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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

I saw the most amazing and disturbing film Saturday afternoon. Football seems so insignificant.  The title of the post links to the review of the movie. 




I had been reading the reviews of the movie "The Boy In The Striped Pajamas"  and decided it wasn't for me. So I went to the mall and to be totally stupid, bought a ticket for Transporter 3. I walked by the movie "The Boy In The Striped Pajamas." My movie wasn't starting for ten minutes, so what the heck? I walked in and watched from the aisle.


 OK. I get it.  An 8 year old boy who is the son of an Officer in the SS moves with his parents to "the farm" that his father is in charge of.  He walks to the farm and sees an 8 year old boy sitting behind the barbed wire. Not for me. I get up and walk into Transporter 3. I sit there, hating myself for not being strong enough to watch the damn film, and what happens? The movie won't start. People are yelling, booing, and I realize this is not my crowd; this is not where I belong. 
 I get up and walk back into the Boy In the Striped Pajamas. 

This is the story of Bruno, whose father is an SS Officer, and Shumel, who is in a camp with his father who was a watchmaker. Bruno has been told that the camp  is a farm, and the people wearing clothes with numbers on them are playing a game. The barbed wire fence is to keep the animals in he is told. Bruno is not allowed near the farm, but of course his curiosity cannot keep him away.   Bruno is bored- he has no friends at home, and but for an older sister who is buying the Hitler Youth propaganda their tutor is feeding them, he has no one to play with. 

Bruno walks through the woods to the camp where he meets Shumel through the barbed wire and they become friends. Through the eyes of this eight year old, we watch him try and make sense of the camp/farm and his friend Shumel, who "luckily" gets to play the game. Bruno watches through the window one day when he father screens a propaganda film of the camp, complete with the cafeteria, concerts, and a walk of stones that show children happily playing on. Those stones are briefly shown again at the end of the movie, and it is indeed a haunting scene. 

This movie does not go the way one would think. There is no sudden realization by Bruno as to what is going on and there is no tearful parting scene as Bruno watches as Shumel gets led off to the gas chamber. No sappy concentration camp ending here.  But what does happen during the last twenty minutes becomes quickly evident as the final scene unfolds.  The ending is not a surprise, but it is spellbinding as the movie relentlessly marches towards what becomes  a forgone conclusion once a rubicon is crossed. 

And then the screen fades slowly to dark and the movie is over, and people in the theatre are just sitting there, exhausted, silently crying, shaken in a Shakespearean tragedy circa Germany 1940. 

I'll post some picks in the comments section if I can bring myself to think about football, but I wouldn't trust them. Not with the way I'm feeling right now. 

See You In Court Monday.

Holiday Madness

Good morning. It was 58 degrees at 5AM this morning and 60 degrees at 6AM. 

A Wal Mart temporary employee in Nassau County, NY, was trampled to death on Black Friday shortly after crowds pushed down the doors at 4:55 AM. Crowds had been lining up to get into the Wal Mart as early as 9Pm the night before. 

The title of the post links to the story. The last line is sure to be a boon for the wrongful death case: 

"Lieutenant Fleming said that the store “could have done more” to prevent the melee.

“I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it’s not,” he said. “This certainly was foreseeable.” "

Rumpole says: this is madness. Don't people have anything better to do than leave their Thanksgiving dinner to go stand in line at a store throughout the night just to get in a 5AM and get an extra 10% off some dopey gift? A man lost his life to this greed and excess. Enough is enough. 


Friday, November 28, 2008

BLACK FRIDAY

GOOD MORNING. It's 56 degrees in Miami at 6:00 AM. 

It's Black Friday. CNBC reports that there are lines around the block at Best Buys and Toys R Us in New Jersey and across the nation.

Query: If there are great deals today, and it is a slow shopping season, won't there be better deals next week and next month? 



Miami Super Lawyer Bill Matthewman sent to us his nomination for the Sgt. Schultz 
"I know NOTHING, I see NOTHNG" award. He nominated the DOJ attorney who told Judge Cooke that the section of the money laundering statute that exempted attorneys from being prosecuted had "no meaning" and that it did not apply to Ben Kuehne's prosecution for money laundering for accepting and approving  attorneys fees. 

This one is a no-brainer ( which is an apt phrase when speaking of DOJ laywers) and that prosecutor is the hands down winner this month. 

By the way, Bill's won a couple of big cases recently that we neglected to mention, including one North of the Border where in total contravention to their religion, the prosecutors nolle prossed the case the Friday before the trial. 


Dolphins Linebacker Joey Porter has apologized to his teammates and coach for not coming off the field at the end of last Sunday's Patriots game although coach Sparano ordered him off a few times. Isn't this the reason the Fins paid Porter 20 million? To fire up the team? 

We lost our under pick in the Lions debacle, but called it correct that the Eagles (pronounced "iggles" in certain parts of Western Pennsylvania) would bounce back and beat the Cardinals by more than 3. We finished the day down 5 (the vig) and head into the week 654 Turkeys in the black.

See You Monday, rested and ready to go.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!


Good morning. From 4 AM through 7 AM it was 59 degrees in Miami.

Then go here to Zo's Fund for life and help Miami Heat Star Alonzo Mourning raise $250,000.00 to Save Omar. Zo says there are about to million people in Miami. If 25,000 donate ten bucks, Omar gets the transplant he needs. Celebrate the holiday and take ten bucks from your Black Friday shopping fund (that's two large drinks at Starbucks) and help save Omar. 

