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. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Thursday, November 09, 2006

MERIT RETENTION vs DIRECT ELECTIONS

Election season is over. Wasn't that fun?

Now that all the votes have been counted, where do we stand on the issue of merit retention of judges versus the current system of direct elections?

As Judge Glick points out in his post yesterday afternoon, there is no correlation between merit retention and the public’s knowledge of a Judge.


LENNY GLICK said...
MERIT RETENTION REALITY CHECK !!!!

History has shown us that no matter how disliked,and/or incompetent a jurist may be or how well thought of and supremely competent a jurist is, the public has no clue.
Virtually every merit retention election scores about the same across the board. 70 to 75% of the voters say "keep them" while 25 to 30% of the voters say "throw the bums out", without ever knowing if they are heroes or bums.
Therein lies one of the arguments for elections versus appointment and merit retention. Congrats to the newly elected Judges. As for how any individual new judge will be on the bench, there will be some stars and some duds as in any profession. My hope is that they will be given a chance to blossom.
The same theory about newly released movies should apply to new judges, Go see the movie yourself and don't judge a movie by what some reviewer tells you.
You may be very surprised.
Thanks for listening

Rumpole ruminates: what makes Judge Glick or any proponent of direct elections believe that an uninformed public would have any better knowledge of either candidate in a direct election? Judicial rules of conduct do not allow for a discussion of the issues. The candidate just gives their name, length of time they are a lawyer, and the fact that they joined Judge Rosinek’s Kiwanis Club six months before the election to put something else on their election pamphlet.

The discussion for the last six months was whether a clearly qualified Judge like Steve Leifman would be able to win an election against a clearly unqualified candidate with a popular Hispanic name. Recent history proves that the unqualified candidate does not have a free ride. But ask Judge Leifman just how expensive and time consuming it was to get his message out. Plus, there is a distinct possibility that the weather on election day kept many people home who would have otherwise voted against Judge Leifman. That election may have been a fluke, and how comfortable are we with the idea that it takes a fluke for a qualified Judge to retain his seat?

The election in 2004 saw two very experienced and extremely well qualified sitting circuit court judges lose to candidates who, while they may have been fine lawyers (personally we had never heard of them) , had demonstrated nothing that would merit their election at the expense of the very experienced Judges they were replacing ( and these judges would do well to keep that in mind).


It was clearly a name issue in 2004 and there is no guarantee that elections will not be a name issue in the future. And lest you think this is sour grapes by a white male ( we are not confirming or denying our ethnicity, si?) lets be clear that for the preceding 30 years all it took was the last name of Klein to get a safe spot on the bench. As one former judge remarked, “nobody was crying for Rudy Sorondo when he could not get elected.” Yet history has shown the governor made an excellent choice in appointing Mr. Sorondo.

We are not pining for the old days when there was the same problem, just with different types of names. The same potential for a mediocre judiciary existed then. We demand the best in our judges. The average and below should just move North of the Border, where like cows to a salt lick, they seem to congregate

So where are we and where are we going?
We have no idea.

There are strong arguments for and against direct elections, and for and against appointments and merit retention. Perhaps the current amalgamated system is best.
Some very good judges could never get an appointment.
And some very good judges could never win an election.

The final wisdom in Judge Glick’s post is unimpeachable: Don’t judge a judge by what the other attorneys say. Judge him or her by your own experiences.

We should give our newly elected Judges a chance.

(And of course when they do screw up, we are here to let the world know about it. )

See You In Court.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Like cows to a salt lick" ?? Really Rumpole, sometimes you crack me up.

Anonymous said...

not a word about rottenberg in that 300 word piece

Anonymous said...

i always heard Judge Glick was a tough sentencer, and based on that, formed a negative opinion of him. In the last few months I have read some of his posts, and met him, and observed him in Court. While we have some differences (dont we all), I have gained a lot of respect for this learned Justice.

we can all (self included) do a little research and not judge a book by its cover.

props to you Judge Glick for offering insightful and thought provoking ideas to the blog.

t

Anonymous said...

