Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Longtime and careful readers of this blog remember that from time to time, when the occasion warrants, we turn to our favourite bard for inspiration, or to help explain a point.

This is one of our favourite passages, by Portia, in the Merchant of Venice.

We have had the rare occasion at times to quote liberally from it during a sentencing.

Based on the discussion in the comments section last night and the general events since the first of the year, perhaps we should all take a moment to reflect on the words.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest:
it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;

Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea,
consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us Should see salvation:
we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

Indeed, a reading of the Merchant of Venice on a quiet night

is good for the soul of all of us.

Or, as is apparently the popular opinion of those who take the time to leave thoughtful comments, you can just call us a jerk and move on.

We do note that people on both sides of this issue did not like out post yesterday,
so maybe we are doing something right.

See You In Court. We’re the one with Shakespeare on our IPOD.


Rumpole said...

This comment was left last night, and we think it is important to post it again with our response, lest anyone have any wrong ideas about us:

Anonymous said...
nice rump you allowing people to post happily about a prison rape...(edited by Rumpole for reasons of taste).

god forbid anyone comment on a judges trangressions, that you censor from the blog but lubing up for a prison rape.

you and this blog are a class act

Rumpole responds: 1 Thanks for the compliement. I try. 2- I went to sleep and removed the offending post this morning. 3- How about we address the problems that our prison system is hell, is not properly administered and punishment should not include beatings and rape?

Rumpole said...

This whole subject of the last two days has touched a nerve. We can continue with a good discussion of issues like punishment, friendship, does a person's accomplishments in life mitigate the punishment for a crime, or we can sink to levels of name calling, and rank enjoyment of another person's tragedy. How about the former?


For years, I have been trying to be case F0?-0001. Damn George.

As a prosecutor, there is nothing more unnerving that seeing a close friend or family member placed in bracelets and hauled through Game. Its like Superman being exposed to kryptonite. You cant use your power though you want to. And you best not, or else you find yourself looking for the Q.

But the Game, above all else, is the Game. And, you have to play it the way is supposed to be played. So Governor Lyle will appoint an ASA within driving distance.

George will be treated differently because of who he is. Someone other than a neophyte with a badge and the playbook will take George to the mat if the evidence shakes out indeed. Good, bad, different.

My ipod rocks out to LL Cool J. Sally W digs it too.

Go Cut Creator Go.

Anonymous said...

1 day a year he'll recall -- from jail
A driver in a DUI crash that killed two women is sentenced to be jailed on anniversaries of the incident.
By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 19, 2002


Four years ago, two young Tampa women tried to act responsibly after a night on the town in Miami.

Nicki Kleban and Amy Buchman were riding in a cab three blocks from Kleban's apartment when a drunken driver slammed into them, killing them both.

In an emotional hearing in a Miami courtroom Monday, the man who hit them pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter charges and agreed to a most unusual punishment. As part of a plea deal, Scott Hanish must spend one day a year -- the anniversary of the crash -- in jail for the next 12 years.

"We just thought it was appropriate while the families were grieving on the most difficult day of the year for them that he should also be thinking of them," said Miami-Dade County prosecutor Stephen Talpins, who came up with the idea with co-prosecutor George Cholakis.

Hanish, 26, first must spend a year in a state prison. The sentence, which begins immediately, includes two years of house arrest and 10 years of probation.

He was also required to make a formal apology to the families. But his words did little to lessen their pain.

"I will never ever forgive you," Cookie Buchman read from a prepared statement in the Miami-Dade County courthouse. "I . . . judge you and hate you for what you did to Amy and Nicki."

Amy Buchman had been spending the weekend with her friend Kleban, a second-year law student at the University of Miami. At 3 a.m. on Aug. 30, 1998, returning from a night on South Beach, the young women followed the orders of every parent: When you have been drinking, call a taxi. They were on the Palmetto Expressway when Hanish's Chevy Blazer crashed into their cab.

Test results indicated Hanish, then a 22-year-old Florida International University senior from Scottsdale, Ariz., had a 0.13 blood-alcohol level. The law presumes a person to be impaired at 0.08.

Amy Buchman, then 24, was a speech pathologist for two years at West Shore Elementary. She survived four surgeries but died a week later, according to her father, Jacob "Booky" Buchman, retired Ybor City merchant and developer.

Kleban, the daughter of Janet and veterinarian Arthur Simon of Carrollwood, was 23 and dreamed of being a judge. She died in surgery three hours after the crash.

