Thursday, October 19, 2006

1982: THE CASE THAT MADE MIAMI BURN

UPDATED WITH ROY BLACK'S RESPONSE!!!

Anonymous said...
now that abe has gotten active, maybe he can tell us his greatest victories and his worst losses and who were the opposing attorneys with whom he has had the most difficulty with in trial. his comments would be most interesting.


abe laeser said...
Reply to 9:47 blogger: To the best of my recollection, I have lost jury trials to Ellis Rubin, Bob Rosenblatt (2), Steve Rosen, and Roy Black. The last one was in 84' and it was my best case - and worst loss.


At the end of 1982 City of Miami Officer Luis Alvarez shot and killed Neville Johnson in a video arcade in Overtown. The city burned for days in response. Ms. Reno asked Benton Becker and Robert Beatty to work with Ed Cowart on the prosecution of the case. I will only describe their control over the witnesses as lax - or maybe non-existent would be more correct. Becker and Beatty quit the case - and left the office - within only months of the trial. The late Judge Cowart was not focused effectively on the case, and Janet asked me to take it over.

After interviewing the witnesses, I found out that nearly all had made contrary statements to the media, and it became a case of doing more with much less. It would not have taken Roy Black to cross-examine when there were videotape interviews that contradicted virtually all of the sworn statements and depositions. And believe me, Roy did a wonderful job. However, I truly believed that the officer had acted unlawfully, and shot because of his own fears.

The trial was very lengthy, and was given daily detailed coverage in the press.
Many community leaders came to watch - with a cadre of officers on the other side of the courtroom. Ms. Reno insisted that I have round-the-clock protection (I never quite understood which side she believed would like to have me killed - activists or police). The verdict went against me.The City of Miami gave the Johnson family $ 1 million to settle the civil suit.

Why do I consider it a win? The leaders and even many of the activists personally thanked me for putting forth the best effort that I could. The real reward was that the community response, although there was some unrest, was rather tempered.

I always believed that part of the reason was that even the opportunists understood that the government had stood up for their rights. This may be my rationalization, but I see the result as a great win for the community, and given the evidence presentable - Justice was served.
The case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Thanks for letting me spend lunchtime in story telling.


Roy Black saw fit to write a response to Mr. Laeser's post: Of course we put in on the front page. This just keeps getting better and better.

Roy Black said...
The Alvarez trial was also a turning point in my legal life. It goes without saying that it was a hard fought battle with supporters on each side crying for blood and some even drawing it. The specter of another riot hung over the trial like an ugly dark cloud.

I was also protected at the end of the trial by a City of Miami SWAT team abetted by bomb sniffing dogs. Of course that protection was somewhat dubious since a number of them, the cops not the dogs, were later indicted in the Miami River Cops scandal. (During that trial we defense lawyers joked that SWAT meant suspended while awaiting trial).

One point I can make without fear of contradiction is that no lawyer in the SAO works harder preparing a case than Abe Laeser. This man knows how to wield the formidable tools at his command. He turned the Miami Police Department inside out to get the evidence he needed. Nor did he stop there. It seemed every low life from Overtown miraculously appeared in the witness chair and had a clear view of the shooting despite it occuring behind a column inside a game arcade.

Laeser had the brilliant idea of having an architect draft a floor plan of the arcade and by using the geometric tiles on the floor tried to re-enact the dance which led up to the shooting. This caused me many sleepless nights. His chart and expert testimony on this point should be taught to all the in-coming ASAs.

Alvarez’s trial was the first chapter of my book Black’s Law (yes, this is a shameless plug so I don’t need any sarcasm here Rumpole) just because Laeser turned the case into WW3. I agree he was saddled with less than agressive predecessors and Former Chief Judge Cowart was assigned the case for political reasons (big surprise for our SAO), but Abe quickly shouldered poor Cowart into the background and made up for lost time.

You know if you have tried a case against Abe Laeser you have met their best lawyer.