I have been at the PD's Office for ten years and I've seen great things happen here and I've seen things happen that I don't agree with. I supported Bennett but I believe that anyone has the right to run for office against an elected incumbent. What I observed during THIS PARTICULAR race was that Gabe and the majority of those who supported him were, for lack of a better term, "playing dirty". They lied about people - often disparaging their reputations. They threatened people - both professionally if they were to win as well as physically. Both happened to me by people close to Gabe. They were inexperienced attorneys who thought that becasue they went to trial, they were legal stars. What they didn't realize was that you actually had to be PREPARED for those trials.

As far as being on a hiring committee, I have been on many. It doesn't necessarily mean that you are the greatest legal talent in the office, it could be that you are asked in order to have a diverse representative group. They don't want all of the hiring committee to be people who have been here for 30 years. They also want some people in there who are younger who can gage whether this person will be a good fit with the division attorneys.

I have done some checking. Gabe attended Georgetown but never graduated and never recieved his L.LM. So, at best, he misled everyone. At worst, he downright lied. (unless he has completed the coursework within the time since I checked)

While some of the people listed by a previous blogger as being legally talented are accurate, some were baffling. Barzee? Overman? My opinion is different.

I agree that Rory's legal mind is amazing. I do not agree that he has gotten lazy. I know Rory, he has helped me with my cases on numerous occasions, and I have seen him at work. I'm not sure there's anyone in this office who works HARDER than he does. And, for the record, I have never seen him in ABP and I have never seen him eat a danish. Not in 10 years that I have known him.

Come on. Political signs in the building? I have never seen any. But maybe I am too busy representing my clients to run around and look for any. If they were here, and if that's your biggest complaint, please! I would say being threatened with professional and physical harm is more of a "campaign violation" than that. Maybe I should have called KFR.....

Anyway, I have said enough. Bottom line is if someone wants to run for office; any office, go for it. Just do it fairly, do it honorably, and be ethical.

GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY!

Thursday, November 09, 2006 10:34:14 AM

Rumpole said...

300 words? I thought it was more than that. What can I write about Judge Rothenberg?

As to Judge Glick, I really chuckle when people call a particular Judge a strict sentencer or liberal sentencer. The bottom line is that when anyone with a lenghty prior record gets convicted, they are going to get a long sentence, no matter who the Judge is.

The real question is what a Judge does when someone with no priors gets convicted, where they had a legitimate defense, but the jury still found them guilty? Does that Judge sentence with care and discretion based on the facts, or does the Judge just ask what the maximum is?

Rumpole said...

OK Mr./Ms. PD. Nice post. Well said. The "Danish" thing is a bit of a joke. Mr. Stein started it by blasting us in the press. He made some very mean comments about us. So we responded with something like "put down that danish" and come to court or some such nonsense. It was just a jab back at him for calling us bad names in the press. Then the readers started with it, and it lasted several months. I do not know Mr. Stein personally. Many say he is a fine administrator, some say he is not. I think anyone in his position is subject to getting pot shots from lawyers who work in court and think he has an easy ride.

As to the Gabe mess, Bennett really blew it when he arrogantly refused to settle the lawsuit and demanded money from Mr. Martin. As I understand it, it was only after the Judge read his lawyers the riot act ( in the form of an order that did not make Mr. Brummer's case look good at all) about her view of the case that they came to their senses. The bottom line is that we would expect a public servant like Mr. Brummer to take the high road in an election, and instead he played rough and lawyers ended up banned from his office. It's not a pretty picture.

Anonymous said...

rory stein- hardest working attorney in the pd's office. give 10:34 some smelling salts. The man takes 2 hour lunches and is was out of the office by 2pm Friday for years to play basketball on Miami Beach. He is a mean sob who should have lost his law license with Aaron and Weed for their behavior in the last election. As for Martin- if he was stupid enough to have ANYTHING to do with George Garcia that in and of itself is circumstantial evidence of guilt because if there ever was a maggot Garcia is one. Disbarred and was incompetent when he practiced taking cases from bondsmen he was unqualified to handle. I had a case that I took over from him where he advised a client to take a plea to over 30 years and did no discovery or motions. A REAL BAD APPLE.

