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

Thursday, May 10, 2007

WHAT WE DO....DONE TO US

Here's a familiar scenario:
A family comes to our office. Something bad has happened or is about to happen. It just so happens that we know the people who are making the decision. Perhaps with a well placed phone call and follow-up meeting, and we can change what has occurred or is about to occur.

The family is in great distress. They are about to lose a great deal of money, or a family member is about to lose their freedom. There is a price for our services. Not everyone can just pick up the phone and get the decision maker who is causing such problems on the other line.

"Here is our fee" we say. They wince, and we stand up and suggest they talk in private for a few moments. No rush. The family confers and after deciding that there are several people they can call to raise the money, plus a second mortgage on a home, they agree to our terms and hire us.

This is what we do. We profit on the troubles of others. If we do our job well, we are successful, often saving the client from themselves and their own poor judgement. ( "Tell me again why you confessed, on tape, to something you didn't do?")

Well now, after the big meeting on Wednesday with the high powered political lobbyist, doesn't it seem like the shoe is on the other foot? "You blew it" we have been told. "You were getting tens of millions of dollars of tax payer money and you never spent a nickel to protect what you were getting.
Welcome to the big leagues."

"Well now, all is not lost." (Gleaming white smile). "For a fee (re-occurring every year) we can solve your little problem and get back your lost kitty. Just ante up and let the professionals take it from here. "

Rumpole says: We are reminded of the story of the very successful surgeon who had some pain, went to a doctor and was told he needed some surgery. He scoffed: "Surgery is for patients...not for me."

Apparently we lawyers are in about the same position, collectively, as our clients. True we have not committed any crimes (most of us anyway). But we have been told by the pros that we don't know how to play the game, and we have no one to blame but ourselves for the position we now find ourselves in.

Here's the rub- and don't deny that many of you have been thinking the same thing:

Are we going to hire the lawyer who really believes in our cause, is good, and will give us a chance at winning? Or -and unfortunately we all know colleagues like this- are we about to spend more than a quarter of a million dollars with some guys, who will be going out to the bar afterwards to brag about the big, fat, loser client they just got hired to represent?

Food for thought.

Hey you guys in the Keys, hows the weather? Hows the tequila?

See You In Court.

24 comments:

Rumpole said...

Maybe I should have written in the comments section to the last post- where I was accused of not showing up for the messanic meeting- "I yam what I yam." instead of "I am that I am."

Pass the spinach and watch out for the burning bush.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Tallahasse, where lobbysts rule and the people lose.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm more out of the loop than I think. 10-20 appointments a year. Pain in the butt cases. hard to get paid. never worth the money 20-30 thousands bucks. Who really cares so much about the money. Agreed the Regional office will be pushing it big time at such high volume. But we have quite a few firms that do a lot of volume and provide better than competent service. Many of the high-volume traffic firms have a very high percentage. A good percentage of the DUI specialists all score between 70-90 percent dismissal/breakdown, and many of the high volume felony people, yes, like Gaer, Schwartz, and Robbins, Fisher just to name a few do quite well with heavy volume. 80K seems a bit ridiculous for the administrator. But there are quite a few of us out there that don't need money and might take a job like that. Maybe even one of the long term PDs. Would a Steve Kramer, e.g. or Lizbeth Boots, or Edith Georgi, or Steve Harper be so bad for such a position.

Just a little devil's ad for y'all this morning. Do your worst.

Anonymous said...

but in this case rumpole, it is only a grand or two each per year. that's nothing-even for the "trialmaster." who by the way, needs a very expensive therapist...

Anonymous said...

I just hope all the JUDGES who read this blog are following the tragic story of the woman murdered in Hollywood on the day she was set to testify in the trial of the man who robbed her at gunpoint and held her captive. Why any judge would ever see fit to release such an animal on bond is beyond me. Hopefully, JUDGES, this sort of tragic JUDICIAL error will not happen again in the future. And hopefully, the name of the JUDGE who gave this animal a bond will soon be revealed by the press.

