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, December 27, 2007

THREE MEMOS

Three memos all alike in indignity, in fair Miami where we lay our scene.
From prosecutorial grudge breaks to new mutiny
Where prosecutors fired makes supervisors hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these supervisors
A trio of star crossed prosecutors are fired
Whose misadvenutred piteous acts
Doth with their firing do create Fernandez-Rundle’s strife.


With a tip of the hat to our favourite tragedy from our favourite Bard, we set out to examine three memos that constituted the SAO Christmas Eve Massacre.

Memo 1: Herbert Walker III’s resignation email:

“It is with great sadness that I regret to inform you of my recent decision and to resign from the office. … may you continue to prosper and excel and “fight the good fight” and “wage the good warfare” against crime in our community…the struggle for good and against evil is a reward that surpasses any mere monetary quantification."

Query: who in the name of the lord gave this man an ounce of power? Nowhere in his resignation email is there any hint of a mention of seeking justice. He was on a crusade- all were guilty, the other side was "evil", and he was the tip of the sword in “warfare”. This man would not have made it past the first round of interviews when Janet Reno was the State Attorney. And not only was he given the power to decide to seek a prison sentence, he was supervising other people? This is astounding and it boggles the mind that the State Attorneys Office could sit quietly on the side while he engaged in his "warfare" against defendants.

Memo Two
: Don Horn fires Antonio H. Jimenez (or…how to cover your tracks in six easy steps).


This memo requires some careful reading: Horn meets with Jimenez and writes Jimenez lied to him about receiving approval from the assistant chief of the career criminal/robbery unit to plead a case below the guidelines. Horn writes that Jimenez conceded to him that he misrepresented the facts to him and to the assistant chief. Then Horn writes: “Mr. Jimenez’s explanation for the below guidelines plea was that he had, in fact, obtained approval for the plea from the assistant chief of career criminal.”

Lets stop right there: Horn writes that Jimenez admitted to him that he lied. Then Horn writes that Jimenez defended his actions by saying he had approval, which Horn says in the memo, is a lie. Something just doesn’t sit right with that explanation. Either Jimenez admitted to lying or he defended his actions and Horn believes he lied. You cannot have it both ways (unless you are a City of Miami Police officer taking a confession and the tape recorder conveniently fails.)

Now it really gets strange. Horn writes: Finally, after our meeting, Mr. Jimenez represented to certain of his co-workers that he was terminated due to the Assistant Chief Of Career Criminal/Robbery division misrepresenting facts to me-which is a lie. Accordingly, because Mr. Jimenez…made representations to one of his superiors and co-workers… his employment was immediately terminated.”

Let us translate: Jimenez was fired because he lied to Horn, and then told his co-workers he was fired because an assistant chief lied- and because Jimenez lied to his co-workers about why he was fired- Horn... .uhh..fired him. Again. Because in the State Attorneys Office, it is an offense punishable by firing to lie about why you were fired. Get it?

That’s the logic of a Soviet Commissar protecting his own inadequate communist butt. Something really stinks about this.

The State Attorneys Spokesperson was quoted in the Herald as stating the Office had not yet decided whether to file bar charges against Jimenez. Herbert Walker is allegedly accused of sexual harassment, and he resigns without a peep. But lie about why you were fired (which gets you fired) and they want to disbar you?

Someone please wake us from this nightmare, because we are getting a headache. These are just not believable actions and statements from individuals who are supposed to hold the power of seeking the death penalty.

Memo Three: The Mills Francis Massacre.

Don Horn fires, get this, an INTERN, while the prosecutors in the division are suspended. Why? Because, as Horn writes:

"Mr. Zuniga’s failure to provide complete information, his failure to inform any superior regarding the Court’s intended actions, and his failure in being forthright and clear about what occurred in court is intolerable."

If being “forthright and clear” is a prerequisite to being a prosecutor, and having just read two of his memos, umm…perhaps it’s time for Mr. Horn to go back to private practice.

