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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

PADILLA COMPETENT

Although we're stepping on the toes of everyone's favourite federal blogger, David O Markus, we think the ruling of Judge Cooke is significant enough so that we reprint part of the NY Times article here.

MIAMI, Feb. 28 — A federal judge found Jose Padilla competent to stand trial on terrorism conspiracy charges Wednesday, granting a significant victory to the government in the high-profile criminal case of a United States citizen who was initially designated an “enemy combatant” and held without charges.

After three and a half days of an intensely argued hearing, Judge Marcia G. Cooke of Federal District Court rejected the defense lawyers’ request that Mr. Padilla be sent to a hospital for psychiatric treatment so that he could be “healed” from what they said was post-traumatic stress disorder caused during his three years and eight months in military detention.

“This defendant clearly has the capacity to assist his attorneys,” Judge Cooke said, adding that Mr. Padilla’s case was “unique” and that “he understands that.”

Judge Cooke, who allowed limited testimony from brig officials during the competency hearing, said that her ruling should not be construed as a finding on Mr. Padilla’s claims of mistreatment during his detention and interrogations at a military brig in South Carolina.
“Those claims are for another day,” she said, referring to another pending motion by Mr. Padilla that the charges against him be dismissed because of “outrageous government conduct.”

...

Throughout the competency hearing, Mr. Padilla, wearing a tan prison jumpsuit and wire-rimmed glasses, appeared alert. When the brig officials testified Monday, he dropped his head and “hunkered down,” as one of his lawyers described it, but at all others times he sat erectly and calmly, without displaying the tics and grimaces that his lawyers described as manifestations of his disorder.
Judge Cooke remarked on Mr. Padilla’s attentiveness in court and noted that “everyone discussed that Mr. Padilla is polite almost to a fault.”

...
The defense lawyers also said that Mr. Padilla opposed their efforts to have him found incompetent to stand trial, which they said was further evidence of his irrationality. He would rather spend his life in prison than spend a few months in a psychiatric hospital, they said.
With a trial scheduled for mid-April, Mr. Padilla and two other defendants are accused of participating in a “North American support cell” that provided money, goods and recruits abroad to assist “global jihad.”


Rumpole opines:

The government took this man Padilla into custody and systemically set out to crush him-mind, body, and soul. From the looks of things, they may accomplished what they set out to do.

We live in difficult and dangerous times. Some of you may feel that it's better to have the government apply whatever pressure is necessary to prevent a terrorist act. Others may feel that trading liberty for security sacrifices one without gaining the other.

Without jumping into this sticky wicket, we simply note that when our government lies to us- as this government surely has- they forfeit the right to also tell us to trust them in knowing what is best for all of us.

See You In Court.

JUDGE GERALD KLEIN

He’s been sitting as a Judge since before some of the attorneys practicing before him were born.

He is affectionately called “Fast Gerry” because of his well regarded efficiency in handling his calendar when he was assigned to a regular division. In retirement, he has kept on working a full schedule, handling the morning and afternoon bond hearing calendars at least four days a week. Is there a REGJB attorney among us who has not had the pleasure of going to bond hearings, and after being quickly called out of turn, had Judge Gerald Klein say to our client and family that they have hired a good attorney?

After a life time of service to Miami, isn’t it time we said thanks?

That is why we were disappointed to hear that the Miami Chapter of the FACDL passed up the opportunity to honor Judge Klein at their upcoming yearly shindig. We had the opportunity to pass on some emails from concerned readers to certain FACDL big-wigs about a month ago, and were promised that the matter would be considered.

The answer is apparently NO.

The Miami Chapter of the FACDL is about the only group of organized lawyers who practice in the REGJB and regularly meet (outside of some “friends of Bill” but that’s another matter entirely) and they had the opportunity to honor a Judge who has given to our community a lot more than we could ever payback.

We now turn to the League of Prosecutors and publicly call on that august organization to do the right thing, spend a few bucks, get a plaque made up, and publicly thank Judge Gerald Klein for his years of service.

While we’re not going to resign from the FACDL, we’re pretty disappointed.

See You In Court.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A MAJORITY OF ONE

The Feds dedicated their new courthouse on Friday. [Motto: If we build it- you can all look at it, but no one can use it because it's too complicated to explain here.]

The Courthouse has been named in Honor of the Late Judge Wilkie Ferguson.
Judge Ferguson served on many courts, the last two being the Third DCA and the the U.S. District Court. Judge Ferguson was born and raised in Miami, and his life is proof that talent and dedication can overcome obstacles and help change society.

Judge Ferguson helped change our community and our law, all for the better. But it was one quote attributed to him at the opening ceremonies that caught our eye.

The Herald reported this, including a quote from Attorney H. T Smith attributed to Judge Ferguson.

In a famous 1980 decision -- one that was echoed years later by the U.S. Supreme Court -- Ferguson ruled against local courtroom practices that had systematically allowed blacks to be excluded from jury duty.
It was a risky decision, one likely to be at odds with how other judges saw the issue, H.T. Smith, an attorney and close Ferguson friend, reminisced during a video tribute played on monitors inside the new courthouse.
Ferguson back then offered Smith this explanation for his ruling:


``In the moral universe, one is a majority if you're right. And on this one, H.T., I'm right.''

It doesn't get any better than that.

In this day and age of supervisors, and supervisors for supervisors ('too many chiefs, not enough Indians' Judge Moreno likes to say) when prosecutors have to check every decision they make through the maze and matrix of supervisors, it's nice to remember a time when one man saw the right thing to do, and did it, consequences be dammed.

"In The Moral Universe, One Is A Majority If You're Right."

A fitting epitaph for a great man.

See You In Court.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

DIARY OF A MAD JURIST II

We received this anonymous email:

Rumpole,

It's been a difficult week and I have not had the time to fully review my diary and create a post for your Sunday readers. Sorry. But I'm the Judge, so I don't have to give excuses, right?
However, I jotted down these brief notes to give your readers an idea where my thoughts were recently.


It's a quiet Tuesday morning. Thank goodness. What was that? Did that PD just flirt with me? I swear it's happened before. Lets see: 15,20,22, good lord, I'm more than 25 years older than that PD. Oh, that would be a good one. I can just see the headline in the Herald now. "Judge mauls PD in Chambers, sentences client to prison." Of course there might be Oprah, a confessional episode of sorts. The problem is, I don't have an alcohol or drug problem. Nothing to blame this on except...human nature. Ha! What kind of defense is that? I'd hang.

Lets see....10 minutes of pleasure (ok...maybe 5) versus ruining a career, losing my pension, shame; will have to hire an attorney for the bar complaint. Forget the JQC. I'd give that up. It's keeping my ticket that I'd fight for.

You see, if people could just go through that analysis before jumping into something they shouldn't, I'd have a lot less work here in criminal court.

Well, let them have their fun. Maybe they will stop filing these stupid motions. Here's a thought: "Judge, we have no valid motions. Let's just go to trial." I think I might topple off the bench if that happened. What is it about the training of lawyers that makes them think that they have to challenge every small detail? Granted, there are times for that. But some of the best lawyers I know are honest and forthright and don't stand in front of me, trying- not very successfully- to convince me that they honestly believe I should ignore a few decades of case law.

You know what really gets my goat? These Judges who offer to try my cases for me. "Hey. I can handle my calendar and case load. Stop sucking up. These guys were probably the milk monitors in grade school. They were probably the same ones that volunteered to run the AV equipment. They probably sat in the front row of law school and raised their damn hand every minute, when they were not busy volunteering to work on some pro bono case with a professor they were sucking up to.

Here's to the back row of life! Those of us who just did what we had to, tried our best, didn't suck up, and still managed to make something of ourselves.