Anonymous said...

Hese's what you hear from all judicial candidates: "We need free elections so anyone can run and be elected by the people, blah, blah, blah."

Here's what you hear from MOST sitting judges (including those who were elected): "We need merit retention."

Talk about getting in the treehouse and pulling up the ladder.

Talk about

Anonymous said...

Any truth that one of our esteemed robed warriors got off the bench today and hug a defendant after terminating the defendant's probation early and successfully???

Anonymous said...

3:09...I agree with you!!!

Anonymous said...

3:09...I agree with you!!!

Jason Grey said...

I was not there for the alleged hugging but if it happened it had to be Judge Young

Anonymous said...

Did Young kiss him too?

Anonymous said...

is it my imagination or has sy gaer gotten grayer and darker and has more of a hunchback than the hunchback of notre dame? and does he have to wear the same ugly suit all the time?

Anonymous said...

"i always heard Judge Glick was a tough sentencer, and based on that, formed a negative opinion of him."

That's a reason to form a negative opinion of a judge? C'mon! First, if you live, work or play in Miami-Dade that shouldn't offend you. Second, so what? If he treats people with respect, follows that law, and is fair, why would his being a "tough sentencer" in and of itself be a reason to form a negative opinion of a judge? Do judges have to give away the courthouse before you can like them?

Anonymous said...

5:39 nothing better to do than attack Sy's suits. Get a life and some values. Your mother would be very proud of you...


It wasn't Young, it was L. Schwartz who isn't grandstanding like Young would, cause Schawartz doesn't have to run again...

Anonymous said...

Without elections there would not be the fear asociated with that headache. Judge Leifman and others should remember that it can happen again and act accordingly. Otherwise expect an opponent next time. Maybe not everyone deserves to be run against but plenty do deserve it. So don't tell us poor J Leifman had to waste time and money. Next time it may be a better opponent and it may not rain.

Jason Grey said...

My bad, I’ve been in court many times when Judge young told a defendant to hug a mom, or dad. I can imagine if a defendant had no support Judge young would offer up a hug himself. Good for Judge Schwartz, good for Judge young. A little Human kindness goes a long way in my book.

great legs watcher said...

What about Tunis's new policy of having to file a written motion for continuance five days in advance of the sounding? She wasn't granting many continuances to begin with - now she may grant little to none at all. Not exactly fair if you're the third attorney on the case and your predecessors had the case for a good while before you came into it.

Anonymous said...

What we need are new Judges who are good people. Self-interested, hypocritcal judges are what we need less of.

Rumpole said...

IF Judge Tunis has the policy that you cannot ask for continuances at sounding, she needs to speak to Larry Schwartz and Izzy Reyes. Schwartz was courageous enough to state that he never had that policy which in turn put the pressure on Judge Reyes to abandon that policy. Now I am not saying Judge Schwartz went after Reyes. Nothing like that. All I am saying is that when lawyers were complaining about it on the blog, Judge Schwartz stepped up and agreed with the lawyers.

Judge Blake needs to speak to Tunis. It just imposes too much on lawyers who are busy to do that.

Anonymous said...

Not ore tenus continuance requests at least, she has these signs all over her courtroom.

I think Tunis is trying to make a name for herself at the expense of justice.

Getting one's docket down (the numbers game) may seem nice in concept but its going to put a lot of defendants in a bad position.

Anonymous said...

I used to be firmly in the pro merit retention camp but, since the Republicans started sowing their wild oats the gave all JNC appointnents to the governor instead of letting the Bar pick some. Now you have to pass political litmus tests especially for appelate seats. So...I dunno.

Anonymous said...

10:45
I was in the office during the election. Both sides played dirty. But Brummer in Co. broke more laws then we did.

And by the way, 10 years is about the time you should be leaving the government lawyer job... Jump on the wheels if you want to represent the indigent.

