WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Monday, January 07, 2008

HAPPY?


Happiness is a warm puppy. Is it also a job at the SAO?

The comments on the blog are mostly about whether assistant state attorneys are happy, and whether the SAO is a good place to work.

The events surrounding the Christmas Eve Massacre cannot have improved morale.

Query to pit prosecutors: Are you Happy? Is the SAO a good place to work? Do you feel secure in your job if you voice a complaint? Some readers make the office sound downright Stalinist in nature.

Query to the State Attorney: You fired (or demanded his resignation, same difference) a prosecutor (Herbert Erving Walker III) for touching females without their consent. Isn't that a crime? You fired Mr. Walker for what essentially amounts to sexual harassment. You issued a press release about a secretary who was fired for sexual harassment, but as of today on your web site, nary a comment about Mr. Walker's firing. Mr. Walker was a DC- a division chief. A supervisor with great responsibility.

Just what is the SAO doing to remedy this type of behavior?

Just what is the SAO doing to reevaluate the process for how prosecutors are promoted? There is credible evidence that this prosecutor was repeatedly promoted in the face of complaints about harassment that go back to the time he was in County Court.

Is anything being done, or are you just sweeping this under the rug?

See You In Court, where it is harder to get the SAO to abandon a petit theft of a candy bar, then to get them to talk about one of their prosecutors battering their employees.

40 comments:

4th floor ASA said...

4th floor ASA here. Miserable as can be. The firings put us in shock. Not Walker- no one liked him. But Tony, and those ASA's in County Court. We are all unhappy here. There is fear everywhere. There is no belief the administration will treat you fairly. We know we sound like idiots in court, but other than picking a jury, we're not allowed to take a crap without permission. And if it makes you angry, think how it makes us feel to go talk to some fat ass supervisor who hasn't been in court in years and have them tell us why we should try the burglary of a yard where a can of beer was taken and the offer has to be ten years. Believe me, it gives many of us nightmares and makes us sick.

Thanks for the vine Rumpy.
By the way- the beer/burglary story is based on true facts. The circuit court judge will recognize it if he reads the blog.

Anonymous said...

There are no ASAs on the 4th floor, only Kathy's minions and conference rooms...jerkoff!

Anonymous said...

Nice job, LIAR.

The only ASA's on the fourth floor are Don Horn and Chet Zerlin.

You could at least get a floor plan before you make up crap!

Anonymous said...

I am a division chief in the sao felony division. I love KFR. She is a great American public official with one of the toughest jobs in the whole U.S. She presides over the most volatile and ethnically and politically diverse county in the U.S. with extreme poverty, homelessness, juvenile delinquency and handgun accessibility. In her 25 years at the sao it is not her fault that Miami has chosen to build 2 basketball arenas, an opera house, a football stadium and spend perhaps 1/100000 tax dollars on anti-crime and anti -poverty programs. You only appreciate someone like KFR, Janet Reno, Bennett Brummer, until they are gone. You trial and deal with 50 separate police agencies, half of them corrupt, poorly trained, lazy, or incompetent. Ever seen a city of Miami Haitian police officer's arrest report? Give her a break, or by God we will start giving the type of plea offers that the rest of the state get. How would you like 10 years for agg. ass. with no injuries because the defendant has priors. Other than some murder and hfo cases, the best deals in the state are in Miami. Keep criticizing my democrat boss and we'll start acting like republicans and your clients can rot in jail.

Anonymous said...

Considering that most ASAs are either on the 2nd or 3rd floor, saying they are from the 4th floor would make the person more annonymous instead of saying what floor they are actually in. Anyways...working at the SAO sucks to say the least. Great experience and insurance benefits but that's where the good stuff ends.

Anonymous said...

All the unhappy miserable ASA's are teaming up to nothing about their situation, together

Anonymous said...

6:01pm - you typical non-thinking,
know it all a-hole - please try to use that little brain you have prior to blogging. How many circuit
court judges are on the 4th floor of the courthouse? Eight to be exact.

ScottAfrica

Anonymous said...

Barack Obama Sin Laden says he's not too skinny to be President of the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Life at the SAO is both good and bad, as is the case inside any large organization. Yes, it is true that there are too many "supervisors"--David Paulus for trafficking cases, the career criminal minions for career criminal cases, the DV people for DV cases, Arrojo, Pohl, and Hoague for the gun cases, and DCs for everything else.

But along with the bad comes the good. The Dade SAO allows its prosecutors to rise remarkably quickly due to the high attorney attrition rate. There are people who make DC and are thus trying first degree murder cases after just three years with the office. I'm not sure there's another office in the country that allows young prosecutors to gain so much trial experience so quickly.