A classmate of Kleban's, Richard Sharp, who had joined them that night, suffered minor injuries. The driver of the cab, Pierre M. Charles, has recovered from his injuries.

The plea arrangement was a collaboration of the two prosecutors. Neither had ever heard of an annual 24-hour lockup.

Anonymous said...

what was the "terrible" thing that Abe did years ago because of which he can never be promoted?

Anonymous said...

here's what I want to know? Not who's rumpole,the captain, trialmaster, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz, etc.

I want to know who you are above. That one person who is like a little old lady gossiping at a bridge game and just cant get through a day without finding out the bad things about people's past.

I just think you are the same person every time asking the same destructive questions.
Assisinate your own character for once

Anonymous said...

Rumpole writes:

We can continue with a good discussion of issues like [whether] a person's accomplishments in life mitigate the punishment for a crime.

Have we already retreated from holding those who enforce the law to a higher standard? I think so. Indeed, our cozy little bar and bench will surely find a way to sweep Cholakis' indiscretion under the rug.

As Abe Laeser would say, "we are a nation of men, not law."

Anonymous said...

I serve soup at Camillus House, meals on wheels for the elderly, and rescue kittens from trees. How long do I need to keep it up before I can run over my neighbor?

Anonymous said...

I'd assassinate my own character if I had any.

Anonymous said...

the men on the scooter are going to pull through. one has already been released from the hospital. neither will loose a leg as previously rumored on the blog.

Anonymous said...

2 men on a scooter?

Anonymous said...

Good news so far...one already out of the hospital, and no one lost a limb!!!

Anonymous said...

the victims need to find a good pi trial attorney. and a good doctor who will give them a high disabily.

Anonymous said...


Miami loves Migna
Migna Loves Miami
Oh Shelly can't you seeee?
Migna Loves Miami
Miami Loves Migna
She'll be on the bench by January 3????


Rumpole said...

Anonymous said...
the men on the scooter are going to pull through. one has already been released from the hospital. neither will loose a leg as previously rumored on the blog.


Rumpole said...

Dear 2:12- welcome to the real world.

We have debated for some time the wisdom of minimum mandatory sentencing and whether a person's character affects the sentence they receive.

If a person with 3 priors gets a higher sentence, why can't a person who devoted a life to public service get a lower sentence.

Not to say Mr. Cholakis deserves that. It's to early to tell. But if you don't like the current situation where 25 year old prosecutors out of law school are entrusted with more power than our Judges, then the way to change it is to return some discretion to the Judiciary. The way it stands right now, the about the only real decision Criminal Judges like Judge Glick make are whether ot go with the Colada or the Cappucinno at Au Bon Pan in the morning. I for one would trust Judge Glick more than some 20 something prosecutor who thinks 28.1 grams of cocaine is a big big case.

Catherine Vogel said...

I just dropped in to see what people were saying about my good friend George Cholakis. As a prosecutor (formerly of Dade and now from Monroe) I want to say I stand by George too. We have been friends since he was an intern at the SAO. He's a great guy and I wish him the best. I don't understand why some of you find it hard to believe that a prosecutor would stand by a friend in trouble and advocate on behalf of that friend merely because one is a prosecutor. That is the reason prosecutors don't prosecute their friends. That's the reason the Dade SAO has asked the Governor to assign a special prosecutor. As a prosecutor I do not believe all defense attorneys are in favor of crime. Why would anyone believe that just because someone is a prosecutor that that means you'd abandon a friend in need?

Rumpole said...

Well said. And welcome. Any resident of the Keys, is....in a better place than we are.

Anonymous said...

wasnt cathy vogel disgraced for improper conduct in the sao sexual harassment case related to the cocaine queen fiasco?

Anonymous said...

Hurrah to Cathy Vogel. She was a dogged, fierce prosecutor in our county. She put away the murderous mothers of Baby Lollypops years ago when she was in Miami-Dade. I was that day wwhen the verdict came in on the 6th floor of the REGB, and we worshipped her. And by her statements, she is still a stand-up broad. And we all envy her Keys life. Come home Cathy.

Anonymous said...

George is a great guy. He was my supervisor for a while when I was an ASA. He was not a hardliner. I could talk to him about my case and he would listen. Sometimes he'd agree with me and sometimes he'd show me why I was wrong. This is a terrible situation for anybody to be in. At least there is good news so far about the injured guys on the scooter. George...you'll get through this!!!

