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

Sunday, June 29, 2008

FACE OFF AND SHOWDOWN


For the prosecution: The Big Man. The Clarence Clemons of Criminal Law. Local REGJB lawyer made good. Circuit Court Judge. Third District Court Judge. Now partner at Holland and Knight. Representing the Dade State Attorneys Office gratis in the contretemps over the Public Defenders' refusal to accept more cases in this era of budget cuts is one Rodolfo "Rudy" Sorondo

But Sorondo has his work cut out for him, because Bennett Brummer and his wrecking crew of appellate law specialists are undefeated in this arena. Every time BHB has gone to court and said "no more" he has won.

Background: When the budget cuts struck, The PDs warned that they were overwhelmed, under-staffed, and unable to squeeze in even one more possession of cocaine case. They would they from this day forward, they warned,  stop taking on new felony cases until sanity and money were restored to the system.

The prosecutors objected as is their wont, and now we have a showdown set before Ex- Assistant Public defender and current chief Judge for the Circuit Court Criminal Division -Stanford Blake. 

July 17th is the date for the hearing, and as always, we will be watching.


Friday, June 27, 2008

GOODBYE JUDGE ROSINEK

Today (Friday) is Judge Jeffrey Rosinek's last day on the bench. 
It's been quite a ride. We will miss him, as will all of Dade County. We are diminished by his absence.

Stop by today and shake his hand; wish him well in retirement and while you're there, drop off a cheque for Friends Of Drug Court.



Speaking of retired judges....

HE'S BAAAAACKK....

Just when you thought it was safe to walk into a courtroom on the 4th floor comes word that everyone's favourite retired Judge, Rick Margolius is back running the show. 

No talking in court. (He once held a hearing impaired man and his translator in contempt for signing to each other while court was in session.)

Plea colloquies that make your client feel about two inches tall  ("so you're admitting to being a thief huh?")

Rants and raves not seen in this building since the old days.

We know there must be some good Margolius stories out there, so let's hear them.

UPDATE: An alert reader sent us his website. Enjoy

And just so you know what we really think, despite the sneering,  the chiding, the pondering out loud of lengthy prison sentences, Rick Margolius was always one judge you could count on to make the correct decision, consequences be damned.  If you caught the cop lying, he called him a liar, pure and simple. If granting a motion damaged an important case, he could care less. He called them as he saw them. And in the end, isn't that what you really want in a Judge?

See You In Court, just not in certain courts if our client is going to take a plea, if you know what we mean. 

Thursday, June 26, 2008

REMEMBERING JOE REYES

Woops:

The DBR reported on Judge Jeri Beth Cohen's campaign faux pas:

" Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, who is facing an election challenge, committed an “unintentional violation” of a judicial canon by speaking at a Coral Gables Area Democratic Club meeting without her election opponent present, the Dade County Bar Association concluded. The Bar’s judicial campaign practices commission found that Cohen violated Canon 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. That canon states a candidate for judicial office can speak on issues at a political party function that “must not be a fundraiser, and the invitation to speak must also include the other candidates.”

WOOPS

JOE REYES MEMORIAL GOLF TOURNAMENT

The 3rd Annual Joseph A. Reyes Golf Tournament will take place on Saturday June 28, 2008 at 8:00 a.m. at the County Club of Miami. For those who may remember, Joe Reyes was a long time Assistant Public Defender who tragically passed away in 2004. Joe was an outstanding trial lawyer who earned the respect of everyone he worked with, including State Attorneys and Judges. Joe was also a great friend who is dearly missed. After his death, the Public Defender Golf Tournament was renamed in his honor. A scholarship endowment was set up in his name at FIU to award a scholarship to a law student planning to work in public interest.

If you would like more information about playing, please contact:
Kim Cole at FIU - (305) 349-1440 or Harlan Sands - (205) 329-3709
Thanks for your support-
Mike Wasserman
Marco Quesada

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

It's Part Five of our weekly series breaking down the contested judicial elections in Miami-Dade County. In Week One, we focused on the only contested County Court race of Lindsay v. Lesperance. Since then, we have provided you with the Circuit Court races of Cueto v. Velis; Migna v. Manny and Colodny v. Kopco v. Millan. As we reported on May 2, 2008 on this blog, there are nine contested races here in Miami-Dade County; eight in the Circuit Court and one in the County Court.

Today, we discuss Group 38 of the Circuit Court. Our goal will be to attempt to provide you with a weekly contest overview and then let you have at it and give us your opinions on why we should or should not vote for a certain candidate.

Group 38 is presently occupied by the retiring Judge Leonard Glick. Vying to replace him are Mario Garcia and Stacy Glick (yes, she is related to the sitting Judge Glick).

DR. MARIO GARCIA .....

Mario Garcia has been a member of The Florida Bar for 8 years. He graduated from UM Law School and joined the State Attorneys office working there for three years. He is in private practice and handles criminal defense, real estate, immigration, and family law cases.

Mr. Garcia has kept himself very busy. He is also a US Army Captain, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a Certified Addictions Prevention Professional. Garcia earned his doctorate in 2004 from Capella University in the field of Psychology. Capella is an online educational institution. The "Dr." in Garcia is as a result of that online degree.

