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, March 15, 2006

THE HONORABLE JUDGE SAM SLOM

Judge Slom was gracious enough to respond to his critics. Below is his entire email, unedited, for all to review. Judge Slom has been criticized in our humble blog these last few days, and he is fully entitled to have his say, uninterrupted. We will post out thoughts in a later post.


ALL RISE: Judge Slom wrote:


I will attempt to respond to your concerns in a concise manner.
As an Administrative Judge, I am charged with the responsibility of administering a division. In my capacity, this often means that I am called upon to address the concerns of the judges in the Criminal Division of County Court, the members of the Bar that practice there, and the unrepresented defendants who seek information/assistance. It is my responsibility to ensure that our County Court system operates fairly and competently in the administration of justice.
As an Administrative Judge, it is my responsibility to respond to the concerns of the judges within our division.


This past year, a number of DUI division judges have expressed a concern over the number of DUI arrestees who have been released on bond pursuant to a standard bond schedule when that arrestee had multiple DUI prior convictions and even have had an open DUI pending when they picked up their new offense. For example, there was one instance where a judge related that a defendant had one or two DUI priors, was out on pretrial release on a pending DUI and while on release picked up a new DUI. The judge inquired how is it possible that a defendant who has two priors, a third case pending and picks up a new DUI can be out on a $1500 bond. It was ultimately determined that this defendant posted the standard bond pursuant to the standard bond schedule and was therefore released without any consideration as to his prior record or pending charges because the bond was posted prior to the first appearance calendar. The judges were concerned that on several recent occasions defendants had been released on minimal standard bonds on their new DUI cases despite the fact that they had prior convictions for DUI. This is how the issue itself arose.

Regardless of one’s position as to whether it is desirable to have a standard bond schedule that permits the posting of a bond without judicial oversight, it does appear that this procedure of allowing defendants to post a standard bond without any judicial oversight as to priors or pending cases is somewhat inconsistent with Florida Statute 903.046(2). The statute states that when setting bail, the court shall consider “a defendant’s past and present conduct, including any record of convictions”…


Now that I have provided you with the above backdrop, I relate how this legislative discussion arose. While addressing the previous related issue with the judges, I received a phone call from a Legislator inquiring as to whether there were any issues pending in the court system that might be worthy of legislative consideration. (Despite what some may think, it is neither unusual nor improper for legislators to contact the judiciary in order to seek input from the judiciary as to whether the legislative branch should contemplate statutory action to address a matter that relates to the administration of our justice system.) I informed this legislator that the above scenario was a concern that had arisen in the division. While discussing this situation, I indicated that there is an existing statute that provides that someone arrested for domestic violence must appear before a judge before bail is determined. (Florida Statute 741.2901). We then discussed a potential legislative option was the consideration of a similar statute directed at defendants arrested for DUI.

That was the extent of our conversation. Despite the contentions of one of your bloggers, I did not go Tallahassee to lobby on this matter nor did I go to the State Attorney’s Office to discuss this legislative consideration. I did not even know that this option was being acted upon in Tallahassee until I received a phone call from a defense attorney who informed me of such. That was the extent of my involvement.

The implication in the Blog that there was some collusion with the bond companies is an interesting conspiracy theory but false. I never discussed this legislative consideration with them. My dealings with the bonding companies are through their attorneys who file motions regarding estreatures on their behalf. I only grant those motions if the State Attorney’s Office stipulates to their motion. If there is no stipulation, the division judge must address the motion in court on the record.


As to the contention that my conduct previously described amounts to judicial activism, I respectfully disagree. Judicial activism occurs when judges legislate from the bench – in their rulings. It is not judicial activism to provide input to our lawmakers for their consideration particularly when it concerns the administration of our court system.

