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Monday, May 05, 2008

THE DEATH OF LEONARDO BARQUIN

Leonardo Barquin was shot and killed by Miami Police Officer Jorge Espinosa. Barquin was one of two men who burglarized a home. Espinosa arrived and shot Barquin in the back and killed him.

Espinosa gave a statement that he saw Barquin with a gun. No gun was found. The co-defendant gave a statement that neither of the two men had a firearm.

This post is NOT about whether Espinosa had just cause to fire his weapon.

This post is about how the Dade County State Attorneys Office handles police shootings.

Here is what we know: ASA David Ranck was assigned to the shooting. Those of you who know Mr. Ranck know him to be one of the finest, most experienced, honest, and ethical lawyers the SAO has ever been lucky to have.

Mr. Ranck was a career prosecutor with 20 plus years experience when he handled the investigation into this shooting. Or should we say that Mr. Ranck was assigned the shooting. Because when he had the temerity to question whether the shooting was justified HE WAS SUMMARILY REMOVED FROM THE INVESTIGATION.

Secret meetings were held behind his back. When Mr. Ranck refused to clear the officer immediately at the scene (or soon thereafter) Police Major Angus Butler called and complained about Mr. Ranck. Ranck was soon removed from the investigation. He was chastised for telling the lead homicide investigator that he had questions about the shooting. He was told that he had no authority to speak for the State Attorneys Office.

Think about it. An experienced prosecutor is assigned to a police shooting. The deceased is shot in the back. He does not have a firearm. The PBA lawyer representing the Officer is pressuring the homicide investigator to get the prosecutor's position on the matter. The prosecutor responds to a phone call.... and later is removed from the shooting and chastised for doing his job.

But enough about our feelings.

Below is the link to the blockbuster email from Mr. Ranck to all your favorite ASA's. Howard Pohl. Abe Laeser. Don Horn. Kathleen Hoague. Susan Dechovitz.

Here, in Mr. Ranck's own words, are the problems with how the SAO handles police shootings. Draw your own conclusions.

RANCK EMAIL

We are left with the sad thought that it is just too bad this came out a few days after the qualifying deadline for State Attorney.

From the Christmas day massacre to possible police shooting cover-ups, to morale lower than President Bush's approval ratings, something just doesn't seem right at the SAO.


See You In Court.

ps. When you go to the site, which is a blogger site, look at the statement under "about me"= "pre-unemployed". That would be a tragedy indeed.
Perhaps the legal community can help here.

38 comments:

fake jake thompson said...

To Kenny Marvin, Florida Bar.

From: Fake Jake Thompson, Esq., and Gadfly.

RE: SAO Bar Complaint.

Dear Mr. Marvin:
Here we go again. I am filing with this letter a formal sworn to the lord Bar complaint against every member of the Dade State Attorneys Office, as well as a federal RICO complaint charging them with conspiracy. Please review the attached email of Prosecutor David Ranck. I think you can see where I am going with this. With a little digging I would not be surprised to see Dava Tunis's hands on this little dirty deed.

Please move with all swift actions. I have two good suits for trial and I getting them both cleaned for this. This should be fun.

Yours Truly, Fake Jake Thompson, Esq., & Gadfly.

PS. You guys don't have any interest in this Obama/Rev. Wright mess do you? I'd like to file a complaint and get in on this while the getting is good. Think "preachin without a license" or something like that. Anyway, you know how to get ahold of me (boy do you know how to get ahold of me. hehehe.)
FJT,E&G.

CC: Pres. Bush; His Holiness Pope Benedict; Incoming Bar Pres. Jay White; Herald Action Line.

Anonymous said...

is anyone surprised that the govt is covering up a botched shooting and investigation? I understand accidents in the field may occur, but there is no excuse to cover them up later.

Anonymous said...

And that is why Ranck is good people. As a former ASA that had the privilege of working with David....he is the best qualified to handle police shootings because he is not a company man. Unlike Don Horn....company man thru and thru, it's embarrassing.

fake don horn said...

OK, uh, listen up here all you ASA's, you are not permitted to read this. IF you read this, you will be fired. If you lie about reading this, you will be fired. In fact, now that my job is secure for another 4 years, everyone is fired. All of you, fired. Fired, fired fired.

This damn internet thing is a big headache for me.

Anonymous said...

I hope things didn't go as alleged and will, without knowing a lot more, assume that the e mail is not entirely accurate (it's merely one emotional side of a conversation and story).

The fact is that Don Horn and Abe Laeser are NOT the types to cover up police misconduct and never shy away from doing what they think is right regardless of personal consequence. In fact, if you recall, Don Horn vigorously prosecuted Lozano (which is why the unions fear him). And, Abe, as you know, is as honest and ethical as they come (as you have repeatedly noted on this site). Abe, as you may recall, once got the State Attorney in hot water with the Third District because of his honesty.

