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

Thursday, February 28, 2008

ONE IN A HUNDRED: BROWARD DOES THEIR PART

One in a hundred americans is in prison or jail, and here's why Broward is helping to keep that number high:

The Broward Blog contains the welcome news that Broward Attorney Valerie Small-Williams was acquitted of the misdemeanor charge of failure to obey a police officer.

The disturbing facts of the case are that Ms. Small-Williams was stopped for speeding and then ordered out of her vehicle (a Jaguar) while her small child was in the back because the officer thought he saw a second drivers license in her wallet. She was arrested, cuffed, and initially charged with a slew of crimes, although the “second license” was never located.

This “serious” misdemeanor was prosecuted for two days North Of the Border, and Ms. Small-Williams was acquitted Thursday evening. Rightfully so.

Just how many ridiculous cases will the prosecutors North Of the Border continue to bring? Just when will someone stand up to these prosecutors and start filing bar complaints after they continue to ignore the sacred responsibility they have to screen cases and not prosecute innocent people? Who among us as defense attorneys has not had a Broward Prosecutor tell us that while they believe the defendant is innocent, it is their office’s policy to prosecute everyone and let the jury acquit them?

There isn’t a civil verdict enough to compensate Ms. Small –Williams for the emotional pain and suffering those poor excuses for prosecutors, not to mention police officers, put her through.

The Broward Blog and the Sun Sentinel also report that Judge Aleman is asking “for leniency” and to have the Florida Supreme Court not issue a public reprimand. Here’s hoping the court dispenses to her all the leniency she gave while a judge.
Lets not forget this is the Judge who was TWICE reversed by the 4th DCA after she terminated parental rights after a parent showed up to court late, explaining that they had to take the bus. Yes, this is a woman who would take the extraordinarily severe step of ending the parent-child relationship, because a poor litigant relied on public transportation and was late.


Oh there isn’t enough leniency in the universe for her to receive what we perceive as “justice” in her case. Here’s hoping her judicial days are confined to probate, where no matter how petty and vindictive she is, at least she is only doing it to dead people.

The prevailing view is that the Florida Supreme Court had no sympathy for the arguments advanced by the FACDL against the ROC system of public defenders. Welcome to the era of criminal justice ROC-n-roll.

And finally, the minimum mandatory sentences have come home to roost, as the NY Times reports that “More than 1 in 100 Adult Americans are now in prison.
The Times article is

HERE

And with over 2.3 million Americans in jail or prison, it should come as no surprise that Texas (motto: "Welcome to our state. Please place your hands behind your back…you have the right to remain silent…”) leads the nation with 172,000 of its citizens in prison.


While we can think of one more prominent Texan who should be locked up, has anyone decided to look at just what makes a person born in Texas so pre-disposed to break the law? Perhaps it’s the six shooter the state gives everyone who turns 13?

In any event, with 1 in 100 of our fellow Americans in jail or prison, lets not stop there. Lets just lock everyone up, and then give everyone the chance to prove they don’t belong there. Lets just make living in the US and being over the age of 18 a crime punishable by a mandatory 60 year prison sentence, and then hold parole hearings to see who among us deserves not to spend their life behind bars.

We’d better stop being so facetious before some republican legislator decides it’s a good idea and runs for the Senate.

See You In Court, where we are doing our part to lower that outrageous number.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BROWARD BLOG'S SOLUTION & THE PASSING OF WILLIAM F BUCKLEY

Our Brother Bloggers North of The Border have proposed a solution to the pending court funding-JA furlough crisis: have the robed readers donate a small portion of their salary (like 5%) back to the State to be used to fund salaries for judicial assistants.

From the Broward Blog:

JAABLOG challenges all members of the Florida Judiciary to donate 5% of their pre-tax earnings to their local court administration budgets.In Broward alone, with 89 County and Circuit judges earning $137,000 and $145,000, respectively, the extra revenue would total a whopping $627,450. Across Florida, with 990 judges (including higher court judges who earn more), the savings would total over $7,000,000.The average Judicial Assistant (JA) earns roughly $35,000 a year, or $2,917 a month. Many other individuals paid out of the court administration budget earn much less. Broward and other jurisdictions are currently contemplating furloughs for these unsung heroes of up to 22 days, or more than one month of work. Many of them are single parents, and live paycheck to paycheck. In Broward alone, the savings of $627,450 would eliminate the need to furlough a single JA, with plenty of money left over to help other deserving civil servants.

Quicker than a robed reader running to the restroom when the check arrives, a whopping ZERO, ZILCH, NADA, NONE, ....no Judges have responded to the Broward Blog's challenge. What we like best is that they are continuing their challenge every day with a running total of how many days the challenge has been running, and how many judges have stepped up to the plate.

We love those guys in Broward. All they have done so far is bring down the chief judge, publish a running series of pictures of empty courtrooms in the afternoon, highlight a creepy court officer who was hitting on female defendants, and basically give a voice to all those that have been previously stepped on, mistreated, or otherwise just given "The Broward Treatment" by one of those black robed wearing tyrants that have been entrusted to dispense justice North Of the Border.

We note with sadness the passing of William F. Buckley at age 82 today.

The NY Times Obit is HERE

In the opening paragraph the Times wrote:
William F. Buckley, who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.

The Times further wrote that
"In remarks at National Review’s 30th anniversary in 1985, President Reagan joked that he picked up his first issue of the magazine in a plain brown wrapper and still anxiously awaited his biweekly edition — “without the wrapper.”
“You didn’t just part the Red Sea — you rolled it back, dried it up and left exposed, for all the world to see, the naked desert that is statism,” Mr. Reagan said."



Rumpole notes: Mr. Buckley gave an intellectual voice to conservatism, when all that otherwise existed were some right wing nuts in the John Birch society. The conservatism Buckley wrote about challenged the assumptions that altruistic statism was the backbone of an enlightened society. The Times Obit had this piece from a George Will article:

The liberal advance had begun with the New Deal, and so accelerated in the next generation that Lionel Trilling, one of America’s leading intellectuals, wrote in 1950: “In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.”
Mr. Buckley declared war on this liberal order, beginning with his blistering assault on Yale as a traitorous den of atheistic collectivism immediately after his graduation (with honors) from the university.
“All great biblical stories begin with Genesis,” George Will wrote in the National Review in 1980. “And before there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind, and the spark in 1980 has become a conflagration.”


We have previously written that John McCain may be the last sane man in the Republican party. That is because McCain represents the last gasp of power from intellectual conservatives who understand that the issue is not Jesus and Republicans (ala Huckabee), but the issue is altruistic collectivist ethics versus the freedom of the individual and capitalism. When the Republican Party is finally and completely taken over by religious statists, there will no longer be voices advancing the intellectual conservatism that Buckley started, and Regan brought down the Soviet Union with.

