Thursday, October 05, 2006


The only real lawyers are trial lawyers, and trial lawyers try cases to juries.
- Clarence Darrow

A Judge wrote:

As a circuit judge, I am interested in your opinions. As a lawyer, I liked to know whether I was going to trial. The purpose is to know if the case is ready or not. That way the lawyers don't have to prepare unnecessarily and the judge can plan his week. However, lately I have lawyers announcing they are ready only to change their minds when called.

Rumpole ponders….

Trials. On any given day there must be 250 lawyers in the REGJB. Probably a bare ten percent are qualified to handle a jury trial. What do we mean by that?

A lawyer qualified to handle a jury trial has been involved in dozens and dozens of jury trials while working as a prosecutor or public defender. They have made horrible mistakes and learned from them. They have seen other lawyers ask brilliant questions during voire dire, and incorporated those questions in their own voire dire. They have confronted the same situations over and over again until one day, as they are examining a witness, the witness does something un-expected, and suddenly the lawyer remembers when the exact same thing occurred a few years ago, and they remember how it played out in that trial, and they adjust their strategy in the current trial accordingly, all the while acting as if this was entirely expected.

The German’s have a word for this: Fingerspitzengeful- an instinctive sense and understanding.

In summary, a qualified trial lawyer has experience, which combined with solid preparation, trumps talent every time.

In cross-examination, as in fishing, nothing is more ungainly than a fisherman pulled into the water by his catch.
- Louis Nizer

You can be the best cross examiner there is, but if you haven’t been to the crime scene and know that the street is a narrow unlit street so the witness could not have seen what they say they did, and if you do not have the perfect picture ready to impeach them, then no matter how good you are at cross, the witness will eat your lunch.

A few weeks ago we engaged in a private email exchange with lawyer who claimed be very experienced former prosecutor, although we do no know who he is. His basic view was he had tried cases when he was a prosecutor and now was the time for him to just get as a good as deal as possible and then move on to the next case.

This is not a philosophy of law we adhere to.
On the other hand, trials can be zero sum games- you win – your client goes home, you lose, your client may not go home, perhaps ever again.

The answer then to the anonymous Judge’s observation that lawyers change their mind after announcing ready for trial, is that the decision to go to trial is a complex calculation with a myriad of influences that can affect the decision, even when the issue already appears decided. Money, risk, possible penalty, the health of a spouse, the confidence in the lawyer, the lawyer’s confidence in themselves, the Judge assigned to the case, the offer prior to trial, the experience and ability of the prosecutor, and a hundred other unnamed factors all influence the decision to go to trial.

So for those of us that announce ready for trial and actually go to trial (prosecutor and defense attorney alike) there is that final, awful, moment of judgment.

The work is done.
The decision is now out of your hands.
Then there is that knock on the door, followed by those awful moments of waiting.

The jury walks in, and you can hear your heat beating as the foreperson rustles the verdict forms while handing them to the bailiff.

The bailiff takes them to the Judge, and inside you are screaming “just get it over with already.”

Now the Judge knows and so does the clerk as they clear their voice and begin to read:

“In the Circuit court of the eleventh judicial circuit, in and for Dade County. Count one. We the jury on this the 5th Day of October 2006, find the defendant……………”

The urging of that word 'judgment' hath bred a kind of remorse in me.
- William Shakespeare,
The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

I love trials. I just hate the verdicts. They take too much out of me either way they go.
See You In Court.


Anonymous said...

Your point is not unreasonable. Unfortunately, however, too many lawyers "change their minds" regularly and play fast and loose with the rules. That shouldn't be tolerated.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with telling the Court that you are not ready but would like to leave it on for trial to see if there is a possibility of resolving the case. Most judges would even help you push the state into a reasonable plea. It can be like a form of mediation.

Anonymous said...

What judges don't like is when people say ready on cases that are not truly ready.

the trialmaster said...

rump. if you dont like to take verdicts, send your associate in to take it.....its much easier on the heart.

Anonymous said...

It's called bluffing.

Anonymous said...

