Friday, March 06, 2009
There's a move a foot to ban depositions for third degree felonies. The measure passed 5-3 in the Florida Legislature House Sub committee that handles such matters (We think it's the House Sub Committee on Fascism, but we're not entirely sure).
This is the thin edge of a large wedge. It will start with third degree felonies and we will end up with no depositions unless the state certifies death.
Here's a rational proposal: put the teeth back in the guidelines and statutory maximums. How do you explain to a client that the maximum is the maximum unless the guidelines exceed the maximum and then it's not really a maximum? True story: client with no priors went to trial before Judge Vic Tobin in Broward. He tells my client's family: "I don't know you and I don't know if your lawyer knows what he's doing because if he loses I can put your daughter into prison for five years." After calming my client and her family down I try the case and get a five minute not guilty. Tobin tries to apologize to me and I tell him to stuff it, that there was no excuse for threatening a client with no priors with prison and to trash me to my client to boot. My point is- under the old guidelines he could not have made that threat because she scored NSPS.
Here's a better idea: take all the BS third degree felonies like car theft, burglary of an unoccupied vehicle, possession of cocaine residue, worthless check charges, grand theft third degree, resisting with violence, and make them misdemeanors. THEN make all the BS misdemeanors like disorderly intoxication, disorderly conduct, petit theft, and driving without glasses (yes- that is an arrest-able offense folks) and make them civil infractions and send them to magistrates.
That is a better way to free up the circuit court judges and the felony system rather than depriving the defense of depositions on cases where clients can go to prison for 5 years. Let some legislator or judge do 18 months in Starke and then say prison is no big deal.
Do you take depositions in third degree felonies? Do you take depositions at all? Take our new poll.
See you in court reading those depos.
RESULTS OF LAST POLLS:
EIG: 44% said he was right to scare her straight
22% said he was an insensitive clod.
34% said he was a repeat offender and it was time to go.
CUETO: 38% said he did the right thing
25% said he lost his temper and should be banned from criminal court.
37% said he lost his temper but it was no big deal