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, October 31, 2007

BOO!
















SCARY REGJB STYLE IS......


Walking into Judge Areces or Adrien's calendar on a Friday morning and seeing your client's case is on page 89.


Walking into the Third DCA and seeing Judge Rothenberg on your panel chomping at the bit.


Doing a weekend bond hearing with a new county court judge from Civil.


Trying to get a rational discussion started with a prosecutor on why a drug minimum mandatory should be waived. All you get is "go see David "psych-NO' Paulus".


Trying to get a continuance from Judge Huck. (OK. It's not a REGJB issue, but it's still scary).


Walking into a criminal court North Of the Border and seeing the Former Chief Judge sitting in for your judge for the day. Ouch!!


ADD YOUR OWN SCARY STORIES:



OUR QUALIFICATIONS:
Fakey Fakerstein said...
Rump - I love your blog and your articles/commentaries, but I'm starting to question your qualifications as a defense attorney....
Rumpole replies: My qualifications are well known: I am on time; I have a file; I'm ready to go; my hangover is better after a few aspirin. For religious and personal reasons I will not read statutes nor case law and you can easily spot me as I carry around the 1989 Florida Rules. In my opinion, nothing important has happened since then.


BECAUSE WE TOOK A CHEAP SHOT:
Anonymous said...
On the issue of early start times: Judge Areces has a system and it seems fair and works. State and PDs' in court by 8:30 A.M.--Private start calling cases at 8:45A.M. Free for all at 9:00-10:00, Don't be late, sigh and a shrug if she has to go back!. Sometimes we come in late, traffic, front door-back door, client tardy. But over all, you can set your watch to her.
Rumpole says: Equal time for a fan of Judge Areces.
And maybe it's a little unfair to make fun of Judges Adrien and Areces and the large calendars they have. As Judge Moreno used to say when he was a Circuit Court Judge "That blind clerk doesn't like me."


JUDGE REYES'S BAILIFF

The comments section on the previous post has some complaints about Judge Izzy Reyes's bailiff. Here's what we know: As long as an individual is not being disruptive, anyone in America has the right to sit in any courtroom as long as that courtroom is open for business. No one- not a bailiff, not a police officer, not a Judge, has a right to tell anyone they cannot sit in a courtroom that is conducting business, unless the proper procedures have been followed for sealing the courtroom.
If we recall, this issue was raised North Of the Border, where the new Chief Judge responded that outside of legitimate space issues, bailiffs would stop baring anyone who was not a defendant from entering the courtroom. We don't think the problem is that bad in Dade and doesn't Joe Farina have other problems to worry about?
HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

OUR WORLD IS ENDING





















Note: The following attempt to whip our reading public into a state of hysteria has been sponsored by PUBLIX- where shopping for hurricane supplies in a state of panic is a pleasure, the HOME DEPOT- where the clerks from the criminal court file room have designed a state of the art checkout system, guaranteed to have you out the door within a day of standing in line to purchase your emergency hurricane supplies; and channels 4, 7, and 10- where the quest for ratings require that they issue a minute by minute update of a storm that has some rain and winds of 20 MPH.



COURT STATUS
: Both the
Dade Clerk of the Court website and the
11th Judicial Circuit website are silent as to the possible court closings from the approach of tropical storm Noel.
Although the International Association of Anonymous Legal Bloggers guidelines suggest that we shut down the blog when wind speeds exceed 40 MPH, we will endeavor to bring you the same up to the minute breaking news service that we have provided in the past- unless the bars in South Beach remain open, at which point you're on your own.



TIME IS MONEY
We would like some feedback from our readers on the subject of Judges being on time. Specifically, while everyone it entitled to be late once in a while, what we are interested in are Judges who set calenders to begin at 8:30 and then do not show up to court until 9:15 or so. We have had several private emails complaining about certain Judges. Since we have not noticed this as a problem, we cast the issue upon the troubled waters of our disgruntled readers. Is there a problem? And if so, who are the ones that qualify for habitual offender status?



See You In Court, unless the panic over a little rain sends us scurrying to the nearest bar.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Ummmmm. Hmmm....

As astounding as it may seem, I believe we have run out of things to say.

Nothing to expound upon.
No witty comments; no alliterative attacks on robed readers.

Even those hyper-caffeinated prosecutors trudging over from their county court offices have managed to stay out of our way in the attorney's parking lot.

But we'll give it a try:

Next week is a traffic "blitz" week.
Just what is a traffic "blitz'?
Can Judge Newman still pick up the blitz as he once did so very well at the Orange Bowl on Sundays for our now 0-8 Miami Dolphins?


The Broward Blog is unofficially kaput. No posts since Blogger Bill Gelin was forced out in a Broward Beer Hall Putsch. Did the Empire Strike Back? Did Judge Ross, banished to the lonely confines of Probate somehow manage to exact revenge on the blogger(s) who brought him down? For that matter, are lawyers still giving closing arguments topless North Of the Border?

The Broward Blog gave us so many wonderful blogging memories these last few months, here's hoping that a new blog springs up. With a courthouse full of such misfits, unusual characters, and people with penchants for putting their foot in their mouth (and we haven't even mentioned any lawyers yet) there is just too much fodder to not blog about it.

Our favorite quote was from the former chief Judge who loudly complained that everything in the blog was a lie, and then said he had never read the blog. And this was to a newspaper reporter who dutifully reported the Chief Judge's seemingly inconsistent statements. We say "seemingly" because lord knows he denied enough of our motions over the years for various reasons without ever having read one of them.

Word comes from the FACDL that after months of intensive negotiations, we can now file motions with the clerk's office at 8:30 AM. Yeah, that's just what we want to do: get up a half hour early so we can go wait on a line that never moves. If we're going to wait on that line, we come prepared: a subway sub, some books, a DVD and DVD player fully charged; a thermos of coffee.

It is against our religion to ever praise the FEDS unless we absolutely cannot help it. However we are forced to admit that the Federal system of on-line filing actually works pretty well. No more rushing to the courthouse to make last minute deadlines, and every motion you file is automatically emailed to all counsel of record, doing away with having to mail copies of your pleadings to everyone.

Sorry we don't have any breaking news. But this is Miami. It just is not possible that one of our dear robed readers will not do something "blog worthy" shortly. They have never let us down before.

See You In Court, where things are kind of boring.

PS: Congratulations to the Red Sox who won more games in a World Series sweep than the Dolphins may win in two years.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Week Eight.

All of Miami remains transfixed as CK and I battle onwards. For seven weeks we have picked a winner in the NFL. Last week is was just a matter of inches that was all the difference as the Cardinals missed a last second game winning field goal that would have sent CK to his just rewards and a well earned second place.