Rumpole says: 1) This is what this blog is all about. A place for lawyers like Mr. Laeser and Mr. Black (legal giants both) to provide us with their unique insights about our building, our community, and their cases.

2) Why is Mr. Laeser so successful? Probably many reasons, but let us give you one.
Here are the penultimate words of his post:

Justice was served. The case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Who among us has not pointed the finger at anyone and everyone after a loss?
Mr. Laeser did not do that. If he had, this City would have burned.
He did (as his boss liked to say) his "level best", accepted the verdict, and moved on.

Some cases demand that the lawyer fight the good fight and accept the outcome as a product of our system. Mr. Laeser did just that, and a community that had been (and would be again) up in flames remained quiet.

Why is Mr. Black so successful? Blind dumb luck. Ha ha ha (we had to interject some sarcasm after being told not to do so by Mr. Black.) Actually that is a post for another day. And if Mr. Black ever wanted to grace our humble blog again, we would love to hear his view on what it takes to make it in our business AND win cases. Too often "making it" just means collecting big fees (which excludes us from "making it.")


What a great day for the blog.
See You In Court.

Tomorrow: Money For Nothing. What would you do if you were ordered to return three quarters of a million dollars after working on a case for three years and spending 5 months in trial and deliberations?


57 comments:

Anonymous said...

black, rosenblatt and rosen enjoy national reputations as top notch trial attorneys so i can see losing cases to those. but ellis rubin? that one i would like abe to explain...

Anonymous said...

Elso's state court case is still pending; that is the case involving insurance fraud and goes back to the automobile accident on a Thankgiving Weekend that killed his wife and his law partner. (one or two others died; Juan lived).

The federal case was the money laundering case where Elso was caught, after a dramatic car chase through the streets of Miami, with a whole lot of money in his trunk; (something like 600K).

Anonymous said...

who in miami doesn't keep cash in the trunk?

Anonymous said...

Abe:

Kudos to you! I am glad you are able to look back on your career with the fondness you deserve. You are a true professional and a shining example of how a prosecutor should act.

One Who You Have Chewed Out & Learned From It

SIGN THE PETITION said...

Slain girl's mom wants judge off the case

BY SUSANNAH A. NESMITH
snesmith@MiamiHerald.com

When a Miami-Dade judge decided jurors couldn't hear about the confession of one of the men accused of kidnapping, raping and killing her daughter, Margarita Osorio decided she had to do something.

Osorio delivered a petition to the downtown courthouse on Wednesday demanding that Circuit Judge William Thomas be removed from the case. She had gathered about 11,000 signatures.

Ana Maria Angel and her boyfriend were kidnapped as they walked along the beach in South Beach in 2002. Angel was repeatedly raped in the back of a pick-up truck as the five attackers drove north up on Interstate 95. The attackers also stabbed her boyfriend and dumped him in Broward County before dumping Angel in Palm Beach County and then shooting her in the head.

Joel Lebron told police he shot her in the head, but Thomas threw out Lebron's statement, ruling he hadn't been properly advised of his right not to talk to police.

Thomas was not shown Osorio's petition because he is not permitted to communicate with anyone involved in the case outside of court or to consider how the public might respond to rulings.

''That's why lady justice is blindfolded when she's holding the scales, because the case should be decided on the law and the constitution and not the wishes of what's popular,'' explained Circuit Judge Stanford Blake, chief administrative judge for the criminal courts.

Osorio could not be reached for comment, but a few months ago she told The Miami Herald: ``I don't have confidence in this judge. I feel like I've been betrayed by the system.''

Though she wanted the petition to be given to Chief Circuit Judge Joseph Farina, it was given to the court's legal advisor, court spokeswoman Eunice Sigler said.

Farina doesn't have the authority to remove a judge from a case. That would be a decision by a higher court.

Thomas has already rejected a motion by the state attorney's office to recuse himself from the case. Assistant state attorney Abe Laeser said in his motion that Thomas had made comments that suggested he was upset with Laeser.

