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, July 19, 2007

WILLIAMS v GROSSMAN

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.

BACKGROUND
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.

31 comments:

Rumpole said...

Things are looking up.


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Anonymous said...

Rumpole you have done it again. Your comment on Ross being in the hospital for an experimental ethics transplant is so funny I haven't stopped laughing yet. Thanks for getting my day off to a great and funny start.

A Fan.

Rumpole said...

Mr. McGillis has been quiet and left this blog alone lately, there is no reason to antagonize him. I did not publish the post. Just leave him be.

Anonymous said...

Rump, can the captain verify how many years it's been since a newly elected or appointed judge took a pay cut to take the position? I think it's been at least 7-8 years, maybe 12, 15?

Fake Captain said...

Anonymous: Rump, can the captain verify how many years it's been since a newly elected or appointed judge took a pay cut to take the position? I think it's been at least 7-8 years, maybe 12, 15?

Less than 30 days. Judge Salter.

Anonymous said...

Ok, EXCLUDING THORNTON AND SALTER, Rump, can the captain verify how many years it's been since a newly elected or appointed judge took a SIGNIFICANT pay cut to take the position? I think it's been at least 7-8 years, maybe 12, 15?

Anonymous said...

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Anonymous said...

Re: Vick issue. Animal cruelty is still animals, not humans. Unless you believe in the strict equality of all living beings (which is absurd), then surely you cannot equate hurting an animal with hurting a child? Do you think eating meat ought to be illegal? How about eating children? Vick needs to do a little time for this if true, but to compare it to killing or torturing children is gross.

Anonymous said...

I am new to the blog. I came because I heard it contained juicy gossip and boderline innapropriate comments - but I have yet to read anything like that. Where'd the fun go?

Rumpole said...

NO WAY. I am not publishing the ending of the Harry Potter book. That is cruel and unfair, especially since I have not read it. Sorry but this is not even a close call.

To clairify my comments on Vick and animal abuse- what I am saying is that the charge carries a stigma similar to child abuse. Both are helpless and both animals and chldren depend upon us for love and nurturing and the alleged abuse of a child or an animal carries a special type of stigma that is hard to shake.

I have successfully represented individuals charged with child abuse at trial. And I am convinced they were indeed 100% innocent. I would find it very very difficult to represent a child abuser or animal abuser who I did not think was innocent, and I would be beside myself if I won their case. I'm not saying I would not do my job, I am saying it would carry a very heavy emotional toll.

Captain My Captain said...

Anonymous: Rump, can the captain verify how many years it's been since a newly elected or appointed judge took a pay cut to take the position? I think it's been at least 7-8 years, maybe 12, 15?

There are several people applying to the JNC who would take a pay cut if selected.

Rumpole said...

2:13 Welcome to the party pal.

Anonymous said...

i hear that joe davis is the new judge....

Fake Captain said...

3:14 -- Have your hearing checked.

Anonymous said...

Circuit Judges make what? 137k? I'm sure Reemberto Daiz took a pay cut for a circuit position. Julio Jimenez, as well.

CAPTAIN said...

for 3:14 PM's benefit:

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today announced the appointment of John W. Thornton of Pinecrest to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court.

“John shares my commitment to public service,” said Governor Crist. “I am confident his experience during his thirty years of practicing law, as well as his service as a Guardian ad Litem, will help him serve the Eleventh Judicial Circuit will honor and integrity.”

Thornton, 55, is a partner with Thornton & Rothman P.A. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Miami Law School. He is also a graduate of the National College of District Attorneys.

“Members of the Florida Judiciary set a high standard of excellence in administering justice,” said Thornton. “I am honored to be appointed by the Governor to this position, and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Thornton will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge David H. Young and is appointed for a term beginning July 18, 2007, and ending January 5, 2009.

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

Anonymous said...

why do you keep putting your #'s up? sales pitch?

why have you become so mature? you were a lot more fun when you had a lot LESS readers!!

you have become what you set out to mock. the establishment.

CAPTAIN said...

you can do the math.....

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

Here is a list of all the judges that were newly elected or appointed in 2006-2007:

Valerie Manno
Tony Marin
Marisa Mendez
Patricia Marino-Pedraza
Robin Faber
Victoria del Pino
Gloria Gonzalez-Meyer
Don Cohn
Jose Fernandez

Vance Salter
John Thornton
Victoria Brennan
Cristina Miranda
Reemberto Diaz
Douglas Chumbley
Barbara Lagoa
George Sarduy
Eric Hendon

you all can speculate whether they took a pay cut or got a raise....

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

the trialmaster said...

the appointment of john thorton to the bench is a treffic apointment by crist.john will be a great judge in the mold of kevin and stan, reemberto and a few others.still, the criminal and civil bench is not a good one as a whole due to the number of unqualfied attorneys who run for election because they cant make it in private practice. good luck john.

Rumpole said...