Breaking Blog Thanksgiving Day News: The Federal Government says DONT WASH YOUR TURKEY BEFORE COOKING IT.  The title of the post links to the article. 
Based on our dealings with the government, we will be washing our turkey twice as much this year.  Remember, Rumpole says one of the three great lies in the world is: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."  The second is "the check is in the mail." And the third has to do with an act not fit for discussion on a family blog. 

We have a jam packed blog for you this Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy. 
Keep up with cook/writer  Kim Severson as he blogs through 24 hours of Thanksgiving preparation and cooking here. It's everything blogging should be.

We've got some new gadgets on the side bar. Enjoy. 

Rumpole saves Thanksgiving:
The stuffing's stuffed; the mashed potatoes are mashed. The sweet potato pie is sweet. You have a house full of guests and turn to your husband and ask when the turkey will be done. He replies that he doesn't know, "when did you put 
it in?" You gasp!   You both forgot to cook the turkey!!!! Relax. Go here and watch this NY Times video. Roast turkey in 45 minutes. No kidding. It involves removing the backbone and flattening it out to give it more roasting area. It works. Take a gander. 



We're Thankful for:

1) Having a winning season with our football picks.

2) The FACDL List serve does such a good job keeping us updated on legal questions and issues.  

3) For the new Judges coming to the Justice Building. We have some cases in front of some of the Judges who are leaving, and lets just say.....whew!!!!

4) That we are still anonymous. 

5)  That not all our appellate panels have former Justice Building Judges on them.

6) That we don't have ANY cases North of the Border. 

7) Actually we're really really happy some Judges are leaving. Lets just leave it at that. May they go to civil and try and pull the same crap they did in the REGJB so that come election time they get multiple opponents. 


There are three NFL games this Thanksgiving Day and we have an unusual opinion on one of the them. Just four days ago the Philadelphia Eagles were manhandled by the Baltimore Ravens. Eagle QB Donovan was so bad he was pulled from the game. 

The Eagles are three point favorites over the high flying Arizona Cardinals.  It wasn't that long ago that Rumpole was being laughed out of the Association of Football Touts for declaring that the Seahawks were history and the division belonged to Arizona.  So why are the Eagles favored? A few reasons. Their not as bad as they appear. Arizona is not as good on the road as they appear. And when a line seems to beg you to take the one team, be a contrarian and take the other This game should be even based on the Eagle's performance a few days ago. It's worth 50 turkeys on the Eagles -3. 

Speaking of the Seahawks, they play Dallas in Texas. The line is cowpokes -14. The over/under is 47. No pick here but take the under if you must. 

The Titans, they of a one game losing streak go to Detroit for the Lions annual Thanksgiving day game. The Lions are 12 point home dogs. The over under is 44. Under 44 for 50. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SEAN TAYLOR WAS KILLED ONE YEAR AGO TODAY

It's 61 degrees this morning in Miami. 

It's been one year since the tragic death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. The title links to the article.   I recall being in the courtroom for either the arraignment or one of the early hearings as all these attorneys from the West Coast of Florida descended upon our little building amidst the media coverage and thinking: "six months from now all these guys will be gone."  And I think I was correct;  most if not all of the defendants now have local counsel. I remember thinking that this is must what it feels like for local lawyers in some small town when half a dozen Miami lawyers come in on a big drug trafficking case. The feeling was not pleasant and gave me a better insight into how I am treated in other counties (Not including North of the Border, which always makes lawyers feel unpleasant) and other states.

Anyone have an inside update on the case before Judge Murphy? 

Our local federal blog had inside coverage of the motion to dismiss the money laundering count against Ben Kuehne that was heard by Judge Cooke yesterday. David Markus wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the NACDL supporting the motion to dismiss.  The highlight of the motion appeared to be when  the government lawyer, managing to keep a straight face,  told Judge Cooke that yes, section 1957(f) which contains an exception for lawyers fees in criminal money laundering statutes, has absolutely no meaning whatsoever and should be ignored my the court. 

If you think we wisecrack on the blog , you should see us in court, especially when a prosecutor says something so abysmally stupid as that. I would have wanted the court to inquire, "while we're on the subject" of any other laws enacted by congress that the Department Of Justice is actively asking courts to ignore?  Just for the record and all that. 

The Broward blog has a neat little post on Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting on a jury as a forewoman and signing the NOT GUILTY verdict form yesterday on a Felony possession of cannabis before outgoing Judge Dijols.  Congrats go out to defense attorney Faisal Afzal for a job well done. 


Quick financial tip: for those of you looking to get back into the market (and there are some great values out there) remember that starting the first week of December, people traditionally start selling stocks to take the financial loss for the tax year. And you can't throw a dart without hitting a stock that has a loss this year. So be careful and bide your time. I'll give you my buy signal when I see it. 

Anybody still in trial in the REGJB? Last day of the work week. We'll have something up tomorrow,  including football picks for Thursday and the weekend. Have a great holiday. 

See you in Whole Foods buying our organic turkey. 



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WSJ AND KUEHNE

The Wall Street Journal has closely covered the Ben Kuehne case.  The title of the post links to the article. 

Today is a travel day (for a case, not for the holidays)  so I will blog when the airport has a connection and I'm not sitting on a plane.  Anybody trying a case this week?

We used to say that walking into one particular Judge's courtroom was an affirmation of  Einstein's special relativity, because time in fact slowed down considerably.  You will remember that one of the consequences of special relativity is that the duration of  the time interval between two events can be different for individual observers. That Judge has since passed on,  so we refrain from mentioning his name. However, while we're on the subject of cosmology, here is an interesting article on dark matter.  Dark matter is NOT those items contained in the paragraphs of your client's federal Pre-Sentence Investigation report before the paragraph on the guidelines calculations.  Dark matter is that matter that is not visible that may make up a quarter of the universe.  The existence of dark matter has yet to be concretely proved, so this article is exciting.   (It's amazing the things one finds interesting in an airport at 5am). 

