ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF FLORIDA E. R. GRAHAM BUILDING1350 N.W. 12TH AVENUE MIAMI, FLORIDA 33136-2111
KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE TELEPHONE (305) 547-0100STATE ATTORNEY
Contact: Ed Griffith 305-547-0535
Assistant State Attorney Loses Job After Buying Drugs
Miami (May 16, 2007) – After a Tuesday evening arrest, Assistant State Attorney Utpal Dighe’s employment terminated today. The 31-year-old attorney was arrested for purchasing and possessing marijuana in the Coconut Grove section of Miami at approximately 6:30 p.m.
“I am deeply disappointed in the decisions Mr. Dighe has chosen to make. As a prosecutor, one is sworn to uphold our criminal laws, not violate them. I cannot tolerate one of my prosecutors behaving as if their oath of office required no personal commitment to the law.” [Rumpole notes: Time to get a new press agent. There is no name attributed to this quote in the release issued by the State Attorneys Office. Just who exactly is so disappointed?]
Mr. Dighe had worked as an Assistant State Attorney since August of 2004, recently prosecuting criminal cases before Circuit Court Judge Spencer Eig. He had been the subject of disciplinary action in November 2006 for his failure to obtain necessary approvals when making a plea offer in a criminal case. [Rumpole notes: Ahh...there's the rub. Marijuana is one thing, but not following the chain of command in the army of Fernandle's Freedom Fighters (Motto: "We fight against freedom")....well , that is a high crime that cannot be ignored. Who was it who said "orders must be obeyed?"]
Utpal Dighe is charged with 1 count of the Purchase of Cannabis, a 3rd degree felony, and 1 count of Possession of Cannabis, a 1st degree misdemeanor.
A letter is being forwarded to Governor Crist requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the prosecution of the above drug charges.
Rumpole says: And what's even worse is that drug court diversion is not available because drug court is closed. Remember that scene in the movie The Hunt for Red October at the end where the embarrassed Russian Ambassador goes to the US National Security Director seeking help to locate a second submarine. And the National Security Director takes great pleasure in saying "you've lost another sub?"
Ms. Rundle.....You've had another prosecutor arrested? If this keeps up, you're going to have to find office space to accommodate all the special prosecutors assigned to prosecuting your prosecutors.
By the way, what if on the extremely slim chance the City Of Miami Officers arrested the wrong guy? We know the City of Miami rarely ever makes mistakes. But still....Ever hear of the presumption of innocence? Or has that gone the way of defense rebuttal closing arguments?
A suspension is warranted. But a finding and adjudication of guilt prior to arraignment? What is this...Broward? Not really the best way to stand behind your loyal employees is it?
By our abacus, that's at least three prosecutors arrested in the short time we have been running the blog. And the Dade PDs' keep humming along, fighting for rights, and managing to obey the laws of our fair State. Who woulda thunk it?
Judges get arrested for possessing marijuana. Prosecutors get felony arrests for buying marijuana. What's wrong with this picture?
1) That purchase of marijuana is a felony, is a joke. It's a waste of resources. Marijuana possession is an infraction in many parts of this country, yet a prosecutor finds himself the subject of a felony prosecution for what really amounts to possessing marijuana.
Isn't is about time we made possession of marijuana a civil infraction, and sale or purchase a misdemeanor? Do we need the valuable time of our circuit court judges
(-sound of Rumpole choking after saying something nice about a robed reader-) taken up with these kinds of cases?
Or- and we address this to our local Prosecutor who has a penchant for hiring people who violate the law- is it time to get "really tough on crime" and throw the book at this prosecutor?
Come on. Put your money where your mouth is. If purchase of marijuana is a third degree felony, how about 18 months prison followed by 2 years probation?
Don't give us that crap about it being a first offense. Do you really think this is the first time he purchased marijuana? Lets not forget that the federal guidelines have sentencing enhancements for individuals who abuse their position of authority when they commit a crime.
Or is it time to bring some reason and sanity into the world of crimes and prosecution?
See You In Court.
PS: What's the deal with Judge Eig? They give him one of those hidden courtrooms on the third floor that no one ever goes to, and we have yet to pick up a case in his division. It's almost like he's out of the loop and the blind clerk is not assigning him cases.