Evelio Garcia

Anonymous said...

George IS a great guy, and I pray he will get through all this, despite all the nasty comments from people wishing gloating about this and wishing him the worst...

Phil R said...

I think the problem confounding lots of people here is the same problem many of us face in these DUI/injury cases. The person arrested more often than not is a good and decent person. We all can imagine or remember drinking half of that third beer and then driving home, and we look back on that in the face of current events and thank our stars that we did not have an accident. George Cholakis is by all accounts a good and decent man, a fine prosecutor and by what people have written, a great friend and mentor to many young prosecutors.

Assuming he was impaired (which I do not except for this discussion) how do we measure punishment for a man who has otherwise given so much of his time and talents to our community?

If his punishment is decreased because of his accomplishments, what about all those other people in prison for a similar crime who also led good lives, but not in a career we as lawyers can identify with? If his overall life is not taken into account, is he being unfairly punished because a Judge wants to send a message?

Personally, I am of the "second chance" school, which I would be certain George or anyone else similarly situated would benfit from.

He is in my thoughts and prayers.

PS for all of my fans ready to write wonderful things about me- about 20 years ago I was at a party with a Judge who is now a Federal Judge. He called his wife over and asked if she had anything to drink. When she said no- he drank one beer. I asked him about this and his response was- have one drink- drive home and have some kid run in front of the car and you hit him. The headline is not that you were an .03, but that you hit a kid and had alcohol in you. I have never forgotten that and rarely even drink one beer and drive. My point above was more metaphorical- that DUI tends to be the "there but for the grace of g-d go I" type of crime.

Anonymous said...

well written Phil.

(wanted to pre-empt the "f u you $&*(#&%)^()_&(*&()%_()*()_$ comments coming up)

Anonymous said...

Dear Saban:

Get out of town! You're just another Steve Spurrier!


Rumpole said...

TOOTS!!! You're out of the kitchen!
I heartily agree. Saban was a thief in the night. He was not comitted to anyone other than himself. Another Jimmy Johnson. A man with no honor. A man whose word is as good as his bond until he decides it is not.

Would I turn down 32 million? Probably not. Would I turn down 32 million when I was guaranteed 15 million, and could keep my word and finish the job I promised to do? I hope so, and I hope someday I get the opportunity to prove it.

Anonymous said...

Why people are so surprised when public servants are caught doing something illegal?... If right now we put under a microscope all police officers, ASAs, PDef.s, Judges, Politicians etc… We would find a proportional amount of Drug users, Hard Drinkers, Wife beaters, Deviants as the regular population. We all are but humans. Just look at KFR and her rebellious Young Adults… Well let’s just look at the President of the US… an Alcoholic and “ex” –Coke Head…
We are all humans and we are all going to make human mistakes, there is not enough Saints to work for the system…
Glad to hear the two victims are doing much better.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole- how sad that you are so used to the system that you think that having 28.1 grams of cocaine is not a big deal or a big big case. If you look around most people just don't happen to have 28.1 grams of cocaine on their person and so i say here, here to the young prosecutor who is idealistic and what's to right the wrongs.

As for George, you know what, it easily could have been any one of us that was in that situation. When i first started practicing, i went to the jail to see a woman charged with murdering her husband and while walking out to her pod, the deputy made a very astute comment, sometimes there is a very fine line between those who end up on the inside and those who are lucky enough to stay out.

I am certain Rump, if you have a few drinks this weekend and drive, and the cops stop you, you won't be blowing or doing roadsides, so don't know George for abstaining.

As lawyers who practice especially in criminal, we know all too well not to give cops anything@

Anonymous said...

Those of you hammering Abe are a joke.

The law recognizes that prosecutors are human beings. That's why the law requires them to conflict out of cases where they have a relationship with the accused. Abe's support of George doesn't make him a hypocrite, it makes him a mensch. If you don't get that, you don't know what it means to be a friend.

Roman Maronie said...

BFD. He's a good guy.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole didn't make a mistake about a refusal being a misdemeanor, he was just getting ahead of himself. 2006 SB 232 was written to make a refusal a misdemeanor on the very first time by deleting the words "his or her driving privilege has been has been previously suspended for a refusal to submit to a lawful test of his or her breath, urine or blood."

