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

Saturday, June 30, 2007

THREAT LEVELS

England has raised its security level to “critical”. That is the highest level, and in the wake of three attempted terrorist attacks, it makes sense.

The US will raising its security level to “Chartreuse” from “Mauve.”

Our colour coded system is designed to make things easier than the English, whose levels are a confusing set of words like “safe”; ‘elevated”: “high” and “critical”.
Who can understand that?

Our much easier system is based on slight deviations from the colours of the rainbow. Thus one merely needs to take the derivative of the colour from the basic colours of the rainbow, convert that colour to a simple number which can be obtained by taking the day of the week, and the prime number associated with that day. Then, simply multiply the first number by the second and you have a number that lets you know just how safe you really are.


Also, airport security measures will be increased.
Pursuant to FAA regulations when the security level is raised to “Mauve” (a derivative of blue- which is the fifth colour of the rainbow on a Saturday ( the 6th day of the week; the 6th prime number is 11) thus our security level has been raised to a 55 (5 x 11. see how easy that was?) “and the security level exceeds 50, any ‘non-Starbucks’ liquid shall not be allowed in the airport terminal.”

Only Café-Lattes and such until the threat eases off.


In other news, the Pope is reaching out to the Chinese.

Earlier this month, the Vatican released the ten commandments of driving, so that drivers would be more courteous and safe. See what’s going on here? There is clearly a problem with the Chinese food delivery service the Pope is experiencing and he wants changes (and a decent egg roll delivered quick, hot and fresh) now.


Despite the overwhelming rain storms, the Herald has teamed up with Channel 7 and Home Depot to warn that “despite the current excessive rain falls, only a series of category Five hurricanes which will devastate Miami, can save South Florida from the drought.”

Judge Seidlin’s
problems
in Broward continue. The losing party in the Anna Nicole Smith case has declared that Seidlin “demanded an Apple I-Phone for each member of his family and said we had no chance unless he got the phones, fully loaded with songs, prior to the end of the case.”
Seidlin, who busy reviewing the 12 million dollar private island in the Caribbean that he claimed a group of lawyers “thoughtfully purchased for me and my family as a good-bye present” was unavailable for further comment.

(After reading the link to the Sun Sentinel story above, can anybody seriously explain to us why it took a letter from a Miami lawyer to get the Broward State attorney’s office to investigate? Don’t they read the newspaper?

Mr. Satz, the Sun Sentinel is reporting the names of another 20 judges who have taken bribes.”
“Have we gotten any complaints yet?”
“No sir”
“Then what are you bothering me for?”)

Anyway, that’s the news as we see it on a wet and rainy Saturday. Opps, Homeland security just changed the threat level from Mauve to Indigo. Lets see….6 times 11….

See you in court Monday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CRAZY DEAD

The Supreme Court by a 5-4 decision today (Thursday) held that the state cannot execute a prisoner if s/he is insane.

KILL EM ALL

The court did not address the issue of the insanity of a government executing its own citizens.

Here are some logical conclusions from the opinion:

1) The state's interest in the mental health of one of its citizens becomes critical not before the time of the murder (when innocent life could be saved) - but only after a conviction and sentence of death. It is at that point that the state must spend time and money on physicians to treat a citizen's mental illness so that the citizen may be restore to sanity......So the State may then kill that citizen.

2) It is meaningless to execute a defendant who does not understand s/he is being punished.

3) It is cruel and unusual to execute someone who does not realize (perhaps blissfully?) they are being put to death. However, it is not cruel and unusual to otherwise execute someone. In other words, it is cruel and unusual to die if you don't realize you're about to die. But so long as you sit in an 8X8 cage for years fully aware and pondering your impending death, then the 8th Amendment is not violated.

4) There is no truth to the rumor that Scalia and Thomas dissent contains the phrase "we are diminished by the continuing life of any individual that deserves to be executed." That was just a vicious rumour started in the Supreme Court's canteen.

Thomas's dissent: The dissent focused on the impropriety of granting a successive writ. Regarding the issue of raising insanity (addressing the problem of a prisoner becoming insane after the first writ was denied) , Thomas wrote that the solution was for all prisoners to preserve the insanity issue in the first writ, thus allowing them to raise it in a successive writ if the issue became ripe.

Who gave this man a license to practice law?
Putting aside the ironic lunacy of his reasoning, does he have any idea what his solution says to the issue of only raising claims in legal pleadings that apply? And since Thomas's proposal would allow a person to file a successive writ if they preserved the insanity issue in the first writ, why not just allow successive writs when the issue of insanity becomes ripe, without requiring lawyers to file false pleadings on behalf of clients under sentence of death? If you read the opinion, this part of the dissent is phrased in the context of what is called "A Ford issue."

Justice Scalia, ever eloquent in dissent had this to say "Don't mess with Texas."

So dear reader, the Supreme Court closed its term today with a number of decisions.
The court resurrected with approval Plessy v. Ferguson ("seperate but equal", circa 1896) in striking down a Seattle school district's consideration of race when assigning children to school.
"Brown blows and the Plessy court had it right" said Justice Thomas.

And while an innocent man's appeal should be denied for lack of jurisdiction if the Judge gives him wrong advice on how long he has to file the appeal, a guilty man cannot be executed if during his long stay in an 8X8 cage 23 hours a day, he happens to lose his mind.

This is our Supreme Court, in all its conservative glory.

See you in court, winning trials and avoiding appeals.

PS: Friday we bid a fond fairwell to Judge Cristina Shuminer, who like so many other robed readers of late, heads off to the more lucrative land of televsion. We hardly had a chance to get to know Judge Shuminer before she left, but by all accounts she will be missed. We wish her well.

BROWARD (Again.....sigh).

The Broward Blog posted a link to an article about now former Judge Larry Seidlin, who now has one of those coveted TV shows. THE ARTICLE makes some astounding accusations:

from the former probate Judge and his family taking money and property from a lonely and aged widow living in the same Condo Seidlin lived in, to strong-arming gifts (a $1,000.00 purse) for his wife from lawyers who received his court appointments, to his daily afternoon tennis match. While the taxpayers footed the bill for Seidlin's $145,000.00 a year salary, the former Judge allegedly rarely worked more than an hour in the afternoon, before hitting the tennis courts. Judging from his pictures, Seidlin certainly did something to get that deep south Florida tan.


PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION NORTH OF THE BORDER?

In light of our post yesterday about the suspect prosecution in West Palm Beach, we thought we should invite comment on the Broward State Attorneys Office policy of almost never dropping a case. We have personally been told more than once by prosecutors North Of the Border that their official policy is to "let the jury acquit him" rather than exercise prosecutorial discretion in any case that has already been filed.

While not trying to step on any toes of our brother bloggers in Broward who we have publicly stated we greatly admire, we would like to hear from other defense attorneys, and former (or current) Broward Prosecutors on this policy.

Meanwhile, as the Judges North of the Border stagger towards the much anticipated election of a new Chief Judge, we persist in our prediction that there is no way they can pull this off without some new controversy erupting. Only time, and the ballots (and perhaps some hanging chads??) will tell. There promises to be more than the usual fireworks North of the Border next week.