It seems to me that you defense attorneys want it both ways. On the one hand, you decry all the layers of supervisors; yet on the other, you complain that the pit prosecutors in county and felonies are too inexperienced to assess appropriate pleas. You can't have it both ways--either pit prosecutors get carte blanche, or there is some supervision involved.

The curtilage beer burglary story "4th floor asa" raises is an interesting one. Yes, in the grand scheme of things, this is not a serious crime. But my guess is that this curtilage beer burglar had, oh, say, 5 prior burglaries, 7 grand thefts, a robbery, two aggravated assaults, and 23 petit thefts, and probably scored, oh, say, 78.6 months in state prison and was an HO, GORT, and PRRP.

Now minds can disagree, but in my view, 10 years is a reasonable offer. The guidelines (which are presumed to be reasonable), suggest, say, 78.6 months, and F.S. 775.084 (also presumed to be reasonable) suggests a 30 year minimum mandatory sentence. This is the sentencing range that the ELECTED state legislature came up with. A ten year offer is at the low end of this range. Why then is a ten year offer so unreasonable? When is enough enough? How many times does someone have to burglarize, steal, rob, trespass, assault, and/or batter the people and property of Dade County before someone says, enough! You have forfeited your right to live amongst the law-abiding of this land?

As an ASA, my problems with career criminal have been different. My problems have been when you have a case that you know you'll lose--the one witness agg assault with a firearm case where the witness/"victim" is a convicted felon himself. These cases should never be filed, no less tried, and yet the career criminal people invariably send us off to battle like so many hapless soldiers in WWI.

With respect to firing decisions, I've never seen someone fired when they shouldn't have been. The people who've been fired from the office were invariably incompetent. In fact, it surprises me that the office doesn't fire more people. The average APD (sorry guys, but not the average SAPD) on C and B cases is a much better litigator than the average ASA. Why is this?! It's embarrassing, and the SAO powers that be should recognize this problem and do something about it, namely recruit better attorneys and fire the incompetent and lazy ASAs at ALL levels.

One other thing, I've noticed that you defense attorneys love the "nice" prosecutors who give you what you want and have a beer with you after court. Walker was an asshole, but a lot of the other "tough" and "mean" prosecutors you complain about in the halls and on this blog are just doing their jobs. They believe that taking dangerous people off the street makes the community safer. I happen to agree with them.

Anonymous said...

6:01- you're right. He should have given his telephone number and made it easier to identify him.

Maybe 5:52 pm is bullshitting, but there's no real way around it. Establish your credentials and your toast. Obscure your identity and no one believes you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Rumpole, you are full of Bullshed, you are white as they come!

You're so white, that the light at the end of the tunnel was mistaken as your shadow.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I work here too and do you have any idea how much more punishment they get elsewhere for stupid minor felony crimes?

Get real.

We have a job to do. If your client is innocent, go to trial and win. Many do.

bubba's jail bitch said...

I too cannot take a crap without permission, so quit your whining.

Anonymous said...

I think working at the SAO gets a bad rap. It is mocked on this blog by people who are biased against the office because they either make their livings battling it everyday or who there for the wrong reasons. I think that many of my fellow ASA's took the job out of law school because it was an easy option. The office came to the schools and set up interviews, and many people went through the process without ever truely asking themselves why, simply because they wanted a job after graduation. I think that the ASA's who wanted the true experience of what the office has to offer are happy. Personally, I could care less about the recent firings. They were all deserved in my opinion and I don't feel scared about job security. The same thing would happen at any large civil firm. I just want to do my three years as best I can, get great trial experience, and learn everyday.

Anonymous said...

fourth floor of the MJB Dipshit

ex-ASA said...

To 4th floor ASA:
I had a case just like that when I was in the office. The fence can easily make it a curtilage burglary, a 2nd degree felony carrying 30 to 40 years with Gort or PRRP enhancements. Chances are that the defendants going to qualify for the enhancements because who really steals a bottle of beet from someone's backyard, outside of a crackhead or a kid. The latter is OK because its at the juvie court, where ASAs get more leeway to plea because nobody actually gets punished. The former is going to cause you headaches because, if the evidence is solid, you're going to have a helluva time getting someone from career criminal to give you a plea of less than 15-20 years. Then you might have an anal-retentive DC, eg Herbie Walker, who won't even allow you to plea with approval because it could be seen as showing weakness in his or her court. You can either hope to get lucky with supervisors who are maybe in a good mood because they got lucky the night before--highly unlikely--or you can keep sounding ready and pass it on to the next poor soul who becomes the "C" prosecutor in that unit, all the while the defendant sits in jail because he can't afford bail. This is exactly the type of case that makes earnest young prosecutors leave the SAO.
But cheer up, "4th floor ASA", you can be as indignant about this situation as you want to be because your probably the public defender who was appointed for this defendant. 6:01pm is right: there are no real prosecutors on the 4th floor.

