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

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thompson Thread 2- Free speech and the Bar.

Mr. Thompson kicks off the week with a letter to the ACLU, confirming the oft quoted affirmation that politics makes strange bedfellows. The letter is in the comments section.

Query re: The Bar and Broward Attorney Sean Conway: Should there be any regulatory supervision over what an attorney says about a Judge? Or should it just be a free for all?

Attorneys (are supposed to) occupy a special place in our society. In our practice we are very judicious about what we say to our clients about judges assigned to their case. The door swings both ways on this. A client who has a tough case assigned to a Judge that we believe is very fair and not afraid to grant a motion despite the consequences, may still well end up with a poor result (although hiring us is a step in the right direction.).

Similarly, a client with what appears to be an easy case may have a Judge who we believe is prosecution oriented to the extent they will ignore favorable case law if at all possible.

In those cases we believe, unless the circumstances are extreme, we have a responsibility to not disparage the justice system and try our best and let the client see the outcome in court. However, the Aleman scenario in Broward may well be that extreme situation. We would not have resulted to crass name calling on a blog (far be it from us to do that!). But we would have expressed an unfavorable opinion to the client about the Judge's policy of what we view as pure extortion in the misguided attempt to get clients to waive their rights to speedy trial by threatening them with a trial before their counsel had time to prepare.

But this analysis goes a step further. Assume the Bar exonerated Conway's statements because of Aleman's conduct. The result is a gutting of the Bar's prohibition regarding derogatory comments about Judges. Any Judge who had a case reversed on appeal would be fair game for the worst possible comments about their ability (hmm...we could be on to something here) and any attorney challenged by the Bar would have a sure-fire defense.

Questions of such magnitude are better suited for the wise and learned legislature and experienced Judges.

Ok. We shall stop joking. The serious issue is that unless we as attorneys and Bar members resolve this issue together with the Judiciary, we will have an answer forced upon us by yahoo politicians who never pass up an opportunity to disparage attorneys, especially criminal defense attorneys, to get curry favor with voters.

See You In Court, where we go out of our way to heap tons 'o' praise upon our learned and distinguished robed readers.


61 comments:

Rumpole said...

Mr. Thompson emailed us this letter, which he also posted on the Broward Blog.

December 17, 2007

Nadine Strossen, President
American Civil Liberties Union
New York Law School
New York, New York nstrossen@nyls.edu and scunningham@nyls.edu

Re: The Florida Bar’s Dangerous Assault upon the First Amendment

Dear Nadine:

I hope this letter at the holidays finds you and your loved ones well. My wife has survived ovarian cancer this year, so we are particularly pleased that this year is coming to an end and that we are both here to ring in the New Year.

As you know, I have a very high regard for you and for much of the work that you and the ACLU do on behalf of liberty. We disagree on some things, but I believe you know, from our debates on college campuses and on national television, that we both believe the First Amendment is to be cherished, defended, and preserved. Despite our political/ideological differences, you and I both know that the great enemy of freedom in this country, as through history, is the government. One cannot read the Bill of Rights and come to any other conclusion.

I write because the First Amendment is presently under severe and dangerous attack by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar. Sean Conway, a Broward attorney, has been hit with an “ethics” complaint by The Bar itself because he was critical of a Broward County judge whose practices were denying criminal defendants their rights. You can read all about it at the Wall Street Journal’s blog at http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/12/14/should-lawyer-be-disbarred-for-harsh-criticism-of-a-j udge/. You will note that The Bar is seeking punishment of Conway even though the Judicial Qualifications Commission just tried this same judge for her misconduct! Thus, there was a factual basis for his criticism of Judge Aleman.

Similarly, The Florida Bar now wants me permanently disbarred because I have done what Conway has done. I have exposed the corruption of an Alabama judge who is protecting himself and a death penalty verdict after putting an African American teen on death row in Alabama after denying him a fair trial. I was on 60 Minutes with Ed Bradley about our related civil case, and the defense that this judge wrongly denied this criminal defendant at trial. Devin Moore, a black teen, was convicted by an all-white jury.

The Florida Bar seeks to disbar me for my truthful comments about this judge and his misconduct and also for my comments about a similar judge in Florida. That would be Miami-Dade County’s notorious Ronald Friedman, who announced his decision in my case before the trial, then denied me the trial itself, and then filed a bar complaint against me in retaliation for my seeking his recusal because he had announced his ruling before trial. Interestingly, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal recently upbraided Friedman for doing the same thing in another case. My “reward” for being ahead of the Third District’s curve is disbarment.

As you may know, Geoffrey Fieger recently won an important victory on the issue of whether attorneys surrender their First Amendment rights when they become attorneys. The answer is no, and I attach that federal ruling found on the web at http://pub.bna.com/lw/0611684.pdf . The Florida Bar is refusing to apply the logic of this ruling here in Florida, seeking disbarments of lawyers who blow the whistle on out-of-control judges.

Nadine, we need the ACLU’s help down here. If lawyers are to be disbarred for telling the truth about incompetent, unethical, corrupt, or reckless judges, then The Florida Bar, in the name of “judicial independence,” will have successfully stood the petition clause of the First Amendment on its head and in doing so insulate this third branch of government from any and all democratic impulses.

I urge you, as someone whom I personally know to care deeply about the First Amendment, to get involved personally in efforts to rescue the First Amendment from The Florida Bar’s current illegal, unconstitutional assaults upon it. Justice Douglas predicted in Lathrop v. Donohue that integrated state bars would eventually become “goose-stepping brigades” if allowed to enforce speech codes and pursue political agendas.

The regulatory fascists on the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar have made Justice Douglas’ prediction come true.

I and we need your help. Please help, Nadine. I should like to join the ACLU in the New Year. Please give me a reason to do so. Thanks.