It amazes me how everyone on this blog jumps to conclusions hearing one side of the story.

I like and respect Ranck (whose professional integrity also is beyond reproach). But, he can be an emotional guy. I can easily see an alternate explanation for the administration's angst with the way he handled this case (should he really be offering advice about whether or not an officer should provide a statement?) and wonder about the timing of this release (a 2008 release of a 2004 memo???).

I hope that people will give these long term public servants the benefit of the doubt and at least listen to their side of the story..........but I doubt it (hell, they may not even tell their side since they don't believe it's appropriate to air this kind of stuff publicly).

Rump, I think you're doing a great job, but..........I believe that this incident highlights one of the bigger problems with blogs: the inability for people to respond before damage is done. An established and credible (and, no, I'm not implying this blog isn't credible.........you know what I mean) news outlet would never publish a story like this, the opposing party would be given an opportunity to respond. The purpose of this is not just to verify the facts, but to also make sure that they are being presented fairly. I assume (and have no doubt) that you didn't give the SAO that opportunity. I respectfully suggest that you do so in the future. That way you can better judge what happened (as could we all).

Thanks for reading.

BTDT

PS----Again, I think you've done a great job with this site Rump and I know you're open to suggestions (which is why I included that last paragraph). I do note that you didn't just post this, but insisted on more information. I respect that tremendously. But, just as you tell your juries (when you're not fishing or imbibing in some faraway place), people shouldn't reach conclusions without hearing both sides. We should apply the rule to prosecutors the same way we apply it to murders, child molesters, etc.

Anonymous said...

Why in the profile on the blog site does it say "female?" Was that a mistake of click, or is this not for real? Who posted it on that blog, certainly not David?

Anonymous said...

the dude deserved to get shot. he was a burglar and the world is better off without that scumbag.

Anonymous said...

Don Horne is anything but what you describe. He is not capable of doing the job he has - moral is putrid. He does not display professional integrity, unless you define it as doing exactly what he believes is in the office's best interests...screw the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Recently there was a not guilty verdict in a ceratin judges courtroom. Apparently the defense had reason to argue in their closing arguement that the officers lied. This particular judge indicated that arguing that officers lie is personally offensive to him/her and told the officers (after the jury's verdict) that they were "heros". Is this an impartial magistrate? Perhaps this judge needs to be informed that arguing that an officer lied, provided it is done in good faith, is perfectly permissible and his/her opinions have no place in the courtroom.

Anonymous said...

Rank,

You are experiencing what many ASAs have experienced in one way or another with KFR, Don Horn, and Lorna Solomon at the helm. Many ASAs are complained about by emotional victims, angry defense attorneys (because they had to do a little work and were not given the plea deal they demanded), and the police that way too many times are too lazy to show up to a depo, hearing, prefile, etc.

I am sorry you had to go through this, but it is shocking that in 20+ years this is the first time you have experienced this.

I hope this is a motivating factor for the more senior attorneys to stand up and show support for the younger ASAs in the trenches.

old guy said...

I may not like Laeser, but he is not likely to bend to some PBA political pressure.

There is more to this story, and Ranck's email has a bad smell to it. Why is a February 2004 email news today?

Anonymous said...

Let's not rush to judgment and make assumptions. Don't forget the popular etymology of the word "assume".

Before passing judgment on this issue, we need to know the exact nature of Maj. Butler's complaint in his phone conversation with Abe Laeser. Was the major unhappy because Mr, Ranck did not clear Off. Espinosa right away as Rumpole suggests? Or was he unhappy because Mr. Ranck's opinion allowed the PBA attorney to advise Off. Espinosa not to give a statement to investigators? Did Maj. Butler somehow think that Mr. Ranck's opinion was sort of a tip-off to the PBA attorney to have his client clam up.

What say you, Abe? You took the initial complaint call from the Major, so you can tell us what his complaint was.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone honestly think or hold any hope that the SAO will charge a police officer with a bad shooting, or even a more erotic offense - perjury, even perjury by omission? Come on, grow up and get a check of reality. About 90%,of cops exaggerate details and events, and about 50% make it up or lie about these, and most prosecutors, at least those with a couple of years of experience know it, and certainly most of the judges know it, but all are willfully blind to the fact of factitious officers. So, what the heck if one more perp, and one seasoned ASA with integrity are the victims of the system’s wilful blindness, who cares, right, we should all care!

Anonymous said...

Hey , Monday, May 05, 2008 5:01:00 PM

Next time someone kills your loved one you will hope that the cop exagerates to convict the scum of the earth. The defense will lie and cheat as well.