Anonymous said...

Florida Indigent Defense Assoc requires a minimum contibution of $100.00. We have the support of FACDL. Many members of the Crim Def. bar have already pledged 5k each. Rumpole, if the lobbyists are running a game on us, and I for do not believe that, it's a small price to risk.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if you guys learned to spell simple words like judgment (not "judgement")you would be more effective in conveying your message.

Anonymous said...

8:01 sadly in Florida every man and woman is entitled to bond. Only capital murder and certain child sex cases and of course bail jumpers do NOT get bail.

Captain what say you?

Rumpole said...

Capital defendants get bond. Its called an Arthur Hearing. I let the comment on bond go up because it appears it was not written by a lawyer. And we as lawyers need to remember the general public has little idea about the presumption of innocence and little tolerance for the idea the police arrest innocent people.

Anonymous said...

jeb recieves $9,000per hr from tenent. this is his payback for screwing plaintiffs hurt in med mal cases and the plaintiffs trial bar. what a system that would allow this clown to make this money after he leaves office. this shows that he is more concerned about his wallet than the people of florida. he should be indicted for this payoff.

Anonymous said...

As a non-lawyer what does Arthur hearing mean.

You Kill 2 people get arrested and charged I get a bail hearing (Arthur hearing)?

I always thought murder is non-bailable offense in Florida?

Anonymous said...

Child sex crimes are bailable also?

That has to change!

Anonymous said...

Either spelling of judgement / judgment is acceptable. One is more 'modern', but both are correct.

Bail OUTRAGE!! said...

Rumpole here is the outrage on Bail and Police.

This is a true story.

1. The police arrest the defendant on a charge of theft knowing they have 4 different victims of similar theft crimes at the time of the arrest but only charge him/her with 2 of the crimes.

2. The police (sometimes with blessing of the ASA) wait for the defendant to make bail on the theft charges.

3. The police once the defendant is on bail go and arrest the defendant for the other two theft charges.

4. Now since he/her just got arrested while out on bail has a automatic no bail until the Judge decides to hear the case.

5. Now 5-7 or even 10 days later your client gets before the Judge on the new arrest and is denied bail because he was re-arrested while out on bail.

This is a huge scam the Police and ASA constantly do to lock up people unfairly until trial and force pleas because the defendant does not want tp spend 6 months in jail waiting for trial.

I think if the new arrest was for allegations of criminal conduct that took place while on bail then maybe no bail.

But when the police intentionally arrest and leave out a few charges so that when your client makes bail they get an automatic no bail when taken to the jail Friday at 5PM.

A detective literally relayed this information to me.

Anonymous said...

Defendants charged with capital, life, and 1st PBLs are not entitled to a bond. They are entitled to an Arthur hearing at which a bond MAY be set. There is a big difference. I think the public is justifiably outraged that someone like this guy in Broward was released on a bond. All of us should be outraged, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

as we head into the mother's day weekend, here in dade we have to be very proud of our top 3 judges, blake, emmas and slom. is it a coinadence that all of the above are GATORS? and i know kevin and stan are members of the best frat at UF, Tau Epilsion Phi. i wonder where Ross got his degree, not UF he's not bright enough to have gotten in , even in the 70s

Anonymous said...

