Sunday, March 09, 2008


Two Miami Herald articles have caught our attention:

In the first, shots were fired and thankfully missed Miami Attorney and judicial candidate Abbie Cuellar as she was driving her car home from a function last week. The David Ovalle Herald article is
, and the current belief is that it was an attempted car jacking and not related to any political activites.

We also noted, as the Herald reported
HERE that in the case involving the murder of wealthy Coconut Grover resident and business man Jose Calvo, Anthony Lee confessed and pled guilty to the murder last week, admitting that the early rampant speculation that he was acting on behalf of Calvo’s wife- Denise Calvo- was false.

When this killing occurred there was rampant speculation that Ms. Calvo had orchestrated the killing. The marriage appeared to be rocky, and there was a lot of money involved. Without going over all the details involving drug use, conflicting statements she may have given, the police’s allegations she was “uncooperative” and her recently being added as a beneficiary to a half million dollar life insurance policy, the facts had everybody whispering she was involved ala the famed Joyce Cohen
Coconut Grove case from a decade or so earlier. (Where's John Kastrenakis and Kevin DiGregory when you need them?)

Just one problem: Denise Calvo was innocent. And therein lies our thought for the day: there is a reason why we have a presumption of innocence in this country (although it may be against the law to say that in Federal Court more than once per trial, we are researching the issue as you read this.) and that is to avoid putting people in prison who “everyone knows did it” or who otherwise seem guilty.

So the next time you pick up the Herald and read about a story and shake your head because you “know the guy is guilty” just remember ( as we sometimes try to speak with jurors about in voire dire) that there may be evidence of guilt against an innocent person. Certainly Denise Calvo may have had marital difficulties, or she may have stood to benefit from her husband’s death, or she may not have been 100% cooperative with homicide detectives (which in this case probably means she turned down the offer of a Big Mac at 4:00 am in an interview room in exchange for admitting she had her husband killed.) but that doesn’t mean she is a killer.

See You In Court, where we remind judges and prosecutors of the above on a daily basis.

PS. Speaking of voire dire and federal court, does anyone else find it a bit difficult to interview forty or so jurors in the 8 minutes and 35 seconds the judge has so graciously carved out of his/her lunch time to allow you to do your job?


Anonymous said...

Being innocent and not being proven guilty are 2 different things. Calvo, a drug addict whose habit apparently led the shooter to her husband, can hardly be called INNOCENT in his murder. Some might call the distinction "semantics," but if anyone should be able to appreciate the difference between innocence and not proven guilty, it's a lawyer. But Rumpole is too sanctimonious and quick to lecture us to ignore human nature when we read stories in the Herald to get the concept.

Rumpole said...

I wasn't even finished editing the post when you joined in the fray.

Sanctimonious? Really, me?
Lecture my readers? Why I never have been so insulted since...reading my last emails from "fans".

But I will point our this: Gayle Levine handled this matter for the state, and you'd better believe that if she thought Calvo was guilty she would never have rested until having her arrested and brought to trial. If Gayle says she had no involveemnt, she didn't.

Anonymous said...

See you in court where we remind prosecutors and judges on a constant basis? Who's this we? You? I am a prosecutor and I don't need you or anyone else, Rump, to remind me of my ethical obligations EVER. Being unethical and making false unproveable allegations is surely not peculiar only to prosecutors. I think you owe the prosecutors who read and post on this blog an apology for painting us with your broad brush. Hmmmm, isn't that something you're always accusing US of doing? Sucks, don't it?

Anonymous said...


Re: Gail Levine

I couldn't agree with you more. Like her or not (personally or professionally...and this defense attorney happens to like her in both respects) we are lucky to have her prosecuting serious cases here in Miami-Dade

abe laeser said...

1. It is GAIL, not Gayle.

2. That "burden of proof" and "reasonable doubt" stuff does actually make a difference to prosecutors when making a charging decision.

3. Kevin D. was in town, for a seminar - after having moved into criminal defense. Some silly thing about paying for college for five children.

Anonymous said...


Cannon 2, of the Rules of Judicial Conduct states that “A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in all of the Judge's Activities,” providing that “A judge shall . . act . . in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary”; saying that “A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge's judicial conduct or judgment.”