My main frustration with the trial calendar when I was doing trials was at least a dozen times I spent my weekend putting the finishing touches on the case and show up Monday and the Judge and ASA both knew that another case would be the trial and I wasted a weekend. I think they call those things borderline exparte communications.

Anonymous said...

No such thing takes place. But, when I was an ASA, I did figure out that NOEs were first, then Speedy Demands, then Natural Speedies, then the rest, oldest first.

Now that the secret is out, do you think the ASAs should post this information?

No way. Can you imagin the lies the less-than-honest defense lawyers would be coming in with. Oh, I seem my client's case is number 53 on the trial order. READY for trial!

Anonymous said...

Look this system we have works because if we did not push people to the possibility of a trial, we would never resolve anything.

Anonymous said...

3:54 really thinks that there are no ex-parte communications with judges and ASA's about cases that are "really" ready?

ha ha ha ha ha

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Shall Judge Leslie B. Rothenberg of the 3rd District Court of Appeal be retained in office?


Anonymous said...

Hey 5:07...I was a prosecutor and a defense attorney for almost 8 years. As a prosecutor, I never had an exparte comm. with any judge regarding which case was really going.

Anonymous said...

third dca issued a Thursday opinion. Hats off to Judge Wells, Cortinas and Lagoa:


Ivan Fernandez did get slamed.

Anonymous said...

I was an ASA for ten years and have been a defense attorney for ten years and no Judge has ever approached me to speak about a case ex parte nor have I ever done so. It's wrong to do that, right Vom Zanft?

Anonymous said...

To 5:57: You mean that he did not understand some child custody statute? Fortunately he is in criminal now, and can dispense justice.

Anonymous said...

My previous comment was misunderstood so I'll try again. I know for a fact that when you have been to a hearing and both sides announce ready a few days before the trial date and you show up Monday morning to do a murder trial, attempted murder trial, armed robbery, and the asa doesn't even have their file and you brought two trial briefcases with you with EVERYTHING and the judge and asa have a good laugh when they say another case is going you know that they talked about scheduling outside of your presence, especially if you've ever been sent to backup. And I ain't no dui attorney.

Jason Grey said...

REGB theorem # 1

The odds of a trial starting on any given day are inversely proportional to the amount of time spent in preparation.

Anonymous said...

"Bluffing" is just another word for lying. It shouldn't be tolerated. We all know who the biggest abusers are (on both sides). Judges should not allow that crap to continue.

Anonymous said...

7:06 are you joking!! Ivan Fernandez should know the law and if he did not know the law he should have had the legal dept check it for him.

He is a Judge and was going to send a little girl to Saudi Arabia against her will and mothers wishes.

Do you not know what happens in that country to females and mothers of children.


Rumpole said...

Jason Grey said...
REGB theorem # 1

The odds of a trial starting on any given day are inversely proportional to the amount of time spent in preparation.

Rumpole says: that is a 100% scientific provable fact based on 20 plus years of study.

Anonymous said...

Great post Rump! Before I started
as a PD I was told that you don't
really know what your doing in trial until you've tried around
30 jury trials.

And let me tell you that after about my 25th jury trial as a PD
it was like a light suddenly turned on in my head. I could look
at a set of facts and decide the best trial strategy. I felt comfortable talking to the jury in voir dire. I could fluctuate my
pitch so the jury could sense the
importance of certain questions. I
knew what issues to argue and which
to leave alone. And I knew that in
order to win you better be NICE in
front of the jury.

To all those hackers out there making money I say simply - you make more money in the short run, but in the long run no Johnny Winton is gonna hire you for big
bucks if you can't try a case.

Anonymous said...

that's what i thought also. but it aint so....

Anonymous said...

johnny winton will take a plea, like 98% of all defendants

Anonymous said...

Rump the verdict is the best. what its all about. that moment when the clerk stands up and says "in and for.." is like a shot of adrenaline to the heart.
the beauty of the verdict is also its harshness. either you won or lost. doesnt matter whether you kissed your dc's ass,sucked up and joined ray tasseff's minions at the pdo, or fawned all over the judge, no politics no pettiness no matter how much the judge hated you for taking the case to trial and ruining his/lunch plans can take away that victory if you win.
losses are tough but at least it's over. and you can go get drunk then go back to your office and find another case to try.