This week Rumpole picks: I was going to pick the Giants when I got CK's email stating he was going to pick the Giants. Hmmm...that would guarantee a week 9 in our titanic struggle. I could switch to the Titans over the Raiders, and you never know-a little fish and chips might be all the Fins were needing to come out and play some football. So just because I want to myself a reason to root for the Dolphins (and to watch the game sober) , I will make the switch:

Rumpole: Titans over Raiders.
CK: Giants over Dolphins.

Now lets make some $$$$:


We like the Under in the NY Giants/Miami game played in cold and wet London. Under 48.



Can the Redskins stop the Cheaters wrecking machine? Can Judge Adrien get his audit below a thousand cases? The answer to both questions is: "probably not." Take the over 48 here (and over 1000 cases while you're at it.)



Jax at Tampa Bay: battle of great defenses. We like the under 33.5.



Is Rump going to pick a winner?

Sure: take the Colts -6 over the Panthers. Take em big.



See You in Court tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG






For a message from the brain of President Bush:
"They say I have to go to California. It's an awful long flight. I hope they have cartoons."

























"Lookit that house on fire!!! These Californiaiansians...these Californiaasss...uhh these people who live here sure do weird stuff for fun."

























"So I said Condoleeza, you tell them damn arabs I will bomb them back into the stone age. And then they didn't listen to me....so I did.


Is this a bad time? A few years ago we coulda blamed this on Saddam. But how about you and me go on TV and we blame the damned Democrats for this mess? I been tellin them bout globe getting hotter and they keep yellin at me about oil companies ....as if that had anything to do with this."




Rumpole says: Why does this matter? Because this idiot is in charge. He was warned and all he did was smirk:

BUSH'S STATEMENT ON GLOBAL WARMING IN 2002


(CBS) President Bush dismissed on Tuesday a report put out by his administration warning that human activities are behind climate change that is having significant effects on the environment. The report released by the Environmental Protection Agency was a surprising endorsement of what many scientists and weather experts have long argued — that human activities such as oil refining, power plants and automobile emissions are important causes of global warming. But it suggests nothing beyond voluntary action by industry for dealing with the so-called "greenhouse" gases, the program Bush advocated in rejecting a treaty negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 calling for mandatory reduction of those gases by industrial nations.

"I read the report put out by the bureaucracy," Mr. Bush said dismissively when asked about the EPA report, adding that he still opposes the Kyoto treaty.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

B IS FOR BERTILA

Our apologies to Judge Soto if we spelled the short form of her name wrong yesterday. Is it Bertie as we said, or Berdy, as someone wrote in, or is it spelled some other way?
Our motto is well known: "Sometimes wrong, never in doubt."

WHITHER JAAB?
The famed Broward blog, which brought down a Chief Judge and shook up a courthouse that needed shaking, is itself being shaken by rumours of dissension, strife, and editing of contributors' posts. We're not sure what in the Dale Ross is going on up there on the Blog, but we will be watching.


NACDL FILES JUDICIAL COMPLAINT

In a first for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the NACDL has filed a complaint against Texas Court Of Appeals Judge Sharon Keller, who blithely told attorneys for Death Row inmate Michael Richard that "the court closes at 5PM" when Richard's lawyers frantically called the court informing them that a computer problem was preventing them from filing their appeal on time. The Judge closed the courthouse, and the lawyers were unable to perfect their emergency appeal to the US Supreme Court,. Mr. Richard was executed by Texas (motto: "We like to Kill") that evening, amid a barbecue and fireworks party celebrating the State's ability to kill another one of its citizens while simultaneously blocking access to the courthouse.

In Texas, any Judge who is able to block an appeal and have a defendant executed (called "A Texas Two-fer") is automatically eligible for immediate promotion to the Texas Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, with 13,000 members nationwide, said it had just sent a complaint against Judge Keller to the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, the first judicial complaint the group had ever filed, said its president, Carmen D. Hernandez, of Washington.

As the
NY TIMES ARTICLE reports, two days later the US Supreme Court issued a stay in an execution case that raised the same issues relating to lethal injection. Executions in the US have, to the bitter disappointment of Judges in Texas, been stayed ever since.


LIONEL TATE'S 30 YEAR SENTENCE UPHELD.

The 4th DCA upheld the 30 year sentence given to Lionel Tate for violating his probation by being arrested in a new robbery case. Lionel Tate previously held the distinction of being the youngest person in Florida (at age 14) sentenced to life in prison.


Is this the best we can do for this kid? Is it the soundest decision to put a teenager in prison until 2036 for an arrest in a case for which he has not been convicted? Let's assume Mr. Tate is guilty. Does any Judge recognize the changes and maturity a person can achieve from age 19 to age 30? How about until age 35? What made Judge Lazarus North of the Border decide that keeping this young man in prison until he is almost 50 is justice? And just what kind of individual will be getting out of prison in 2036? Anyone really think that Mr. Tate will emerge rehabilitated and mature and ready to fit in with society?

No other country in the world treats their children as harshly in the criminal justice system as we do.

And finally, the NFL is remaining mum on rumours that the Dolphin's visa to enter England as members "of a professional football team" for the game this Sunday against the NY Football Giants is on the verge of being rejected by Immigration authorities in London, because .......well you get it......
the Dolphins are having trouble meeting the definition of "a professional football team. "

See You In Court.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IT'S A BLESSING

UPDATED with credit to Judge Bertie Soto:

We are often the harbingers of criticism. When someone screws up, there we are: the blog, ready to comment on it- with some pithy and irritating comment.

We do not often say "well done" and it is high time we do so.

We were in the courthouse today, doing what we do (and doing it very well may we add) , when we overheard a young woman on the phone to a family member. Apparently her husband was not being offered a good plea, and the case was proceeding to trial.

The woman had apparently brought her young daughter to court and here's what we heard her say:

"She's in day care....yes. They just started it a few weeks ago here in the courthouse. It's a blessing. "

It is indeed a blessing when we as a society treat children with special care and concern.

Well done to Judge Farina and Judge Blake, and all those whose efforts contributed to the establishment of a happy and safe place for young children to stay when their parents are in the REGJB.

And as several readers have pointed out to us in comments and private emails, Judge Soto deserves thanks for her efforts in getting child care to be a reality in the REGJB.

So permit us a moment to wax poetic:

So many times we as lawyers and Judges are so wrapped up in our cases, our clients, (and for Judges) the size of their case audits, that even though we may see something that is wrong, we feel we just don't have the time to make it right. And then a Judge like Judge Soto sees a problem with child care in our courthouse, and she works bring a solution to the problem. She didn't have to do that. We're certain she didn't get a reduced case load in exchange for her work on child care. Rather, to borrow the poignant words of Senator Ted Kennedy eulogizing his brother Bobby: "She saw a wrong, and tried to make it right."