Anyway, Rumpole, I enjoyed the response from last week, and I hope to have some more thoughtful comments in the future.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

DECISION IN SMITH CASE

Judge Seidlin, barely choking back tears this afternoon, issued his ruling in the dispute over who has the right to decide where the body of Anna Nicole Smith is buried. The Judge decided, in his own inimitable way, that her daughter -and thus, the Guardian ad litem, has the right to decide where the body should be buried. The Judge went on to strongly urge that the body be buried next to her son in the Bahamas, but in the end, he said he was leaving the final decision to the Guardian Ad Litem.


Speaking of North of the Border, we received this vaguely disturbing email today - allegedly from one of the Robed Readers North of the Border:

My Dearest Rumpole: I have taken the time to E-Mail you this story from the BBC website about a blogger in Egypt jailed for posting an insult on his blog. I can assure you that many of my colleagues will be discussing the merits of the Egyptian legal system in the coming days vis-a-vis your little blog. Sleep well.
Robed Reader North of the Border.



Egypt blogger jailed for 'insult'

Soliman was arrested for his "insulting" blog posts in November . An Egyptian court has sentenced a blogger to four years' prison for insulting Islam and the president.
Abdel Kareem Soliman's trial was the first time that a blogger had been prosecuted in Egypt.
He had used his web log to criticise the country's top Islamic institution, al-Azhar university and President Hosni Mubarak, whom he called a dictator.
A human rights group called the verdict "very tough" and a "strong message" to Egypt's thousands of bloggers.
Soliman, 22, was tried in his native city of Alexandria. He blogs under the name Kareem Amer.


Rumpole Responds: Yikes!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

BROWARD

This just in: Judge Seidlin has won the prestigious "Judge Ito" award for his handling of the Anna Nicole Smith case.

The case North of the Border is a circus and the tragic fact is a young baby lost her mother. The Judge should put an end to this mess now. It's demeaning. The attorneys are acting like babies. The thought that any individual would use this tragedy to personally profit is revolting.

We don't really know what's going on, but Judge Seidlin's alleged pandering to the media in what people have said is an attempt to get a television show is a black mark on the judiciary. The legal system's ability to resolve difficult issues in a respectful manner has been compromised.


Speaking of the media, we have a piece of advice for Mr. Amsel, who appeared in the local section of today's Herald: Smile for the camera. Judge Blake, who is hearing the matter also appeared in the paper. We resist the temptation to offer Judge Blake this advice: Gillette.

Finally, a comment yesterday listed the qualities that make a good circuit judge. Included in the comment were the qualities of being polite and respectful, being prepared, and being considerate of everyone's schedules.

There is no truth to the rumour that several judges North of the Border, after reading that particular comment, laughed so hard that they needed oxygen to recover.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to list the qualities you think are important in a Judge. Obviously, it goes without saying that the very best, most intelligent and cultured of our robed readers are regular readers of this humble blog. But beyond that important trait, there are other qualities we would all like to see in a Judge.

With several new Judges now sitting in the REGJB, this is a good time to discuss just what makes a Judge good or great. We think of Judge Cowart, Judge Harold Solomon, Judge Scott, Judge Shapiro, Judge Levine, and many others, and we hope that these new Judges have a sense of the history of the seats they are filling. Some of the wisest men and women we have ever met have sat in those seats.
These new Judges would do well to learn about some of the great Judges who have sat before them.

Finally, we do note the passing of Retired County Court Judge Harvey Baxter. Judge Baxter had his admirers and his critics. He was loud and opinionated, and that is always sure to generate controversy. Judge Baxter was also dedicated to his job and we invite people to post their memories of him.


Have at it.

See You In Court.

PARKING II

Yesterday was an unmitigated disaster- parking wise. When court is closed Monday, the double dose of people flooding into our building on Tuesday causes complete havoc. It is just not fair to tell someone they must appear in court, and then not have any parking spaces for them.

Something must be done. The only short term solution we think can be immediately implemented is to plan for these "Terrible Tuesdays" and have the clerk re-schedule some of the arraignments and other miscellaneous hearings over the course of the following week.
==============

The comments on the blog yesterday were very wide ranging and very good. There was a top ten circuit judge list, which we were waiting for some enterprising attorney to write. There were some historical discussions on presidents, and there were several critiques on Judge Seidlin in Broward and his handling of the Anna Nicole Smith circus. There was one disturbing comment about a local judge who refused to allow an attorney to use the restroom until voire dire was completed. We think anyone with real knowledge of the incident should post it in the comments section.
======================


The Monday Editorial page of the NY Times contained a short blurb on The Bush Administration putting a small amendment into the large defense appropriation bill which has the effect of suspending the Possee Comitatus law.

Once again, with little notice, and no fan-fare, this administration-in the name of fear, has expanded the power of the federal government. As our Constitutional Law Professor used to say when a student agreed with an over-reaching use of federal power- "what are you going to do when they come for you?"

From the NY Times Editorial on Monday:

The provision, signed into law in October, weakens two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty. One is the doctrine that bars military forces, including a federalized National Guard, from engaging in law enforcement. Called posse comitatus, it was enshrined in law after the Civil War to preserve the line between civil government and the military. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which provides the major exemptions to posse comitatus. It essentially limits a president’s use of the military in law enforcement to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion, where a state is violating federal law or depriving people of constitutional rights.
The newly enacted provisions upset this careful balance. They shift the focus from making sure that federal laws are enforced to restoring public order. Beyond cases of actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any “other condition.”


Just who among us is comfortable with George Bush or Dick Cheney deciding what "any other condition" means?

When some armed solider from Nebraska asks you for ID before you can drive down your street in the future, just don't say we didn't warn you.

See You In Court, as soon as we can find a parking spot.

Monday, February 19, 2007

TOP 10 PRESIDENTS

Many of you know Rumpole to more than a competent trial lawyer. Blog writer, dart thrower, consumer of moderately fine wine, literary critic and avid reader, admirer of the Bard, student of history and political junkie.

Herewith, upon the request of many, and in honor of our holiday, Rumpole ranks the Presidents.


1. Lincoln.
Savior of the Union; author of the emancipation proclamation, President in some our darkest hours. After hearing the horrific losses at Antietam, which ranks as the bloodiest single day in American History (over 23,000Amercians were killed in a single day of fighting) , his was over heard to remark: “My God, what will the Country say?” He suffered from depression, had a mesuganah wife, and still managed to bear a load few ever have. He’s number one, and he's earned it.

2. Roosevelt. (FDR). Brought the country out of the depression; brought the country through the dark days after Pearl Harbor; whipped the Nazis and the Japanese, and did it all from a wheel chair. Created a political culture and view of Government as a partner with business, that while we might personally disagree with, has lasted six decades. The consummate realist, he was once asked what he would do if his policies didn’t end the depression. “Why, try something else.” he responded.

3. Roosevelt. (TR). This was a close one. You could make a really good case for Washington here. But TR has a warm place in our heart. Outdoorsman, creator of the National Park system, advocated living “the vigorous life”, and as a young man, thwarted ruffians in the wild and escorted them under arrest during a long river trip to the authorities back in town. A great Man, not just a great President.

4. George Washington. General, statesman, President, and wise enough to avoid the offer of becoming king. Father of the country has to make the top five, and in a way, isn’t the amazing greatness of his successors all due to him? He should stand alone in his own category.

Now things start to get tough.

5. Thomas Jefferson. Wrote the Declaration of Independence. Advanced the doctrine of separation between church and state. President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962, saying, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House—with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." He achieved distinction as a farmer, horticulturist, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, and he founded the University of Virginia. Loses some points for owning slaves and probably sleeping with them, but was by far and away our most introspective and intellectual president.