Anonymous said...

Representative Mark Foley masturbated into the slime tub at the 2004 nickelodeon kid's choice awards.

Jason Grey said...

IT baffles me why anyone involved in this "thing of ours" would not want to Go to trial any time it is possible.
1.It is a lot of fun
2.No judge other than the one you are in front of can make you do shit if you are “in trial”
3.We are playing with the house’s money. Win, lose, or draw we go home
4. The war stories are priceless

Rumpole said...

In response to the PD's post about trials, I am glad we were able to catch the essence of the matter for you. In response to Mr. Grey's post, how is it playing with the House's money if the state offer's you five on an armed robbery in front of Judge Rothenberg? The downside makes the trial a real gut turner.

Anonymous said...

Best trial judge in the building....Judge William Thomas.

Anonymous said...

Just writing to support the Vote No to Leslie Rothenberg. Despite being intellectually bright, she has well stepped over the line of ideologue and well deserves a No vote as was delivered by the public when she ran for State Attorney.

Haikku Harry said...

Trial guys
pretty great
DUI guys
bad and late

Anonymous said...

rothenberg will get a lot of no votes, and still be retained.

Anonymous said...

Rothenberg felt compelled to max everyone out who went to trial and lost in front of her. moreover, she was, with the exception of Bagley, the most restrictive trial judge against the defense bar. I vote no.

Anonymous said...

I vote yes for Jason Grey- Public Defender.

Anonymous said...

Blogger who thought Thomas was best judge is obviously a defense attorney who enjoyed getting EVERY ruling, and maybe even a voir dire that excluded ALL jurors who leaned to the prosecution. That does not make for any better judge than when Rothenberg was here for the other side. How about listing those who are FAIR and BRIGHT and NEVER RUDE?

Anonymous said...

leslie rottenberg should be booted off the bench.she is one of the worst judges i have encountered.however, no one has ever lost on the "retention ballot".

Anonymous said...

its takes bare majority of the voters to just say "NO".

has clue if any appeals judge has come close to the majority saying NO?

This is very interesting issue. I do not think there has ever been a campaign to remove a district court appeals judge which would mean only the voters of that district will vote (i.e. Miami and Monroe for 3rd DCA).

Campaigns to remove supreme court justices have failed and will always fail because you have way too many comminuities with different views in Florida that it would be next to impossible to remove a supreme court judge. IN the case of retention of a justice the entire state votes vs in the 3rd DCA only Miami and Monroe.

I will be watching the returns on Nov 7 2006 to see how the campaign to remove Judge Rothenberg goes. Several groups are seeking her removal on Nov 7 2006.

The DCBA results are horrible over 31% said NO to retention.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, I have read your views on Rothenberg over the months. My questions is were they humor or serious views?

I seek the intel of the great Rumpole to guide me through the say yes or no to Judge Rothenberg.

Also do you think it is possible to get a bare majority on Nov 7 2006 to say NO ?

remove discrimination said...

Shall Judge Leslie B. Rothenberg of the 3rd District Court of Appeal be retained in office?


The 2006, Dade County Bar Association Judicial Poll Results showed Judge Rothenberg received the worst say "NO" to retention with over (31%) of the lawyers of Miami-Dade and Monroe County voting that Judge Rothenberg should not be retained.

In 2004, Judge Rothenberg was defeated in the primary when she sought election to be the Miami-Dade State Attorney. The voters of Miami-Dade County rejected her as unqualified then and should now reject Judge Rothenberg now for retention to the 3rd DCA.

During this 2004 race Judge Rothenberg publicly discriminated against a certain group of people. No one should ever be elected a Judge if they have any discrimination against any group of people based on race, sex, religion, rich or poor, sexual orientation and any other views that would take one group of decent people and say these people deserve to be treated with discrimination.