Well done Judge Soto. The citizens of Dade County are well served by a jurist who works to make the lives of children a little better.

Well done indeed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

JUST A JOKE

Well, those fine folks North Of the Border have done it again.

This time it is Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Levenson, who put his robed foot in his mouth by making an inappropriate joke about the Defendant in a sexual battery case during the charge conference.

To his everlasting credit, Judge Levenson IMMEDIATELY realized his faux pas, and apologized to all present including the defendant.

To summarize, apparently the Defendant is a high school football player, and the case involved the allegation of illegal sexual contact with another male. Judge Levenson asked what position the defendant played. He was told "linebacker" and another person in the courtroom said "Tight End" at which point Judge Levenson said "Wide Receiver?"

Not the type of commentary which will get you on the 4th DCA.

Actually, we've heard good things about Judge Levenson. He's a former Federal Prosecutor and not a member of the Broward Old Boys Network.

Everyone is entitled to make a mistake, and this is Judge Levenson's mistake. We think people should accept his apology and move on.

However, it might be a good lesson for the Judge to learn: Sometimes even the best and brightest people do and say stupid things, and many times second chances are just what they need.

Based on the alarming rate Broward Judges send first offenders to state prison (the highest in the state of Florida) second chances are not something the Broward Judiciary is known for.

This is one Dade lawyer who is ready to give Judge Levenson a second chance. Hopefully, that feeling will spread to Broward and they can stop sending so many people to state prison. (And hopefully the Dolphins will win the rest of their games and make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl! There's about the same chance for either event occurring. )

The whole sordid mess including the transcript is on the Broward Blog, and if you scroll back you will find the post on Broward Judges sending people to state prison, along with the infamous Dale Ross memo to the judiciary recommending that the judges send as many people to state prison as possible as a way of reducing the over crowding at the Broward County Jail.

See You In Court, where we rarely joke, and never during a charge conference.

Monday, October 22, 2007

PLEASE SIR MAY I HAVE SOME RENT MONEY?









Like Oliver Twist standing there with a sad face and an empty oatmeal bowl, our esteemed Regional Office Counsel, one Mr. Joseph P. George Jr., Esq., has been left standing at the front of the orphanage hungry.

Rumpole has obtained, at great personal sacrifice, a letter from Ms. Jennifer Glazer-Moon, Director of Strategic Business Management of Miami Dade County, in which our County answers Mr. George’s plaintive cry of “please sir, may I have some more?” with a loud and definitive NO.

From the letter dated October 18, 2007 (hot of the presses; you’ve got to admire our sources)

“Dear Mr. George:

In response to your inquiry about funding for facilities, security, and operating expenses for the Regional Counsel Office in Miami, the FY 2007-2008 Adopted Budget does not include funding for a facility and/or operating expenses for such an office.

The letter references FACDL v. Florida Governor Charlie Crist et.al., SC07-01744 and concludes rather rudely:

“While the lawsuit is pending, we do not intend to consider funding for facilities and other expenses related to the Regional Conflict Counsel’s Office in Miami

Rumpole says: Welcome to Miami. Now leave.

We continue to side with the strategy of slowly suffocating Mr. George and his Rockettes. We don’t want his office in Miami, we think clients will be poorly served by an office that is waiting for law students to pass the bar so they can handle capital litigation against Mr. Laeser and his prosecutors in the division formerly known as “Major Crimes”.


In fact there is nothing we like about Mr. George's ROC and we have previously made that abundantly clear.


Take your oatmeal bowl, your request for rent and "security" (just who are you afraid of? Your clients or your colleagues? ) and leave now. We don't need no stinkin ROC office and we do not want you or your kind in our court system learning how to be criminal defense attorneys while your clients (who should be our clients) go off to prison.
See You In Court pulling the chair out from under Mr. George while he's not looking.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

0-7

"Success has many Fathers, but failure is an orphan."
John F. Kennedy. (original attribution unknown.)


This just in: Rumor is that the Miami Chapter of the FACDL will be filing a lawsuit based on the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, seeking an injunction prohibiting the Dolphins from playing, and if they play, prohibiting any media coverage of the game whatsoever.


On a serious note, many criminal practitioners know the difficulty of representing a Defendant in Federal Custody who is housed in the “SHU”. The special housing unit is a close confinement area where the most difficult and potentially dangerous individuals being held pre-trial are kept. Now comes word that the Bureau of Prisons has decided that to discipline the worst of the worst- to discipline the inmates in the SHU, the BOP will force those incorrigible inmates to watch the seven games the Dolphins have played this year.


If the Concorde still flew, it would be theoretically possible for the Dolphins, who play in London next week, to play the game and arrive at home before they actually lose.


Dolphins Coach Cam Cameron gave a speech recently where he said things were looking up for the Dolphins. Earlier in the week, the Dolphins welcomed as their new speechwriter the guy who used to write Bush’s speeches on Iraq.

Actually, Huizenga offered the State Department to have the Dolphins make a quick stop in Iraq to cheer up the troops. General Petraeus responded by saying

“What, things aren’t depressing enough over here?”


How bad are things for the Dolphins? Michael Vick sent them a message before Sundays game telling them to cheer up.

Things are so bad that the entire Broward Judiciary is embarrassed for the Dolphins.

The biggest hit Zach Thomas had all day was when he wrecked his car on the way home from the game. (True story and no one was hurt.)


Now that we’ve got that out of our system, we can return to the REGJB topics.

WEEK SEVEN

Back and forth we go, CK and I, locked in a titanic struggle for blog supremacy of football. This week CK’s email comes with a warning that his picked has been pre-ordained by the lord himself. CK (who has a bunch of great teams in the bag, like the Cheaters) forgoes the easy pick and picks the Redskins over the Cardinals.

Rumpole has two ripe plumps to pick from: New Orleans at home over the Falcons, or Da Bengals at home over the hapless J..E…T…S… jetsjetsjets. Rumpole goes to the Big Easy for a hopefully easy win. New Orleans is Rumpole’s suicide pick.


Baltimore at Buffalo- under 35 is the way to go with this match up between a rookie QB and a vicious Baltimore D.

It was sometime around this time last year when the undefeated Bears came marching into town and Rumpole shocked the world by writing on the blog the day before the game, that you could take the points and stuff them because the Fins would win the game outright.

Now comes the undefeated Cheaters storming into town facing the win less, Chris Chamber-less, Trent Green –Less, Miami Dolphins. And will Rumpole shock the world again? Check down below to see.