Garcia filed to run in February of 2007 and has reported raising $14,800 from 71 contributors.

You can read all about Mario on his web site at mariogarcia.net.

STACY GLICK ....

Ms. Glick is a lifelong member of the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office. She obtained her law degree from St. Thomas University and has been a member of The Florida Bar for 9 years.

While Stacy may be the daughter of Judge Leonard Glick, she has made a name for herself at the GJB and has obtained a wealth of experience in the trial court over the last 9 years in virtually every division of the SAO. Her last position there was as a supervising attorney.

Ms. Glick has been impressive in the fundraising area since her filing in June of 2007. Since then she has reported raising $47,100 from, get this, 299 supporters. Also, she has kicked in $100,000 of her own money toward the campaign.

Check out Stacy at glickforjudge.com.

Please do your homework on the two candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.

The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

CAPTAIN OUT .........

Monday, June 23, 2008


OUR LONG JOURNEY TOGETHER HAS COME TO AN END
FACDL President Rick Freedman is a guest columnist today:

Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Rosinek, head of the "Drug Court" is leaving the bench. Judge Rosinek has been on the bench since 1986 and he has spent the past ten years in Drug Court as the presiding judge. His last day on the bench as the Drug Court Judge is this Friday, June 27, 2008. He will be at the graduation ceremonies in July and August, and his resignation to Governor Crist will not become official until the end of August. But, he will no longer sit on the 4th floor of the Gerstein Justice Building, and for that, it is a very sad time.

We have so much to thank Judge Rosinek for. Judge Rosinek has been fighting for those in need of substance abuse treatment for so long. It is a fight that he seldom loses. It is a struggle to get the money he needs to make his fight a successful one and he has appeared before anyone who will listen, and many who did not want to hear from him over the years. Every time the budget was cut for Drug Court, Judge Rosinek got the money from somewhere. He went to the Chief Judge, and then to the Miami-Dade County Commission, and then to the State Legislature, and finally, to Washington and the White House.

In 2003, when he had enough of the begging for drug court money, he and attorney Richard Baron formed Friends of the Drug Court, Inc. What happens to drug court graduates? Before 2003, they were on their own. Now, with the help of Friends of Drug Court, they have somewhere to turn to. Further substance abuse treatment at half-way and three-quarter way houses, educational grants, and housing assistance, are just a few of the ways that Friends steps in to help the recovering addict. Take a look at their website at

FRIENDS OF DRUG COURT

And what are the numbers? A look at the recent successes of Drug Court shows the following:

"Drug court programs have a real effect on criminal recidivism. A National Institute of Justice study compared rearrest rates for drug court graduates with those of individuals who were imprisoned for drug offenses and found significant differences. The likelihood that a drug court graduate would be rearrested and charged for a serious offense in the first year after graduation was 16.4 percent, compared to 43.5 percent for non-drug court graduates. By the two-year mark, the recidivism rate had grown to 27.5 percent, compared to 58.6 percent for non-graduates." (2005).
MIAMI'S DRUG COURT: “SAVING LIVES ONE ADDICT AT A TIME”
(Appearing on the White House Drug Policy website,
states in part:
"For Judge Jeffrey Rosinek, who runs the Miami Drug Court, drug court is so different from a traditional court that they might as well not be called by the same name. “In a traditional court, there is a prosecutor on one side, a defense attorney on the other side, and a judge in the middle,” says Rosinek. “Here, the court is unified and non-adversarial. Everyone is here to get that person off drugs. These people have never seen a judge who does that. They have never had a team of people who are there to help them the way we are.”Rosinek presides over the country's oldest drug court, founded in 1989. The court has roughly 1,600 clients at any given time - whom it keeps for a minimum of 12 months. Many stay for 18 months, and some for more than two years. The drug court’s mix of supportive cheerleading and persistent confrontation is what it takes to get many dependent individuals to start down the road to recovery, although the confrontation usually comes first. “Our job is to use every way including coercion to get them off those drugs, because most people simply do not want help,” says Rosinek. “The judge and their attorney might tell them, ‘Try it and see how you feel when you have been clean for a few weeks,’ at which point they are starting to feel that maybe it’s working. And at the drug court, they have a whole team of people pulling for them.” When clients come in for their monthly hearing, the judge receives a two-page report that spells out whether they are employed, what they are doing in treatment, and the results of the all-important drug tests. “If it’s not a good report, I’ll drug test them again right there,” says Rosinek. “We try graduated sanctions. The final sanction is jail—but we always take them back.”


So, if you happen to be in the Gerstein Justice Building this week, drop by courtroom 4-4 and say hello to Judge Rosinek. Thank him for the job he has done. And, you can do more. Make a donation to Friends of Drug Court, Inc. You can drop a check by Judge Rosinek's chambers or mail it in if you like.

On behalf of the Officers, Directors and nearly 400 members of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - Miami Chapter, we want to thank you Judge Rosinek, We will miss you!

