Sunday, January 29, 2006


Frank Perdue said “it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” and many people have said it takes a big man to apologize.

Judge Sheldon Schwartz writes about a bad experience last week:

I apologize for my demeanor this past Thursday at the Miami Beach court. It was an aberration. Those who appear before me regularly know I start dockets punctually and my dockets run smoothly. I am always in court early and handle many things prior to the arrival of the public and counsel. That goes for mitigation dockets which at counsels request I volunteered and continue to handle. They are usually at REG every Thursday (but last Thursday of month when I go to Miami Beach).they are scheduled for 8:15 but I arrive at 7:30 and review and render my decision on the computer. Attorneys then review their cases and if they wish them to be reviewed again i do so. This way attorneys do not have to wait. Check with any attorney who handle these matters and you will see this is the truth. But this past Wednesday my staff was advised we had no 8:15 mitigation docket and they called me to so advise. I arrived at court 8:10 to find no fewer than 3 attorneys waiting with notices for 8:15.i handled their matters (one was for 10:30)and continued on with the mitigation docket with attorneys coming and their cases being called.

We then started a criminal traffic trial docket with attorneys and officers being called first, providing they were present when that docket started. Cases were resolved by trial, Plea or dismissal. The same held true on the misdemeanor docket.

I believe that the unrepresented defendant should have equal justice in the courts as a represented defendant. I believe the defendants and witnesses and the public have a right to be informed of the law and understand perhaps why a certain action was taken. Perhaps by explaining in lay terms we will have less crime in our community. Perhaps we should try to make the moment in court an educational and or learning experience. Maybe people should know they may loose their drivers license for certain violations of the law etc. By informing perhaps we will find ourselves having less crime in the community.

Perhaps you would have preferred for expediency. I issue a warrant when the court lacked jurisdiction on a unrepresented defendant who had been placed on probation by another judge in May, with me covering in August and advising the state they had no warrant issued and must have one prior to probation term expiring; or perhaps I should have permitted the state to use a police officer having nothing to do with the case to introduce evidence in a trial because his witnesses had not appeared .

Well, that is not me so if it took a few additional moments I could not help it.

Yesterday was a day I do not wish to remember and one I will not forget. If you were on time and I did not call you out of turn I apologize. I further apologize for my demeanor because of the total frustration I was feeling.

Shelly Schwartz

Rumpole responds: Dear readers, here is our favorite quote from our favorite Bard, which we too often find ourselves resorting to at sentencing. However, it fits here as well.

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heavenUpon the place beneath.
It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."

Portia, The Merchant of Venice.

Here are some reader’s comments about Judge Sheldon Schwartz’s post:

"shelly schwartz says SO SO SO SO SO SO SORRYWill the other robed ones follow?........"

"At least Judge shelly Schwartz had the courage to say sorry. That is more than others in the legal profession who make errors do ."

"For those who review this blog,it is suggested we all look at ourselves.yes,judge schwartz was curt with me on more than one occasion. why? i sent a client by himself to court to request a continuance the day of trial; and a second time when i filed a motion but did not seek a ruling from the court but presumed it would be granted.i will not do such things again although i had managed to do it before.he wishes and wants the best for all people and thats why he takes the time to explain many things.the public seems to understand his word as do police officer and i have seen this thru my own jaundiced eyes as a fellow attorney. "

"Kind of sad that this blog allows people to anonymously attack nice guys like Shelly Schwartz. I only had a couple of problems with him. Each time, I went and spoke to him. He was more than fair and accommodating. Perhaps if some of you guys who had problems with people actually spoke to them outside of court, you'd see that things could be worked out pretty easily. Just a thought. "

Rumpole replies: You are wrong. Judge Schwartz was criticized (not attacked) for having a difficult calendar. That is what this blog is for. Attorneys had a place to discuss their anger and frustration. Judge Schwartz heard their anger and responded. Everyone is better off for it. Attacking Judge Schwartz would have been some untoward comment on his tie. That we will not allow.

