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, February 04, 2009

ABRAMSON LOSES IN SUPREME COURT

Many of you have followed with bemusement the predicament of West Palm Beach "Circuit Judge" Stuart Abramson, who upon being elected, was promptly suspended by the Florida Bar for 91 days. 

To be a judge and not be able to practice law, or not be a judge, that is the question, that hung Hamlet like over our dear Thane Governor as he pondered "what to do ...what to do?"  now that it is clear he will not be vice president. 

The title of the post links to the Florida Supreme Court's decision today, which, shockingly, relies more upon "common sense" than the letter of the law. That is because Article V, section 8 of the Florida Constitution  states in part that a Judge must be "a member of the Bar of Florida". It does not say anything about being "a member in good standing."   More unfortunate  is Florida Bar Rule 3-5.1(e) which states that a suspended lawyer is still a member of the Bar. 

Therefore, ipso facto and "holy Crist,Batman" it appears that suspended lawyers can be judges.  And as we've often said, we've met more judges who couldn't practice law if their mortgages depended on it, then lawyers who should be judges. 

But here comes the Florida Supremes to the rescue, injecting a good old dose of common sense,  and holding that when Article V section 8 says "a member of the Bar" what the legislature really meant to say, and ought to have said, was "a member of the bar who can practice law." 

So much for the Republican-conservative judicial philosophy of  strict interpretation and plain meaning of the statute.  That only applies when taking away food vouchers from hungry children, and keeping guns readily accessible for all.  When their ox is gored, conservative judges will run to the "this is the right thing to do no matter what the law says" just as much as a liberal judge. As we've seen, it just depends on whose ox is gored. 

And with that lesson in constitutional interpretation behind us, we are left with this question: does Abramson get paid? Because if he does, can you imagine, getting a judge's salary for doing nothing? 

Umm...wait a second. After further reflection, that somehow does not seem to be as hard to envision as we first thought. 

See you in court. 

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just checking to see if this is correct. The FSCt rules he cannot be a judge, Crist never signed his commission papers, therefore he will not and never has held the office. Then you end with will he get paid. Paid for what? Based on those facts, if correct, he never was a judge. Rump are you back to the bottle? The end of your post makes no sense. Is there something missing to this?

Rumpole said...

He was ELECTED as a Judge. he may not be sworn in, but isn't there some constitutional crisis about not paying an officer of the judicial branch.

Actually, I thought my post was pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

Your humor doesn't seem to ever disappoint. If your comment about pay was a joke, I guess I ducked and missed it. My bad. If you were really questioning the pay issue, it seems to be a no brainer.

Maybe I'm the one who was sipping the Chateau something-or-other.

Rumpole said...

Apology accepted, but not needed. I thought the last line of the post, which was clearly a shot about judges on the bench who I don't think are working hard made that clear:

"Umm...wait a second. After further reflection, that somehow does not seem to be as hard to envision as we first thought."

batman said...

Never us the the Bat's name in vane.

Anonymous said...

What law is the Supreme Court not strictly interpreting? The Florida Bar RULE. Since when is did that become a law? Nice try, Rump. Your true colors shine through.

Cindy

Grey Tesh said...

You nailed it once again. The strict constructionists are "results oriented" when it suits their purposes. His name is William "Bill" Abramson. Is Stuart his middle name or just a misprint?

I'm sure Bill has already started doing community service hours to get back in favor with the bar. Judge Peter Blanc (I heard soon to be chief judge of palm beach county) had good things to say about Bill recently in a Sun Sentinel article. They went to the judge's charm school in Tallahassee together. Bill will be back. It's just going to take some time. Just thankful that Wennet is gone.

Anonymous said...

Oh, your last line as a shot to actual, real judges was clear. (Sounds like a topic for a post to come) The dots to the previous question just weren't connected. I can do crossword puzzles though.

Rumpole said...

Cindy my dear Cindy. Let's stat with the Florida Constitution. Is that a law, or just a...um..governing document. Never mind.

If I understand what you're saying, strict interpretation as defined by conservatives applies only to "laws" i.e, statutes passed by the legislature. And everything else- constitutions, regulations, rules, ect, are not subject to strict construction.

My true colours? Outing hypocrisy wherever I see it.

Anonymous said...

Rumpy, you sanctimoniuos, smug, cynical fuzzball (I mean that in the best way possible). Article V, sec 8 of the Florida constitution indicates that, "No person is eligible for the office of circuit judge unless the person is, and has been for the preceding five years, a member of the bar of Florida." It is not unreasonable to interpret that to mean that the lawyer be able to practice law. A suspended lawyer can not practice law. The Bar rule, which is not binding authority for the Supreme Court, says a suspended lawyer is a member of the bar. I know you're a little slow but I don't mind spoonfeeding you.

Cindy

Anonymous said...

Rump:

The judges vote on a new chief at noon today. Joel Brown, Ivan Fernandez and Gerald Bagley are the choices. So, has the smoke been released from the chimney at West Flagler Street signifying the election of our new Pope?

Just Wonderin'

CAPTAIN said...

The Captain Reports:

North of the Border ....

First it was a Chief Judge, and now they're after the Court Administrator.

It was a couple of years ago when the Broward Blog helped to bring down Dale Ross, the Chief Judge of the 17th.

Now they are after Carol Ortman, the 17th's Ct Administrator for about the past 100 years or so.

Clock is ticking ...

Cap Out ...

Anonymous said...

So does that mean the guy can not become the judge in that slot when he is readmitted?

If you read what that guy did in court, you would never think he is qualified to be a judge. He went crazy and did what we all want to do but, know we can never do.

He insulted the judge, called him names and went crazy.

Then, he ran against the judge, beat him and got denied his office becuase they suspended him for a period of time (91 days) that requires him to be readmitted first. The magic number is 90 days... after that you have to be readmitted.

If he had delayed the bar complaint resolution, he would have become a judge and then been suspended for a while.

What a mess HE created. What a nut job he must be.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, but if he only has a 91 day suspension, and is eligible to be reinstated after that, then why can't he be sworn in after that date?
Shouldn't his commission take effect after the suspension is over?

Anonymous said...

Because its only automatic reinstate on 90 days or less. 91 or over you have to go through a readmission process that can take around 2 yrs.