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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

IMPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY

Too often we as lawyers ignore the human element that sits a few feet above us in court. When we win a case, or a motion is granted, or a downward departure is given, we take the credit. When we lose a motion, or a higher sentence than we were expecting was given, we criticize the Judge as being “prosecution oriented”.

The truth is that like all of us, a judge's decision is guided by experience (or lack of experience), the law, the facts, and emotions. The fascinating issue is when a judge's emotions come into conflict with what the law and justice require.

Judge Scott Silverman and the late Judge Henry Leyte Vidal have authored a wonderful article about the feelings local judges have had when confronted with imposing the death penalty.

ARTICLE


As lawyers is that most of us have never sat on the bench. Even those of us who worked as prosecutors and defense attorneys have never had the unique prospective of sitting above the fray. We as criminal defense attorneys value Judges like Reemberto Diaz and Stan Blake who were excellent criminal defense lawyers. We feel they know our problems and concerns because they have stood where we are standing. And yet to become a really great lawyer, you need to know what is going on in the Judge’s mind. How will they feel about a particular motion, or about imposing a less serious sentence than the prosecution is asking for?

This is the value of Judge Silverman and Leyte-Vidal’s article. It give us, as trial lawyers, insight into what a Judge thinks and feels when considering the most serious of sentences.

The article is not that long and is worth reading.


And speaking of death sentences, word reaches us today (Wednesday) that the jury in the Carabalo case has recommended a sentence of death. Now the final decision comes down to Judge William Thomas. Judge Thomas joins the long line of REGJB Judges who have had a defendant's life in their hands. Some of the great ones, like Judge Cowart, who sentenced Ted Bundy, among others, to death, are remembered for their wisdom and humanity even in the face of imposing the death penalty.

Some Judges like former Judge Philip Bloom, are remembered for their courage. Judge Bloom stood firm against public opinion and a jury recommendation, and sentenced a defendant to life in prison.

In the end, after all the fine lawyering in the Carabalo case, it will be Judge William Thomas who makes the final and most difficult of decisions.

We believe that this is Judge Thomas's first possible death penalty sentence. Judge Thomas comes to the REGJB as a former ace Federal Public Defender. We will neither applaud nor criticize his sentence, whatever it is. The defense bar was closely watching this case. Not for the final outcome- but,we speculate- for how Judge Thomas ran his courtroom and the process of this death penalty case. From all appearances, Judge Thomas did a very professional job so far. We await his decision in this matter.

See You In Court.

50 comments:

abe laeser said...

The news may never carry this insight, but Gary Rosenberg is a superb trial lawyer, and Joel Denaro is a highly skilled litigator who worked 24/7 for weeks preparing the mitigation evidence.

While we did not often agree in the courtroom, they are examples of the finest in the defense bar. Taking a most unpleasant case and doing their very best.

I, for one, appreciate their efforts and their representation of the finest purposes of our profession.

Anonymous said...

For all the Joel Denaro detractors, they should be eating their words now. 3 votes for life for Caraballo is a major victory and might be just enough for Will to save his life. For those quick to judge without knowing the facts of Victor's life because of the disgusting crime, investigate, and you will find as I did when our firm represented Victor, that he should not die for his participation in what happened.

Anonymous said...

Why dis the Shumie Rumpy? no mention of his big breakdown?

Q-shmoo...

Fear the Shumie...or he will yell.

Spicoli said...

One needs to have empathy all the way around the horn I would hope. Imagine running the marathon in everyone's shoes. Things are tough all over.

Regardless as to how one feels about the Death Penalty, I do not know of a greater pressure cooker than a case like this. For the judge (who must now make a decision), The Stae (who will have to live with it), The State (who has a responsibility to protect society).

The question (in part) posed in Rumpole's blog is how ought a judge act assuming emotions, opinions, etc. conflict with the law? Regardless of the decision, imagine being the judge and trying to have a good nights rest. I would think not.

Later,
The above comments and post were insightful and thought prevoking. Thanks. Haven't tried a death case yet.

p.s. how do you spell Judge Pinero's name?

Spicoli said...

Sorry, I meant to say defense above (who will have to live with the decision). However, this is probably not easy for the State to deal with no matter what the outcome. No matter how you think of this, it bends your brain from all sides.

Lost.