"Sheldon Schwartz is a bit loud and sometimes talks too much in court, but he's otherwise a much better judge than some of the nice and polite judges that we have in the building "

"Linking back to the poll about judges punishing defendants who elect to go to trial, we can say in defense of Shelly Schwartz that he is a judge who doesn't put up with that concept. He has resisted the current trend in traffic and misdemeanor courts to punish those defendants who elect trial at soundings and pretrial conferences, and he's quite vocal about it. "

"About the 'other robed ones', who do you think should follow with apologies? Has anything else like this happened anywhere else lately? "

"We should thank Judge Sheldon Schwartz:he does not just appoint the office of the Public Defender and tells all to get an attorney. "

"Be on time! Have common courtesy!Be professional!If you follow these simple rules, the Judge Schwartz is with you. Yes,he talks a lot, but that is because he truly cares about all whose who come before the Court. Perhaps that area he can work on. But others should also care ,be they attorneys or judges. "

"Thursday on the Beach was not a good experience.But it was not because of the judge;but the prosecutors who had no idea what they were doing.Those who were present saw "baby"prosecutors who had no knowledge of what they were doing.One did not even know what jurisdiction is.I sat thru some of this,until my case was called,and yes it was called out ofturn by the judge.
p.h. "

"If Shelly's robes were black, his ties conservative, and his comments short, no one would complain about him. "

"Judge Schwartz(Sheldon)not my favorite judge but gives unrepresented defendants most justice of any judge;victoms learn the system and restitution is made,not merely promised as is often the case.I was present Thursday.It was not a good day. But we all have bad days.We were laughing when the A.S.A .tried to use an officer from Miami Beach who had nothing to do with the case to introduce evidence in a trial where a defendant went pro se!Is a judge to laugh or cry for having such prosecutors before him or any other judge?I for one believe the judge did correctly in explaining to the prosecutor the way he did. Most of us would have made some comments which would have placed us in contempt!Judge schwartz cool down. Continue to be fair to all even if it take an extra ten minutes for such to be done. "

Rumpole sums up: bottom line is that sentiment is running in favor of Judge Sheldon Schwartz. Everyone has a bad day at work from time to time.
Judges who have bad days usually have them in front of crowded courtrooms.
We applaud Judge Sheldon Schwartz for his courage to engage in this dialogue.
He always had our vote, but we think even a lot more of him today.

See You In Court.


Anonymous said...


It seems that you have achieved your blog's goals: to provide a place for MJB attorneys to discuss their grievances and perhaps, even have them addressed.

Special applause to the Judges Schwartz: they have accepted criticism and pledged to do better (and they’re already pretty good in my book). What more could us lowly lawyers ask for?

Anonymous (so you don’t think I’m sucking up to anyone, even you)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Judge Sheldon Schwartz represented my in my other life'before becoming an attorney.Yes,he has a fault.He wants people to understand what they are charged with,whatthe charges mean,and what could happen should they be found guilty or enter a plea.Judge Schwartz would like every person leaving the courtroom to
understand why the court ruled as it did,be it a defendant,witness,officer and yes,even the State Attorney or Defense Counsel.I for one do not believe such is a bad thing but one we are not used to in the justice system

Anonymous said...

we all like him lets move on!

Anonymous said...

Quick... somebody write something controversial!

T. Regalado might be have said...

Does anyone think Hank Adorno committed a bar violation when he met with Joe Arriola to discuss the Fire Rescue Settlement?

According to the Herald, when Mayor Diaz arrived for breakfast, "Arriola and Adorno had already reached agreement on the terms of the settlement."

Was it not improper for Adorno, a lawyer, to directly negotiate legal issues with Arriola, a non-lawyer, given that the City of Miami was a represented party?

Damn I wish I could hear the State Attorney discussing this.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Judge Schwartz is fair to both the State and defense,especially unrepresented defendants.Judge Schwartz has suggested to me the County Court is a training ground for new prosecutors so he invites active and proper argument.We must all be prepared when we appear in his court.But he is the same way with defense counsel.We may complain because we don't have the ability to play with the court,but we realize the Judge is doing his job.

Anonymous said...

Adorno was vindicated in the Miami Herald today.

Anonymous said...

As an ASA I have great respect for Judge Schwartz. I tells it like it is (even when no one wants to hear it). He is fair with all. He is willing to support decisions made by ASAs that run against office policy. I only wish we received as much guidance and understanding from those in our office as we do from Judge Schwartz.

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Pissedoffcop said...

Judge Schwartz needs to remember that his comments in open court can come back to haunt him. To act in the manner that he does on some occasions can lead to unfavorable conditions for all of the parties involved. If he wants to make a comment about a particular police officer or police department, write a letter and keep your unprofessional comments to yourself.