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

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

PILTDOWN MAN

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, NOVEMBER 21 ...

The so-called Piltdown Man was fragments of a skull and jaw bone collected in the early years of the twentieth century from a gravel pit at Piltdown, a village near Uckfield, in the English county of Sussex. The fragments were claimed by experts of the day to be the fossilised remains of a hitherto unknown form of early human. The significance of the specimen remained the subject of controversy until it was exposed on November 21, 1953 as a forgery, consisting of the lower jaw bone of an ape combined with the skull of a fully developed, modern man.

Fast-forward 53 years and we are faced with our own Piltdown Man scandal as the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office has decided to attempt to pull one over on all of us. Only today’s version of Piltdown Man is the falsification and forgery of official court records and documents all for the greater good.

In the words of Jose Arrojo, a top assistant to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, said judges' altering public records in informant cases at prosecutors' request has been ''an established practice in this circuit'' for two decades.

Florida law makes it a crime for anyone -- including judges, clerks or ''other public officers'' -- to alter or falsify court records or proceedings. Offenders can be sent to prison for a year.

F.S. 839.13 Falsifying records

… if any judge, justice, mayor, alderman, clerk, sheriff, coroner, or other public officer, … or any person whatsoever, shall …, alter, corruptly withdraw, falsify or avoid any record, …, or any paper filed in any judicial proceeding in any court of this state, or shall knowingly and willfully take off, discharge or conceal any issue, … or shall forge, deface, or falsify any document or instrument recorded, or filed in any court, …; or if any person shall cause or procure any of the offenses aforesaid to be committed, or be in anywise concerned therein, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree …

Court Clerk Harvey Ruvin said he learned from Arrojo only this week that court records were being altered. ''He called and assured me it was totally proper,'' Ruvin said. Arrojo, chief assistant state attorney for special prosecutions, said his office believes state laws that exempt some sensitive records from public disclosure also allow judges to authorize what was done with the docket … ''This is an established practice in this circuit for many, many years and we are comfortable that the rules of judicial administration allows for this,'' he said … If you expect your government to engage in proactive investigations while protecting the lives of cooperating witnesses . . . certain materials are going to have to be kept from public view.''

Our readers have their own opinions:

Anonymous said...
This whole thing in the herald is a non-story. Funny they beat up on SAO for not doing enough re corruption and then when SAO does some creative things to further investigations, they squawk. Funny, I didnt hear them squawking too loud when these same tactics were used to catch Judge Shenberg who was willing to give up the name of an informant for 20 grand.

Anonymous said...
creative things to help investigations? this is the SAO falsifying ct. records so that their informants can't be impeached with their priors. thats clearly unconstitutional and shows a complete disdain and disregard for the right of a defendant to fully and fairly cross examine all witnesses against him. and the fact that sitting judges are willing to go along with it should be disturbing to anyone with the slightest idea how the criminal justice system is supposed to work in our country. its a story. if you think it isn't you've been too jaded by working in the system.

Anonymous said...
.that's BS. Secret files/false dockets weren't created to allow witnesses to avoid impeachment. They were created to keep witnesses alive and investigations going. When people enter sealed pleas or a judge seals a file, the Clerk's Office notes that in the public docked. This, of course, vitiates the purpose of the sealed plea and, in fact, creates added risk since anyone with half a brain knows files generally are sealed for only one reason (yeah, I know some first timers who are not convicted get their cases sealed/expunged, but we all know that's rare as hell).

And two strong opinions on Jose Arrojo, one from a distinguished jurist:

Anonymous said...
Jose Arrojo should be ashamed of himself. Hey Jose! One day when you can no longer ride Kathy's coattails, the things you had to say about this illegal -- that's right -- the law applies to you too -- practice will rise up and bite you in your ass

Judge Roberto M. Pineiro said...
It is truly unfair to anonymously castigate Jose Arrojo and denigrate his trial skills simply because you disagree with his position on sealed cases. Mr. Arrojo tried a public corruption case in my division a few years ago and was very effective. He was also very honorable and is the type of person who will stand up for his people especially if he has authority over them.

... By the way, also on this day in history, November 21, in 1980, the famous ‘Dallas” episode, “Who Shot JR?” aired and received a whopping 53.3 rating. Maybe that’s what we should all be talking about instead ……

CAPTAIN OUT .................

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

RE: the "false" dockets

You guys are ridiculous. You make it sound like the prosecutors are stomping all over the constitution, state law, etc. and that's just baloney.

This isn't a case of prosecutors just making stuff up. Judges took the pleas, court reporters recorded the hearings and defense attorneys represented the defendants.