CAPTAIN said...

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

Candidate for Clerk of the Court, Darrin McGillis, has filed his quarterly finance report for the period of October 1, 2007 -December 31, 2007. During that period of time, he raised a grand total of $50in contributions. Incidentally, the money came from him.

This follows his financial report from the previous quarter, July 1 - September 30, 2007, where he raised $450, of which only $300 came from Mr. McGillis.

CAPTAIN OUT .....

Anonymous said...

6:09, you are the quintessential prosecutor asshole. How does criticism of your boss justify harsher pleas? Shouldn't a plea offer be based on the evidence and circumstances surrounding a particular case and defendant? Your boss is an elected official who is subject to, and tough enough to handle, criticism. Grow up and stop with the threats, whiner.

Anonymous said...

Is it true than Rumpole posted a claim that the Irish were victims of slavery worse that what was inflicted on Africa?

If so, where is it; the halls were buzzing.

Anonymous said...

The Irish weren't slaves. However, they did suffer incredibly when they first came to America. In the the South, work deemed to dangerous for a plantation owner's slaves would sometimes be 'outsourced' to starving and desperate Irish laborers.

So... it can be said that some slaves were treated better than Irish laborers. But then the Irish had their freedom while slaves did not, and being "owned" is an insult that burns no matter how benevolent your "owner."

Anonymous said...

Irish need not apply

Anonymous said...

props to the french president for dropping the hammer on a super model.

Pacificus said...

There can be no doubt that African American Slavery continues to be a shade over the shining light on the hill that is America. There can also be no doubt that the Irish American experience, was at times, as equally cruel and inhumane that of the slaves. As a previous post point out whenever a job was deemed too dangerous to risk their "property" slave masters would hire Irish laborers to perform the task. It was cheaper than risk losing their "property".

We must also remember that the source of suffering comes from the same place, England. For over two hundred and fifty years English ships traveled from Africa to the Carribean to the United States trading slaves, molasses, cotton and other commodities for the benefit of mother England. Ireland had already been suffering English occupation for over 400 years when the slave trade began in the early 1500's. Cromwell killed thousands of Irishmen and women as he scourged the Irish countryside. The Irish were not allowed to own property in their own country, speak their language or learn their history. The only reason the langauge and history survive today is due to what were known as "hedge schools" where students were taught the language and history underground. When the potatoe famine struck in the 1840's Ireland, under English occupation, remained a net food exporter while being unable to feed itself. When Irish uprisings began in earnest in the late 1700's, rebels were convicted and sent to prisons in Australlia where they became forced laborers (or slaves if you prefer).

While I would agree that the Irish in America have had an easier time adjusting than Afican Americans, probably due to their skin color, forced use of the Enlish language and sheer numbers (nearly 40 million Americans claim Irish decent) this in no way deminshes the contributions and sufferings of either group.

Anonymous said...

As an ASA I was happy when I started with the office. I was young and very idealistic. I started in County Court and we were very isolated from the office politics. As I progressed through the office I came to see how horrible the job was. The DCs were nasty and had their own agenda. You were encouraged to discusss your cases but would be thrown under the bus for the previous ASAs mistake. The chiefs were to be avoided at all costs. By the 2nd year , you are putting the finishing touches on your resume. By the 2nd year and 2nd day, you are interviewing for jobs- hoping for better pay but really just wanting to get out of a hellish situation. Can you imagine working in a place where no one is happy, where the only people still there after 3 years are haggard old crones(probably about 30 but looking older) standing outside of the building smoking their 50th ciggarette by 11 am , discusssing the glory days of county court and being called "a black haired bitch" for maxing some guy at a sentencing as a "c" and wishing for something stronger in their coffee or Abe types- just really good attorneys but have no use for newbies? I am in private practice now and the civil work is no cake walk but at least I know that I deserve my paycheck. I work hard for it and the shit that comes with earning it. I do not know if given the choice I guess I might have blown off the for God and counry speech and headed for the basement of the civil law firm. Besides, KFR does not even know the names of those who work for her.

Anonymous said...

Yes,

Janet Reno used to drop in on her ASA's without a call and ask us what we were up to.

KFR does not drop in.

