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. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A TRAFFIC LAWYER SPEAKS

A lawyer who handles traffic DWLS cases sent us this email and requested we post it. Here it is. Well done. 


I am a traffic lawyer. About 40% of my cases are DUIs. About 40% are DWLS cases, and 20% are other infractions. 

Here are my concerns about the plan announced by the SAO and Judge Slom.

1) The traffic lawyers who handle about 80% of the DWLS cases were not consulted. With all due respect to the FACDL lawyers who met with Judge Slom, they do not handle a large amount of DWLS cases. One doesn't handle any of them. 

Why does this matter? For us it matters because we spend the money on advertising. We spend the money on staff to process the cases, calendar them, and keep in contact with the clients. And we spend the time to fix the licenses that are fixable.  Therefore, since we do a majority of work, we need to have our concerns and problems properly represented. In this plan, they were not. We did not have a seat at the table. 

2) Is the 60 day plan workable? Not it many cases. 

It is true a large percentage of cases involve paying a few tickets and getting a D-6.  60 days is doable on those cases. 

However, a certain percentage (probably 20-30 %) involves some time consuming work. Here's an example: A person with two DWLS priors gets arrested in Broward for DWLS and pleads at a jail arraignment calendar for time served to get out of jail. That gets them a 5 year revocation. As we all know Broward doesn't  give a damn about DWLS 5 year revocations (the more the merrier in their opinion) so now I have to work on the two Dade DWLS cases. I need to pull transcripts or audio files and get case files. I end up finding that the client was unrepresented on the other two cases and took withhold of adjudications, when one continuance and paying one ticket would have gotten them a license. Remember, most Judges still tell unrepresented clients that a withhold is NOT a conviction. 

I pull those two cases, file motions, and one Judge grants the motion. To their credit, most county court Judges and ASAs are sympathetic when I tell them that if the court grants this motion, I can clear the 5 year revocation and get them a license.  With the order signed,   I now  need to deal with the DMV and Tallahassee to update the person's driving record to reflect that one conviction has been removed. That takes two weeks minimum. 

The point is- this is how I earn a living.  And not only my living. But I employ several lawyers on a full or part time basis and 5-7 secretaries and support staff on a full or part time basis, some of them with benefits and health insurance. Is that a bad thing in these tough times? 

More importantly, this is how I help clients. And I am good at it.  I know this, because many of the felony lawyers reading this blog send me their DWLS cases. Under the new proposal, I will no longer be able to do this on many cases. 

3) The new proposal will in the end create more DWLS cases. More people will end up pleading guilty and the long term result will be that more licenses will be suspended and revoked. The SAO/Slom plan plants the seeds for more cases in a system already over burdened. 

4) Lets give credit where it is due. The SAO and the County Court Judges never had to agree to dismiss a case where the person gets a license. We acknowledge we have no right to this benefit. But that doesn't mean it is a bad thing. It was and is a good philosophy. It benefits everyone. The lawyers benefit  because it creates work for us and allows us to help clients  (rather than just holding their hand during a plea) and it benefits clients because it gets them back their license. 

5) What we want: To sit down with the SAO and Judge Slom and revise this plan.  What we pledge is to come to the table  acknowledging that Judge Slom and the SAO have a legitimate if not overriding interest in clearing the large backload of cases and making sure it does not occur again. 

In exchange for meeting the needs of the SAO and the Court system, we want a workable plan that gives us the time we need to do our job.  This rigid attitude of saying "60 days or bust" is neither workable nor fair, nor reflects the spirit of decades of cooperation that has existed in this county. 

In the comments section to yesterday's post, many lawyers noted Broward never dismisses a DWLS upon the client getting a valid license. 

Is that what we want? Do we really want to become Broward?  

Thanks for the Vine Rumpy. 

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Broward brings in business for us North of the Border lawyers.

Jonathan Davi said...