If you are a criminal of violent nature you deserve nothing less than jail.

Guess what. Had this guy been at work, at home, at church and NOT hanging out the window of someones home with stolen property in his hands he would be alive today.

With cops getting shot at by brazen criminals I say F^%^ the crook and praise the cop.

Why are we talking about a 4 year old email?

Anonymous said...

When I was an ASA, a homicide detective BLATANTLY and intentionally lied about the defendant and his home, a key element to the case. As the officer was lying, I was checking his testimony and confirmed that there was no way possible the officer obtained the evidence he claimed he had obtained and could not find.

After the trial, I spoke to the officers and senior ASAs about this, and they told me to keep my mouth shut. A few days later, a major crimes ASA approached me and talked down to me for pointing this lie out and basically treated me like shit since then.

The SAO should recognize when an officer is lying and should not permit it, take whatever steps to prevent it and should correct the lie when they find out about it. Yes, it may cost the SAO a trial or case or two, but it is the right thing to do!

Any case where there is a lie by an officer, and the officer is a key part of the case, the SAO should dismiss the charges.

An honest former ASA.

Anonymous said...

Why not use Inquests?Remeber such is available.Thus you would have judges hearing the eveidence and presiding over obtaining the truth,or at least the truth as presented.
Remeber,some years ago,some judges even found officers shhould not have shot a youhg man following a chase,but the incident dis not rise to criminal responsibility.Judges did however speak in harsh terms of the officers.
This incident with David Ranck causes concern.But why wait for four years to publish the E-Mail and bring it to the attention of all.Is David thinking of leaving the position as assistant state attorney.He has been an excellent prosecutor,but why has he waited this long?
Kathy Hogue and Don Horn do whatever is in the best interest of the state.Howard Pohl has more integrity,but still will do what is in the interest of the state.
Abe,the best attorney in the state attorneys office has tremendous integrity and calls it the way he sees it.Even though this is four years in the making,I believe we would all like get get his take on the matter.
David and Abe have always spoken truthfully,so perhaps they would both like to provide an answer.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing............the PBA trashes the SAO for supposedly abusing its power and abusing cops and defense attorneys pummel the SAO for being too soft on them.

Hmmm. Sounds to me like the SAO is right where it should be........in the middle (where truth and justice usually are).

Anonymous said...

please advise of the judge who finds it personally offensive for a defense attorney to say that an officer lied.

By the way, cops lie. Ask any cop, prosecutor, or judge with half a brain

Anonymous said...

Yes, the SAO has and will charge cops with bad shootings if they think the cop committed a crime.

It is still not a crime to make an honest mistake.

You arm chair cops need to walk in a dark room and wonder if they are going to shoot you before you get them.

Who was the judge who told the cops they were heros. There is a specific rule of procedure that forbids judges from "commenting" on a verdict.

Who was that idiot?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm...a judge with half a brain...where should I start...eenie meenie...

Never mind, out of time.

Anonymous said...

anyone who breaks into a persons home and lives to tell about it should consider themselves fortunate.

and by the way, abe is never to be trusted. he's a little gossip.

kathleen is a great lawyer as well as human

the truth must lie in the middle

Anonymous said...

I only knew David Ranck from my stay at the SAO, as his office was across the hall from mine. He is/was sort of an anomoly there. I dont think he was a "company" man. He didnt try death cases b/c he doesnt believe in the death penalty (an extreme rarity at the SAO). He also had a "C" ASA office (no windows, interior office with an old rickety desk and phone) while all the other DCs were fighting over the big, lush offices.

What I do know is that although I was not in his division, he was extrememly helpful to me as an ASA and any other ASA that sought out his advice. Sadly, I trusted him more than my own DC. Aside from being personable, accomodating and willing to teach young ASAs, he is a hell of a lawyer.

Since leaving the SAO and doing defense work, I've had cases in Eig's division and David has still been accomodating to me, although he is by no means bound to such. It would be an absoulte shame for the SAO to lose David, but unfortunately internal politics has changed over the years over there.

Kathleen, Don, Abe the PBA or MDPD or whomever has their feelings hurt over there need to get over it and move on. Unfortunately, when internal e-mails make it outside the office and onto the internet, bad things usually follow. In short, David Ranck strengthens what little credibility that office has over there anymore.

Anonymous said...

It's more than offensive that our local SAO turns a blind eye - or worse, creates blindness - when a cop lies to obtain a conviction. For all the "but the crook was a scumbag" commenters - think carefully. What is more dangerous to society? Another burglar on the streets? Or a government wielding unchecked power?

Anonymous said...

cops dont lie. If you put on the badge, you are more likely to tell the truth and your credibility is enhanced. Just check the rules of criminal procedure.