Dear Florida Bar President: I would like to thank you and past presidents for allowing me the opportunity to be a member of the legal profession for the last 20 years and for allowing an average of 2000 more lawyers per year to enter the profession. I am so good that I needed the competition for clients to keep my blood flowing. My early career choice to be an asa was a tragic mistake. As most asas and apds office politics and low wages drove me out into the real world where you sink or swim. I sunk. I spent over 10 years doing court appointment work for low wages because I don't know who to get away with bribing bail bondsmen, chasing ambulances, or convincing single mothers and grandmothers to take out a 2nd mortgage so they can hire me. So I don't make enough money to have a nice home, car, or support a family so I am single. And now the system that almost supported me for 10 years is being done away with and I have to figure out a way to make money competing honestly against 80000 lawyers, 2000 more every year, with severe limitations on my right to advertise or solicit work. On behalf of several THOUSAND lawyers around the state similarly situated like myself WE THANK YOU. P.S. The average graduate now has more debt than why I graduated. I paid it all off at age 40. So now please feel free to continue to prosecute sole practitioners struggling to make ends meet because of the overabundance-continue the suspensions and disbarments and please, please, continue to never ever discipline anyone from a large law firm, federal agency, or state agency. You politicians can kiss my fat ass.

Anonymous said...

why wouldn't you have let the comment about the bond go up? It wasn't offensive, didn't comment on anyone's sexual orientation or post a phone number. Are you censoring more than we know? what happened to the good ole' days when we made fun of sleepy bennett and talked about portia's legs and courtbroom scandals?

Anonymous said...

FROM THE DAILY BUSINESS REVIEW

Blogs
Cyber slam

May 11, 2007 By: Jordana Mishory

A small band of criminal defense lawyers has shaken up the Broward County legal community with a Web log that reports what the bloggers consider abuse and misconduct by judges.

Their controversial blog (JAABlog.jaablaw.com) takes daily blasts at Broward judges and urges lawyers to run for election against sitting judges. Designed as the communication arm of the new criminal defense group Justice Advocacy Association of Broward, the site was started last year to provide information about case law.

The site, which averages 31,000 hits a week, has become a daily must-read for many in the legal community at a time when Broward judges are involved in a series of verbal gaffes and face allegations of misconduct.

The blog gained visibility last month when it was the first to report that Circuit Judge Charles Greene, chief administrative judge of the criminal division, used the term “NHI” — meaning no humans involved — to describe the minority victims and witnesses in a recent murder trial. That remark led to a firestorm of criticism. In the wake of the controversy, Greene stepped down as administrative judge and at his request was re-assigned to the civil division.

Fort Lauderdale attorney William Gelin, one of the blog’s founders and a frequent writer, said the goal of the blog is to inform the public and hold court officials accountable. “We are shedding light on previously very dark places,” he said, adding that so far judges have not treated him or his clients differently as a result of his blogging.

The Web site has angered many Broward judges and lawyers. Last week at a news conference, Broward Chief Judge Dale Ross blamed the blog’s organizers for trying to “undermine” the judiciary. He said in an interview he would prefer that lawyers with concerns come to him directly.

“I like folks who are serious people, who come up to me face-to-face and say, ‘Hey Dale, I have a problem I’d like to talk to you about,’ ” he said. While Ross said he doesn’t read the blog, he complained that he hadn’t “seen one thing yet that was factually correct.”

The incoming president of the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association, Miramar attorney Jose Izquierdo, also criticized the organizers of the blog, saying they are using it “as a forum to attack and not fix the problem.”

Russell Williams, vice president of Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, echoed that criticism of the blog. “All they do is complain, and the complaints become a cancer that grows from the inside and spreads throughout the courthouse,” he said.

Leading voice of discontent

Broward Circuit Court has not been accustomed to such noisy criticism. Since 1991, the court has been led by Ross, who recently was unanimously re-elected chief judge by his fellow judges.

Few incumbent judges have faced election opponents because Broward lawyers fear alienating them. There’s no regular rotation system, so most judges remain in their assigned divisions for long periods.

In addition, under former Gov. Jeb Bush and his hand-picked Judicial Nominating Commission, there were few appointments of black or Hispanic judges despite the county’s large and growing minority population.

Bush tended to appoint former prosecutors to the bench, and some of these Bush appointees, notably Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman, have angered the defense bar with what is perceived to be their pro-prosecution bias.

All these factors, plus the recent series of embarrassing judicial comments and conduct, have led to growing frustration with the court and with Ross’ leadership. The new blog has been a leading voice in expressing that discontent.

Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, a frequent critic of Broward judges who is not connected with JAABlog, lauded the Web site as one of the most important factors driving change in the court. “In Broward, judges have become way too accustomed to not being challenged in either the courtroom or at the polls,” he said.

Critics, however, say the bloggers simply want to bring down Chief Judge Ross and other judges.

“I don’t have an agenda against any judge, the judiciary or anything,” Izquierdo said. “The situation regarding [sensitivity toward diversity] is not a springboard for attacking judges that you have a problem with.”

Gelin acknowledged personal feelings of animosity toward Chief Judge Ross and his leadership. But he said the Web site was designed as a forum for criminal defense lawyers to discuss issues and gather information.

In addition to critiques of judges, the blog posts arrests sheets, links to news articles about the courthouse, announcements of upcoming meetings and events in the community, summaries of appellate court rulings and vignettes of courthouse happenings.

Gelin said Ross and his colleagues on the bench are responsible for the current problems facing the court — not his blog. “The judiciary is doing this all by themselves,” he said. Ross’ “attempt to scapegoat us is a little bit ingenuous.”

Rich pickings

The Broward blog began as an offshoot of the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward, a criminal defense bar group created last summer. Initially, the site posted appellate decisions, court meetings, newspaper articles and an occasional rant.

But JAABlog soon eclipsed the sponsoring organization by reporting on a steady stream of controversial statements and actions by the judges. And the bloggers have had rich pickings.

In February, the state Judicial Qualifications Commission filed charges against Judge Aleman, alleging that she “engaged in a pattern of arrogant, discourteous and impatient conduct.”

That same month, during a bail hearing, Judge Ross said a black defendant charged with violating a noise ordinance was “playing that atrocious rap music on a boom box.”

Also in February, Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin became the object of national ridicule for his handling of the Anna Nicole Smith body-custody case. Then Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda was charged with smoking pot in a Hollywood park and took a leave of absence.

Last year there were several other incidents of Broward judges making comments that were widely considered insensitive to minorities and poor people.

The nearly 320 members of the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward all have author keys to compose Web posts. Viewers can weigh in with comments, either signed or anonymous, without being moderated. A handful of JAAB members write and sign most of the posts.

Gelin is one of the main bloggers. “If you truly believe something, you ought to sign your name to it,” he said.

Under his lead, the blog has polled readers on who they think should run against Ross for the position of chief judge. No one ran against Ross in the most recent election in February.

This week, Gelin urged readers to file to run against sitting judges.

Gelin’s actions impressed a Miami-Dade courthouse blogger who has operated the popular Justice Building Blog for the past year and a half under the pseudonym “Rumpole.”

“I was surprised the lawyer who started the [Broward] blog did so openly,” Rumpole, who says he’s a Miami-Dade criminal defense lawyer, said in an e-mail to the Daily Business Review. “He should be applauded for his bravery. I, of course, am not so brave.”

At least one other lawyer who wrote a post on JAABlog has suffered consequences. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Sean Conway faces a Florida Bar complaint for a blog post about Judge Aleman that was attributed to him. The October 2006 entry that bears Conway’s name referred to Aleman as “seemingly mentally ill” and accused her of illegally forcing defendants to waive their rights to a speedy trial.

Bar rules prohibit attorneys from publicly criticizing judges. Conway has not admitted writing the post.

Aleman currently is fighting JQC charges of misconduct, including allegations of abusive treatment toward criminal defendants and defense attorneys.

The March Bar complaint against Conway, which was filed five months after the Aleman post, asked Conway to comment on the blog entry. Both Conway and his attorney have filed responses.

Despite the Bar complaint, Conway recently forwarded a JQC complaint he filed against Aleman to JAABlog, and it was posted. Conway “can post all he wants,” said his attorney, Fred Haddad of Fort Lauderdale. “What are we in Russia?”