I cordially invite the entire Miami-Dade County legal community to a cocktail reception in support of Oscar Rodriguez – Fonts.
TONIGHT, Wednesday January 14, 2009, from 6pm to 8pm at Spirit del Art Gallery in Mary Brickell Village (next door to Rosa Mexicano on the first floor).

Oscar is a former PD, who was in the division I was in when I was an ASA.

Jonathan Davidoff

Anonymous said...

I work with a lot of clients who have child support suspensions on their driving record. Does that make any sense? Don't pay for your kid and we suspend you license? How is that related? But I digress.
The point is that many of these people depend on their license for that job that pays the child support. Many of these people are decent people who just fall behind. However, many of them do catch up. The problem is that even after they have, it sometimes takes 2-3 months before the bureacratic powers that be actually lift the suspension.

All this new policy will do is cost them even more money, run the risk of having them habitualized so they lose their license, or more importantly leave them jobless. Many employers will terminate even for a withold on a DWLS.
Oh, and how's a parent with a suspended license supposed to deal with picking up their kid for the week and getting them back and forth to school with a suspended license? Many non-custodial parents don't live in the same district as their child. Paying for transportation will just cost them more money and possibly cause them to fall behind on support, creating the vicious cycle to occur again.

real fake former judge said...

A lawyer who wrote a well written and thoughtful post. I almost fell out of my chair. Well done indeed.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%. The new system is stupid and will not help with the real problem, the budget crisis.

The other problem is that Judge Slom met with the SAO without consulting any of us, the poor schumcks that handle these cases.

Hey, Slom, why do you have so many ex parte meetings with the SAO and not invite the ticket lawyers, FACDL or the PD?

Maybe that is why you are hopelessly stuck in county court.

We the ticket lawyers are not happy at all with SAO or Slom right now.

Maybe the next Chief Judge will get us an Administrative County Judge who will ask us our opinion before he or she does something like this.

A Ticket Lawyer

Anonymous said...

I will not vote for anyone that Davidoff guy is supporting.

Is this blog really the right place to advertise judicial fundraisers?

Also, is not the election two years away? What is the rush?

Anonymous said...

It appeared that the problem started happening when a defendant asked for a continuance on a dwls case, and then the case disappeared for six months, thus creating this huge backlog. If the cases were set in a normal course, and if the defendant had a good license, dump the case, or if the defendant made good faith efforts, reasonably continue the case, I believe the backlog would have never occurred and this new setup would not have been necessary.

Hilda said...

Rumpole, your opinion is seen as a folly to some. Phooey to them!

When you arrive home I will bury your pudgy face in my bust and wrap my arms around you.

Im preparing you 'bangers and mash' as your meal and 'roly poly' for dessert.

Im off to bake the scones for afternoon tea time.

Be home by high tea.

Anonymous said...

why not try it this way? So as not to clog the dockets; why not give def.'s a set time period somewhere between 90 and180 days to get a good D.L. if they do then dismiss; If they don't let them plead to N.V.D.L.; so they don't have a problems with the DHSMV counting W/H's as convictions to determine H.T.O. status.

Fake Trialmaster said...

You poor, pathetic bottom feeders whining about minor offenses that no respectable attorney would even touch.

The Trialmaster spends his time defending clients charged with serious offenses, such as failing to post identifying marks on a commercial vehicle, fishing snook out of season, and, the biggie, catching undersized lobster!

Anonymous said...

That post at 4:13 pm must have been done by someone like Roy Black who charges 10 million dollars per case.

(No disrespect to the real Roy Black)

Hey, idiot. Someone has to represent those people and if they had real money, would they even have a suspended license for two upaid speeding tickets?

Who represents you when you get a ticket.... Roy Black?

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to just band together and set every single DWLS
for trial. Take no pleas.

Anonymous said...