6. Ronald Wilson Reagan. Created a whole new dynamic in politics. Whipped the Soviets, began the expansion of US power after a decade of failures in the post Vietnam era, and ended years of high inflation and high interest rates. Very misunderstood President. The last true “Lincoln Republican” in our opinion. Had nothing in common with these lunatic right-wing religious neo-fascists that claim to be Republicans. Want to know how misunderstood his is? When he became Governor of California, he signed the largest tax increase in State history (to deal with a deficit that had been covered up by the previous administration) and followed that up by signing into law the most liberal abortion laws in the nation. A true “conservative” who believed in keeping Government out of people’s lives, Reagan was a much deeper political thinker than his enemies painted him out to be. An amazing communicator and leader; who can forget him saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” or his touching speech after the explosion of the Space Shuttle?


7. T. Woodrow Wilson. Created the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the League of Nations, and led the country through WWI. Underrated President.

8. Harry S. Truman (The “S” was a political addition and didn’t stand for anything.) Assumed the presidency in the most difficult of circumstances. Said he felt like a ton of bricks had dropped on him. Was kept surprisingly out of the loop by FDR and had to get up to speed quickly on things life the atomic bomb, Churchill and Stalin, and a economy about to be beset by strikes and turmoil. Dealt with MacArthur and the North Koreans (probably in order of difficulty.) Truman was a plain spoken man. Truman oversaw the creation of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan, and NATO. Truman once threatened to “kick the ass” of a critic who panned the singing of his daughter Bess. He also called the cad a son-of-a-bitch. Got to like a President who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves, curse, and kick some butt.


9. John Adams. Perhaps the most effective of the founding fathers, we admit to a bias for our only president who was also a criminal defense attorney. His successful defense of British Soldiers in pre-revolutionary Massachusetts, who were accused of manslaughter by killing 5 citizens when they fired into a crowd in 1770 (referred to as the Boston Massacre), remains a celebrated example of criminal defense to this day. There is an annual criminal defense award given out in his name. He was the Massachusetts representative to the Continental Congress. Adams is also credited as the Father of the US Navy. His writings entitled “Thoughts On Government” were as influential as any on the founding fathers. He was selected to negotiate the peace treaty with England in 1779, and his defense and protection of US fisheries along the eastern seaboard was crucial to the survival of New England, and thus the country. He was the first vice president of the US by virtue of finishing second in the electoral college to George Washington. As President, Adams skillfully maneuvered the country between the war between France and England, and his much discussed decision to keep the cabinet of Washington has come to be seen as an act of self assured statesmanship, not since seen until Lincoln brought most of his critics into his cabinet. Adams is the only one term president to make our top ten, mostly on the virtue of his work as a founding Father.


10. Nixon. One of our favorite lines in a Star Trek movie was when Spock is asked why he is doing something that appears out of character. And he responds that there is an old Vulcan saying : “ Only Nixon could go to China.”
Nixon could have been in the top five, but for the fact that his demons destroyed him. But he did go to China. He started the age of détente with the Soviets and signed the first of several nuclear arms treaties that have led to a true reduction of nuclear arms between the US and Russia. Another Republican in the mold of TR and Lincoln, he created the EPA and OSHA and the OMB. Can’t imagine George “global warming..global shmarming” Bush doing that. He also created the DEA, the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI Payments) and the Office Of Minority Business Enterprise. Nixon funded the war on Cancer. Nixon remains the only person ever twice elected vice president, and president, and of course, the only president to resign the office. Not many people know that it was Nixon who used the power of the federal government to enforce the desegregation of public education in the south. From 1968 to 1970 over 2 million black school children in the south were able to attend public desegregated schools in the south because of his direct efforts. And yet, he choose his Vice Presidents largely on the belief that they would be so bad, no one who want him to quit. He schemed against his enemies, abused the power of the presidency, and brought the country to the precipice of a constitutional crisis. Uniquely American, he was a master at foreign policy and intrigue, he was underrated in his domestic achievements, and he was for all intents and purposes a crook. Bit he also makes our top ten list.


Honorable mention. Rutherford B Hayes. We don’t know beans about his administration, but we love the name Rutherford, and it’s a safe bet he will be our only president named Rutherford.


JFK. We love the fact that he was often taken to citing poetry. He was a skillful politician, who had the foresight to call for a lunar landing, and the fortitude and skill to avoid world war III. His decision to remove missiles from Turkey in exchange for Khrushchev’s capitulation in the missile crisis is a study in allowing an opponent to negotiate an honorable surrender. He probably would have made the top ten if he had more time in office.

Madison. Another founding father who ranks right up there with great minds that changed the course of history.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

DIARY OF A MAD JURIST 1


Rumpole notes: The following was anonymously emailed to me with the request that I state that there is no representation that the events depicted happened recently, and that the author reserves the right to “merge events and individuals for the purposes of protecting identities and representing events as seen by the author.” The author further notes that they have gone out of their way to remove all references to gender, so that neither the gender of the author or the individual they are writing about is revealed.

THE JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG, SUNDAY EDITION, PRESENTS:

DIARY OF A MAD JURIST


Its another Monday. A “C” Calendar. It seems to bring out the worst in everyone. These prosecutors appear to be trained so poorly. The thought of doing the right thing, has in some, been drummed from their mind by the incessant need to speak with their supervisor for just about everything. Some of these Public Defenders can’t see the forest through the trees. They scoff at private defense attorneys who get their client treatment in the face of seemingly weak criminal charges.

And these private defense attorneys. What about a C calendar brings out the amateurs? This guy is a divorce lawyer. What makes him think he can handle this check fraud case?

My head is throbbing and if I drink any more coffee my heart rate will go through the roof. It’s only 10:15. I have 35 more pages of this nonsense. Sometimes I wonder how I get through the day.

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The Third reversed me again. Lets see one of them come down here and give this 22 year old kid 30 years for stealing a purse. Sure, he needs to be punished. But getting out of prison in 2033 or something like that seems a bit much.

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I just had lunch with someone who makes over 125 thousand a year. They drive a Mercedes, and left a 8 dollar tip on a 75 bill. Plus they sent their food back. And that was after getting a description of how the food was prepared that included getting the label on the oil used to sauté the chicken. About the only thing they didn’t ask about was whether bottled water was used to clean the lettuce. I just ordered a steak. Let them use whatever damn oil they please, as long as it tastes good. I do 30 minutes on the treadmill every day, that’s enough. What ever happened to enjoying life? I bet this idiot eats cake in the middle of the night when no one is looking.

Anyway, I snuck back and left another ten for the tip. Maybe being in calendar isn’t so bad after all.
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Here’s a good one: The prosecutor objected when the defense attorney moved to discharge the bondsman on a bond. The problem, I had just revoked the bond and taken the defendant into custody. The prosecutor didn’t know what they were doing. They just heard a defense attorney ask for something and objected. It’s the way they're trained. I know that. And yet I almost lost my temper. Sometimes this whole adversary business is just too much.
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Two lawyers just out of law school about to pick a jury. My head is starting to hurt. I wish I could just pick up my book and read on the bench. I have to look like I’m paying attention. Burglary of a car. This case should have been settled.

Anyway, here goes the prosecutor asking the jury if they would want fingerprints. Of course they would want fingerprints you numbskull. Now you’re going to tell them you don’t have fingerprints. Who trains you? Don’t they teach you how to deal with evidence before a jury? Don’t they teach you that voire dire is not about trying to influence the jury- it’s about finding out who these jurors are.