Tampa Bay rolls into D-Town and takes on the Lions, and once again this week, we like the under 43.

Denver is a home dog this week. And you can go broke betting against home dogs. The Steelers roll into town this week coming off a bye week, and playing great football. The Steelers were one team on the rebound that we missed earlier in the season. However, it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon. Steelers -3.

See You Tomorrow, and without bragging, may we just say, if you have the opportunity to have a rich client fly you to San Fran, and entertain you for a few days while you make a criminal matter shrink if not disappear, I strongly suggest you accept the offer. Two words: Dim Sum…ahhhh.

PS: No way the Fins win this one. But we like the under 51.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NAKED CAME THE LAWYER

File this under you wouldn’t believe such things still happen in Florida Courts in the 21st Century.

The Scene: Courtroom 5900, Criminal Division, North Of the Border.

Dramatis Personae: Judge Eileen O’Connor; ASA Berki Alvaarez; Defense Counsel Gary Ostrow; Defendant Steven Turner; A criminal jury panel.

Courtesy of the Broward Blog, here is the exchange, which quite frankly we read several times because we could not believe what we were reading:

In any event, JAABLOG has obtained an excerpt of the transcript from October 5, 2007, State of Florida vs. Steven G. Turner, case number 06-6876-CF10A. The following exchange occurred after Judge O’Connor handed the last juror the Certificate of Appreciation:


JUDGE O’CONNOR: At this time the defendant having been found not guilty in this case, the defendant will be returned to Federal custody at this time. Thank you. All right, everybody, thank you very much for your service.

(JURY PANEL BEGINS EXITING)

ASA MS. BERKI ALVAREZ: He’ll come back. Hopefully you won’t be a victim.
THE JUROR: No, I won’t (laughing).
(JURY EXITS)


DEFENSE COUNSEL GARY OSTROW: That’s not appropriate conduct to a jury.

JUDGE O’CONNOR: Mr. Ostrow, you’re not dressed appropriately in this courtroom.
MR. GARY OSTROW: We’re even.

JUDGE O’CONNOR: You have jeans on and no shirt –
MR. GARY OSTROW: No shirt!

JUDGE O’CONNOR: No tie. Do not come back to this courtroom dressed inappropriately. Thank you very much. You can be excused. Okay. I’ll enter a finding of not guilty.


Rumpole says:


How in the world does a defense attorney get to try a case in court without a shirt??

Does the rule only apply to men, or can we expect some topless female attorneys North Of the Border to strut their stuff as well?


Will certain attorneys who spend more time in the gym or are otherwise well blessed by nature have an unfair advantage over other attorneys?

Will there be a two drink minimum in any courtroom in which an attorney is topless?

Can a spectator request a private meeting in the jury room with a topless attorney?
And if so, will there be couches and champagne?


Can anyone appear in a courtroom North of the Border topless?

Is this what Judge Tobin meant when he said he was going to bring changes to the criminal courts?

And is this how Judge Tobin won the election- by promising to allow attorneys to practice naked from the waist up?

Will our own Dade County be sending a contingent of Judges to observe the practices North of the Border?


Oh, and there’s that little matter of the rules of professional conduct which prevent judges or attorneys from saying anything to jurors that would affect their ability to serve in the future.

See You In court, where suit, tie, shirt, pants, underwear and socks are always the order of the day (ok- maybe no underwear on Fridays).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Judge Martin Greenbaum Has Passed Away.

UPDATED with a remembrance below of Judge Greenbaum by David S Markus

A reader reports that former Judge Martin Greenbaum has passed away. His funeral is tomorrow in Miami Beach.

It should be noted that former Circuit Court Judge Martin Greenbaum has died,and the funeral will be held on Thursday,October 18 at 1:00 P.M. Riverside Gordon Chapel on Alton Road,Miami Beach.

Rumpole says: While I cannot tell you the details of Judge Greenbaum's life and career, I do remember him as one of the "old school" Judges.
The Herald article is HERE. I was surprised to see that he served until 1997. He must have gone to civil for part of that time. I remember him as being kind to lawyers, and I do not recall anyone saying anything negative about him. The Herald obit has lots of nice information, including his love of Shakespeare and puns from the bench.

It's important we celebrate the lives of those who have contributed to our profession and our community, and we would like to hear from those who knew Judge Greenbaum better.


UPDATE:
David S Markus (not the federal blogger) took the time to write in with this wonderful memory of Judge Greenbaum:


One of the first cases I tried (and lost) as a defense attorney was before Judge Greenbaum. My client, a butcher got into an argument at work with a fellow employee and stabbed him with a boning knife.The knife went completely through the victim's body and the ASA argued that fact proved that my client was trying to kill, not merely stab. This became the theme of the state case to prove intent and I didn't really have much of a response to it. The jury came back agg batt, despite my lack of a cogent response to the state's argument. After the trial, Judge Greenbaum took me aside and asked me if I knew what a boning knife was and what its function was in a kitchen. I confessed I did not. He was truly offended by my poor performance and took the time to teach me how to be a better lawyer. He asked me how I could try this case, knowing that the thru-and-thru wound was going to be the main feature of the trial, without knowing that a boning knife was the sharpest knife in the kitchen and is designed to easily pierce and pass through meat, something I learned many years later when I went to cooking school. I mumbled something about reasonable doubt about intent, thinking I had done a good job because the verdict went my way.That day, I learned how to think about my cases using common sense and not law school rhetoric. As a prosecutor, I never had to think "outside the box". As a defense attorney, sometimes that is all that is left for us to do. It is a lesson that has served me well over the past 20 years. I never tried another case in front of Judge Greenbaum, but I thought of our conversation often, usually when I had a tough case that required a little imagination to craft an effective defense.

Rest In Peace, Your Honor.
David S Markus


HELLO

EQUAL TIME TO THE CHIEF JUDGE:

The very informative
SCOTUSblog
has a post for October 13, 2007, that explains the Supreme Court’s position on Certiorari (four votes) versus a stay of execution (five votes.) The post by Tom Goldstein explains in more detail than we can comprehend why Chief Justice Roberts did not mislead the Senate when he answered Senator Leahy’s question about the problem of granting cert but not a stay of execution. We've criticisized the CJ on the pages of this blog, and we post this link in the interests of giving both sides of the story (something we rarely have our clients do in court.)

Perhaps the best thing we like about the
SCOTUSblog is the publication of the oral argument transcripts. Call us strange, but we find the transcripts both informative and interesting reading.



