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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Shhs..Its a Secret!

Props to the Miami Federal Public Defenders Office for joining in an effort to force that ultra secret conclave of pious figures - no, not the college of cardinals, that other ultra secret conclave, our Federal Judiciary into publishing the rules they followed for secretly assigning and re-assigning cases.

Go to the Southern District's web site-also no longer a secret -to read the full 20 page manual entitled "So now you're a Federal Judge..psst...wanna know a secret?" No, seriously, the full 20 page manual on secrecy can be found here: http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/

We remember a time when our State court was reeling from scandals and Federal Court was seen as a bastion of civility and professionalism. Now we find out that Fed Judges are trading cases like the Marlins and the Red Sox trade players.

"I'll take off your docket two possession with intents and one boat smuggling if you let me take the Key West fraud case during fantasy fest, and I'll give you a really hot strip club licensing suit as well."

Here's what we really don't get: what happened to attorneys who didn't show up for secret status conferences because they were...well...a secret?

Maybe we could try that with Judge Murphy on his 6AM Friday soundings: "Sorry we're late Judge, but we thought this was one of those secret soundings."

What's really disappointing for the State Court practitioner is that we just don't get cases that merit secrecy. Not many disorderly conducts, DUI's, agg bats, or sale of marijuana cases need to be tried in secret. But speaking of soundings and secrecy, having spent several hours in line during one of Judge Crespo's "Sale Of the Century Soundings", maybe a secret court calendar every now and then is not a bad thing. We remember seriously thinking by 4:00 pm, after having got in line by 8:15 that morning, that it would be better to just offer to do the five years our client was going to get ourselves, then have to stand in line another twenty minutes and listen to Crespo scream at another defendant. Manny, we love you...we love your pleas.... our arthritic knees just can't stand another sounding with you.

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