See You In Court, where no Judge we know of has accepted the Broward challenge. Although we do admit we have received copies of emails we have not been allowed to publish in which several Dade Criminal Court Judges have propsoed solutions to the problem, including one proposal that the entire court system- Judges, clerks, JAs, everyone, take a one day furlough, with the belief being that the pain of the furlough would be equally shared by everyone.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

POWER TO THE PEOPLE


This was the scene this afternoon in a REGJB Courtroom as Rumpole was conducting a devastating cross examination:
Rumpole: "Are you sure you saw my client officer?"
Officer: Yup.
Rumpole: if you're lying, lightening may strike.
Officer: if you say so.
Channel Seven Reports that Turkey Point (motto: "it's cool to glow at night" and "read our new pamphlet: seven fun facts about radiation poisoning" ) shut down two reactors causing the power outage across the state.
Channel Seven is also reporting Castro is behind all of this.
No truth to the rumor that this happened:
JA: Judge Farina, did you pay the FPL bill this month?
Farina: Uhho....
As of 3:00 PM it appears that power is being restored to Dade County and by all indications court will be open for tomorrow's Wednesday sounding calendars.
Stay Tuned.
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

OCCCRC ..... GET USED TO THE LETTERS

At 9:00 AM tomorrow morning, the State of Florida and the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers will clash heads before the Florida Supreme Court in the case of:


FLORIDA GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST;
KEN PRUITT, AS PRESIDENT OF THE
FLORIDA SENATE; KURT BROWNING, AS
SECRETARY OF STATE; AND JEFFREY
LEWIS, JACKSON FLYTE, JOSEPH GEORGE,
JR., PHILIP MASSA, AND JEFFREY DEEN,
AS CRIMINAL CONFLICT AND CIVIL
REGIONAL COUNSEL,


Appellants,

vs.

FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINAL
DEFENSE LAWYERS, INC.,

Appellee.

CASE NO. SC08-02

With the case, lies the future of the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel that was created by chapter 2007-62, section 4, Laws of Florida.

Briefs have been filed and the sides are ready to rumble. To review the briefs, you can find them here:

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/summaries/briefs/08/08-2/index.html

They include the Initial Brief of the Appellant, the Answer Brief from FACDL and the Reply Brief.

Expect the decision of the Supremes sometime during the month of March.

Of course, while this is all going on, the Florida Legislature begins their Spring 2008 session next week. One can safely assume that they will be hard at work attempting to fix any of the problems with the 2007 legislation.

So, one way or the other, it looks like you better get used to hearing the letters:

OCCCRC.

CAPTAIN OUT ........................

Monday, February 25, 2008

JUDGE SLOM RESPONDS TO THE COURTHOUSE CROWDING

And we quote: "Let them eat cake."

Seriously, Judge Slom sent out the following memo on the problem of overcrowding on Tuesday when there is a Monday holiday.

THE HONORABLE SAMUEL J. SLOM
COUNTY COURT JUDGE
1351 N.W. 12 STREET ROOM 513
Miami, Fla. 33125
Phone 548-5187


TO: THOSE SEEKING ACCESS TO THE REG JUSTICE BUILDING

FROM: SAM SLOM, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE, COUNTY COURT CRIMINAL DIVISION

RE: TUESDAY CALENDARS FOLLOWING A HOLIDAY MONDAY

DATE: FEBRUARY 24, 2008

As many of you know, the large number of people seeking access to the REG Justice Building on a Tuesday following a Monday holiday is overwhelming. The impact of that increased traffic results in long delays and increased frustration.

In an effort to mitigate the volume of traffic seeking access during the peak morning hours following a Monday holiday, we are taking two steps at the County Court level.

1. County Criminal Divisions: The County Court Criminal Divisions will conduct their DUI trial calendars at their normal starting times. However, the other criminal traffic trial calendars (non-DUIs) will begin at 11:00 am and the misdemeanor trial calendars (if normally held on Monday) will commence at 11:30am. We anticipate that the later starting times for these two calendars will move a significant amount of those seeking building access away from the peak morning hours. The time interval between the DUI calendars and the remaining calendars can be used for plea negotiations and motion litigation. Keep in mind that this scheduling modification will only affect Tuesday calendars following a Monday holiday. Should this revised schedule prove unsuccessful in helping to mitigate the access problem, we can always rescind its usage. I want to thank the County Criminal Division judges for their willingness to implement this schedule modification.

2. Infraction traffic calendars: On Tuesdays following holiday Mondays, no traffic infraction calendars will be set at REG prior to noon. This should move a significant volume of traffic from morning to midday and help ease the delay in gaining access to the building.

In addition to the above measures we will also be meeting with the building security personnel to determine what measures can be taken to expedite access while not jeopardizing security.

Thank you.


Rumpole notes: The longest journey begins with the first step.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Happy Birthday Marbury v. Madison! 5 U.S. 137 (1803) Decided February 24, 1803 (the case was argued thirteen days before the decision was issued.)

205 years old and despite the current White House, still going strong!
"The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation, if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right…It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department [the courts] to say what the law is…”

Speaking of the nifty nine, (although the Marbury decision was decided 4-0) on Monday the Supreme Court
is scheduled to hear argument in
Cuellar v. United States (06-1456), on whether the federal money laundering statute requires an attempt to create the appearance of legitimate wealth. That has some relevance to the goings on in our fair city. We got that info from the ever helpful SCOTUS blog.

Our guest bloggers yesterday, “Perry & Mason” stirred up some controversy in the comments section. Rumpole says: well done, and reminds readers that we do not necessarily endorse the comments of the readers who become guest bloggers. This is an open forum for our community and we invite others to participate.



Spring is in the air. It’s warmer, but not yet sticky. There are cool breezes at night. It’s nice to be alive.


See You In Court, where we rarely cite Marbury v. Madison.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

REPORT FROM THE FRONT LINES

Hi Rump. We are a State Attorney And a Public Defender and we decided to take you up on your offer to write something for Sunday.

Each of us feels, for different reasons that we cannot reveal our identity. On the PD side, there is a culture of being against “sleeping with the enemy” (not that we’re sleeping together) and the PD here feels s/he will have the friendship held against him/her.

On the Prosecutor side of things, the fear is much worse. There is no outspoken rule against fraternization with the other side, but as we have seen this past year, prosecutors have been fired for less.

There is as you have written, "a palpable sense of fear" in the hallways of the State Attorneys Office. If you are content to sell your soul, if not your ideals, and act as an unreasonable, unfeeling automaton, then you can do just fine here at the SAO. Make unreasonable offers, refuse to compromise, don’t listen to reason or sympathy, or the particular facts of any case that might necessitate a lesser plea offer, and you will not run afoul of the administration and the myriad of “chiefs” that sit above you. They just wind me up, send me to court, and I parrot what has been written down that my supervisors have approved. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what discretion is as a prosecutor, since I have none.

And the psychological toll this takes on a person is devastating. If you are so inclined to use your legal skills to create a path of destruction on the lives of people who might otherwise deserve some sympathy , then you sleep well at night. If however, you have a conscience, then things get a bit rough.

Before the ASA here signs off, I want to highlight something that was reported in your (Rumpole’s) beloved NY Times on Saturday.
40 years ago, Joseph Pannell was young black teenager in Chicago. Confronted on the way to school by a white police officer, Pannell pulled a gun and shot him in the arm. Officer Terrence Knox was wounded and suffered permanent damage to his right arm. Pannell took off and fled to Canada, where for the last 40 years he has lead an upstanding and law abiding life as a husband, father, and librarian.

Pannell returned to Chicago and pled guilty to a reduced charge of aggravated battery in exchange for 30 days jail, 2 years probation, and a $250,000.00 donation to a charity that benefits the families of wounded police officers in Chicago. This extraordinary deal was obtained because reasonable people were able to look at Pannell’s life on the whole, and reward him for the way he lived his life.

Now I am not saying my office might not have done the same thing. I am way too low on the totem pole to have any input into a decision like that.

Here’s what struck me: Had Pannell shot an officer in Miami today, and been caught, he would have been prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to a mandatory life in prison. That is what troubles me. We have no ability (and this is a criticism of the criminal justice system, not my office) to try and look beyond the circumstances of a crime and see what is fueling it. There is limited discretion beyond warehousing people for decades. The way things are progressing in this state, by the time I am ready to retire, DUI will have a ten year minimum mandatory. I just don't have the stomach to continue sending young black men to prison for decades. When my committment is up, I am outta here. I don't know where I'll work next, but I can promise you this: I will work at a law firm that allows me input and where I feel my knowledge and experience are worth something.