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Mistrial don’t you know. In opening statement no less: “And when the police arrested him, he never explained why he had a screw driver and a pair of pliers.”
Now I can get involved. How much of this was a mistake, and how much of this was planned because they didn’t like the jury? Maybe jeopardy has attached. hmmm...lets see. Uhho! Here comes the DC. Some boring chat, some posturing on both side….a little Cuban coffee…voila! Misdemeanor and CTS. Justice done again. Now, everybody out of my chambers.

Hold my calls. Get me some Advil and my book.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

TRAFFIC. PARKING.

A Rumpole Irregular writes to report that there are "high-level" discussions among the wearers of the Robes and attorneys on ways to reduce traffic in the REGJB. Apparently Au Bon Pain cannot keep up with the requests for Cappuccinos.

With the pending sale and closure of the Mahi Shrine Parking Lot, the question being pondered by great legal minds in our humble building, is:
"hmmmmm....now what do we do now?"

The solution of allowing represented defendants not to attend misdemeanor soundings seems like a quick fix. However, what do you do with all the unrepresented defendants?

The idea of excusing all of Sy Gaer's clients from attending court should also reduce traffic by about 20%. However, like solving the global warming crisis, there is more work to be done.

We humbly advance these ideas:

1) Do away with traffic ticket soundings. Really. Wasn't that going overboard just a little bit? A sounding for a traffic ticket? How about doing it on-line? Set up a web site, list the traffic ticket, have one of those traffic magistrates that everyone is nice to on the day their sister has a ticket, and have the Magistrate review the ticket and "post" a plea offer. The driver logs on, and can click "I accept" or "set for trial." If nothing is done, the case is set for trial.
And by the way, don't continue a traffic ticket trial. Ever. They pretty much have the same policy in Federal Court for matters that are a bit more serious, and it seems to work for them.

2. Judicial Economy.

The point to solving the pending parking crisis is, to borrow a legal phrase we once read somewhere, "inextricably intertwined" (sounds like something that happens on an L&L case) with Judicial Economy. No, we don't mean the going price for bribing a judge, what we mean is that Judges need to be more efficient.

We respect a Judge who requires a written motion before a matter is placed on calendar. But then what? In our memory, only Judge Izzy Reyes was efficient enough to have read our motion and drafted an order by the time we appeared in court. Our view is that the rest of the Judges just bank on attorneys being too lazy to write a motion. For instance, most county court judges will not let you calendar a motion to vacate a bench warrant without a written motion. But the written motion, when done, is a waste of paper. There is no written response from the State, and the motion is ignored during the court hearing. The attorney should be required to obtain a response from the prosecutor. There should be a rule that if the prosecutor doesn't respond within a certain period of time, the motion is granted for lack of opposition. Does this increase the work load on ASA's? Yes. But it reduces their in court work load an equal amount.

The point is that if we can be efficient in using court time, more extraneous matters would not be on the calendar. And that brings us to our last point.

ELECTRONIC FILING AND CASE MANAGEMENT:


It galls us to say this, but the Feds have gotten it right. The Feds have an electronic filing system that really does work. You file a motion, it's automatically emailed to the opposing party and all co-counsel. The Judge gets a copy, and when there is a ruling, its entered into an electronic docket that has the entire court file available in Adobe Format. Paperless filing removes the need for support personnel to scan documents. The written motion- and the response- becomes the motion the court relies upon- not an appearance at a hearing- and the matter is decided usually without a court hearing.

The point is that this is the electronic age of information. The State court system needs to do more to take advantage of the possibilities to streamline the flow of cases. This, in turn, frees up valuable court time for important matters, like motions to suppress and trials. Ask any trial Judge what their biggest frustration is? Outside of our snide comments in court, the overwhelming answer is "doing calendar." Solve the burgeoning calendar issue, and a by-product is that you solve the parking problem, and even help contribute to reversing global warming. Less use of paper, less travel to court, less greenhouse gases.

Become efficient, and go green.
Not a bad package.

See You In Court.

TO SERVE, PROTECT AND....INTIMIDATE?


Walk into any police station in South Florida and ask for papers to file a complaint against a law enforcement officer. And watch what happens next. Better bring the phone number of a good bondsman with you as well.

CBS4 did that and a Rumpole Irregular posted the link to the story last night. It’s worth reading.
STORY





This is how we lose the Bill Of Rights. Not with any sweeping law, but with small encroachments every day by those who think the public works for them, not the other way around.

Police Officers are unique in that they go to work every day with the possibility they may not come home at night. For that they should be respected, well paid, and well trained. However, what we often see is that some of them forget what it is they are putting their life on the line to protect. They protect not only people and property, but they also protect the Constitution. In a very real sense, when they intimidate people and create an “us versus them” attitude, they diminish the value of the job they may one day die for.

We applaud the attitude of City of Miami Chief Timoney and his statements of zero tolerance for this behavior. However, actions speak louder than words, so what’ going to happen to those officers under his command who behaved poorly?

As a trial lawyer, we have the occasion to speak to hundreds of jurors each year; thousands over the years we have been picking juries. Even as a defense attorney, the most troubling stories we hear are from those citizens who say they could never be fair to a police officer because of some unfair treatment they received in the past.

Miami has had it’s share of shameful police conduct over the years. And Miami has been blessed with someone of the most dedicated law enforcement officers in the nation. The task for the Prosecutors and Police is to weed out the former, and train more officers to follow in the proud traditions of the latter.

And if we haven’t been clear enough in this post, let us reiterate the point again: for every officer who acts inappropriately like those in the channel 4 story, there are dozens of officers who spend their days helping people, taking a few bucks of their own money and buying a hungry family some food, and hundreds of other small acts of kindness that never get reported. That makes the task of weeding out these bad if not dangerous officers all the more important.


Would you really want one of the officers in that video responding to your home to assist you if you or your family were the victims of a crime? As a prosecutor, would you really want your whole case to rest on the credibility of one of these officers?

There are compelling reasons to avoid having one bad apple spoil the whole bunch.

See You In Court.



Wednesday, February 14, 2007

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY





I LOVE __________________




finish the sentence in the comments section.

Monday, February 12, 2007

SMILE FOR THE CAMERA?

UPDATED with a response on child care from some of our robed readers!


Longtime and careful readers of the blog have been able to discern that from time to time we receive “tidbits” of information from interested parties, lawyers, even members of the fourth estate.

To borrow a literary reference, we like to think of them as The Rumpole Irregulars.

Word reaches us today from an Irregular, of this picture at the entrance to our fair building:


along with the concomitant policy of confiscating cameras.

What in the name of the Federal College of Cardinals are these people thinking?

Can’t you just see the scene as the highly trained security screeners scrutinize our clients:

First Security Screener: Code Red. Code Red. A Camera!
Second Security Screener: Que?
Third Security Screener: Where?
First Security Screener: Right there! The little girl, next to the man with the machete.


Third Security Screener: Swarm Swarm Swarm.
First Security Screener [to man with the machete] “Sir. Don’t panic. Just slowly walk away from the girl with the camera. We’re the professionals. Let us handle it..”



The point is, we let these petty bureaucrats draw up their own security rules, and what we are doing is allowing our fears to trample the Constitution.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal. And in the scheme of things, it probably isn’t.

But the whole point of our freedoms is built around the idea that we have the right, and the ability, to question authority, and to make those in power answer to us, not the other way around.

"Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither"


The comments section to yesterday’s post on child care contained several good comments for and against the idea.

We like our response, which we re-post here because…well, because we can.

You know, there are a hundred reasons not to do anything: lawsuits, injury, possible problems. But it is the enlightened soul that sees the solution, not the problem.