The test for appearance of impropriety according to the commentaries “is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances that a reasonable inquiry would disclose, a perception that the judge's ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality, and competence is impaired.”

Would you afford us the benefit of your opinion, and also elicite the opinions of our readers and contributors to the following:
(1) What is the propriety of a judge who is married or in a “meaningful” or “significant” relationship with a police officer sitting in the criminal division? (2) Would the opinion change if the judge handles cases involving officers who are assigned the mates or significant others unit or section?

Good Ethics question?

Anonymous said...

the sao is probably waiting for calvo to make a mistake with the insurance money or after the sao saying she is no longer a suspect. she hired the shooter, there's blood on her hands, and the man upstairs , not HIM but Abe, is watching.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole did you read the same story I did. "Shots Fired" thats an understatement if I ever read one.

Her SUV was riddled with bullets and the only reason she got away was because when they cut her off and stopped there van or suv in front of her Abbie immediately ducked and hit reverse at a high rate of speed. What is confusing is why shoot at her if she is leaving like that?

Random act? Why shoot? It seems like if it was a car jacking that they would maybe shoot one bullet to scare her - but why continue to shoot why she is backing up at a high rate of speed.

Also she was coming from a political function that night. The union wine and cheese event (I think). Is there any connection?

I was car jacked 10 years ago with a gun and I can tell you it is not a picnic. No shots fired there.

Anonymous said...

I want the State Attorney and the Police to concentrate on Gun arrest. The majority or the Gun offenders are repeats.

Just like we do with the sex offenders I want picture in News Papers. Neighborhood maps showing me what people have Gun violence convictions. I want these cases to never be pled out of court with nolle prose, probation. I want the jury to decide.

I want the State Attorney to say ready for Trial on all Gun Violent offenders immediately. These cases must take priority over all other cases except for murder and child rape cases. Gun Violence is becoming an epidemic in Miami. ENOUGH ALREADY!!

If a defendant bails out on Gun violence charge that case must be place on top for trial before the offenders locked up.


I want a commision officer assigned to work jointly with the SAO and the Police to monitor these cases and make sure the Police are ready to be witnesses and the Asst SA assigned says READY FOR TRIAL immediately after information is filed. Get the witness list later. Let the jury decide these cases immediately!!.

Rumpole said...

Mr. Laeser- If Kevin has joined the dark side of the force, he is absolutely positively the number one person I would call if I'm in trouble. He was the very best, ethical, hard working, and talented prosecutor I have seen. By that I am not saying the best ever, I am saying he is as good as they come- and several others meet that standard as well.

11:39- read my profile- I have adopted the "royal we."

As to reminding prosecutors- have you ever been north of the border- I can cite you case numbers and my correspondence with Mr. Satz, to wit- the ASA in court admitted my client was innocent but told me after speaking with a supervisor that his office's policy was to try the case and let the jury acquit the defendant. Perhaps that's why, after a deposition, they settled the 1983 action with me after in fact, my client was acquitted in 4 minutes. But that was several years ago. However, they still have the same unwritten policy. In Dade, while no one has yet told me that, the atmosphere of fear is such that it is heading that way. I recently saw three in court ASA's fight over who would have to announce the nolle prosse on a speedy issue because none of them wanted to be on record dismissing the case. (It wasn't my case- but the comedy of it all drew a crowd, and we were unruly, so the ASA's could have been arrested for disorderly conduct.)
So yes, I do remind prosecutors of the burden of proof and that my client is presumed innocent on a daily basis.

Rumpole said...

I did not post a comment. You can not like a lawyer- and you can say he's getting a rule 3(and the rule 3 in that case was already denied for your information.) But you can't comment on his skin condition. Not on my blog anyway.

Rumpole said...

"Gail" and I have a special relationship- I get to call her "Gayle", but only she knows it.

CAPTAIN said...


that it's been 22 years (last Friday) since Stanley Cohen was murdered in his sleep.

"A hysterical Joyce Cohen telephoned 911 in Miami at 5:25 a.m. on March 7, 1986, to report that her husband had been shot in their Coconut Grove home. Police found Stanley Cohen, 52, naked and dead in bed, with gunshot wounds to the head.

Two years later, Joyce Cohen was arrested and charged with First Degree Murder. She now resides at Broward CI and she is serving a LIFE sentence.