Speaking of the Supreme Court, the Court has granted cert in Cuellar v. U.S. (06-1456) to define money laundering. Currently money laundering is defined asthe transaction of any money between two individuals within the confines of the borders of Dade County, or in other circumstances when money is exchanged and one of the two individuals is a lawyer licensed to practice law in the State of Florida.” Apparently some of the Circuits are having trouble applying that definition. The SCOTUSblog has all the “certy” details.


NEW BLOG ALERT:

There’s another new blog in town:
SOUTHFLORIDALAWYERS

Welcome to the party pal. The blogster has forsaken the spotlight so ably filled by Mr. Markus, our favourite federal blogger, and chosen to blog in anonymity, eschewing fame, fortune (not to mention the groupies) in favor of humble writings anonymously proffered for the good of all humanity. What is it about our profession that motivates some of us to wax poetic about things we know little about?


Hello......

Today, the
DALI LAMA receives the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by Congress upon a civilian. Our tough, no nonsense, don’t take crap from no-one President, bowed to criticism from Communist China and met the Dali Lama in the White House Residence rather than the Oval Office.

Those wimpy countries- Germany and Canada- managed to stand up to China and their leaders officially met with the Dali Lama. Canada even bestowed an honorary citizenship upon the Dali Lama.


Before we sign off, we can’t help but wonder. When introduced to His Holiness, is it in poor taste to say “Hello Dali”? Or is he just sick of that joke?

See You In Court.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

JUDGE TRAWICK HAS A SECRET

And that secret is that he apparently doesn't follow the law when it comes to sealing civil files and making them secret.

The Herald reports that Judge Daryl Trawick has been caught with his fingers in the sealed files cookie jar. More succinctly, the Herald located an order sealing a civil file. The problem is that Judge Trawick did not follow the Florida Supreme Court’s mandatory procedures for sealing a court file.

You can view Judge Trawick’s order on the link below to the Herald Article.

The order included the language
“said sealment shall seal the Court file from public view by anyone, ever until the end of the earth.”

Maybe because we don’t practice civil law, but that language seems awful strange to us.

The Herald further reported
HERE
that
"Judge Trawick is one of two Miami-Dade judges who admitted this year to approving the alteration of criminal court dockets to disguise the fact that defendant/informants had pleaded guilty to various criminal charges.
In Florida, it's a crime for anyone, even a judge, to falsify court records. But no charges have been filed against Trawick or the other judge, Victoria Sigler."


What is disturbing is that the Judge has previously admitted engaging in the same conduct that prompted the Florida Supreme Court to step in and issue emergency amendments to the rules regarding sealing files. And yet here is the Judge barely four months later sealing a civil file without following any of the procedures the Supreme Court requires. Judge Trawick has otherwise earned high praise from the lawyers who have appeared before him, so we think he is entitled to the benefit of doubt here. Perhaps there is a legal explanation.


At 945 So.2d 16( Fla. 2007)
(Blog note- this maybe the very first time in over 700 posts we have actually published a cite) The Florida Supreme Court on April 5, 2007 issued an emergency amendment to the rules of Judicial Administration requiring that before a non-criminal record is sealed, the following procedures are followed:

1. A request to make court records in noncriminal cases confidential must be made by written motion.
2. A public hearing must be held on any contested sealing motion and may be held on certain uncontested sealing motions.
3. A sealing order issued by a court must state with specificity the grounds for sealing and the findings of the court that justify sealing.

If you review Judge Trawick’s order on the link above you will see that at the very least the order, signed four months after the new procedures went into effect, does not state with specificity (or even address the issue at all) the grounds for sealing the record, nor does the order state the findings of the court justifying the sealing.

Secret orders undermine the public’s confidence in the judiciary. (No comment on lawyers' confidence in the judiciary, please.)

Judges who do not follow the law, especially when they have been prominently mentioned in earlier episodes for not following the law, cause serious problems.

We would be happy to hear from Judge Trawick as to why a Circuit Court Judge apparently does not follow the law when it comes to sealing files.

And while he's at it, isn't that "ever until the end of the earth" language a bit melodramatic? Wouldn't a hundred years be sufficient? How about "Until the Dolphins win the Super Bowl."? That ain't happening again in our lifetime. If we had an embarrassing matter we wanted sealed, we would probably feel secure with "until the Dolphins have a winning season."

Scientists believe that in another 5,000 million years, give or take a million years, the sun will run out of hydrogen, spelling the end of the earth as we know it. Did whoever came up with that language really think that our distant descendants will be sitting around saying "just another few years until the Sun dies. I hope we can get a peek at those files Judge Trawick sealed in the 21st Century while there is still enough light to read them."

You want to make sure a file isn't seen?

Just give it to our criminal clerks and tell them to take it to the ninth floor. We guarantee you that beyond the "end of the earth" it will disappear into that black bottomless void known as "the file room" never again to be seen by prying human eyes.

See You In Court.

Monday, October 15, 2007

ANDERSON VERDICT AFTERMATH

The jury verdict acquitting the guards charged in the beating death of Martin Lee Anderson sparked some controversy on the blog.

In response to our comment about an all white jury acquitting the guards, some readers pointed out that one guard was an Afro-American and one other defendant was Asian.

Other readers commented on the apparent hypocrisy of a blog run by a defense attorney bemoaning the acquittal of defendants.


These are valid comments, and we shall address both of them.

1) There is a lingering opinion, based on decades of horrendous and un-just verdicts, that African American males are not valued by white southern juries when it comes to making a decision about them either as a defendant, or as a victim. This verdict opens old wounds. However, Herald reporter Oh Susannah Nesmith was present throughout the trial, and based on the evidence she saw, she correctly predicted an acquittal. If the evidence was not sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then we applaud the jury for doing what they were supposed to do. Whether this case was handled properly is a different matter. What we do know is that a young man was beaten for 30 minutes and died of asphyxiation and no one has been held criminally liable for his death.

2) As defense attorneys, we do not give up our right to see justice done. And sometimes, justice is a verdict of guilt. Beyond our jobs, we are citizens of this town, this community, this state, and this nation. As Martin Luther King wrote from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, “Injustice anywhere is Injustice everywhere.”

An additional point is that as defense attorneys, we come in close contact with clients on a daily or weekly basis who complain of mistreatment at the hands of the police or corrections officers. Many of us have defended clients accused of battery of a police officer and been horrified at the booking photo, which shows our client beaten to a pulp. “He fell” is sometimes the response. Or who can forget the defense in the Sweetwater case in which the officer said the defendant repeatedly threw himself into the bars of his jail cell, rupturing his spleen?”

