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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

JUSTICE FOR TED STEVENS

THE RETIREMENT OF LAESER, GILBERT AND WAKSMAN CONTINUED:

There are wonderful comments in yesterday's post about the retirement of Messrs. Lseser, Waksman, and Gilbert.  We're glad to see some newer ASAs are reading the blog. And we appreciate that many of our readers echo our sentiment that the SAO is just not losing top notch trial attorneys, but also the best teachers for the young lawyers that pass through the office. 

In the front page of the local section of the Herald today is the horrible and tragic case of the man who allegedly drove impaired and struck a car killing three children and their mother. David Gilbert is representing the state. As a citizen of Miami,  we feel secure that this case is in the right hands. Mr. Gilbert is experienced, and this is his forte. If justice is to be done in this case, Mr. Gilbert gives the SAO the best chance to see that it is done. 

Can you imagine for a moment the backlash, and outcry  that would occur is this case was mishandled by a less experienced prosecutor  and the prosecution was compromised?  We will admit that one of  the most significant factors in our success in court is the experience or inexperience of the prosecutor we face.  

TED STEVENS. 

Former Alaska senator Ted Stevens was known as one of the most powerful and one of the most disagreeable  senators in Washington. For decades he secured billions of extra dollars in appropriations for Alaska while bullying staff members and others. When he was indicted and later convicted and then defeated in his bid for re-election, we thought that he had finally paid his price for his hubris. 

But then we read an article in the WSJ yesterday (the title of the post links to the article) and we remembered why people are presumed innocent and why even the most despised among us need vigorous representation when accused of a crime. 

To summarize: 

The prosecutorial team that secured the conviction has been removed by the Justice Department.  The trial judge held the trial prosecutors in contempt in January 2009 for ignoring his order to turn over discovery related to a complaint filed by an FBI agent assigned to the case. 

The FBI complaint was made by one of the two lead agents assigned to the case. The complaint alleged that  the other lead agent- FBI agent Mary Beth Kepner had an "unspecified inappropriate relationship" with the prosecution's star witness-  Bill Allen. Allen was the Alaska contractor who was originally investigated and "flipped" against Stevens. 

From the article:

During the trial, Judge Sullivan had also admonished the prosecution for failing to share documents with the defense and redacting exculpatory passages from witness transcripts.


Like many of our fellow defense  attorneys in the Southern District, we thought "the government is not turning over discovery as required and is hiding exculpatory material. So what else is new?  Dog bites man rarely makes a headline (although when a chimp does it, watch out!).


Love him or hate him, there are serious concerns about how the Justice Department treated Senator Stevens and whether he received a fair trial. 

Enjoy the weekend. 


33 comments:

A judge and his monkey said...

Rumpole, with the tragic news regarding the attack of the chimp on the woman this week, I'm surprised you didn't remember the well known Justice Building story of former Judge Jon Colby.
Growing up, Jon had a beloved monkey named "Miko". Where ever Jon went, he had his monkey with him.

Jon was traumatized when one day when he took Miko sailing in his dingy, Miko hopped over board to splash on a sandbar in Biscayne Bay and was attacked by a rogue hammerhead shark.

Jon was never the same, and never went on the water again. As a Judge he kept a small stuffed Monkey on his desk. He would never tell anyone what it symbolized, but those who knew him growing up knew that Miko was never far from his heart.

former ASA said...

The Colby story is 100% true. I was an ASA in front of him in County Court in the 90's and he had that stupid stuffed toy monkey on his desk and no one was allowed to touch it or mention it. Plus he really didn't like sharks.

Anonymous said...

Dear assholes at the clerks office....

...get your shit together and get your website working on the weekends...I have case information to run!

Anonymous said...

laser, waxman and gilbert are examples of the "Peter Principle. Waxsman failed in private practice and came back to the SAO begging for a job. Gilbert is a life long loser who cannot try a close case. The Abed one while sound, similarly cannot bond with jurors. His cases are all locks with overwhelming evidence, confessions ect.None of them will be successfuly if they attempt to practice.

Scott Saul said...

Hey, 11:23 a.m.,

anonymous "tough guy"

your a loser

Anonymous said...

Dear 11:23,

You are a moron, sir. These three men are examples of what it means to be public servants for those who come after them. Abe has been one of the finest prosecutors and educators of young attorneys in the country for a couple of decades.
I cannot comment on David Waxman from personal knowledge, but many prosecutors and police officers who have earned my lasting respect have told me that he was an excellent prosecutor and fine mentor. David Gilbert is a national authority on DUI, and, I can personally attest, a great teacher. I have seen him make the complex accessible and show how the seemingly simple can have hidden complexities.
Their passing from the scene should be lamented, and their service should be celebrated.
I have heard that they are all in the Drop Program, and in the best of times they would be hired back after thirty days. However, these are not normal times and damn sure not the best. New hires have had offers rescinded following the idiotic shortsightedness of our legislature (Are you listening Victor Crist?). So, budgets have to be scrutinized and difficult positions taken.
Any of them would make fine teachers in our area law schools, or perhaps they may choose to write about their experiences and help new attorneys in that way.
It sounds as though some are complaining about KFR because she can't stop the march of time.
These men have trained other lawyers, and now it is time for the new to step up. To use the baseball metaphor Abe employed in the New Times article, we have some good young talent in AAA and it's time to make the big league club a little younger.

