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

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

SHOULD THE BLOG ENCOURAGE OPPOSITION?

Readers like commenting on Judges who have opposition and Judges who should get opposition. It’s easy to blast a Judge and say he/she should have opposition. But lets remember folks, these are people’s lives and careers we’re casually trashing.

Plus, we like our Robed Readers.
It encourages us to keep our sentences short and refrain from our unabashed love of the polysyllabic. We don’t want our Robed Readers to develop a severe case of Onomatophobia- (Fear of hearing a certain word or of names). (See, there we go again).
[This is a great site: all the phobias are listed:

http://www.phobialist.com
including , we are not making this up: Oneirogmophobia- Fear of wet dreams) ]

We think the answer is a resounding NO. This blog should not encourage candidates to target any particular Judge. However, we will print (within reason) readers thoughts on the matter. Like this one:

Anonymous growls:

I know you focus mostly on MJB, but your readers should be asking why Judge Cardonne hasn't drawn opposition. Al should have challenged her.

Rumpole Replies: Why? Back up your assertion counsel. Judge Cardonne has been on the bench for many many years. What has she done or not done that merits opposition?

Anonymous writes about Judge Langer:

It'd be a shame that Milian had Langer's seat in his sights. Langer is a great judge and, unlike the Schwartzes, has done nothing to deserve opposition.Rumpole, maybe you ought to post a topic where bloggers can list the judges who they think deserve opposition and why. It could be an eye opener for those judges and might hopefully lead to changes in their behaviors.

Rumpole Replies: Here it is. We are against listing all Judges and stating "which ones deserve opposition?" We will print comments on individual Judges.

Anonymous weighs in on the Schwartz/Mendez race:

On the Mendez/Schwartz contest I Think the question you posed in your poll was silly. If any Hispanic Female puts in against Schwartz he was chosen because he was a Jewish Male. Why she chose him is a completely separate question than her qualifications.I have tried cases against Ms. Mendez when she was a Prosecutor and can state that she was quite competent and a worthy adversary. Since leaving that office she has been in private practice handling Family and Criminal cases. What about her resume makes you opine that she is unqualified?


And what about Schwartz make you so enamored with his qualifications?
He was a teacher then an ASA assigned to the economic crimes division. As you know Rump, that unit is not exactly a hotbed of the most active trial lawyers in the SAO (ok I understate my case). As a Circuit Judge he has been difficult to deal with as you have noted over and over again. Just don’t get your unwavering support for someone whose attitude you don’t like when there is a qualified alternative.

Rumpole Responds: 1) You see, we do print criticism of us. Its just easier to respond to the “you suck” comments then something as well thought out and argued as your comment.
2) SAO Economic Crimes Unit: How you can trash any unit that has both Bill McGhee and Bill Kostrewzski is beyond us. A "twin Bill" of Power and Experience ( and they are always pleasant to deal with).

3) Seriously- Your comments about Ms. Mendez are well put. She is as experienced as any other judicial candidate, more than some, less than others. And we have seen very clearly that the prevailing REGJB opinion is that Larry Schwartz has opposition not because Ms. Mendez is a Hispanic female, but because he deserves it.

We thought otherwise, and remain in the minority.
Our opinion is that Judge Larry Schwartz, when you get past the bluster, has many fine qualities and is a good judge. We never denied the fact that he needed to treat lawyers better. And as to Ms. Mendez, our comment was (in retrospect) more about our personal opinion that a lawyer who seeks the bench should have more than just a well rounded resume, and less about Ms. Mendez personally.

Whither Prosecutors?
Anonymous wonders where the ASAs are?

Throughout your posts you have continually exhorted prosecutors to enter the fray of this website. As a Criminal Defense Attorney who has been opposing the SAO for many years I am not surprised that you have not gotten any takers. I don’t know about you Rump, but I notice a certain apathy that exists in that office. Apathetic people aren’t going to respond to your attacks no matter how hard hitting they are (This coupled with the fact that I have heard that ASA's aren’t trusted with internet access which squares well with your commentary re them having to ask for permission to go to the bathroom let alone offer a plea but I digress).


It seems like the young ASA's have no fight in them and are only going through the motions. They seem to be not wanting to offend anyone so that they don’t jeopardize their chances at further career advancement whether it be the bench, the civil bar, or criminal defense. As a Criminal Defense Attorney I am constantly amazed at how often they agree to things that ASA's never used to agree to. For Example, ASA's used to always fight Arthur Hearings now It seems a lot easier to get a bond stipulation on PBL's. On Trafficking cases they routinely agree to massive bond reductions. On Career Criminal cases the ASA's are often standing there asking the Judges to offer lower pleas than their supervisors have authorized. I am not complaining about any of this as a criminal defense attorney but as a taxpayer I sometimes wonder what is going on in that office.


Rumpole Responds: Does anyone else know if the ASAs cannot supplement their work day with a ten minute “Rumpole respite”?

We agree that the prosecutors appear apathetic and seem to act mostly out of fear of upsetting their career path. But our experience is the opposite of yours.

Because Prosecutors are afraid to upset the apple cart and because they have so little authority (“Too Many Chiefs…Not Enough Indians” Judge Moreno used to say) we find that they are afraid to conduct an honest analysis of a case and respond appropriately. Thus we find that young prosecutors will automatically oppose any bond reduction request, and are afraid to offer anything other than the maximum. We actually saw a Prosecutor OBJECT to an attorney who after the defendant surrendered moved the court to revoke the bond and discharge the surety. The Judge looked a bit taken back, and then wisely commented something to this effect: “Do you know what you are doing? Are you trained to just object to anything a defense attorney asks for? Don’t you realize revoking a bond is in your favor?”