Or in the words of Ted Kennedy during the eulogy for his brother Bobby:"Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say, why not."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


So we say, stop telling us why we can't have child care, and start talking about how we're going to do it.
Thanks to Judge Young for his support of the idea.


Next time you're in court, instead of wondering who we are, look at all the parents with kids sprawled out on the floors of the hallways, and ask yourself whether there isn't a better way to do things.

See You In Court.

UPDATE: We checked the blog this morning and right on time was this response from Judge Blake, along with a response from Judge Schwartz:

Judge Blake (on his 2 week time schedule of checking the blog)* said:

Hi Rump,

As Larry Schwartz wrote, for the past several months we have had meetings with me, Sandy Lonergan, Sam Slom, Berdy Soto, Carroll Kelly, reps from the WCMA and attorney Jerry Kornreich here working on the creation of a child care place in the REGMJB. It is getting closer to being a reality--finishing up security and building issues (as well as funding).

The YWCA has one in the Family Court and there is a Court Care cocktail party on March 8th from 5:30-7:30 at Mellon Uniited Bank with a $50 donation from attorneys will be accepted at the door ($35 for law students and public interest lawyers). YOu may want to help publicize this. Thanks for your interest in this worthwhile project. It will be a reality. Stan Blake

Rumpole responds: Everyone should attend the fundraiser.Cocktails for a worthy cause: That's what we call legal research- and our civil friends can even find some client to bill for it!

*Some might be upset at our treatment of Judge Blake. But, as longtime and careful readers of the blog know, we can't-we just can't- pass up any opportunity to give our robed readers a gentle jab.

See You In Court, and maybe at the fundraiser.



CHILD CARE

This post is simple and to the point.

The REGJB needs a child care facility. We suggest the area once occupied by the legal library.

The building is crowded and gets more crowded everyday.

Child care for the most affluent attorneys and judges among us is difficult at best.
Child care for those facing tough times, and for those who have loved ones incarcerated is next to impossible. Even for parents of young children who have less serious court appearances, it can be stressful and difficult to have to worry about a case and a child.

Children are our most precious asset.

If we want to break the circle of incarceration and recidivism, the time to start is now.

No child should have to see their parent in trouble before a judge.

Our building has the room to accommodate a playroom and safe space for children.

There are several ways to pay for such a facility and service.

We're guessing 100K a year should cover three part time staff people and toys, but not rent. Insurance could raise the budget some more. A third of that could be raised by charging a few dollars an hour. A third could be raised through charitable donations by attorneys and discretionary court fines. And we need to find a way to pay the final third.

The point is, the building needs child care.

Let’s get it done.


The eyes of Florida are upon our building during the trial this week of the man accused of murdering a young girl. Perhaps there is no better time for us to demonstrate our dedication to the children in our community.

PS: No judges have taken up our offer for a Sunday Blog spot. Anyone else interested?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

TABULA RASA


Sunday morning. Millions of Americans wake up, and after finishing their morning coffee or tea and ablutions, they log on to the web to see what Rumpole has to say about the upcoming football games. OK- maybe its just a few dozen or more bored attorneys in Dade, but the point is, all good things must come to an end, and thus has the 2006 football season begun to fade into memories of points scored, and over/under bets cashed.

“Hi. My Name is Horace.”

Group: “Hi Horace.”

“I’m addicted to football.”

Group: “One day at a time Horace.”

Anyway, it’s tough enough coming up with things to say 4-5 times a week, and without football to write about, the Sunday post may well go on vacation until pre-season in August- which is 167 days away, but who’s counting?

It occurs to us that there are other voices out there waiting to be heard. We were quoted in that Channel 6 hatchet job as being a “frustrated writer in a lawyer’s suit” and there must be others so similarly situated.

Indeed, one wonders if there isn’t a robed reader among us, who sits in court, pondering the arrant nonsense and wondering what to do about it.

Now if some Judge is so inclined to write about whatever crosses their judicial mind, there are two ways to go about it:

1) Remain a mystery. It’s tougher than it sounds, and not because mindless fools will go around all day and point at your colleagues and aver in a knowing manner they are indeed the offending party. No, the real problem is that you can’t write about the real juicy stuff. Say some lawyer comes prancing into court, and for some reason they (while practicing to ascend to the bench) say something really stupid. The minute you write about it, your identity is revealed.


You see, to remain anonymous, you must become a master of deception, always on guard against revealing some tidbit that will unmask your identity. So to remain anonymous means you forsake writing about the really good stuff, as well as the minutiae of your day. However, there is probably some cannon against a judge commenting on an on going matter, so any judge who rises to the occasion will be left to write about loftier subjects- perhaps about the awnings on the front of the REGJB, or the lack of any plan for state court to adopt an electronic filing system that the feds seem to have gotten right.

2) Write under your own name. Ah, to be free from the burden of suspicion. To be able to walk down the street a free man/woman, without your picture being in the equivalent of the Au Bon Pain’s wanted section of the post office. But of course, you will be mocked by the lawyers, criticized by people who can’t even write their own name without a grammatical error, and subject to the scrutiny of the press. But if you’re creative and have something to say, you have all week on the bench, during boring voire dire and such, to work on your column.

The welcome mat is out. The blog on Sundays is a Tabula Rasa (for our robed readers, that means “clean slate”.)

And for inspiration, we leave you with the words of one of our favourite presidents, speaking at the Sorbonne (again, for our robed readers, that’s in Paris. Sorry, but we just can’t resist baiting someone to take mouse and keyboard in hand, and rise to the challenge.) :


It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt.
"Citizenship in a Republic," April 23, 1910

See You In Court, wondering who wants to be the “writer in the arena”.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME

It is with great trepidation that we re-open this topic. But more needs to be said.

Percy L. Julian was one of the great chemists of the 20th Century.

His work included discoveries in the synthesis of cortisone (an anti inflammatory still in wide spread use) and the synthesis of physostigmine, a glaucoma drug. In 1999 the American Chemical Society recognized his work on physostigmine as one of the top 25 achievements in the history of American chemistry. He was the first African-American chemist ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

From the NY Times article on the NOVA- PBS show on Julian:

On the day that Percy L. Julian graduated at the top of his class at DePauw University, his great-grandmother bared her shoulders and, for the first time, showed him the deep scars that remained from a beating she had received as a slave during the last days of the Civil War. She then clutched his Phi Beta Kappa key in her hand and said, “This is worth all the scars.”

Careful and long time readers of the blog know that we have never hesitated in celebrating the glorious achievements of Americans. From the Apollo program to the beaches of Normandy, we have a lot to be proud of.

But part of being American is the freedom to criticize our government, and the intellectual honesty to acknowledge our mistakes. By learning from our mistakes, we become stronger, which in turn gives rise to great events like landing on the Moon.

America is the land of freedom; but it was the land of slavery. Americans like Percy Julian’s great-grandmother were owned, and their bodies bore the scars of their master’s whips. It was a shameful time in our history, and we are all the more stronger for examining it, mourning those whose lives were taken or ruined, and learning from our collective mistakes.

That is why certain words are odious. That is why certain words strike deep into the scars of our collective memory. That is why certain words, while not banned, are hurtful. Words can invoke a time when a person’s ancestors were owned by others. Words can invoke a time when one American couldn't eat in a restaurant, or use a bathroom that other Americans could. We are not so far removed from a time when the older among us can remember signs on Miami Beach that said “No Jews Or Negros”.

The context of a word is important. To use a word to remember a time and place, and all that was wrong with our country, is perfectly proper. To use a word to cause pain, ignorant of the history and suffering associated with the word is distasteful at best, and the height of ignorance at worst.

And that is why we prefer certain words not be used on our blog.