See You In Court.

SELF DEFENSE AND PROSECUTORS

UPDATED: Judge P drops a dime in a divorce case. See below.

Self defense- a topic near and dear to our own heart and practice.

In West Palm Beach this week, Public Defender Carey Haughwout's client was acquitted of murder and attempted murder after he fired fourteen shots into a vehicle of three men who were gang members and were intent on beating him with a baseball bat.

The Sun Sentinel's story is HERE.

What has us a bit puzzled are the comments from the prosecutor. It should be said that the prosecutor did not appear to attempt to hide from the defense or the jury the criminal nature of individuals who were killed or injured in the case (we can hardly call them "victims").

However, given what appears to be the undisputed proof these men intended to seriously harm the Defendant, the question is why prosecute the case at all?

Here is part of the article, including quotes from the prosecutor that have us troubled:

Williams, who argued that only Borden's first five shots could be construed as self-defense, said it was difficult to overcome the evidence that even the surviving victim, Juan Mendez, conceded the men planned to beat Borden. Williams said he was upfront with the jury about the reputations of the men involved as well as their plans to hurt Borden because he wanted a fair trial.

"The truth hurt me in this case," said Williams, who expressed no surprise at the verdict.

"They were bringing a lot of violence to this defendant. It's tough to put yourself in that guy's shoes and say he didn't act appropriately. It's really tough."

Ultimately, Williams said, the self-defense issue was one for the community, not prosecutors, to determine. He said it would be a tragedy if Borden became a victim of another crime in retaliation for the shootings.

Rumpole says: here appears to be the dividing line on prosecutorial philosophy: The prosecutor who says "here's the evidence, let the jury decide" versus the prosecutor who says "this person acted appropriately under Florida law and should not be prosecuted".

Here is a question we have for those who think the jury should decide- What if the Defendant was found guilty? Florida law does not provide for any sentence other than a mandatory life in prison. Would anyone have thought that justice was served if that occurred.

We believe- and we invite comment on the matter- that a prosecutor's job is to not take those types of cases to the jury where a defendant acted lawfully, even if that acted included the lawful and justified killing of another human being.
Look at it like this- if the Defendant in this case was a police officer, would there have been a prosecution?

In the end, who can feel secure about justice being done with prosecutors who analyze their losses with the statement "the truth hurt me here"? Isn't every case in a Dade County Courtroom tried beneath the banner of "We who labor here seek only the truth."?

Apparently not in West Palm Beach, where the truth may hurt, but it also acquits.

Well Done Ms. Haughwout.!

See you in court, seeking the truth.

UPDATE:
The Herald reports today HERE
that Judge Pinero, hearing a divorce case involving a controversial Miami Preacher, has "dropped a dime" on the good reverend and sent the Feds a transcript of the proceedings, saying he was "ethically bound" to do so. The Feds have confirmed they have opened an investigation.

Are Judges ethically bound to report such details of a person's private life exposed in divorce court?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shift Happens

Take six minutes and five seconds from your busy day and watch this.

SHIFT HAPPENS

Shift Happens.


The Shift is happening. What are you going to do about it?


Some mail:

A reader asks why there have not been any comments lately from Judge Blake or Judge P?

Rumpole responds, Judge Blake- an admitted reader of the blog, rarely if ever posts a comment. Judge Pinereo, like the wise and prudent jurist that he is, posts a comment only when he has something to say. A lesson for all of us lawyers when we appear in court.

A reader asks if the font is new. Rumpole replies that this blogger service is free and therefore you get what you pay for. This service from Google, while nice, has hundreds of bugs. For instance, if we create a post and save it, and then edit it and save it, and then open it to edit it again, it reverts to the original post, with the first edits lost. Also, our link button does not work. Never has. When we create a post with links, we have been forced to learn the programing language for this blog and write the program code for a link in the body of the post. As to the font, sometimes it just seems to change and we can't change it back for a while.
Just some of the behind the scenes work here that the average reader doesn't see or care to know about.

As summer is fast upon us, and we find ourselves out on the links more often, or bashing a tennis ball about, we have less "work" time for the blog. Any readers who would like to be a guest with privileges to post on the front page should email us. All we need is an email from your private address and presto- you too can be a blogger. It works in Broward where several attorneys contribute to the blog and there is no reason why we cannot have that here. We first saw the link to the Shift Happens video on the Broward blog with a post by one of the contributors.

See You In Court.

Monday, June 25, 2007

SCOOTER'S BLUES

It can’t be easy to be Scooter Libby these days. Lost a trial. Sentenced to 31 months prison. Appellate Court denied his motion for appellate bond. And now, comes a punch in the gut from the Scooter’s conservative friends on the US Supreme Court in the decision in Rita v. US which was handed down last week. You can read the opinion on the SCOTUS Blog
>HERE


Victor Rita was charged and convicted for the same crimes as the Scooter: perjury, obstruction of justice, making false statements to a grand jury. Rita like the Scooter had no relevant criminal prior history, served in the armed forces for over 25 years (unlike the Scooter and his bosses George and Dick- who send men to war, but never actually went when their country called them.). Rita received 35 commendations or medals for service to his country, and like the Scooter, Rita had many successful and powerful people write to the court on his behalf for a sentence that did not send him to prison. Rita was sentenced to 33 months (two months more than the Scooter) and his case reached the US Supreme Court. Rita argued that his sentence was not “reasonable”, which is the argument the Scooter is expected to make. The Supreme Court has ruled that Scooter’s lawyers can save their paper.

Writing for an 8-1 majority, Judge Breyer wrote that appellate courts may presume that a sentence within the guidelines is reasonable, although the presumption is not binding.


Rita’s sentence stands, and Scooter Libby- white powerful Republican (“hey, these sentencing guidelines can’t have been meant for me, can they?”) is in all likelihood on his way to prison in a few weeks.

Justice Stevens started off his concurrence with bigger fish to fry, noting that Booker was not unanimous but as precedent must now be accepted as settled law. (Can you say “Roe v. Wade”?) Bless Stevens for throwing the Robert’s court’s penchant for reversing those pesky liberal Supreme Court opinions of the past in the face of Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia and the gang.

But the interesting issue here is the presence of all those right wing, law and order Republicans writing tearful and sorrowful letters to the sentencing Judge reminding him of Scooter Libby’s devotion to his country and family. Some expressed surprise that a first offender with little chance of recidivism would even be facing prison.

As Bruce Willis said in the original Die Hard, “Welcome to the party pal.”

First, we have no tolerance for sentencing Scooter Libby to prison to send a message that even powerful people can be sent to prison. Scooter Libby should go to prison simply because he ignored the primacy of the law, and decided to lie to investigators in a criminal case. That type of conduct needs to be punished.

However, Scooter's friends' surprise at how unfair the sentencing laws are is what is really at issue here.

You want to remedy unfairness? Change the 100:1 crack to powder ratio of the sentencing guidelines and stop sending 20 year old black kids to jail for ten year minimum mandatories for possession of 1/100th the amount of crack that it would take for a more affluent (read white middle class) man to get the same sentence for power cocaine.