Rumpole said...

I guess the best reason to post stupid comments is that they generate thoughtful responses. Thanks guys.

Anonymous said...

these guys are the opposite of the type of attys who hold over at the dade pd's office. weed is a hold over, makes 235k per year and has no mind or talent. then of course we see bennett hired on as a consultant in his 45 year. but those old timers at the pd's office are loyal and i guess that is something.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, please correct the record. The "monkey" story is completely not true. these are unverified and uncorroborated. this hammerhead story eating the monkey would have made the herald and i never saw that story....

Anonymous said...

1123 you are right they would fail as defense attorneys in this town. they would fail because they have too much integrity to pay kickbacks too bail bondsmen, have runnners at the jail, and lie and tell people that if they dont pay them 10k for a pti case they will go to jail for 10 years.

FYI retard waksman left and went to do PI work and hated it and came back so quickly that he couldnt have said to have failed

sao historian said...

David Waksman left for a cup of coffee with a civil firm sometime in the mid to late 80's. he was back within a few weeks or months and it is astounding to me that you all would comment on that much less remember it. It was no big deal.

Anonymous said...

11:23............you are clueless. Get a life.

These guys busted their butts prosecuting for decades and a fraction of what they could've made in private practice (Waksy is 100 times the lawyer that most civil attorneys are........he didn't "make it" because he hated it). They've made tremendous sacrifices for the good of our community. It's too bad that ungrateful and ignorant fools such as yourself can't appreciate that.

The office is worse for their leaving. First Flora (who became a judge, now them). The talent drain is unreal. It's bad enough that attorneys with less than five years experience are division chiefs and handling homicide cases ...... now what? The SAO will expect a couple of 10th year lawyers to replace these guys? Scary. I hope the legislature is happy. When the conviction rate drops and someone gets hurt, they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

1:23 you dofus. Of course the story is correct. Did you ever see Colby's chambers in County Court? Did you see the Monkey on his desk?

He was about 12 years old when he lost his beloved Miko. 12 year old boys don't often call the Herald, especially when they are basically in shock.

Anonymous said...

so much anger jealousy and hate in our little building. Small people with no meaning in this world. Irrelevant at their best, having no impact on anything of importance, ever.

Anonymous said...

What was the name of Colby's monkey? What kind of monkey was it? What hammerhead shark allegedly ate it? Was it Big Mo from Bahia Honda Channel? Or Harvey from Deep Molasses Ledge? Or another hammerhead?

Inquiring minds wanna know...

Anonymous said...

4:52. these guys have stayed at the SAO because they could not make it in private practice, thus they drink at the public trough.Gilbert a national authority on DUI? are you smoking something. Waksman, gave pp a try and found that he could not cut it with the big boys on Flagler. Abe always has the lock cases that a first yr law student could win. His hardest job was establishing venue.the best prosecuter to leave the SAO was Ed O'Donnell.

Anonymous said...

From what I heard from Shumie, Jonathan Colby did just fine after his pet monkey was eaten by the hammerhead shark. He went on to make more millions than the Q and is living very well at his beach house in Malibu or La Jolla with a beautiful famous Venezuelan starlet. But, Shumie confirmed there was definitely a monkey named miko!

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that J. Tunis gave a bond to someone charged with first degree murder, where the State
is seeking the d.p.

old guy said...

Listen, I have watched these three lawyers try many cases against the BEST defense attorneys for many years.

I may want a certain result for my clients, but there are still terrible crimes being committed every day. As a citizen, I expect the worst criminals to get punished. I want my family to feel safe because skilled and ethical prosecutors are working for all of us.

I suggest the 'anonymous' grow up.

I further insist that KFR figure out how to get rid of the poorer lawyers and keep these fine lawyers -- for the sake of all of the community. This really is proof that she is totally out of touch with the whole purpose of a prosecutor's office.

PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH!

shumie time here said...

Everybody!!! Shumie time has a new home of the civil south florida lawyers blog. We're welcome there. Come on over and hop in- the water's great!!!!

Anonymous said...

Abe Laeser is one of the finest criminal attorneys--prosecutor or defense attorney--that I have ever seen. I have watched him in trial a number of times and never fail to learn something each time. Plus, many of the SAOs prosecutors who have been there more than a few years have tried a case with Abe, which only helped them in their development.

