Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Readers in the comments section sent in these two questions which are excellent topics for discussion:

A Robed reader wrote:

Here is a topic deserving discussion: automatic withholds for first time offenders. Herald took Judge Thomas to task today in the Dennis Stackhouse case.  Should withholds be essentially automatic in Dade County for first time offenders? It isn't that way on other Florida counties.

A reader wonders:

How late into the evening should trials go? Should there be a "rule" preventing judges from keeping jurors, lawyers, clerks, etc. late into the night?

What's your opinion? 

Rumpole replies: 5:30-6:00 PM. People have lives. They have to get home to their families for dinner. And beyond that, there is only a certain amount of time individuals can devote to serious matters. Nobody wins when jurors are exhausted and still listening to evidence late into the night. 

We all have horror stories about working past midnight.  And for the most part the syndrome is the same: some civil lawyer nobody knows gets elected or appointed judge, and decides they're going to make a name for themselves by working until midnight. All it shows is that the person lacks the temperament, judgment, and ability to be a judge. There's some case law out there now from the 4th DCA that prohibits Judges from doing this. Just make a record.  

We do have to say that this problem is less frequent than it used to be and that is a direct result of better training of judges and better supervision by Chief Judges.  

One very notable exception was our dear departed friend Judge Manny Crespo.  He loved to work and he loved his work. But even Judge Crespo would back down if you explained why you could not work late. He is missed and remembered.    

See You In Court, not working past 6 if we can help it. 


Anonymous said...

RUMPOLE rules. Shumie too. No trials after 6:30. Automatic withholds. Re-instate the old court appointment rules so I can feast at that trough for a while. I hear stories of attorneys getting appointed to one defendant with 4 cases and submitting 4 bills for 5K each and getting paid no sweat. I want me some of that.

Anonymous said...

I think the Herald author doesn't understand the complete significance of the withhold. And in many cases, it doesn't really mean all that much. Giving a 'withhold' doesn't mean the record is 'wiped clean' as the editorial implies.
The charge can still be seen on the guy's record. In many cases a withhold is treated as an adjudication for purposes of sentencing on later charges.

Anonymous said...

There is a case a few years ago where a DCA let a judge have it for working too late.

I was the "workaholic" judge case.

Anonymous said...

Withholds are by no means automatic in other Florida counties. While an ASA, I handled an executive assignment in Palm Beach County, and the judge essentially asked why I had the gall to offer a withhold (on a felony pot possession charge). In some counties north of Palm Beach, it is not uncommon for the State to seek jail on cases which would be withholds or PTI in Miami-Dade.

Should most first-time nonviolent felony offenders get withholds? Yes. And even some violent offenders, in particular lame agg. assaults and agg. batteries, deserve withholds. But it should not be automatic by any means.

old guy said...

No. I really love the judge who wanders in at 9:50, takes two coffee breaks, 2 hour lunches, and needs to go home at 4:15.

That helps no one. Jurors are pissed, my client is angry about the wasted time, and I -- of course -- am losing money by turning a 90 minute trial into a three day fiasco.

Why is there no way to clunk those idiots, along with the judges who think that 9:15 p.m. is a good time for the State to call its next witness.

Why is common sense so rare on the bench??

Audrey said...

JBB readers dont forget...

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show tonight at 10pm on CBS.

If you are lucky enough to have tickets to attend the show in Miami, remind Rump to buy me the Black Diamond Fantasy Bra.

Defense-lawyer-for-the-princess said...

3:40- Comment of the day!!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I saw Shumie and his little Buddy Blecher struggling to pedal over the Key Biscayne Bridge this morning on my way to work. I nearly spilled my coffee laughing. Does this mean I have solved the great Rumpole mystery?

Anonymous said...

To Mike Catalano:

Please start a separate google group just for DUI attorneys so the FACDL group doesn't have to be bombarded with e-mails all day long every day about DUI updates. Most of us practice 95% in felony and federal court. No disrespect it's just that we're trying to cut down on the junk mail.

Anonymous said...


You also forgot that Federal Court treats a W/H as a conviction. If Miami was a smaller county we could pay more attention to the petty cases but you have a choice make sure the violent criminals who one day will kill someone you love or deal with pot smokers. As long as violent criminals are not falling through the cracks I am just fine with W/H on certain cases.

The Herald really needs to go back to teh good old days of covering real cases.

Rumpole said...

Actually I think Audrey has the comment of the day, but then I'm biased.

eyeonshumie said...

That wasn't Shumie and Blecher, that was .....

(add your joke line here). Best joke wins a prize.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole. I am relatively new in town. I am a new attorney with the sao/pd. For Thanksgiving I went to Epicure and splurged and bought some turkey parts, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy and a piece of chocolate cake. Then i sat in my studio So BE apartment with my two cats and ate Thanksgiving Dinner alone.

I work out. I'm good looking. I don't have much bucks, but I'm smart, committed to my cause. Over the weekend I volunteered at Camilus House.