We have more than 2 million Americans in prison. (China- that paragon of Human rights abuse, has 1.5 million of it’s citizens in prison.) Human Rights Watch reported in 2000

HERE
that African Americans comprised 13 percent of the national population; 30 percent of people arrested; 41 percent of people in jail; and 49 percent of those in prison
One in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 was either in jail or prison, or on parole or probation in 1995. One in ten black men in their twenties and early thirties is in prison or jail. Thirteen percent of the black adult male population has lost the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.”

Don't some of those men have families? Aren't some of those men first offenders?

Something is wrong in our country, and it is not the liberalness of sentencing Judges.

What we are saying is that the wealthy elite of the this country expressed little surprise or outrage as we threw record numbers of Americans in prison, until one of their own was sentenced to prison.

Don’t despair for Scooter- since it was a federal case, he will not be sent to one of the hundreds of hell holes that comprise the state prison systems around this country. Maybe if Mr. Libby was sent to some prison where the guards bet on inmate fights and he was subject to daily abuse as tens of thousands of other prisoners in state prisons are, then maybe- if and when he emerged alive from his 31 months, there would be a real discussion of the state of prisons in this country.

Until then, Scooter can go to a minimum security camp, write his book, mow the lawn, get into shape, while his elite friends “tsk tsk” the mean Judge before raising a hundred thousand for the next politician who wins office on the “get tough on crime” platform.

See You In Court.

Just as an aside: How many prosecutors or Judges have ever visited a Florida medium security prison? Just wondering.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

QUEING IT UP

No this is not about the fictional best attorney in the world.

Longtime and careful readers of the blog know that we take interest in many of the mundane aspects of modern life. One thing that has always bothered us is the management of lines at commercial establishments. The way things now exist, when you pick a line, you enter a “time” lottery. If the fortunes of fate shine upon you, then your line moves quickly. If however, a problem occurs, you can be in “line hell.”

Have you ever wondered what takes so many people so long to buy a movie ticket? It’s a simple transaction: walk to the teller: tell them the movie, the time and number of people and tender payment. But we often see lengthy discussions involving multiple individuals, quizzical expressions which end up taking much too long to buy a simple ticket.

We often ponder what is actually being discussed:

“Hi, I’d like to buy a ticket, change my seats on my upcoming flight to Osaka, Japan, check to see if I should refinance my mortgage, and pay for the entire transaction in German marks.”

Teller: Sure- this should take about an hour, give or take, depending upon the latest currency market report.”


Word now reaches us that the supermarket chain Whole Foods, new of late to New York City, and facing smaller stores with large customer traffic, has adopted what we call: “the bank line system.”

In the “Bank line system” there is one line for multiple tellers. As you approach the front, you run no risk of queing up behind the customer from hell. The problem with this system is two fold: from the vendor’s prospective, the longer line that the system generates, tends to scare off people and they leave the store before they shop.

From the customer’s perspective, you bear the risk of what we call “institutional line break down” or ILBD.

We’ve seen ILBD a hundred times at our own Au Bon Pain. The good people at ABP tend towards the “bank line system” which is good, but they lack the fortitude to keep the system running through long lines. Thus, when the line gets long, then either a nefarious customer will walk up directly behind the individual ordering at one of the cashiers- as if the other 20 people standing in line are stupid- or one of the cashiers will get nervous seeing a long line of 20 people, and shout “form three lines please.” The resulting new lines are noticeably shorter- but here’s the rub- the wait is longer.


Que management analysis scientifically proves that the “bank line system” effectively manages lines and cuts wait time significantly. The only issue is customer perception: “Wow this line is long. Forget it.”

As always, education is the key, and we are starting now. We call upon Au Bon Pain to “stay the course” and hold tight to the “bank line system” even on those Monday lunch hours when jurors, attorneys, and clients all pile in seeking a hot cup of soup on a cool August day.

Perception versus reality. The topic is lines, but you easily apply the analysis to North of the Border- they appear to be running a court system, but in reality…..(add your own punch line here).


See You In Court.

Friday, June 22, 2007

ANOTHER TRAGEDY

Where were the police.


There is more to the shooting at the Polish/American Club last weekend that resulted in the death of teenager Sam Brown age 16.

The Herald reported HERE that the owner of the club hired City of Miami Police Officers for security, and that the officers were “no shows.”

Mayor Miami Diaz, showing the knowledge and acumen that has made South Florida politicians famous, fought back against the allegations that the City of Miami Police Department dropped the ball.

“The department is simply incapable of providing officers at every private event”, the Herald quoted the Mayor as saying.

One problem: In the same article the Mayor admitted he did not know how the off-duty security program with the Police Department worked.

That’s what we like- a politician who holds a press conference and speaks authoritatively on an issue he admits he knows nothing about. Give the mayor high marks for honesty. It's not often a politican admits he's a dunce.


The real tragedy here is that an apparently wonderful 16 year old young man lost his life, before it really began.

The Herald reported HERE
on just what a special young man Sam Brown was turning out to be.


The Herald reported that Sam Brown was a member of “Lamplighters, the youth wing of Omega Psi Phi, the prestigious black fraternity with more than 100,000 members.The group's goal is to lend a hand to black teens like Sam -- and Sam was already returning the favor by giving back to his own community.


The six-foot-three kid with the linebacker's physique was known as ''Big Sam.'' He was a long-standing volunteer at the Miami Rescue Mission's Community Activity Center, where he served as an afternoon counselor to kids in Overtown. His job was to lead them in games at the center's gym.

''All the kids loved Sam,'' said Quanina Hodgson, an employee at the mission. ``They took it very hard when they heard what had happened to him.''
On Thursday, the center will hold a vigil in his honor at 6 p.m. at 2025 NW First Ave.”


This is just an awful, senseless tragedy, in a City that seems beset with gun and youth violence.


We need more young men like Sam Brown. His death should not be in vain. It is time for this community to strike back against the proliferation of weapons and careless disregard for human life that all too often ends with someone like Sam Brown dead.

Mayor Diaz should not be holding press conferences defending the City of Miami Police Department.

Mayor Diaz s and the City of Miami Police Department should be holding press conferences trying to get the public to help in finding Sam Brown’s killers.

We wonder what is more important to the Mayor: Making this community safe, or making his police department immune from lawsuits?

See You In Court.

Oh: Judge Zack said he didn't do anything wrong. The ol' The Hurricane made me do it defense

Thursday, June 21, 2007

CHHHHCHANGES

Unfortunately, the more things change, the more they stay the same- which you can see by reading the end of this post.

KEN HASSLETT - former FACDL Miami chapter president, ace criminal defense attorney, and all around nice guy is putting his head into the lion- he is going into the belly of the beast (add whatever other hackneyed metaphors you think apply here); Ken is going North of the Border to meet with Judge Ana Gardnier to discuss....dare we say it..CHANGES North of the Border.

Here is part of the email he sent out:

As The FACDL-Miami Liaison to the BACDL I am making the following report:

On May 29, I attended the BACDL Board meeting organized by their President, Eric Schwartzreich. Also in attendance was the new Administrative Judge for the Criminal Division, Ana Gardiner. I am pleased to report that it was a very informative and productive meeting....