Blessings, Jack

Copy: Media
Bruce Rogow

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, thanks for posting this. For those of you not understanding or not agreeming with my two decades of efforts against the distribution of adult entertainment to minors, please hold that thought and consider what is at stake HERE: Whether the state of Florida, through the Bar, can punish political speech about corrupted or incompetent judges.

The federal court in Fieger v. Michigan Supreme Court says NO. The Florida Bar refuses to endure that analysis which the US Supreme Court also made in Keller v. State Bar of California that state bars must not engage in this kind of thought control.

Mayor Koch often said "A conservative is a liberal mugged by reality." I like to say that "A civil libertarian is a conservative who has been indicted."

I have exposed a corrupt judge in Alabama who denied a black teen a fair trial in a murder case there. I was on 60 Minutes about it, and the judge decided to "get" me after that.

I also exposed Miami-Dade's thuggish judge, Ron Friedman, with the Third DCA nailing him recently for doing the same thing in another case that he did to me. In fact, Friedman threatened me with a bar complaint that he NEVER filed, thereby exposing himself for an abuse (threatening lawyers) that we saw Aleman engage in.

If you all think there is not a problem here with government regulating political speech, then just wait until them come for you.

Justice Douglas was right, and I intend to deconstruct The Bar if they don't figure this out in time to avoid what is going to come their way.

The Bar Governors recently actually generated a brochure that depicted them all on the cover as "The Guardians of Democracy." Can you imagine that?

Fellow Florida lawyers, this is about your rights, not just mine. Wake up. This is serious stuff.

Jack Thompson

Operation Restore Sanity said...

We are accepting donations to be able to bring you the next installment of the Darin McGillis - Jack Thompson Deranged Dance. There is talk of an appearance on Dancing with the Stars. This thing could be HUGE.
If you still haven't seen the video, you really owe it yourself: http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1358194239

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, this guy will be gone someday (no, jack off, that's not a threat just a fact) but it's scary to think that sitting in a law school classroom out there somewhere, sits the next jack thompson. Where do they come from?

Anonymous said...

RUMPOLE: If you truly are the experienced criminal defense attorney you purport to be then you should have realized long ago that Thompson is like the client who receives a very good or great plea offer, like 7 years in an attempted murder case with a confession, turns it down , goes to trial , and then appeals, loses, files a rule 3, loses, and then bitches that his lawyer sucked. This guy subconsciously WANTS to get his license yanked at the end of his career so he can think of himself as a martyr, unique, and before he dies knows that he was SO important and relevant that the powers that be had to crucify him because he was such a threat to the status quo. This guy wants attention and to be persecuted. By publishing all these posts about him and his rantings you just feed his ego and give him a pulpit for his dementia. His rantings have gotten so tired, please stop posting this shit.

Anonymous said...

John B. Thompson, Attorney at Law
1172 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 111
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
305-666-4366
amendmentone@comcast.net

December 17, 2007

Judicial Qualifications Commission
1110 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, FL 32303

Re: Formal Sworn Complaint against Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman

Dear JQC:

Here is my formal sworn complaint against Eleventh Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman. What he has demonstrably done to abuse his office eclipses, in my opinion, what even Broward Judge Cheryl Aleman is accused of doing. As you know, the JQC recently tried her for her misconduct.

Judge Friedman in the fall of 2006 announced what his ruling would be in a case before we even had a hearing on the matter. He then violated his own order granting me a hearing and refused to convene it. Because of his misconduct in this regard, I moved to recuse Judge Friedman.

When I moved to recuse him from the case because of this and other misconduct, Judge Friedman announced he was going to bring a Bar complaint against me for acting “unprofessionally.” He then recused himself because he said he could not bring a Bar complaint and continue to preside in the case.

Now we have learned that Friedman’s threat of a Bar complaint to get himself out of harm’s way for his own misconduct was a ruse resting upon a lie. How so? We recently found out at my Bar disciplinary trial that Friedman never filed a Bar complaint. He got The Bar to do so. This is akin to Judge Aleman’s use of threats of contempt to cover her own tracks.

Finally, corroboration of the factual basis of my concerns about Friedman’s misconduct last year is the FACT that the Third District Court of Appeal recently reversed Judge Friedman for doing to another litigant in another case exactly what he did to me. Friedman announced how he was going to rule in a case before the trial, and when the party against whom he said he would rule appropriately moved for recusal, Friedman refused. The Third DCA told him to knock it off and reversed.

This is a Judge who labors under the reputation in our Circuit of engaging in this type of arrogant, reckless, and extortionate conduct, and it is high time that the JQC doing something about it, starting now.

I SOLEMNLY AFFIRM UNDER OATH, AND UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY, THAT THE FOREGOING FACTS ARE TRUE, CORRECT, AND COMPLETE, SO HELP ME GOD.

Signed, John B. Thompson, December 17, 2007

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Thompson,

I am pleased to hear that your wife is dong so well. However it is a bit unseemly of you to begin your letter with such personal information about your wife’s health problems. It is obvious you are using her illness to garner sympathy for yourself.

Speech can be banned when it is directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action. When one makes unwarranted accusations and assails the system as you have, you bring into question respect for the court’s authority. That is all the court’s have is the respect of the people and our institutions in that authority, thus you promote defiance of that authority and promote lawlessness. When you were sworn in as an officer of the court you swore to uphold the dignity of the court.

You have on numerous occasions and in innumerable ways violated that oath. In other words(President Bush's favorite phrase) to yell that free speech is somehow in jeopardy because you suffer from diarrhea of the mouth is a little overboard. The same goes for those who attack a judge or the system solely to discredit that person or the system for one's own gain. (FIRE in a crowded theater!)