My point is I can't seem to make any friends. I'm sort of lonely. It seems that the girls I meet on south beach are not interested once they find out I don't drive a Porsche or have cocaine to party with later on. I'm good looking enough to get into any club, but who wants to go alone.

Any suggestions. It's been several months now and I strike out more than the Marlins.

fake jim mandich said...

Notes, Quotes
• If the 7-5 Dolphins win their remaining four games they will lock up the AFC East crown. They control their own destiny.

“You’re trying to tell them not to look ahead, you’re trying to tell them not to do all of those things, but you’re at a point in the schedule right now where not looking ahead is kind of a ridiculous statement. There’s no question that when you get off of the plane last night and you know that a couple teams in your division lost, you know that, you’re well aware of it. It’s something that you’re keeping a finger on,” coach Tony Sparano said.

• Rookie K Dan Carpenter made all three of his kicks Sunday (37, 47, 42) and now has made 11 straight field goals to set a franchise record by a rookie kicker. The previous record holder was Uwe von Schamann, who kicked 10 straight in the 1979 season. It’s also the most by any rookie kicker since New England’s Stephen Gostkowski made 11 straight in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Old Guy............you ask a great question. The answer is easier than you think. A few years ago, the SAO County Court Chief went after a judge for being late all the time (and I mean late........the bailiff had pre-printed signs for 10:00, 10:30 and 11:00............even though calendar started at 9:30). He went to the Chief Judge and complained to anyone who would listen (and many who wouldn't). What happened? NOTHING. The PDs refused to join the complaint because she was dumping cases left and right and they didn't want to do anything to upset her. The private defense bar did nothing for the same reason. The upshot? She spent much more time in central than she should have before going to a branch court.

Until lawyers get serious about judicial demeanor, temperment and timeliness, nothing will change.

Anonymous said...

Would you support min mans for every offender and every crime? Of course not. It would be asinine. So tell me, how is automatic withholds for first timers make sense? It doesn't. Common sense has to play a role. That's why judicial discretion remains important and we should limit specific automatic (translation: mandatory) sentencing to crimes or situations that REALLY warrant them.

The defendant Rump referred to had a long and sordid history of sliminess (to put it as nicely as possible). Read the Herald editorial. No way should he have been treated like a naive first timer.


CAPTAIN said...


The late night opinion by the 4th DCA called out now sitting federal Judge Dimitrioleus

Cap Out ...

Anonymous said...

5:18 - Try scoring some coke.

Anonymous said...

The 'scoring coke' comment is meant for 5:15 and not 5:18.

Anonymous said...

Lifetime appointments = no worrying about what the 4th DCA has to say about you.

Grey Tesh said...

The short answer is withholds should not be automatic for first time offenders, but most 1st timers should get a withhold.

As to the editorial, his record is not wiped clean. It will still show up on a background check. You can generally get it sealed. However, there is a laundry list of offenses that cannot be sealed even if you get a withhold. e.g. any act of domestic violence, organized scheme to defraud, sex cases and most violent felonies. Withholds still count for sentencing guidelines in state and federal court.

To 12:57,
In palm beach county, where I mainly practice, withholds are common for first time non-violent felony offenders like felony pot possession. You may have had Judge Wennet. I am happy to say he’ll be gone in a few weeks.

However, go just a bit north of the border (Palm Beach county border) into Martin, St. Lucie, and Okeechobee counties and they adjudicate 1st timers and send you to jail/prison.

Florida is the only state in the union that the further north you go, the further south you are.

Anonymous said...

the Stackhouse result is a disgrace. This guy has corrupted the process in this town, taken millions of dollars meant to improve a blighted area and didnt do shit with it and he deserves a withold? i know i know they didnt convict him of that, but people like him shouldnt get a break.

This is a terrible rsult and quite frankly even on the charge of violating campaign laws this sends a message that these crimes will be dealt with no punishment so power brokers like this asshole will think that it is worth the risk to be able to get stuff from politicians.

Anonymous said...

Judges should work long hours. if there is such an overload of cases they should try to work later to dispose of cases. jurors would rather work late than lose extra days at work.

asa's and pd's butch the fuck up and try cases. Isnt that why you took this job for shitty pay and no respect from the bench?

Anonymous said...

Any defense attorney can potentially destroy the Obama presidency.

Not sure how valid this is, but tossing it out here.

There is an allegation that Obama is not a natural born citizen and he has never produced the proof (a birth certificate) to discredit the allegations against him.

Read this:

"Let's assume that an Obama administration passes some of these controversial pieces of legislation he has been promising to go for, like the FOCA (Freedom of Choice) Act," said Mr. Vieira. "I would assume that some of those surely will have some severe civil or criminal penalties attached to them for violation. You are now the criminal defendant under this statute, which was passed by an Obama Congress and signed by President Obama. Your defense is that is not a statute because Mr. Obama is not the president. You now have a right and I have never heard this challenged, to subpoena in a criminal case, anyone who has relevant evidence relating to your defenses. And you can subpoena them duces tecum, meaning 'you shall bring with you the documents.' "

So a defendant would insist on a right to compel production of or directly subpoena Obama's birth certificate allegedly. If he is truly not born in Hawaii as claimed, then everything done under his administration becomes null and void and he must be removed from office.