Judge Gardiner has opened the lines of communication with the criminal Defense
bar. It is no secret that change is necessary in Broward. Now is the time for us to bring important issues to the table, that can be resolved by the chief and/or administrative Judge.
...
I am forwarding this message to all of the members of FACDL-Miami so that they can forward any suggestions to me. On your behalf, I will present our suggestions to the BACDL at their meeting. .. I will be attending the meetings of both organizations in order to keep the lines of communication open.

Thanks,
Kenneth P. HassettAttorney at Law


Rumpole says: You can email Ken here: email: defenderno1 @ aol.com

Our advice is that we rarely venture North of the Border without local counsel, a bondsman on standby, and plenty of antibiotics. But that's just us. We wish Ken luck, and if things don't turn out so well, we will post his jail number at the Broward County Jail so you can drop him a line ala- Pais Hilton.

Word also reaches us from North of the Border via the Broward Blog (link on the left) that long time County Court Judge Robert Zach has been caught with his hand- not in the till- but in the pocket of a criminal defense attorney who appeared before him, to the sum of an unpaid personal loan of $2,500.00

Can you say former Judge Ralph Person?

For those of you newer to the REGJB, the saga of Judge Person reads like a Shakespearean tragedy. Judge Ralph Person was the Chief Administrative Judge for the criminal courts. A true Judge. Admired and well respected by all, we often said he had the best poker face of any Judge we ever appeared before. He gave you a fair hearing and you never had any idea which way he was going to rule.

Judge Person was so well respected that when the Feds needed an expert witness to testify to the Jury in the Miami Court Broom Judicial Corruption case as to what a Judge could and could not do, they turned to Judge Ralph Person.

Just one problem: Judge Person had solicited and received loans from attorneys who had appeared before him. This came out on cross examination and it was not pretty to say the least.

The testimony marked the swift beginning of the end of the Judicial and legal career of Judge Person. He resigned from the bench. The bar was relentless in their pursuit of him. He eventually resigned from the bar, remarking something to the effect that he never wanted anything to do with the law or lawyers again. It was a sad if not tragic ending to his career.

It is often said that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. Apparently Judge Zack in Broward County is many things, but a historian he is not. We do not know how this mess is going to end, but we predict it will not be pretty.

See You In Court, where in case any of our robed readers are wondering, we cannot loan you any money.


PS. You have to check out the comments on the Broward Blog about Zack.
We're thinking of starting a Broward Judicial body count for each month. This month is what, one Judge to TV, one Judge resigned, Ross to probate of all places (on the theory that he can't offend the clients there as much). Just when you think you have heard it all, another Judge in Broward steps up to the plate and does something stupid, unethical, illegal, or all three. This is an epidemic and obviously some of those Judges have something else under their robes besides skivvies.

What is happening in Broward is a continuing erosion in the public's confidence in the judiciary. We will be soon taking bets on what scandal emerges from the voting for the new chief Judge. The way things are going up there, you just know they are bound to screw it up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

TIES THAT BIND II

It's summer time (you can tell because it's raining.)

We have discussed before that for all their short comings our colleagues North of The Border have an enlightened approach to summer time dress codes.

Do you think our Administrative Judges should show some leadership here and issue an order allowing attorneys, if they so choose, to appear in Court sans Tie for soundings, reports, and miscellaneous hearings?

Dressing in a suit and tie shows respect for the court and jurors. However, our female colleagues manage to pull it off without wearing a Tie most of the time.

It's something to consider.


We've been pondering the Brendlin decision from the US Supreme Court (there is a link to the decision in the previous post). The decision extends the protections of the Fourth Amendment to Passengers in Vehicles.

We have two thoughts: 1) Justice Souter wrote: A traffic stop "necessarily curtails the travel a passenger has chosen just as much as it halts the driver," …. "a passenger's "attempt to leave the scene would be so obviously likely to prompt an objection from the officer that no passenger would feel free to leave in the first place".

Sort of undermines all those decisions that say that citizens are free to leave an "encounter" with the police any time they wish.

2) Extending the "protections" of this court's view of the Fourth Amendment to passengers is sort of like handing a broken umbrella to an attorney scurrying from their parking lot in the rain. The thought is good, but they still get wet. We read this decision as giving passengers standing to file motions, which can then be denied on grounds other than lack of standing. Woo Hoo! What a big day for the rights of citizens in the good ol' USA


Judge Seidlin (he of Anna Nicole Smith weeping fame) resigned North of The Border to pursue ventures in Hollywood. You can read about it on the Broward Blog.

Judge Speiser withdrew from the race to be the new chief honcho in Broward. The race is now down to Dale Ross, Mrs. Dale Ross, and Judge Stacy Ross, Dale Ross's daughter, and a Judge in her own right. What a coincidence!

See You In Court, wearing a tie until we are told otherwise.

Monday, June 18, 2007

BASIC TRAINING

UPDATED to include our incursion into Mr. Markus's territory.

Submitted for your consideration: our discussion on the SAO and training.



We are probably not the best source for this discussion because our contact with new prosecutors is limited. However, we have heard from lawyers who practice in County Court daily that the training for the new prosecutors is wanting.

We do not think that prosecutors are told to convict the innocent. We do believe that almost every prosecutor would dismiss charges against a person who is innocent.

But innocence is a difficult concept. We are not talking about the person who can prove he/she was having dinner with the Pope when the crime was committed.

We are talking about cases that do not have a such a clear line.

It is our belief, based not on a scientific survey, but more on a series of discussions with prosecutors over the years, that the training in the SAO has more to do with winning cases than seeking justice. It is our contention that in the 1980’s a young prosecutor who was troubled by a case had more authority to seek justice, and less difficulty in dealing with a seemingly endless myriad of supervisors to obtain a justified result.


It is our opinion-based on experience- that today prosecutors are trained to attack a justified defense, rather than seriously consider it. We have heard of young prosecutors frustrated to the point of quitting, by a bureaucracy that will not listen to them.

Perhaps we are right, perhaps we are wrong.

We invite discussion on this issue.

We are often asked to hold emails confidential. We are often emailed by Judges, politicians, well known lawyers, and asked to post their thoughts anonymously or keep their emails in confidence. We have always honored that request. Should any prosecutor care to email us confidentially, we will keep their identity secret to the extent the law allows.

Have at it.

See You in Court.


PS: Mr. Markus has been stealing our material lately, so turn about is fair play .

Click for the Supreme Court Opinion today in Brendlin v. California in which Justice Souter, writing for a unanimous court found that passengers in vehicles are "stopped" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and thus have standing to challenge the stop.

The SCOTUS BLOGis a good resource for all things doing with the Magnificent Nine

Saturday, June 16, 2007

STANFORD HAMLET AND THE GHOST OF GERRY

Longtime and careful readers of the blog know we often find comfort and succor in the Bard, especially in times of trouble.

We therefore take some liberties with Hamlet and his Father’s Ghost, in a final speculation of the removal nee/ resignation of Judge Gerry Klein.