DC Number: 161701
Hair Color: BROWN
Eye Color: BROWN
Height: 4'11''
Weight: 149 lbs.
Birth Date: 07/18/1950
Initial Receipt Date: 12/07/1989
Current Facility: BROWARD C.I.
Current Custody: CLOSE
Current Release Date: SENTENCED TO LIFE

Cap Out ....

Anonymous said...

11:39 - when Rump paints with a broad brush, touchy ASAs are offended. When you paint with a broad brush, innocent people are held in jail and end up with convictions on their records. You have no idea what sucks, my simple minded, overprivileged colleague.

CAPTAIN said...

Hey Jack - time for a new crusade -

Man caught in compromising position - with lamppost...

The Telegraph brings us an odd story from England, where a 32-year-old man was arrested for "simulating a sex act'' with a lamppost.

The paper reports the February incident occured in front of children in Wiltshire, in the southwest of England.

The man was arrested on suspicion of outraging public decency before being released and then reinterviewed by police.

And he's not the only one.

Last week in London, a contractor working at a hospital was "caught on his knees'' with a Henry Hoover vacuum cleaner.

A security guard found the man, who -- get this -- claims he was cleaning his underwear.


CAPTAIN said...


Joe Rosenbaum said...

Anthony Lee was interviewd after he pled guilty on Friday. He was aked how he picked Jose Calvo as the victim. His answer was that he was driving around the Grove, saw a Mercedes with the driver wearing a Rolex with diamonds. During the robbery, he thought he recognized the woman(Denise) but did not put it together until later.

Denise's alleged use of narcotics had NOTHING to do with the robbery and murder of her husband

Anonymous said...

I understand the shooters in the Cuellar carjacking thing may have been playing some violent video games earlier in the day.

Anonymous said...

if it was a carjacking why would they riddle the car with bullets? wouldn't they want to protect the car from all that damage?

CAPTAIN said...



It appears that the "Q" isn't all that he is cracked up to be on this blog.... see opinion below:

CHENTEE KEY, Appellant, vs. THE STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee. 3rd District. Case No. 3D05-877. L.T. Case No. 04-25891. Opinion filed February 20, 2008. An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Rosa Rodriguez, Judge. Counsel: Franz A. Parke, for appellant. Bill McCollum, Attorney General, and Robin F. Hazel, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

(Before COPE and LAGOA, JJ., and SCHWARTZ, Senior Judge.)

(PER CURIAM.) This is an appeal of a judgment and sentence for three counts of sexual battery, one count of kidnapping, and one count of robbery. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

The State concedes that the prosecution for armed robbery was time-barred, and since the error appears clear on the face of the record, it is a matter of fundamental error which defendant-appellant Chentee Key is allowed to raise for the first time on this appeal. See Tucker v. State, 417 So. 2d 1006, 1012 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982), approved on other grounds, 459 So. 2d 306, 309 (Fla. 1984). Based on the State's concession, the conviction and sentence for armed robbery must be vacated, and there must be a new sentencing hearing based on a recalculated scoresheet.

With regard to the scoresheet, the State concedes that the trial court erred by using the fifteen percent multiplier in calculating the defendant's score. The fifteen percent multiplier is applicable only for cases where the defendant has forty sentence points or less. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.703(d)(25) (1996).* Because the defendant has more than forty sentence points, the fifteen percent multiplier should not have been used and must be omitted when the scoresheet is recalculated on remand.

We decline to reach the merits of the defendant's claims that his trial counsel was ineffective. If the defendant wishes to pursue such claims, he may do so by filing an appropriate motion for postconviction relief. We express no opinion on the merits of any such motion.

We affirm with regard to the remaining points on appeal.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings consistent herewith.


*The crime date was April 8, 1996.


Hilary and Obama Video FUNNY ... said...

Monday Morning Laugh....


Priceless video of Hilary and Obama

Sam I Am said...

With Calvo, I think one can distinguish between legally culpable and morally culpable.

In light of Rumpole's trust in Levine, I trust that Calvo was in no way legally culpable for the murder of her husband. However, she was still, apparently, a drug addict whose habit indirectly led to the death of her husband. One might therefor deem her morally culpable for the death of her husband.

Blevin Berry said...

Good Ethics question?