Anonymous said...

Arthur Teele former comissioner has been cleared by the 3rd DCA and his one and only conviction overturned.

This means his wife and widow will be able to collect the $30k pension from the city job.

Anonymous said...

The teele opinion is here:

http://www.3dca.flcourts.org/Opinions/3D05-1170.pdf

great topic

The best of the Justice Building Blog said...

"RUMPOLE the Best of the Justice Building Blog" (first edition) will be mailed to all court personal the first week of May.

Hundreds of free copies will be mailed out. Additional copies will be $5

RUMPOLE THE BEST OF THE JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG"

Will contain the funniest post and comments from Rumpoles Blog. Since no one will step up as Rumpole all profits and proceeds will go to Charity or me.

Anonymous said...

Paper back release will follow hard cover.

Will this make the NY Times best sellar?

Anonymous said...

Don't think we can post the answer to the Jack the Ripper Trivia here.

Anonymous said...

If judges were not subject to election - this is an override case.

Anonymous said...

Arthur Teele's conviction for corruption by threats against a public servant was reversed bt the Third DCA and remanded for entry of a judgment of acquittal. I had expected Judge Murphy to grant that JOA at the close of the state's case and wondered how a smart judge like him let it go to the jury when it was crystal-clear that the evidence just wasn't there. By the same token, I don;t know how the SAO filed such a charge without evidence, other than just playing politics.

The opinion in PDF format:

http://media.miamiherald.com/smedia/2007/04/18/14/teelevsstate.source.prod_affiliate.56.pdf

Anonymous said...

Abe's comment is a perfect example of the professionalism and civility that is rare outside the courtroom in the criminal justice system here in Miami, expecially with the advent of the "anonymous" blogging. Thanks Rumpole for the moderation, I can see the children banging on the doors in anger now. "Let us back in!!!!!"

We should all take a note from Abe's book on being a human being.

Sorry to interrupt.

CAPTAIN said...

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE
Roberto M. PINEIRO
FAMILY DIVISION

B.A., Univ.of Miami, 1974
JD, Duke University, 1977

Admitted to Florida Bar, 1977
Assistant State Attorney/Major Crimes, 1977-1983
Private Practice/Civil and Criminal, 1983-1986
Assistant State Attorney/Organized Crimes, 1986-1989

County Court Judge, 1989
Circuit Court Judge, 1996

ANY QUESTIONS?????

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

fake john mitchell said...

I'm listening to Torture Boy Gonzales being dismantled by Arlen Spector and the Senate Judiciary Committee (and we still haven't heard from Charles Schummer)--what a lightweight! It seems like he is raising his own incompetence and lack of knowledge as a defense to the claims that the U.S.A.s were fired for failing to follow the marching orders of Karl Rove and his coherts in the fringe of the G.O.P. Here's my question--how can Fredo claim that he had good reasons, i.e., lack of competency, confidence, and performance, when the U.S.A.s in question were "asked to resign," where these very same concerns have been raised about him by numerous people--including distinguished members of his own party--and he persists in his refusal to resign. This guy needs to go.

Anonymous said...

It's spelled "Piñeiro". (You can make the ñ by holding down the Alt key while typing 164).

Batman said...

Will Thomas showed his professionalism recently when he kept a prospective jury and lawyers in a case at the REGJB until 9 p.m. with only a 35 minute break for lunch. There is no justification for this behavior. Judge Thomas's arrogance and abusive attitude may be ameliorated at times, but tends to be more pervasive than Rumpole thinks. Many a judge has been intimidated by the presence of Mr. Laeser and good lawyers like Gary Rosenberg and Joel Denaro. It is hard to show your true colors when that type of professionalism is apparent in the lawyering before you.

Jason Grey said...

I am sick and tired of showing up for a deposition only to find that the witness speaks some language other than English, and then have to cancel the deposition because there are no interpreters available at either the PD’s Office or SA Office to assist. Rather than having to request an interpreter for any witness with a name other than “Jones” or “Smith” can somebody please enact a rule, law, or edict that would require the SA’s Office put a little “I” in parenthesis for “interpreter” and note the language spoken next to the name of any witness who cannot, will not, or chooses not to speak fucking English at a deposition.
The situation just occurred today: It cost me $80 for the court reporter’s appearance, $20 for the service of the witness, and an hour out of my day for nothing. Either let us conduct depositions in Spanish, or somebody in charge do something about the problem. Am I the only one this happens to? Come on Stan, Kathy, Farina, help.