RICK FREEDMANPresident, FACDL-Miami
Rumpole says: Quite simply, for the caring and concern he has shown in 20 plus years on the bench, Judge Rosinek is one of the finest human beings we have ever met. A "saint" is not over emphasizing the number of lives he has saved. He can look back on a career sparkling with saved lives and second and third chances. Thousands of people in our community went to jail with nowhere to turn, until a man named Rosinek stepped in and showed them the way. How many now have jobs? How many now have families? How many children now have a parent instead of an absent addict?
May the good lord bless you Judge Rosinek for all you have done. Godspeed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

RICARDO CORONA REPLIES

UPDATE: (off blog) Rest In Peace George Carlin. You made us laugh. GEORGE CARLIN

The NY Times calls him "Splenetic" ( a word we've never used)
HERE

Before we get to Mr. Corona's response, longtime and careful readers of the blog will note the addition on the side panel. Through intensive work and negotiations with the chaps at Google, we now bring you our favourite blogs, with a "snippet" of the latest entry. You will note that the order of the list will change with the blog with the most current update at the top of the list.


All part of the service we who labour here seek to provide to you, our dear readers.


A belated "thank you" to Broward Columnist Mike Mayo who reprinted (with our permission) our Reply to Mike Mayo "Welcome to Our World" in its entirety on his blog
HERE


On with the show:
Ricardo Corona :
Kindly post this on your blog.
There was never any allegation of money laundering at Sunshine State Bank. I HAVE NEVER LAUNDERED MONEY OR FINANCED ANY DRUG TRANSACTION AND CHALLENGE ANYONE TO PROVE OTHERWISE. I have never been indicted or entered into any plea or cooperation agreement. I have the detailed Order/Findings from the Administrative Law Judge, a 100 page document, that goes through each allegation of the FDIC which involved me and/or the bank and bears this out. This was a separate proceeding from the criminal case involving my brother and father (I was not a part of that criminal proceeding). The administrative law judge took testimony from dozens of witnesses and created a 14,000 page record of the proceedings. The ALJ decision was never published because the proceedings were confidential at the time and includes details of customers, etc. That Decision is 24 years old and I am willing to share it with you.
It is unfair that you allow unsubstantiated anonymous allegations of money laundering and criminal charges against me. If the author of these posts is related to my opponent it would be a breach of ethics to use these lies and your blog to circulate this. I ask that you require a post of this kind to substantiate these charges prior to posting and/or identify him/herself so that you do not collude with the unethical and actionable circulation of these false and libelous charges.
I have been in business here for close to 40 years. I have developed property for over 200 residential units, owned supermarkets that had sales in excess of $100 million, employed several hundred individuals and had scores of suppliers not to mention my banking experience. My family built and operated several local banks aside from Sunshine and we provided financing for many of the businesses and business leaders that are the foundation of this community. Any and all lawsuits and legal issues that I have been involved with were reviewed and scrutinized by the Florida Bar before I was admitted. They obviously found no issue in any of those proceedings that negatively impacts my character. I applied to the Bar after all these issues that are being discussed took place.
I did not run or wither when I stood and fought the federal government. Whoever thinks that I will wither, run or not fight now has grossly underestimated me.
As you like to say, see you in court.
Ricardo Corona



Saturday, June 21, 2008

THE START OF A MOVEMENT?

Anonymous wrote:

Hi all,

I'm the Anonymous that first stated that I am writing in David Peckin's name in a certain race. 

It occurs to me that if this "grassroots" movement as the Capt. dubs it is to have any merit, someone will have to crawl out of blogland-anonymity and spearhead the campaign. Can't be me, I have neither the time nor the ability. 

I don't think David can run the campaign, either. Not sure of the legality or the ethics of one not filing for a seat, yet seeking to win it via "write in". That seems bad form somehow. His friend's, however, could do it for him.

Anyway, I'm willing to make a yard sign saying "Write in Peckins" or given my neighborhood, "Escriba Peckins". 

Whatever happens, I look forward to seeing David's name in the published results on election night. If nothing else, perhaps Crist will wake up and realize that the name which habitually appears before him for appointment, draws votes even when he doesn't officially enter the election.


Rumpole has a little weekend political trivia:

Vice President Al Gore recently became the SECOND vice president to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Who was the first? What administration did he serve in and for what cause were his efforts recognized and awarded?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

THE HONORABLE FLORA SEFF

UPDATE: Controversial Attorney Jonathan Schwartz, late of the Collier County Jail, has been released on $10,000.00 bond. The SOUTH FLORIDA LAWYERS blog has all the juicy details.

And the Broward Blog is highlighting an email from one Collier County Judge to all the County Court Judges urging them to resolve traffic cases prior to the trial setting and to not give withholds at the trial setting. The email ends with something along the lines of  " NOT LETTING THE INMATES RUN THE ASYLUM ALA DADE COUNTY..."

We're going to have more on this. No one  outside of Dade gets away with calling out nuthouse an asylum. It may be an asylum, but it's OUR ASYLUM,  and our inmates that are running it, and no two bit backwater hack is going to get away scott free calling us names. Just wait and see. 


Congratulations to our newest County Court Judge, former longtime assistant state attorney FLORA SEFF!!!!