The point is that when our clients enter the system, they become vulnerable. “Who’s going to believe them?” is often the attitude of brutal cops or corrections officers. So when we see some corrections officers charged with brutality- which in and of itself is a rare event- we hope for justice just this once.


If these officers were innocent- the verdict is correct. If they are not, at the moment, they may only have to answer to their maker for their actions, unless the Feds take over, and we have conflicting thoughts about that.


NEW ATTORNEYS

Its been about three months since a new class of prosecutors and PDs descended upon our humble work place.

How are things going? Do you enjoy your job? What do you think about the REGJB?

We’d like to know.


SUICIDE POOL

On it goes. Rumpole and CK locked in a battle of wits. (CK is clearly not a robed reader or this would have been over a long time ago.)

Both of us won our games this past Sunday, so we proceed to week seven.

We had a winning week to get us back in the black, and we can’t help but crow about our prediction of the game of the week. We said Cheaters 45- Cowpokes 30. Documented Sunday morning before the game. Final score: Cheaters 48- Cowpokes 27. Not bad at all.


See You In Court.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

WEEK SIX

The best cure for a losing week is taking a week off.

The second best cure is doubling down your bets.

The third best cure involves a young woman named April at a Gentlemen’s club in Las Vegas, but we’ll leave that for another blog and another time.



The fourth best cure is to bet against the Raiders
.

Oakland meanders into a bees nest of angry Chargers. What San Diego did to Denver last week is a crime in several states. Lay the 9.5 and watch the fireworks,


We like Seattle at home coming off a bye week against the hapless Saints. Lay the 6.5


Wanna know who Rumpole is? He’s the guy humming the songs from Springsteen’s new Album: Magic.

In Dallas, Vanilla Phillips' Own Worst Enemy has Come to Town:


You can't sleep at night
You can't dream your dream
Your fingerprints on file
Left clumsily at the scene

Your own worst enemy has come to town
Your own worst enemy has come to town

Yesterday the people were at ease

Baby you slept in peace
You closed your eyes and saw her
You knew who you were

And your own worst enemy has come to town
Your own worst enemy has come

Your world keeps turning round and round
But everything is upside down
Your own worst enemy has come to town

The line on this game, according to 52nd Street Irwin is all over the board, from a low of 4 to a high of 7- with the NE Cheaters being the favorite. Lets call it 5.5. Lay the points and take the Cheaters. Your own worst enemy has come to town.

Pick your poison. Pick your own worst enemy: Brady. Moss. Belicheater.

Now be warned, the Cheaters are banged up- RB Maroney is a game time decision and Sammy Morris is his back-up. The absence of Maroney will change how the Cheaters play this game. But the Cheaters are one hell of a football team, while Dallas had the aura of invincibility removed from them last week.
We said we were going to pick this game, and we are:

NE Cheaters -5.5 on the road.

Here are two flyers: take the Cardinals at home -4 over the Carolina Panthers and take the Cleveland Brownies over the perfect season 0-16 Dolphins: Browns -4.5

So we say to the Cowboys: There’s a Darkness on the Edge of Town- and that town is in the Badlands:

Lights out tonight

trouble in the heartland
Got a head-on collision
smashin' in my guts, man
I'm caught in a cross fire that I don't understand

Cheaters 45- Cowboys 30 - although we'd feel a lot better if we knew if Maroney was playing.


Suicide Pool

It’s just Rumpole and Feet of Clay Kaeiser, in the battle for the Blog’s suicide pool champion.

Clay a/k/a CK weighs in with the Baltimore
Ravens at home over the Rams.

Rump decides between the Bears over the Vikes or the Jaguars over the Texans. The Texans had their hands full last week with a weak Miami team. The Jaguars have righted the ship and bring a very very good defense to the table. Rumpole picks the Jaguars over the Texans.


See You Tomorrow, humming some tunes.

Friday, October 12, 2007

NO JUSTICE. NO PEACE















Martin Lee Anderson.
From Susannah Nesmith's HERALD ARTICLE
"Legal experts predicted the jury might have a hard time convicting the eight, despite a videotape showing the guards beating Anderson for almost 30 minutes while the nurse watches. Both sides agreed that Anderson did not die from the prolonged beating.
''If the cause of death would have been beating, it would have been a different case all together,'' said veteran Miami attorney David S. Markus."



From the SUN SENTINEL'S ARTICLE

The boy's mother, Gina Jones, stormed out of the courtroom. ``I cannot see my son no more. Everybody see their family members. It's wrong,'' she said, distraught.``You kill a dog, you go to jail,'' said her lawyer, Benjamin Crump. ``You kill a little black boy and nothing happens.'' He spoke outside court, which is across the street from the now-closed Bay County boot camp.
Rumpole says: This evidence unfolded in a strange manner. Maybe it wasn't manslaughter. Certainly the prosecution's own medical examiner and medical witnesses did not help, admitting that this was the first known case of death by ammonia suffocation.
However, they beat that boy for thirty minutes, and you mean to tell me not one person gets convicted of aggravated battery, or even battery.
An all white jury.
A black victim.
The deep south.
This smells rotten.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS AND THE TIPSY COACHMAN

SAY IT AIN’T SO JOE:

Anonymous said...
Brummer leaving so Carlos Martinez can take over? Doesn't that merit an article, Rump??



Rumpole wonders: Can this be true?


From our friends at the BBC
comes this news of a French Riviera Playboy convicted of killing
his girlfriend 30 years after she vanished. What caught our eye was this from the prosecution:

"Branded a "solitary, villainous, lying vulture" by prosecutors, Agnelet was sentenced to 20 years in jail. "


Somehow, we see that as going beyond what the 3rd DCA would tolerate.


Our favourite federal blog
(the link is at the top) has minute by minute coverage of the unfolding federal first degree murder drama downtown. The “Joe Cool” murder case occurred on the high seas, so the Feds get a rare murder case.

No bodies. No murder weapons. No confessions. And the clock is tick tick ticking on the ten days to get an indictment. It is often said a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. Can they indict four defendants in a purely circumstantial case in which there are a myriad of reasonable hypotheses of innocence? We shall see. Stay tuned to the Federal Blog.


Broward’s been awful quiet lately, after a spring and summer of fun. Must be the Xanax at the judicial coffee bar.


WHO GETS CLOSE CLOSE?

This is a case you gotta read.

GRICE v. STATE, 1D07-0109 (Fla.App. 1 Dist. 10-5-2007)

Longtime and careful readers of the blog know our distaste for reading case law. It ranks right up there with being stuck with the bar tab. It is something to be avoided at all costs.