Anonymous said...

10:45.....you are a complete idiot. "They broke more laws than we did"? You sound like some of my clients. Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

Shame on you young lady. It was a joke. And if you are sick of your idiot clients-move on.

Anonymous said...

what about all the fines the elections dept made weed pay? or bobby arron extorting money from nunez?

Anonymous said...

6:06 on glick. if you finished my post, you will see i became more enlightened and wiser.

Anonymous said...

10:02---u missed my point. The point is NOT your opinion of Glick. It's your inclination to form a negative opinion about a judge because he or she is a tough sentencer. That, my friend, is silly.

Anonymous said...

606 you are naive that is the only criteria that judges are evaluated on this blog. give everyone a bond, put every 18 year old armed robber in boot camp and sentence every career criminal case to the bottom of the guidelines and you are a hero. let defense attorneys get 15 continuances and they throw checks at you.

sentence harshly and not grant defense attorneys for a whole week because someone has a 30 minute change of plea in federal court and you are a terrible awful and mean judge.
rumpole you wont admit this but deep down you know this is what 90 percent of the defense bar thinks

Anonymous said...

9:17, you should stop saying the same things when you post - your anonymity is gone

Anonymous said...

THERE IS NO REAL ANONYMITY ON THIS BLOG SO FUCK ALL YOU PUSSY JEWBOYS WHO GOSSIP LIKE A BUNCH OF SCHOOL GIRLS BECAUSE WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP YOU DIDN'T PLAY SPORTS, GET PUSSY, OR DO ANYTHING ELSE BESIDES STUDY TO BE A MONEY GRUBBING DOCTOR OR LAWYER.

Anonymous said...

Fuck you 11:12. I have it on good authority that the following bloggers had stellar careers in athletics: Phil Reizenstein-junior high basketball, Warren Schwartz-debate society, Richard Hersch-cross country running, David O. Markus-badmitton, D.Waksman-baseball catcher, Brian Tannebaum-football blocking dummy, Mark Eiglarsh-girl's softball coach,Rory Stein-darts(good practice for backstabbing). Honorary non-Jew bloggers: D.Lurvey-sprinter(runs away from trouble well), Jason Gray-boxing(hit so many times in head thinks it makes him a tuff guy connected wannabe) Joel Denaro-marksmanship-thinks he is tough guy but isn't- just has powerful daddy. Honorary Judicial nominee: Lenny Glick-crew and rowing.

Anonymous said...

I must add that Denaro has a hell of a throwing arm not to mention golf swing.

Anonymous said...

Joel Denaro also has a hell of a jump shot from 18 feet and in.

He is also a hell of a poker player

Anonymous said...

Joel Denaro also has a hell of a jump shot from 18 feet and in.

He is also a hell of a poker player

Anonymous said...

Miami Palmetto lax state champs. 1989 vision.

LENNY GLICK said...

To a "Ruminating Rumpole".

You misperceived my ramblings on elections vs. merit retention.
What I said was that the numbers reality( 75% 25%) was an argument for elections. I never said it was my argument for elections.
True,I would not be a Judge today if it were not for elections as "she who must be obeyed" is quick to point out, but if you are objective about it you may think that, generally, the "gene pool" of qualified candidates submitted for consideration may be higher after some form of vetting by a committee. The politics these days make that concept a little more problematical when all the committee members are the Governors people.
No matter how the candidates come to the attention of the public, elections or merit retention, the public still has no clue. Elections do not inform them of the qualifications of the candidate any more than merit retention does. Most voters don't know and don't care.
Marketing makes or breaks the candidate in elections. $$$$$ is the fuel that drives the market.
There is that rare occasion when an underfunded and unknown candidate pulls off a victory but you can count them on 1 1/2 hands.
You need the $$$$ to get your name out to the public at large or to hire the public relations people who get you support from groups and on their "slate of candidates"
It's a tough business either way and not a pretty picture.
I don't claim to know what the answer is, maybe your readers do.

Thanks for listening

LENNY GLICK