2006 HB 187 was written the same way. As of April of last year, both houses had pretty much had bills with language in agreement about doing this. But when it came down to the wire, the striking of the words didn't come to pass and the Florida Statutes as adopted left the words back in there, once again, making it a crime on only the second refusal.

More than likely, as lobbyists for harsher DUI laws will be at it again... it may only be a matter of time before this gets proposed again and may make it all the way. Rumpole was just er... looking to the future.

Anonymous said...

as previously reported, the victims of the scooter accident with George are NOT doing well. The main 2 victims are NOT out of the hospital!One victim had a second surgery yesterday and he may STILL lose his leg, and the other victim with the head injury is not being released from the hospital because of possible brain hemmorage. BUT, these two individuals have been cooperative with the investigators from MBPD and understand the process. THey are not mad at George and they have been reasonable individuals. These are educated people. It seems that their injuries are severe but they will do well in the near future. The other person that was released from the hospital and is back at their South Beath hotel is a friend and witness to the accident. Now on the other hand, why is it that investigators from the SAO (Miami-Dade) are going to JMH to speak with these victims? Shouldnt the Miami SAO stay out of this? Like it's been said before "he who is without sin, throw the first stone..." KFR should definately stay out of this! Her own family has been in the news plenty of times with issues of this nature, her son just didnt kill/injure anyone when he was drunk and wrecked his car in south dade! Remember that?
There are plenty of issues to defend in George's case and I hope a great defense attorney does just that! Please, George, if you are reading this----FIGHT THIS THING!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

How do you define loyalty, and what does it have to do with law?

Anonymous said...

Prosecutors are held to even higher standards of conduct than other attorneys due to their unique role as both advocate and minister of justice. The special duty of the prosecutor to seek justice is said to exist because the State's Attorney has broad discretion in determining whether to initiate criminal proceedings. The office of prosecutor is therefore “not purely ministerial, but involves the exercise of learning and discretion,” and he or she “must exercise a sound discretion to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent.” The responsibilities of the prosecutor encompass more than advocacy. The prosecutor's duty is not merely to convict, but to seek justice. “His obligation is to protect not only the public interest but the innocent as well and to safeguard the rights guaranteed to all persons, including those who may be guilty.” Walker v. State,
818 A.2d 1078(Md. 2003).

Prosecutors accept this higher standard when they take up the burden of representing the state. It is not a burden they can set down in their private lives. What you do in your private life reflects upon the integrity of court.

Anonymous said...

If Abe Laeser were pulled over for DUI, would he blow?

If Cholakis had called Laeser for advice, would Laeser, speaking only as a loyal friend, have told him to blow?

Anonymous said...

nice. you enjoy writing that? make you feel good?

abe laeser said...

Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

abe laeser said...

She died years ago.

However, if you would like to discuss it, I should be back in the office by next week. Room # 245 South - with the big flag on the door.

You must be proud of all you have done with your life.

Query: Should I resist the temptation to respond? I probably should. But when it becomes too personal, we often fall into the vat of temptation.

Anonymous said...

No offense to Rumpole or the rest of you guys and gals, but when I wrote on this blog about the 3rd DCA decision to lock up the America West pilots without any priors was a harsh sentence given their age and outstanding individuals who have never done anything wrong prior to the DUI, you guys all went nuts on me. I defended the pilots that probation was good idea as it was their first mistake.

Why now a different take? I also agree that the prosecutor should just as those pilots should have a break all are outstanding individuals who made a one time mistake.

Perhaps a double standard. I like Rumpole are from the school of second chances.

I am confused.

Anonymous said...

Batman says:

Abe Laeser says that he will support (not defend) his friend. For that many of you lambast him. Those who have participated in this group flogging, I tell you I feel sorry for your family and aquaintances (notice I do not use the word friend) because your ability to provide unconditional acceptance and support to those who love and care for you, in their hour of need, obviously does not exist.

To 10:44 I thank you for that lesson in what a prosecutor's duties are. However I would point out to you that what a prosecutor does in his personal life has nothing to do with the higher standard of obligation to others in the exercise of their duties nor does it reflect upon THE COURT.

Are you so desperate to judge this ASA that you would ignore the obligation of "all who labor here seek only truth" to grant the same Presumption of Innocence we would honor to any other defendant? Are you so sure you live up to all of your professional and ethical standards that you can lecture others on theirs, oh one who lives in a glass house?

In addition the quote from the Walker case related to a prosecutor being criticized for unprofessional conduct during the course of a trial. I have not heard one claim against Cholakis in that regard. Stick to the point.