Get off your high horses. Every single one of you would tell your clients that one of their "friends" was cooperating if you knew that to be the case. Why? Because you're required to zealously represent your clients (and that's your chosen job). The State has to be able to protect its witnesses and investigations. That's the State's job. I'd think you'd understand that after seeing at least two defendants murder State witnesses in the last couple of years.

Some of you suggested sealing please. However, sealing pleas is almost useless in some instances because we all know what sealed pleas mean. Get over yourselves.

PS---IF a prosecutor failed to disclose the plea pursuant to Brady, that obviously would be improper. I wouldn't even think of defending that.

Anonymous said...

of course it violates brady! how can a defense attorney impeach without court records showing priors? it's essentially destroying impeachment evidence!

Anonymous said...

Would someone please take a look at the case of Judge June Johnson, a former judge north of the border. She was removed from the bench for directing court clerks to falsify court records (with the best of intentions).

Anonymous said...

funny, shouldn't all these comments be written as LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE HERALD (oh, sorry, then everyone would have to write their name)

Rumpole said...

Rumole believes we are more influential then the local fish wrap.

Boy Captain, you're good.

Rest in Peace Mel Kessler. You were an original if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

6:42....obviously, you misread my post. If the prosecutor fails to disclose the plea (and the records) at the appropriate time like he or she is required to do under Brady, that would be improper. My point was that concealing pleas is not in and of itself improper.

Anyone with a shred of objectivity would have gotten that.

Anonymous said...

Yeah -- and it is illegal to possess cocaine; unless it is the cops who have it stored in the evidence locker. See the difference? A tool to investigate crime is not a crime.

All defense attorneys get the Brady material before the witness is ever called. They just do not get it published in the Blog while the crime is being investigated.

Now get off your high horse and tell me what you defense attorneys are doing to make this city safer? Perhaps you think that getting guys out on probation is for the greater good - at least it enhances their sentences on the second arrest.

Anonymous said...

what do defense attorneys do to make this a better place? we are secretly an economic club, making lots of money and spending it locally (except for our international vacations). We help the economy run! and we stick it to the government for keeping the cash our drug dealing clients give us. sometimes we put it right back into circulation that day, at say miami gold or some other strip joint.

Anonymous said...

dude, only thing worse than watching kramer's meltdown was watching Sinbad try to get his untalented ass back on the tube. go away sinbad, and try some percacets cosmo....

fake john madden said...

im sure belichek isnt happy that brady was violated. boom.

Anonymous said...

I think the quote "or any person whatsoever" makes clear that there is no SAO Miami exception to this. Who is going to invetigate? Jose, if this practice is so legal, then why don't you write in and show us the legal basis for the offices position? Your silence is deafening.

And, so that you cursing ASAs understand, this is not about Jose Arrojo; it is about the law being broken by those that are supposed to be enforcing it. How many times have you heard in voi dire "if you don't like the law, this is not the place to change it..."

Seems like the SAO doesn't think that applies to them.

Judge P.: Can you please explain to us bloggers the basis for allowing the SAO to alter court records as eloquently as you have defended Mr. Arrojo personally?

Anonymous said...

It is unfair to single out Jose Arrojo for a practice which purportedly dates back decades. JR and KFR need to be held accountable if the practice is deemed to violate Florida law.

Anonymous said...

Jose Arrojo is the one that put his professional reputation on the line when he said to the public that this practice is legal.

Forget the part about "this is a long standing practice." That is BS, just because an illegal activity is long tollerated by the authorities, does not make that activity legal.

Jose should not have said these things to the media if he knew they were baseless and bs. Again, write in and explain it to us: legal minds can differ and that would be enough for me. But right now, the only justification out there is that it has been going on for a while, and that is no justification at all.

Can anybody out there suggest how to bring the issue out publicly? A public records request? Any type of civil lawsuit? Does the statute at isse have a civil remidy?

Does Rumpole have standing?

Anonymous said...

JR and KFR take responsibility? Perish the thought. Kathy will defend herself first, claiming this was done without her knowledge or consent, then offer up a sacrificial lamb of some poor ASA whose name is on a file. She never takes responsibility for anything unless its good pub, then she's all over it. JR is on life support already and will get a pass on this.

Anonymous said...

Does Rumpole have standing?

I spit up my lunch; that is the funniest one-liner ever.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, hope the trial is going well. You chose a good backup QB to handle the blog while you were gone.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing in that statute that provides for exceptions to protect CI's. If the ASA and the Judge jointly ordered the fradulent altering of a court file then they have PROBLEMS. I call for an independent investigation assigned by GOV. Bush/Crist so a neutral party can look at this and determine if that law was broken.

Anonymous said...

Based upon his past investigations, I vote for McGillis to look into this. He seems to have the time, energy and patience.

Anonymous said...

oh please there is noting that has been done that is wrong.