But more troubling is the firing of an intern- an intern- for failing to inform his supervisors regarding the court’s intended actions. Just where in the world were these supervisors? Were they all in meetings devising circular strategies to fire people? Was this young man fired because his supervisors were shocked! Shocked ! to find out what Judge Mills-Francis was doing? (We are citing here to the scene in Casablanca where the prefect shuts down Rick’s casino because he is :"shocked, shocked to find there is gambling here” just as an employee hands him his roulette winnings.)

You want to can this kid, then can him. But don’t blame him for not telling people who have the responsibility to monitor this kid to begin with. As we have stated before, it is a violation of the rules of professional responsibility for lawyers to not adequately monitor interns, especially interns who are in court acting on behalf of the people of the State of Florida.

This is day two of the State Attorneys Office’s invocation of their right to remain silent and not explain why Herbert Walker III, resigned with “great sadness.”

The people want to know- what did he do? What was he accused of? What did the State Attorney know, and when did she know it?

As to Jimenez and The Intern, you use your own judgment. Are you satisfied with what happened here, and with Horn’s memos explaining the incidents?

We are not.

See You in court, where at least when we say something, we mean it.

PS: This is our 801st post. Something tells us some people would have prefered we call it a career at 800.



44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never thought I would say this, but I cannot wait for Jack Whatshisname to post another pleading. The horse is dead, please stop beating it! Move on.

Not Billy Yeats said...

Don't forget that the Florida Bar recently changed from a "be honest" type code to a "snitch on others" system.

It is "unethical" for a bar member not to report "unethical" conduct. So, the King's lawyer is herself unethical if she does not report the unethical underling.

Of course, the rule cannot be applied to Roman Catholic Bar Members of at least 1/8 Irish blood. We don't grass.

Rumpole said...

I don't post comments about people'children, even if they have been arrested. Period.

Anonymous said...

Rump.......I understand your consternation. Don should have been more clear. However, he is an honest guy and an unclear memo doesn't change that.

Having worked for Don years ago, I can tell you that he'll tolerate a lot........but prosecute someone who you don't believe is guilty (which did not happen here) or tell a lie (which he believes did) and you are gone. He's always been that way. If you screw up and admit it, he'll give you another shot. But if you lie, even if it's a small one, you're history. Janet was the same way, as you know.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing Rump.......if you were the SAO's lawyer (or represented any employer who fired a group of people), would you advise them to disclose everything? Of course not. You'd tell them the same thing you tell all of your clients. Keep your mouth shut.

My biggest concern with this whole mess is that the SAO talked TOO MUCH. These kids have suffered enough. There was no reason to embarass them further (of course, the idiots who gleefully ran to the Herald and intentionally lit this fire bear some responsibility).

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you........it's a damn shame that so many of you are so angry and that you're taking so much pleasure in this. These people (the folks on BOTH sides of the issue) have lives. They have friends and family. Publicly blasting them like this is totally unnecessary. You have no idea the pain you're causing. I know some of these folks and can assure you that you're hurting them.

PS---KFR IS a public servant. But, she's still a human being. Most of these attacks are not good natured. They're unnecessarily brutal and personal. And, given their proximal timing to her mother's death, reprehensible. Ya'll should be ashamed of yourselves.

PSw---I don't mean to sound sanctimonious. I got here after much reflection. I humbly apologize to those I've hammered before, notably Abe. Abe, you deserved better. You're a long time public servant who has done a lot of good. We have our differences, but you didn't deserve to be personally attacked publicly (I'll save future comments for when I see you next ;-)

Anonymous said...

You analogize this to Romeo + Juliet?

More like Macbeth. Except everyone gets to play Lady Macbeth.

Or maybe Othello - with all of the Chief ASAs vying to audition as Iago.

Anonymous said...

Since when does anyone care if a secretary leaves the SAO - for any reason? Why is that in the Herald?

Will someone please run against KFR and freakin clean house in that place? Please? (and not Al Milian).

Young Attorney said...

So the former Sex Batt director, used to be high on drugs every day, was pulled over for driving while impaired in Pinecrest, and still works for the office to this day?

Thanks for the history lesson, that was very informative. Makes the current situation look like small potatoes.

Only in Miami...

Anonymous said...

What's funny about the current ASA situation, is that, a few years ago, ASA's were running out of their jobs so fast, that the SAO couldn't afford to be as mean spirited as they are currently.

