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

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

GEMMA COSENTINO

CAPTAIN said...

I noticed today that it has been exactly 5 years since the death of Gemma Cosentino. Amazing how time flies.For those of you that did not know her, she was a fantastic attorney and, more importantly, she was an incredibly warm and caring person who brightened every room she walked into. She died at the young age of 48.She will continue to be sorely missed.

Cap Out ....

Rumpole remembers Gemma as a wonderful public defender. A beautiful person inside and out. What a tragedy her death was.

34 comments:

Rumpole said...

Folks, all of this bickering on the blog has caused me great concern.

Is this blog something that should continue? Does it serve a useful purpose, or is it being used as a vehicle to hurt people?

I write this because I do not easily forget that I violated one of my own rules when I published that stupid post last Friday. I took a professional matter and hurt someone personally and I was truly wrong. I tried to fix it the best I could by regaining my senses and removing the post in a few hours, but the fighting and name calling continues. People are accused of being racists, and all sorts of other things. I have no idea for the most part who these people are. And if this blog is hurting people then I should stop it now. That was never my intent. I wanted it to be a place for people to discuss the issues of the justice building. We have had grand moments- the rememberances of colleagues who have passed on; the recollection of important criminal cases by the lawyers on both sides; the rallying to great causes like the children's area in the justice building; and the exposing of some injustices. Lawyers are still banned from the PDs offices for taking a political stand, and that is wrong.

But every day it just seem the level of meanness rises and I am getting tired. I do not want to be some self appointed censor.

SO- is this worth it, or not? Discuss please.

Anonymous said...

how did gemma die capt.?

Rumpole said...

I'm going to leave the Gemma post up a few days while I consider this. Keep posting comments and I'll publish them, but I need to re-think this. I don't want people getting hurt by this blog and more and more the level of nastiness is increasing.

Anonymous said...

There's been so much lately...refresh our collective recollections: what was the general subject area of the Friday post to which you refer?

Anonymous said...

do not feel guilty

Anonymous said...

Gemma was a wonderful person. She died-so very young-of cancer. Her husband Jaime was by her side all the way. She worked for the PD's office for years and then left for private practice around 1987-1990. I still remember judges and lawyers underestimating her, because they were entranced by her physical beauty.

For those of you who did not know her, or weren't even born yet (but visit this blog), this is a good way to transition into what Rump is discussing regarding a purpose for this blog.

Without giving up more information, I can only say that Gemma was a wonderful lawyer and human being. I knew this from either seeing her practice, practicing against her or inheriting cases from her. I do not know if her husband is even aware of the existence of this blog.

Rump: if you feel it is appropriate, I suggest you forward these entries to Jaime. I can only imagine how much he and Nicole will cherish them.

Life is so fragile. It's hard to say without sounding like a Hallmark card. But in reality, any of us who were around during the 1980s, when REG wasn't REG, and when the SAO was on the 6th floor and the PDO was on the 8th, most probably remembers Gemma. I even remember where her office was, and who she was dating back then.

This, of course was before Jaime and Nicole. Anyone remember where Gemma went to school? How about which divisions she was assigned to? Anyone know who her trial partners were or which judges she was assigned to? (Hint: think the PDs assign the MOST attractive AND smart woman to which judge's courtroom? This goes back 20 years, so if you answer you are dating yourself.) Can anyone mention a significant case she handled? Does anyone know what item she took (not stole, just took) when she and a boyfriend from pre-REG broke up?

For you young ones, that's why this is called the Justice Building Blog and NOT the REG building, blog. If you are old enough to know, you don't even ask.

Here's to you, Rump; whoever you are and wherever you are sailing. I may not agree with all that you say, or I just might; who knows? Either way, you do have the history down. There is something to say about history, and I for one, would like to keep our lovely Gemma a part of it.

Gemma: Keep sailing with the wind. I know you loved the water. You are truly thought of often and missed.