See You In Court as soon as I get home. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

BRRRRRrr

Dolphins lost, but Rumpole had a winning week courtesy of the leg and foot of the Colts kicker.

A cold front is coming  through Tuesday evening dropping temperatures for Turkey day into the high 40's. 

Three day week in the REGJB and yet a full slate of trials. Anyone going to trial? Should trials be set during holiday weeks like this? 

Here's a problem you don't want in space: problems with the urine conversion system. 

The Broward blog continues its excellent reporting  that despite the fact that Broward leads the state on sending first offenders to prison, crime is rising in Broward and falling in other counties. 

And finally, everyone's favourite federal blogger was in Hollywood hobnobbing with federal judges and showing off his new Blackberry to less than stellar results. 

See You In Court. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NFL WEEK ELEVEN

UPDATE: HEADING INTO SUNDAY NIGHT'S GAME we're going to be down 120, so like any good gambler we're going to try and get ahead on the next game. Colts +2.5 200 against the Chargers. 

Monday morning: Thank you Indy/Thank you Adam Vinateri.  We finish the week +80 and +659 for the year. 

45 years ago yesterday Camelot ended with the successful conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy.  The Commissioner of the NFL, Alvin Pete Rozelle called JFK Press Secretary Pierre Salinger who was on his was to Tokyo. Salinger told Rozelle he was sure Kennedy would not want the NFL games canceled. The games were played and Rozelle later said it was the biggest mistake he made as commissioner of the NFL. 

As to the conspiracy, beyond the findings of  the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations that Oswald did not act alone, there is the issue of the single bullet (magic bullet) theory. 

Warren Commission exhibit 399 is an almost pristine bullet. To believe Oswald acted alone, you have to believe only three shots were fired (for reasons having to do with the operation of Oswald's rifle, he only had time to fire three shots.). If only three shots were fired then CE 399 killed the president. However, this pristine bullet, which was coincidently found on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital, and for which there is no legal chain of custody,  is responsible for the following: 

CE399 passed through President Kennedy’s neck and Governor Connally’s chest and wrist and embedded itself in the Governor’s thigh. In doing so,  this bullet traversed 15 layers of clothing, 7 layers of skin, and approximately 15 inches of tissue, struck a necktie knot, removed 4 inches of rib, and shattered a radius bone. And barely had a mark on it when it was found.  
To use a technical legal term: No Way Jose. 

Anyway enough with the history lesson, and on with the games:

We limp in to the 10th week up 579 Penningtons, battered, bruised, but unbowed. 

The Bills go to KC giving the Chief's three points. The Bills are streaky, a bunch o wins, followed by a bunch o losses. Regression to the mean. The Bills bounce back -3 +100. 

Carolina Panthers go the Atlanta to play the surprising Falcons. The Falcons are the other Dolphins this year, posting a 6-4 record after a horrible previous season. But let's not forget the Falcons still have a rookie QB, and the Panthers have a good defense. We like Carolina at even for 200. 

The Dolphins are favored by 2 over The Patriots. Last year in November, did you ever think a year later the Dolphins and the Patriots would have the same record? Did you ever imagine that a year later the Fins would be playing in late November for a chance at a playoff spot?  Well done Bill (Big Tuna) Parcells. Well done indeed.  If there is any play here it is the under 42, but we're staying away. 

By the way folks, in this scenario- the Dolphins win and the J..E...T...S... lose to the undefeated Titans, your Miami Dolphins will have gone from WORST TO FIRST.!!! Not bad, not bad  at all. 

Go Fins. 



Friday, November 21, 2008

BENSON WEINTRAUB ON BEN KUEHNE

UPDATE:  A NATIONAL BLOG IS REPORTING THAT JUDGE COOKE HAS THE MOTION TO DISMISS IN KUEHNE'S CASE SET FOR NOVEMBER 25TH. THAT WOULD BE NEXT TUESDAY. CAN ANYONE CONFIRM THIS? OUR FAVOURITE FEDERAL BLOGGER WROTE AN AMICUS BRIEF FOR THE NACDL ON THE MOTION TO DISMISS


We received this as a comment and it bears repeating on the front of the blog. The following is from Benson Weintraub, and is reprinted in its entirety. 


Ben Kuehne Had No Motive Or Financial Incentive To Launder Money For Ochoa’s Attorney’s And Exclusive Beneficiaries, Especially Roy Black

By Benson Weintraub, Esquire, Fort Lauderdale February 14, 2008

Ben Kuehne was my law partner for 5+ years during the 1980'-1990's (Sonnett…Kuehne) and he mentored me since 1983 when I served as his 'associate' at the predecessor firm, Bierman, Sonnett, Shohat et. al.

I served as a full-time Visiting Professor of Law in 2005, after which I resumed private practice, now largely in the corporate compliance field (invariably circuitous to white collar criminal defense representation, particularly in the health care industry.).

Ben Kuehne is clearly a 'lawyer's lawyer' who instilled in me the highest appreciation of academic excellence in the practice of federal law. More critically, Ben sensitized me to the distinct ethical dilemmas presented institutionally to criminal defense counsel and ALWAYS taught me (AND CONTINUOUSLY REINFORCES THE NEED) to uphold and exceed our profession's highest ethical/legal standards.

