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, January 23, 2008

IF IT'S TUESDAY, THEN IT'S ALSO MONDAY IN MIAMI


(undated Herald Photo of Miamians waiting in line on Tuesday after the former federal holiday celebrating the birthday of Rutherford B Hayes.)
Something has got to be done.

The system is breaking down.

We are speaking of Tuesday trial days when Monday is a holiday.

Two of the busiest days of the court week are jammed into one, and the result is chaos.

Parking is next to impossible.

The lines to get into the courthouse are literally around the block.

There is mass confusion and everyone is upset.

In county court, calendars grind to a halt as both defense attorneys and prosecutors plead for more time when their clients/witnesses aren’t present because there is a decent chance they are stuck trying to park or in the security line (“people with knives to the left; people with rocket launchers to the right, please. Please take all explosives out of your pocket. All explosives must go through the x-ray machine. “ )


In felony court two days worth of calendars makes for large calendars, long lines, grumpy attorneys, overworked clerks, and Judges whose problems in getting the calendar done so they can get to Joes before noon we could really care less about.

Chief Judges Blake and Slom need to recognize there is a problem.
While they don’t have a problem parking, and while they don’t have a problem getting into the building, perhaps if they glance out of their dark tinted windows as they cruise into work humming the Gator fight song they may see the mass confusion going on outside their Corinthian leather appointed cars.

What the overcrowded court system does is cause disillusionment and disrespect for the court system. If we the victim in a case and it was dismissed in county court because it took us an hour to park and get through security, we would be very angry.

The system is broke, and Slom and Blake have the responsibility to fix it.
(yes, we wrote this line with a straight face.)

We will be watching.


See You In Court,
doing sudoko puzzles in line.

34 comments:

fake blake said...

Hmmm...everybody is NOT happy. And that's not good.

See ya at the Fake's meeting tonight at Tobacco Road.

Anonymous said...

I guess BLAKE and SLOM could work at night rebuilding the bridges so that traffic around the Courthouse eased up. Then they could vote about 10,000 times each and maybe we'd get the new courthouse rejected the voters of Dade county a few years back. Then they could ignore constiturional rights and eliminate speedy trail, firts appearances and arraignments. And lastly, my suggestion to best ease the REGJC overcrowding on trial days, eliminate the jury system by administrative order and everybody gets a bench trial.
Rumpie, you're misplacing responsibility....

Anonymous said...

the real question is why year after year, 40000 felony case numbers, why isn't crime going down, why are so so many people violating the law in a country swimming with laws. something is really wrong in this country.

Rumpole said...

No you miss the point. We've all been dealt a tough hand with the bridges out.

What Blake and Slom can do is STAGGER the calendars so everything from Monday doesn't get pushed until Tuesday. Take arraignments for out of custody people and spread them out over the week. Alert Judges and tell them not to set anything but emergency hearings on their Tuesday miscellaneous calendars. Tell Felony Judges to consider setting some trials for Wednesday. Same with county court (or thursday for that matter in county court.)

In short, they can get off their duffs and lead. Be an innovative leader. See the problem in advance- and work for the solution. Brainstorm. Have they even soliticted any ideas from the defense bar? Have they spoken with the judges about how to handle the problem? Or have they just sat in their offices and said "do the best you can?"

When President Roosevelt was asked in 1936 what he would do if his policies to end the depression failed, he said something to the effect of that he would try something else, and then something else after that, and he would keep on trying until he succeeds.

I don't get the same "can do" attitude out of our chief judges.

Misplacing responsibility? Just who has the responsibility if not the chief judges to deal with this? The girls at Au Bon Pain?

Anonymous said...

Too many criminal laws.

Make marijuana possession a civil
infraction.

Make cocaine possession a civil
infraction.

Make trespass a civil infraction.

Make disorderly intoxication a civil infraction.

Make disorderly conduct a civil
infraction.

Make battery on a leo a crime
only if the officer was actually
injured.

Make resisting with violence a crime only if its together with a
second actual substantive charge.

Make resisting without violence
a crime only if its together with a
second actual substantive charge.

With these simple changes you would get rid of 20% of the cases
in the MJB. And getting rid of these will not make any difference
in our day to day lives.

ScottAfrica

Sarah said...

I'm a reporter at The Miami Herald, and we're actually doing a story on the lines and how it affects the efficiency of the building. If you would like to comment, please feel free to e-mail me at stompkins@miamiherald.com. It would be great to hear more opinions.

Anonymous said...