Read it here:


Anonymous said...

With all respect for the dearly departed Judge Crespo, he is the judge who kept a jury until 1:30am. The case was the State of Florida v. Maria Vinasco.

Anonymous said...

Old Guy needs to get used to it again, the Judg he talking about is coming back to the REG

vox populi said...

What ever happened with that Shumie/Q Everglades legal battle? Who won? Or was there a "hush hush" settlement like the Fire Alarm fiasco? The public demands to know.

South Florida Lawyers said...

10:37, the tripe about Obama and his "fake" birth certificate have been widely discredited. See snopes as just one example:


Next you'll be telling us how you can win a thousand dollars from Bill Gates by simply forwarding an email.

Anonymous said...

Grey Tesh, 12:57 here. The judge I had in Palm Beach was Mounts. He treated me well but seemed incredulous that I offered a withhold. Interestingly I tried a bench trial (as a defense attorney) about two years later in front of Judge Wennett and got a JOA when the victim recanted. You are completely right about Martin and St. Lucie counties--I was dumb enough to take a few cases there and the ASAs insisted on jail time for first-time grand thefts and the like. While in St. Lucie county I actually saw some poor bastard get state prison time--on a plea--for driving as a Habitual Traffic Offender.

10:37--this whole thing was initiallly brought up by Phillip Berg, who may be best described as Pennsylvania's resident whack job attorney--he is nice enough in person but espouses some crazy theories and causes. And some of our resident right-wing nutcases who believe that our country is still "conservative at heart" and can't fathom the idea of an Obama presidency have picked up the torch. To paraphrase our friend Alex Michaels, this whole thing about Obama being foreign born is bullsheeeet!

11:48--I was an ASA before Judge Crespo for a good chunk of time. While he loved to work late, and even went to the extent of planning dinner menus when we were in trial (his wife cooked a superb arroz con pollo), he was always accomodating if an attorney or juror had to leave early. He would only stay past about 6:00 if the entire jury wanted to. And, like it or not, many jurors want to stay late just to get their job over with. I can recall at least two occasions as an ASA in County Court when I wanted the jury to come back the next day and the judge, at the jury's request, kept them very late.

Audrey said...

5:15pm - If you are serious with your attempt to meet a nice girl, then I might be able to help you. I have a few girlfriends in Miami who are looking to meet nice guys. Particulary ones who dont "score coke". However, I would need to learn a bit more about you, because I love my friends and want them to be and feel safe. If you are serious, email me at simplesophistication@hotmail.com.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Florida is the only state in the union that the further north you go, the further south you are.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008 8:52:00 PM

Never thought of it that way. TRUE!

Anonymous said...

I was in court this morning when I saw The Honorable Betty Butchko ream into an older defense attorney about some alleged misrepresentation in a motion he filed. I read the motion and reviewed the docket and there didn't seem to be any misrepresentation. Why can't she read things before she talks/reams into people? What does she expect the DEFENSE attorney to do? The State's job? Later today when I was thinking of what she said to him, I realized she wanted him to rewrite the motion the way she would have argued it for the STATE!!! I don't know the attorney's name but I wish I could have recorded the hearing this morning to replay it for the blog!

Anonymous said...

If a judge regularly shows up late, with notices on the door changing court times daily, that is unprofessional, inconsiderate and a disservice to the bench. Is this happening at REG now? If so, we should name who these judges are.

Food for thought, how many PDs, ASAs and PAs have had to wait for opposing counsel? No courtesy call, just wasted time. PAs get notice mailed of court times. PDs and ASAs get a calendar delivered to the offices with court times and case names. How many have kept the other waiting, as well as the judge? Which judges let it all happen and which ask where's the lawyers that aren't there?

Any takers on this discussion?

Anonymous said...

If all parties agree, then by all means trials should extend a reasonable time beyond 6 p.m. But this should be done on an exceptional basis and not as a rule. It was my understanding that the suspected judge in question, who will be going to the civil side soon, had moderated this practice after many complaints. It should be noted, however, that the first ones to cheer whenever a trial goes into overtime are the clerks and Corrections personnel.

Anonymous said...

4:22 pm guy,

I apologize for sending so many emails but, I get about 3 emails each day asking for stuff about DUIs and the Veiga mess and do that to cut down on individual responses.

That is why I put it all in my web site and that has cut down on a bunch of stuff. www.michaelacatalanopa.com

I will try real hard not to send too much stuff but, sometimes people need answers asap.


Anonymous said...

7:15 p.m. - Many private attorneys have multiple clients scheduled for hearing at the same time before different judges. So, yes, ASA's wait for them, but there is no way around that. Most well-respected attorneys will call and leave a message with the judges letting them know that they will be in front of other judges in the building and will not make it on time to all of the courtrooms. I don't think this should be viewed as "inconsiderate." The Court times are not scheduled by the attorneys, they're imposed upon them. Most judges understand that, too, and many of them have such long calendars that it should not be a problem.