With love,

your dear friend...................

Anonymous said...

There was nothing wrong with the "following orders" post. Take it from a Jew. Don't let the the opinion of a self-righteous pompous blowhard take away from your freedom to analogize where appropriate.

Give yourself a break.

And by the way, no one has ever been banned from the PD's office because of their opinion. Deeds, maybe, but opinions, no. You need to stop buying into the urban legend on that one.

Anonymous said...

you could always "moderate-out" the nasty comments by rule

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Rump. This blog has had it's great moments. But I believe that it has overwhelmingly created a vehicle for the mean spirited jealousy and hatred that quietly exists in the REGJB to be aired anonymously.

The poor versus the rich, the self-proclaimed 24/7 trial lawyers versus those who dont try that many cases, the career government lawyers versus those who belittle their commitment to public service. Do we really need all that?

We all know there's good ASAs and PD's and those that are total assholes. We know that the leadership of both offices is subject to debate, and yes, occasionally a judge demeans their robe and the office. Do you feel good providing a vehicle for all these critical people to publish their thoughts to the world, anonymously?

It is shameful that the main reason people are anonymous is because they fear the backlash of colleagues, or fear getting fired. We're lawyers and judges for god sakes. When will we all grow up and act like it?

This blog has caused many in the building to "be a little quieter" and wonder who is trashing them.

As someone once said on a blog, "you always have to wonder if the guy who just said hello to you in the hall and shook your hand, went to his office and trashed you on a blog."

The issue of who is rumpole has caused many (especially judges) to be suspicious and accuse various people. I blame you for that. You should have divulged yourself from the outset so not to cause suspicion for otherwise good and decent people (including you).

So while I think great things have occurred here, I wouldn't be heartbroken if I didn't have to read untruthful and mean comments about people who are otherwise good and decent officers of the court.

I say good riddance, and thanks.

Anonymous said...

Dump it. It's lowering the lowest common denominator.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there Rump. Let's just get back to who is hot and what lawyers we like and don't like. This controversial shit is too much for all of us.

Steve Potolsky said...

How great that Captain and Rumpole (and others) have remembered Gemma. I'm sure that Jaime and Nicole will be deeply touched to see how her colleagues continue to remember her, so keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

We all miss you, Gemma.

Anonymous said...

By JOAN FLEISCHMAN
jfleischman@MiamiHerald.com

Veteran Miami-Dade prosecutor Abbe Rifkin, stuck in northbound traffic on I-95 near Northwest 62nd Street, did a double take at the vanity tag on the pickup truck in front of her: A four-letter word that begins and ends with T.

''I literally almost drove off the road,'' Rifkin says. ''It is a vulgar term for female genitalia -- and I was offended.'' She grabbed her cellphone and snapped a photo.

''Very little shocks me,'' says Rifkin, 51, an assistant state attorney for 28 years. ``I've prosecuted lots of murderers, lots of rapists, lots of child molesters. I'm not a prude. I'm all for freedom of expression. But there are certain words that are so objectionable and so disgusting and have no redeeming social value -- and that's one.''

Anonymous said...

I remember Gemma well, always smiling and in good humour. As a matter of fact, I was thinking of her the other day but didn't know the anniversary of her passing was coming up.

Anonymous said...

Eumpole, the blog is necessary to air all the issues that affect all of us at the Justice Building and should stay.

Anonymous said...