Tortured by the “resignation” of Judge Gerry Klein, our Hero “Stanford Hamlet” dangles near the edge of madness. The scene below, he confronts the Ghost of Judge Klein:

SCENE V.

Enter GHOST and STANFORD HAMLET

GHOST OF GERRY KLEIN

My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames Must render up myself.

STANFORD HAMLET
Alas, poor ghost and Senior Judge!

GHOST OF GERRY KLEIN
Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearingTo what I shall unfold.

STANFORD HAMLET
Speak; I am bound to hear.

GHOST OF GERRY KLEIN
I am Judge Gerry Klein’s spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the golf courses of Miami Beach
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purged away.

STANFORD HAMLET
O My!

GHOST OF GERRY KLEIN
Revenge my foul and most unnatural resignation.

HAMLET
Resignation!

GHOST OF GERRY KLEIN
Resignation most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange and unnatural resignation.

Now, Stanford, hear:
A serpent named Rundle so stung me; so the whole ear of Miami is by a forged process of my resignation.
Rankly abused: but know, thou noble youthful administrative Judge:
The serpent that did sting thy Senior Judge’s Job
Now wears the crown of State Attorney.

STANFORD HAMLET
O my prophetic soul! My Aunt Kathy!!!

GHOST OF GERRY KLEIN
Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of her wit, with traitorous gifts,--

O Stanford, what a falling-off was there!
From me, whose love was of the Bench
Thus was I, Judging ,
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,Unhousel'd, disappointed, ungaveled
No reckoning made, but sent to resign
With all my imperfections on my head:

Let not the royal bench of Miami be A couch for luxury and damned credit time served.

But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive Against thy State Attorney aught:
leave her to heaven or the bar or the voters.
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her.

Fare thee well at once!

Adieu, adieu! Stanford Hamlet, remember me.
Remember me Your Judge Klein
(Exit)

STANFORD HAMLET
Remember thee! Ay, thou poor ghost and disgraced Senior Judge
while memory holds a seat In this distracted adminstrative Judge's chambers.

O most pernicious woman!

O villain, villain, State Attorney smiling, damned villain!
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;

At least I'm sure it may be so in Miami.
That villainous Woman did not tarry
And sent away our beloved Fast Gerry.



And in final thought about Judge Klein, we directly quote the Bard:


HORATIO
I saw him once; he was a goodly king.

HAMLET
He was a man, take him for all in all,I shall not look upon his like again.


Gerry Klein was one of a kind and we shall not look upon his like again.

See You In Court.

NIFONG DISBARRED

After deliberating for less than an hour, the Disciplinary Hearing Panel in North Carolina voted today to recommend disbarment for disgraced prosecutor Michael Nifong.
ARTICLE


DOWN GOES KORDA

Despite how hard it appears to become a Judge, South Florida is losing Judges at an alarming rate.

We neglected to report that earlier this week, Judge Korda, late of North of the Border, and in the headlines for partaking in Cannabis Sativa, has resigned after 30 years on the bench.

You can check out the story on the Broward Blog, and also check out the great letter from lawyer Tony Serra, 71, who did 10 months at Lompoc, California, for tax evasion. It's a great letter and story.

The Broward Blog link is on the left.

Our favourite Federal Blog, besides stealing our lines, covers the apology from the lawyer who suggested a Federal Bankruptcy Judge was " a few french fries short of a happy meal." The hearing on the rule to show cause is this week, and according to the Federal Blog, the lawyer is "really, really sorry."

Tomorrow: Our version of "Stanford Hamlet" , as he confronts the Ghost of Gerry Klein."


Friday, June 15, 2007

NIFONG RESIGNS / US SUPREME COURT DOES IT AGAIN

Word reaches us this rainy evening that Mr. Nifong, the prosecutor who mishandled the rape investigation and prosecution of Duke Lacrosse players, announced, tearfully during his testimony during a Bar hearing regarding his ethics violations, that he intended to resign.

Too little too late.

Reade Seligman, 21, one of the innocent players who was accused and prosecuted, testified at the hearing. He recounted how Nifong refused for several months to meet with his lawyer, although DNA evidence had exonerated him, and the fact that he wasn’t even at the party where the rape was alleged to have taken place. Seligman testified how when confronted with his alibi Nifong “smirked” and said he was not interested in fiction. Seligman testified how his father collapsed on the floor when he learned the complaining witness had identified Seligman in a photo line-up. And finally, Seligman testified how he was ostracized by the Duke community once he was indicted. A classmate and study partner in his African studies class wrote in the student newspaper how the rape had “brought Jim Crow back to the South.”

Previously in the hearing, Raleigh attorney Brad Bannon testified that he spent 100 hours reviewing the 1,844 pages of DNA results. Six months earlier Nifong had released the results along with a summary of the findings. One problem: the summary did not list that another, un-charged male’s DNA was located in the samples tested. If not for the diligent work of this lawyer, innocent men might have gone to prison.

Who among us, when first hearing of the incident, did not say to themselves that the lacrosse players- all white and from privileged backgrounds- must be guilty? Who among us did not hope that the prosecutor would work quickly and efficiently to show that a black women could finally get justice in the South?

Just one problem: the student were innocent and the woman was a troubled liar.
Compound that with a prosecutor about to enter a difficult election, and you have all the ingredients for a tragedy.

This case illustrates just how much damage one prosecutor with the wrong ideas and ideals can cause. He wrecked the families of the young men who were accused; he brought disgrace to his office; and his actions contributed to a loss of confidence in the justice system.

The question we have is not what to do with Mr. Nifong. He should certainly be disbarred. The question we have is how many other Mr. Nifongs are out there?

We criminal defense attorneys call ourselves Liberty’s last line of defense. That was truly the case in the Duke prosecution. But for dedicated lawyers working when public opinion was strongly against them and their clients, innocent young men would probably have gone to prison.

We think our legislators and the public should think long and hard about the Duke case the next time they consider handcuffing criminal defense attorneys by taking away a defendant's ability to defend him or herself in court. Losing the right to the rebuttal closing argument as just happened here in Florida troubles us greatly. We view it not as an isolated incident, but the begining of a trend.


You damn well better believe any member of the Florida legislature would want their attorney to have the last word if their son was wrongfully accused of rape.
It is something to think about.


We can’t sign off without commenting briefly on the US Supreme Court’s decision in Bowles v. Russell.


Keith Bowles is serving a 15 year to life sentence imposed by an Ohio state court. When the federal judge denied his habeas corpus petition, he mistakenly told Bowles, that he had 18 days to file his notice of appeal. Bowles’ attorney filed the notice of appeal on the 17th day. After briefs were filed, the Court of Appeals granted a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction when Ohio argued that the appeal was not timely filed, as law required the notice of appeal to be filed within 14 days.

Justice David Souter writing for the four dissenters in the case spoke for us when he wrote that “it is intolerable for the judicial system to treat people this way.” He added, “There is not even a technical justification for condoning this bait and switch.”

Of course Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion. And of course he based his reasons on Congress- “
Because Congress decides whether federal courts can hear cases at all, it can also determine when, and under what conditions, federal courts can hear them,”

Once again- if it was a member of Congress’s family who got shut out of an appeal after a Judge gave incorrect instructions, we believe there would be a greater outcry to stop this insanity.

