An assistant public defender who is a frequent reader and often sends us emails on his thoughts took us to task earlier this week for not recognizing a Miami Herald Editorial praising, he said, his boss, ol’ double B: Bennett Brummer. We apologized for missing the missive, and promised to respond.
The editorial in question appeared on Friday December 8, 2006.
Herald (just click on the link and then type in "Brummer" in the search box to get to the editorial.)
The editorial praised two decisions of the Third District: the first requiring DCF to remove 30 mentally ill defendants from DCJ; and the second requiring judges to hold a detention hearing within 24 hours of the arrest of a juvenile.
To the extent the Dade PD’s office litigated those cases, we say WELL DONE. But we have always praised the work of the assistant PD’s. We have not always been so kind to the head PD.
The third part of the editorial praised Governor Bush’s decision to release 15.7 million dollars to pay conflict lawyers.
None of the topics in the editorial praised Mr. Brummer. His personal work in any of those decisions, if he did any, was not mentioned. Sorry Mr. S, but we don’t see anything here requiring excessive praise of Mr. B. He hires good lawyers who do good work. We wouldn’t expect anything less.
OUT OF THE POOL
We were sauntering down the second floor the other day when we espied Judge Schlessinger’s pre-trial order. To summarize, Judge Schlessinger has hopped out of the sounding date pool, and returned to those thrilling days of yesteryear when cases set for trial did not appear in court until the trial date. The Judge has left it to the sound discretion of lawyers to decide if they are ready, and to file a motion to continue if they are not.
If we recall, it was Judge Farina, as a lowly circuit court Judge (not as Chief Kahuna) who introduced the sounding calendar when he was sitting in criminal court. The virus spread until every Judge in every division had a version of soundings. Now Judge Schlessinger goes old school, and has tubed the sounding calendar.
Clearly this may well be a case of:
“be careful what you ask for, because you may get it.”
One can reasonably expect that continuances on the day of trial will be handed out as frequently as a Judge picking up the bar tab. Certainly the pressure is on the prosecution to prepare more cases for trial on Monday.
However, the real problem as we see it, is the potential for some twenty odd Judges (no offense intended with that particular phrase) having twenty different rules about soundings, trials, and continuances. Inevitably, some poor confused defense attorney will file a “Tunis Motion” for a “Schlessinger case", and drop the ball.
We have bandied around the idea of some sort of “master calendar” many times before . Perhaps its time to think about implementing such a system?
From the standpoint of a Judge ( a view we rarely care to advance) a sounding calendar must eat up some very valuable court time that could otherwise be spent trying cases, or making dinner reservations.
What if some retired Judge like Judge Salmon had daily sounding calendars for ten or so divisions?
Lets say Monday afternoons it was for an upcoming Judge Scola trial week; Tuesday mornings it was for Judge Shuminer; Tuesday Afternoons for Judge Perez. You get the idea. The calendar would be staffed by prosecutor and a PD. If an attorney wanted to move for a continuance, or file a motion, or bring a matter to the court’s attention, they would show up at that time. The files would be in court, and the Judge could resolve the issue. Otherwise it’s “see you at trial.”
The “master calendar” solves the problem of soundings eating up court time for the judge, and yet gives the prosecution a heads up as to what cases are really headed for trial. Why, the Judge at sounding could even plea cases out if the defense attorney brought their client to court. What a novel idea!
Lets try and address the naysayers now. 1) Lack of courtrooms: Oh please. We see a dozen empty courtrooms every afternoon. 2) Lack of staff. Use the electronic recording system for these hearings, and we are sure a few clerks can use a little overtime now and then.
So we say “everybody out of the pool!.”
Deep-six the sounding calendars and think outside the box and lets come up with a new way of doing things.
Just how hard can it be to get some twenty odd judges to agree to something?
Ahh….on second thought maybe we’ll solve the Palestinian/Israeli problems first.
It should be easier.
See you in court. And on some days, see you at soundings. Just not before Judge Schlessinger.