With the amount of ASA's who dropped paper all the time, with the exception of the sexual harassment situation, all of the other reasons for the firings wouldn't have usually been enough for them to want to can ASA's many times.

But in recent years, the SAO has been hiring larger and larger new incoming classes of new ASA's. And the ASA's have not been flying out of there as quickly as they used to.

Result: an excess of ASA's and slowing of office movement.

So what does that mean? That the office can afford to can whoever because ASA's are more expendible now. There are lots of warm bodies just dying to move up and replace each vacancy.

People are being pushed out all the time, but usually are being given the "forced to resign" option and its never usually been so public. Its a sign of the times.

Anonymous said...

Some of us PD's are just LOVIN' this shit!!!

The Weiss Man said...

hey old friends...the weiss man here, leon weiss in detroit, former asst. PD from '76/'80. I recall similar intrigue in SAO back in my day...one asst' took so much heat about plea offer my client accepted, he lied in open court out of fear for his job...that's where he lost me...I got court to enforce deal and told APA to meet me in parking lot...he never did. remember young lawyers...you only have ONE reputation...guard it jealously. hello to all my old pals! I used to give Weiss Man Awards at PD dinner mtgs...heard they were now sanitized affairs...too bad! love
the Weiss Man

CAPTAIN said...

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

For those of you that have been asking why it was that Terry Chavez, mental health extraordinare, was the one that issued the comments to the press:

Terry is one of the two PIO's at the SAO:

Ed Griffith
Public Information Officer
Office: 305-547-0535

Terry Chavez
Public Information Officer for Hispanic Media Relations
Office: 305-547-0535

I am guessing that Ed Griffith was probably on vacation somewhere - and therefore, the responsibility fell to Terry's to provide the statement to the press.

CAPTAIN OUT .......

Anonymous said...

Anyone who would defend Don Horn does not know anything about how he really operates.

Anonymous said...

The passing of KFR's mother is surely a sad, sad event to her and her family. It is surely an unfortunate coincidence that the intrigue at the SAO's office happened concurrently. So where does that leave us? Should we suppress outrage because KFR had an unexpected and unrelated tragedy? Should we ignore the wrongs of a public servant? Of course not. KFR is still the SA. She hasn't quit. The buck stops with her. That is the choice you make when you seek and accept a public role in a free democracy.

Now with all that said... I suggest the real villain in this drama is Don Horn.

3rd and 4th floor PDs said...

We volunteer to print a batch of "I got Horned" bumper stickers and T-shirts reading "I went to work for the SAO and all Don Horn did was fire me."

Rumpole said...

Wait Captain. Just wait one cotton picking minute. Who is the PIO for the Haitian Media? How about the Jewish and Japanese Media? Not to mention the PIO for the Korean Media, the PIO for the Eurpoean Media, the PIO for the Sports Media, and considering the allegations against Walker, the PIO for the Adult Media?

Somehow Janet seemed to run the Office without a PIO.

Anonymous said...

11:17

You are quite wrong. The SAO should have been LESS clear. For each individual, the SAO should have announced that so and so had been fired or resigned. None should have been allowed a parting email. At that point, each could have gone public as they wished and the SAO would have responded as necessary.

The SAO's comments about Jimenez, the intern and the secretary only added insult and intrigue to fuel the fire.

When Abby Cynamon's supervisee was fired from her position as assistant general counsel, did you see any memos from Judge Farina or other court staff? No. And a story of intrigue died.

As a further point... if you fire four people at the same time, you're bound to arouse suspicion. Walker could have been asked to take a vacation. Jimenez placed on leave. By spreading out the firings/resignations, you wouldn't have created the image of a Friday night "massacre."

a 3rd floor PD said...

Someone please say hello to the "weiss man" and make his day.

Abe- you remember this guy?

Rump; Capitan, any of the "Fakes", somebody pllease verify this guy and his "weiss man" awards.

unemployed naive lawyer said...

At least now I may have a shot of getting a job at the SAO. I can't WAIT to prosecute the bad guys. Can I put down one of you bloggers as my references?

Rumpole said...