The Governor got it right with this appointment.
Sorry to intrude Captain, but the misdemeanor trial of the defendant/blogger had a suprise ending yesterday. Read his updated blog about the results
HERE



THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

This is our fourth in a series on the candidates that seek your vote for County & Circuit Court Judge. To date, we have provided you with a review of the County Court race of Lesperance v. Lindsey, and Circuit Court races of Cueto v. Velis and Migna v. Manny. As we reported on May 2, 2008 on this blog, there are nine contested races here in Miami-Dade County; eight in the Circuit Court and one in the County Court. Today, it's Group 19 of the Circuit Court and the three candidates who seek to replace retiring Judge Roger Silver.

Our goal will be to attempt to provide you with a weekly contest overview and then let you have at it and give us your opinions on why we should or should not vote for a certain candidate.

YVONNE COLODNY .....

Assistant Public Defender Yvonne Colodny has been a member of The Florida Bar for nine (9) years. She has been an APD for that entire time. She graduated from FSU Law School and has gone on to serve in just about every Division of the PD's office.

Ms. Colodny filed to run in April of 2008 and has not reported raising any money yet.

You can read all about Yvonne Colodny on her web site at colodnyforjudge.com.

PATRICIA KOPCO .....

Pat Kopco has been a member of The Florida Bar for 12 years. She graduated from the UM law school and went to work at the State Attorney's Office. After leaving there, she has concentrated her practice in the area of Marital & Family law and became Board Certified in 2005 in that area. She has a solo practice.

Ms. Kopco filed to run in October of 2007. Since then, she has raised a good amount of money. In addition to dropping $50,000 of her own money into the race, she has found 80 contributors willing to fork over $18,000 for the campaign.

I have not located a web site for Kopco's campaign.

STEPHEN MILLAN ....

Steve has BTDT (as one of our readers likes to sign). In 2006, he challenged incumbent Judge Karen Mills Francis in Group 11 of the County Court. Millan got trounced in that election by double digits, losing 56% - 44% (76,565 - 59,513).

Now he seeks your vote to the Circuit Court. Steve has been a member of The Florida Bar for 17 years. He filed in January of 2007, right after the 2006 winners were sworn in. In the past 18 months, he reports raising only $5,500 from 25 contributors. Mr. Millan's practice is in the area of Criminal law.

I also have not located a website for Millan's campaign.

Please do your homework on the three candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.

The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

CAPTAIN OUT .........

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

REMEMBER WHEN?


OK old timers, who remembers the last time a controversial Miami lawyer was thrown in the can for his actions (or refusal to act) on a case? 
Hint: his picture is above.

Who was the lawyer?

Who was the Judge?

What was the dispute that sent him to the Stockade?

How did it get resolved?

All these questions, and more, answered on your favourite blog.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

ON RYE WITH A LITTLE MAYO AND MUSTARD

Sorry Captain, but this seems to be the prevailing sentiment on the race you just covered:

Anonymous wrote:

If the state would allow us to add the name "HAM SANDWICH" on the ballot with Manny and Migna the Sandwich would win by a landslide... How did this happen with over 10,000 attorneys in Miami Dade ...?

And then this was the first comment, which we heartily endorse:

Anonymous wrote:
I'm going to write in David Peckins name...(he) is more than qualified...

Rumpole endorses the write in candidacy of David Peckins, who is indeed 100 times more qualified than either of the two candidates.



(Cue Theme From Jaws)
Just when you thought it was safe to head north of the border...

We know it's not April 1st, however the Broward Blog has this frightening headline under the title Elections 2009: "Is Dale Ross running for Chief Judge?

Say it ain't so Joe!

And thanks to our Broward Blogger Brothers for running our "Welcome to Our World Mike Mayo" post.

Happy Fathers Day by the way. We hope your only worry today is whether Rocco Mediate can hang on at the US Open. We're pulling for ya Rocco. We're card carrying members of the ABT club. (Anyone But Tiger).

Check out the Cocaine Cowboys documentary on Showtime this month.
It brings back memories. For those of you who joined our little world after 1990, it gives you an idea of what life in the REGJB and Miami was like back then.
Bags of cash before there was an 8300 CTR requirement.
Louie Casuso looks good.

And a VERY HAPPY 90TH Birthday to Magistrate Judge Peter Palermo. Our friends at the South Florida Lawyers Blog (the link is at the top) and Mr. Markus's federal blog were right on the ball and did not miss it.

Judge Palmero was one of the very best. Win or lose, my clients always knew they were getting a fair shake when they were in front of Judge P.

See You In Court Tomorrow.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

WELCOME TO OUR WORLD MIKE MAYO

Sun Sentinel Columnist Mike Mayo wrote this
IN HIS BLOG
recently about Broward Attorney Sean Conway’s decision to accept a public reprimand from the Florida Bar:

Part of me is disappointed that attorney Sean Conway backed down from an important free speech fight against the Florida Bar for an Internet posting in which he called Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman “an evil, unfair witch.”
But part of me understands completely.
There was simply too much risk involved. If he lost this Bar fight, he could have lost his livelihood.
In the end, the practical outweighed the principle.
And that’s what scares me almost more than anything.
When a lawyer is afraid to challenge rules that might be unconstitutional and stand up for what he thinks is right, where does that leave the rest of us?