I must respectfully disagree Mr. Africa. Just likie the tax code, we need to continue to complicate the arena so people need lawyers. We have 6 hfo laws, give me eight, 400 pages of traffic and vehicles laws, give me 600. have you seen west's fla crim law lately, about 250 pages, single spaced on each side on traffic. how about the police just don't arrest people for minor shit. what happened to the days of if you catch a kid with pot or coke, you just take it from them, they get caught shoplifting, call their parents to pick them up and tell them not to come vback to theat store etc. then the cops can concentrate on felonies, how many of us have been burglarized or car theft and they say the person will never be found, file an insurance repott. i want to see cops on the street, not in thier office doing 4 hours of processing someone for poss. cannabis or theft of a dvd.

Anonymous said...

Blaming Slom is ridiculous (okay, maybe he could've done something about Pando more quickly). The County Court system IS broken. But not because of him. It's the judges who won't or can't control their calendars (Slom can't control them; they're independently elected constitutional officers).

Look it up. There are about half as many DUI arrests in Miami-Dade County today as there were in the early 90's and twice as many judges to handle them.

The judiciary simply is not as strong as it used to be.

Anyone who appeared in front of Piniero, Schumacher, Lando, Cohen, Feiler and, yes, Colby, can attest to that. They handled many more cases than today's judges. They did so faster and more fairly. And, they knew the law. The current bench, taken as a whole, should be ashamed. Many show up late, leave early, don't try cases, put off decisions and take the easy way out regularly. Some of these judges don't know a damn thing, won't listen to the lawyers who do and can't admit when they're wrong. A nasty cocktail of negative attributes if there ever was one.

And we wonder why people are frustrated.

BTDT

PS----Pineiro drove me crazy on occasion when he was in County and Circuit Court (his temper is almost as bad as mine). BUT, he was predictably fair, knew the law, and efficient as all hell (and a great guy off the bench). No BS in his court. No backed up cases. And, trials galore. The problem isn't the schedules or the administrative judges. It's the trial judges. I would think you've been around long enough to know that Rump.

Anonymous said...

Here's a different approach...

No Courtroom, No Case: Ala. Judge Dismisses 220 Tickets

By Martha Neil

The 15th of January was a good day to be defending a traffic offense case in the Alabama courtroom of Judge Michael Newell.

After Winston County officials failed to assign him a courtroom because of a scheduling conflict, Newell dismissed all pending cases on his docket except for defendants accused of driving under the influence, reports the Birmingham News. One particularly lucky defendant had eight traffic tickets dismissed that dated back as far as 2006.

The judge tells the newspaper he feels the 220 dismissals were appropriate, since many defendants took time off from work to appear and had to wait for more than an hour before it became clear that traffic court would not be conducted that day. If it had been the defendants who were late, Newell says, he would have held them accountable. "I should hold myself to the same standard and that's what I was trying to do."

Anonymous said...

One problem Mr. Scott Africa.

Making crack possession an infraction would drive up the burglary, grand theft auto and other theft crime rate.

Cocaine and crack aren't free and unfortunately their users aren't always upstanding citizens with jobs to pay for their little habit.

Maybe of course you could care less as Miami-Dade goes down the tubes.

Anonymous said...

You've got to be kidding about Resisting with Violence and Batt Leo not being a crime. I know there aren't a lot of cop fans on this blog, but their job is tough enough as it is. How bad would the officer have to be hurt to consider it a Batt Leo? What if a purse snatcher gets caught by a cop and punches him in the face while being arrested, then the victim doesn't show for the PFC? Encouraging a further lack of respect for Officers than already exist isn't helping anything. The rest of the list isn't bad though...

Anonymous said...

So Farina, Slom, etc. and the clerk's office have no control over judges? So if a judge decides to start all their calendars at 4 pm and do jury selections on Thursday afternoons, they can't be told no?
If that's the case, then why does every judge have midemeanor soundings on Wednesdays and trials set on Mondays? Many of their egos are big enough that they would want to be 'the only' judge with Thursday soundings. You know, make all those peons come in on Thursday and bow before me.

Anonymous said...

poor ben k....
roy got a buffer black
next month the hammer drops

Anonymous said...

Re: the 8:05pm comment -

I practiced law in the Justice Building in the 70's until today. I have seen my share of great, not so great and terrible Judges. It is a new crop now.

Judge Rob Pineiro, Judge Mark Shumacher, Judge Scott Silverman and Judge Jonathan Colby were the most efficient, most intelligent, most compassionate and knew how to move their calendars - always treating defense lawyers with great respect and their clients and vistims alike with dignity. They were real guys off the bench. This is not to say that they were not some of the toughest judges on the bench, but you always got a fair trial and they all knew the evidence code so well. I can not say the same for today's criminal court Judges. Judges Blake, Diaz, Reyes, Rodriguez and one or two others are very qualified and worthy. These new judges could take some lessons from some of our best judges with esperience in treating all fairly, especially the lawyers appearing in front of them.