Besides protecting the public from violent crooks is all I care about KFR is the greatest.

Double O SAO said...

Even if the SAO breaks the law doing so? Wow, I guess the cops and prosecutors should be able to break the law whenever they want to.

Hey, we can call the office "Double O SAO," since under your view of the world, they have a license to do whatever they want.

Jason Grey said...

Some of you act like you have never handled a criminal case!
Defendants sometimes plead guilty and cooperate proactively In hopes of a receiving a reduced sentence. When this happens you cant just write that on the court file. Anyone can go to the clerk’s office pull a file and see if the person offering to buy three keys of powder is working off a case. Plenty of lawyers would check someone out for a third party if the money were right. The Columbians used to have teams of lawyers running around checking each other out. Remember Columbian neckties? The answer is to either enter that the Defendant plead guilty and set sentencing for a future date without elaboration, or take the plea and let the docket reflect that the case is set for a future trial date so the case appears open. Big fucking deal! No ones rights are affected by this practice! If a case is made and the original defendant is listed, or ordered disclosed then the state must provide a copy of the plea deal, Duh! Plus, you get to depose the snitch, Ta da! All of the plea agreements I have ever seen include an agreement by the defendant to testify if called, so what’s the big deal?
Stop whining about bullshit and figure out why court costs for a fucking residue withhold S.E.S. comes to $685 or why my windstorm premium is more than my mortgage payment.

http://www.careerbuilder.com/monk-e-mail/?mid=16351626 said...

http://www.careerbuilder.com/monk-e-mail/?mid=16351626

Wannabe Rubin O. said...

Jason
I love you! Were I not so lazy I would have said the same thing. Now back to my pathetic snitch practice.

Anonymous said...

You are so wrong Jason and you miss the point. Just because smoking Mary Jane doesn't hurt anybody, does not mean that it is legal. The law was broken by those that are sworn to uphold it; that is the big deal.

Anonymous said...

LOL. I vote for Jason as guest blogger.

Love that guy.

PS---he's right. Quit crying. This is much ado about nothing.

Anonymous said...

The monkey makes a strong argument. However, Jason is correct.

Anonymous said...

Jason is just trying to suck up so he can get a better plea deal on the next poor guy that is not privileged like the SAO to "bend" the law.

Anonymous said...

self-righteous assholes:
I am a defense attorney and see nothing at all wrong with this as long as it is disclosed if and when it becomes Brady material. it saves lives.

Self-Righteous Asshole said...

I think I am the only person that sees something wrong with this, so, you can drop the "s" from assholes.

Anonymous said...

FREE MARY JANE

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Nancy Grace for being a suicide enabler

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to the story:

http://www.ridiculopathy.com/news_detail.php?id=1663

Anonymous said...

I've got another monkey who wants to say something from her heart. Visit http://www.careerbuilder.com/monk-e-mail/?mid=16358683

Anonymous said...

anyone interested in starting the dade county irish lawyers association?

Anonymous said...

Hey Cap'n

Where are these new Judge? Whewn do they start and where are they going?

Anonymous said...

mel kessler was a good guy. i played raquetball at the sportsroom and observed that he was not a gifted athlete but was well hung were it counted!!!

Rumpole said...

Anonymous said...
Rumpole, hope the trial is going well. You chose a good backup QB to handle the blog while you were gone.


I agree. Splendid job.

Rumpole said...

Standing? I choose to sit.

As I humbly see it, the question is are we willing to sell our soul- in this case the integrity of court records, for a pathetic and hypocritical war on drugs?

I say, NO.

Anonymous said...

Mel Kessler was an asshole. After a federal pretrial detention hearing (in which I was able to get my client a bond), he tried to steal my client for his own lawyer as they road back to MCC in the U.S. Marshal van.

Anonymous said...

props to the secret service for letting president bush's daughter get robbed in argentina. however, in the agents defense, virtually all argentinian chicks are smokin hot, and i'd be distracted in a restaurant as well.

he should be re-assigned to Iowa where there are fewer distractions

Anonymous said...

Mel Kessler's wife was hot.

Anonymous said...

Mel Kessler's wife was hot.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Rump. You've been around long enough to know it's not all about narcotics cases.

Anonymous said...

Larry Schwartz, says, I should probably stay out of this, BUT, Jose is a good, honorable, skilled lawyer.His level of professionalism is beyond questioning. Protecting CI's is not wrong, and for all you "anonymous" cry babies who don't have sons's or daughter being shot at in Iraq, Afrganistan or any place else our government sends them OR who have children of draftable ages, peace, love, happiness and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING. To all my friends whose children are home safely for the holidays, I've shared my thoughts with you. And to all my friends whose chilren are still fighting in harms way, they are in my nightly prayers.
To those of you who will critize me and to those who don't, I wish only good things today, tomorrow and the whole year through.
LAS

Anonymous said...