Welcome to the world of criminal defense Mr. Mayo.

Let’s say you’re a lawyer and you’re defending a client who was stopped by the police. Inside the vehicle the police found 100 pills of oxycodone in a prescription bottle with the name of a woman on it. You’re client tries to explain to the police that the drugs belong to his girlfriend. She has cancer and he just dropped her off at a friends house and she left the bottle of drugs in his glove compartment. “Sure” says the cop and arrests your client for trafficking in drugs.

The prosecution files the case, and after reviewing the evidence says to you that they believe you and your client’s girlfriend but it’s still a crime for him to be in possession of the drugs, however, because of the circumstances the prosecutor will waive the prison minimum mandatory and offer your client a simple possession charge, 6 months in the local jail and 5 years on probation.

Your client is innocent. What do you do?
You try the case and win and he goes home. You try it and a jury buys the “letter of the law” crap and your client catches 10 years in prison or more.
What do you do?

The simple fact is that everyday people make the same decision Sean Conway made. He was innocent. The First Amendment protects his right to speech in all but the most extreme circumstances. But he could not afford a negative verdict and possible loss of his right to practice law, so he settled.

Our clients in criminal court settle every day. Every day there is some defendant rotting in jail because the judge won’t lower his bond who takes a plea because he is losing his job and apartment and needs to get out no matter the consequences. Its an open secret that judges well know that people in jail are more willing to take a plea that will close the case and get them out of jail, then someone who is already out of jail. Some honest judges will tell you that the older judges who trained them in the art of keeping their overall case load low told them to do just that.

And then there are the minimum mandatory prison sentences. You see, somewhere during the 1980’s the legislature got the bright idea that a 25 year old prosecutor one year out of law school had more wisdom and experience to decide the appropriate jail sentence for a defendant than a 60 year old judge who has been on the bench 20 years. So the legislature started writing minimum mandatory penalties for all sorts of crimes- from misdemeanor DUIs to gun cases and drug trafficking cases. And no matter how good your client is; no matter if she is 65 years old and has never been arrested before in her life, if she is charged with a crime that carries a minimum mandatory penalty, then the only person on the lord’s green earth who can waive the minimum mandatory prison sentence is the prosecutor. The judge is nothing more than a (not so interested) bystander.

You try dealing with some snot nosed 25 year old trying to make a name for themselves in their office when you have an innocent client, or a client dying of AIDS or cancer, or a client who for any number of reasons needs the wisdom and experience of a person who was born before 1980 to help determine the proper sentence in their case. And then when this prosecutor decides- and they pretty much have unfettered discretion in fashioning any sentence they wish- to be gracious enough to waive the minimum mandatory, you see if you and your client have the guts to turn down that offer and risk perhaps the next few decades of their life in prison, just to fight for something as silly as the truth, or justice, or in Mr. Conway’s case- an important principle.

Hopefully Mr. Conway’s case has opened your eyes a bit to the coercive nature of our court system. We like to brag about our justice system. Well, from someone on the inside who has laboured in this system for a few decades, let me give you the inside scoop- in technical legal terms: it sucks. It’s broke. It needs fixing.

If you’ve got a million bucks maybe, maybe you can buy yourself some justice. If you can afford bond, and afford to live a few years without working while your attorney investigates and fights your case- and if you’ve got the cohones to risk the next few decades of your life- then you can place your hands in our vaunted jury system.

Hopefully you have a judge who has not decided to go earn the name “maximum”.

Hopefully you have a prosecutor who wants to do whats right.

Hopefully your fate does not rest on unreliable eyewitness evidence. How many innocent people have been let off of death row and out of prison because they were innocent? The count is well over 200 by now.

Hopefully you have a lawyer who didn’t snatch up your case on a late Friday afternoon for a quick two grand to help him pay his rent. Hopefully you went to a lawyer who was referred to you by someone other than the bondsman who is getting a kick-back from the lawyer on the fee. (That’s illegal by the way, and if you really want to do an expose on the justice system, start with that block buster.)

And in the end, if it all goes wrong, then hopefully, like Scooter Libby you can just call your friend the President and get your sentence commuted.

But unless you have a friendship with the President to fall back on, then like millions of other people do every year, you will settle your case like Mr. Conway did, even if the Judge is an unfair, evil witch.

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

One day later than normal, we bring you our next in a series of reports on the contested judicial elections in Miami-Dade County. In Week One, we focused on the only contested County Court race of Lindsay v. Lesperance. Last week we switched our focus to the Circuit Court and the race of Cueto v. Velis. As we reported on May 2, 2008 on this blog, there are nine contested races here in Miami-Dade County; eight in the Circuit Court and one in the County Court. Today, we move to Group 18 of the Circuit Court.

Our goal will be to attempt to provide you with a weekly contest overview and then let you have at it and give us your opinions on why we should or should not vote for a certain candidate.

Group 18 is presently occupied by the retiring Judge Jon Gordon. Vying to replace him are Migna Sanchez-Llorens and Manny Segarra.


MIGNA SANCHEZ-LLORENS .....