Ok, I’ve said my piece. Help me with the link Rump- the Times Article is
HERE


OK Rump- the PD here. There is no question my office treats me better than my counterpart. I am better paid, and I have more discretion. However, beneath the surface, there are tensions here as well. Many of us view the coronation of Carlos Martinez as a continuation of policies that we think have resulted in a bloated and top heavy office. Beyond the silliness of this blog, many of us were really hoping Bill Barzee was going to run.
We have some great experienced lawyers who are out there every day helping us. Oliver Morales comes to mind immediately. I think my chief complaint is the emphasis on trying cases. A trial is not always the best thing for a client, and there is a tension here between your career and your client. The best of us negotiate that tension very well and settle the cases that need settling, and try the cases that need to be tried. However, not all of us do that very well, and sometimes the clients suffer for it.

Well Rumpole, that’s all we have for you now. Thanks for the opportunity.

Just call us Perry and Mason.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

The following is a reprint of a relevant portion of my post of February 15:

Group 34 of the County Court has a new candidate. Her name is Denise Scanziani and she has been a member of The Florida Bar for seven years. Now what is interesting about this is the fact that Judge George Sarduy is/was the only other candidate in Group 34. As many of you know, he was recently elevated to the Circuit Court by Gov. Crist. That leaves Group 34 open and the seat is up for election in 2008.

BUT ....The JNC has begun the process of replacing Judge Sarduy with a new judge appointed by Gov. Crist. That appointment will mean that Group 34 will no longer be an open seat and the newly appointed judge will not have to stand for election until 2010.

So this causes me to ask the following question:
Does candidate Scanziani know this?

CAPTAIN OUT .....
Friday, February 15, 2008 1:17:00 PM

Fast forward five days - and apparently someone placed a call to Scanziani and mentioned my column.

In what can only be described as a desperate move by a real loser of a person, judicial candidate Denise Scanziani has withdrawn her candidacy from Group 34 of the County Court only to file in Group 17 of the County Court against incumbent Judge Eric Hendon.

What really stinks about her move is that, in a matter of ONLY FIVE DAYS, Scanziani managed to change her ethnicity. Last week she was Italian - this week she's Hispanic. Why the strong words? Because now Denise has filed to run as Denise Martinez-Scanziani. With the hyphen, she will now be listed on the ballot as Martinez. Just to cover her tracks, she also changed her heading on the Florida Bar home page, adding the Martinez name.

But, she has not managed to change it on the property she owns with her husband in Homestead or at her law office in South Dade County where the answering machine allows you to leave a message for Denise "Scanziani". Her web page mysteriously leaves out the "Martinez" too. Oh yeah, Scanziani also forgot to tell her stationary company, because it also is sans the "Martinez" name.

This stinks - and I hope the voters of Dade County "smell it" the same way I do and send her packing back to her solo practice where she belongs. Is this the type of jurist we want sitting on the bench? Is this what a judge should be standing for and representing in this community? The County Court is the "peoples court" - there will be many more unrepresented litigants appearing before her than if she were in Circuit Court. That means citizens of all colors and ethnic backgrounds and languages will come before her and look to her to make a fair and just decision. And, for her first decision, she decides that it will be one of deception to the voters of Miami-Dade County.

Ms. Scanziani - read the Statement of Fair Campaign Practices you signed your name to and swore to uphold! (see Code of Miami-Dade County Sec. 2-11.1.1. Ethical campaign practices ordinance).

It reads, in part:

1) Statement of Fair Campaign Practices. The following voluntary Statement of Fair Campaign Practices shall guide candidates for public office in Miami-Dade County:

STATEMENT OF FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES

As a candidate for public office in Miami-Dade County, I believe that political issues can be freely debated without appealing to racial, ethnic, religious, sexual or other prejudices. I recognize that such negative appeals serve only to divide this community and create long-term moral, social and economic problems.

Therefore:

1. "I shall not make my race, religion, national origin, gender ... an issue in my campaign".

3. "I will CONDEMN any APPEAL to prejudice based on race, creed, national origin ...

11. I will not use or permit the use of campaign material that FALSIFIES, DISTORTS, or MISREPRESENTS facts". (emphasis added by The Captain).

I believe that any voter of Miami-Dade County and certainly Judge Hendon has the right and the responsibility to file a violation claim against candidate Scanziani as a result of her signing and agreeing to abide by the terms of the Statement of Fair Campaign Practices.

Shame on you Ms. Scanziani. Shame.

CAPTAIN OUT .................

Friday, February 22, 2008

WHO WILL YOU VOTE FOR?

As the field of presidential candidiates narrows down to three, just who would you like to see as the next President?

Hillary Clinton?
Barack Obama?
John McCain?


While we’re at it, how about Vice Presidential choices?

Be the first to show your political instincts and correctly predict who the candidates will choose as their running mate.

John McCain’s two closest friends in the Senate are John Kerry and Joe Liberman. You can bet one of them will end up in a McCain Cabinet. It would be more of a reach to see him select one of them as vice president.

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh will be on anyone’s short list for the Democrats. Can you name the last two Democratic Senators to be elected as President and Vice President on the same ticket? This year will see the first Senator elected President since these two slipped in on a last minute rush of Chicago voters (dead and alive) to the polls.

The probability is that candidates of both parties will seek to choose a Governor to balance the ticket. That puts New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson on the Democratic short list, while our own Governor Crist and his ability to deliver one of the key states in the election will have to be on McCain’s short list.

The thinking here is that McCain will be running from behind, and he will need to do something dramatic. Reaching across the aisle and choosing a Democrat to run on a “national unity” type ticket might be the only way he could stop the Obama express. We just don't think that McCain can win this election by moving to the right in the general election despite his problem with conservatives.

The conventional wisdom is that presidential candidates, especially Republicans, need to move to the center in the general election. Ronald Reagan created the blue print to win with his appeal to the "Reagan Democrats." Bill Clinton moved to the right in the general election, and Gore and Kerry's losses can be attributed, in part (because Gore won the popular vote, and Kerry had Illinois stolen from him) to their inability to win over moderate republicans.

Both Obama and McCain have shown the ability to appeal to voters from the other party, and that makes them unique.

We look at Obama and while we’re not sold, somehow, someway, we keep thinking of Lincoln. An untested and relatively unknown man from Illinois, who literally slipped into Washington in the dead of night (to avoid assassins) and guided a nation to a “new birth of freedom.”

Sometimes, the best leaders emerge from the most unlikely places.


See You in court.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

RULE ...SHMULE

When we last left Jack Thomson, Esq., he was hard at battle with the Florida Bar, Florida Supreme Court, Judge Tunis, and the video game industry.

The Florida Supreme Court filed a rule to show cause as to why Mr. Thompson should not be held in contempt for his frequent filings in the Supreme Court, many of which have been posted in the comments section of this blog.

Now we received this.....remarkable document. "Remarkable" is truly the only word for this pleading. Let us just say this: no matter how hard we fight in court for clients, there comes a time when even we cut our losses. Not so Mr. Thompson. He has taken the Florida Supreme Court's Rule to Show Cause and quite literally torn in up and tossed the pieces in their faces.

We would never have been so..... brave (we recognize other adjectives may well apply here.) Our copy of the pleading came e-mailed with a picture of a rabbit in a briar patch. One can only wonder if the original pleading was similarly adorned:

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
THE FLORIDA BAR,

Complainant,

v. Case Numbers SC 07 - 80 and 07- 354

JOHN B. THOMPSON,

Respondent.