I wish she did.

Anonymous said...

As a former ASA, I know there is a log of EVERY current and former ASA that ever had a badge. The log keeps track of when the ASA started and every internal move they made during thier tenure (e.g.- when they go to county, juvie, felonies and where they were as a C, B, A or specialized unit attys.)I would love to see that log right now. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the average tenure of an ASA has decreased significantly. And I'd love to see how many go beyond thier three year commitment.

I hear more and more each day from the ASAs themselves that they are "three years and out." When I was there in the late 90's through about 2003, you never heard talk like that. People liked the job and had less office politics to go through. They left b/c life changes (babies, moving out of state, etc.) were the primary reason. The money always sucked (and still does)compared to the private sector, but you took the pay cut b/c it was a great job.

It doesnt seem that way today and KFR seems oblivious to it. The office has massive turnover and you now see these classes of 60-70 county court ASAs coming in because they cant keep up with the felony ASAs that are leaving in droves. She cant keep the 5-7 year ASAs, which one could argue are the most important b/c they prosecute most of your career criminals, high level felonies and homicide cases.
Yes, the SAO is never going to keep ASAs away from the private sector if there is financial gain to be had. But morale being bad is another story. Thier biggest complaint is their lack of discretion to resolve cases. Give the ASAs back thier authority. I think you would find that they are not going to give away the courthouse and crime will not skyrocket as a result.

Just my $.02 as a former ASA that hates to see the ASAs walk around miserable all day.

Anonymous said...

Is there any ASA/ex-ASA that just loves/loved working as a prosecutor?

Not all at once.

Fake Mike Royko said...

As a former Miami-Dade ASA, I loved working in the office in the beginning. Then the offic bull #@@ started to wear me down. I later moved out of state and became an ASA in another jurisdiction. Not only is my salary 3 x's higher, I have complete discretion and I am treated with respect. It feels like heaven. You really don't realize how bad the MIAMI SAO is until you work somewhere else. I don't know if it is the nature of the office and function of its size or KFR's management style, but that office stinks.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole you are a piece of work. Let Captain mention the McGillis trade name but when any one else does you flip out.

Get a grip already. Go back to the good ol'days when you let the community post at will and when you sobered up you deleted the trash.

Obama says change is on the way just not on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like both the prosecutor and the PD on the "beer burglary case" have weighed in with their opinions on sentencing. Or have they?

I seem to remember the facts differently. Wasn't it a bottle of wine he took? It seems that justice was done in that case and others like it despite what any PD or Private Counsel thinks of Guidelines and Career Criminal Enhancement Statutes. Make changes in legislature if you are unhappy. The C prosecutor is not out to get you, only to lower his/her audit. I promise.

For all those whining about obscene plea offers in Dade, start practicing "North of the Border". Dade attorneys love practicing in Broward, they can charge more because they have to work harder just to end up with that oh so generous bottom of the guidelines plea they love to give up there.

Miserable, sometimes. Underpaid, everyday. Unreasonable, unlikely.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 3rd floor DC and love my job. I always wanted to be a homicide prosecutor and enjoy my responsibilites as supervisor. I hate the rule 3's and wish I were making more money---but there is much more positive than negative with my job. I assist my division ASA's and back them up even when they make mistakes. There is politics in every office and I don't feel things are any worse in our office than any other large public entity. Again, thrilled to have my job and I still find the work exciting and actually fun....

Scott Saul said...

I worked at the SAO from 87-91 and I loved it. It provided invaluable experience, gave me tremendous insight into the workings of the system, allowed me to make great friends and acted as a springboard to a much more fruitful career.

Unfortunately, in private practice, the business of law dominates the practice of law. I enjoy that action but I miss the purity of just being a trial lawyer.

When money was not at issue, and I just had the glory of trying cases, I had such a blast. Trying cases against superior lawyers was great. My losses made me ponder (and thus study my actions) more than my wins.

Janet Reno was a wonderful boss b/c she allowed you to be a lawyer first, not a minion. She was very down to earth, non-judgemental, and she knew about everybody's family life. When Kathy was her apprentice, in charge of community relations, she gave true opportunities to anybody that aksed for it. Reno's righteous attitudes rippled towards the supervisors as well. Although I rarely saw eye to eye with many of them,they were , for the most part, fair.

Criminal trial law should be for aggressive and confident individuals who are not shaken by the establishment, their supervisors or Judges. If you are threatened by a Herb Walker type, then you are in the wrong field!

Since most ASAs are opportunists, looking for experience and then going for greener pastures, then the SAO will always be one of the premier jobs that one can have coming out of law school.