You are not a martyr and don’t try to make yourself into one. What comes to mind is the phrase “there are no atheists in foxholes.” You now want the aid and assistance of the ACLU, an organization you have assailed and publicly claimed is unpatriotic. Now that you have nowhere else to turn, like the condemned on Death Row, you have found religion.

When you are disbarred for all of your conduct, you can become a paralegal or clerk at the ACLU helping them defend the First Amendment rights of those you so despise: the poor, Jews, Muslims, Gays, Blacks, Latins and women.

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of Jack, but he is right on this one. I actually thought his letter was quite good and important.

Anonymous said...

On to more important stuff, Rump. Are you going to be at the FACDL's luncheon at the PD's office tommorrow afternoon?

Rumpole said...

There is one and only one way to stay anonymous: keep the secret to yourself. I have revealed my identity to no one. And I mean no one. Human nature being what it is, as soon as two people know, one can always flip.

Anonymous said...

the issue with the stuck on the palmetto blog shutdown is verrrrrry interesting. He shut it down because someone found out he was a cop and he had made an anti-gay remark on the blog.

Too bad, great blog

Anonymous said...

Rump, not even your wife Jackie knows your identity?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.......Rumpole has welcomed whack-job Hack Thompson into this blog way too many times for it to be coincidental.

I've never seen Hack Thompson and Rumpole together at the same time.

It must be....RUMPOLE IS REALLY HACK THOMPSON (when he is taking his meds and can put togther coherent and intelligent thoughts and good football picks).

Rumpole said...

I am not Jack Thompson.

I have never admitted to my marital status, or lack thereof. While I do not for certain know the "Jackie" you make reference to, I have a feeling who you mean, and it is bad enough the individual in question has been wrongly accused so many times, perhaps you could leave his signifcant others out of this?

non-lawyer observer said...

Even if Thompson is disbarred, it will have no impact on his ability to bring suits pro se. He won't have paying clients, but it's not clear to me that he needs them to continue his crusade.

Let the Bar Complaints Begin!!!! said...

Publishing that letter to the JQC is grounds for a bar complaint against Jack Thomson.

Mr. JT let me bring you up to speed on how this works. JQC complaints are confidential and you as a lawyer cannot disclose them. Better yet disclosing a JQC complaint to discredit a Judge weather the facts true or not is grounds for a Bar Complaint.

In fact I will be filing one against you immediately after typing this.

Happy Holidays and Peace on Earth.

Anonymous said...

Thompson is, no doubt, a right-wing moralism pushing gadfly, just the outlandish and outlying type easily targeted by those in power he makes uncomfortable. You know the old saw, they came for the gadflies, but I wasn't a gadfly so I didn't say anything. Then they came for the right-wingers, but I wasn't a right-winger, so I didn't say anything. The "integrity" of the poor 'powerless' bench is no greater than that of the unseemly electoral system from which it springs. The use of bar rules to intimidate into silence mouthy lawyers should frighten anyone who still holds respect for the First Amendment, political speech, and electoral democracy.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Thompson has found ACLU religion. Just like Ed Meese found 5th Amendment religion once he was indicted.

Rumpole said...

While I do not know enough about Mr. Thompson to agree with 4:07's description of him, the sentiments of not distinguishing between the TYPE of speech covered by the first amendment is such that we have give Mr. Thompson a platform of sorts to air his grievences. We would be quite the hypocrite if we only supported the free speech of individuals whose ideas we agreed with.

Rumpole said...

Speaking of Marriage, todays business of Pam Anderson filing for divorce and then withdrawing it, is getting me all worked up, apparently for nothing. Just when I think there's a glimmer of hope, she reconciles. I'm sure I could keep her happy and satisified in marital bliss for more than 73 days. I would at least like to try.

fake ted mastos said...

Hmm....err...(chomp chomp) harrumph. ahrum...err...hmmm (chomp chomp) well, hmmm...errr...haroush.

Anonymous said...

Please do bring the bar complaint. That will help make my point. By the way, Judge Friedman threatened me with a bar complaint and didn't bring it. What makes you think I filed mine against him. Turn about is fair play, yes?Jack Thompson

Anonymous said...

Trouble in paradise? All this talk about Shumie's dog has had the Pinecrest animal control officer out to check the pooch's tag. Seems he's a bit behind in his shots.

Anonymous said...

Rump, I think the following from the news on the web has about a dozen reasons contained within it for the divorce:

"Anderson and Salomon wed October 6 during a break between the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows of "Hans Klok's The Beauty of Magic" at Planet Hollywood resort, where Anderson was starring as a magician's assistant. The couple separated less than 10 weeks later, on December 13.

Salomon is best known for making a sex videotape with Paris Hilton, his girlfriend at the time, and was previously married to actress Shannen Doherty. Anderson was previously married to singer Kid Rock and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee."

Anonymous said...

One more thing on the JQC complaint pertaining to Friedman: Confidentiality limits the Commission, not the complainant. The same is true as to Bar complaints: the grievant can always tell the public about the complaint, but the Bar cannot, because of an analogous confidentiality restriction, cannot disclose the existence of the complaint until there is a probable cause finding. Learn the law on confidentiality, junior.

Jack Thompson

South Florida Lawyers said...

I used to enjoy it back in the day when Jack used to get in Neil Rogers' face, with predictable blow back from Uncle Neil.

Good times, good times.

Anonymous said...

As you can see, the complainant and tell the public about the JQC complaint:



Insurance Company Does Damage Control on GC's Remarks About Judges Being 'Paid Off'
United Automobile Insurance Co. rushes to disassociate itself from general counsel's statement about Florida judges
Forrest Norman
Daily Business Review
April 20, 2007

Printer-friendly Email this Article Reprints & Permissions

Facing a firestorm of criticism from the Miami-Dade, Fla., legal community, United Automobile Insurance Co. has scrambled to distance itself from its general counsel's comment this week that judges in Miami-Dade County Court "are being paid off."