Practicing criminal law in the federal courts places these dedicated, tenacious professionals in legal jeopardy merely by discharging their duties oaths, and obligations to the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution, coextensively with duties to the courts and clients.

Ben successfully represented me before the Magluta grand jury in which each of his primary attorneys' fees, including those of Roy Black and Marty Weinberg, were also scrutinized (Weinberg was later disqualified from representing Magluta at trial in 99-583-Cr-Seitz). I don't recall whether Richard Strafer, the appeals lawyer, was called to that grand jury, but he, too, was routinely involved in Magluta's representation on appellate matters. Parenthetically, as an academic expert in money laundering, I prudently consulted him regarding propriety of accepting legal fees pre-dating his involvement in the Magluta/Falcon case.

Black, again, came out unscathed while other lawyers, including myself, were named as unindicted coconspirators for disclosing, with 11th hour client consent, but otherwise prepared to go jail for contempt), a $50,000 check from a third party) or plead guilty to violating a restraining order against the transfer of assets by the defendants, while Black and Weinberg walked away with fees approaching $10 million. The Miami Herald estimated that the aggregation of attorney fees and litigation costs exceeded $26 million, not to mention more than $500,000 imputed to the juror(s) for allegedly being bribed in the first case resulting in their acquittal.

Weinberg and Black were summoned to the US Attorney or grand jury too. What, if any implications can one draw from BLACK AND WEINBERG’S immunity from the type of prosecution for which Kuehne is now charged? Did they cooperate then? Did they cooperate against their client, lawyers, or retained counsel now? Did they set up Kuehne to take ‘their’ fall?

From these experiences and the overlap of identity of lawyers in the Ochoa case, I simply don't understand, knowing that Ben is clearly the least avaricious attorney I know, and based on his uncompromomising adherance to the to the law and the highest ethical standards, that he would intentionally commit money laundering, all the more so because he was not the beneficiary and was compensated proportionally and appropriately for a significant foreign financial investigation.

Kuehne and his Columbian accountant and local assistants personally checked official public Colombian government and financial records [is it possible that the corrupt national and provincial governments in Colombia manipulated "official" public records on which BPK relied?] to make an informed, deliberated, unbiased and independent conclusion as a Certified Fraud Examiner and premier lawyer extraordinaire.

Kuehne had no interest vested in the outcome of his conclusions and was entirely detached from the defendant's actual representation. His investigative role was minor in relation to the private investigation undertaken for the accused by Black’s PI's; Kuehne's objective investigation was limited temporally by the sole question presented; and the attorneys providing the representation, unlike Kuehne, were the only parties with an interest, financial or otherwise, in a dispositive [independent] conclusion by Kuehne.

That Black and Weinberg emerged unscathed from the Magluta investigation and took away from that experience the need to be more meticulous in accepting fees of potentially suspect origin, and it's recurrence in the Ochoa case is commendable.

But The Herald’s article published Feb. 7-8, 2008 states: "Ironically, the investigation first focused on Black... [B]ut authorities dropped their interest in Black and shifted to Kuehne, who became the target because his buffer-like role insulated Ochoa's defense attorney [Black] from any criminal liability for accepting the fees." Miami Herald (Internet ed. 2/7/2008)(emphasis added). Jay Weaver’s observation in this respect speaks volumes in terms of motive/benefit and accurately capsulizes the essence of this tragic episode in Kuehne's otherwise unblemished career.

This makes no sense and suggests the unspoken implication of Kuehne's status as a 'sacrifical lamb' without the motive or financial interest common to other lawyers who were plainly significant beneficiaries of otherwise prudent fee-paying conduct now alleged by the government to have been criminalized.

Kuehne, if retained by the defendant's attorneys to be a "buffer" to "insulate[ ]" them (and hoping for a pro forma favorable conclusion, hired the wrong lawyer) and if true, Black’s conduct would itself be appalling.

Finally, what about the latest revelations that Kuehne's codefendant was an undercover cooperator--seeking to unsuccessfully set up Kuehne in return for 5K1.1 or Rule 35 in S.D.N.Y --- in a Justice Dept. reverse sting. Could this be the AG's US Attorney Scandal Redux or Bush's retribution for Kuene's tenacious representation, with the pre-eminenet lawyer, David Boies, Esq. in Al Gore's representation contesting grand theft of the 2000 election?

Ch ch ch changes.

Step right up and spin the wheel of Judges. 
Who's in?  Who's out? Who's about? 
Here it is:

IN: The Hon....
Mary Barzee
Yvonne Colodny
Jorge Cueto
Stacey Glick
Ivan Fernandez
Rob Pineiro
Sanchez-Llorens
Nushin Sayfie
Daryl Trawick
Sarah Zabel


OUT: The Hon...

Peter Adrien
Barbara Areces
Spencer Eig
Leonard Glick (goodbye Lenny)
M. K. Leban
Ellen Leesfield
Israel Reyes
Jon Schlesinger
Larry Schwartz
Will Thomas

David Miller was set to come to Criminal when he engineered some deal that sent him to family and Ivan Fernandez to criminal.  Will Fernandez break precedent and stay in our humble REGJB if he is elected Chief Judge? Stay tuned.  

 Rumor has it that it was wall to wall of the Miami legal elite in Coconut Grove last night for Ben Kuehne's fundraiser. You couldn't help but bump into a former Supreme Court Justice, or a former Bar President, or a legal legend like Albert Krieger.     