Jeffery Fink, Lebron's attorney, said he understood that Osorio was upset by Thomas' ruling, but said she was ``misdirecting her efforts.''

''You can't criticize a judge for following the law,'' he said.




READ THE RULING:

http://www.miami.com/multimedia/miami/news/1019ruling.pdf

Anonymous said...

THE MOTHER SHOULD START A PETITION TO GET THOSE DUMB ASS COPS FIRED FOR NOT READING HIM HIS MIRANDA WARNING.

THE FAULT IS NOT WITH THOMAS ITS WITH THE DUMB ASS COPS THE BOTCHED THE CASE.

Jason Grey said...

It is easier to criticize a Judge for following the law
Than to criticize the cops for failing to follow it

Roy Black said...

The Alvarez trial was also a turning point in my legal life. It goes without saying that it was a hard fought battle with supporters on each side crying for blood and some even drawing it. The specter of another riot hung over the trial like an ugly dark cloud. I was also protected at the end of the trial by a City of Miami SWAT team abetted by bomb sniffing dogs. Of course that protection was somewhat dubious since a number of them, the cops not the dogs, were later indicted in the Miami River Cops scandal. (During that trial we defense lawyers joked that SWAT meant suspended while awaiting trial). One point I can make without fear of contradiction is that no lawyer in the SAO works harder preparing a case than Abe Laeser. This man knows how to wield the formidable tools at his command. He turned the Miami Police Department inside out to get the evidence he needed. Nor did he stop there. It seemed every low life from Overtown miraculously appeared in the witness chair and had a clear view of the shooting despite it occuring behind a column inside a game arcade. Laeser had the brilliant idea of having an architect draft a floor plan of the arcade and by using the geometric tiles on the floor tried to re-enact the dance which led up to the shooting. This caused me many sleepless nights. His chart and expert testimony on this point should be taught to all the in-coming ASAs. Alvarez’s trial was the first chapter of my book Black’s Law (yes, this is a shameless plug so I don’t need any sarcasm here Rumpole) just because Laeser turned the case into WW3. I agree he was saddled with less than agressive predecessors and Former Chief Judge Cowart was assigned the case for political reasons (big surprise for our SAO), but Abe quickly shouldered poor Cowart into the background and made up for lost time. You know if you have tried a case against Abe Laeser you have met their best lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Since he presides over most murder prosecutions by the sao it would be interesting for Mr. Laesar to indicate what attorneys currently prosecting and defending - besides himself, Waksman and Levine, who he feels are the best asas and defense attorneys doing the most complicated cases in Miami.

Anonymous said...

look who was the appointed referree. Is this not the pot calling the kettle black?

Supreme Court of Florida
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2006
CASE NO.: SC06-285
Lower Tribunal No.: 2006-70,236(11F-OSC)

THE FLORIDA BAR

vs.

KNOVACK GRAMBY JONES
___________________________________________________________________
Complainant(s) Respondent(s)
The uncontested report of the referee is approved and respondent is
permanently disbarred, effective immediately.
Respondent shall pay restitution in the amount of $865.00, under the terms and
conditions set forth in the consent judgment.
Judgment is entered for The Florida Bar, 651 East Jefferson Street,
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300, for recovery of costs from Knovack Gramby Jones
in the amount of $1,389.36, for which sum let execution issue.
Not final until time expires to file motion for rehearing, and if filed, determined.
The filing of a motion for rehearing shall not alter the effective date
of this disbarment.
A True Copy
Test:
bhp
Served:
KENNETH LAWRENCE MARVIN
BARNABY LEE MIN
JUAN DE JESUS GONZALEZ
HON. IVAN HERNANDEZ, JUDGE

CandidateResearchFor VotingMonday said...

To Roy Black,
Since you have made a comment here at the blog, I have one question for you. Is it true Marisa Tinkler Mendez once worked for you? If so, please give us your opinion of Marisa? Sometime in September, someone made a comment "that Marisa never once worked for you....." I would like to know if this is true or not. Thank you.

and to ALL---&--Roy--to Who are the bloggers considering for Govenor?