The real problem does not rest with Judge Slom,the State,the P.D.but the legislator who refuse to adopt a policy to allow d.l.'s to be obtained.The vast majority of cases relate to expired licenses.Many of these people have complied with the law,but now when it it time for renewal they cannot do the same.Remember Obama,Edwards,Clinton and every other b.s politician running for office during the summer of 2007 spoke of the immigration issue and drivers licenses:it stopped the moment they showed up in South Florida!wonder Why?
Next,you may not agree,but a the laws are to be violated.Why should persons who violate the law multiple times be excused.The problem exists that people inj Miami Dade County are well aware of what they can get away with,especially with d.w.l.s.and thus they continue.Ask them,they know in the other counties they would receive a jail sentence.But then they continue.I do not blame the defense bar or traffic attorneys for doing their jobs;I would condemn them if they did not.But since when is a crime to be forgiven.A law violated in September,that of d.w.l.s. and coming to court with a valid d.l.in Dec.Great,the person got a license.One time give withhold,after that adj.and advise of habitualiztion etc.All should be advised of possible habitualiztion,for i.e.3 d.w.l.s. with adj.or withhold to 15 moving violation conviction.The law does not require it but at least one judge does advise everyone.The same goes for immigration consequences.
We talk that these are not serious cases but in fact they are.What if you were sdtruck,or one of your family members or friends were struck by a d.w.l.s.driver who also has no insurance.By the way at least one state attorney changed their mind after being struck by such a driver.
I could go on,but few will change their minds.Child suppoert suspensions are another concern and to some degree I agree that perhaps this statute should be changed and it could be done easily;with a suspension being place when the party refuses to do anything and does not even attempt to pay child support.We have to many people who refuse to take jobs for any reason(or at least not one where they receive pay stubs)and or do not wish to work for minimum wage when they qualification are nada.We must find a way to differentiate these groups.
The problem exist because of the government,both state and federal and the local mentality of Miami Dade County.We wxpwct it to be different here than the rest of the state,and it surely is.Not for the better,for the worse.
We must all learn to respect and have concern for others,not just ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Want to work something out with the SAO and Slom? Stop bashing them and start talking to them. All of this complaining will do nothing more than make them dig their heels in. At least a couple of you seem to get that.

The truth is that the Miami SAO and Slom have treated the defense bar fairly since Reno's time. Talk to them. This can be worked out.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

See, here is the problem. Only in a third world country like Miami-Dade county could this actually be a debatable issue. To all the hack attorneys out there, find another scheme to drain the court system all while making a couple bucks. You guys are sad...

Anonymous said...

You get PTD twice for marijuana now. Further, most Judges will give your client a WH even when they have multiple felony drug convictions. Anyone interested in opening up, "The Marijuana Clinic?" We could also call it, "The Cannabis Clinic" if you like. We probably wouldn't even have to advertise.

grosskopfk said...

This is how DWLS should be prosecuted.

1st Offense - knowingly or unknowingly, it's a civil traffic matter.

2nd Offense - Unknowingly, still a ticket, Knowingly, a second-degree misdemeanor.

3rd Offense - Adjudication and the county gets to seize the car.

This cuts the 1st timers a break and doesn't burden the criminal courts with their cases. And if people knew that their car could be seized by government for a 3rd DWLS, people would either take the bus or pay off those tickets. RIght now, DWLS is both an annoyance and time-consuming crime to prosecute, but it's also taken too lightly. We need a middle ground.

Anonymous said...

7:47 is on the right track.We do not take it seriously enough until nit affects us or someone we know.So his suggestion is good.But even more importantly we must try to figure a way to allow persons who are not terrorists to obtain drivers licenses:since 9/11 all are treated as such,and the screening process and time element do not work.Plans exist to allow many to get licenses,and to make sure of financial responsibility,but the legislautres have a deaf ear,so we all must suffer.

Anonymous said...

That Davidoff guy who claims he is a New Yorker needs to leave everyone here alone and disappear his large body. Anyone who he supports is someone we need to do everything possible to defeat. As an ASA it was his actions and demeanor that gives the office a scarlet letter.

Davi leave for everyone's sake....

Greg Prosmushkin said...

Greg
Traffic Ticket Lawyers have spent immense amounts of time