Judge Leslie B. Rothenberg, deserves to be voted out of office and ORJ hopes that the voters of Miami-Dade County and Monroe County will restore justice and VOTE "NO" to the retention of Judge Leslie B. Rothenberg on November 7th, 2006. VOTE "NO" PUNCH #88 .

Jason Grey said...

When I made the “house’s money” comment I meant that trials are not about us.
It is like Zen archery, once the arrow is loosed it either finds the target or it doesn’t. The archer’s job is to draw the bow and release the arrow flawlessly. If he does that the arrow will find its way.
When I’ve finished my closing argument my job is done. What the jury does, is out of my hands and is not something I dwell on. It is not something that will have great effect on the lawyers future.
Win or lose I’m on to the next fight.
A fighter can only fight his fight. The judges keep score and decide the winner
Its not that I don’t care about my clients, I do, but thinking about any thing other than the fight you are in makes you weak

newbie said...

Jason, et al,
As a newbie around the building I'd like to go to trial more often and get the experience you all talk about. But is seems like a good portion of the time the facts go against my clients. I'm willing to put up a fight for them but if I know the odds are aginst them, it is in my client's best interest to go to trial?

Jason Grey said...

The client must decide.you may tell her the odds , the relative strengths and weaknesses of the case but never what to do or worse
what you would do.strange things happen in trial many of them good.You must give the client confidence in your abillities so the decision is not made ot of fear

Does anyone out there rember Potolsky's rule of ten?

Rumpole said...

Judge Rothenberg was a very hard working and well prepared prosecutor. As a Judge she seemed to believe that most everyone before her was guilty, and came down hard on prosecutors that were not ready or were not doing a good job. That offended defense attorneys who believed she had abandoned her role as being impartial. I cannot tell you how to vote. I have not appeared before her in the Third DCA. It is dangerous to speak about impressions and not hard facts because we are talking about a person's reputation here. My impression is that she has an agenda as a statist- meaning she believes in the power of government to regulate the conduct of it's citizens and views things like the 4th amendment and the exclusionary rule as matters to be narrowly interpreted and unlike the requirements of the rule of lenity, when its close, she gives the break to the state and not the individual. But these are my personal impressions, for whatever they are worth. She has privately expressed to me disdain for the exclusionary rule to the extent that it lets, in her mind, guilty people go free at the expense of bad police work. I think in her view, there would be better ways to rectify unconstitutional police work rather than excluding evidence against a guilty person.

Rumpole said...

As to Jason Grey, everything you say is true and on the money. Your earlier comments seemed a bit flippant as to what happens to the client, but it is obvious you care. Your analogy about the arrow and sitting down after a closing argument is correct. I think you would agree with me that the most pressure you feel is on the cases you should win. The cases we are backed into the corner on, with no reasonable plea offers and a lot of evidence, are just free for alls. As one great lawyer out it, "sometimes to have to just play for the fumbles."

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Rumpole, I am very impressed with your comments about Judge Rothenberg. Just when I thought you were a sewer gutter rat like the other two bit hack lawyers blogging away, you write something with meaning and heart.

A post dedicated to your views and others is warranted so to hear from the legal community on this issue.

Ps. j/k never thought you were a hack.

; )

Anonymous said...

Breaking News:

SAVEDADE will be campaigning hard against Judge Leslie B. Rothenberg for the say "NO" vote on November 7, 2006.

Anonymous said...

Thats no surprise

Jason Grey said...

Rumpole speaks the truth:

Defending a truly innocent person in trial is scary shit!

an interested gossip reporter said...

Are lawyers still banned from the Public Defender's Office?

Anonymous said...

yea rump whats the deal

Anonymous said...

TOO BAD DCA Judges are merit retention...all the loosers, GINA, JOSIE, MIGDA< et al could run there too....

Anonymous said...

Don't you guys remember that Leslie Rothenberg ran against Kathy Fernandez Rundle 2 years ago? She lost badly. It was all a set up. She could honestly say that she resigned from the bench (because that's how "honorable" she was and how much she "believed in" what she was doing) when in actuality she had been courted by the Bush camp to go against a Bush No-No. And la de dah, as soon as she lost, the promise of being appointed to the 3rd DCA came to fruition. No real qualifications, certainly nothing scholarly, other than that she was willing to do Jeb's bidding. And the Christian Family Coalition does like her b/c she says what they want to hear. Listen, if you can't get SAVE DADE, go with the CFC. It's a no brainer. Vote for non-retention.

