HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG
We made it! One year and still blogging. We start a two day introspective about the blog. Why blog, and maybe even a bit of who blog (but not much), with a lot of memories about posts and comments from this past year.
We start today by posting our full email interview with reporter Nick Boggart, who generated the blog some publicity ( as well as a bunch of headaches we cannot discuss) the other day. Enjoy.
Nick Bogart, channel six reporter sent us an email the other day with questions for his story. Here is the full text of his questions and our answers: (Mr. Bogart's questions are in italics).
Dear Mr. Bogart: I am somewhat flattered that NBC has seen fit to do a story about my humble little blog.
Without denigrating your journalistic abilities, I am sure if you looked hard enough in the Justice Building you could find a judge who has done something or said something more newsworthy than my blog.
Lord knows that when they climb up on that bench they just can't help themselves.
It must be the altitude.
I am also not surprised that you found lawyers willing to comment. Attorneys flock to news cameras like Judges to a free buffet. (Have I given you enough witty comments for your story?)
To answer your questions:
1) Why did you decide that MJB needed a blog? Why did you decide you were the right person to author/edit it?
Everyone's favourite Federal Blogger, David O Marcus was running the south Florida federal blog and one day as I was pondering a stack of bills and no phone calls from clients, it just seemed like a fun thing to do. I am a frustrated writer stuck in attorneys' clothes, and this is a creative outlet for me. The fact that people seem to enjoy it is a plus.
2) You talked to me earlier that you get about 500 hits a day. How does that compare to the first few editions? How did you let people know this blog existed?
I still get about 500 hits a day. Over 125,000 hits since the blog began. I tried to publicize it two ways:
1) I picked a fight with Brian Tannebaum, who at the time was President of the Miami Chapter of the FACDL. As such, he was sending several dozen annoying emails a day to us lawyers, and I thought it would be nice if he would publicize the blog.
2) I also sent a couple of Judges an email with a link. Knowing that most of them have plenty of times on their hands, I was sure they would log on. Knowing that gossiping is by far and way the number one activity in the REGJB, I was sure the site would be used.
3) You've said you felt the interplay between Roy Black and Abe Laeser on the Alvarez case ranks high on your "Best Of" list. Give me some other moments that stand out for you (outside of your peerless pigskin prognostications)
(Yes- I am apparently an amazing picker of football games. Who knew? As one wiseass wrote, I should be able to pick juries as well as I pick games. )
Clearly the lawyers and Judges who wrote wonderful and kind words about Judge Manny Crespo when he passed away was one of the moments I am most proud of . The same holds true for the passing of Judge Henry Leyte-Vidal. The blog provided a place for the community of lawyers and Judges to share fond memories of the lives these men had lived, and the people they had touched as Judges, lawyers, and friends.
4) How often have you had to step in and expunge personal/slanderous postings? Is there anyone in particular who's had to suffer more than his/her share of slings and arrows of this kind?
Well I believe that I have suffered as Rumpole the most slings and arrows because since I have the power to remove a comment I go out of my way to leave up the comments about me that are derogatory.
I usually remove a comment once a day or so.
Here is the problem: most people like to be able to read the blog and then leave a spontaneous comment. I cannot monitor the blog all day. So if someone leaves an inappropriate comment, then it stays up a while. Also some lawyers have commented to me that if someone makes a comment about them, and they Google their name, the comment in the blog is usually near the top of the list.
Since we as attorneys sell among other things our reputation, this is a serious matter that I try and stay on top of.
5) How do you regard the speculation as to your identity? Would your ability to do the blog be crippled by exposure? Are you one person, or a group?
I feel bad for the people who have been called Rumpole and are not. It must annoy the beejesus out of them. Let me answer the identity question this way:
There are one or two posts I have made that I have regretted, and since removed. The posts were critical of a Judge when I did not have first hand knowledge of the incident. As attorneys we have an ethical obligation not to be critical of a Judge in public. How that balances against our first amendment rights I do not know, since I am a simple criminal hack.
I have tried to be fair in any public commentary of Judges. In fact my post today (the other day) about a new policy by Judge Tunis is I think, a fair recounting of the issue from both sides. I think she is a great judge, but is wrong about the issue of no continuances at sounding.
Could I write the post I wrote today If my identity was known?
Well if it was about Judge Tunis, the answer is yes, as she is a great Judge and would not hold my comments against my clients. Some other Judges may not be so judicial.
Judges in Broward would probably hold a public tar and feathering if they knew who I was.
In the end, I do have to earn a living. I am a pretty fair lawyer and I would be crushed if clients stopped coming to me because of negative publicity about the blog.
I take the fact that I am anonymous very seriously.
I realize that with the amount of readers I have I could publicly humiliate a judge or prosecutor who got me angry in court. That would be an abuse of the power that, in a sense, my readers have entrusted to me.
I try and write and act responsibly. I have left posts that were very mean about me using my real name (by readers who did not know I am Rumpole, if you understand what I mean) just so that if my identity was revealed I could show the level of fairness I have worked to achieve.
Being around cops and criminals all these years has taught me one thing: the number of people who know a secret is directly proportional to the chance the secret will get out. [we removed the all capitals statement that no one knows our identity]So I think my secret is safe.
I am introspective by nature so this has run on longer than I intended.
In the end two things would make me reveal my identity: 1) if I was appointed a Judge (and the likelihood of that happening is about the same as the chance I have of winning the lottery )
2) If someone gave me a job as a writer. But it would have to be a great job, and I am not sure I am even a good writer.
Good Luck with the story.
POST SCRIPT: I initially liked the story on TV. Then I received a very disturbing email from someone I promised not to name. It got me thinking that it is very unfair for people to accuse anyone of running this blog. The implication being that the person accused would be held responsible for my ideas, my opinions, and this blog. So I am asking everyone (including a certain chatty Administrative Judge who goes on TV) to please stop doing that.
Also, I realize that some very disturbing comments have been posted in the past. I do my best to remove them. If you find one and send me an email, I will remove it. But please do not hold me responsible for what others write. I wish the blog could remain as funny as it has been lately, and as interesting as when Roy Black and Abe Laeser were reminiscing about their famous cases.
I try and balance the principles of free speech against my desire to make sure no one is hurt by this blog. In the final analysis, I would stop this in a second if someone was hurt. My great fear is that I cannot "un-ring the bell" as we lawyers like to say during trial. So while nothing lasts forever, I will keep doing this as long as it is fun, as long as people enjoy it, and as long as we can keep the discussion within certain bounds of civility. Abraham Lincoln had a policy of not sending a letter written in anger until the following day. Upon his death, his private papers contained dozens of letters written but never mailed. Perhaps that is a lesson to all of us.
I cannot even begin to tell you about the Judge in another state that wants to start a trial Monday, work to Wednesday, and then begin again Monday. Suffice to say, I will be busy traveling and arguing and trying to avoid contempt charges. The Captain is a guest blogger and I am certain between the two of us ( and I do not know who the Captain is) we can keep you entertained.