The insurer took out a full-page ad in the Daily Business Review in its public relations effort.

But at the same time, the insurer's lawyers are aggressively trying to remove one Miami-Dade County Court judge from all its cases, claiming she's biased against the carrier. In a new court filing to recuse Judge Jacqueline Schwartz, North Miami Beach-based United said it filed a complaint against her with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Jack Thompson

fake alschuler said...

I think Shumie's dog should file a bar complaint against this blog.

Anonymous said...

Jack, can you send in any pleadings you've filed in the last 3 months in any matter than dont include name calling?

Rumpole said...

Mr. Thompson has emailed us the JQC complaint against Judge Ronald Friedman:

Judicial Qualifications Commission
1110 Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, FL 32303



Re: Formal Sworn Complaint against Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman



Dear JQC:



Here is my formal sworn complaint against Eleventh Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman. What he has demonstrably done to abuse his office eclipses, in my opinion, what even Broward Judge Cheryl Aleman is accused of doing. As you know, the JQC recently tried her for her misconduct.



Judge Friedman in the fall of 2006 announced what his ruling would be in a case before we even had a hearing on the matter. He then violated his own order granting me a hearing and refused to convene it. Because of his misconduct in this regard, I moved to recuse Judge Friedman.



When I moved to recuse him from the case because of this and other misconduct, Judge Friedman announced he was going to bring a Bar complaint against me for acting “unprofessionally.” He then recused himself because he said he could not bring a Bar complaint and continue to preside in the case.



Now we have learned that Friedman’s threat of a Bar complaint to get himself out of harm’s way for his own misconduct was a ruse resting upon a lie. How so? We recently found out at my Bar disciplinary trial that Friedman never filed a Bar complaint. He got The Bar to do so. This is akin to Judge Aleman’s use of threats of contempt to cover her own tracks.



Finally, corroboration of the factual basis of my concerns about Friedman’s misconduct last year is the FACT that the Third District Court of Appeal recently reversed Judge Friedman for doing to another litigant in another case exactly what he did to me. Friedman announced how he was going to rule in a case before the trial, and when the party against whom he said he would rule appropriately moved for recusal, Friedman refused. The Third DCA told him to knock it off and reversed.



This is a Judge who labors under the reputation in our Circuit of engaging in this type of arrogant, reckless, and extortionate conduct, and it is high time that the JQC doing something about it, starting now.



I SOLEMNLY AFFIRM UNDER OATH, AND UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY, THAT THE FOREGOING FACTS ARE TRUE, CORRECT, AND COMPLETE, SO HELP ME GOD.



Signed, John B. Thompson, December 17, 2007

Jack's Fact Checker said...

Jack, could you tell us the name of the case in which the Third DCA allegedly took Judge Friedman to task? Having reviewed every 2007 decision of the Third DCA involving an appeal of a ruling by Judge Friedman, not surprisingly, NONE OF THEM appear to fit your description. But we are fair-minded, so we are giving you a chance to prove you do know how to read and analyze.

Anonymous said...

JT why don't you put your money out in the public and run for office. County Court, Circuit Court.

You don't like the players in Court so go ahead and seek office.

Fake Shumie's dog after reading the JQC complaint said...

grrr JQC complaint. Grr arf arf Judge Friedman. Ruff ruff Jack Thomson. grrrrrr

Sisselman sez said...

Rump
The 1st Ad. was meant just for citizens like Jack Thompson. While I have almost always disagreed w/ him on everything , I agree w/his right to say it [ hats off to that french guy who said it first]Most people quote O.W. Holmes, fire in a crowed theatre as proof the 1st Ad. has limits , but Homes ALSO said you Do Not Have a Right NOT TO BE OFFENDED by others speech. The First Admendent must allow even the crackpots and gadflys to challenge the powers that be, not just the right-thinking people. Besides the crackpots may be correct, as JacK Thompson is here. Remember that Judges are a part of the government and their rulings are goverment actions . What Judges do, even if judicial, ARE public acts that can be commented on.Finally Judges are elected officials and any citizen can say anything about how shity they think a public official carries out their job.
D Sisselman

Anonymous said...

The big problem here is that judges can publish opinions slamming attorneys and we have no recourse. Alan Schwartz provides almost daily examples. Forget about the fact that the Bar can clear you; when your name appears in So. 2d courtesy of a Schwartz rant, it's no fun.

Anonymous said...

Let this question be decided in favor of the First Amendment.

Rumpole said...

Well said Mr. Sisselman. Our safety and rights are secured not by those in the comfortable middle, but by those on the edge of society, who challenge the beliefs that many of us hold dear. Our freedom depends on recognizing- NOT allowing- but recognizing that Mr. Thompson has the RIGHT to say what he says.

But shouldn't we as attorneys strive to avoid the ad hominem attacks like calling a Judge an evil witch? Aren't we taught and trained to think and respond in an analytical manner, so that the criticism is logically related to the acts? Otherwise we end up those wannabe lawyers who when confronted with a problem they cannot immediately handle, resort to name calling, because they are not intelligent enough to understand how to respond in a manner conducive to a rational argument.

That is why Mr. Conway's conduct has forced a difficult discussion of a problem without a clear solution.

Faux Fakey Fakerstein, Esq. said...

But Rump -- the question is whether you will actually give us YOUR OPINION on whether Mr. Conway's language crossed the line, or will you continue to tapdance on the head of a pin?

I for one believe his comments crossed the line of the rules we agreed to follow when we accepted our ticket to practice in Florida.

You can criticize decisions and policies and practices of judges. People do it all the time. Hell, there are hundreds of law review articles expressing criticisms of courts every year.