RESPONDENT’S PRELIMINARY RESPONSE TO SUPREME COURT’S
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

Comes now respondent John B. Thompson (Thompson) and provides this court with a preliminary response to its show cause order of February 19, 2008, with a more detailed response to follow prior to the court’s March 5 deadline, noting:
Thompson deeply appreciates, more than this court could ever know, its show cause order as it opens the door to Thompson’s seeking and receiving relief from the federal courts.
The federal court system dismissed Thompson’s prior suit on abstention grounds, stating that Thompson had an “adequate state remedy” to seek redress for any infringement of rights by The Bar and by this Supreme Court that is supposed to oversee and remedy the misdeeds of The Bar.
This court’s panicked threat against Thompson, apparently stemming in part from the court’s having been caught by Thompson not complying with Florida Statute 876.05 (Loyalty Oath Law), has wonderfully proven not just that Thompson has no “adequate state remedy” but that he has no state remedy at all. This court threatens Thompson if he even files this pleading. This is a brazen attempt by this court to repeal the absolute right of every citizen, under the First Amendment, to “petition the government for a redress” of grievances.
This court’s misstep exquisitely proves his point to a federal tribunal that it no more understands the First Amendment than it understands the legal and constitutional issues on which it was so grandly reversed in Bush v. Gore.
Thompson has Fifth, Sixth, Fourteenth, and First Amendment rights that this court’s show cause order wildly infringes upon. Thompson has a right to represent himself in traffic court and before this court. Thompson is a competent lawyer with 31 years of continuous good standing within The Bar who has a string of victories against powerful corporate interests—the very interests who filed these SLAPP Bar complaints.
Ted Bundy, for Heaven’s sake, was not even a lawyer, and yet he was allowed to represent himself in this state within its courts. Thompson, who has committed no crime but whose “sin” is that he has waged a successful campaign against the very porn industry that helped train Bundy to kill, is being petulantly threatened by this court that he is to be muzzled and denied access to this state court. Nonsense.
US Supreme Court Justice Douglas in Lathrop v. Donohue warned that integrated state bars would eventually become “goose-stepping brigades.” This court has confirmed that those brigade are now here in this state and that this court is brazenly leading them. This court is free to enter a show cause order against the ghosts of Justices Douglas and of all the US Supreme Court Justices who handed down Keller v. State Bar of California
if it likes. Even King Canute knew he could not order the tide not to come in.
All this court with its panicked show cause threat has accomplished is handed Thompson the keys to the federal courthouse. Abstention is out the window, thanks to this High Court.
What “adequate state remedy” does any citizen have, let alone a lawyer have, when the very court that has negligently failed to oversee The Bar threatens a whistleblower with retribution because he dares to keep blowing the whistle?
This court has threatened Thompson. He does not threaten back. He hereby informs this court that he will see it in federal court. This court has just thrown Brer Rabbit into the briar patch.
Thank you so very, very much.
I HEREBY CERTIFY that this has been provided this February 20 2008, to Bar staff counsel Sheila Tuma, to Kenneth Marvin, Director of Lawyer Regulation for The Bar, to Dava Tunis, and to all Bar Governors as well as to Bar President Frank Angones.

JOHN B. THOMPSON, Attorney
Florida Bar #231665
1172 South Dixie Hwy., Suite 111
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
305-666-4366

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

COURTHOUSE IN CRISIS



This was the scene Tuesday morning, as the lines to get into the courthouse stretched from the rear entrance (by the bridge to the jail) around the corner. If the line was any longer it would have met the line waiting to get into the front entrance. The citizens who own this courthouse should not have to wait for an hour to get inside. (Click on the picture to enlarge it).

And yet, we wait in vain while those in charge of scheduling court cases refuse to even address this crisis.

More cases, more defendants, more court costs being paid, and yet, there is less money for the courts. Something smells fishy to us.

This is an email Chief Judge Farina sent out today on the court's fiscal crisis:
We have received further disturbing information regarding the status of the State Court budget. In addition to the expense budget reduction we communicated last week, the court has been advised that reductions in the salary budget in excess of $12 million dollars may occur this fiscal year. One of the scenarios being contemplated to meet this unprecedented cut will be to enforce furloughs statewide for all court employees with the exception of judges. This will mean 22 days of unpaid leave for state funded court employees whose position is funded in the circuit court budget and 58 days for state funded court employees whose position is funded in the county court budget to occur by June 30, 2008.This is not the type of news we were anticipating. We are hoping that this will not be the ultimate solution to meet this major additional setback in our financial picture. However, please know that there are many who are tirelessly expressing how serious a dilemma this represents for the judicial branch, the courts' ability to provide access to justice and quality service to the public and for all of us. We will continue to keep you updated regarding this fiscal crisis.

Joseph P. Farina, Chief Judge
Ruben O. Carrerou,
Court Administrator.

Rumpole says: If we're reading this correctly, county court employees will be forced to forfeit 2 MONTHS PAY (58 days) just to keep their jobs. Something stinks.

FACDL RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF BEN KUEHNE

RESOLUTION
OF THE FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS
IN SUPPORT OF BENEDICT P. KUEHNE


WHEREAS, Benedict (Ben) Kuehne has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1977 and is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Criminal Trial, Criminal Appellate, and Civil Appellate Law;

WHEREAS, in addition to his leadership as a member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors, President of both the Dade County Bar Association and Miami Chapter of FACDL, Ben Kuehne is a Charter Member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL), dating back twenty years to 1988;

WHEREAS Ben Kuehne is a trusted advisor to those he has served with in FACDL, and always made himself available to better the organization on issues of by-laws, ethics, and other legal matters;

WHEREAS, Ben Kuehne has contributed as an author to FACDL’s Defender magazine on issues of the Fourth Amendment, and the United States Supreme Court;

WHEREAS, Ben Kuehne has routinely been recognized for his legal talents and contributions to the legal profession and specifically the criminal justice system, including but not limited to his recognition as one of the “Lawyers of the Year” by the National Law Journal in 2000;

AND WHEREAS Ben Kuehne is currently seeking justice in his own defense and is deserving of the same support, counsel and assistance that he has given to FACDL for so many years;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS:

That the FACDL supports and stands ready to assist Ben Kuehne during this time when he seeks to find justice for himself in a criminal court of law.

Adopted by the full Board of Directors, February 8, 2008 (Jacksonville, Florida)


Rumpole says: this passed last week and we were waiting for the appropriate moment to post it. Hear hear!

Monday, February 18, 2008

HAPPY PRESIDENT'S DAY



To all our brother and sister lawyers North of the Border this President’s Day:

Try not to work too hard.

Sincerely,

Your Friends and Colleagues South of the Border.

Item: The Broward Judiciary does not recognize President’s Day as a day off from work.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

THE GREAT FLOOD

Latest Herald article on the "Kuehne sting."
HERE
The Government was using an informant to feed Kuehne phony information that drug money was legitimate. They ought to hang their heads in shame for prosecuting this man.

And God looked upon the earth (and North Of the Border), and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die…

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth…

And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights…

And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered…

And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

Book Of Genesis, Chapters 6-7.

Item:
The Broward County Main Courthouse is shut down for the forseeable future, due to an unepxected "great flood".
The Sun Sentinel story is HERE


Friday, February 15, 2008

Woops.

Once again DNA evidence exonerates an innocent individual, in prison since 1993. But the case of Lynn DeJac and her wrongful conviction for murdering her 13 year old daughter 14 years ago has a different twist.