"Migna" as she has come to be known on this blog has been here before. In 2006, she ran a hotly contested race against Judge Shelly Schwartz for the seat in Group 27 of the County Court. In a squeaker, Schwartz pulled in 71,057 (51%) votes to Migna’s 67,236 (49%).

Migna was not afraid to spend money in that 2006 race. In total, she spent $215,745 and $185,000 of it was her own money. She and her husband, (a partner at the silk stocking firm of Shutts & Bowen), have the bucks and Manny better be prepared to either raise lots of money or getting lots of exposure in other ways.

Migna graduated from NYU Law School and she has been a member of The Florida Bar for 13 years. Her entire legal career has been spent in public service, as an Assistant with both the Federal PD and the State PD. Prior to becoming an attorney, she spent nine years in the banking industry.

Migna has been very active in Domestic Violence (D.V.) issues. She serves on the Florida Coalition Against DV and the Miami Dade County D.V. Oversight Board.

You can read all about Migna on her web site at migna4judge.com.


MANNY SEGARRA ....

Manny Segarra has been a member of The Florida Bar for 7 years. He graduated from the Univ. Of Illinois Law School. Manny's entire legal carrer has been spent with the State Attorney’s Office. There, he distinguished himself in the DV Unit. For two years, he was the Division Chief of the County Court Domestic Crimes Unit. He also authored the Misdemeanor DV Unit Training Manuel for his office for three years.

Manny has only raised $2,600 as of the last reporting period and has thrown in another $8,550 of his own money. He readily admits that he will not be able to compete with Migna in the money category.

Manny has three "You Tube" style videos running on his website. Check them out at mannysegarra.com.

Manny does note that he has been endorsed by none other than the "Blue Parrot Bar"; (that may be enough to get Rumpole’s endorsement).

Please do your homework on the two candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.

The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

CAPTAIN OUT .........

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

THE SAGA OF JUDGE ALLEN

ANOTHER UPDATE:

Rumpole, would you please post the following for me? Dear Fromer Students of Swan,
As a fromer student and long time friend of Alan Swan, I will be speaking at his memorial service on Saturday (Plymouth Congregational Church in the Grove, 11:30am). If you have a good Professor Swan story, I would love to hear from you today or tomorrow.
Please feel free to respond to mbarzee(AT)jud11.flcourts.org
Thank you.
Mary Barzee Flores

Rumpole notes that (at) needs to be @ but we have to type it that way for complicated blogger reasons.

UPDATE: Broward Attorney Sean Conway and the Florida Bar (motto:"Speak your mind-lose your job") have agreed to resolve the bar complaint against Conway in which Conway wrote on the Broward Blog that Judge Aleman was "an evil unfair witch" (hereinafter "EUW"). Conway will accept a public reprimand.
The Sun Sentinel article is HERE

The
Wicken Society which is also upset with Conway for sullying their members by alleging that Aleman was an "EUW", has not yet commented on the resolution.

Sean Conway is one of the attorneys who founded the Broward Blog. It was a courageous act to pry open those dusty locked doors behind which the Broward County courthouse was run. Judges have lost their jobs because of the light shined on them by the Broward Blog. We support Mr. Conway and if he feels this settlement is in his best interest, then we wish him well.

Below is the link to the coverage of the JQC trial of 1st DCA Judge Michael Allen who finds himself the defendant because he wrote an appellate opinion criticising fellow 1st DCA Judge Charles Kahn. Khan did not disqualify himself from a case involving the appeal of the felony convictions of former Florida Senate President W.D Childers, and Allen wrote an opinion critical of Kahn's actions.

It seems clear that Khan, who had close political and personal ties to Childers should never have sat on the case. And somehow, although it was Khan who should have recused himself, and although it was Khan who had extra martial affairs with court personnel and lashed out at judges and court employees, it is Judge Allen who finds himself before the JQC.

Very odd. The coverage is
HERE

And to add insult to injury, it is none other than North of the Border Judge Paul Backman who is the chief judge of the JQC panel. This is admittedly a personal opinion, but we have never had a judge in Broward be more rude, condescending, and downright nasty to us and our clients than Judge Backman. And he's on the JQC!!!!

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.


This NY TIMES
article has been on our minds:
American corn, soybean, and rice farmers are struggling against a weather pattern that has the crops on the verge of failure. Australian wheat farmers are in the middle of their third year of a drought.

After three years of difficult harvests and a world food crisis that is beginning to take shape, things look bad as there is no more room for error: “If we have bad crops, it’s going to be a wild ride,” said the Agriculture Department’s chief economist, Joseph Glauber. “There’s just no cushion."

So now we have a food crisis and failing farms, piled on top of an economy in the tank with fuel prices approaching $4.50 a gallon. Things seem grim. The real possibility of a depression looms on the horizon. The real estate bubble has popped; tax revenues are down; government and private sectors are cutting jobs and the average American is finding it harder to afford fuel to commute to work. Now add a food shortage and a spike in food prices because of poor crops and the cost of fuel to get the food to the store and things start to look ugly. This is a downward spiral and we need real leadership to get us out of it.

As Sy Gaer used to say, "now you know why I drink."

See you in court, frowning with worry.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

PDS FIRED?