Anonymous said...

OK MR. 8:14 - what is cocaine possession right now in Miami-Dade court? It is basically a felony which is treated like a misdemeanor
already. Credit Time Served or Drug
Court - those are the two resolutions. Are either of those
resolutions actually helping the citizens of Dade County? My point is cocaine possession is already basically treated like a civil infraction especially for those who bond out on it. Once you bond out there is no chance of you going back to jail on it. Yet everyday there are at least two cocaine possession cases in each of the 20 circuit courts - that's
around 40 cases each day clogging up the system, when we all know these people aren't going to stop doing cocaine because of anything that happens to them in court and we all know that the plea will be CTS. Its an icredible waste of time
and money.

ScottAfrica

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, you bring up an important issue. There are definitely things that can be done to alleviate the situation, and after discussions between the judiciary, clerks, and courthouse security, a determination has been made that nothing change.

Anonymous said...

Too many criminal laws. AGREED.

Make marijuana possession a civil
infraction. WHY SHOULD GROWING ONE TYPE OF PLANT IN MY YARD BE A CIVIL INFRACTION?

Make cocaine possession a civil
infraction. ONLY IN A POLICE STATE WOULD THE SALE, USE OR POSSESSION OF A COMMODITY BE A CRIME. IN A FREE SOCIETY ANYTHING FOR WHICH THERE IS DEMAND, WOULD BE SUPPLIED IN A MARKET. IN THE BUSH/CLINTON POLICE STATE WE JUST TALK ABOUT FREE MARKETS, WE DON’T ACTUALLY BELIEVE IN THEM.

Make trespass a civil infraction. NO WAY, “GET OFF MY LAND!” IF THE COPS WON’T COME GET A TRESPASSER OFF MY LAND, SMITH AND WESSON WILL.

Make disorderly intoxication a civil infraction. AGAIN, NO WAY. DRUNKS CREATING A DISTURBANCE NEED TO GO TO JAIL.

Make disorderly conduct a civil
infraction. MAYBE, OR MAYBE, JUST LIMIT IT TO A LEGITIMATE DISTURBANCE AND STOP STRETCHING THE STATUTE TO COVER ANYTHING THE STATE DOES NOT LIKE. TWO MEN FIGHTING IN THE STREET IS A CRIME EVEN IF THEY CONSENT TO THE FIGHT.

Make battery on a leo a crime
only if the officer was actually
injured. YES.

Make resisting with violence a crime only if its together with a
second actual substantive charge. AT THE COMMON LAW, YOU COULD RESIST AN UNLAWFUL ARREST WITH VIOLENCE. WHAT CONSERVATIVE COULD OPPOSE A RETURN TO THAT?

Anonymous said...

8:14 ----

Following that logic, let's ban alcohol too. Like crack, its not free. Prohibition proved to be quote viable.

While we are at it, let's ban big macs, as they are also not free.

batman said...

Well said 8:05. There actually are people out there who see the real problem. Well, I guess that is two of us.

Spiderman said...

Positive spin....on the other hand, certain County Court judges should be commended for being knowledgeable, consistent, and efficient: MIRANDA, BLOOM, GAYLES, ARZOLA to name a few. We should try to encourage those that are trying, and further encourage the others to emulate the rest. Stop Monday morning quarterbacking...

Anonymous said...

How about the judges let defense attorney's file written motions for continuance prior to sounding or trial. If they are granted, then they are taken off calendar and the attorneys and defendants don't have to come in, thus freeing up parking spaces, reducing the lines outside, and reducing the number of defendants in the courtrooms.

batman said...

12:19 There is no reason why Motions for Continuance can not or should not be filed in advance of the trial date. Two reasons why they aren't:

1. The defense attorneys are lazy and mostly don't believe in written motions (too much work) and;

2. Most defense attorneys wait for the State to announce whether they are ready or not, so they can try and keep speedies running.

If motions for continuance were required to be filed by sounding date by either side (absent a true change of circumstance or emergency) the process would actually alleviate long lines on any Monday (or Tuesday).

I know, too logical, too much like real lawyering and too much like the rules being applied. The fact that this process would work is precisely why it will never be used.

Anonymous said...

How many 4 day work weeks are there in a year and how hard is it to LOOK AT A CALENDAR?

Rumpole said...

To the wise and sophisticated reader who wanted to publish a comment about the judge who allegedly slept with the DC in his/her division: YOU are the reason we have moderation.

Plus, it's the old dog bites man story. No shock value. I choose not to allow it because it might hurt the individual or their significant others, and this blog is not about anonymous character assassination.

Fake Fake Fake Blake said...