That specific type of conduct is authorized under Canon 4.
CANON 4
A JUDGE MAY ENGAGE
IN EXTRA-JUDICIAL ACTIVITIES TO IMPROVE THE LAW,
THE LEGAL SYSTEM, AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
A judge, subject to the proper performance of judicial duties, may engage in the following law-related activities, if in doing so the judge does not cast reasonable doubt on the capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before the judge:
A judge may appear at a public hearing before, or otherwise consult with, an executive or legislative body or official on matters concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice to the extent that it would generally be perceived that a judge's judicial experience provides special expertise in the area.

Naturally, one is free to interpret any set of facts as they wish. To state however, that a judge has lost their impartiality because they discussed a legislative option that is consistent with the mandate that bail be set based in part on prior convictions and pending cases – I believe that such a conclusion is unfair and unjustified.

Recently, I communicated to a legislator that I questioned the prudence of Florida Statute 322.055 which mandates a two-year driver license suspension for one convicted of simple possession of marijuana – even though a vehicle was not involved in the crime. Does the fact that I communicated that concern mean that I cannot preside impartially over a marijuana trial? Should the State question my neutrality because of that input?

Our judiciary occupies a unique position to offer its insights as to the administration of justice. In fact, many would content that the judiciary is under an obligation to do so.

I would encourage anyone who has any question or concern about our County Court Division to drop by my chambers. Those who know me personally can attest that I would appreciate your input and welcome your suggestions.

Judge Sam Slom
Administrative Judge
Criminal Division, County Court




28 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the reason that people charged with domestic violence Must appear before a judge before they post can post bond? So they can cool down. They sit about 24 hrs before they get out of jail. If dui defendants are getting out on PTS b/c the Court thinks that they have no prior dui record then that is the fault of the prosecutor present at the Bond Hearing. Your a good judge but you made a mistake by injecting yourself here. Without your mouth, the bill does not exist. Stick to being a judge rather than brain storming about new laws with politicos. Cause politics is a tricky buisness.

slom is all right said...

Slom is basically right. It's not judicial activism for a judge to be involved in the crafting of legislation intended to ensure an efficient justice system. Judicial activism is when judges create law from the bench to suit their personal policy preferences. And we must give him credit for trying to something about the 2 yr DL suspension for weed convictions. If you bash him for being too pro-state on the dui bonds, at least credit him for trying to liberalize some aspects of the marujuana laws.

Anonymous said...

marijuana not marujuana.

Anonymous said...

sLOM,

YOU ARE THE MAN. YOU RESPONDED TO OUR COLLECTIVE BULLSHIT IN A JUDGE-LIKE MANNER. EVEN IF YOU ARE WRONG, WHICH YOU ARE NOT, YOU RESPONDED YO OUR SPECULATIONS. YOU ARE NOBLE FOR THIS. LEIFMAN, TAKE NOTE.

Anonymous said...

Who is the buttwipe constantly correcting everyone's spelling? Get a life.

Anonymous said...

that's my first spelling correction. i just think the guy should be able to spell marijuana. smoke a joint and lighten up.

Anonymous said...

sLOM, NICE SPELLING

Anonymous said...

A worthy defense of his conduct. I think we should stop picking on Judge Slom. (A defense attorney).

Sam I Am said...

Judge Slom: 1
Nattering Nabobs of Negativism: O

Rick Freedman said...

Dear Judge Slom:

Thank you for your explanation.

I am assuming that the basis of the law requiring Domestic Violence defendants to sit without Bond until seeing a magistrate is for the protection of the public, and more specifically, the victim. I would assume that your recommendation that resulted in HB 409 was to protect the public from chronic alcoholics who continue to operate a motor vehicle despite past convictions and new arrests.

Why are those charged with Sexual Battery - Slight Force, Robbery, Burglary, Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, and other serious crimes, permitted to Bond out of jail before they see a Magistrate. A 10 time convicted Burglar can again be arrested on Burglary charges and still bond out of jail before they reach the First Appearance Bond Hearing. It would seem that the safety of the public would warrant a change in the Bond status for those types of crimes.

Certainly, driving under the influence is a serious crime with serious consequences including accidents and injuries and property damage and death. The problem needs to be addressed.