SOME TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES YESTERDAY. SORRY. WE'RE BACK UP AND RUNNING.

We received this comment:

Anonymous said...
Carlos and Bennett did it again. Instead of firing any of the old guard who mostly have no more passion for the work, make over 100k, and are already financially set for life, they fire the young attorneys making less than 50K who are just out trying to start a career. Those of us with inside contacts know exactly who was fired. And just because they all officially resigned does not mean that they weren't fired. When I was a new attorney, if I was given the option of resigning instead of being immediately terminated, I would have resigned every time. You have a future to think about and no one wants to start out a career getting fired from their first job.


Rumpole would like to know whether any assistant public defenders "resigned" last week. We edited the comment by leaving out a final line, containing an invective that made the observation that a certain substance "stinks" which was not, in fact, any new scientific discovery. Rather it repeated a well known fact.

The Broward Blog reprints this post from Bob Norman's article in the New Times on controversial Broward Circuit Court Judge (and accused "leaving the scene of an accident" driver) Ana Gardiner, who "suddenly" decided that rather than be chief administrative judge in criminal court, a stint as a regular ol' judge in civil court is just what she needed. She was apparently just following Judge Moreno's often quoted observation: "too many chiefs, not enough indians."

The article is HERE

Former Dade ASA Illona Holmes takes over Gardiner's slot.

Remember Rumpole's simple advice for Miami defense attorneys considering taking a case North of the Border: DON'T.
Just follow that simple rule, and your life will be much easier.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

BUDGET CUTS

The DBR reported yesterday, HERE
that the 11th Judicial Circuit fired 14 employees and eliminated 14 other jobs that were vacant to snip 1.6 million from the budget. The SAO and PDs office reported that they have also not filled vacant positions, although the comments section of the blog on Friday was rife with rumours that several people had been fired from the PDs office. We have no idea if that is true or not.

Meanwhile on Friday the stock market tanked 3% and oil futures reached a new high per barrel. This is the new reality folks.:
$4.00 + per gallon is here to stay.

When there is speculation in the oil commodities market that is responsible for driving the price higher, you will see a concomitant rise in production from oil producing nations to take advantage of the price hike. That has not occurred. Rather, the increase in demand from new consumers (Asian car owners and factories) and the recognition we are on the down slope of the production and supply curve (translation: we're gradually running out of oil) means that it only gets worse from here.

Time for us defense attorneys to trade in our Escalades for electric scooters.
This is the new world and we'd better start planning how to deal with it.

The International Energy Agency REPORTED
this week that the world needs to invest $45 trillion in energy in coming decades, build some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expand wind power in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.

45 trillion dollars! (or eleven more unfilled positions at the 11th Circuit, the PDs office and the SAO- if you include pension and health insurance)
It's enough to make us drink. And to that end, another margarita please...

See you in court Monday, shaking off that margarita hangover.

Friday, June 06, 2008

D DAY


UTAH. OMAHA. GOLD. SWORD. JUNO.

Hallowed ground.


It was so bad at Omaha beach it was referred to as “bloody Omaha.”

The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc. US Army Rangers who climbed cliffs straight into the teeth of blazing machine guns.

The PIRs of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, famous for being called The band Of Brothers, and their text book assault of
Brecourt Manor led by Lt. Dick Winters. To this day, the operation is taught and studied at military academies.

There would tough days ahead. The winter of 1944 would test our citizen soldiers like no other. But tyranny’s grip on Europe would be wrested away starting June 6, 1944.


In 1984, at Normandy, President Reagan gave his famous “Boys of Pointe Du Hoc” Speech:



Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge--and pray God we have not lost it--that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They thought--or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-Day: their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause.

And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.''
These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.
..


And these are the men we remember today.
“Thank you” just doesn’t seem to begin to express the debt we all owe.




Wednesday, June 04, 2008

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

Last week we began our nine week series covering the contested races for judge in Miami-Dade County. As we reported on May 2, 2008 on this blog, there are nine contested races here in Miami-Dade County; eight in the Circuit Court and one in the County Court. In last week's post, we analyzed the County Court contest of Lindsay vs. Lesperance. Today, we move into the Circuit Court arena.

Our goal will be to attempt to provide you with a weekly contest overview and then let you have at it and give us your opinions on why we should or should not vote for a certain candidate.

Today we look at the candidates in Group 11 of the Circuit Court. The candidates vying for this seat are Jorge Cueto and Josie Perez Velis. This seat is presently occupied by retiring Judge Eugene Fierro.

JORGE CUETO
.....

Attorney Jorge Cueto has already experienced two careers during his lifetime and he now seeks to experience a third one. For 16 years, he was a police officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department. For the past 15 years, he has been a member of The Florida Bar. He has been working at the State Attorney’s Office and was last assigned to the Public Corruption Unit.

The question Cueto will need to answer is, how much money can he raise or what amount of money is he willing to lend the campaign to beat an opponent who will not shy away from spending lots of money to try and get elected; (see below). As of the last reporting period, Cueto had raised only $4,450 from 10 contributors and loaned his campaign an additional $500.

An interesting note about Cueto; he can converse in six different languages. Cueto has been married for 30 years and he has three daughters.