Rumor has it that Miami's own Judge Peter Adrien will soon have his own TV judge show. "Judge Peter Camacho," unlike his many colleagues on the tube, will not rule on 2 or 3 cases in a half-hour; instead, he will rule on 2 or 3 cases per week, at most. There are also rumors floating around that Herb "The Love Bug" Andrews will serve as Judge Adrien-Camacho's bailiff............promises to be true entertainment!

Been There ... said...

I've been here practicing law since the early 80's and the County Court judges we have now are as good as any group we've had. Are some of them shall we say "quirky"? Perhaps a few. Then again, we've had our share of those over the years. But this group is fair, efficient and a pleasure to appear before. With the backbreaking number of cases they have to deal with, I'm glad that I get a pleasant greeting and a fair and pretty rapid hearing on my motions. Can it be improved? Yes. Here's a few ideas:

-send the B.S. cases to branch courts and magistrates;
-have motions to depose, to set aside first bench warrants and the like decided in chambers like they do in Broward.

But don't blame the "great 8" county court judges who handle the DUI and other serious misdemeanor offenses, and don't look back to years past with blind fondness. They are still nice, they still take us out of turn and get us out of the building fairly rapidly, and they are fair. And at the end of the day, that's all we can ask for.

Mr. 8:14 said...

Actually on that point Mr. Africa, I agree. Cocaine possessions are often given credit time served and they shouldn't. They need to start doing jail time. It is rather pathetic that many of these folks, score so high, they are capped at the five years state prison since they would actually score some ridiculous number like say 89.4 months at the BOTTOM of the guidelines.

Which again reflects usually that they have horrendous records and are career criminals even, but most career criminal statutes exclude simple cocaine possession as a basis for sentencing them as a career criminal at the time that particular crime is committed.

It would be much easier for an ASA to go ahead, and send them to jail and prison on the cocaine possession charge which is a cinch to prove, rather than on the burglary, grand theft and other charges they face when they get caught stealing to go buy the coke or crack they want.

However most ASA's just cut the guy a break and give them CTS. So I would say, yes, if CTS is all we're going to keep doing, then you're right, it is nothing and might as well be an infraction.

But I would advocate harsher sentences and actually give new life to the charge rather than continue the current practice of marginalizing it to the point of uselessness and letting narcotics send Dade County down the tubes.

9:11, you oversimplify what I said. My point wasn't that just because something costs money, people rob and steal for it. My point is, that there is usually a direct correlation between these cocaine possession cases and the crimes committed in order to finance that habit. How many times, when a criminal gives a confession as to why he stole, does he say, "I needed the money for the crack!"

Suffice to say, crack users aren't as likely to hold down stable jobs and actually able to legally finance that habit. Because even if you make it an infraction, employers will still do drug screens and not hire or terminate people who test positive for usage. Unless society itself reforms its perception of drugs altogether and basically makes alcohol, marijuana and cocaine and other drugs all on equal footing.

Were this a society that legalized drugs altogether and regulated it, maybe things would run more smoothly, that's entirely possible. Why even make it an infraction? So that ticket attorneys can take the business? Why not just legalize the whole darn thing while you're at...

Spiderman said...

Hey batman!.....shhhhhhhh....

Anonymous said...

6:36............you so wrong. Perhaps you can explain to us why their caseloads are so high, why their calendars take so long, and how they can try so few cases (Newman excepted) when the number of DUI arrests (and, let's face it, what else is there in county court that really matters?) is down by almost 50%?

Their being nice to you and getting you out of the building may help them achieve their ambitions of attaining higher office or getting to the golf course, tennis courts, or nail salons early but does not make them competent. And, it's easy to be nice when you're working half days for six figures. Are you standards really so low that you think "that's all we can ask for?"

Regardless, I thought we wanted judges who knew the law and make proper decisions.

And you call us blind.........

BTDT

batman said...

BTDT you are somebody who really gets it. Another Superhero comes to the forefront in defense of competence and intellect. I don't know who you are stranger, but your attitudes ring a bell.

Anonymous said...

FREE MARY JANE

Anonymous said...

rumpole; regarding your 237 post, you must really like him to discard the truth in such a cavalier manner. we all have flaws, even the most popular. the man did it, not there is anything wrong with that!

Anonymous said...

100am you are an idjit. colby cleared out his caseload by convicting people who werent there like a judge might in iraq

Anonymous said...

8:20.............get a clue. Everyone knew what he was doing. Everyone in that courtroom should've gone down with him.

Regardless, before he did that, he still ran a great courtroom. Anyone that appeared before him would tell you that he knew the law, made good legal decisions (until the infamous one you mention) and ran great trials.

With few exceptions, you don't see anyone doing that today at the County Court level and not many more at the Circuit level.