But does Conway's comments veer so much from a commentary on an arguably illegal and unconstitutional practice into the realm of improper conduct?

"Evil unfair witch" -- "seemingly mentally ill" -- I'm not for limiting speech to the mushy middle, but this crosses several lines (regardless of the accuracy of the statements -- I heard that Aleman once turned a lawyer into a newt, although he did get better"

Anonymous said...

Stop it Rumpole! Its not a "difficult" issue at all. Its quite straightforward. Suppressers always wish to make it seem so "complicated", hence the need for their "reasonable" restrictions.

Here, its purely a matter of CONTENT, outside a courtroom on your own time. Maybe what Mr. Conway said was juvenile or intemperate, but no branch or agency of government can head safely down that regulatory road.

FREE CONWAY AND CRAZY JACK!

Rumpole said...

FFF, Esq., I don't know how long you have been reading the blog, but you are indeed a careful reader. I have in fact danced around the subject, because I have not made up my mind.

Did Conway cross the line as it is currently drawn? You bet he did.
Did Aleman deserve it? Yes. With the exception of one Judge in Dade County, my view of her performance in court, from what I have seen, leads me to have a very low opinion of her abilities as a Judge. To say more, even couched in better language, might well violate the same rule we are discussing.

Should Conway be disciplined? I hope he is not. If he is, the discipline should not be severe. A private reprimand would suffice in my opinion.

Should the rule be abolished? I am just not sure. I would like lawyers to be more responsible in their critiques of Judges. However, my high minded view of the role lawyers should play will - along with 5 bucks- get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

It occurs to me that outside of the election process, lawyers' opinion of Judges are not solicited. I have been doing this long enough so that If I see a Judge do something really dumb- like I once saw a new Judge deny a lawyer a continuance for a pre-planned vacation during her child's school break time- I can speak with a more experienced judge or the chief judges, and politely let them know they need to do something. And I am proud to say we have Judges in Dade who will do that, if you approach them the right way.

But outside of the dopy bar poll, our thoughts and contructive criticism are not solicited. We should change that. There should be a forum that is open to complaints when a Judge like Aleman pulls the crap she did with speedy trials and trial dates.

Anonymous said...

I would concur with the sentiment that Friedman is, has been, and will always be somewhat of a thug. From my perspective, however, just another judicial temperament to adjust to. But difficult Judges are easy to find: Lando, Fierro, Ward, Butchko. This is our job, to learn how to deal. Nobody, however, is more "fun" or "challenging" than "Camacho" Adrien, our own little taste of George W.. Dim and darn' tootin' sure of it.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole,

It sounds as though you do not trust lawyers to watch their own words. There is some measure of responsibility that lawyers should take when criticizing a judge, but that requires this absurd bar rule? I don't believe anyone would support slander or libel of a judge. But to bar a lawyer -- someone who is in a unique position to observe -- from commenting on the acts, qualifications, ethics, behavior, temperament, and attitude is disgusting to me.

I cherish the First Amendment. Making the judiciary exempt from its application belittles us as lawyers, sworn to uphold the constitutions of our state and country. If the public only knew of what some judges do, maybe they wouldn't vote blindly at the polls so often.

I am honestly surprised, Rumpole, that you have not taken the position that "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Rumpole said...

I have taken that position. That is why Mr. Thompson can post his pleadings and letters about the fight he is involved in.

But just look at the blog for a second. I have moderation because if I didn't, there would be a constant stream of comments calling Judges whores, saying who they slept with (true or not) making untrue allegations about them. The same goes for fellow lawyers. People would and have tried to post that so and so uses drugs. Well, if I allowed that, it would turn up in a Google search of the lawyer's name, and that would not be fair would it?

So, if we agree there are limits to speech, the question is where? I am not comfortable with the regulation that now exists, and I am not comfortable with unfettered speech allowing any sort of nasty mean and untrue comment.

Anonymous said...

I'm in New Mexico and don't have the cite to the case with me in which Judge Friedman was upbraided by the Third District for announcing his decision before the trial and then refusing to recuse himself. It was reported at the Florida Bar site. That's exactly what he did in my case.

I asked J. Friedman about it when he was on the stand the other day in Judge Tunis' courtroom at my Bar trial. He didn't seem to enjoy the inquiry.

As to whether I am "crazy," as this assertion is repeatedly made here: The Bar tried that once, and had to pay me damages for the joy of being the only officially Bar-certified sane lawyer in Florida. I would appreciate it, then, if the assertions of mental illness would stop.

Howard Stern called me a "lunatic lawyer" and then I nailed his skinny butt at the FCC. What does that say about his lawyers' mental acumen?

Finally, what we have here is the question of whether judges, unlike those who inhabit the other two branches of government, are to be "above" criticism. It is hilarious that some of the very Bar officials who seek to disbar me permanently for my truthful criticism of an Alabama judge and Ron Friedman's actions here have been on the national stage railing against George Bush. They have every right to, but why should someone in the third branch of government be immune to truth-based criticism, hmmm, while lawyers can lampoon those in the other two branches? It is silly. Federal Judge Tarnow in Michigan says so.

If you think this isn't going to get worse for all of us if someone doesn't take a stand, then read this frightening nonsense coming out of Justice Cantero and others in the current Florida Bar News. Just wait. The Bar will be subpoenaing this site to get all of your names:

December 15, 2007

Professionalism’s new focus: Change lawyers’ bad behavior
By Jan Pudlow
Senior Editor
A lawyer refused to accept a check for satisfaction of judgment from another lawyer because it was 23 cents short — even after the lawyer reached into his pocket for a quarter to settle up.

During a trial, a lawyer angrily talked back to the judge, referring to him as “Judge Glare.”