Anonymous said...

Shamelessly pandering free weekly is plainly pinko: Why do you writers and editors at New Times assume all your readers are left-wing radicals? Example: Tristram Korten's mean-spirited column about Leslie Rothenberg ("Judge Not," December 9) was not a piece of journalism, it was a piece of excrement masquerading as journalism. Leslie is a fantastic person, superb intellect, big heart, sturdy backbone, high integrity, long on patience, excellent arbiter and judicial candidate.

Get yourselves at least one staff writer who is not a shameless, politically correct panderer so I can feel that you're at least trying to be something other than Marxist.

Mark Minervino

Miami

Anonymous said...

why does some dumb ass always have to start with "whos the best lawyer?" The best lawyer loses on any given day, wins with luck sometimes, and is often either loved or hated.

This blog is clearly not the place for an intelligent conversation about the "best lawyer." Just watch.

Anonymous said...

rothenberg "big heart"? yeah, right!

Rumpole said...

Marissa Tinkler Mendez did work with Roy Black and I beleive he has endorsed her for Judge.

Anonymous said...

To 4:50. You obviously are not one who has ever been hand picked to take over a 3 or 6 years old 3 box file as the 5th attorney for the defendant, or a case where 10 motions are filed, or you have to learn the complexity of dna, or deal with the media, ryce laws, death penalty jury selection, williams rule, the law of confessions and issue perception in 4th amendment law working your way through tens of thousands of cases to find the 2 or 3 which lead to a motion to suppress etc. etc. Now go back to your 3rd degree felony or misdemeanor cases and leave the real work for the big boys.

Anonymous said...

It seems that implicit in this blog with all its criticism of lawyers and judges by others is a desire for Rumpole or someone else to name the best or be named the best otherwise why all the attacks on each other out of jealousy and envy. The attorneys who actually give themselves nicknames or go by their real name are the ones who most want to be identified as the One.

Rumpole said...

I have no desire to crown the best attorney in Miami. Plus, you're already on his blog. However, it is human nature to seek out the answer to that question. I think it's harmless. More important in my opinion would be the view of Judges. It creates a discussion that solves problems. When one Judge refused to allow attorneys to request a continuance at the sounding, it made the blog and the Judge changed the policy. That is one example.

Anonymous said...

As a senior partner explained to me, early in my career: "Every lawyer claims to be the best ever. But, obviously, that can't be true. I am."

Anonymous said...

I am.

ResearchingOnCandidatesBeforeVotingMonday said...

Thank you Rumpole, for the answer. Now, need to start my reading on those running for Govenor if I want to vote on Monday and get it over with. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Who is The Man? 28 year old new atty. at sao or pd says Rumpole be the man because his name is on the blog and in blue color at that. 34 year old asa says the man be my immediate supervisor- pd says the man be whoever takes this case off my hands when I conflict off because it will take up too much of my time- there is too much evidence- or I would have work past 3 on Friday. 43 year old says anyone with enough balls to put there name on their posts has to be the man so it is J.G. and Abe himself. 55 year old says Roy B. be the man and has been for 15 years. Laesar and Black don't think they be the man anymore which is why they coming on the blog sans anonymously because may fear up and coming whippersnappers like the flashy lawyer at the sao who has won several murder trials lately and Roy B. may not think he the man anymore because did not do "great" job by his standards for el rushbo. The man still be Roy B. -sorry Rumphole but putting this blog up doesn't mean udaman. R.Sharpstein is da man laying in wait but may be overrated -albeit very slightly-because many of his victories are cops and athletes that jurors won't convict. Wanna be desperately the man by constant self-aggrandisement is Mark E. and David M. For the women da femme be probably Gail Levine, the brothers it be Rod Vereen and the dude at the sao with 600 ties and the man for da hispanics was r.diaz but now since he be a judge da man be up for grabs. This was brought to you by daboy! specializing in pleading mm dui cases for $5000.