Anonymous said...

anyone else find it amusing fox news is still refering to republican congressional representative mark foley as a democrat?

Rumpole said...

As far as we know, BENNETT "BAN EM" BRUMMER is still banning lawyers from his office. No trial. No ability to confront their accusers. Just: "yer out!!"

Anonymous said...

props to broward county sheriff's office for using geraldo rivera as a CI. times must be tough north of the border.

Anonymous said...

5:21, I like your post as it is against Rothenberg for retention. Do you have any proof of any of those statements?

If any one has a links to stories in the papers about Rothenbergs stand with the CFC a.k.a. Hate Group Coalition please post.

A number of organizations are doing say NO to Rothenberg campaigns and any info would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

I think CFC needs to pay there bills first and get there corp reinstated with tallahassee before they start endorsing people.

Still not paid and in collection $11-k fine from the Florida Elections Commission. State Attorney needs to look into this.

Anonymous said...

did you know that judicial canidates were paying over $300 a pop to this guy for some CFC get together. Many judicial canidates have this $300 payment on there campaign reports.

Anthony are you paying your taxes and claiming this cash? My guess is that he did not raise $11-k at the event because he never paid the Feb 2006 fine.

Old Herald Story said...

hey 6:16 pm this story was from the MIAMI HERALD in August 2004:

From the Miami Herald:
A conservative Christian organization has asked candidates for Miami-Dade mayor and other local positions to sign a pledge to oppose gay marriage and domestic partnerships "with my votes, powers and privileges of public office," reopening a debate that has long polarized South Florida and national politics.

One who signed the Miami-Dade Christian Family Coalition's pledge was retired Judge Leslie Rothenberg, a candidate for the GOP nomination for state attorney. Legal experts said she could face ethical questions for signing -- a contention that she disputes.

One mayoral candidate, former Commissioner Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, signed the full pledge, and another, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré, signed but crossed out parts of it.

Both Broward County and the city of Miami Beach offer a domestic partnership registry, but Miami-Dade does not officially recognize gay couples.

The marriage pledge calls domestic partnerships and civil unions "marriage counterfeits" that undermine traditional marriage. It says marriage between a man and a woman is the strongest foundation for a child.

Diaz de la Portilla said he signed because "I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman."

Ferré said he struck out clauses that would have required him to oppose domestic partnership benefits and civil unions.

Of the other mayoral candidates:

• Former Police Director Carlos Alvarez said he doesn't recall being asked to sign the pledge. He said he opposes gay marriage, but said he does not know enough about domestic partnerships to take a position.

• Businessman Jose Cancela said he did not sign. "I didn't even read the thing that they gave me to be honest with you," he said. "I'm not going to opine on issues that divide this community even more."

Cancela said he supports domestic-partner benefits.

• Restaurateur Jay Love supports partnerships but opposes gay adoption. He refused to sign the pledge: "It was just too far to the right."

• Commissioner Jimmy Morales said he hadn't seen the pledge, but would not have signed. He is the only mayoral candidate who took a public vote to add gays and lesbians to the county's human rights ordinance. He has been endorsed by the gay-rights organization SAVE Dade, which calls the current pledge discriminatory.
Miami-Dade has been having this on-again/off-again battle over gay rights since 1977 when Anita Bryant made such a stink (and lost her endorsement gig with the Florida Citrus Growers in the process) about equal rights for all. And just two years ago the Religious Reich tried to have the equal protection clause taken out of the charter - it went down in flames (pun intended). Now it's back with this blood oath, and it looks like Jimmy Morales is the only one with cojones to tell them to take a flying fuck. (Jose Cancela clucked out with the mystifying "I'm not going to opine...." What the hell does that mean?)

What really pisses me off is that Miami-Dade has far more serious problems than worrying about same-sex marriage. Let's get our priorities figured out here, people.