In a deposition, a lawyer claimed she couldn’t find a relevant document in her briefcase, even though it was there among her papers.

All three Florida lawyers were suspended from practicing law—a harsher consequence than in the past, Justice Raoul Cantero said. He brought those examples of recent Florida Supreme Court opinions to the Fall Retreat of the Commission on Professionalism and Standing Committee on Professionalism meeting November 30 in Tallahassee.

It was a clarion call that change is afoot in efforts to instill professionalism in Florida’s lawyers — not only at the high court, but at The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism and the mission of the commission. Justices are “finding unethical behavior that maybe 10 years ago wouldn’t have been prosecuted or maybe wouldn’t have been considered unethical,” said Cantero, chair of the commission.

“All of these things I think are offensive that previously would not have been suspendable conduct — and now are.

“Now the onus is on you and other members of the Bar to advertise decisions like that so lawyers know this is no longer aspirational. This is something we expect from lawyers, and when they don’t meet those standards, we are going to suspend them. We are not just going to admonish them anymore. We need to be aware of those decisions and make others aware of those decisions. Because if they don’t know about them, they can’t change their behavior accordingly.”

How best to change lawyers’ offensive behavior — not just talk about it — was the challenge discussed at the professionalism retreat. After much debate about carefully wording a motion by First District Court of Appeal Judge William VanNortwick, the commission’s vote was unanimous to:

• Approve a change of focus for the Bar’s professionalism center and seminars — away from preaching to the choir and giving feel-good awards and toward getting to the causes of bad behavior so that change can actually occur to correct the bad behavior.

• Embrace new goals that will bring the greatest impact on improving unprofessional behavior — at law schools, bench, and Bar, implementing goals decided at the 2006-07 retreats.

• While not adopting a specific program, the Bar’s professionalism center was authorized to seek a $125,000 planning grant from The Florida Bar Foundation, using information and justification detailed in a blueprint for change called “The Way Ahead.” (see sidebar, page 7)

“We want this commission to be not a commission that talks a lot, but accomplishes a lot,” Cantero said. “The general feeling is that in order to do that we really need to see where we are, and we need to go in a different direction.”

Eleven years after the commission was established, Cantero asked: “Have we accomplished enough? Are we satisfied? Or do we think we really need to put it into the next gear? Or even get a different car and really start going at a faster speed if we want to change the legal profession. I think that is what we are talking about now.”

Toward that end, at the Spring Retreat 2007, the commission established a blue-ribbon committee — comprised of a former ABA president, former Bar president, former Supreme Court justices, and other Bar leaders and experienced lawyers — to study whether every newly admitted attorney in Florida should be required to be mentored for the first year of practice.

Michael Josephs, a Miami lawyer chairing the Joint Committee on Mentoring that met for the first time September 7, said about eight years ago when he and former Board of Governors member Ross Goodman first proposed mandatory mentoring, “I don’t think we finished the first sentence of our presentation and we were blown out of the room. There is good news and there is bad news in the fact that we are talking about it again today.

“The bad news, first, is we still need significant change with the way we deal with young lawyers coming into the profession. The good news is that we are doing it.”

He added the “one tiny component” he forgot eight years ago was that proof was needed. And that’s what his committee is working on now, doing the research.

“This program can’t be everything for everybody. I think where we are on the committee is focusing on those who need it most, and those who need it most are probably the young lawyers going out to practice by themselves. Probably the early focus of the program has to reach those people because they are the ones most at risk. They don’t have someone to turn to. We can give them that opportunity. They need to have that opportunity, because if you read all the studies, there is a tremendous failing in what is going on right now,” Josephs said.

“If you think about it, more care is taken in the grooming of a quarterback of a professional football team than we take in putting a law student out in the practice of law. We never turn a rookie loose in the middle of a game — unless tragedy strikes the team — and all it is is a game. What lawyers deal with on a day-to-day basis are life-changing events. I think we owe more to those young lawyers than we are giving them.”

Josephs said mentoring is not the sole answer to the problem, but “a piece of the armor that we need.” He said the committee will present final conclusions of their research at the Spring Retreat on March 10 and 11.

John Berry, director of the Bar’s Legal Division, summarized the November 29 discussions of the first day of the Fall Retreat: “No. 1, there was almost unanimous feeling that a change of direction is needed. We had a great start with seminars and awards and gathering the choir together. We’ve been doing that for 10 years. But quite frankly, I think it’s almost judicial notice that our profession still is in deep trouble with regard to professionalism.

“Polls show that. Not only from the public, but every poll we do as lawyers. We haven’t made the progress we have wanted to make. The change of direction needs to be a new focus to change behavior. We are talking about actually changing human behavior. Not just educating them. Not just knowing what you are supposed to do, but actually getting it done.”

Some in the group thought that goal sounded too abstract.

Carl Zahner, director of the Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, said: “You have to find the behavior you want to get rid of. . . . What you can measure are the results of those behaviors. Look at the data on lawyers. They are incredibly depressed. They are clinically depressed at enormous rates. They kill themselves at twice the rate of the rest of the population.

“Not every lawyer does jerky-type things. They have their own unique way of causing trouble. They all result in depression, a sense of lack of control, and outbursts that come in interpersonal relations they have with other lawyers.”

Irwin Gilbert, a litigator in Palm Beach Gardens who serves on a grievance committee, said, “Civility, as a personality trait, cannot be imposed by any panel or any judge — but there are consequences for not acting in accordance with standards that are set.

“Raise the bar, insist on more, and there should be consequences. This is the radical suggestion I am going to make today: Judges should be allowed to remove counsel and require their clients to hire new lawyers if the conduct of that lawyer is prejudicial to the administration of justice,” Gilbert said.