Friday, February 09, 2007

COURT HILL STREET BLUES




A NEW TV SERIES THIS FALL ON COURT TV.
A semi-serious look at a band of over-worked, under-paid, criminal court Judges, “North of here” yet, south of Tallahassee, whose daily struggle is full of humorous yet sad details.

Staring Verne Troyer as Chief Captain “D” Furillo, the commander of Courts on the Hill.


[ A DARK SCREEEN WITH WHITE LETTERING]

ROLL CALL 7:02 AM

FADE TO A CROWDED ROOM WITH A BALDING DISTINGUISHED MAN AT A PODIUM. HE IS SERGEANT ESTERHAUS, AND HE RUNS THE ROLL CALL MEETING.

HE IS ADDRESSING A GROUP OF 20-30 JUDGES WHO HAVE CROWDED INTO THE ROOM. SOME ARE SIPPING COFFEE, EATING BAGELS AND DOUGHNUTS. A FEW SERIOUS ONES HAVE NOTEBOOKS OPEN. A FEW IGNORE THE PROCEEDINGS AND CHAT AMONG THEMSELVES.
THERE IS A BLACKBOARD WITH SOME WRITING BEHIND THE SERGEANT:
A FEW NOTES CAN BE SEEN OVER HIS SHOULDER INCLUDING

“Dade sucks”….and “remember…bond can be raised as well as lowered” and “guidelines are for sissies”


SGT ESTERHAUS: People…people settle down. Item 11: The Courthouse joker has struck again.
[a chorus of boos erupts]

SGT: It seems our secret friend switched the labels on the regular and decaf, causing the more nervous among us to spend yesterday twitching and jumping for no apparent reason. Now, if I catch this little imp, I can assure you that the offending party will spend the next year doing Sunday bond hearings.
[the room erupts in applause…someone shouts…”It’s Dale.” and others laugh]


SGT: Item 12: Quiet down…quiet down. On a serious note, you may notice that one member of the fairer sex is no longer among us. A directive from Chief “D” Furillio states that this Judge has been assigned to the civil division as part of the normal rotation…Now [the room erupts into loud yelling and catcalling]

SGT. Ok…keep it down….now it just so happens that this re-assignment coincides as it were with a front page news article in one of our distinguished local dailys that states our judge is under serious investigation from the JQC.

[More shouts erupt….a few voices are heard “she’s in trouble again??!!!” ; and
“at least she didn’t send anonymous emails”..and a voice replies “at least she didn’t get anyone deported” another voice yells “at least she didn’t yell at people who couldn’t speak English.” Another voice yells “dade blows”


SGT. You all have your own opinions, and are free to express them. However, straight from our Chief “D” Furillio, is a gentle reminder that anyone who speaks to a reporter may well go to the top of the list of judges for evening search warrant duty. Just a friendly reminder from our boss. Now, you are also reminded that any attorney who appears before you who makes a smart remark about our colleague under investigation should be reported immediately to me, and I will disseminate their names at tomorrow’s roll call. You all have today’s “hit list” in front of you. The offending barristers should be dealt with swiftly. Those who want a continuance should have it denied. Those who are ready for trial, should have it set off until Christmas. Bonds at bond hearings for these shysters will be uniformly raised, and I need not remind you of our policy about attorneys from parts south of this piece of paradise we rule, do I? [there is silence in the room]. Do I ?

[In uniform all the judges chant:
Lawyers from dade we will ignore;
our bailiffs will show them the door;
if they dare complain-we will not fail…
they will join their clients’ in jail!]

SGT. Very good. Item 13. A reminder that all county court judges will not be having any jury trials this week.
[Shouts are heard- “what else is new?”]
As those judges will be sitting en banc to hear a new motion challenging the intoxilyzer 8000, to wit: was it proper to use Jack Daniels as a cleaning solution to the interior parts of the machine?
The hearing will take 3 days, and during that time, extra jurors will be available to all those who need it in circuit court.

SGT: That’s it no more items. Lets roll.

[People begin to get up, drink the last of their coffee, and talk among the judges begins to rise to a loud level. Several judges are at the door and almost out of the room.]

SGT. Hey..HEY HEY. !!! [the room quiets down and everyone turns to look at the sergeant.] “LETS GO GET SOME GUILTY VERDICTS OUR THERE.]

[the room empties and the opening theme for the show begins to play]

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

IT'S ABOUT TIME - NORTH OF THE BORDER

UPDATED WITH THE DEFENSE OF THE JUDGE

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

Whether you are a veteran prosecutor or an experienced defense attorney, a barrister who is in the "pits" on a daily basis, we all have that ability to recognize when some new judge appears before us, who is destined to be a truly great judge. There is a second group of judges who, well, let's just say that they ascended to the bench just a little too early in their legal career. Then finally, there is that final group of judges - these are the ones that belong nowhere near a bench, let alone the courtroom itself. They can be very dangerous with a gavel in their hands. They step up those 40" risers to their seat in the courtroom and truly believe that "they are" holier than thou.

Judge Cheryl Aleman is one of those judges.

Aleman is a former prosecutor, appointed to the bench in December of 2001 by Governor Jeb. She was a Senior Assistant Statewide Prosecutor from 1996-2001. Aleman first made news, and drew significant criticism, during her robing ceremony, when she discussed her religious views. She went on to earn the lowest marks among the candidates in a Broward County Bar Association poll. That was in 2004, when she ran against Robert Malove and beat him by 9,000 votes (with 158,000 cast). Almost half of the attorneys responding to the poll deemed her "not qualified."

In 2002, Aleman was criticized twice by the Fourth District Court of Appeal for decisions in dependency cases in which the appellate court found she was too strict with her rulings. In one of those cases, the court said she abused her discretion when she ruled against parents relying on public transportation who were 25 minutes late for a trial to take their daughter away. "The purpose of the statute is not to inject `gotcha' practices into the dependency process," the court wrote.

In 2003, she made national news when she denied a request from a drug offender dying of AIDS to be released early from jail to spend his last months with his family. Jean Felix, 41, was in jail for violating his probation in a drug possession case. Felix was in such bad shape that a Broward County Jail official called his lawyer to suggest releasing him to a cousin's care so he could die with dignity. The defendant's lawyer made the request and the prosecutor didn't oppose it. Doctors testified he would die in anywhere from a few days to two months. To understand how absolutely insane her ruling was, one only has to look at who overruled Aleman and released the defendant from jail. It was none other than Chief Judge Dale Ross; (widely considered one of the toughest judges in the courthouse).

Fast-forward to 2006, where the judge continued to make headlines. First, she threatened to hold two assistant public defenders in contempt because they were unable to file a recusal motion within a 15-minute deadline she set. The case was a first degree murder case. Several weeks later, Aleman made more news when she sentenced criminal defense attorney Adam Katz to 60 days in jail for missing two hearings.

Finally today, the JQC filed formal charges against Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman, alleging she “engaged in a pattern of arrogant, discourteous and impatient conduct” on the bench. Judge Aleman was charged with violating several judicial canons. The seven-page notice cites several instances of the judge holding or threatening to hold attorneys in contempt. The JQC also cited her refusal to recuse herself from cases where she had a perceived conflict of interest.

The complaint cites to canons that require that judges uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary, respect and comply with the law and act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary. She was also charged with violating a judicial canon that calls for a judge to be “patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers” and others that the judge deals with professionally.

In the Katz matter, the JQC said Aleman ordered Katz to appear before her knowing he was out of town. The JQC complaint even addresses the 2003 Jean Felix AIDS case and accuses her of releasing a “misleading” order defending her decision that “conspicuously omits” the stipulation agreed to by both prosecutors and defense attorneys that the inmate was dying of AIDS-related causes.