Short week coming up with the Thanksgiving Holiday. The Dolphins have a game in November that matters. The last time that happened the president's approval rating was in double digits. 

ps. Important practice tip: when your client  goes anywhere to ask for a 25 billion dollar handout because their broke, don't let them fly in the private jet.  Southwest works just fine. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

BEN KUEHNE FUND RAISER ON THURSDAY

Update: Tomorrow we will have the unofficial-official list of Judicial Rotation for the new year. We left the Ben Kuehne fundraiser up because it's a worthy cause and everyone should go tonight. 

Thursday Night Football: The Steelers are 10.5 point favorites over the Bengals. The Steelers beat up the Bengals in Cincinnati by more than 20 points earlier in the year. And yet the Bengals played the Eagles to a tie last week and the Eagles beat the Steelers earlier this year. What does that tell you? Nothing. We picked the Steelers twice this year and lost both bets. The O/U is  between 34-36 because of the weak Steeler Offense. The Steelers are due for an offensive breakout and the Bengals defense is nothing to be too afraid of. We'd leave this one alone. If you can get 34 take the over. For fun we'll say over 36 for 50. 

Beloved attorney Milton Ferrell has passed away. See below. 

A fund raiser for Miami Criminal defense lawyer Ben Kuehne, co-chaired by former Florida Supreme Court Justice (and former Miami Circuit Court Judge) Gerald Kogan and Miami super lawyer Bob Josefsberg will be held Thursday from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM in Coconut Grove at some establishment called
CHRISTABELLE"S QUARTER at 3157 Commodore Plaza.  
(click on the link for more info)

The suggested donation is $200.00, which is a mere pittance for those of you following our Sunday football picks (thanks to the over Monday night for bailing us out of a horrible week.)

 Ben is scheduled for trial in January, which will be a little more than a year from when he was indicted.  Ben has had to deal with this mess hanging over his head for a year. And when you read the indictment you come away thinking that the government's zealous overreaching actions could target anyone of us.  

Among the committee members helping sponsor and support this event are Albert Krieger,  Former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, Former Southern District US Attorney Kendall Coffey and Former Florida Bar Presidents Frank Angones and Hank Coxe. And of course, we would be remiss if we didn't also include everyone's favourite federal blogger, David Markus. 

This will be quite an event and it's for a very worthy cause. 

MILTON FERRELL.
Miami lost a "quiet giant" in the Miami legal community this week with the death of attorney Milton Ferrell.  Mr. Ferrell emerged from the Dade SAO to become a confident of , and counselor to, Potential Presidents and Potentates. Read the wonderful Herald coverage about this extraordinary gentleman here. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DEBATE 101

Somehow, right in the middle of reading case law, we saw this article on NFL playoffs. 

Faithful blog reader BTDT says in a comment that we have the greatest system of justice in the world.  

Rumpole responds: Hooey. This system stinks to high hell.  1) Capital punishment. 2) Capital punishment for the mentally ill. 3) A sentencing system totally out of wack driven by Hollywood fear mongering that stirs up moronic legislatures. Which  brings us to 4) Minimum Mandatory sentencing. Our system vests more power in the hands of a 25 year old prosecutor than the 55 year old judge she is prosecuting the case before.  5) Sentencing and "the trial tax". Sentences so out of wack that even experienced lawyers tell innocent clients to take a plea to avoid the judge imposing an outrageous sentence after trial. 6) How many innocent people exonerated from death row? Since 1973 there have been 130 people released from death row because of  proof that they were innocent. Read about it here. 
If the most important and closely scrutinized  cases-handled by the supposedly most experienced lawyers-produce so many wrongful convictions, how many other people not on death row are wasting away in prison serving decades for crimes they did not commit?  Ten thousand? Twenty thousand? There's over a million people incarcerated in the US- so 20,000 innocent people amounts to a 2% error rate. Intolerable.  Read about the 947 years campaign to see the horrific effects on wrongfully convicted people.

Anyway, that's our 10 cent synopsis with why we think this system stinks. 

But the debate is for you. 

Pro....Con....write in and have at it. Best comments get on the front page. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

NOT SO FAST

We often (and loudly) trumpet the overturning of convictions of the wrongfully convicted. In fact we seem to remember doing it in the case of Kareem Bellamy of New York.  Now comes word that the evidence used to free Mr. Bellamy (a tape of another individual confessing to the murder Mr. Bellamy had served 14 years for) may in fact be a fabrication. 

The Title of the post links to this disheartening story in the NY Times. 

WHO SAID " We are the red-headed, jug-eared, freckle-faced, buck toothed bastard stepchildren of the federal government?" 
Click here to find out.  Hint: it was not Chief Justice John Roberts.  

Where can a police officer rape  a woman and not go to prison?  Hint: Look about 24 miles to the north of our courthouse. 

Lets try the over 42 for 100 tonight to get back in the game after a difficult weekend in the NFL. 



Saturday, November 15, 2008

NFL WEEK NINE

Week nine sees us up a 1034 Farinas. Think about that. If you followed our advice dollar for dollar, you'd be up 1034. If you played ten dollars for every unit we wager, you'd be up $10,340.00. And don't even think about the dough you'd be rolling in if you played a C Note for every unit. You could take off the rest of the year and get that lodge in Aspen for January. 

Oh my goodness, the Monday Night match up is Buffalo at Cleveland. We've been waiting for this one for years. (Yawn). OK. On to the real games that mean something. 

The Fins are 10.5 favorites!! Last week we got lured into the hysteria and good feelings surrounding the 9 point favorites the Fins were over a woeful Seattle team. They barely won that game and we lost 50, so we're staying away from this one as well. The Fins should win, but they play conservatively, so who knows?