But to force every single person arrested for DUI to sit in jail and wait for their First Appearance is going way overboard. That bill belongs in the same garbage can as the one requiring pink (coral) license plates.

May this be the last time I use Broward County as an example of how someone else does it, but, north of the border, the system works like this:

All law enforcement officers have been instructed when completing their Probable Cause Arrest Affidavit to run the suspect in their DHSMV computers and to check for prior DUI's and place that information on the PC. The Booking Sgt. at the jail is also responsible for checking on prior DUI's. All law enforcement officers and the jail have direct access to the DHSMV records. Further, the Standard Bond in Broward is adjusted for those with priors: no priors $500; one prior $1,000; two priors $5,000. Broward has been doing this successfully for years - there is no reason why we can't.


Simply put, there are alternative ways to correct the problem that your County Court Judges are facing. Rep. Planas could have written a bill that permitted a DUI defendant being held without Bond until seeing a Magistrate, only when they had a prior DUI within the last five years, or when they had an open DUI case, for example. The responsibility would be on the officer and the jail to make sure that the arrest report and the booking card reflected that information.

On Thursday, I will be rooting for the Gators (just like you) to beat South Alabama as we kick off March Madness. On Friday, I will be rooting for you to consider some of the other options that I have proposed in your continuing quest to improve the "administration of justice".

Rick Freedman

Anonymous said...

nice work Rick!

Anonymous said...

slom. never confess!

InquiringMindWantsToKnow said...

Cut it out. This blog is no place for intelligent dialogue about issues, without invective, speculation, and misinformation. And this blog is certainly no place for an intelligent and cogent response by a judge or a lawyer about a question nagging the inhabitants of the REG building. So, now that we got all that out of the way (with nary a typo or mispelling), would someone say something that's likely to resume the free-for-all to which we've all become accustomed.

Anonymous said...

Free-for-all is what I like as well
- what about a poll on the attorneys most likely to be getting bondsman cases and giving bondsman kick backs.

If most of us are truly appalled
at this business, then we need to
make some noise on it. We have the power to make it stop, but the reality I believe is that we defense attorneys have our own code of silence regarding this
issue. Ain't that a bitch, us mighty champions of liberty and
the constitution, acting like the
police officers that we despise
and being too afraid to turn against our friends and be labeled
a snitch.

Isn't what they are doing both illegal and unethical? So why are
we afraid to step up to these rogue
attorneys who are taking business
away from the honest defense attorneys among us.

Snitch

Anonymous said...

Judge Slom is right.
Would the spelling police please cut it out.
A DUI suspect, out on bond for DUI who has prior convictions for DUI is crying out for someone to help him or her but, locking them up, is not the answer.
Judge Slom is very state oriented but, he is not a bad person.

Anonymous said...

i have never kicked back to a bondsman. however, many of my buddies do. i hope we dont start naming names on the blog like little punk asses. if i got named i would try to shut this shit house down.

Anonymous said...

I was in Taste Cafe for lunch today and I shit you not, there was Rory S. doing his thing. He was eating a danish flanked buy Mike M. and Henry R.

Anonymous said...