“If you want to fight sin, you need to walk among the sinners. The truth is, I am far, far, far from perfect. You need to drag by the collar some of the worst actors. We know them. We deal with them. We should be dragging them into this committee. Maybe an intervention. The point is, we need to find out from them why they behave like they do. We need to find out from them what it’s going to take to stop them.”

Justice Cantero got a big laugh when he retorted: “That would make for an interesting retreat.”

Anonymous said...

I am rather dismayed by the utter lack of understanding of people calling themselves lawyers of the First Amendment. It does not protect the distribution of adult entertainment material to children. I have built a public career on that notion, and I have been successful, not because of me but because that is the law.

The very people here who call me at this blog crazy and so forth are the ones who never did learn, for example, that sexual material harmful to minors cannot be legally sold to kids. Period. Similarly the Supreme Court in FCC v. Pacifica held constitutional criminal prohibitions against the broadcast of indecent material from 6 am 10 pm. I have prevailed on that point repeatedly.

But many of the same constitutional illiterates who defend here and elsewhere the distribution of this material to kids "under the First Amendment" state that Conway and I have no First Amendment right to criticize judges. This is pure political speech, guys, and it is what the First Amendment actually does protect. How do you not know that?

Geoffrey Fieger called the Supreme Court in Michigan on the take, monkeys, and Nazis. Tarnow, the federal judge,correctly noted that is First Amendment speech.

The Bar, in the current issue of the Florida Bar News makes it REALLY clear that what they want is reprogramming of uppity lawyers who will be critical of judges. This is Orwellian. It is unconstitutional. And you're next. Wake up.

Jack Thompson

Anonymous said...

Judges are whores. They shamelessly promote themselves so that they gain power, in these cases, to silence others. They pander to those who practice in front of them to get them to give money for their campaign coffers. Sure, while we may not get the benefit of the big 'O' for our money, we are getting screwed.

A non-lawyer bystander said...

First off, why are we comparing Conway and Thompson? One made a single, overly colorful comment about a highly controversial judge currently under investigation.

The other has a history of attacking the first amendment and now, cornered, is spewing venomous statements at all who find him thugish. When confronted by his own venom, he hides behind the very amendment he apparently seeks to weaken and would compare his plight with that of Conway.

Anonymous said...

Are we all so challenged for important conversation that Jack Thompson has taken over the blog. I can not believe we are wasting our time on this loser and provocateur. He is a blight on our profession and should be lanced like a painful boil.

A non-lawyer said...

Jack:

What right does the Bar have to subpoena the records of a non-lawyer?

Anonymous said...

2:32

In a Bar trial the referee and the parties have the subpoena powers granted in any other court or administrative trial. The subpeonas must be issued through the referee appointed by the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

Trivia question:

What were the seven dirty words in the Pacifica case?

fake george carlin said...

shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker annnnnnd....tits.

Faux 7 Dirty Words said...

The 7 Dirty Words were:

SH*T
P*SS
F*CK
C*NT
COCKS*CKER
MOTHERF*CKER
T*TS

As George Carlin once commented -- "I don't even understand why T*TS" was even one of the words. It's such a friendly word. It sounds like the name of a snack....Hey, it is a snack.

Anonymous said...

6:39:

You miss my point.

The Bar has no jurisdiction to regulate the speech of those who are not members of the Florida Bar. Since the vast majority of commentary on this board is anonymous, how is the bar going to establish jurisdiction? Even with an IP address, the hurdles to acquiring jurisdiction are all but insurmountable for anonymous comments.

Anonymous said...

John B. Thompson, Attorney at Law
1172 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 111
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
305-666-4366
amendmentone@comcast.net

December 19, 2007

Kenneth Marvin
The Florida Bar
651 East Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399 Via Fax to 850-561-5827 and Via e-mail to kmarvin@flabar.org

Re: “Judges Are Whores”

Dear Mr. Marvin:

I see that The Florida Bar is seeking to discipline Broward attorney Sean Conway for his colorful comments about Judge Aleman that the JQC trial of her corroborates.

I should like to alert you to the fact that at the Justice Building Blog, favored by your Barnaby Min to libel me during my Bar trial, someone who is most likely a lawyer posted the following yesterday morning at https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=19039943&postID=3988888944526544574:

Anonymous said...
Judges are whores. They shamelessly promote themselves so that they gain power, in these cases, to silence others. They pander to those who practice in front of them to get them to give money for their campaign coffers. Sure, while we may not get the benefit of the big 'O' for our money, we are getting screwed.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007 9:38:00 AM
The above is just one of the many comments about judges at this blog.

Mr. Marvin, if you’re going after one lawyer for First Amendment speech, you have to go after them all. I suggest you ascertain who is running the Justice Building Blog. If he is a lawyer, then The Bar has to go after him under Rule 4-8.4 (a) which prohibits any lawyer from collaborating with anyone, whether a lawyer or not, to violate Bar rules.

While you’re at it, Mr.Marvin, please take a look at the Broward blog at http://jaablog.jaablaw.com/, at which Mr. Conway posted. Mr. William Gelin whose Bar directory phone number is 954-605-6413 is a lawyer who runs this blog. Surely if you are going to go after Mr. Conway, you have to go after Mr. Gelin as well under Rule 4-8.4 (a) for conspiring with Mr. Conway, and all the other lawyers, who posted negative things about particular judges.

To find out who the posters are, and to then proceed against all of the ones who are lawyers, all you have to do is secure a subpoena, serve it on Mr. Gelin, eand Mr. Gelin will have to surrender any of their identities that he has. See numerous recent court rulings on the inability of those who run blogs who hide the identities of posters.

Remember, Mr. Marvin, if you prosecute one critic of judges, then you must prosecute all, as well as those lawyers who run the blogs at which the criticisms are posted..