In describing the conduct of Judge Aleman, it was probably best said by Assistant Public Defender Bruce Raticoff, when he spoke of the JQC charges against Aleman. “In my 26 years of practicing law, I have never once been in front of a judge that not only treated me with such contempt but, more importantly, my client with such contempt.”

Here's hoping that Judge Cheryl Aleman gets her just desserts. It's about time JQC.

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


THE DEFENSE WILL NOW GIVE AN OPENING STATEMENT
I remind the jury that what attorneys say is not evidence. But an opening statement is intended to guide you as to what the attorney believes the evidence will show:


Anonymous said...
Not that anyone here wants to deal in the truth but here it is....

1) I was at that Robing she thanked God, she said that her Faith meant a lot to her. She never said anything bad to anyone or that due to her faith she was better then anyone.
2) That poor guy dying with AIDS was alive at least a year after the decision. He may still be alive today.

3) Adam Katz, lets see.....Katz takes over a DWLS case that had been kicking around for almost a year. Judge tells Kats it has to be ready for trial next time up no more continuances. Katz sends a coverage guy to the next trial appearance requesting a continuance. Judge is pissed but allows the continuance but says again under no circumstances would there be another continuance. Katz a week before the trial date sends a written motion for continuance which the judge denies. The day of the trial Katz sends a coverage guy who tells the judge he went to Vegas for "business" and needed a continuance. She ordered him back for a contempt hearing, showing no remorse or respect for the Court she held him in contempt for a weekend. Say what you want, Dade Broward, good judge or bad judge, no one can disrespect the court the way Katz did and get away with it. Can anyone here say that they would treat a judge this way, no.

As for the stuff with the 15 mins to do a recusal that is bad. I am not saying Aleman is perfect or should walk on this but at least we should know the facts.

Rumpole has the last word: This judge has priors. She is the same judge reprimanded for removing children from their parents, twice, in one instance after the mother was late to a court hearing because she took public transportation. I am sure her prior record of intolerance was factored into this decision.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

NOW WHAT?

This is not really where we wanted the Blog to go...and yet somehow we ended up here.

Anonymous wrote from another point of view:


Well, how come "THEY" can use the word but I can't? In fact, if THEY can than I can too! It is so disappointing that this simplistic thinking about the linguistic piece of America's most basic unresolved historic issue would be coming from a lawyer, one of society's learned professionals. The pain, horror and ugliness of the 'WORD' was created by white people and perpetuated by white people and manifested through the power of the state by white people (the latter being why lawyers have a special and continuing obligation to stem hatred in all its social or public forms).That African Americans and others have taught us as a nation how to disempower the 'WORD' and make its use socially unacceptable by its creators (in addition to many other nasty words, several of which were applied to descendants of some European) should be a source of inspiration and gratitude to us Caucasians, not feelings of jealousy or resentment. Why, in fact, would any Caucasian, knowledgeable of history, covet their right to use the 'WORD?' YES, I cede my power over that 'WORD' to better arbiters than I of what is painful or embarrassing to them. (And Black Americans, of course, are not the only 'group' to claim control over the use of other hateful words or symbols.)In my opinion, Black Americans have every right to use social or political pressure to infringe the RIGHT of white people to bandy about the horrible, ugly 'WORD', despite one's innocent intentions in using it or doing so in the name of creative or expressive freedom.

Rumpole responds:


Words are indeed just words. I could call you a doughnut, and unless it had some context, it's just a word. The context we are talking about is "hate".

When someone made a slur against a Judge's sexual preference, it was done with hate. And when someone made a comment about another Judge's race, it was done with hate.

I do not excuse anyone, and that includes the person in the class we are talking about- from making comments based on hate. When a black person calls another black person a racial slur, it is not excusable or acceptable. Just like it is not acceptable for one member of a race to injure or murder another member of the same race.

Hate is hate, and we will not tolerate it on the blog.

All it takes is one person making a stand against intolerable behavior to make a change. Rosa Parks didn't sit in the back of the bus, and we will not let our blog be used as a vehicle for hate. She was braver then we are, but we are humble enough to acknowledge she was the teacher and we are the student. She had more to lose than we do, but we honor her memory when we try and learn from her deeds.


On a related subject:

Anonymous said...
No congratulations here. You ignored several anti-Semitic comments that also should not have been permitted. I wish you'd be more consistent and eliminate all of this inappropriate crap. Then, you really would have a first class blog.


Rumpole responds: You're right. If we missed something, and we often do, we apologize for letting the offensive comment remain up. Please believe us when we say it was an error of omission, not commission.

I'm still angry.
Moderation continues.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Really Blue Monday

During the afternoon and evening hours on Monday, some truly nasty and mean, not to mention racist comments were made on the blog.

To the person/people who did that: Do you think the Judge you called a homophobic racist name found it funny?

Regarding the comment about the African-American Judge- if that Judge was your family member, and you Googled their name, would that comment have made you happy to read when it came up in your search?

Do you think Judges who are black or gay want to be known as "the black Judge" or "the gay Judge"? I think if you asked them, they would say they want to be known as a good Judge. I think they would say that they as judges, want to be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin or sexual orientation (to borrow a phrase from a much better man than I).

To the person or people who made those comments: you should be ashamed of yourself. More importantly, you should be worried about a psyche that would lead you to write such trash. Your problems are much bigger than you realize.

The Blog comments will be moderated until I calm down.

BLUE MONDAY

If yesterday was Super Sunday, then today is " Colts Blue" Monday.

The Colts played a good-not great-but a good game. They did what they had to do to win the game. They took the best punch the Bears had, got off the mat, and came back and won the game. It's almost an embarrassment that a super bowl champion has so little faith in their special teams that they could not kick the ball off deep after being burned. But the Colts offense controlled the game. They kept the Bears' offense off the field, and the Colts defense did what they had to do to control the Bears' running game.

We do not see either team returning to the big dance next year.

We finished the season by picking the Super Bowl Winner, but by losing the over/ under. We broke the story that the coin toss is fixed, and our sources correctly predicted the Bears would win the toss. We also told you the Bears would score first, but we thought it would be a field goal. Billy Joel brought the anthem in under 102 seconds, and Prince managed to sing without being electrocuted.
Our predicted score of 35-24 was close to the 29-17 final.

That's it for the NFL until the April draft. Anybody who wants a regular Sunday column in the blog, please send us an email. You do not need to reveal your identity.
If you think you can call some March madness college basketball, let us know.

Now back to law, the courthouse, trials, and such.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

SUPER SUNDAY

COLTS VERUS THE BEARS

"Super Sunday dawned cold and rainy, turning the field of Dolphin Stadium into a swampy marsh where Bears root and Colts stumble and splash. We all know Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has a famous father- but the question that burned in the hearts and minds of football fans everywhere was whether he was a mudder? "
(In honor of the late John Facenda.)

The weather changes everything. Here is the post I wrote for today, but I warn you now: the weather could turn this game into one the Bears could squeak out a win. Plus, the over and the points scored should be off the board. If it continues to rain, I don’t know how you don’t toss a few sheckels on the under.

There are so many propositions, we don’t know where to begin.

Its +130 that Billy Joel will take longer than 1 minute and 42 seconds to sing the national anthem. Its -160 that he brings it home in less than 102 seconds. (You bet 100 to win 130; or you bet 160 to win 100.) Take the over.


The coin toss: Each team and each side of the coin is -105. It’s a little known fact that since the days of Alvin Pete Rozelle, the coin toss has been fixed by the NFL front office. Rumpole has sources. The Bears win the toss, and probably with tails. If it happens, just remember we broke the story first.