Just what kind of legal system treats its citizens this way? Our legal system. And it stinks.

You can read how the NY Times reported the case
HERE


See you in court ignoring any advice our robed readers give us and our clients on how many days we have to appeal.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

RESIGNATION OF JUDGE KLEIN

The Daily Business Review published an article today on the sudden resignation of Judge Gerald Klein. The gist of the article is that Klein submitted his resignation, after serving 48 years on the bench, after the Dade State Attorneys Office filed a complaint with Judge Farina regarding Judge Klein’s comments to a female assistant state attorney.

Here is the link to the DBR Article:
JUDGE KLEIN

We came of age practicing law when female lawyers were still sometimes ridiculed, propositioned, or otherwise not taken seriously. There is never any excuse for treating another professional in a demeaning manner. If that did occur here- and we should note that what has occurred is just a complaint and a resignation- no finding of guilt- then Judge Klein was right to resign.

Judge Klein served this community for 48 years. He has a right to be remembered as a hard working, honest, and decent jurist and man. We are terribly sorry that he ends his distinguished career in this manner. However, even if true, one blight should not otherwise erase decades of outstanding service.

For decades Gerry Klein has not only been a fixture in the courtrooms of Miami, but also on the golf courses of Miami Beach, and we are certain that anyone so inclined can will be able to find him most mornings teeing off. Keeping with the golfing references, we can't help wishing that even if the accusations were true, that after 48 years of service, this man was entitled to one, well earned, mulligan.

Forgive us for being rank sentimentalists, but in many ways this is the end of an era.
We will miss Judge Klein; we wish him godspeed and we hope that he enjoys his well earned retirement.

See You In Court, waiting in what promises to be very long lines at bond hearings.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

COSTS

The Iraq war costs $177M per day, $7.4M per hour and $122,820 per minute.

Here is nice little up to the minute War Cost counter
: COST OF WAR .

The Cost of a tooth extraction for a child varies from $100.00 to $500.00.

Bob Herbert a columnist for the NY Times wrote about 12 year old Deamonte Driver, of Prince George’s County, Maryland. We should note that Prince Georges County is not that far from Washington DC. Perhaps less than 100 miles.

Young Deamonte Driver had an abscessed tooth. A dentist offered to extract it for $80.00. Driver’s mother could not afford the fee, so when the pain got bad she took her son to the emergency room of the local hospital. The hospital gave Deamonte some pain killers and medicine for sinusitis and sent him home.

On February 25 2007, in agony, Deamonte died when the bacteria from the abscess spread to his brain.

We spend $122,000 A MINUTE for a mistake. A mistake in intelligence. A mistake in believing our elected representatives. A mistake that will haunt our country, like Vietnam has, for decades.

We cannot spend $80.0 damn dollars to save a child’s life. A life in which that child may have grown into the next Dr. Pasteur; or Picasso; or Beethoven, or Bill Gates. Without such delusions of grandeur, shouldn't American children be entitled to grow up with adequate health care. Shouldn't Deamonte have been able to reach his teen years; fall in love; get his heart broken; play sports; go to the movies; get married; have children of his own? Shouldn't a child in a country that calls itself the greatest society on earth have a decent chance of not dying from a tooth ache before the age of 20?

Would this have happened to Deamonte in Canada? or England? or France? Or Germany? Or Russia?


Bob Herbert quoted Nelson Mandela:
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul
than the way in which it treats its children.”

We have spent close to half a trillion dollars for the mistakes of our president and vice president ( and we are generous when we use the term mistake; one could easily make the case for “lies”).



Lets say circa 2001 there was no terrorist attack. Lets say that the people of Iraq in 2002 rose up on their own and peacefully overthrew Saddam Hussein.
The question is this: without a war on terrorism and a war overseas pending, would we as a society have agreed to spend one quarter of the cost of the war in Iraq on our children’s health over the next ten years? Would we have agreed to spend 10 billion a year more on health care for the 9 million uninsured children in this country? 10 billion is a lot of money. You can do a lot with 10 billion dollars.

10 billion dollars is what we are spending every 65 days in Iraq.

Think about it.

Think about all the lost lives in Iraq.
Think about all the lost opportunities and all the better ways we could have used that 400 billion dollars we have already spent.

And think about Deamonte Driver. Dead at age 12. George Bush and the Republicans would and have gladly spent 400 billion dollars to stop a terrorist from shooting Deamonte. But they wouldn’t spend an extra 80 bucks to have his tooth pulled.

We reflect on Nelson Mandela's quote and we come to this conclusion: we are not the greatest society on earth. Far from it. We are not the greatest country in the world. Whatever claim we had to greatness we have squandered. We may have had the greatest generation that saved the world from totalitarianism. We may have put men on the moon. But we can't protect the lives of our most valuable resource- children. And we continually vote for duplicitous and deceitful men whose only defense of their right to lead is that they are prayerful and believe in the lord.

George Bush hasn't squandered our greatness. We have. By voting for him. Twice.

See You in Court.

Monday, June 11, 2007

NEW BOND HEARING/ARTHUR HEARING PROCEDURES

JUDGE BLAKE DOES NOT ANSWER OUR EMAILS

HOWEVER HE DOES EMAIL THE FACDL


HERE IS WHAT HE HAD TO SAY

1) Circuit Judges will do their own Arthur Hearings.
Cancel that 3:00 PM tee time guys.

2) Two new Judges will handle bond hearings Monday through Thursday, with a special guest retired Judge for Fridays.
Who said consistency in setting bond amounts was a good idea anyway?

3) NO MENTION OF GERRY KLEIN.
DADE JUDGES SILENT ON OUSTER OF JUDGE KLEIN DAY SIX.
Fair warning here dear robed readers, we have several reporters who have been speaking with us about this story. Your silence is deafening.

Finally: What about the "dade rule" that because police make so many bogus arrests for non-bondable offenses, that you cannot get an Arthur Hearing before the arraignment? Will that now change?

Scenario: Man and wife are getting divorced. Wife locks husband out of home. Husband climbs through window, gets belongings, including his prized Buck Knife, and as he is walking out the door he is arrested for......? You guessed it- Armed Burglary. Husband can't get bond until 21 days later.

Is this going to change? Are the courts going to be more responsive to the police's blatant manipulation of the system? Or like the Gerry Klein mystery, are our Judges just going to sit there saying "see no evil"??





This really isn't our criminal judiciary, is it?

Here is Judge Blake's perky email:

Hi Everyone,
It now appears that a solution has been found for the weekday bond hearings. Senior Judge Tom Peterson and Judge Fred Seraphin will be handling bond hearings Monday-Thursday. Our Chief has been able to arrange that senior judges will cover the bond hearings on Fridays. This new procedure is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 25th. Because Judge Seraphin will now be doing bond hearings and county court back up, it will be necessary for each division to handle its own Arthur Hearings. I will be asking Fred to send out an email to us to let us know things we should be looking for and see if legal can assist us with any questions we may have. At this time, it appears that some Arthur Hearings currently set during the week of June 25th may be reset in your division. I am sending this email to the judges and JA’s so everyone is aware of the changes. As always thanks for your cooperation and call me with any questions. Stan


Rumpole says, we can only wish some of our clients were as silent as the Dade Judicial Administration on the Judge Klein issue. Well, they do get to see the stupidity of speaking to the police, so we really can't blame them for lawyering up.