Anonymous said...

also see this link:


Anonymous said...

"looks like Jimmy Morales is the only one with cojones to tell them to take a flying fuck."

Love it

Anonymous said...

What openly gay judge supported someone who challeged an incumbent til he realized he was supporting someone who thought he and his partner were not entitled to "benefits" because they are gay????

John F. Kennedy said...

If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad; if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

- John F. Kennedy

Anonymous said...

6:41 explain the second part of the post? who was that any links

Anonymous said...

Rothenberg is a brilliant jurist who actually cares about the community. She stands for truth and justice and has no times for the usual nonsense other judges put up with. You guys are so used to defense oriented judges that you can't see the truth.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Rothenberg, Chief Judge Cope may not approve of you blogging.

Anonymous said...

ok lets see all of you want to get your criminal clients to be set free by a judge and you want gays to get married and teach our kids that all of this is great .Well you all really represent what most folk think

Anonymous said...

you are really off base 7:02 pm

all any one wants is a fair minded jurist that does not have discriminatory views either way.

over 30 years ago or more people had the question of you do not want you kids around black people because of various racist views. You comment about gays is just as racist as those red neck bigots of today and yesterday.

You cannot be a Judge and say these decent group of people should be discriminated.

Anonymous said...

equal justice for all!!!!!

Anonymous said...

as to the CFC, why tell them to take a "flying fuck"? clearly they dont seem to ever get laid, especially while flying (whether it be on a plane or a pill).

Anonymous said...

News Release
Craig Stevens, Co-anchor, WSVN7 has agreed to MC Lambda Legal Miami 2006. The Guest Speaker will be Jack Senterfitt, Senior Staff Attorney, Southern Regional Office, Lambda Legal, and Tim Luke from HGTV's "Cash in the Attic" will conduct a live auction.

In addition Senterfitt will be speaking at the University of Miami Law School on Friday, October 20, 2006 from 2:30 to 3:30 in room 209 of the Law School. His talk will be about marriage equality and Lambda Legal's efforts around the country. The talk is open to all.

Lambda Legal Miami 2006
Making the Case for Equality
Miami's only fundraiser for this national LGBT civil rights organization
7:00 -- 9:00 pm Thursday, October 19, 2006
Karu restaurant and Y
71 NW 14th Street Miami, FL 33136

Cocktails and hors d' oeuvres

Guest speaker: Lambda Legal Southern Regional Senior Staff Attorney, Jack Senterfitt

Individual tickets for this event are $100 and may be purchased online at www.lambdalegal.org/events or by calling James Hoagland at 404-897-1880.

Pete Halpern, South Florida Major Gifts Officer,
Lambda Legal 786-473-6126

Rumpole said...

Anonymous said...
ok lets see all of you want to get your criminal clients to be set free by a judge and you want gays to get married and teach our kids that all of this is great .Well you all really represent what most folk think

Rumpole says: Ain't the First Amendment great? And anonymous poster, don't you worry. When the government comes for you, and they will, we will be here, your last line of defense, and then, and only then, will you understand what "we" do, and what "we" want.

Anonymous said...

the great Rumpole has spoken

Anonymous said...

Hey Cap'n

how's the fundraising going for the runoffs?

Anonymous said...


1. CFC of Miami


3. Ku Klux Klan (KKK)




Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Mentally ill Miami-Dade jail inmates sue DCFBY SUSANNAH A. NESMITH
Five mentally ill inmates have filed lawsuits demanding Florida's Department of Children and Family Services get them out of the Miami-Dade County Jail, claiming the conditions there are dangerous.

All five have been declared incompetent and ordered into state care, but DCF has said it doesn't have the space. The inmates have filed three suits in state court and a class-action suit in federal court over the past week claiming that the ninth floor of the main jail, where mentally ill inmates are held, is so overcrowded and understaffed that it amounts to a warehouse.

''If a parent treated their kid the way this county is treating these inmates, the state would come take the kid away,'' said Norm Kent, attorney for the two inmates who have sued in federal court.