Anonymous said...

Hoodaman? any jewish lawyer thinks he bedaman but usually just beagoyem!

Anonymous said...

I WANTED TO BE THE MAN but couldn't win the high profile case: B.Tannebaum, J.Rosenbaum, D.Marcus(state not federal boy wanting to be man),and B.Barrar.

Jason Grey said...

This job leaves marks on all of us. The longer you spend in the REGMJB the more fucked up you will be. Period.
Like icebergs the part of us you can see isn’t the problem
It’s all that accumulated crap below the surface that sinks shit

Anonymous said...

Hey Jason Grey: When you point one finger out three point back. It would be hard to find anyone at the courthouse who bad mouths more people behind their backs than you.

Anonymous said...

jason grey is a great guy. honest to the core. a degenerate. a great trial lawyer. balls of steal and a family man. as randy p. would say, "jason, your allright."

Anonymous said...

Ivan Hernandez racking up the awards before he leaves. Laying the ol groundwork for a quickie appointment it seems. Plus whose that high profile politico he's been having lunch with?

Rumpole said...

In all seriousness, when you walk into a courtroom with a client's life in the balance, you have to believe you are THE person for the job. Yet, to become a better lawyer, you should always keep your eyes open to see who is doing something better than you. Its an amazing mixture of ego and humbleness. Those who balance it right, seem to do the best.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole- very good point, it is very important to know who knows what they are doing and who is full of it because to can learn more as a young lawyer watching a half hour of a great lawyer in action than reading books or doing your own trials without objective review

Jason Grey said...

8:51, unlike you, if I have anything to say to anyone I will say it to their face.
Back shooting isn’t my style.

Jason Grey said...

I must admit I am a degenerate.

Jason Grey said...

Holy cow ! what a catch!!!

Anonymous said...

if the mets win chavez is set for life.

Anonymous said...

OKAY, I HATE THE METS even more; that was one of the Greatest catches in playoff history

Anonymous said...

8:58 wrote "Ivan Hernandez racking up the awards before he leaves. Laying the ol groundwork for a quickie appointment it seems. Plus whose that high profile politico he's been having lunch with?"

Yes Juan what is it now.....Juan he is probally trying to guarantee you a presidential pardon. How is the little criminal investigation going these days? GOT MAIL, oops sorry forgot you don't have a computer or a job.

Anyone know what they pay in unemployment benefits to JA's?

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THE CARDINALS - YEAH

Anonymous said...

I LOVE YADIER MOLINA

Anonymous said...

Is there any sweeter moment than knowing that the Yankees and the Mets will both be home watching the World Series?!

JUSTICE

Anonymous said...

Dumb ass Lawyer says: I wishes I could be as smart as Rumpole but I ain't so I will just have to languish in obscurity jealous of Rumpole and his cohorts. I wish I could work on tough cases too.

Compassion, Jason, Compassion said...

Perhaps Jason, this is part of your way of rationalizing your course nature, which was well-established before you came to MJB. I must disagree with your take that this job dehumanizes you. While we see a lot of grime; it does not make us grimier. Perhaps we cannot all emerge as Mother Teresa; but being in court all day does not stop me from seeking the truth, observing and creating the beautiful and practicing being good. Every spiritual practitioner who is not a fundamentalist egghead knows that contact with imbalance and out-of-control passion helps us find balance and compassion.

Anonymous said...

STATE: The state is charging the defendant with 2 counts of lewd and lascivious and 3 counts of sexual battery on a minor.

DEFENSE: My client was going through some rough times, Your Honor, and has entered alcohol rehab. Oh yeah, and he is gay and was molested as a child 40 years ago, so it's all good.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the Mcduffy verdict was much more shocking as a defense win then that of Alvarez. It also caused a much more significant riot.

Anonymous said...

whats up lets party

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Anonymous said...