Last year DNA evidence that implicated another individual led to a court granting DeJac’s motion for a new trial and her release. State prosecutors in Buffalo New York, announced their intention to retry DeJac (Citing to the prosecutor’s code of evidence, section 11(b): “DNA evidence is only for the prosecution. When it exonerates a defendant, there must be another explanation for this ‘junk science’.)

However, the twist came when Dr. Michael Baden, former Chief ME for New York City reexamined the autopsy and found that no one killed the young girl: she died from a drug overdose. The prosecution’s original theory of the case was that despite the lack of physical evidence on the body, the girl was strangled.

What caught our eye (as DNA exonerations of convicted defendants are becoming so common place) was this quote from Dr. Baden:
As Dr. Baden put it: “The apology should really come from forensic science. Medical examiners also make mistakes. It should be a wake-up call for defense attorneys to have their own experts examine the evidence.”

Perhaps our robed readers might remember that quote the next time a defense attorney is in court seeking funds for an expert to review the findings of an ME in Miami.


All that glitters is not gold- and all that our ME’s say happened, might just not be so.

The NY Times article is
HERE

See you in Court, where we rarely trust anything an expert opines on.


PS. Speaking of exoneration, Judge Ana (Speed Racer) Gardiner of North Of the Border and reckless Mercedes driving fame, has been cleared of leaving the scene of an accident. Apparently there is an exception to the Florida Statutes, if you are a Judge, and after you drive away from an accident an angel appears on your shoulder and says "hey, stupid- you're committing a crime" and you quickly return to the scene.

The Herald Article is HERE

Thursday, February 14, 2008

JUDGE GARDINER


From the Broward Blog comes this article about the driving habits of North Of the Border Judge Ana Gardiner, who serves as Chief of the Criminal Courts (but not traffic) division.

On Valentine's day, the lesson is love can sometimes hurt (and wreck a Mercedes).

BROWARD NEW TIMES ARTICLE

From the New Times Article and off the Broward Blog:

The collision left a mess on the back end of the Mercedes, with the bumper hanging loose, the left taillight smashed, and the exhaust pipe driven under the body. By the time Warhaftig and her husband, Allan, got there, though, the fleeing driver had returned. She was sitting in her BMW in a driveway next to the damaged Mercedes. It was Judge Ana Gardiner, chief judge of the criminal division of the Broward County Circuit Court...When police arrived — summoned by a resident who had heard the crash and seen Gardiner subsequently "shooting down the street" — a group of people gathered around the damaged car. Among them were prominent Fort Lauderdale lawyer Howard Friedman, who lives on 25th Way, and another lawyer, who was watching the game at Friedman's house. According to the Warhaftigs, Friedman recognized Gardiner, telling neighbors, "I know what this is about."
Gardiner was probably checking up on "an ex-boyfriend" (the lawyer who was visiting Friedman's house), he alleged to neighbors. When someone stepped out of the house, she had apparently stepped on the gas so as not to be seen, Friedman remarked...The Warhaftigs say that Friedman stepped in to assist the judge, and she quickly "lawyered up." Neither Gardiner nor Friedman responded to requests for comment. The Warhaftigs say they're less angry about the accident than about Gardiner's muteness. My Warhaftig said she was also upset about Gardiner's recklessness in a residential neighborhood — "There were 50 kids there, running all over the place," says Warhaftig, the mother of two, "and she could easily have hit one of them" — as well as the suggestion from Friedman that the Warhaftigs themselves may have somehow been culpable."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

MADNESS

Is John McCain the last sane man in the Republican party?
You can make a good case for the fact that he is.

Start with this thought: Mike Huckabee is the clear choice of a large vocal and powerful wing of the Republican party. It is 2007, and Mike Huckabee does not believe in evolution. He has said: “If you want to believe you came from apes, fine. I don’t believe me and my family came from apes.”

And this is the man many Republicans believe would be the best to lead them into the future. A future perhaps lit only by fire, as Huckabee and his party have little use for science that challenges the precepts of their religion.

Mike Huckabee has won primaries in 8 states, including Iowa, Kansas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Louisiana. A case can be made that if you remove the cross-over independent votes that McCain attracted, Huckabee is the choice of a plurality if not majority of Republicans.

This is the Party of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan.
Ahh…Ronald Wilson Reagan. Every Republican wants to claim his mantle. Every Republican wants to claim they are his rightful heir.

Just how would Reagan fair today, as Governor of California, running for President?

Well, for the right wing fiscal conservatives, he would have to explain why in his first year of Governor of California, he pushed through the largest tax increase in the history of California. Granted, Reagan (being Reagan) returned those tax increases with rebates in the following years once he balanced the budget. But the fact remains Reagan as Governor, like George HW Bush, as President, raised taxes when he needed to.

For the social conservatives, Reagan would have the tough time of explaining why he signed the most liberal abortion rights bill in the nation when he was Governor of California. Always a personal opponent of abortion, Reagan never did one thing politically to restrict a woman’s right to abortion.

Mike Huckabee would wipe the floor with candidate governor Reagan today.

The point is that the Republican party used to be populated by experienced and thoughtful politicians who were not held hostage by the radical religious right. These politicians made decisions based on reason, experience, and with input from the other party.
Not any more.

John McCain, as a senator who has crossed the aisle numerous times to work with his democratic colleagues on election finance reform, immigration, not to mention his opposition to Bush’s tax cuts, is cut from the same cloth of men like Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, and Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower. And in this day in age, that is just not acceptable to a party that has the overwhelming desire to turn this nation into a Christian nation; a nation that forsakes science and reason in favor of a marriage of church and state run by pastors cum politicians.

This republican party now looks to be led by a man who does not believe in evolution. This is madness that we as a nation would even consider for one moment to give this kook (albeit a kindly kook) one vote or one chance to do anything more important than drive a bus. And yet, Mike Huckabee wins votes, wins primaries, and is the clear choice of a millions of republicans to be president of the United States of America.

This is just madness.

And that’s why John McCain may well be the last sane person in the Republican party.

Monday, February 11, 2008

POP QUIZ

Time for a little update and recap and a quick quiz.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

In Miami it is dangerous to:

A) Shake hands with a federal prosecutor.
B) Get arrested in Miami Beach.
C) Issue a due diligence opinion letter.
D) Be acquitted of all charges in Federal Court.
E) All of the above.



Meanwhile, in the First District Court of Appeals (a/ka “The Animal House of the DCA’s”) who is more likely to face a JQC complaint and trial?:

A) The chief judge who has been called mentally unstable by his colleagues; who has affairs with court employees; and who issued a written opinion over turning the conviction of a State Senator where the chief judge is a former law partner with the State Senator’s closest friend;

or

B) The appellate Judge who wrote a separate opinion criticizing the chief judge for not recusing himself because of the appearance of impropriety.

If you said A, you haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with the JQC lately.


Not only did the JQC dismiss the complaint against chief judge Charles Kahn, (“I may be crazy, but I’m da Judge.”) but the JQC has added the additional charges of perjury against District Judge Michael Allen for testifying before the JQC that when he wrote the opinion criticizing Judge Kahn, he did so not out of animosity towards Judge Kahn, but because he believed he was following the law.

Sort of like the old “obstruction of justice” enhancement in Federal Court where if you testified and you were convicted, your sentence was enhanced because you lied. Or perhaps a more apt analogy is, sort of like Soviet Russia where they did anything they wanted to you, because they could.

13 of the 15 Judges of the First DCA (motto “Broward ain’t got nothing on us.” ) filed the complaint against the chief judge for the extra marital affair with the court employee. However, that hasn’t stopped the JQC from dismissing all charges against the Chief Judge and pursuing Judge Allen like he was the second coming of Lyglenson Lemorin.