Gelin also had a Bar complaint filed against him last September. The Bar closed it a few days later, finding no probable cause. The nature of the complaint was not made public.

Gelin said the complaint was made by someone who did not like a quote attributed to him in an article published by the Miami Herald. Gelin said he’s proud that he’s never had a dispute with a client that led to a Bar complaint.

The controversy over JAABlog has led to its sponsoring organization being excluded from Broward’s growing diversity movement.

JAAB had worked with Broward’s minority bar coalition to send a letter to Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis following Chief Judge Ross’ courtroom comments to minority defendants in March. Although JAAB attended the Miami meeting with Lewis, its members were excluded from subsequent meetings with Ross regarding diversity issues.

Incoming Hispanic Bar President Izquierdo said he “regrets the fact” that his organization co-authored a letter with JAAB. Izquierdo noted that the coalition of voluntary minority bar groups started working to promote diversity in the Broward courts and legal profession long before the blog was created.

As long as the blog is used to attack the judiciary, Izquierdo said he will not work with JAAB.

He said the organization’s method of posting public attacks against judges instead of setting up meetings to discuss problems with them is not effective.

In response, JAAB president Craig S. Esquenazi of Fort Lauderdale said, “If we can help them with their goal of effecting change, that’s great. If he doesn’t want our help, that’s OK, too.”

Williams, of the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, also criticized JAAB and its blog. He said his organization could have handled the Judge Greene matter in a “more professional way.” It would have been better, he said, to have the minority bar and the defense bar sit down with Ross and Greene to discuss the incident.

Michael Ahearn, a criminal defense attorney and former frequent contributor, said the Web site was conceived to expose misconduct but has been ruined by its nasty tone. “There’s a slippery slope of negativity,” Ahearn said. “The powers that be at JAAB do nothing to moderate it.”

Still, Finkelstein, the public defender, credits the blog for making a positive contribution. “Regardless of the truth or falsity, the blog is part of the social conversation in the legal community, the judicial community and the journalistic community,” he said.

Rumpole said...

I am not censoring more than you know. I comment everytime I do not allow a comment up. I guess I mispoke. Of course the comment is proper. I guess I get frustrated when I read comments critical about defendants getting bond. I have enough problems with Judges who don't understand the concept of presumption of innocence without the media over blowing one case and getting the public to believe that we spend our days releasing child molesters and killers on bond, when in actuality we spend our time trying to get people who are accused of petit theft a reasonable bond.

Fake Karl Marx said...

Somebody posted, "sadly in Florida" there is a presumption of innocence!

¡A las Barricadas!
¡A las Barricadas!

Anonymous said...

Re 1:18:00 p.m.'s post about detectives charging defendants in stages so that they are denied bond for a new arrest while out on bond:

Getting arrested while out on bond is not a violation of the bond conditions. Getting arrested for a NEW crime committed while out on bond is what can be used to revoke the existing bond and deny bond on the new charges.

When that happens to your clients, go to the JA and set the case ASAP for report re bond review (if it's not yet set) and take all the A-forms to the judges to show them that the incident dates are all before defendant posted bond. The judges then reinstate the bond, and sometimes even include the new charges on that bond.

If the client's family contacts you immediately, point out to the bond hearing judge that the incident took place before the client's release on bond, which the clerks can verify by their computers and you may be able to get the state to stipulate that the new crime didn't happene when the client was out on bond.

Some detectives love to pull this crap on clients, but judges see through it when you show them. Of course, by then, the client has spent one to five nights in jail, sometimes even more.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that answer. You highlight the point

"Of course, by then, the client has spent one to five nights in jail, sometimes even more"

Thats what the detective intended cause some jail time. This should be fixed ASAP so the A-Forms reflect whats going on.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Stan Blake could enter an administrative order telling corrections to compare the new offense date of an arrestee who's out on bond with the date that the bond being posted. If the incident date of the new arrest is older than the bond, then the defendant would be allowed to bond out on the new charges. That would solve the problem.