Has this turned into a Roy Black blog ? He was once a nice guy but has turned into an uppity, conceited, arrogant ass.......Roy Black is a has been...... He still thinks the world revolves around him.......once he married his obnoxious social climbing juror, Leah, had a face lift, finally fixed up that run down dump he lives in, he thinks he is the all mighty...he is what he is and always has been a snob and looser !!!

Anonymous said...

5:27, you are pathetic, go pay the rent on your apartment

Anonymous said...

Ellis Rubin

Received Juris Doctor Degree from University of Miami in 1951. Admitted to practice law in Florida and before the United States Supreme Court. Ellis Rubin was designated one of the top 87 trial lawyers in America, 1985 by “Town and Country Magazine.”



Ellis Rubin served as Special Assistant Attorney General of Florida and Special Assistant State Attorney of Dade County.

Selected as one of the five Outstanding Young Men of Florida by the Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1954 for his free representation in one year of 200 African-Americans.

In his legal career spanning 53 years, Rubin has participated in more than 5,000 civil and criminal cases. He is the only attorney in American history to be jailed for contempt because he refused to let a judge order him to represent a murder suspect who Rubin and the judge knew was going to commit perjury. Ellis is the first lawyer in the world to participate in a televised trial (1977) and was the first to warn the public, in that trial, of the dangers of excessive television violence on teenagers while defending 15 year old Ronny Zamora. He was the first in Florida to establish the battered woman syndrome as a valid defense and he established new law, holding lawyers liable for filing frivolous lawsuits against doctors and others.

Ellis Rubin has represented such diverse individuals as Watergate figures E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis, former football star Mercury Morris, actress Hedy Lamarr, singer Connie Francis, comedian Jacki Mason and the Guardian Angels. He cleared Prentice Rasheed (the Miami merchant who accidentally electrocuted a burglar) and USS Iowa sailor Kendall Truitt (from false charges that he caused a fatal explosion on the battleship). Both cases were on “60 Minutes.” He freed falsely accused murderer James Richardson (released after 21 years in prison) and won the first jury acquittal in 300 years of a First Degree Murder Charge in a county in Delaware.

He helped lift the TV blackouts of NFL games at a U.S. Senate Hearing, ended segregation in church-affiliated schools in the U.S. Supreme Court, and defeated censorship of cable TV in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said....

""""Has this turned into a Roy Black blog ? He was once a nice guy but has turned into an uppity, conceited, arrogant ass.......Roy Black is a has been...... He still thinks the world revolves around him.......once he married his obnoxious social climbing juror, Leah, had a face lift, finally fixed up that run down dump he lives in, he thinks he is the all mighty...he is what he is and always has been a snob and looser !!! """""

Sounds to ne like some jealous girlfriend is out on the lose!

Anonymous said...

roy black and jack denaro are bar none the two best criminal defense lawyers in town. if my life were on the line and i was very rich, i would hire them both.

Anonymous said...

together they were the best team this city has ever or will ever see. they should write a book if they still speak.

Anonymous said...

as for the sao.. don't forget Hillah Katz and Deisy Rodroguez...whether together or alone, they are wothout a doubt top notch at the SAO

Anonymous said...

ha ha. they are indeed gigantic legal talent.

Anonymous said...

and friendly

Anonymous said...

obviously they have outlawyered those 2 last anonymous bloggers...I totally agree on the merits of their talent, especially Hillah Katz

Anonymous said...

putting those two in the same thought as black$denaro is kinda funny.

Anonymous said...

To the blogger giving the rundown on Ellis Rubin. Response is: And I bet he didn't collect a single penny for any of those cases. This is because Rubin offers to handle every case free of charge simply for the media exposure. He can't even be mentioned in the same breath as Roy Black or Denaro. Also, Deisy Rodriguez is one of the nicest people at the SAO but to try to place her and Katz in the category with the best is outrageous. One CourtTv appearance does not make a great lawyer. They're at least 30 cases away from the big dogs.