer than he was supposed to I remember the hospital visits. I also remember the people working at the Justice Building and his co workers supported us and gave us comfort and brought on DAVID PAULUS

Elizabeth Rogers Paulus


Dear Elizabeth:

Thank you for reading our blog and I am  beyond happy that you found the blog post about your Dad which is here. Your comment was heartwarming and I guarantee you that it will bring more than a few tears to our readers' eyes. 

There are so many more qualified people who can tell you wonderful things about your Dad. But I will tell you this: he was a true hero. He was a great lawyer, and he devoted those talents to protecting the people of Miami. For that, and because of the wonderful person he was, he is remembered, and his memory is honored. And anyone who has read your wonderful words knows that your Dad would be so proud of you. 
Be well, and always know you have many friends at the Miami Criminal Courthouse and the Dade State Attorneys Office. 
Keep in touch. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

JNC RECEIVES 27 APPLICATIONS FOR COUNTY COURT OPENING .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

SO, YOU WANT TO BE A COUNTY COURT JUDGE ......

With the resignation of Miami-Dade County Court Judge Jacqueline Schwartz there is currently an open seat that will be filled by Governor Scott.

The Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission received applications from a total of 27 attorneys vying for the right to wear the black robe.  Earlier this week, the JNC met and narrowed the list to 17 attorneys that they intend to interview on August 31st. (Those with an asterisk by their name will be interviewed).

They are:

Karl S.H. Brown ***
Raul Flores
Gordon Murray, Sr. ***
Michele A. Vargas ***
Griska Mena Rodriguez
Elijah A. Levitt ***
Joseph J. Mansfield ***
Sarah A. Mourer ***
Ramiro C. Areces ***
Evian L. White
David Alschuler
Peter Heller ***
Miguel F. Mirabal
Alexander Spicola Bokor ***
Jonathan Meltz ***
Steven G. Paulson ***
Rachel S. Glorioso Dooley ***
Raul A. Cuervo ***
Frank C. Bocanegra ***
Ernesto Martinez, Jr.
Julie Harris Nelson ***
Renier Diaz de la Portilla ***
Marilyn Blumberg
Dennis J. Wouters
Flora M. Jackson
Jacqueline Woodward ***
Pamela A. Leone

The JNC will narrow the field from the 17 interviews and they will then send 4-6 names to the Governor for his consideration.

If you have any comments on any of the applicants, positive or negative, please forward them to:

Daniel Fridman (Chair)
White & Case LLP
Southeast Financial Center
200 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 4900
Miami, FL 33131
Tel.: 305-995-5265
daniel.fridman@whitecase.com

or any of the other members of the 11th JNC.  You can find those names here.  And, don't forget that one of those members is actually a practicing criminal defense attorney, Robert "Bob" Pardo.

JUDGE STAN BLAKE HONORED .......

Judge Stanford "but you can call me Stan" Blake was honored this week at the Statewide Conference for Circuit Court Judges.  Florida's Chief Justice Jorge Labarga awarded Judge Blake with the Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence.

Labarga commented that Judge Blake is well known for "his personal warmth, humor, wisdom, compassion, and courage".  Judge Blake has been on the bench since 1995 serving in the Criminal Division, (including serving for eight years as Chief Administrative Judge); the General Jurisdiction Division; and the Family Division.  In addition to his work on the bench, Blake has served on the Exec Board of the Florida Judicial College for 20 years; the College for Advanced Judicial Studies for 10 years; and has taught litigation skills at UM Law School for the past 18 years.  You can read the entire press release by going here.


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



Thursday, August 11, 2016

A SIMPLE RIDDLE

Two lawyers contest for the same judicial spot in backwater Miami-Dade, a small sleepy, southern town. 

What do you call them? 

Plaintiff and Defendant. 

BLOCH SUES DEL REY

Herald article here. 


Knowing less about civil law than the average judge knows about the fourth and fifth amendments, we have no idea what the complaint alleges. Replevin? Intentional infliction of emotional distress? Slander? Sedition? 

Have at it