And yet, some enterprising appellate lawyer challenged the applicability of Florida Statute 918.19, which we like to call the “We can’t win cases, please help” statute in which the Florida Legislature (“we’re gonna get that reasonable doubt crap thrown out next”) repealed that portion of rule 3.250 of the Florida Rules Of Criminal Procedure that allowed the defense to make the first and last closing statement in cases where the defense did not enter any evidence at trial.

Lacking the imagination and ability of …..well….there’s no easy way to say this…..good trial lawyers, the prosecution cried and howled and basically threw themselves on the floor and held their breath and turned purple until the Legislature changed the rules more to their liking. Now the prosecution always gets the last word, and they still can’t figure out why they are losing cases.

Anyway, the First District held that while the Legislature has the power to repeal a rule of criminal procedure, it does not have the power to enact a rule of criminal procedure. Thus with rule 3.250 properly repealed, but Florida Statute 918.19 improperly enacted, and the application of the “Tipsy coachman” doctrine (we’re not making that up) common law applies to closing arguments. The common law in Florida is that the babies…the prosecutors… get to have the last word, lest they take their ball and leave and go home.

Any case that deals with criminal law AND the “Tipsy Coachman” doctrine is worth reading.


More Football this weekend.
The suicide pool is down to Rumpole and Clay Kaieser, Miguel De La Over having fallen by the wayside with a pick of the Pack last week.

It I was you, I would stay away from our football picks until we find our mojo. We had our first losing week this season last week, and we just aren’t seeing what we used to see. However, with the big Cowboys-Cheaters game set for this weekend, we promise to give you the lock solid winner of that game.

See You In Court, with one closing argument, and doing just fine thank you.



PS: The “tipsy coachman” doctrine allows an appellate court to affirm a trial court that 'reaches the right result, but for the wrong reasons so long as “there is any basis that would support the judgment in the record.”




Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DEPOSITION DICTATORS

We have noted something disturbing. If you want to take a felony deposition, you need to schedule a room with the State Attorneys Office. The State Attorneys Office will then decide, based on the number of witnesses you want to depose, how long you will have to depose this witness.

Now lets take a guess here: When you send your request for a deposition, do you think Ms. Rundle gets together with Don Horn and they review the file, see how serious the case is, whether you are deposing a lead detective with a 50 page report, or a guy who strung up some crime scene tape, before deciding what’s a reasonable amount of time? Or is it a secretary sitting around with nothing better to do?

In either event
, this is an outrage! Just where in the rules of criminal procedure does it give some nameless faceless bureaucrat who is stalking the halls of the SAO the right to decide how long you should have to depose a witness?


We would expect the FACDL to jump right in on this and do something, but they are too busy arranging the memorial to Sy Gaer, right guys? How’s that coming? Almost done?

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but we're not going to give some two bit SAO bureaucrat the right to decide how long we have to depose a witness.

(Memo to whoever gives a damn at the SAO: your little slide show about victim’s rights has several grammatical and spelling errors, including instructing victims about what to do if “your out in public and feel afraid.” Change that to “You’re”)

We have a new Circuit Court Judge, as reported by El Capitan:

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

Gov. Crist has named his replacement for the open seat of Judge Pereyra Shuminer.

Nushin Sayfie, of the Dade County Public Defender's Office has been chosen over Lisa Walsh, Judge George Sarduy, and previously eliminated Joe Davis, Miguel De La O and Judge Darrin Gayles.

As I previously wrote several weeks ago, contrary to the typical Bush move of appointing a County Court Judge and getting a 2 for 1, Gov. Crist has chosen a private attorney in all but one open seat throughout the State during his first year in office.

Next up is the open seat of Judge Jorge Perez, who recently resigned to go back into private practice.

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

And with a congratulations to our new Judge, we're out too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY



Columbus discovering America? Or an artist's rendition of a sojourner to the REGJB espying a parking spot?


Christopher Columbus has his own day.

Rumor has it that the State Attorneys Office celebrates Columbus day by inviting all their employees in for eight hours of reflection on the importance of this day.


We'll Take Your Case- Hope you Don't Die First:

The NY Times REPORTS TODAY on what has been an open secret among those who labor against the death penalty in this country: That while it takes Four Supreme Court Justices to grant a writ to review a case, it takes Five Justices to vote for a stay of execution.

Thus, the situation occurs where the Supreme Court votes to hear an appeal from a death row inmate, while the State still makes all due preparations to kill the inmate before the appeal can be heard.

Chief Justice John Roberts was asked about this situation at his confirmation hearing by Senator Leahy:

Do you feel, as chief, you should do the courtesy,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy,
Democrat of Vermont, asked, “and kick in the fifth one?”

“I don’t want to commit to pursue a particular practice,” Judge Roberts said. “But it obviously makes great sense... You don’t want to moot the case by not staying the sentence,” he added.

It may have made "great sense" to man trying to get 51 votes to become the nation's next chief justice, but it doesn't make sense to this particular chief justice now that he has the job.

Luther J Williams was executed by Alabama (motto: "get ready to die y'all" ) on August 23 of this year. Previously, four justices had voted to hear his appeal challenging the use of lethal injections. Upon his execution the clerk of the US Supreme Court added this entry to the docket for Mr. Williams "The Petition is dismissed as moot." (not withstanding the chief justice's testimony to the senate that "you don't want to moot the case by not staying the sentence")

Here was the reaction of Mr. William's lawyer:

“They knew they were going to consider the issue and let a man die,” Joel L. Sogol, who represented Mr. Williams, said of the justices. “May he haunt their nights for the rest of their lives.”

There is some positive news here: At least one politician- The Governor of Virginia -has more common sense in his pinkie than five (can you guess the five?) Supreme Court Justices:

From the NY Times Article:

Last Monday, Justice John Paul Stevens issued an unusual statement in the case of Christopher S. Emmett. The court had been set to consider Mr. Emmett’s appeal on Sept. 24 after returning from its summer break. “Nevertheless,” Justice Stevens wrote, “Virginia set an execution date of June 13.”

Four justices voted in favor of a last-minute stay of execution,

but that was not enough. Two hours before Mr. Emmett was to die, Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, a Democrat, stepped in to do what the court would not.
“Basic fairness demands that condemned inmates be allowed the opportunity to complete legal appeals prior to execution,” Mr. Kaine said in a statement. “The irreversibility of an execution and the fact that four justices of the court believe a stay is needed to consider the appeal warrant my intervention in this case.”


Finally, a man with courage and common sense steps forward!!! Can you imagine what Bush and his cohorts would have said about Saddam Hussein- when he was still in power, and they were spoiling for a reason to go to war- if it was reported that Hussein thwarted the legal process by executing prisoners before their appeals were heard?