It is a selective prosecution/equal protection problem for The Bar otherwise.

Good luck hunting down these “enemies of the core values of the Bar, as Bar Governor Steve Chaykin would say.

Regards, Jack Thompson

Anonymous said...

John B. Thompson, Attorney at Law
1172 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 111
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
305-666-4366
amendmentone@comcast.net

December 19, 2007

The Honorable Raoul Cantero
Justice, Florida Supreme Court
500 South Duval Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Re: Professionalism, Courtesy, and the First Amendment

Dear Justice Cantero:

I and others have read with interest your comments in the current issue of the Florida Bar News stemming from your chairing of the November 30 Fall Retreat of the Commission on Professionalism and Standing Committee on Professionalism. Since I am someone whom The Bar is seeking to disbar permanently because I allegedly lack courtesy and also lack sufficient respect for two judges, I should like to respond to your concerns at http://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNNews01.nsf/8c9f13012b96736985256aa900624829/d8d5bb5b620b2bbc852573a90065d3eb?OpenDocument.

If you will review the Preamble to Section Four of our Bar Rules, you will find that The Bar admits lawyers are not just lawyers. We are also, variously, people of faith, social activists, and citizens. The Preamble notes that sometimes matters of “conscience” and “personal honor” trump our narrow roles and duties as lawyers.

For example, The Bar seeks my permanent disbarment because I exposed, with the truth, two misbehaving judges, one in Alabama and another in Florida. I also identified and wrote about unethical, dishonest behavior by lawyers in a Pennsylvania firm and others in a Florida firm. I was not “courteous,” according to The Bar, in doing so. But these lawyers, in their lies, were worse than discourteous. They actually committed criminal acts. Most Americans clearly would put honesty ahead of Miss Manners courtesy.

There’s another consideration here, Justice Cantero. It’s a little thing called the First Amendment. Federal Judge Arthur Tarnow recently held in Fieger v. Michigan Supreme Court at http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/06a0469p-06.pdf that the Bill of Rights trumps Bar “courtesy codes.” You may feel otherwise and wish otherwise, but we’ve got more than 200 years of case authority saying otherwise. Article I, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution says otherwise as well.

In fact, Justice Douglas in Lathrop v. Dohohue predicted that integrated state bars would eventually become “goose-stepping brigades” if Bar leaders’ ideologies were allowed to infect what are supposed to be professional organizations formed to protect the public rather than to serve as the speech and thought police to protect thin-skinned lawyers.

It is shocking, frankly, that our Bar’s John Berry, who is quoted in the above article, served on the ABA’s landmark McKay Commission. The McKay Report warns, sternly, that any state bar’s discipline must be completely separated from a bar’s governing leadership, otherwise Justice Douglas “goose-stepping brigades” will be upon us. How is it, do you think, that Mr. Berry, who signed off on the McKay Report, then went from Florida to Michigan and oversaw that bar’s attempt to muzzle, unsuccessfully, Geoffrey Fieger? More importantly, how is it that The Florida Bar is ignoring not only the Fieger decision but also the McKay Report, not to mention the First Amendment?

You state at the end of your reported comments in the above-noted article that dragging to one of your retreats some of the “discourteous lawyers” “would make for an interesting retreat.” Indeed it would. I volunteer. I should like your colleagues who think they can dictate whistleblowing manners to see what such a scoundrel as I looks and talks like. Please let me know when the next retreat is, and I shall pay my own way so that you all can put me under the manners microscope.

Finally, I note that a couple of years back The Florida Bar leaders put on the annual meeting’s brochure cover the portraits of a number of Bar officials, and your portrait as well. All of you were labeled thereon the “Guardians of Democracy.” If that was not a joke, then please note that the Founders understood that government is the great enemy of liberty, not its guarantor. When government thinks and acts as if it is the enforcer of manners and/or the imposer of democracy, then we’re in big trouble. Our Constitution limits government for that very reason. The Founders would have laughed out loud at the notion that judges are not be criticized but officers within the executive and legislative branches should be.

I commend to William Safire’s excellent novel Scandalmonger about the rough and tumble speech among the Federalists and Republicans for some historical perspective on what you propose, dangerously, to do.

In the meantime, where and when do I show up?

Regards, Jack Thompson

Anonymous said...

Jack:

Thank you for posting the link to Fieger. It is inapposite. It contains a fact pattern wholly unlike anything you face and, legally, turns primarily on Michigan, not Federal law. I hope you're holding another ace.

Anonymous said...

Hooah!

http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/news.html?news_id=46295

Jack Thompson

www.rescuejustice.com (Coming soon)

Anonymous said...

Incorrect. You apparently are unfamiliar with The Bar's complaint filed against me. I happen to be. The Fieger ruling has absolutely everything to do with what The Bar can and cannot do. I hope you're holding another de-acing.

Jack Thompson

http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/news.html?news_id=46295

Anonymous said...

Speaking of freedom of speech issues, Norm Kent's effort today before Broward Circuit Court Chief Judge Victor Tobin to have me held in contempt of court utterly failed, as Judge Tobin dismissed the action.

Similarly, Mr. Kent's Florida Bar complaint against me was dismissed as well.

The Real First Amendent - 2,
Florida Bar/Norm Kent - 0

Jack Thompson, Attorney

Anonymous said...

In another brilliant move to save his law license (for what purpose, I have no idea), Jack Thompson attacks Justice Cantero for having chaired a committee on professionalism. Yes, Jack, carry the charge for all lawyers acting unprofessionally. You are the poster boy. There is no lawyer in the State of Florida who is less professional than you are.

By all means, keep your license. Perhaps you can then chair a committee promoting unprofessionalism among lawyers. I doubt Justice Cantero will be a speaker, however.