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- First daughter Barbara Bush's purse was stolen while she was in Argentina with her twin sister Jenna, a law enforcement source who was briefed on the incident told CNN Tuesday.

It was unclear when the incident took place, but the source told CNN Barbara Bush, 24, was "not in the immediate proximity" of the bag when it was stolen.

The source declined to provide additional details, but said, "at no point were the protectees out of visual contact and at no point was there any risk of harm."

An administration official confirmed "a theft incident" involving Barbara Bush in Argentina, but gave no details either.

The White House and the Secret Service both declined comment.

Anonymous said...

props to the secret service for letting president bush's daughter get robbed in argentina. however, in the agents defense, virtually all argentinian chicks are smokin hot, and i'd be distracted in a restaurant as well.

he should be re-assigned to Iowa where there are fewer distractions

Anonymous said...

whats with all the judges kissing arrojo's ass? I think he's a decent guy who should have refined his comments a little (the truth is that many things go on in the criminal justice system that we'd rather not have people know - cops severely violating the 4th amendment, falsifying dockets, etc...)

Is he on the JQC or something?

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how you self righteous some of you are. You defend child molesters, rapists and murders and have the gaul to make a big deal out of the SAO's (with judicial approval) actions to protect investigations and, more importantly, people's lives. You're pathetic.

Anonymous said...

who should defend child molestors, murderers and rapists if not criminal defense lawyers?

Anonymous said...

Clearly none of you have been to Iowa if you think there are fewer distractions up there than Argentina - they're just not shakin' it up on tabletops in thongs. Well, o.k. now that I think about it, I understand.

Anonymous said...

8:46,
I think you're right. We shouldn't be as concerned with the SAO doing this. We should be concerned that the judges know about it and are okay with it. I know, naive of me, but I thought the judges were the ones who were supposed to make sure the rules are followed.

Anonymous said...

Rump.......your comment re the dockets is absurd. They're "selling their souls" by creating dockets that protect investigations and, more importantly, people's lives? PLEASE.

Anonymous said...

Rump you say this is only done to further the war on drugs, but it is also used to catch dirty cops--something you bloviate about incessantly.

why the hypocrisy?

Anonymous said...

Read the damn statute.

It is altering with corrupt intent.

There is nothing corrupt about undercover investigations if done properly.

This is not an issue.

Anonymous said...

I believe that all information in court files should be open for all the public to see, no matter whether a defendant agreed to a contract or not. That way we will have more criminals killed and less need for SAPD's. We would not have the budget crisis that we are in now, and maybe my taxes will be lower next year.
I believe all sidebars should end, because talks at sidebar, (which usually amounts to the defense getting cut a break for their clients), are not open to the public, therefore it is a violation of the Constitutional rights that both sides are sworn to protect.
While we are at it, why don't we suggest rescinding all statutes that allow for any kind of in camera inspection, since that may violate some constitutional grounds as well.
The same attorneys that are crying foul about Jose Arrojo's comments know that so-called "false or hidden dockets" benefit defendants moreso than the prosecution. If it didn't, then why would any defense attorney agree to partake in this "illegal activity" on behalf of their client. No defense attorney would agree to "break the law" to benefit the state rather than their own client, would they?

Anonymous said...

Hi all!
Join for free. Most of 2 millions members.List of most popular hot girls in your area. Find today sex partner here from list of most hot girls in your area. Adult only.
hotgirls xanax sex sexcam phentermine xanax phentermine sex hotbabe sexforadult sex sexygirlsfree sexygirls sexfree adult hotgirlsonline freeadult sexvideo
viagra valium meridia adipex ativan xanax drugs valium tramadol viagra drug store free hosting viagra levitra cialis
Enjoy

Anonymous said...

Hi all! .List of most popular hot girls in your area. Adult only.
hotgirls xanax sex sexcam phentermine xanax phentermine sex hotbabe sexforadult sex sexygirlsfree sexygirls sexfree adult hotgirlsonline freeadult sexvideo
valium meridia ativan xanax drugs valium tramadol viagra drug store viagra levitra cialis
Check prices of these useful pills:
tramadol pharmacy search cialis soma ambien meridia ultram tramadol carisoprodol viagra
Enjoy

Anonymous said...

The SO's play pick up sticks in the morning with the names of the defendants wrapped tightly aroung them. The tip stick gets screwed that morning, the bottom stick gets screwed that afternoon....they then play checkers and the SO that wins gets to up someones charges....its a win and draw for them........they can't get anything straight anyway !!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Bush's daughters were drunk again and lost their purses or left them in a bar...duh