RUmp i know that you will gasp in horror at what i am about to write but here goes

THE FEDERAL SYSTEM IS MUCH BETTER AT DEALING WITH THIS ISSUE OF PLEA BARGAINING

yes i said it and the reason why is because if you plead the judge, not some snot nosed asa out of law school for six months who doesnt like you because you filed a motion, awards you a three point reduction for accepting responsiblity and not wasting the courts time. the state should do something similar where the judge can do it and it doesnt matter if you piss of the prosecutor by taking depos etc.

now of course you hate everything in the federal system becuase you cant just continue every case untill it falls apart in 4 years like half the cases in the state system.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rump,
Jim DeMiles here. Please allow me to introduce myself and explain my background and what really happened in Court. These words are mine, not those of the SAO, and are not approved by the SAO, so please don't attack anyone else for these words except me. At first I was called "stupid" and an "idiot." Soon afterwards, the names were elevated to "rasist" and "bigot." Those terms are words of hatred, and they do not define me; I feel compelled to set the record straight, so please allow me to set the record straight. I am not a racist, and I am not a bigot, because I too know how harsh the repercussions of bigotry can be. Although I am "white" as I have been labeled based on my physical appearance, I am actually an Italian-American, the son of a mother who moved here from Italy as an 11 year-old girl. When she first moved to Boston, she lived in a single house with her parents and 9 brothers and sisters. In the early 70's a rash of immigrants moved here from Italy. As a result, many of them came "with out papers." My mother, her brothers and sisters, all 9 of them, packed into a single house, were unfairly picked on by bigots as children. They were called "WOPS," a terrible and derogatory word meaning "with out papers," used to degrade and humiliate the Italians who relocated to America and who weren't as affluent as some of those people who picked on and abused them. I am not a racist, or a bigot, because I have learned from my relatives first-hand how terrible the actions of bigots and racists can be.

With that said, I turn to the trial, which occurred last week. The courtroom is completely empty, save two ASAs, two PDs, the Court, and courtroom personnel. We are not yet on the record, and I am preparing to do my closing argument. In walks an APD and his beautiful son. Intentionally or not, and I have no reason to believe intentional, they sit right behind the defendant (second row, as required by DOC, because the defendant was in custody). At this point, I object, literally inquiring who is this child and why he is sitting directly behind the defendant. Ask the APDs, they’ll tell you. Soon thereafter, the court reporter informed us that we were not yet on the record. We immediately went on the record and I stated (as quoted word-for-word from the transcript) "If it's the defendant's child I have no objection." I never made a motion to exclude any child from the courtroom. I never said another word for the remainder of the short-lived hearing, but it was my objection that started it all. Others have spun the incident differently, or simply reacted without knowing all of the facts, please, check the transcript, I have a copy already.

I have tried around twenty cases in the Circuit Courts, I've had family of the defendant present in court for past cases; however, I had never before been presented with this situation, empty courtroom, young child who sits behind the defendant. If the child was black, white, hispanic, asian, or purple, I would have made the same objection and made the same inquiry: who is this child and why is he sitting behind the defendant. Please check the transcript if you feel that you need to, because it will show that I go on to say that "If it's the defendant's child I have no objection." If it is not the defendant's child, then a jury may be mislead into thinking that it is. The deception is not deception caused by the color of the child’s skin, i.e. that the defendant and the child were both African-American, but by the mere presence of a child seated near the defendant.
Some have speculated that the objection was in response to the APD’s conduct in past cases, this is not true either. The APD in trial is an excellent attorney and a good man. However, innocent and unintentional conduct can also be misleading and deceiving to the jury, because it too conveys a message to them that isn’t true. This is why I stated "If it's the defendant's child I have no objection." If it was the defendant’s child there was nothing for the jury to be mislead about. In the robbery trial last week, neither the APD in trial nor the APD who brought his son into the courtroom and sat near the defendant did anything improper. I didn’t think that the APD brought his son to mislead the jury, but, that doesn’t mean that the jury cannot be innocently but mistakenly be mislead by them being seated there, so close to the defendant.