I do not kiss anybody's rear end and I never did at the SAO. I never went to any social events, did not care to hang out with a lot of the nerds, and did not work the political structure of the office. That no doubt affected my position and pay scale.

None the less, it was still a great job with the fondest of memories. I probably sound like a kiss ass yet I have never gone to any fundraisers, would never join the league of prosecutors, and I duke it out with probably more ASAs than most of the defense bar. I am sure that some anonymous blogger will knock me, but I am hardly a kiss ass. If I say that it was a great job, then it was!

The undeniable truth is that the reason it is called W-O-R-K is because it involves some degree of B.S. All jobs do. All jobs have backstabbing, unfair results, etc. Life is a bitch get used to it. If you are among the strong then rise about it. Whether it involves getting clients or getting laid...nobody likes a crybaby.

For all or any of the downfalls, working at the Dade County State Attorneys Office it was and still is an honor that is limited to a small fraternity. I loved it and will always will.

The people that complain the most about that office are wimps and will be swallowed up in the private sector. Kathy's office is nothing compared to the rat race outside of it.

To the anonymous blogger that inquired if anybody enjoyed their stay at that office...there you go!

Anonymous said...

I was a prosecutor for over 10 years. I loved it. I enjoyed serving the community and never did something I didn't think was right (now that I've moved on, I appreciate that even more).

I was able to avoid the politics until my last year or two. I moved up quickly and did well despite disagreeing with KFR publicly on multiple occasions (I always respected that she didn't retaliate).

As far as getting plea approval, I found that if I approached a Chief with a problem case and was prepared (ie. knew the case backwards and forwards and could explain my position well) I could get approval for almost anything I wanted. I can tell you that most of the people complaining about a lack of discretion probably don't deserve it. I watched some of my colleagues ask for low offers for the most ridiculous reasons you could imagine.

As for you defense allegedly attorneys "sticking up for the prosecutors" and criticizing the DCS, you should know that many of the ASAs blame their chiefs for some of their own decisions or laziness (please don't tell me that's a surprise). I can't tell you how many times I was asked about a plea offer I supposedly was consulted on that I had nothing to do with.

As for county court, I agree that is the best, least political part of the office. I loved it. I can never thank my county court chiefs enough for protecting my class from the nonsense that sometimes took place in the other divisions and for making it such a great experience.

Like every experience, being a prosecutor is what you make of it. I had a good attitude and loved my job. Many of the whiners would be crying wherever they went. It always makes me laugh when I talk to some of my colleagues who bitched and moaned every minute of every day while prosecutors but now wax eloquent on their "glory days."

Anonymous said...

If you're happy and you know it (raise the plea offer), If you're happy and you know it (kiss your lesbian girlfriend), If you're happy and you know it (kiss the division chief's ass) I forget the rest of the song.

Anonymous said...

2:29: Think of the ASAs who left to go to private practice but then returned back to the SAO. Michael Von Zamft. Jessica Reid. Helen Page. Tim Vandergiesen. Michael Gilfarb. Johnnette Hardiman. Joshua Weintraub. Tom Headley. Don Horn. Jose Arrojo. Chet Zerlin. Richard Scruggs. Does that answer your question? Yes, there are headaches and B.S. with the SAO, just like there is with any job. The people who hate it that much probably should never have been an ASA to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Weintraub's back?

Anonymous said...

To 8:54. I dont think I would be shocking anyone to suggest that some ASA's leave for private practice and come back because they "hate civil practice" or "can't stand billable hours"...translation: they realized what it is like to really have to bust your ass in the legal field and moved back in to mommy and daddy's house where the suits are a lot cheaper and 4 hour lunches abound. There are a number of top notch proecutors in that office, but there are also way too many slugs that don't deserve to represent that office and what it stands for. It is just unfortunate KFR is unable to cut the fat because of limited funding and staffing.

Anonymous said...

I know ASAs that left and came back. Most of them were senior ASAs who were making decent pay (50k-60k)and left to the private sector for a modest raise. When you leave the SAO for a 10-20k raise, you are more apt to return back to the SAO. You realize that the misery which is private practice is not worth such a small increase in pay.

However, when you are a 3-4 year ASA making 40k and you leave for 60-70k, then you are more likely to stick with the private sector and not return.

That's why most DC level ASAs will never leave. They can argue that they were 15 year attorneys, but they dont command a higher private sector salary to start with. They get offers for 75-80k, just like a five year atty. No DC level ASA would ever leave the good life for private sector life for the same pay.

Anonymous said...

SAO sucks

Anonymous said...

sao sucks