The St. Pete Times article is
HERE


Well, how’d you do in the quiz?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A NEW IDEA

The City of Miami Beach Police Department has apparently come up with a new way of avoiding those pesky problems that come with pre-filing a new case: kill the defendant.

As reported HERE
by the Miami Herald a man died after a fight with Miami Beach Narcotics Detectives.

Old joke:
Q: How many City Of Miami Beach Detectives does it take to throw a defendant down a flight of stairs?
A: None. He fell.

See you in court, where if this trend continues, we could soon be out of clients.

Rumpole addresses the issue of the identity of those who make comments:

Let us take a brief moment and address and issue that has arisen in the comments section. One lawyer (one guess who) wants to sue another lawyer for comments allegedly made by that second lawyer about the first lawyer.

We have no way of knowing who makes a comment. Our only remedy is that if a comment is made and the person signs a name, and that person emails us and asks us to take down the comment because someone else signed their name to it, we will do it. But the mere fact a comment is signed is no proof whatsoever that the name associated with the comment was the actual person who made the comment.

That's clear isn't it? Sort of like the in field fly rule. (6.05(e): With less than two outs, and runners at first or second, or bases loaded, and a force play at third, if the batter hits a fly ball that is in the opinion of the umpire a catchable ball, the batter is automatically out.)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

HI! How are ya doing?

This being South Florida, the water or the air is different and things like this happen:

An attorney who went to Federal Court in Broward in support of her husband who is on supervised release, is now in solitary confinement for shaking the hand of the AUSA.

The Sun Sentinel story is HERE

See You In Court, NOT shaking hands with the other side.

PS. If you read our favourite federal blogger as we do on a daily basis, it occurs to us that he recently wrote about being in court and shaking hands with a DOJ lawyer he knew in the Kuehne case. Can an investigation be brewing as we brew our Saturday coffee? Fear not Mr. Markus, we have built our reputation on defending misdemeanor battery cases!

Friday, February 08, 2008

JON MAY SPEAKS ABOUT BEN KUEHNE

We received this email from nationally known criminal defense attorney Jon May (who was a Federal Prosecutor before he joined up with the good guys.)

STATEMENT OF JON MAY INSUPPORT OF BENEDICT P. KUEHNE

An innocent man has been charged with a crime. His name is Ben Kuehne. And I am proud to call him my friend. In the coming days you will hear only what the government wants you to know about the allegations against Ben. And you may be tempted to believe what you hear. But don't.

The government drafts the indictment and the government is permitted to broadcast its contents to the community. But Ben's lawyers are not permitted to comment on the evidence. So you will only hear one side ofthe story.

What is true is that Kuehne was retained by nationally known lawyer Roy Black to research and determine the legality of legal fees paid to Black's legal team for the representation of Colombian Drug Kingpin Fabio Ochoa Vasquez. This representation of Black, whose legal fees have not been challenged or forfeited, forms the entire basis ofthe indictment, directed by main Department of Justice officials in Washington, against Kuehne.

This case represents the first time ever in which federal criminal charges were brought against a lawyer whose legal work consisted of representing a fellow lawyer who sought advice about compensation for defending a client in a criminal case. To target an adversary like Ben Kuehne, who is held in such high regard by the community and whose integrity is unquestioned, sends a message that any lawyer is at risk,even concerning previously unheard of prosecution strategies like those used here. Finally the fact that this prosecution is political paybackis demonstrated by the government's efforts to leak its investigation while Ben's lawyers were trying to convince Washington that these allegations were unfounded. On a number of occasions Washington provided reporters with the details of the investigation in an effort to destroy Ben's reputation in the community. They did so knowing that there was no one to investigate their unlawful violations of grand jury secrecy. (emphasis by Rumpole)

We would all like to think that our Justice Department seeks to do justice. But the sad reality is that increasingly Main Justice inWashington has been dominated by zealots intent on winning no matter what the costs. Just this year, the Bush Justice Department accused the lawyers representing the Guantanamo detainees of treason. Recently a federal judge in New York dismissed all charges against a number of defendants where the prosecutors threatened their former employer, a major accounting firm, with indictment if it paid for lawyers to represent the accused. And as it has becoming increasingly clear, federal prosecutors who failed to file voting law violation charges against Democrats were fired for not towing the party line.

So now Ben Kuehne, a prominent election lawyer and defense attorney, stands wrongfully accused of participating in a money laundering scheme.

A past Dade County Bar President and current member of the Board ofGovernors of The Florida Bar, Ben Kuehne's entire personal reputationand legal career have been exemplary.

In 2000, Ben served as National Counsel and Florida Counsel to Vice President Al Gore and the Gore/Lieberman Recount Committee during the Presidential Recount Litigation. His responsibilities included representation before Florida canvassing boards, litigation in both state and federal courts, participation in the recount trial, and preparation of briefs to the Florida Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. During the 2004 presidential election, Ben was a Senior Counsel to the Kerry/Edwards Presidential Campaign, coordinating the Florida Legal Team in early voting and election day voting issues. Ben was prominent in uncovering abuse by the Department of Justice in commencing investigations of supposed election law violations in Ohio. Those investigations suppressed Democratic voter turnout, helping bring about President Bush's 2004 re-election victory.

Kuehne successfully represented the public interest in the Miami Voter Fraud case, when he overturned the illegal results of a mayoral election marred by massive voter fraud. Kuehne also prevailed in a politically-charged prosecution of a prominent Florida state senator for alleged campaign finance and reporting violations.

Described by the progressive organization, People For The American Way, as a "lawyer's lawyer" and "champion for constitutional rights," Ben received its Spirit of Liberty/Defender of Democracy Award in 2006 for his successful federal court challenge in the Mi Familia Vota case to the unconstitutional Bush administration efforts to prevent the registration of newly sworn citizens as voters after citizenship ceremonies. Kuehne was also named one of the "Lawyers of the Year" by the National Law Journal for his work on behalf of Vice President A lGore in the 2000 Recount Litigation. Ben leads a coalition of advocates who are regularly called upon to initiate public impact litigation fort he redress of constitutional violations arising from government action. As just a few examples, Ben successfully represented 15 Cuban refugees in a constitutional challenge to the "wet foot/dry foot" policy resulting from the well-publicized repatriation of Cuban nationals who landed on the Old Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys. As lead counsel for Save Dade, he successfully led the effort to prevent an election to nullify the Miami-Dade County Human Rights Ordinance.

Kuehne is well-known for his extensive contributions to the community outside the courtroom, having served as a founding Executive Committee member and Trustee of the Alliance for Ethical Government, a community organization founded to improve the ethical rules governing local government officials. He is a former member of the Board of Legal Services of Greater Miami, and has been the recipient of pro bono awards for providing legal services to the poverty community.

In addition to his meritorious service as President of the Dade County Bar Association and President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - Miami Chapter, Ben Kuehne was the recipientof the Criminal Justice Award by the Dade County Bar Association in 2000 for his "outstanding contributions to the criminal justice system." He is a noted speaker and author on important legal and political issues,regularly appearing as a faculty member at advanced Bar seminars oncutting-edge criminal law issues.

Nationally recognized for his leadership and success as a lawyer and community leader, Ben is named in The Best Lawyers of America(2000-2007) and Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers, Litigation:White Collar Crime & Government Investigations (2004-2007). He was named the Best Lawyer in Miami by New Times Newspaper in 2000 .He continues to be included by the South Florida Legal Guide and Florida Trend's Legal Elite as one of South Florida's Top Lawyers in every annual publication.

Ben, is committed to securing complete vindication by proving that these charges are false and an unprincipled effort to ruin an ethical community leader. It is my hope that the community Ben has selflessly devoted himself to will stand with him and give him the support that he deserves.