The Man With The White Hat said...

Who are those guys?

Thanks for the spell check Captain.

dui power rankings countdown said...

Today is Thursday and we are over the hump... Only 3 days till the Sunday DUI Power Rankings!

Anonymous said...

Neal Sonnett writes "Krieger wins Criminal Law Section's Goldin Award"

Gee...I knew Sunny Goldin was good with tickets, but I never knew they named an award after her.

Anonymous said...

Shumie gets a breakdown and Krieger wins an award??? What's wrong with this picture??

Anonymous said...

reckless withhold. MUST BE NIIIIIIICE

Anonymous said...

Quit bashing Judge Thomas. If the other judges around here were more like him, this place would be a more civilized place to work.

Long live Judge T!

Anonymous said...

Thomas -- oh, yeah. Unless you are his court reporter and he gets upset in front of the jury when you need to take a leak. Or maybe a lawyer who needs two minutes to get a piece of electronic equipment to work. Or a juror who needs to get home early and he forgets until nearly 7:00 and the lawyers needs to prompt him.

I watched lots of that trial and Thomas is just uncivil and rude to EVERYONE! He is a Judge, not the Duke of Earl.

I recommend that ALL candidates pick him to run against. You will have the support of 99% of those who have worked in front of him.

Anonymous said...

The title of the article should be "too often" not "to often". "Too" is the word used when something is more than should be, or over the top. Example: "There are too many people using this blog." I don't agree with that statement. It's just an example.

Anonymous said...

coño

Anonymous said...

Now just calm down and leave Judge T alone as Judge JB Cohen needs the opoosition.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole will you be signing autographs of your book "Rumpoles Justice Building Blog"?

Anonymous said...

No offense but you are full of it. I predict that you are lazy and/or incompetent and probably are called on it by the Judge. I did not know him before he became a judge but have been in his court many times and done many trials in there.

Does he push the attorneys? Yes but it makes them better lawyers (myself included). No one is perfect and when he first took the bench, he was sometimes unreasonable with the types of things you mention. That is no longer the case. He simply makes people work; requires them to take responsibility for their cases, is fair to the defendant yet expects them to take responsibility for their actions (god forbid!), and is fair to the state while making them take responsiblity for their cases as well.

Not only would most attorneys support him in an election, I KNOW that the politically powerful (as I get the impression you are not one of) will ENSURE that he is reelected.

At the risk of offense to some, Dade County criminal court is somewhat embarrassing. Everyone (clients, attorneys, staff) talk in court as if they were at a party, and dress as though there were trying to pick up on South Beach (clients AND attorneys at times); etc. I hear that it is NOT like this in other jurisdictions.

More judges like Thomas would be very welcome.

Anonymous said...

its the "selig goldin" award. 35 yrs ago i was arrested in gainesville for having a fake id and buying beer while i was underaged. selig voluntaried to help me and did not charge me a penny. he was a wonderful human being and a great lawyer who died much too young. i have never forgot his kindness in helping me.

Rumpole said...

"To" the English Lit major: You are of course correct. Too many to(s) can trip you up, as it did us. Of course I know the rule, but I fly without an editor and this one slipped by me. This post was particularly difficult to edit for some blogger reason. Every time we changed something, it defaulted to an earlier version that had no hyperlink. When we fixed the hyperlink, the edits disappeared.

It was almost too much for me.
Ha ha ha. "Too" much. I crack myself up when I'm not too tired. There I go again. I better stop before this becomes too tedious.

Help! I'm stuck making too many puns. I can't stop!! This is too much. Pull the plug....too...

Anonymous said...

Well said 5:16 blogger. I too have practiced extensively in front of Judge Thomas, and while he's a very demanding judge, I can assure you that he gives defendants the fairest trial around, and he believes in letting the punishment fit the crime. He's one of the few non-wuss judges who will actually get involved in cases and who will accept (even encourage) pleas from the defense on the appropriate cases. True, he is a trial-monger, but this often works to the benefit of the defendant in the end. You can't be unprepared and drop the ball in this courtroom, but your clients and YOU will be better off for it in the end. That being said, J. Thomas will definitely have my vote in the future.