You can read all about Jorge Cueto on his web site at jorgecuetoforjudge.com.

JOSIE PEREZ VELIS
.....

Josie Perez Velis, (or should I say Josefa) has been a member of The Florida Bar for 19 years. She is in private practice with her husband and she handles real property, probate and trust cases.

Josie clearly wants very badly to become a judge. You have to give her credit for not being a quitter.

In 2004, she ran for Circuit Court in Group 40 against three other candidates. In that election, she came in third to the eventual winner Judge William Thomas. In the September primary, the voters gave Thomas 30%, Catherine Parks 30%, Velis got 23% of the vote and Don Cohn garnered 17%. In that election, Josie raised only $3,270 from contributors. She loaned her campaign an additional $55,000 and she spent it all.

In 2006, she again ran for the Circuit Court. This time she filed in Group 25 against incumbent Judge Dennis Murphy. In an effort to win over the voters this time, Velis raised $14,570 from private contributors; and, she added an additional $330,000 of her own money. Despite that obscene amount, she lost to Murphy. The voters gave Murphy 79,810 votes (56%) and she received 62,275 votes (44%).

I have not located a web site for Velis’ campaign.

Please do your homework on the two candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.

The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

CAPTAIN OUT
.........

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

SAY IT AIN'T SO JOE (CARLOS & BENNETT)

Various media outlets are reporting that the Miami Dade Public Defenders Office has stopped accepting appointments for certain cases.

Rumpole wonders....Can they do that?

Here's the DBR article on State Court layoffs. DBR

For instance, the West Palm Beachers (motto "you don't belong here") have had to cut back on the dog sitters, and have reduced the number of magazine subscriptions to The Robb Report. In the number of court house masseuse's have been reduced by two.

Here's the DBR story on our new PD
To summarize: He's Cuban, gay, and a democrat, so he's not welcome almost anywhere. We applaud Mr. Martinez's courage for coming out of the closet- it's not easy to be a Cuban and an avowed Democrat in this town. For those of you getting ready to send us vicious emails, Mr. Martinez discusses his sexual orientation in the article, which is why we mention it here.

And here is Oh Susannah's article on the PD's saying NO to new cases: NO

See You In Court, very much not interested in having the PD's clients hire us.

Monday, June 02, 2008

MISHKIN II

We received this comment. It rightfully deserves posting on the front page:

Kenneth Weisman said...
I have been unable to discuss Stuart Mishkin's life and death without breaking down in tears (I cry as I type). I had the honour of working with Stuart for nearly 20 years. As a young lawyer it was Stuart who gave me my first job in the private sector. I learned business and ethics from both Stuart and Steven Golembe. Stuart had an uncanny ability to make any client feel comfortable and safe. He taught me to never get "involved" with our clients. He taught me how to earn. I learned our business "old school".


It was Stuart who told me the most important lesson of our craft-"your word is your bond..at the end of the day it is all you have". I treasure this lesson most. I frequently repeat this to my two sons. Stuart had his share of issues (which one of us doesn't?). He belonged to an old school of thinking which disavowed the value of therapists. Nevertheless, his view of death was one of acceptance. I kissed him every time I saw him in court (he hated this). I have lost a friend and mentor(again the tears). I am blessed to have been his friend.
Only love, Kenneth Weisman

DREAMING

The Broward Blog had a link to this ST. PETE TIMES article on the perfect judicial candidate. The writer was dreaming.

From the article:
To me, the perfect candidate to ascend to the bench would be a lawyer who has done time in both trenches, as prosecutor and public defender, good-guy avenger and perpetual underdog. (We need more judges who know what "underdog" feels like.)
My candidate would then have gone into private practice to hone skills in civil or family or some other useful law, gaining perspective and experience over at least a decade, hopefully more...


And certainly, we would hope no one would run for judge just because hanging out a shingle can be a tough go and, hey, the gig comes with a steady paycheck, benefits and a really nice parking space. We would hope.

Rumpole says: about that last paragraph...we would hope that newspaper writers refrain from writing while under the influence of ridiculous ideas grounded in fantasy. To be blunt, you can't spit in any courthouse in this state and not hit someone in black robe who couldn't make it in private practice. Period.

Not to say we don't have talented and dedicated judges, we do. Out of a population of billions, the world also had a Mother Teresa. It's just that saints and great judges appear with about the same frequency, and that pre-supposes you believe in them (saints and the existence of great judges.)

So perhaps and perchance this is the start of a good discussion.

Great Judges you have tried cases before.
We'll start with two:
Senior Federal Judge Jose Gonzalez. They don't come any better than him, and as Springsteen sings on his newest album (Terry's Song) "When they built you, brother, they turned dust into gold. When they built you, brother, they broke the mold."

And in our own REGJB (back when it was just called the Justice Building) Judge Cowart, who famously responded to most objections with "bless your soul" and then moved on about his business.

You won't find any better judges anywhere in the country, than those two. Which leaves a few hundred others on our list as good, fair, horrible, and "how in the world did you even pass the bar?"

Have at it.

See you in court, avoiding the glare from all the robed readers we just insulted.