Jon May, Esq.


Rumpole says: hear hear!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

BEN KUEHNE INDICTED

BREAKING BLOG NEWS

Rumors have persisted for months and today the Miami Herald reports
HERE
as breaking news that our respected colleague Ben Kuehne has been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for money laudering. He is surrendering in Federal Court today.

The indictment stems from Kuehne's role in reviewing and vouching for the legitimacy of payments made by a Colombian citizen Fabio Ochoa to attorney Roy Black for representation in Miami for drug trafficking charges.

From the Herald Article:

Kuehne's research gave Black the confidence -- in the form of legal opinion letters -- to accept payments totaling $3.7 million in fees and $1.3 million in expenses from Ochoa, according to several sources. Kuehne earned a portion of the expense payments -- $220,000 to $260,000 -- from Black for vetting Ochoa's payments, sources said...

Ironically, the investigation first focused on Black following Ochoa's conviction at his 2003 trial in Miami. But authorities dropped their interest in Black and shifted to Kuehne, who became the target because his buffer-like role insulated Ochoa's defense attorney from any criminal liability for accepting the fees.

There is no joy in Mudville today, and we wish our colleague Mr. Kuehne the very best in his time of trouble and turmoil. This can be a difficult business sometimes and we sincerely hope for the best for Mr. Kuehne.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

THOMPSON V TUNIS continued

OK, here's where we are in this brouhaha:

Mr. Thompson claims that Florida Statute 876.05 requires all elected officials to file a loyalty oath before taking office. The oath that is filed must be notarized.

Mr. Thompson has obtained two oaths said to be executed by Judge Tunis and he alleges that one of them is forged and not her signature.

Mr. Thompson also believes that all but one Florida Supreme Court Justice must be removed for not complying with the same loyalty oath statute.
As to Judge Tunis Mr. Thompson is relying upon the below affidavit of a questioned documents examiner. (If you click on the document is should take you to a larger version of it.)




What does this all mean?
We haven't the foggiest idea, but it bears watching.
Speaking of having no idea, what's going on with the Democrats?
The NY Times reports
HERE that in January Senator Clinton loaned her campaign 5 million dollars and that when all the votes cast on Super Tuesday are counted, that Senator Obama will have won ten more delegates than Senator Clinton.
Senator Clinton won the larger states, (California, NY, NJ) but Obama won more states and Obama raised an astounding 32 million dollars in January. Therefore, it can be assumed that Senator Obama is financially more able to compete in the upcoming primaries than Senator Clinton.
What does this all mean?
We haven't the foggiest idea, but it bears watching.
See You In Court.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

FIRST IN THE DCA LAST IN DECORUM

UPDATED: THE LINK TO THE ARTICLE IN THE ST PETE TIMES WORKS.

Several alert readers have alerted us to the ARTICLE
in the St. Pete Times about the goings on in the First DCA.

Judges filing complaints against each other.
Judges getting concealed weapons permits.
Judges stealing the girlfriends of other court employees.
Judges improperly sitting on cases they should be recused from.
Judges going nuts and screaming and cursing at each other.


All in a days work at the First DCA.

No current truth to the rumor the Judges from Broward have been recruited to give classes to the First DCA on how to act as responsible Judges.


Judge Aleman guilty as charged on one of two counts and faces a public reprimand. The Herald article is
HERE

No truth to the rumor that the Supreme Court, in a nod to Judge Aleman's philosophy on sentencing, will go above the recommended sentence, and remove her from the bench.


See You In Court on the day after super Tuesday.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Judge Butchko

A controversy of sorts erupted on the blog last week as readers wrote in- pro and con -on relatively new Circuit Court Judge Beatrice Butchko.




We’ve been toying with a top to bottom evaluation of the Judges in our little building. Starting with the sixth floor and working our way down to two, we’ve been thinking of a way to encourage readers to talk about the good, the bad, and the judicial, in the REGJB.

However, while we work on perfecting a method for this, we open the discussion about Judge Butchko with a gentle reminder: there is more to any particular case than the result. Thus when a reader writes in to complain about a sentence judge Butchko gave in a particular case (see below) we must remember that there are more facts to the case then we currently have before us.


While we are immediately suspicious of any Judge who penalizes a defendant for going to trial and losing, there may very well have been good reasons for the sentence in the case discussed below. Because we don’t know the particulars, we merely ask that readers keep an open mind, keep the discussion civil (actually keep it criminal, but within the bounds of decency and blog rules) and for those who may know more, please write in and lets us know.

This comment started it all:
Anonymous said...
Yesterday Butchko sentenced a PD client to 15 years for a strong arm robbery. Prior to trial the offer was CTS. The defendant had no priors, and the facts were that he punched a guy and took off on his bicycle. period. After trial the state attorney asked for 10 years (bad form to offer cts then ask for 10), mostly because he is afraid of Butchko as she routinely refuses to accept their plea offers then calls KFR to complain they are being too lenient. Didn’t matter cause she maxed him anyway. Stan, Joe, Please get her out of the building!

(we edited out the last line which had a gratuitous expletive that didn’t really add anything to the discussion.)


And then this comment arrived:
Anonymous said...
Enough with the Butchko bashing! She's a phenomenal person and a wonderful judge. She's not afraid to do the right thing even if she knows that she may take a hit in the media and/or in the eyes of a demanding victim.Recently, she clearly displayed how extraordinary she is in a case involving a defendant who accidentally shot and killed his best friend right in front of the Miami Beach Police Department. I heard that the victim's family testified at the sentencing hearing and demanded the max, 30 years in prison, after the defendant pled to the manslaughter charge. Judge Butchko carefully listened to everyone, considered the mountains of mitigating evidence presented by the defense, and sentenced the defendant to community control and probation. Most judges wouldn't have had the courage to do that, even though it was the right decision. Any judge can max a defendant out. We don't want judges acting like robots. We need compassionate souls on the bench working diligently to make sure that the specific penalty fits the crime. Thank God we have judges like Judge Butchko! I would suggest that you re-direct your distain towards a few of the others in the courthouse who actually deserve the criticism.

So there you have it. Two cases, two disparate sentences, one Judge. We frown upon the allegation that the Judge calls the State Attorney to complain about prosecutors. If that is true we think there is no place for that among the Judiciary. Judge Rothenberg was said to have kept notes to instruct prosecutors on what they did wrong and how they could do a better job. That bespeaks of a Judge who is not impartial, and Judge Butchko, being a close friend of Judge Rothenberg, is liable to end up being painted with the same brush.


A judge should neither favour the defense nor the prosecution and any Judge who “roots” for one side needs to be removed, post haste.

See You In Court.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

GIANTS WIN!!!

GIANTS

WIN

And Rumpole told you to take them to win, no points needed.

The 72 Dolphins remain perfect, and the Cheaters get what all cheaters deserve: a big fat loss.

Eli is the MVP and Brady is DOA.

SUPER SUNDAY


BLOGGING LIVE DURING THE GAME
NO MODERATION(BEHAVE)


The line is the Cheaters minus 12, the over/under is 54.
First the lock of the day: tails is 110, meaning you have to bet 110 to win 100. Do it- it’s a Rumpole lock.

OK- the easy stuff first: The Over is 54 and we like it. The Cheaters have won most of their games this year by more than 12 points. Plus the evil genius Belichich often holds something back in meaningless regular season games against teams he could meet in the playoffs, so the Cheaters 3 point win over the Gints in the last regular season game is meaningless in our opinion. If you want to play the favorite, the move here is to put your lunch money on the Cheaters. They should win.