CORAL GABLES OFFICER ALAN DAVIS ARRESTED FOR SOLICITING A PROSTITUTE

THE MIAMI HERALD REPORTED THAT Veteran Coral Gables Officer Alan Davis was arrested for picking up a prostitute and driving her to the warehouse district near Merrick Park for the purposes of comitting prostituion related activities.

In other words, he wanted her to do that voodoo that she do so well.

A portion of the Herald Article is below:


A veteran Coral Gables Police canine officer picked up what he thought was a prostitute Sunday morning -- but not to take her to jail.
Instead Officer Alan Davis -- on duty, in his marked patrol car and accompanied by his K-9 -- drove the woman from Pierce Park in Coconut Grove to a warehouse area near the posh Village of Merrick.
There, police said, he offered her $40 for sex and began removing his gun belt
.

(wow officer, are you happy to see me or is that a gun in your belt?)
Davis, 43, didn't know the woman was a police informant wearing a wire or that he had been under surveillance by his own department.
Davis, a 21-year veteran, was taken into custody in his uniform and charged with solicitation and transportation with the purpose of prostitution.

His police dog, Troll, who two weeks ago won a statewide bomb sniffing competition, was in the backseat of the cruiser, said Coral Gables Police Chief Michael Hammerschmidt.

(There should be an enhancement for performing a sexual act in front of a minor animal. We are assuming the dog was under the age of 18.)
The case really began a month ago, the chief said. Davis had been under investigation by Gables police internal affairs after the department received an allegation from another woman that Davis had solicited her for sex, Hammerschmidt said.
In the case that landed him in jail Sunday, Davis apparently first had contact with the female police informant on Thursday.
''There were discussions that led us to believe he was going to start working on this lady,'' Hammerschmidt said. ``She notified Miami police. They notified our internal affairs because they knew we were working on this investigation.''
The department said Davis is married and has a family
.


Rumpole says, as any sex crimes prosecutor will tell you, the probability is that if he is indeed guilty, Davis has been engaging in this type of behavior for some time.

THE 4th CIRCUIT STRIKES BACK.

THE NY TIMES REPORTED TODAY:

In a stinging rejection of one of the Bush administration’s central assertions about the scope of executive authority to combat terrorism, a federal appeals court ordered the Pentagon to release a man being held as an enemy combatant.


To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote, “even if the President calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country.”
“We refuse to recognize a claim to power,” Judge Motz added, “that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic.”


The ruling was handed down by a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., in the case of Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar and the only person on the American mainland known to be held as an enemy combatant.

Rumpole says: About time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

COMMENCEMENT SPEECH

Radio and Television talk show host Tavis Smiley said this during his speech at Rutgers University Commencement activities:

The tragedy of your life does not lie, young folk, in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It is not a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to not be able to capture your ideals, but it is a disaster to have no ideals to capture. It is not a disgrace to not be able to reach all the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.


Wise words. See you in court tomorrow.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ken Feldman Memorial

We received this email and humbly post it.

Memorial Service for Ken Feldman Monday June 11th, 20076:00 PM
St. Thomas University School of Law Moot Court Room
(16401 NW 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens)

A Memorial Service will be held in the Moot Court Room Monday, June 11th, at 6:00 PM for Kenneth N. Feldman, Director of Pro Bono Services and Adjunct Professor at the law school for the past ten years. Originally from the Philadelphia area and an alumnus of Boston College Law School, Mr. Feldman devoted endless hours to community service and also had his own criminal law practice. Ken Feldman will always be remembered for his kindness and for his devotion to his students.

Donations are being accepted for the Ken Feldman Pro Bono Scholarship fund as well as for the Orchid Garden that will be planted and maintained on campus in his memory. If you wish to donate to either fund, please log on to DONATE


Please be sure to note which fund to be credited. Thank You.


Rumpole says:

"For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."- John F. Kennedy

Thursday, June 07, 2007

MORE ROSS

DADE COUNTY JUDGES SILENT ON JUDGE KLEIN'S OUSTER. DAY TWO.
WHY WON'T THEY TALK AND TELL US WHAT HAPPENED?
We know this is primarily a Dade County Blog. But we haven’t seen a character like soon to be former Chief Judge Dale Ross strutting the hallways of power, and stumbling in the press since….Mussolini? Nixon?





The New Times has a must read-can’t miss article on Dale Ross, here---->

DALE ROSS


The article details some of the thoughtless, heartless, and ultimately improper sentences Judge Ross doled out when he was doing the majority of Probation Violation Hearings North of the Border.
Improper because time and again, Ross was reversed by the 4th DCA., sometimes with statements from the Judges that they were troubled by what they were reading. In one particular egregious instance, the majority opinion noted how Ross crossed the line from Judge to prosecutor as he assisted an Assistant State Attorney during a hearing where the prosecutor was otherwise incapable of proving a violation.

The article quoted the 4th DCA’s opinion:
¨We cannot escape a settled feeling that [Ross] went too far in assisting an unprepared state attorney to establish the [violation of probation],¨ Judge Gary M. Farmer wrote for the court. ¨Simply stated, the trial judge´s conduct crossed the line of ostensible neutrality and impartiality and operated to deny the defendant essential due process by depriving him of the appearance of an unbiased magistrate and an impartial trier of fact.¨


But wait! There’s more
.

Anyone who has ever appeared before Judge Ross has come away with that unpleasant feeling of thinking “I never in my life have seen or heard a sane human being talking in that clipped - 3rd person diction.” The article addresses Ross’s penchant for speaking about himself in the 3rd person:

That´s Dale Ross on Dale Ross in the third person. Why does he do that?
¨I don´t know,¨ Ross says, hesitating. ¨You´d have to ask a psychologist. I can´t answer that question.¨

Finkelstein (the Broward PD) , Gelin (who runs the Broward Blog), and others think they know the answer to this question.
¨I think he talks that way because he´s an arrogant, pompous guy,¨ says Gelin, who was assigned to Ross´ courtroom when he was an assistant public defender five years ago. ¨He thinks he´s larger-than-life and strolling the Earth amongst the mortals, and that´s the worst kind of attitude a public servant can have. A megalomaniac. When I was his staff public defender in the juvenile division, I saw some of the most outrageous behavior. And he´s setting the example.¨

Rumpole says: Mr. Gelin, there isn't enough beer in the world that we want to buy for you.


Perhaps the last word –by our friend and colleague Fred Haddad- as he was quoted in the New Times Article, is the best word:

Fred Haddad, a high-profile defense attorney who has practiced law in Broward County for 34 years, disagrees. ¨There are 101 judges in the county,¨ Haddad says. ¨They all have the right to tell Dale to fuck off. The only thing Dale can really do is assign divisions, give them a parking spot.
¨It´s not a lack of leadership. You can´t lead when you´ve got people who don´t want to be led. I don´t think anybody could run Broward County judges.¨


Oh Fred- but were we one of those 101 who have the right to tell Dale to……. You get the picture.