The Eagles travel to Cincinnati to play the woeful (there's that word again) Bengals. The Bengals are 9 point dogs at home. But lets look deeper. The Eagles know that the Cowpokes are playing the Redskins, and one of them has to lose. The Giants are playing the surprising Ravens, they of the best defense in the NFL.  All of this translates into o..p..p..o..r..t..u..n..i..t..y.. for the Eagles. And opportunity doesn't come knocking all that often during an NFL season. So we look for the Eagles to win and to pour it on. Eagles -9 for 150.

Staying in the NFC, the Cowpokes go to DC to play the Skins. the game is even, meaning you can take the Skins and not give any points. This game could go either way. With the return of Poke QB Romo, the play here is the over 43. +150.

The Colts go to Texas, soon to be home for the 43 President of the United States, to play the Texans. The over line is 50, and that is way too high with the Texans starting Miami reject Sage Rosenfels at QB .  Under 50 for 150.

The Bears play the Pack in Green Bay. The Pack played the Titans plenty tough last week, and lost a shootout to Minnesota the week before. They don't lose 3 in a row. Green Bay -3.5 + 100. 

It's supposed to be cool for the Sunday game. See you there with a sweater on. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

JUST ANOTHER DAY AT REGJB


We get to the Justice Building today and only one of three elevators are working. 

Of course we have to go to the ninth floor, which is pretty much shut down because of the budget cuts. One clerk -twenty four windows, no waiting. HA!

The J...E....T.....S  JETS JETS JETS play the Patsies tonight in New England for a Thursday night football game.   The Patsies are 3.5 favourites. We are rooting for the Jets, and we recommend the over 40 for 150 Favres. Our total wager will include 50 on the JETS +3.5, but we admit that is with our heart and not our head. 
J...E....T...S  FAVRE FAVRE FAVRE!!!!
Update- the game was way over and the Jets won for +200 for the night. We entered Thursday night +834, and head into the weekend over the thousand mark for the first time" +1034.


A quick dose of the law: Always view the ME report with skepticism: Here is the NY Times article about a NYC murder case that went kablooey (technical legal term; see Black's Law.) when the Prosecution and the ME admitted that the victim could have died of an overdose of drugs rather than by strangulation. 

Rumpole notes: We have very skilled MEs in Miami. But it is also a teaching facility, and many times the autopsy is done by a relatively new medical examiner. These rookies in the past have fallen to our artful cross examination, and the rule of thumb (in all areas of life) is not to trust something just because a doctor says it is so. 




Oh, here's something fun to cheer you up and get you in a party mood for the Dolphins game for the weekend:
There is a noxious brown poisonous cloud covering most of Asia. But don't tell your  Republican friends, because they will tell you it doesn't really exist. (Isn't it ironic that the satellites that take pictures of global warming were probably developed and paid for out of republican administration military budgets? Then when the satellites show the ice cap melting, the same people that supported the research and money for the satellites, now dispute the indisputable results.) 

For the rest of the thinking world that believes in science, here is the Times Article. Don't breathe in Asia. Other than that, it's a great place to visit. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CHIEF JUDGE NOW A TWO ROBE RACE

It's not exactly Obama versus McCain, but  Daily Business Review reporter Billy Shields  has an  article on the Ivan Fernandez versus Joel Brown race for Chief Honcho of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit (motto: "Moving into the 20th century slow and steady") . The title of the post links to the article. 

Joel Brown has been around it seems as long as McCain, while Fernandez is newer to bench, having served as a prosecutor and before that a Major in the City Of Miami Police Department. 

Fernandez is better known to us denizens of the REGJB, as both a prosecutor and his time on the criminal bench. He has the temperament and knowledge to do the job. 

Farina ascended to Chief Judge after a stint in the Justice Building, but while we have applauded his tenure as Chief Judge, he really didn't do a whole lot for the Criminal Courts other than his miserable failure in trying to institute some cockamamie system of preparing cases for trial. Remember that? You had to file these stupid reports and there was a Friday afternoon "Time out" calendar for lawyers who didn't cooperate. After a few weeks, and probably a million bucks in consultant fees, we Miami lawyers sent that consultant and his stupid system packing. No one is going to tell us how to prepare for trial, that's for sure. 

Joel Brown is less well known to criminal court attorneys, but as an administrative Judge for the Family division,  he has the experience to smoothly take over and handle that dreaded 3AM call so familiar to Chief Judges:

Ring ring.  Farina: " Chief Judge here.....He did what? Again!! They're still in court at  2:45 in the morning? And he's telling the jury they can't go home until they get a verdict? Ok. I'll handle it."

So is it experience or change?  Fernandez or Brown.  Yawn.  Our time is better spent preparing for the the Dolphins/Raider matchup this weekend. 

See You In Court, no matter who is the Judge, we still have to try the cases. 

PS. Just in case you thought this was a dull town,  everyone's favourite  vice presidential candidate and geography expert is in town for the Republican Governors Convention (motto: "Oww, that hurt!")   Yup, Sarah Palin freshly clothed in RNC threads, will be in Miami, shaking an angry fist towards Cuba ("No governor, the other way, south, not north") and lobbying to be the new fresh face of the rebuilt Republican Party.  Here is the article. 

You betcha!

We've said this before: please please please make Palin the head of the Republican Party. Please hand deliver her the Republican Nomination in 2012.  She makes Dan Quayle look like Dwight Eisenhower. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

ISNT THIS A NICE PICTURE ?



Full of hope and promise of better things to come. 

Lets hope Arizona wins MNF tonight by more than ten over the confused and fading San Fran Forty Niners. Even Mile Singletary yelling and mooning his team isn't enough for that woeful bunch o-niners.  Lets hope 100 Bushes that we are right. 