I'M going to do a poll: TOP BLOG/REGJB EVENTS OF 2007

SAO XMAS EVE MASSACRE
BENNETT ANNOUNCES HE WILL RETIRE
GERRY KLEIN FIRED
SY GAER PASSES AWAY

PLEASE POST OR EMAIL ME YOUR SUBMISSIONS I would like 7-10 as possibilities.

HR

Anonymous said...

Catholics don't "grass?" What, only Rasta grasses? What is this grassing?

Anonymous said...

Not to change the subject, but here's some suggested reading for everyone involved in the criminal justice system: You Got Nothing Coming: Notes From a Prison Fish. The author is Jimmy Lerner, a self-described "former nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn," who ends up in the Nevada Department of Corrections serving a 2 to 12 year sentence for voluntary manslaughter. Jimmy Lerner describes his prison experience in a very blunt yet at times very funny way.

I won't spoil the details, but I haven't been this moved by a book since I read Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom. I read the entire book in a day. Let's just say it makes for good, interesting and eye-opening reading.

Anonymous said...

I think running to the press is a reaction which began with the Grieco/Sarmiento/Dighe affairs.

By routinely tossing out some sacrificial lambs, the SA wants to instill public confidence that she is not only tough on crime, but tough on her own prosecutors.

However, I think that is the reprehensible conduct, and timing of her parent's death is meaningless - its just a sympathy card.

You want to show the public you mean business? Toss out Howard Pohl for sexual harassment. Then people might actually take this stuff seriously.

the weiss man said...

hey 3rd floor PD, I need to be "verified"? don't know exactly what you mean, but if I don't have to pay for it, verify me hard baby!
b brummer and d weed hired me same day as al greenstein, dave finger, herb smith, mike lederberg, all good people and good lawyers...dozens can "verify" i started weiss man awards in '76 while still a PD intern...happy new year to all my old cronies and you too 3rd fl. PD!

Anonymous said...

Have any of who ever had a "conversation" with Don Horn? The man simply cannot complete a coherent sentence or hold a line of thought. It's like talking to a wind-up speaking doll.

Anonymous said...

If all you experts ran the sao maybe you would do better. If Don thinks he was lied to,,, they are gone.

I am surprised that they were so honest about their reasons. All they have to say is adios. ASAs serve at the pleasure so, just hand them a resignation letter and tell them to sign.

Anonymous said...

10:32, you do have a point--ASAs do serve at "the pleasure of the State Attorney." However, most of us that are employees of another entitity also serve "at the pleasure" of our boss, the bigwigs and so forth.

That being said, the SAO treats most of its nonsupervisory ASAs (and even some of its supervisory ASAs)like garbage. CYA is a good policy no matter where you work and what your line of work is, but it is the culture at the SAO. Remember that virtually all "pit" ASAs, as well as a large number of "unit" ASAs have 5 years or less experience. I'd venture to say that at least 80% of all ASAs have 10 years or less experience, and this estimate may be low. As far as the practice law goes, these folks, especially the pit ASAs, are green. Look at County Court--the 2 ASAs suspended, the 1 CLI "disciplined," and the 1 CLI canned probably had less than 18 months experience combined.

Every young lawyer makes a ton of mistakes, whether an ASA, APD, big firm, small firm, government, etc. This is part of the learning process. Asking a young ASA to learn from his or her mistakes, as nearly all do, is the right course of action. Sometimes a little "tough love"--criticism for the mistake followed by a pat on the back and a "keep up the good fight"--is what is needed. What is not needed is creating an environment like that in the SAO, where young ASAs are forced to live in fear of making mistakes. Being an ASA is tough enough without having your supervisors willing to ream you out, or worse, because you made a mistake that can be largely attributable to your inexperience. Or, as in the case of Jimenez, sacrificing you so a supervisor can save his or her behind.

And the SAO bigwigs keep wondering why there have been morale problems at the office for so long and they keep getting worse.......

Not Billy Yeats said...

I am surprised that Rump did not give a long digression on the Timson family and the danger of being bitten by a snake in the grass.

What, am I the only one offended by the threat of making a bar complaint? If a lawyer is acting unethically, grieve him; to threaten a grievance to get the upper hand is immoral.

Rumpole said...

