UPDATE: JURY CONVICTS DEFENDANT IN CASE BEFORE JUDGE GLICK.
This is the case that took several years to bring to trial because of allegations that the defendant engaged in tactics to delay the case by firing his lawyers. He was convicted after 2 hours of deliberation for murdering a 5 year old girl. The penalty phase is next.
We really didn't do justice yesterday to the dust up in Broward County. The memos that flew between Judge Grossman and Judge Williams are printed in their entirety on the Broward Blog.
Former Chief Judge Dale Ross (isn't it great to read that? It was fun to write it.) formed a diversity commission and asked Judge Elijah Williams to chair the commission. Judge Williams was the first african american male Judge appointed in Broward in over 20 years. Williams agreed, so long as he had complete discretion to run the commission as he saw fit. As he wrote in his memo to Judge Grossman, he told Judge Ross he was not "going to carry the white man's water" and was going to be looking at the diversity issue "from a different prospective."
As the Commission began it's duties, it utilized the services of Alexandra Rieman (General Counsel to the 17th Judicial Circuit- talk about having your hands full lately), Carol Ortman (Court Administrator of the 17th Judicial Circuit- ditto) and Florida Commission on Human Relations commissioner Shahrukh Dhanji.
So far so good.
Recently it appears Judge Williams and his staff, in conjunction with various "ethnic Broward Bar Associations" had been meeting and researching the idea of the Commission receiving and adjudicating complaints.
Enter Judge "Not on my watch" Grossman, who at the time was acting Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit as Judge Ross was in the hospital getting an experimental "Ethics transplant." (Latest word is that unfortunately it didn't take.)
Grossman - without informing Chairman Judge Williams met with and dismissed Rieman and Ortman because Judge Grossman concluded, unilaterally and by fiat that the Commission did not have the authority to hear and resolve complaints. Judge Grossman also struck down plans that the Commission had for more diversity training for Broward County Judges because- we are not making it up- the Judges were in compliance and didn't need any more training.
Judge Williams received the memo from Grossman after returning to his chambers from the recent vote on the new chief judge.
Judge Williams started his memo to Judge Grossman admitting he was "more than angry" at learining of Judge Grossman's actions. Williams made reference to the 1952 Ralph Ellison Novel "Invisible Man" which is a novel about the struggle of Black Americans in the US. "I am invisible, you understand, because people simply refuse to see me."
The memo is just brilliant and you really need to go to the Broward Blog to read it in its entirety. But here are our favourite parts:
"For you to have arbitrarily removed Ms. Rieman as the Board's legal advisor without first speaking to me, is disrespectful. [To worsen matters, you must have known that tomorrow evening the Board was scheduled to review the proposed plans of the various ethnic Bar Associations, and Ms. Rieman's presence was clearly indispensable.]
I find it incomprehensible that at a time when every other Judicial Circuit in the State of Florida is being mandated to provide additional diversity training in 2007-largely due to the inappropriate comments of Judges in our Seventeenth Judicial Circuit - you have concluded that our circuit has complied and needs no additional training this calendar year.
More astonishing is you inference that there are matters involving the Diversity Board that do not have a significant impact on this Circuit. I strongly disagree....I say this as the first black male judge to be appointed to Broward's Circuit Bench in over two decades.
Nevertheless since you obviously know more about diversity issues than I, I have no choice but to tender my resignation....
Rumpole says: This is great stuff. It uncovers and brings to light the crude and careless manner that Judges In Broward have run their courthouse and courtrooms. Bravo to Judge Williams for not being intimidated and for not letting Judge Grossman have his way with a Commission he has no business meddling in.
One wonders just what Judge Grossman was afraid of?
Why did he feel it necessary to emasculate the Diversity Board during his brief unelected tenure as a stand in chief judge? Judge Grossman had a mandate to do one thing- not screw anything up. And of course, being a Judge North of the Border, he could not successfully complete his mission.
The more you think about it, the more unseemly this whole episode is. Grossman really had no mandate or authority to do anything involving the Diversity Board. It was as if this was one last ditch effort by Ross from the hospital to cover-up and keep a lid on things North of the Border.
Grossman needs to be called to account for his actions. Just what emergency forced him to act by himself and start firing members of the Board?
Why didn't Grossman consult with the Chairman of the Board and fellow judge Elijah Williams?
These questions need to be answered. They should not be allowed to wither on the vine and die. We have caught a Judge covering something up for reasons that are not yet clear.
Time, pressure, and demanding answers to questions can start the process of changing things for good in Broward. New Chief Judge Victor Tobin has an opportunity to quickly show all of us that things will be different. Lets see if he is up to the task.
A good start would be re-instating the members of the Board that Grossman fired, along with a written apology to Williams, and a request that he resume his role as chairman of a much needed Board.
We will be watching along with our brother bloggers in Broward.