Anonymous said...

To 5:16 (even if you are not Judge Thomas) I believe that there is a difference between pushing
the lawyers and rolling over them. Judge Thomas’ desire to prove he is smarter than many
of those around him his undoing. He is arrogant, pompous and rude. I promise you many who
were responsible for his election have no interest in what happens to him in the future and will not
work for free as they did 2 ½ years ago. He won’t be able to raise a dime and he will be defeated.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole will be doing a book tour this summer.

Anonymous said...

Rump, I sooo know who you are. Its unbelieveable that noone even SUSPECTS you. Be careful though, its your humor that will give you away. Listen, is there a prize or something for the person who proves your identity? hummmm, a contest...

Bobby Reiff said...

Jason Grey said...

I am sick and tired of showing up for a deposition only to find that the witness speaks some language other than English, and then have to cancel the deposition because there are no interpreters available at either the PD’s Office or SA Office to assist. Rather than having to request an interpreter for any witness with a name other than “Jones” or “Smith” can somebody please enact a rule, law, or edict that would require the SA’s Office put a little “I” in parenthesis for “interpreter” and note the language spoken next to the name of any witness who cannot, will not, or chooses not to speak fucking English at a deposition.

-----------------------------------

I spoke to ASA Kristi Betendorf, who is in charge of the prefiling division of the State Attorney's Office, about this very issue last year and she said she had both the approval of her office and the software modifications needed to note on all discovery responses when the witness does not speak english, and the language that they speak. I will check with her again about this but I suggest that you speak to her yourself about this issue.

Spicoli said...

I doubt Rumpole would mind if someone posted the Jack The Ripper Trivia answer here. What's in an anacronym? Scottish Yard used it as did the King to describe a particular sort of illegal behavior. Another hint; although this might be urban legend, there is some historical basis for it.

I thought we were all wordsmiths! I can't spell Piñeiro with the ALT move. Two bad. Cut and paste will have 2do. 2che.

After Hours tuneight. 11:00. Toon in two the other blog.

The anacronym is up there. What the letters stand for are not yet. To0 the best of my "K"nowledge.

Mel Kiper Jr. said...

I have been asked to comment on the DUI Power rankings, and in preparation for the upcoming draft, I offer these simple observations:


1. Carlos Canet: A great number one. Comes from Essen and Essen, who produces top tens like Penn State produces linebackers, or Florida State produces felons. Wide ranging, aggressive, a solid pick.

2. Bobby Reiff: Explosive off the arraignment. Plays the speedy trial rule perfectly. A true technician with motions. No real weaknesses, can’t go wrong picking him one or two. Another Essen product.

3. Lurvey and Lyons. Great zone defense. Crafty and experienced.

4. Jimbo Best. Good for his size. Perhaps a step slower at trial and moving between courtrooms then he used to be. Makes up for losing a step with experience. Another Essen product.

5. The Q. Very controversial at 5. Some say he should be rated higher. A lot of people have him on their boards at one or two, and the same amount have him at nine or ten. Shifty.

6. Richard Hersch. Solid pick at six. Many have him as a top five pick. Clearly has lost a step but makes up for it with wit and wisdom.

7. Jonathan Blecher. Very controversial rating. Some say he has a definite weakness at trial. Others say he makes up for it with aggressive motions. Probably a reach at seven, and yet he got the rating. At this spot, you could trade down several spots and he might still be available. Good heritage coming from Essen.

8. Michael Catalano. Great DMV work. That alones merit a higher rating. Strengths in the court but well scouted and opponents are prepared for all his tricks.

9. Miami PDs. Crafty. Well trained. Aggressive. Rookies who need some experience. Like at 7, could trade down several spots and they would still be available.

10. Frank Gavaria. Spends the time in the gym. Works hard. Knows his limitations and works well within them. A value at ten.




Sleepers: Scott Fingerhut. Never makes the top ten, but shares space with Reiff. Much like Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams, where many thought Williams was overlooked with Brown, Fingerhut labors in a shadow, and yet he has the moves all on his own.

Mark Lefcourt. Moves well, respected, experienced, could easily be in the top ten.

Anonymous said...

"With the 9th pick in the NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins select....the Q out of Miami"!!!

Anonymous said...