Rumpole said...

I did and will continue to remove all offensive comments about people performing oral sex and their mothers.

I have clients who are more eloquent that the moron who left that post.

Anonymous said...

Batman says

to 1:32 - the decsions made in the "pilot case" were proportional to the severity of the crime. The acts alleged and for which they were convicted were in their professional capacity. In addition the pilots not only endangered themsleves, but 100 passengers and everyone on the ground below. Please don't say "no harm, no foul." It was an incredible act of recklessness and wanton disreagrd for public safety that started the night before.

We all agree that once you take that first drink (whether flying or driving) you are aware of what could happen. But when a pilot is on a layover and knows he/she is flying the next day, he/she knows his obligations to those who are helpless in the face of his/her intoxication.

That is not to say that if the allegations against Cholakis are proven, and he is convicted, that he should not be punished. But punishment and justice must be proportional to the crime and circumstances.

In any case they are both personal failings and tragedies.

Anonymous said...

I was trying to make a point regards the pilot case not get into a heated debate.

Everyone except murder and rapist especially child rapist deserve a second chance.

Everyone knows that those planes are on auto pilot and no danger was involved?

Anonymous said...

what a prosecutor does in his personal life has nothing to do with the higher standard of obligation to others in the exercise of their duties nor does it reflect upon THE COURT. This is plain and simple bullshit. I think everyone on this blog, and most of planet earth, realizes Cholakis is through as a prosecutor... regardless of the outcome of any trial.

But more importantly, can you try one last time to grasp the difference between the ethical/employment ramifications of Cholakis' actions and how they differ radically from his guilt or innocence. Is your moral compass so rough that it cannot distinguish between what is and what ought to be? Many an innocent man is guilty. Many a guilty man is innocent.

As for the suggestion that I would short-change Cholakis in the legal arena? Hogwash. His ethical standing and his legal standing are distinct. The law presumes him innocent and the standard of proof is no lower for him because he is an ASA.

And loyalty and friendship. It will be interesting to learn who Cholakis got smashed with. It would be fascinating to peer into their thinking as Cholakis headed off to tragedy. Perhaps they were congratulating themselves for being such loyal and good friends.

Anonymous said...

Batman says:

5:24 Where does the act of a prosecutor in his private life reflect upon the dignity of the court. To the contrary it will add to the dignity of the court that it will afford to this ASA the same rights, privleges and, if guilty, punishment as anyone else.

Don't mistake your moral outrage for ethical or unethical conduct. Feel as outraged as you would like, but this is not an ethical issue. It may be a crediblity issue for Cholakis continuing as an ASA, but did it effect the ability of a certain Cuban-American woman judge who pleaded guilty to DUI some years ago. It was not an ethical issue for her either nor did she lose her job or her credibility.

The last I read on this blog, the only people who have professed their friendship have not been identified as "getting smashed" with George (see you have already determined he is guilty). They are former and present collegues who will stand by him as friends. I am sorry you do not see the merit in this.

What is clear here is that you do not like Mr. Cholakis. That is your right. But make that clear from the start. Your outrage may be based upon just one case in which you felt he was unreasonable or unduly harsh and you seem to find solice and vindication in his problem.

Anonymous said...

abusers of the elderly or mentally/physically disabled dont deserve a second chance either.

i've had serious bod cases (broken legs, etc...) filed as felony, but reduced to misdemeanors at sentencing and the client gets 1st mins with some enhanced community service. true.

i bet the asa still has his job.

Anonymous said...

something tells me that the dui division is gonna be a tougher place to play in the next few months.

Anonymous said...

not for the Q. His team goes through those DUI newbies like a hot knife through butter, or a running back through the colts defense.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think he was smashed. But the law doesn't. There's a difference. I think the vast majority of defendants did what they're accused of. Again, the law doesn't. Thank god.

No, I don't take pleasure in Cholakis' downfall. My opinions may be strong, even wrong, but they are not driven by personal dislike for Cholakis or the SA's office. He has embarassed the office and integrity of the justice system. I see no reason for delight.

Finally, that Judge... She's both an embarassment and dumber than rumoured.

Anonymous said...

Batman says:

Leslie Rothenberg lives and breathes on the Justice Building Blog.

Anonymous said...

rothenberg is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole are you stupid or what. If you did not want a debate on your prosecutor friend why place a post on the subject.

Get you head out of your A--- !!!!