Young prosecutors have no fight in them because their opinions are ignored. The powers that be just want to wind them up, point them towards the courtroom, and tell them to object to anything other than the maximum sentence.

It’s sad. Its frustrating. That is not the office Richard Gerstein and Janet Reno ran.

See you in court { we're the lawyer getting the objections hurled our way.}

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sir
You need to stop pulling punches because you are worried about the I.D. issue. You can't try to please everyone....

Anonymous said...

If, as you say "that is not the office Gertein and Reno ran", then why is Ms. Rundle of limits and
unbeatable?

I agree with what another defense
attorney said - the tax payers have no idea how incomptetent some of the ASA's are. Surely you would think this incompetence would mean that on election day she could be beatable.

Any ex-PD or current PD who tried
cases can tell you how many cases
we won simply because of State
incompetence. And ofcourse these
wins were always with GORT/HVO/HO
clients.

But you know what, it don't matter.
Rundle is a Cuban Democrat and in
this county, that is the perfect recipe for success. It really doesn't matter how she does the job, does it?

Either way thank god Al Milian is
not the head State Attorney.

Anonymous said...

Leave Kathy alone! Whatever her shortcomings, she's probably the best State Attorney in Florida. Go out of the 11th Circuit and you'll see how true this is.

Anonymous said...

While the blog should not encourage opposition to sitting judges, it should not discourage it either. Because of its anonymity, this blog can be an excellent vehicle to offer candid, constructive and educational criticism to our judges so that we can have a more professional and judicial bench in our beloved Justice Building.

Anonymous said...

What about Judge Johnson? It is an absolute disgrace that he is a circuit court judge. If ANYONE deserves opposition, it is HE!

Anonymous said...

Is Anonymous referring to William Johnson in juvenile? Why is he such an absolute disgrace? I've been in front of him a number of times and he's always ruled according to the law and the evidence, plus he's nice and easy going in the courtroom.

Anonymous said...

As a former ASA (and one with close contacts still in the office)the only ASA's that have internet access are division chiefs. That could explain why there have not been many ASA/Kathy related posts.
Furthermore, this site continuously bashes on the incompetence of ASA's and how they don't look into their cases, they are apathetic, it is easy for the defense to beat them, etc, all the while extolling the virtues of the APD's (see previous comments as to how PD's do a better job than SAPD's, etc.) Perhaps, as many ASA's have long griped, if they didn't have a caseload at least two times of what their counterparts in the PDO have, made comparable salaries to the APD's that do half the work the ASA's have to do on their cases, they might be able to do a better job prepping cases and might even have some time to read this blog. Instead they get buried by: motions made without merit ("Look, my client is paying me, I have to make this motion even though I know it's crap, and force you to argue it so I don't get a rule 3" or worse--the attorneys that know the motion is complete crap but still insist on arguing like it actually has merit, requests for continuances solely because the attorney hasn't been paid yet, and then deal with the added joy of the daily dose of whiny privates arguing for the millionth time why their client with a list of priors longer than my arm needs a break on this case. There are many ASA's out there who do prep their cases, take their job seriously, and do a good job for the State. You just don't hear about them because that wouldn't make interesting blog reading, would it???

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, since you don't want to focus the blog on which judges should get opposition, perhaps it'll be more positive to ask the bloggers which attorneys they would like to see running for, or seeking appointment to, judgeships in Dade County.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous gripes about "requests for continuances solely because the attorney hasn't been paid yet". There is nothing wrong with such a request. None of us does this job for sport and we all know that once a case is closed we'll rarely get paid the balance owed unless the client picks up a probation violation or the case is refiled. Most judges and prosecutors understand this and will not object when you tell them that your client still owes you money. I even heard a judge once tell attorneys to say that "Mr. Green failed to appear for deposition" when requesting a continuance under this circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I read with interest the blog and comments about ASAs. I was an ASA under both Gerstein (who asked me, at my 20-second interview, whether I could send people to prison) and early Reno (who carved in stone the present system of "career prosecutors"), and those regimes had their own problems. Under both, for example, there was NO training. The first jury selection I ever saw was the jury I selected in my first felony trial (arresting Miami PD officer Gerry Green, then a narc, bet $5 I would lose; I don't know if he paid up, but it was certainly a fluke that I won). Sentencing was not the grueling and rigid guideline scoresheet & HFO/HVO/Gort minefield it is today: many felonies were pled to the ubiquitous "2 years probation and a withhold," and no one opened a law book. The fact is that today both ASAs and APDs are sorely lacking in research skills and most lack any realistic understanding of what they are doing. ASAs think the accuseds are animals without feelings; the APDs think the victims deserve no thought or consideration, and dismiss the cops as dumb (at best), but more probably thugs. Time will moderate both of those youthful and therefore heartless views; we just hope someone's life is not lost while we are waiting. I say this because I lived it; only after I did some post-ASA time as a cop did I actually learn what "probable cause" was, and how a case could and should be developed and prepared for trial. There are opportunities for defense lawyers to offer helpful advice to the puppies on both sides; some did for me, and this blog is a new and wonderful way to exchange such information. But some defense lawyers, now and then, persist in being arrogant jerks. For them, I have often thought with satisfaction of the cops' true saying: "What goes around, comes around."