To 5:16 blogger -- I am 3:55 blogger.

I wanted to watch that trial and spent lots of time watching for the last three weeks. I never had a case in front of Thomas, and I hope I never will.

I stand by every word. He was obnoxious to all. He may be pretty smart, but he is really nasty.

Fake JBB said...

Cris, I heard they opened a new shelter for victims of b*tch slap court. It's called the Tempura House.....

It's for lightly battered women!

Anonymous said...

Judge Thomas IS smarter than many of those around him. Sorry, but it's true, I am not him and I spend plenty of time in his courtroom and he knows his stuff. He'll rule correctly on motions, he'll get involved in cases and make offers when warranted, he'll give a fair trial, and he'll see a case for what it is. If you're a decent defense atty. that's all you should want. Saying he's "pompous" is just code for saying he's younger than me and in my view less experienced than me and maybe even looks different than me and yet he gets to sit on the bench and make decisions that affect me and that makes me uncomfortable. It seems to me we ought to seek to recognize, respect, and reward intelligence in our government. The consequences of not doing so have been well-illustrated the last 6 years and highlighted today by the hearings on Alberto Gonzales, a man who has drastically compromised the independence of the branch of government we all work in because he was selected for being agreeable and malleable rather than intelligent. Our bench does need more like Judge Thomas, and I would challenge anyone who disagrees to cite a specific example of anything he's done that is either unintelligent or unprofessional (working late doesn't count, last I checked working till 7 or 9 occasionally wasn't a legitimate cause for complaint in any other legal or professional field).

THEJUDGEWHISPERER said...

Wait until Will Thomas gets over to civil, we civil lawyers will do what you bottom feeding ,gutless criminal defense lawyers can't do teach him how to be a real judge with time tested techniques(elecions ,shock tactics calculated to teach him how to be a "mensch")just maybe maybe we can get him motivated to emulate the likes of: Sigler,Barzee,Silverman,Leesfield,
Genden,Friedman.Wilson,Emas,Scola,
Zabel,Miller ,Rodriguez,Fernandez,
Gerstein,Farina,Stettin,Platzer,
Korvick,Glazer,Bailey ,Echarte,
Karlan,Gross,Cohen,Faber,B.miller,
N.Saenz,Bach ,Ortiz,Shuminer,Venzer
,Dresnick as well as the departed but never forgotten Dakis and Leyte-Vidal (among others).
he will be in for a BIG surprise if he pulls any of that bullshit over here where the real lawyers
are!

Anonymous said...

..or like UM produces inarticulate crackheads.

Anonymous said...

Young Lawyer Happy Hour tonight at Finnegan's on the River, downtown Miami. 5:00pm to 8:00pm.

Anonymous said...

To 12:57 - First, working late does count, when the Chief Judge has ordered all jurors to out of courthouse buildings by 6 p,m, because of the extraordinary costs of keeping everyone there. Clerks, attorneys, security, police liaison officers, etc... But Thomas beleives he is above it all. He is intelligent, but not smart. He is still TRYING to learn state law.

I am a little younger than Thomas but that is not the issue. His pomposity is born of what we all call "Black Robe Disease." His overwheming need to prove he is smarter and in charge, when that would flow from just being civil to those around him. He is nasty, confrontational, he coerces pleas and acts like the world is there to serve him. He is arrogant and in simple words, not a nice person.

I will maintain, that at the end of his one and only term, he will draw significant opposition with money, he will raise no money and be soundly defeated. NO FREE RIDE courtesy of Ada Pozo, Barbara Areses and Judy Rubenstein this time around.

Sunny Goldin said...

To 2:46,

The award you refer to was in fact, named for my uncle, Selig I. Goldin, who was a criminal defense attorney who practiced in Gainesville. He passed away from cancer in 1980, way too young, after 18 years of practice.

Although I never got a chance to really know him while I was an adult, he was a wonderful uncle; kind and caring. I have read many of his papers and feel he showed the type of professionalism and competence we should all strive for.

Sunny Goldin

Anonymous said...

Judge Thomas,

If you in fact bother to read this crap, no worries, you will have volunteers, votes, and PLENTY of donations.

Fight the Corrupt said...

Spicoli,

Remember me, Fight the Corrupt, I am coming back for you. I will expose your flawed arguments on this blog as well.