First Score: Bears +110; Colts -140. The Bears should be +130 in our opinion, because they are a big underdog, but we still think the Bears score first.

First Field Goal: Bears +115; Colts -140; Take the Bears.

The First Field Goal will be : 40-49 Yards: +350;

Total Points Scored by both teams: You can get +9900 for 0-7 points: not bloody likely though. 57-63 points gets you +500 and that’s the play. (update- with the weather like this, if I was in vegas, I'd throw down a c-note just for kicks on the 0-7 total-that's a million if we win, right?)

Which means….we like the over 49 unless it’s a rainy day. (update: and it is raining this morning)

We have considered this game six ways from Sunday.

This is Peyton’s game.
He is a very very complete football player. In the match-up on the field between shifting defenses and offenses, he usually gets the last word. He’s a great QB. He has a couple of great wide receivers, and a good young runner behind him.

The Colts had their problems on defense this year, but as we have said before, Tony Dungy is an old DB. He was raised in defense. His first coaching job was coaching DB’s. We think he is the superior coach to Smith. (Who wants a football coach named “Lovie”anyway?) We think football coaches should be named “Gus” or “Tank” or at least “Tony”. You don't find many super bowl winning coaches named "Winthrop."

The Colts have been the class of the NFL for the last few seasons. Flirting with perfect seasons, and at times, dominating any and all teams. Beating the Patriots, especially after the lousy first half they had, went a long way in liberating these guys, and taking the proverbial Belichick monkey off their backs.

If this game is played ten times, the Colts win big 8 of those times. Sunday is one of those days. Colts -7 is the call. Chicago gets some easy TD’s at the end when the Colts are playing prevent, to help the game go over 49.

Colts 35 Bears 24.

rainy weather prediction: Colts 17- Bears 13.

AU REVOIR AND ALOHA

One of our favourite robed readers, who distinguishes himself with his thoughtful comments, leaves the REGJB for the land of marital malaise and discord:

Judge Rob Pineiro said...
Just wanted to say, in the words of one of our more celebrated state governors, "Hasta la vista, baby." Believe it or not, I will miss the place--It has been my "home" for over 21 years, counting SAO time.


However, much more than the Justice Building, I will miss the people who labor there.Call me naive, if you wish, but I truly believe the vast majority of us do labor to seek the truth and justice.

Lately, I have noticed a lot of sniping going on, allegely between "prosecutors" and "defense attorneys" as to their "personal characters." Said sniping is based soley on stereotyping people by their occupations. If you treat each person you meet as a unique individual you may very well be pleseantly surprised to find a kindred spirit--someone trying to do his job the best he can and as honorably as possible. After all, we are each the "hero" of our personal sagas and want to believe we are worthy of our own good self opinion. [Rumpole can't help but interject: very wise words indeed by an astute observer of the human condition. Buddhist in a way.]

Without, naming names (I do not want to subject people to public scrutiny on the blog) let me give you a couple of examples as to why the stereotypes are wrong.

This past tour of duty I witnessed a prosecutor reduce a 3 year min man for a "career criminal" to 18 months state prison. The prosecutor did this voluntarily and with absolutely nothing to gain. The defendant had already pled guilty and was sentenced to the min man. The only compensation to the prosecutor--the intense and well earned pleasure of knowing he did what was right, given the situation.

I also have witnessed, on more than one occassion, a defense attorney recommend a drug program for his client instead of an adjudication with credit for time served--looking out for his clients best interests in the long run.

Though I am no longer presiding at REG/JB, perhaps y'all can help me. I am currently assigned to the Family division and I am told I will be expected to use something called "judicial discretion". Any of you know what that is? I tried looking the term up, but couldn't find it in any of the Florida criminal statutes.

"So long" but not "goodbye" for as in the further words of that celebrated state governor--"I'll be baaack."
Friday, February 02, 2007 2:19:00 PM

Rumpole said...

Au revoir Judge P, we will see you again, but it is not likely our paths will cross in Family court. Pehaps you might see us at a nearby lunch spot as we battle it out with the Feds.

Rumpole's New American Legal Dictionary:

Judicial Discretion: The act of making a decision one or both parties in a lawsuit will praise you for in court, and curse you for behind your back.

Noun: "I pay $2000 a month in judicial discretion temporary alimony"

Verb: "I got judicial discretioned outta my house in the divorce case."

Adjective: "That judge can take his judicial discretionary decsion and shove it.


Rumpole welcomes Judge Venzer who takes over Judge Pinero's division. It's been a long time since she was sitting in the REGJB in DUI land, and now she's joined the line-up in the big leagues. (Here come the private emails from the County Court Judges cursing me.)

Welcome: And watch out for our curve ball.

Friday, February 02, 2007

2008 JUDICIAL ELECTIONS - 464 QUALIFYING DAYS LEFT

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

It seems that the campaign season begins earlier and earlier every judicial election. 2008 is no different. Candidates have until Friday, May 9, 2008 to qualify for their group, that's 464 days away, but already four candidates have filed to run in the Circuit Court.

The early filings have been those where the incumbent judge is at the age of mandatory retirement, save one, but many more judges are starting to form their committees and line up their finances. To date, Josie Perez Velis, loser to Judge Murphy in 2006, has filed to run in Group 11 where incumbent Judge Eugene Fierro sits; Migna Sanchez-Llorens, loser to Judge Shelly Schwartz, has filed to run in Group 18, where Jon Gordon presently resides; FAWL President Abby Cynamon has filed in Group 50, held by Judge Stuart Simons, and Stephen Millan, loser to Karen Mills Franics, is filing in Judge Jeffrey Rosinek's seat, Group 63. They will be knocking on doors in the next 15 months, asking for money, lots of money.

In 2006, in the five contested Circuit Court seats, the 12 candidates spent over $1,500,000 during the election campaign.

The incumbent Circuit Court Judges up for election in 2008 are:

Bagley, Jerald
Barzee, Mary R.
Cohen, Jeri Beth
Donner, Amy Steele
Dresnick, Ronald C.
Eig, Spencer
Emas, Kevin M.
Esquiroz, Margarita
Farina, Joseph P.
Fernandez, Ivan F.
Fierro, Eugene J.
Firtel, Leon M.
Friedman, Ronald M.
Glick, Leonard E.
Gordon, Jon I.
Hardee Muir, Celeste
Hogan Scola, Jacqueline
Karlan, Sandy
Lopez, Peter R.
Pineiro, Roberto M.
Prescott, Orlando A.
Rodriguez, Jose M
Rosinek, Jeffrey
Schumacher, Marc
Scola Jr., Robert N.
Shapiro, Bernard S.
Sigler, Victoria S.
Simons, Stuart M.
Trawick, Daryl E.
Tunis, Dava J.
Ward, Diane
Wilson, Jr., Thomas S.
Zabel, Sarah

In County Court, incumbent judges standing for election are:

Arzola, Antonio
DeLaTorre, Buria Saenz
Figarola, Rosa
Schwartz, Jacqueline

On a separate note, for those of you always complaining about the makeup of the JNC and the names that get sent up to the Governor by that Committee, here is your chance to become a member of that esteemed body. "One lawyer vacancy for each of the 26 JNCs. The Florida Bar must nominate three lawyers for each vacancy to the Governor for his appointment. Each appointee will serve a four-year term, commencing July 1, 2007. The Application for Judicial Nominating Commission must be received by mail or fax, (850) 561-5826 no later than 5:30 p.m., Monday , February 12, 2007 in the Executive Director’s office of The Florida Bar."

So, I guess it's time to say: "Let the campaigning begin"!!!

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