But if you want to live a little, read on dear readers.


For the professional gamblers : the opening line was NE -14 and the move was to take the Giants +14 and then the Cheaters -12 today, hoping for “a middle”. A middle would be where the Cheaters would win by 13, giving you a win on both your bets and wrecking your bookie.


There is one famous example of a middle wrecking bookies in a super bowl to the extent that small Vegas casinos needed help in paying off their bets. We think it was the first Steelers/Cowboys super bowl where the Steelers won 21-17 and the pros took the Boys+4 1/2 early and the Steelers -3 late. Anyway, if you took the Giants +14 early in the week, you might want to put a few NE clams on the cheaters -12 and hope for the middle and a new Lexus.

If you want to live dangerously: if you want to play out on the edge of the envelope; if you like putting everything onto one roll of the dice, then this is for you:


We like the money line with the Giants paying 320 to win for every 100 bet, no points involved.



That’s right- we’re living dangerously today and betting with our heart and not our head, and picking the boys from Jersey to put some Thunder Road on the cheaters, “because baby we were born to run.” We have it on good authority that the Giants defense has been playing Springsteen’s new song “your own worst enemy has come to town” and they are psyched sky high to lay a Jersey blue collar whopping on pretty boy Brady and punk him right in front of his supermodel babe.

Here are our thoughts:

The Giants have the better defense. Period.
The Giants have a better running game. Period.
The Giants have a wide receiver (Buress) that can compete with the Cheaters wideout (Moss) and the Giants have a hot QB, while Brady has been less than stellar during the playoffs.
These cheaters could barely beat a mediocre San Diego team playing without the best player in the game (Tomlinson) and with a QB who had a bum knee.


Now that being said, give these cheaters their props- they know how to win. They are superbly coached by an evil genius who has no regard for the rules. They are hungry to complete the perfect season, and all the pressure is on them.

If they win, it is because they are the favorites.


Ahh, but if they lose. The biggest choke of all time. The greatest upset in super bowl history since Joe Willie trotted on to the field of our home town Orange Bowl and with the help of Don Maynard, Matt Snell and a little help from back-up QB BabeParilli, beat Don Shula’s Colts 16-7 (we had the under.)

The measure of these cheaters will not be if they blow out the Giants 45-10. No the real measure will be if they are tied 35-35 and the Giants are on a drive with about a minute left in the game. The real measure of this team will be can they stand up to the pressure of history as the sun sets in Arizona and the game and the perfect season is on the line? (sorry Captain, but you are wrong mon ami- the stadium has a retractable roof which will be open for the game).


By all rights the cheaters should complete the perfect season. But that’s why they play the game, and one tough defense and a bunch of guys who think they can win are standing in the way of Belichick, Brady and Moss.

Go Big Blue.
Giants 38-Cheaters 35.

PS- want Rumpole's expert opinion on the super bowl as it unfolds? Turn your TV on; put your laptop in your lap and blog live while it all happens, or until we drink too much.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

THE KICK

Lawrence Tynes stood exactly seven yards away from the ball. The ball was on the 33 yard line. The sunlight had already faded in the University of Phoenix Stadium and the lights had been on for sometime now. The roar was a deafening din, but Tynes heard nothing. Sweat trickled down his forehead from his hair which was matted wet and into his left eye. The Giants were out of time outs and the field clock showed he had exactly 16 seconds to get the kick off. He could not take off his helmet and wipe his eyes. He would have to kick this one partially blind.

Eight yards away most of the Patriots were growling or yelling his name. Tynes looked up for just a brief moment and saw the safety jumping up and waving and trying to distract him. The scoreboard showed Patriots 35 Giants 33.
14 Seconds to go.


The Giants offensive line set down and Tynes called a few numbers. The long snapper looked at him between his legs while the holder barked out the signals. The ball would be snapped on three, so that the Patriots would have two chances to jump off sides and move the ball closer. Right now the field goal was exactly fifty yards. Tynes had been making them from 55 in practice without a problem, but that was four hours ago. Since then Tynes had a 35 yarder blocked and he had missed two others from 40 and 45. When the field goal was blocked in the first quarter a Patriots lineman had taken a shot at him during the mad scramble for the ball. Tynes had fallen and twisted his knee. The knee swelled up to the size of a grapefruit and at halftime he had the trainer give him shot. Right now his leg was numb. He could run on it and he could kick with it, he just couldn’t feel it.

On the sidelines during the last time out Coughlin hadn’t said much.
“Fifty yards” Coughlin had said.
“Bout that” Tynes replied.
“Your leg?”
“Just fine.”


The coach nodded and Tynes trotted out on to the field. Nothing more needed to be said. History and the chance to pull off perhaps the greatest upset in the history of the National Football league hung on Tynes’ numb leg.

The long snapper tensed up as the second request for the ball came. Out of the corner of his eye, Tynes saw his holder glance at him. Tynes gave him a quick wink.

8 seconds to go.


The ball came perhaps a tenth of a second late and a little higher than the holder wanted. It wasn’t much, but usually it would be enough to throw off his timing just enough to hook the ball right.

But Tynes knew there was pressure in this snap so he had waited perhaps an additional half second before starting his windup. It was just enough time to give the holder a chance to catch the ball and adjust.

Tynes saw the ball spin so that the laces were away from his foot. The ball was placed down, and perhaps ten thousand lights from camera flashes went off in the stands in front of Tynes. Tynes saw none of this because his head was down and he was looking at the ball. Like a golfer, it was important he keep his head down through the swing.

There was the usual pile up of humanity in front of him, but from his left Tynes saw that the Patriots had overloaded the line at the last moment. A safety had broken free and was streaking towards Tynes, his hands held out in front of him like Superman.


7 seconds left in the game.

Tynes went through his windup. He planted his foot and felt a sharp pain shoot through his leg. The pain killer was wearing off. His foot slipped as he winced, but not much, and he thought that his plant was good.

The safety was getting close. Tynes thought that he might just be able to tip the ball and that wouldn’t be good, so he hurried his kick just a bit quicker than normal.


A small breeze drifted in from behind the kicker. Despite the desert atmosphere, the breeze was cool as the sun had set. Tynes foot made good contact with the ball and Tynes reminded himself not to put everything he had into the kick. His leg was strong and he didn’t need to over kick the ball otherwise the kick would pull to the left.

The ball went up on the slightly lower trajectory that Tynes had planned. He needed a lower trajectory to get the distance to make the 50 yarder .

The safety was in air now with his arms outstretched. Tynes couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw the safety’s right index finger make contact with the ball.

The ball started its end over end spin and Tynes noticed that it was spinning good. The safety hadn’t affected the kick. Now the only question was whether he had the distance.

The ball spun into the dark night while thousands of flashes from cameras continued to light up the night.

Tynes never saw the other safety who came in from the right side. The safety was blocked by a Giants offensive lineman, but the block forced the safety into Tynes. The safety hit Tynes- but it was a legal hit- and Tynes was hit just after he put his foot on the ground. The impact spun him around and before he hit the ground he noticed Eli Manning sitting on the ground with his helmet off and his head between his hands. Several Giants were holding hands, while the coaches had grouped together. Coughlin was standing as he always did with his hands on his hips.

The ball continued spinning but Tynes couldn’t see it. He was on the ground.


The crowd was roaring but there was no way for Tynes to know what that meant. Half the crowd was for the Giants and the other half for the Patriots. Either way about 35 thousand people would be cheering.

Some dirt had flown up into his helmet and stuck to the sweat on his face. Tynes was face down in the dirt when he felt the first hand on his back. In a second or so he would know either way just how his life had changed.