My dealings with Waksman have unfortunately been few and far between, but he is about as honest and ethical as they come. As an ex-cop and skilled trial attorney he brings a unique persective to the job. He decided to venture into civil practice, decided he did not like it and was warmly accepted back at the SAO.

David Gilbert is an expert on vehicuhlar homicide cases and evidence. I attended many training sessions he conducted. He regularly assists young ASAs, even helping to try a C case when his time permits. I was going to try a case with him but I left the office before I had the opportunity.

The loss of any one of these gentlemen is a huge blow to the SAO. The loss of all three is a killer given the morale at the office and the fact that a number of their replacements will undoubtedly be nincompoops.

Anonymous said...

3:06:00 p.m., perhaps Judge Tunis found proof not evident and presumption not great so she had to give the defendant a bond, which I'm sure is high enough that he can't post it.

Anonymous said...

12:17-----you must be a civil lawyer. There "big boys on Flagler" can't try cases to save their lives. Waksy could run circles around them, even with the bad hip.

And, anyone who knows anything about Gilbert knows that he's a nationally recognized DUI expert.

Stop the hating. These guys deserve better than this.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

12:17 Sunday: guess by your standards no one should stay at the SAO and develop expertise in prosecuting the most serious crimes in the community. You probably wish all the prosecutors were fresh out of law school - you know, the ones you might be able to beat in court. You think the only worthwhile career path is making money off of criminals and in filing lawsuits? What a stupid comment about 3 honorable and dedicated public servants.

Anonymous said...

let those 3 leave. they will not be missed. they are overpaid and wont make a nickle in private practice. what ever happened to Band, no one misses him.

Anonymous said...

You are twittering with the latina-- Your highness Rumpole what is she like- one word to describe her? [I can't get one measly comment published, just curious-- you get a sense of what she is like reading her blog but to actually have a conversation with her is another]

Anonymous said...

I believe that the three tenors have done a great service to this community but, they are human and they have made some very big mistakes.
Examples:

David Gilbert prosecuting a father for veh hom for the death of his baby who was not in a child seat because the mother was holding the baby giving it medicine. No booze, no speeding, no drugs. Just careless driving. JOA. David, you should never have done that to that poor family.

Abe for grabbing his zipper and telling a female PD something about his well known, very large penis. Boy did he get in trouble for that one.

David W for pushing to throw Sam Rabin (I think) out of a Jewish law society because he defended a cop killer.

OK, guys, you did great work but, sometimes we are remembered most for the dumbest things we ever did.

Anonymous said...

abe's the best for doing that to the pd. who amongst us hasnt wanted to do that to some snotty self righteous asshole pd?

abe laeser said...

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Perfection is not for mortals. Trying your best and being ashamed of your errors, and admitting your faults is the best we can achieve.

Anonymous said...

4:24..........you have kids? Anyone stupid enough to drive with a kid not in a car seat deserves to be prosecuted. Period.

dhonig said...

Abe, David, David,

Best of health and best of luck in your retirement. You earned it.

As for those criticizing these fine gentlemen, you demonstrate your own failures, not theirs.

Were Abe's cases "locks"? Not when he got them. But by the time he went to trial? Yes, they were. You have certainly heard how the truly great athletes make the impossible "look easy." Well, Abe Laeser made his cases look like "locks." He did it with tremendous intellect and dogged preparation. If you are any sort of trial lawyer, you know that cases look easy because of the preparation that went into them.

David Waksman was always a genuine public servant, from his days as a street cop through his time in the State Attorneys Office. Like so many, he wondered about the color of the grass on the other side of the fence. Fortunately for him, and for the entire community, he very quickly discovered that green was not his color, and returned. Is that really a reason to criticize a man who dedicated his life to the community?

Last, but not least, David Gilbert. David ran the new attorney program in the SAO when I first started, twenty-two years ago. He was smart, kind, and generous with his time. He was also a true expert in his field. What was the criticism of David? That he was "a life long loser who cannot try a close case"? Somehow, I suspect the author of that comment lost a case or two to David. Was he flashy and theatrical? No, not ever. Was he intimidating of voice and size? No, not at all. Instead, he was prepared. Once again, the criticism about "close cases" demonstrates the commentor's failure to understand a very simple fact of trial lawyer life- cases look easy because of the preparation that came before the jury panel ever entered the room.

Abe, David, David, best of luck to each of you.

David Honig

Anonymous said...

Rump I am daily reader of your blog so I expect an answer for the question I left on Monday, February 23, 2009 4:03:00 PM.

Anonymous said...

After years of toil, of waking up each morning and going to work, of dealing with the bureaucracies, these guys deserve a great send-off. They are ethical and honest guys and deserve praise for their work. Not everybody seeks the almighty dollar.