VP "WACK JOB"

Just how dysfunctional would a McCain presidency have been with a "wack job" for a VP
Click the title to this post  to find out. 

The term "wack job" came from McCain campaign officials, and the article details an out of control   candidate spending 150K on clothes when she was given a budget of 20-25 thousand.  McCain campaign officials were frustrated that Palin "did not have the bandwidth" to digest foreign policy briefings in advance of her disasterous interview with Katie Couric of CBS. 

The frustration of McCain's staff came to a head in the final days when Palin's staff scheduled and then took a phone from a person the Palin staff believed was the President of France, but was in fact  a pair of well known Canadian comedians, one of whom  impersonated the President of France. Palin continued talking with the person even though he began to make more and more personal and inappropriate comments. The phone call ended with Palin agreeing she could be president "Maybe in eight years". 

This Fox News Report on Youtube asserts that during a briefing Palin "did not understand that Africa" was a continent and got into an argument with the briefers during which Palin continually asserted Africa was a country. 

Palin has fought back, giving an interview in Alaska stating "those guys...are jerks" referring to the unnamed sources in the McCain campaign who were criticising her. 

Palin is and always will be the poster child for the Republican party's religious right. She embraces the idea that having a mediocre intellect and no experience is just what America needs in its leaders. Karl Rove knew that a significant portion of the electorate, perhaps 20 percent, felt comforted in a candidate that seems to be, to put it bluntly, just as stupid as they are.  Rove dumbed down politics and now it is up to Obama and his team to show that being smart, experienced and prepared does not mean being rude and condescending. 

We once applauded a president who quoted poetry. (Kennedy.) We used to elect Presidents who were Presidents of Colleges (Woodrow Wilson-Princeton University) or were nuclear engineers (Carter). 

Then Rove tapped into an undercurrent in American society that was working class poor and un-educated.  Rove knew they would rather vote for a tough talking Texan who made split decisions based on his "feelins" rather than an experienced and educated policy wonk (Gore). The fact that Gore went on to win a Nobel Prize while Bush leaves office with the country in tatters and with a  historically low 25% approval rating only goes to show that people get what they vote for.  

Obama represents a repudiation of the dumbing down of America.  Here is Nicholas Krtistof's Op Ed Piece on Obama and the war on brains.

Kristof wrote:
Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either...
As for President Bush, he adopted anti-intellectualism as administration policy, repeatedly rejecting expertise (from Middle East experts, climate scientists and reproductive health specialists). Mr. Bush is smart in the sense of remembering facts and faces, yet I can’t think of anybody I’ve ever interviewed who appeared so uninterested in ideas.

Rumpole says, it may not be "morning in America again, but at least class is in session."

Won our three main picks yesterday for  +400 but lost 55 on our Dolphins pick, which was just for fun because we were at the game. Total for the week +345/total for the year +944.
Weird week with court's closed Tuesday. See you in court talking about those Fins with a winning record. 


Saturday, November 08, 2008

NFL WEEK TEN

We start week 10 up 599 Obamas,  which is good but not great after losing two of three picks last week. 

The Dolphins are -9 at home. -9! The last time the Fins were favored by so many points we were doing polling for....well never mind about that for now, but -9 is quite a compliment to the revitalized Dolphins. And while every pre-season poll had the Seahawks running away with the division, who told you before one down was played that the Hawks were way overrated and were not going to make the playoffs? Ahemm...just you favourite footballin blogger, thats who. 

We think 9 points is too much. But as we will be sitting in our luxury suite cheering them on, lets put 50 Joe Bidens on the Fins just for the fun of it.  (update- nice game but I knew 9 was way too much the way the Fins play conservative on offense. -55 for this one.)

It's slim pickings this week but we like the OVER 43  in the Giants/Eagles game. +75 over 43. 

The Game of the week is Green Bay at the Vikings. The Vikes at home are -2 and that's enough for us to back the Pack. Green Bay +2 +150. (win +150 although the Pack lost by one. Tough loss. They played well enough to win.)

Is there any team  more disappointing than the Oakland Raiders?  They are at home today and that shouldn't make a difference as we roll with the Carolina Panthers -8.5 +175   (late news: Jamarcus Russell is out, so we increased out bet.) (WIN! although it took a late field goal. +175).

Just in case you want to think about work today, here is the NY Times article on PD offices across the nation stopping taking cases.  The Miami PDs office is highlighted. 


Friday, November 07, 2008

ALL RISE

The Honorable Judge Kevin Emas,  who was this close to being our next Justice Of the Florida Supreme Court has taken the time to write in in support of Judicial Conferences. This was emailed to us and printed in it's entirety. 


1. Can’t We Cancel a Conference and Save Some Jobs?

The monies used to fund judicial education cannot be used to pay salaries. While the loss of jobs and reduction of the workforce within the judicial system continues to be of great concern to us, canceling a judicial conference would not translate into saving jobs. You may recall that when the budget crisis first emerged, many judges offered to reduce their own salaries or take furloughs in an effort to save people’s jobs. However, this could not be done under the budgetary scheme. The same is true for judicial conferences. The money devoted to judicial education cannot simply be transferred to another budget line to be used for staff positions. This does not mean that the judiciary is not considering ways to more effectively manage judicial education. To the contrary, the County and Circuit Court Conferences, the Supreme Court, the Office of State Courts Administrator and the Florida Court Educational Council (the governing body of judicial education) are actively pursuing alternatives to provide judicial education in a more cost-effective way, including distance learning and webcams.