This is the United States of America, and today we proudly celebrate the man who discovered our country. And we execute our citizens before the courts can dispose of all issues in their case. For shame.

See You In Court Tomorrow.




WEEK 5

That magic feeling is still missing. The problem is that the public and thus the spreads have adjusted to what we knew all along- that the Bears, Saints, and Chargers were way overrated, and the 49’ers, Cardinals, and Lions were way underrated. We missed the Pack on our radar screen. So because the secrets are out, it’s a lot harder to find those hidden gems like when the Cheaters were only -3 over the Chargers.

That being said, we tentatively advance these propositions:


The Bears are only +3 ½ over the surprising Packers. The Packers are at home, and the dream season continues. Packers – 3 ½

The Chargers are even with the Broncos at mile high. Gotta take Denver at home, especially when it’s even. Both teams are on losing streaks, with Denver losing at home to JAX while the Chargers knocked Markus out of the suicide pool last week by losing at home to KC.


The 49ers are home dogs, +3 against the aging Ravens. We warned you the Ravens were not what everyone said they were, and but for San Fran QB Alex Smith being out, the Birds would not be favourites. The 49ers start Super Bowl winning QB Tren Dilfer, widely considered the smartest QB in the league. The O/U is 35, and really, we have no business picking this game with the injuries and such. And yet, we like the Niners, and the under.

The Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh in a rematch of Super Bowl XL. The over/under is 40, and we like the over. Both teams have good weapons on offense, and the Steelers have several key players out on defense, including their all pro nose tackle Casey Hampton, and their all pro Mr. Everything Safety Troy Polomalu. This could be a shoot out.


Suicide Pool:

Miguel De La Over: Packers

Feet of Clay Kaieser: Tennessee over Atlanta.

Rumpole: Last week Dallas, this week staying in Texas, with Houston over Miami. Passing on the Pack over the Bears.

Let me just say I have looked closely at this Tennessee/Atlanta match-up, and the problem is that Atlanta QB Joey Harrington is becoming sneaky good. His QB rating is a solid 98. Throw out the first game of the season and he has been a quality QB this year. Lets just say that Harrington is playing good enough to scare us away from this game.


This is a last minute addition, and these can be fraught with problems. However, we admit that the J...E..T..S are one of those teams that we should have zeroed in on as being overrated from last year. And we missed the boat, although we did have the over with NE in week one this year.

The Giants are a team we have openly trashed because we believe that the coach has lost this team. And yet last week the Gints put on an amazing defensive display against the surprisingly bad Eagles. Both the J...E...T....S.. and Big Blue are home this week (in the swamps of New Jersey as Bruce sings in Rosalita) and the Giants are favored by 3 with 40.5 being the over/under.

Go Big Blue -3. And Under. The Giants have the defense to stop the J...E....T....S...bad running game. And 27-10 seems like a reasonable score here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

EMPTY

THE CUPBOARD IS BARE

This disappointing email from Rick Freedman arrived announcing that the State (again) has no money to pay attorneys who have already submitted bills:


I have been informed by the Justice Administrative Commission (JAC) that you may experience delays in the payment of your outstanding bills for the next three months. As you are aware, the new 90 day billing rules took effect at the end of August. As a result of that rule, the JAC was swamped with over 4,000 bills arriving at their offices in one day, (in an attempt to beat the new deadline). They believe that it will take them up to three months to catch up on their payments. Once they are caught up, they should be able to return to their regular payment schedule of paying your bills within two weeks.

On a separate note, for the first time since taking over the CAC system in 2004, the JAC has discovered a small group of attorneys that have been billing more than 24 hours in a day. None of the attorneys involved are on the Criminal Registry in Miami-Dade County. (Unfortunately, those involved include a few attorneys from the Civil Dependency Registry in our County.) Please make every effort to keep clear, concise and accurate records if you plan on filing any long form bills. The Screening Committee will not hesitate to take action against any attorney on the Criminal Registry who is found to have submitted any fraudulently billings.

Thank you.
Rick Freedman
FACDL-Miami

THE COURTHOUSE IS EMPTY

North of the Border Circuit Court Judge Ana Gardiner recently commented that the North of the Border courthouse was overflowing with work, to the extent that even closets weren’t available.

Enter Famed Broward Blogger Bill Geilin who took it upon himself to conduct a thoroughly un-scientific but revealing study by walking the Broward courthouse at different times of the day. The result, was the not so surprising conclusion that during the afternoons more than half the courtrooms were locked and empty.

Here is the New Times Article on Mr. Gelin’s courthouse walks
: EMPTY HALLS




CHAMBERS SHOULD BE EMPTY...

Of gifts. As the holiday season approaches, we can all expect to see Judge Farina’s letter advising that gifts should not be given to Judges or their staff, nor should they be accepted. Judges are also advised against attending holiday parties thrown by attorneys who have open cases in their division. (insert your own joke here).


THE COURTHOUSE IS CLOSED. PLEASE CALL AGAIN IN THE MORNING (IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN EXECUTED FIRST)

And out of Dallas, Texas (motto: we like to kill) comes this Op Ed piece about the shocking execution of a Texas inmate, where the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals would not stay open past 5PM to receive the last minute request for a stay of execution:
We Close At 5 Y'all


What's 20 minutes to you? Two miles on the expressway during rush hour? Time to slurp a latte on the way back to the office? About the time it takes to scan the newspaper you're reading now? To Michael Richard, 20 minutes was probably the difference between life and death.
The Texas death-row inmate's lawyers petitioned for a stay of execution after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to review the constitutionality of lethal injection. ..

Mr. Richard's lawyers were working on his petition when their computer crashed. They phoned the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, informed its personnel of the computer problems and asked them to stay open long enough to accept the paperwork.
Forget it, replied the court. Time thus ran out for Mr. Richard, who died on the gurney. A court official later said, "I advised the parties that called that we closed at 5."

Just like that.
That is unconscionable.

You might not lose sleep over the fact that the court wouldn't stay open for 20 minutes to help a convicted rapist-murderer's attempt to evade the needle a bit longer. You should think again.
When the state takes the life of a condemned criminal, it must do so with a sense of sobriety commensurate with its grave responsibility. Hastening the death of a man, even a bad one, because office personnel couldn't be bothered to bend bureaucratic procedure was a breathtakingly petty act and evinced a relish for death that makes the blood of decent people run cold.

Rumpole says: Our understanding is that our very own clerk’s office considered dispatching a team to Texas to study their efficiency, until it was realized that the Texas clerks were actually working to 5PM. When the laughter died down, the idea was voted down.

Have A Good Columbus Day Weekend.
No Court Monday. Football Picks Sunday.
See Ya Tuesday.