No. Stupid question, from a bigot. Just because you love one cop does not mean you love all cops. There are some decent, honest police officer. There are also some evil, power-crazed morons wearing the badge.

In my county, there is a judge married to a human being. Should she be disqualified from any cases where human beings are parties or witnesses?

Anonymous said...

If you want to be found not guilty in Federal Court hire Joel Defabio. Possibly the most underated attorney in Dade County.


Anonymous said...

8:37--a tad touchy, are we? Hit a nerve? I have always looked at each case individually, right back to when I was a beginning ASA. Once again, you depict all prosecutors the same, making those of us here in Dade the same as prosecutors elsewhere, and lumping us all together as unfeeling, uncaring, unethical, and uninterested in the truth. Perhaps we should paint all defense attorneys the same--do you want to be blamed for the sleazy, unethical conduct of some of your brethren? Or maybe that's YOU that pulls that crap. Either way, you condemn us as a group rather than recognize that there are bad apples in every profession and every side of a case. But apparently only defense attorneys are permitted to paint with that "broad brush", right? Simple minded? Hardly. Touchy--most definitely. Overprivileged? Don't make me laugh--most people leave the SAO to make money; I didn't stay to get rich, you sanctimonious ass. Go back to the second grade playground where name calling is acceptable.

Anonymous said...

nice to hear joe rosenbaum chime in, yes criminal defendants who are hired to perpetrate first degree murder have a lot of interview credibilityl. nice to see you finally win one joe, perhaps the most overrated attorney in miami.

Anonymous said...

to 8;37 your comments are in conflict with 9;36 but only juxtapose albeit adroitly the oratory of 841 but do not incorporate nor address the dissent of 645 and therefore fail the q test of 734 so you must know pay the price and be 86ddd.

Anonymous said...

5 MORE AMERICAN SOLDIERS KILLED IN IRAQ. if this does not bother you vote for McCain- he will continue the war and will lose no sleep if the numbers grow to 58k like korea and vietnam. If you vote for Obama you still have to hope no one shoots him before he assumes office, probably a 33% chance of an assassination attempt on him in the next 8 months. If you vote for Clinton- her temper is as bad as Mccains and she will probably feel pressure to use the military so she does not appear to be a woman or weak and she is so angry I could see her having us in Iraq a long time also but she would enyoy it a whole lot less than the republicans and would make sure the prosethic devices of the injured coming back are paid for by the government. she did vote for the war and whenever bill gets caught cheating on her dike ass again she use the military. not a great set of choices are they.

Anonymous said...

Conspiracy Theorists of the World Unite!

I have just one question for you:

Is it really so outside the realm of possibility that the robbers were so pissed off that their supposedly easy target "bucked the jack", that they opened fire?

That whole "if I can't have you (or your SUV), no one else will, either" mentality. Those SOBs were watching their dreams of a smooth ride and rich Corinthian (did I spell that right?) leather going down the tubes.

Kudos to Abbie for being so quick on her feet during such an unimaginable time of stress and chaos.

Anonymous said...

Dade County is almost as bad as Broward with regard to dismissing actions. Howard Pohl will no all ow anyone to dismiss a case, he will require you to try the case if the defendant wont accept a WH and probation. At least Howard gives a reasonable plea, wait reasonable if you are guilty!

Anonymous said...

Sure, Joe, it was just a coincidence that the murder's mother was the victim's wife's crack dealer. And the Gerstein Building is really a grand old courthouse.

Anonymous said...

After watching the Tru TV segement on the Joyce Cohen case I would bet my business and my home that Joyce Cohen is innocent. Probably due to the man who was involved in the murder being coerced by the Miami police. Im sure most who seen this show would agree with me.

David Dixon said...

This woman is obviously innocent. I saw the case on SNAPPED. The resolution of this trial has the murderer using the police and the courts to win immunity for his crime and the defendent's step-daughters getting off with her husband's money. In the latter this case resembles the Jeremy Bamber case therefore. Being homicidal, the killer was happy to judicially murder his victim''s wife to get off with his crime and there are several cases where this has happened on SNAPPED and elsewhere. I'm afraid that the police in this case were fools and the defendent has had to pay for it with her life and her legal rights.

Anonymous said...

Give it time lee is gonna see some nice cash in prison mark my words, lee is covering up for the wife $$$ - root of all...