THE BAIL BONDSMAN ARE THE PROBLEM. WE NEED TO SET THEM UP IN ORDER FOR THEM TO RESPECT OUR PROFESSION AND FOR OUR PROFESSION TO BE MORE RESPECTABLE. WHILE WE SLEEP AT NIGHT THEY ARE SELLING THEIR SERVICES. IN THE MORNING THEY ARE AT BOND HEARING SELLING THEIR SERVICES. WHEN WE ARE AT HOME WITH OUR KIDS THEY ARE DIRECTING OUR CLIENTS ONE WAY AND NOT ANOTHER. THIS NEEDS TO STOP. I AM SCARRED SOMETIMES TO ARRIVE LATE TO A.M. BOND HEARING BECAUSE THERE IS ALWAYS A MIDDLE-AGED HISPANIC BONDSMAN SOLICITING CLIENTS. NOT SO LONG AGO I WAS FIVE MIUTES LATE TO 5-3 AND THIS BONDSMAN WAS THERE WITH MY CLEINTS FIRMLY IN HIS CONTROL. THOUGH I WAS ABLE TO DO THE BOND HEARING FOR THE CLIENT THEY EVENTUALLY WERE REPRESENTED BY ANOTHER ATTORNEY. I LET IT SLIDE. THE NEXT TIME I WENT TO THE BOND HEARING I LET THE GUY KNOW WHAT I THOUGHT OF HIM. I ALSO THOUGH I SHOLD TELL THE JUDGE OF THE GUY'S PRESENCE BUT I SIMPLY DIDN'T GO THROUGH WITH IT. THE NEXT I GO THERE I WILL LET KLEIN WHAT IS GOING ON AND HOW THIS IS HURTING OUR BUSINESS. BUT FRANKLY I DON'T KNOW IF THIS WILL WORK. THE STATE SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. COURT SERVICES OR CORRECTIONS SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. IF THEY DON'T ONE DAY I MAY BE LEFT WITH THE CHOICE OF HAVING TO SLEEP WITH THE MEXICAN LOOKING BONDSMAN IN ORDER TO NOT LOSE MY CLIENT AND COVER MY MORTGAGE AT THE END OF THE MONTH.

THIS NEEDS TO STOP. SET THIS GUY UP. SET SOMEONE UP. DON'T ALLOW OUR PROFESSION TO BE BASTARDIZED BY MEDDLESOME BONDMAN.

Anonymous said...

Which is exactly why this blog should be used to name the bondsman AND the attorney. Let other attorneys know. Let judges and legislators know. We all have our list of scumbag attorneys who pay kickbacks b/c we've all lost clients to them. It's pretty hard to sign a client up who tells you that his scumbag bondsman told him to go to lawyer X or the entire premium and collateral are due in three days. He either has to hire Alex Michaels or get surrendered.

time to out the dirty lawyers and bondsmen said...

Looks like the names are on the way. Alex Michaels, what say you?

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't only bondsmen. There are leigons of bond hustlers who are not even licensed. sometimes they work for bond companies. They sit outside the jails and try to hustle clients to bondsmen and lawers for a fee. Worse are bond companies who use official sounding names like "Miami Dade bail bond co-ordinators office" they staff phone rooms with hustlers who hack into the jail computer system (often they buy codes from correction officers), get contact info and are the ones who first tell the family a defendant was arrested. These hustlers are then paid by a bonding co. and/or lawyer they steer the case to.It is very effective and lucrative probably impossible to stop.

Anonymous said...

Lower the bond amounts. Monetary bonds are for a guarantee of the defendant's appearance in court. Is someone really going to flee the jurisdiction b/c they were arrested on a 3rd degree non- violent felony? Make them post a 500 dollar cash bond instead of a 5000 dollar surety bond. The county gets the money (interest free) to hold and then applies it to court costs upon closing of the case. You eliminate the crooked bondsmen completely, the county makes more money to fund services and there will be virtually no effect on the number of people that show up to court. 99.9999% of defendants are going to resolve thier cases to resolution without fleeing. And if they want to flee, they will do it whether they have a 5000 dollar bond or not. Any comments from the judiciary?

Anonymous said...

Alex Michaels still owes me for a referral and I am a licensed attorney. He surely must be fucking the bail bondsman good. Kudos to you. Alex

Anonymous said...

JUDGE SLOM: It's a shame you felt the necessity to respond. You're far too good of judge (and human being) to be abused like this. What a waste of time. I may not agree with everything you do, but I respect that you always do what you think is best for the community. Keep up the good work and don't worry about these naysayers (you can never satisfy them anyway).

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter what Alex michaels says, nobody will understand him.

Anonymous said...

i think the idea of lower cash bonds is an exellent one.

alex m. said...

i will punch you in the face if you mess with my referrals! how else can i pay for my earrings?!? stop your crying and just wait to scoop up my clients after i drop them for non-payment! bitches!

Anonymous said...

ITS ONLY A CRIME IF YOU GET CAUGHT.