2. What Exactly is Judicial Education?

Let’s look at Florida judicial education. Judges are required to attend a minimum of 30 hours of continuing judicial education during a three-year reporting period. The most effective way to accomplish this has traditionally been by attending educational conferences. Florida has one of the most highly-regarded judicial education programs in the country, and has become a model for many states. Most states require their judges to attend out-of-state, national programs for their judicial education, at a much higher cost to the state.

Our current education program includes the following:

Florida Judicial College (sometimes called “new judges’ college”): Mandatory course for newly-elected and newly-appointed judges, one week in January (before they take the bench) and a second week in March.

Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies (AJS): A one-week college (currently offered in May each year) that provides intensive training and continuing education in specific areas of the law (e.g., advanced evidence, sentencing issues, legal writing and judicial philosophy, child support and alimony, case management techniques, search and seizure). The courses offered at AJS are primarily advanced courses for more experienced judges, but there are some basic courses offered in all areas (i.e., criminal, civil, family, juvenile). Additionally, this conference includes a 4½ day Handling Capital Cases course which judges must complete before they can preside over a capital case. You will recall that we canceled AJS this year when the budget crisis led to drastic cuts and created uncertainty about future budgeting. As a result, many judges throughout the State will have to wait until 2009 before they can become certified to preside over a capital case.

Education and Business Conferences: Both the Circuit and County Judges in Florida may currently attend two conferences per year (three days each), during which they can attend “tracks” of civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate courses. Many of these courses are designed as “basic” or “fundamental” courses for new judges or for judges who are rotating into new divisions where they may have little or no background. Other courses are intermediate or advanced, and still others are “update” courses designed to alert judges to changes in the law or new and emerging trends. In addition, Conference business is conducted during the Conferences (committee meetings, election of officers, planning and preparing education courses to be presented the following year, etc.). We are considering whether two conferences per year are necessary given the current economic conditions. 
The annual business conference (summer conference) is required by statute and is paid for through state trust funds.


3. Who Teaches These Courses and How Are They Paid?

Note that most of the courses taught at the Conferences are designed and taught exclusively by judges, who do so without any additional compensation. We plan the programming, train the judges who serve as faculty, research and prepare the written materials and present the course. Anyone who has ever taught a course knows the amount of time, energy and effort that goes into the planning, preparation and presentation of just one course. The average judicial conference offers 25 to 30 different courses for judges to attend. This is a massive undertaking and those who participate in judicial education do so because they know the important role continuing education plays in maintaining confidence in our system of justice.

4. What’s in it for Us Lawyers?

You can’t have it both ways: You want judges who are well-trained, well-educated, who stay current on changes in the law and trends, able to effectively manage burgeoning caseloads, to seamlessly rotate from civil to criminal, from juvenile to family, to understand and apply difficult and often novel legal principles and theories. No judge can know every aspect of the law in the different divisions of the courts. Effective continuing judicial education is a vital component to a sound judiciary. The better trained and educated each judge is, the more confidence you (and the public) will have in the decisions that judge makes.

For those who say: Why can’t you just watch a video? Ask yourself honestly, which is the more effective delivery system for continuing education—watching a video or attending a live conference, where you can speak with the presenter, with other attendees, participate in discussions and breakout groups, ask questions, and clarify issues? This is not to say that videotaped presentations, webcams, videconferencing and other long-distance delivery systems cannot be utilized effectively, depending on a number of factors, including the subject matter, number and location of attendees, available technology, need for interactive discussion, etc. These alternative formats are already being used on a limited basis and likely will see expanded use in the future. But I think we must fairly acknowledge they should not be relied upon to the exclusion of the unique benefits gained at an education conference.


5. OK, But What About Those Luxury Resorts?

In December the Circuit Court Conference will be held at the Downtown Hyatt in Jacksonville. I’m sure it is a nice hotel. I’m not sure I would characterize it as a luxury resort. But that aside, it is true that past conferences have been held at some very nice hotels throughout Florida. However, where we hold our conferences is dictated in large part by two things: a) negotiating a state rate for rooms (currently our contracts with hotels are negotiated at approximately $110 per night for each room); and b) finding a hotel with facilities to hold 700-800 people. To the extent we do have conferences at places which some label as “resorts” it is done within budget, and with the understanding that we must make the conference location attractive enough to convince judges to attend.

No one would deny that there is a social aspect to judicial conferences. Judges are people too (well most of us anyway), and most judges work very hard every day. The conference should provide an opportunity to meet and greet, to get to know their brethren from across the state and to exchange ideas and thoughts about what we do and how we do it, in an effort to improve our system. We also conduct business at the conferences, including election of officers, holding committee meetings, planning future education conferences, approval of the budget, and discussion of pending and impending issues of interest to the entire Conference membership.

The planning of our conferences does not simply happen overnight. Sites are chosen, dates are selected and contracts are negotiated two years in advance. Education programming is discussed and planned and faculty is selected and committed. Time, money and energies are devoted throughout the two-year period to ensure a successful conference. It is not a simple task to simply “cancel” these conferences. Canceling a contract with a hotel weeks or months before the conference can have significant implications financially and in terms of future negotiations with the hotel. We must be especially sensitive to these issues given the already small universe of locations that can accommodate a Conference of our size and at our rate.

4. Conclusion

The judiciary understands that the money we spend on judicial education comes from public coffers. We have not spent it frivolously and will not do so in the future. In these difficult economic times, we are exploring every reasonable method of belt-tightening. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor are we suggesting that no changes should be implemented. But please know that we are continuing to ask the difficult questions of ourselves and of our Conferences in search of the most fiscally sound manner to continue delivering high-quality education to our judiciary.