Ah the Timsons...I could use a good burglary just now, as it is the end of the month and bills are due.

I fully agree with the issue about the bar complaint. As they say in Harvard..defecate or leave the premises post haste.

Anonymous said...

Rump, "cotton picking?" I thought you were more socially sensitive than that. That term definitely has racial and class implications.

Rumpole said...

You are correct. Please substitute the following:

"small plant whose flower can be covereted into cloth, picking..."

Anonymous said...

You're such a smartass, Rumpole! (re: your 1:49 comment)

Anonymous said...

Herald breaks the news on Walker

Anonymous said...

I love these ultra conservative right wing Christians. They are holier than thou in public, but are frequently pervs in private. Whether its tax evasion, pedophilia, cruising the airport mens room, or sexually harassing women, these guys sure know how to spell hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

To whomever make this comment about Mr. Don Horn:

Anyone who would defend Don Horn does not know anything about how he really operates.

You took the words right out of my mouth. Mr. Horn is as guilty as Mr. Walker. f Mr. Horn is not careful, his day will come. And Don.....stop kiss their asses!

Currently Employee @ SAO said...

To whomever wrote this comment:

Anyone who would defend Don Horn does not know anything about how he really operates.

Mr. Horn is as guilty as Mr. Walker. Why he is still there? And Mr. Horn is married!!

Anonymous said...

How can you allow a post that claims a former sex batt chief was high on drugs every day and/or got arrested for dui? Unless you know it's true, that's a hell of an accusation to allow up.

Anonymous said...

the intern wasn't really an intern--he was a CLI--someone hired by the state attorney's office, who is waiting on either bar results or a background check...

Anonymous said...

Rump, seriously, you really are crossing the line you've continually abided by when you allow people to accuse Horn and an unamed former sexual battery chief of specific inappropriate conduct (Horn is "as guilty as Walker"? C'mon. Allowing accusations like that without proof is bullshit. NO ONE has accused Horn of any type of sexual misconduct or harassment. How can you allow that? A former sex batt chief "used to be high on drugs every day?" Really? Where's the proof? Was he or she tested? Is this documented anywhere?).

These posts are nothing more than malicious drivel. The people being slammed are human beings and deserve better. You're allowing some anonymous cyber thug to trash their reputations and embarass them without a scintilla of proof. You'd go bonkers if a prosecutor charged someone on less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt (as you should) but seem to think nothing of allowing people to trash Horn and the former chief without any evidence whatsover. Why? Is it because they're prosecutors? Please.

At the very least, that's hypocritical as hell. I think it's much worse. Seriously, think about it.

I thought you above this kind of crap.

Rumpole said...

I viewed the comment about Horn being as Bad as Walker as meaning he was just as culpable for being a bad supervisor. I did not view it as an accusation Horn also engaged in this behavior. I would never believe that about Don Horn. I do not like the way he had handled himself here- and admittedly this is from the outside looking in- but I believe him to be a man of moral character and I would never believe he would sexually harass anyone. Maybe that's why my view of the comment is different than yours. Yes, the Sex Batt comment was wrong, but the person wasn't named, and how many chiefs of sex batt have their been since 1980- 10? 20? I felt it was sufficiently bland enough to let it up, but it was a close call.

an atheist said...

you censored me rump! Wat up wit dat?

Anonymous said...

I see your point on Horn, but not the ex sex batt chief.

20 in the last 25 years? Try something closer to 5 or 6 (a couple where there for a hell of a long time). This leaves the reader to guess who the person is. That's not cool. It means that some totally innocent folks may be thought ill of. Would you allow a post that said "one of our last 5 public defenders took drugs daily?" I would hope not (... I'm sure we can agree that comment would be quite inapporpriate and libelous). Regardless, again, when there is no evidence of this, the accusation just sucks.

Anonymous said...

You admit the comment about the former sex batt chief was "wrong" but leave it up because it's "sufficiently bland" to avoid any one person to be tarnished? C'mon. Take a look at the post you subsequently allowed where the poster said they always wondered why one of them was removed and made a DC. Rump, you really blew this one and should remove all of the posts.

If the comment is wrong, it shouldn't be up. Period.