Jeeze ...calm down. I guess you could say I am proud I built something from nothing and have people who log on to be entertained by what I have written. No big dea`l. No worries mate.

Anonymous said...

hey trialmaster, learn to spell and correctly write the english word.

and by the way, "kevin" and "stan" think that you are an arrogant a-hole.

Anonymous said...

Is White Man's water flat or is it carbonated? All this talk is making me very thirsty.

Anonymous said...

Working from Captain's list, here are the "for sures" that took a significant ($100K and plus) pay cut:

Valerie Manno
Tony Marin
Don Cohn
Jose Fernandez
George Sarduy

Not sure about the rest

Cosmo Kramer said...

these prezels are making me thirsty.
can i get some of that White Man's water please?

Michael Richards.

Anonymous said...

Don Cohn definitely did not take a pay cut. And, although no one will believe me, Tony Marin didn't take a pay cut either. Trust me. I know. Joe Fernandez: the jury's out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 9:21. Seriously, how much do some of you think a typical private lawyer makes? Most are on payment plans and hoping to god that someone brings then 5 grand every once in a while. They can only hope to maybe, maybe make a buck fifty a year.

Someone making under 200k is not taking a "pay cut" per se to become a judge.

Sub. S Corp. said...

circuit judge pay v private income.

unless you're doing federal work and getting 25-50k per case, i would bet that circuit pay doesnt look so bad.

its not just the salary you get. insurance, disability, pension plan, secretary, bailiff, office space, telephones, postage, internet, westlaw......and no whining clients, just whining lawyers that you can control.

overhead is worth 35-50k. so the job is closer to 200k.

not a bad gig.

Anonymous said...

An average crminal defense lawyer with private clients only will make between 250-300 thousand without any problem. In a good year, they can make between 300-400 thousand. In a great year, they can make even more.
Most of us who become judges take a pay cut. Of course, some do not.
However, don't you guys think a more important point is the new fee schedules for those of you who do take court appointments? It is absurd and all the judges are behind you guys. The new system just won't work.

Anonymous said...

Fake Governor Crist said: maybe this revision of the jac and court appointments is a bad idea. There are over 25000 lawyers in dade and broward and one applied for the 80k job to handle the most complicated criminal cases that the pd conflicts off BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT THEM. You see all you critics of the conflict cases have never understood is that the armed robbery with the videotape of your client in the store, the murder case with the videotaped confession, etc. ONLY will be accepted by attorneys too honest and ethical to get large amounts of money out of middle class people to defend their child. The michael jacksons and ojays of the world, and kobes amount to less than 1/1000th of the cases out there. and after debate and complaint the florida legislature in its wisdom expects you to handle life felonies for 1500 and no interim payment. just the travel time -unless they permit multiple office within the 5 circuits, and the putting together of files from cities dozens of miles away, will make this system a nightmare. but hey- they got the money for a football stadium in orlando for no football stadium, another rail network that noone will use like miami's metrorail for its first 15 years, and all the other pork. what's it all mean. simple. learn how to sue nursing homes for nursing home abuse- the aging of the population means this will be big bucks. if you don't want to defend drug dealers-they are the only ones with money-get out of criminal law, diversify, or shut up but stop crying.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE DOGS. I think most people are appalled at this Vick case, moreso than murder of human beings, about 15k of them a year in the U.S. Why do we care about the manner of death- in Saudi Arabia they behead-probably the quickest and least painful of all types of execution. Now in the U.S. executions are halted because they may cause pain and suffering, in Florida a conviction was halted because the drugs can cause pain and suffering in violation of the 8th amendment. If death penalty is allowed what difference does it make if it is by guillotine, sword, bullit, gas, electricity or drug. the issue is the death-permissible or impermissible. which brings me to vick- why does it matter if the dog was beaten, thrown down, electrocuted, hung, shot. he killed or ordered the killing of dogs. why? probably because he has been involved in a brutal sport for years where people are trying to hurt him constantly so this dogfighting is here brutal response to the attempted brutality perpetrated upon him every time a linebacker or lineman tries to take him out. he was a terrible example to his younger brother who the dolphins gave a chance to and let me remind you that many murderers got their start by killing or torturing animals as children. what message is the nfl sending to the youth of america to allow him to continue to collect his multimillion dollar salary when he engaged in animal murder. for those of you who support vick- I know- pass the ketchup for my burger-yes I eat bacon and fried chicken- if other animals are slaugherted by the billion in the u.s. every year to feed 300 million non-vegans that why should we care about a few dogs. in some areasof the world they eat dog and if you've ever eaten in a chinese restaruant you have too because what they call steak and I don't see in any other type of restaurant and Mcdonalds never denied that their burgers are horsemeat. SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HE IS ME, LIKE MIKE, I WANT TO BE LIKE MIKE.

Anonymous said...

What do you know about Shahrukh Dhanji?