One of the inmates, Eugene Roman, gouged his own eyes out while confined in one of the jail's ''suicide cells'' last year. He was left blind.

A doctor who examined him said the jail had made him worse and that he needed mental health care. Instead, he was released in February and rearrested in April on charges of attempted rape and kidnapping.

Roman was declared incompetent in August and ordered into DCF care. By law, the state has 15 days to pick up an inmate.

But Roman still ''languishes'' in the jail, the lawsuit says. The other four inmates have also been in the jail past the 15-day deadline.

DCF spokesman Al Zimmerman said the state doesn't have enough beds for inmates -- 316 prisoners are waiting for spots to open; 256 of those have been waiting more than 15 days.

The lawsuits challenge that claim, pointing out that DCF asked the Legislature for less money last year than it did the year before.

''The reality is, they have not had enough beds, but DCF has not asked for any additional money; as a matter of fact, they asked for less money,'' said Carlos Martinez, chief assistant public defender in Miami-Dade. ``It's incomprehensible that they would do that. It's really immoral what they're doing.''

Martinez said that his office is representing seven other mentally ill inmates, in addition to the ones who filed suit, who have languished past the 15-day deadline.

Zimmerman said DCF officials are trying to get more money for the 2006-2007 fiscal year budget. The agency has actually gotten more money for inmate treatment in the past couple years, even though the department's overall budgets decreased, he said.

The bed deficit goes back to at least 2003.

For its part, Miami-Dade County blames DCF for the overcrowding on the jail's ninth floor.

''To the extent that we have problems on the ninth floor, it's a failure of DCF to comply with their statutory duty,'' said assistant county attorney Randy Duvall.

But Kent, who filed the federal suit, said that response isn't enough, calling the county ``woefully delinquent in their obligations.''

''You know what the county has to do: They have to immediately contract with a private facility, whatever the cost is, and make it secure,'' he said.

All four suits cited a report done by Miami Herald partner WFOR-CBS4 and a 2004 grand jury report, both of which exposed deplorable conditions in the jail's mental health ward. The grand jury report was prompted by a similar investigation by The Miami Herald in 2004.

As many as five inmates are being held in cells designed for one, with the lights kept on 24 hours a day. The inmates aren't given clothes -- only paper robes -- to prevent suicide attempts. And jail staff are unable to provide the counseling or treatment inmates need to make any sort of meaningful recovery.

Despite the media reports and the recommendations of the grand jury, experts say conditions are worsening.

Miami-Dade County Judge Steven Leifman, long an advocate for the mentally ill, said the situation is reaching a breaking point, even as the county is in the process of building a treatment center.

''Last week a guy took a piece of metal that rusted off a door there and swallowed it and is in the hospital,'' he said.

''The county is spending $50,000 a day to manage the mental health floor,'' he said. ``It's not like we're not spending. The problem is we can't get people out into treatment because there's no treatment.''

Hearings on the three state court suits are scheduled next week. No hearings have yet been scheduled in the federal case.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has filed a similar suit, which is pending, and a Panhandle judge threatened to drop a mentally ill inmate off at the home of the DCF director, according to a report by the St. Petersburg Times.

Anonymous said...

My favorite part of the story is:

"The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has filed a similar suit, which is pending, and a Panhandle judge threatened to drop a mentally ill inmate off at the home of the DCF director, according to a report by the St. Petersburg Times."

We need judges like that in Miami.

Anonymous said...

i like the post that rothenberg being a "brilliant" jurist who cares about her community. uh, memo to rothenberg: your community doesnt care about you, we despise you.

Anonymous said...

anyone ever deal with the "jail staff". im sure most judges and prosecutors dont go to the jails, but we def atty's go all the time. corrections is a huge problem, especially the completely untrained morons working the 8th and 9th floor.

is there any condition precedent for employment at corrections other than a pulse?

Anonymous said...

10:13......brilliant come back. You think of that all by yourself or did you consult a 6 year old?

Anonymous said...

Hey 10:03:32 PM
How dare you include Radical Muslims. The liberal, commies at CNN tell us they are freedom fighters! Maybe you should be on that list?