I can't think of one perjury prosecution against a cop; because they are always truthful. They are my heroes.

Anonymous said...

The SAO bashing is ridiculous. You can't hammer 300 lawyers for a few bad experiences. When I was prosecutor I worked with dozens of my colleagues. A couple did things I didn't think were right (I withdrew from a couple of cases because I didn't like what was happening), but the vast majority were honest people. Don't taint the many good prosecutors because there's a few bad ones.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

This whole epsiode points to a larger problem--that the Dade sao should not be involved in investigating poice shootings. It puts the office in a bad spot to be working to invetigate these types of cases and to continue to have a good working relationship with homicide detectives. At least with other types of corruption cases you deal with internal affairs cops whose only job is to deal with dirty cops, so if you offend them or disagree with them they cant make your life miserable on other murder cases. The fact that abe gets a call from major butler and he jumps up and does his bidding shows that sao shouldn't handle these cases. prehaps dade should do broward police shootings and broward should do dade or maybe the feds should look at these things. The fact that they penalized Ranck, one of the best asa's in the building is atrocious

Anonymous said...

That is the problem. People make mistakes. It happens. But to cover it up versus dealimg with consequences of such a grave mistake- is the problem. That ability to cover up indiscretions in the future only makes a very problematic and unchecked police force.

I understand being an officer is scary business. It is, however, the career path the the officer chose. So we need them to do it professionally. Bigger mistakes are made when guns are involved in one's line of work. The officer should have just owned up to the mistake.

As for the people stating that the victim got what they deserved, you should NOT be prosecutors- or even members of the bar. It is heartless to think that of any human being- that they are unworthy of life. You must sit in such high priveldged life to judge. I only hope that someday you must walk in the shoes of defendants. You would grow as a person seeing that not everyone has the same opportunity in this lifetime

BIGPHATBITCH

Anonymous said...

Police officers justify lying and investigatory misconduct as being necessary to protect society by convicting people they "know in their hearts" to be criminals without the obstruction of legal "niceties" such as admissible evidence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It's the old but historically dangerous "the end justifies the means" couple with the defense of necessity to "choose the lesser of two evils", that is, they consider that letting a criminal off to continue praying on society is a lesser evil than lying or fabricating evidence to put away dangerous criminals the cops "knows in his heart" to be guilty.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth is Rumpole posting this email which was from about 4 YEARS AGO??? Are we back to the blog's usual cycle of: 1) post half-story about big bad prosecutor's office; 2) let feeding frenzy begin; 3) pull back from original post which didn't have all the facts to begin with?
Guess so. Some things just don't change. And, guess we're back to zzzzz's on this post.

Anonymous said...

Rump
I have know and dealt with David Ranck on & off for almost 20 year. Until a few months ago I was a APD in the the Court he was DC in. David Ranck is an upright guy. He is fair, listens to all, fights like hell in trial and does not give away the house. He regularly says he will back up his ASAs even when they are to harsh. But he will listen to defendant's and do the right thing when it matters.He is a good lawyer, a Just Prosecutor and a decent guy.
D. Sisselman

Anonymous said...

Actually, I remember the SAO prosecuting an undercover detective who allegedly lied in a police report about a homeless guy having a gun in a police shooting in the late '90's. Cop got a year if I recall correctly. Can't remember his name, but the agency was MPD.

PS---Saddest part was that it was a good shoot. The homeless guy even said so. Turns out, he was holding a radio and didn't listen to the cops who told him to put it down, etc. Still, the SAO lied because a false report is a false report.

Officer Renaut said...

Gambling? In Casablanca? I am shocked!!!!

Anonymous said...

Last year, Miami SAO fired a young black guy ASA for telling a cop/witness to change his story to get around a legal arugment.

As it turns out, they did not like him for other reasons as well but, Pat Trese did fire him for attempting to create perjury.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rump:
I have attempted to post 2 comments over the past 4 days yet they have not been published. I am pretty certain that they were very innocuous. what's up with that?

Anonymous said...

Why was the ASA's race significant?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't anyone think it's odd that David Ranck forwarded this e-mail to his buddy Phil--er, Rumpole, four years after this case began? It's not like Philpole made a public records demand for a four-year-old e-mail. What on earth is going on in David's life that he feels the need to air his point of view on this--now??

Anonymous said...

I worked for Major Butler for several years, he is one of the biggest pompous asses I have ever meet.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who the idiot is that wrote if you read this you will be fired(ASA's). First off People can read what ever the F@#k they want to read. This must be some moron threatening people they work with. What is this east Germany? And you are Hitler I spouse. The fact is that most Police are corrupt and on power trips. Their is plenty of known evidence of this in news. Imagine what gets covered up.. Come fire me....