Many attorneys have approached me since the posts began, one friend, a defense attorney, told me about a homicide trial where a number of women sat weeping in the front row of the gallery throughout the trial. The attorney informed me that she made a motion to move the women to another spot in the courtroom because she was afraid that the women may prejudice her client. I merely inquired to see whether things were a fair representation of what was really going on, an empty courtroom filled with a few spectators, one of which was a young child. I made the objection and made the inquiry, and since then, the Herald has got the story wrong, and the blog has seemingly turned into an avalanche of hatred. I did apologize to the APD who brought his child into the courtroom, not because I believe I intentionally did anything wrong, but because my objection and inquiry began the process that ended with his son being removed. For that and that alone, although I thought my objection proper, I was truly sorry. I hope that I have shed some light on this situation. So please, I am not a racist, and I am not a bigot. It puts knots in my stomach that I even have to type those words. I’m a human being, who loves his job, takes it very seriously, and tries to be fair and honest in his position every day.

Anonymous said...

anyone notice something particularly interesting about Jack Thompson's latest missive?

http://jaablog.jaablaw.com/2007/09/04/pardon-our-appearance.aspx?pg=7&view=linear

IT HAS HIS HOME ADDRESS - HE'S NOT IN HIS OFFICE ANYMORE! I GUESS YOU CANT PAY RENT BLOGGING ALL DAY AND WRITING LETTERS THAT NO ONE CARES ABOUT.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of it.

Anonymous said...

Please don't dismantle the blog, Rump. I know it must be tiring to play censor, but this blog serves an invaluable function. It's the best and most efficient way to spread information between the people who spend half their lives in the REGJB. How else would we learn about what our judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel are doing? Budget cuts, furloughs, corrupt officers, memorials, judicial elections, federal indictments, networking events, mass firings...news of all this and more can be found with a couple of mouse clicks. And that's all before we get to the harmless gossip, which I also love to read about.
The blog has been going through a rough patch, sure. But it's still highly informative and entertaining. And, in light of the impending budget and court crises, it might also be more important than ever.

Anonymous said...

I am a defense attorney who has argued against Jim DeMiles many times. He has always been fair, professional, respectable and competent. I have never seen anything that would constitute anything that some have accused him of. People are sometimes too quick to throw around hurtful and harmful accusations these days. Jim, know that those who matter know what kind of man you are.

CAPTAIN said...

She died of cancer.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole:

People fuck-up. You over-reacted. And? You apologize, you try and heal what you hurt, you learn from your mistakes. You humble yourself.

Now pull yourself together man and start drafting your "Dava-Tunis Recommends JT's Disbarrment" article.

Anonymous said...

Rumpy...not meaning to detour the Comments section...but WOW. A man that can admit when he's wrong.

HOT.

Unbelievably hot.

Your female delegation thanks you.

(The rest of you lugs, take a tip.)

Anonymous said...

You called Jim DeMiles a racist, Rumpole. Even if you didn't use those words, the impact of your post allowed others to do so, and you did nothing to correct the misapprehension. You printed "facts" about an event in a courtroom without knowing what had preceded the events and without knowing what really happened that day. Jim DeMiles, for your information never--not once--objected to that child being present. In fact, he never objected at all. Yet you and others made him the villain, and now all of cyberspace will know him, in perpetuity, as a racist. Shame on all of you.

Then you allow Terry Chavez, an absolutely brilliant advocate for the mentally ill, who has now been called upon by the State Attorney to be a spokesperson for the office, to be excoriated, ridiculed, and also branded a racist. You even highlighted it by placing it on the front of the blog with a quote you attributed to her.

All of you, but especially you, Rumpole, owe both of these fine public servants a apology for maligning them and allowing others to do the same. You feel bad? Maybe you should lose the same amount of sleep that both Terry and Jimmy have lost over this. Don't shut down the blog; make sure that if something is presented as fact it darned well better be.

I'd sign my name, but I'd rather not see my name dragged through the cyberspace mud. Suffice it to say I've been around forever, I'm well-liked by both sides, and, most of all, I'm proud to call myself a prosecutor. I dare you to print this.

Anonymous said...

Shut this blog down... This site has become a forum for hate speech...

Anonymous said...

"The road to Hell is paved in good intentions."