It’s refreshing to hear Mr. Gelin speak. For decades we have gone to Broward and come back shaking our head, thinking “doesn’t anyone see the lunacy we are seeing?” Finally, we get confirmation that we were not the only lawyer shocked and astounded by what loosely was called “justice” in Broward County.

The Times, North of the Border, they are a changing.

And not a moment too soon.

See You In Court.



WHO TOOK OUT GERRY KLEIN???

With the end of the Sopranos much on everyone’s mind (and some entertaining Soprano’s type dialogue in the comments section) we are pondering what exactly happened to Judge Gerry Klein. ???

The longest serving Judge in the State of Florida , Judge Klein was unceremoniously removed from his bond hearing duty that he presided over four days a week. “Fast Gerry” as he was known by more than a few generations of attorneys, moved the bond hearing calendar quickly and efficiently. He knew which cases merited scrutiny, and which cases could be disposed of quickly. Judge Klein had the type of experience that should not just be cavalierly discarded.

We sent an email to certain Judges who have admitted to reading the blog from time to time, but they have been too busy to respond. (The rain is playing havoc with many of our robed readers tee times.)

Now word reaches us from several sources that our State Attorney, taking a break from vacation, may have a hand in this dirty deal. Unnamed sources have said the State Attorneys Office felt prevented from obtaining habitual misdemeanor sentences because many people with prior records had pled guilty at jail arraignments.

We know it’s hard to believe, so lets write it again: rumor is the State Attorneys Office intends to seek misdemeanor habitual offender sanctions.

Have they lost their mind? Don’t they have anything better to do?

This speaks to an uncomfortable scenario: A bunch of “chiefs” are sitting around in their office (heaven forbid they should be in court trying a case) trying to justify their existence and corresponding salary. Suddenly one of them who has been paging through a Florida Statute Book that previously served as a base for an office plant, stumbles upon the idea that the Miami Dade State Attorneys Office does not have a habitual misdemeanor offender chief. Can you spell –o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y to score some supervisor points? And their grand plan all starts with replacing a Judge who was a Judge before many of their parents were born.

Let us be the first to say, in legal terms, this stinks.

And to the devious whippersnapper who took out Judge Klein, lets us only remind you of Karma. Someday you will be older, and entitled to the respect that your years of service have earned you. And some snot nosed upstart will take your job away, and then you will know what it feels like.

Until then, we’ll have to get our own revenge by taking your dopey habitual petty theft cases to trial. You guys have enough trouble winning DUI cases with breath. Now you have to go seeking 364 on disorderly conduct cases?

See You In Court.

PS: Where is the FACDL in all this?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

ELECTING A NEW CHIEF JUDGE

BROWARD STYLE.

The blog North of the Border details a contretemps that has broken out among the Judges North of the Border about how they will elect a new Chief Judge.

As a public service to our readers, we summarize the various plans below:


THE ROSS PLAN. The current chief Judge has plans to carry out the election of his successor in this manner: At a date, time, and location known only to him and a few select Judges, they will meet, and vote for a new chief judge. Majority rules. Responding to criticism, Ross downplayed the possibility his hand picked successor would be elected. “This is America” Ross drawled, “stealing elections away from the popular vote is as American as minimum mandatory sentences. We here in Florida know that better than most.”


SURVIVOR. All candidates will be taken to a Latin America cafeteria on Calle Ocho. They must first order and eat breakfast. Then they must secure the check, pay for breakfast, hail a cab, and get to the Hialeah Branch Courthouse, where they will do a morning traffic calendar. Then they will be required to obtain transportation back to the Broward County Court house. Upon reaching the Courthouse North of the Border, they must scurry from courtroom to courtroom looking for a lawyer from Dade. First Judge to complete the challenges and hold a lawyer from Miami in contempt wins.

CELL PHONE SCRAMBLE. Judges will be stationed in Judge Illona Homes courtroom. At varying intervals, lawyers and defendants will have their cell phones ring. The Judge who wrestles the most cell phones away from participants, win.


PAPAL POGROM
All the Judges of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit will enter a “Judicial Conclave.” They will be housed in a special wing of the Broward County Jail, called the "Broward County Basilica." No cell phones or contact with the outside world will be allowed. The Judges will meditate, pray, read the Florida Law Weekly, and listen to nominating speeches from judges advancing their own candidates. At any time, a Judge may call for a vote. The vote will be run by Judge Korda. If any candidate achieves a 2/3 vote plus one, Korda “will burn” specially treated “weed” that will emit a white, stickly sweet smelling smoke, announcing a winner. If no candidate gets the 2/3 vote plus one, Korda “will burn” a specially treated “weed” that emits a black smoke.


Upon the white smoke being seen, crowds will gather below the Broward County Jail "Basilica." Judge Ross will emerge with the new winner on a specially constructed balcony. Ross will ceremoniously hand over the chief judge’s gavel, and the new chief will wave the gavel over the admiring throng of lawyers that have gathered in the courtyard below the Basilica.


Rumpole says: whatever plan is chosen, given the current antics of our judicial friends North of the Border, the election should be fodder for bloggers. Based on the transgressions of their diversity committee (motto: “we few select special people meet in secret and decide your fate.”) is there any chance our dimwitted cousins to the north will pull this off without a faux pas?


We think not.

See You in Court, waiting for the white smoke.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

DOWN GOES SCOOTER

D.C District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton sentenced former Vice Presidential aide Scooter Libby to 30 months in prison today.

Libby was convicted of lying to FBI agents who were investigating who leaked CIA Operaive Valerie Wilson's name to the press.

Libby was not taken into custody, and while the Judge said he could not think of a reason why Libby should remain free on an appellate bond, he agreed to review memoranda on the issue before setting a surrender date.

Here are some excerpts of what the lawyers said:

He has fallen from public grace,” Mr. Wells said, his voice dropping to a hush. “It is a tragic fall, a tragic fall.”

But the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, argued that the defendant had shown “absolutely no contrition,” and that the court needed to send a message that lying in a criminal investigation can never be excused.
“Truth matters,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “The whole system depends on that.”


Mr. Libby’s conduct was inexcusable, the prosecutor said, because as a lawyer he is “educated and experienced in these matters.”

Nor was the defendant’s lying a spur-of-the-moment decision, Mr. Fitzgerald went on. Rather, he said, Mr. Libby lied repeatedly over a period of weeks, rejecting numerous opportunities to change his account and avoid charges.

As for Mr. Libby’s long record of public service, Mr. Fitzgerald said, “We cannot create a special category of people” who are treated leniently just because they are in government

Rumpole says, we are clearly stepping on the toes of everyone's favourite federal blogger, but sometimes there is just nothing else to write about.

We sent some emails to the powers that be regarding the circumstances about Judge Klein's mysterious and rapid retirement from bond hearing duties. Obviously these Judges are way to busy to respond to our humble inquiries.

See You In Court.