As I look back and review the postings on the blog for the past 2-3 years, I, like you Rump, have been concerned over the over-zealousness and mean-spiritedness of many of the comments posted here. Many of the comments are out and out lies designed to sully the reputations of good people for no better reason than the writer can get away with it.

I have been such a victim on more than one occasion. It is immensely hurtful to have your children or other loved ones read some of the garbage that is said in the name of personal retribution. One thing I have learned is not to respond or even acknowledge what is written or that I even read or participate here. To do so only encourages the vitriol and vindictiveness that inevitably follows.

I have longed for those who clearly lack the courage to approach me and say to my face that which they know to be untrue, but feel they can set forth on these pages. Yet that will never happen. My writing style is clear, so you can look back and recognize my comments. I have have always attempted to be clear, concise and constructive.

This most recent event involving Judge Butchko and Mr. DeMiles is a perfect example. The incident was blown out of proportion by the PD's Office and the press. Good, honest, hard-working public servants have been undeservedly accused of the most heinous of personality flaws when neither have ever before exhibited such traits or given anyone cause to make such accusations.

I tire of the ferocity of the slanderous and libelous attacks on those who put themselves out there for the benefit of the public and the system from those who only care about their own well-being. That is not to say that some of the criticism of myself and others has not been deserved and given in a constructive way would go farther than the violent assaults on our integrity. I would like to believe, as Thomas Jefferson did, in the goodness and intelligence of our peers (in this case mostly lawyers), however day by day I become more skeptical and disillusioned.

It is time to end the abuse. You can not babysit adults and be their conscience. Despite the "good intentions", events and personalities have spiraled out of control and " 'It is time', the Walrus said, 'to speak of many things' ". In this case the thing to speak of is "farewell".

Anonymous said...

10:35 had to be Butcho herself....

Barry Wax said...

When I started in the PD's office in 1984, Gemma was one of the attorneys with whom I worked. Yes, she was strikingly beautiful, but that was surpassed by her intellect, dedication and sense of humor. She was both a great trial lawyer and teacher. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she fought her illness with the same zealousness she brought to her cases - that was when her true strength was revealed. The world was a better place when she graced it with her presence.

Anonymous said...

This is 10:35. No, I'm not Butchko--in fact I can't stand her, so I take great exception to being called by her name. Nope, just a prosecutor, one that has stuck around to fight the good fight, not the ones involving mud and name-calling. Nice try.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Barry, Gemma's beauty was not surpassed by her intellect... no one is that smart.
Jason Grey

atticus finch said...

I did one of my first felony trials against Gemma. She was a good lawyer and a gracious and elegant lady. The photo in the Herald's memorial section doesn't do her justice.

Anonymous said...

I always wondered what it was like for the young, indigent criminal defendant who was roused from his jail cell for an attorney interview with his new public defender and, full of piss and vinegar, walked into the interview room to see that his new public defender was none other than Gemma Consentino. It must have been a very pleasant surprise, and Gemma was one of the few public defenders who didn't seem to have clients filing bar complaints and motions to dismiss attorney against her.

Gemma was a pleasure to work with and a pleasure to be around. She was exotically beautiful but very down to earth--from Cuba by way of Detroit. Some of my best memories of Miami are the nights when we all used to go to the Alibi Lounge after work for happy hour. We used to almost always see Sy at the bar (he called it his law library), and Sy always bought Gemma--whom he adored--a drink. Does anyone remember who won the Happy Hour Taco Eating contest between Steve Potolsky and Alan Shuminer? Gemma was one of those special people who those of us who knew her will never forget.

CK

Kathleen Smith Zorn said...

Tomorrow (April 15, 2013) will be ten years, to the day, since Gemma Cosentino passed away.

She was one of those rare of people in the criminal justice building in the 1980's who could disagree without being disagreeable (post Vietnam era -- passions ran high and tempers flared hot), and who was equally well liked by men and women.