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

Sunday, March 01, 2009

MORE ON CUETO: TWO VIEWS

Monday morning update: It's 47 degrees at 7 AM.  There's  a forecast for a low of 38 degrees tonight at 10:00 PM. It could be worse. You could be in NYC, or Boston, or anywhere north of here. 

I want to keep this thread running because I think the comments are great. Both sides of this issue are covered, as well as some of the significant side issues. 

This is why I created the blog. I hope you are enjoying the discussion. 
HR.

From the comments section: First Judge Pinero:

Judge Rob Pineiro said...
Rumpole, just how pompous and sanctimonious can you possibly get? Your ranting directed at Judge Cueto clearly shatters any prior limitations. To call for the Judge’s removal from the criminal bench because of his comments at a bond hearing is akin to wielding a sledge-hammer to kill a gnat. It is so ludicrously over-the-top, I suspect it is a deliberate provocation to spark debate. In fact, I hope it is because, if not, it paints you as an unthinking, knee-jerking hypocrite who rails against zero tolerance, minimum-mandatory sentences and lack of discretion while applying the same when it suits you.

Judge Cueto is a good man who cares deeply about our constitutional rights. He knows how important a free and independent judiciary is to safeguard these rights. The judge has personally experienced the deprivation of the common human decency embodied in our constitution. Judge Cueto’s father was imprisoned as a political prisoner in Cuba for two years because the courts there were nothing more than a tyrant’s rubber stamp. Given his background, it is easy to see how this rude, crass juvenile was able to get such a reaction from him—she was attacking the courts, the institution which truly safeguards our liberty.

If you are concerned the judge gets what's comming to him, do not fear. His brethren will tease him no end for his use of the panic button.

So, Rumpole. Twist off the screw on cap of your Chateaux Miami River and chill out.

Judge Rob Pineiro


Rumpole Replies: First of all, I think I can be even more pompous and sanctimonious, so keep reading.   You should note that I did not call for a JQC complaint or that he be removed from the bench, just sent to Civil or Family or Probate. He's a new judge and needs more training.  I stand by my comments about his actions, which you did not address other than my call for sanctions. In two days of reflection however, I will say this: I know little of Judge Cueto, personally and professionally, and perhaps knowing more about him would change my mind. The first impression however,  is not a good one.  Secondly, this is his "first offense" shall we say,  and he has otherwise received high marks from everyone, so perhaps PTI is in order.  

One final thought Judge P, because like me, you're old enough to respond to this question: What would Judge Cowart have done?  


The Captain points out in the comments section that Radio commentator Paul Harvey has passed away at age 90. We are old enough to remember he had five minute spots on local television stations in Florida and other parts of the country, where he gave commentary on the news. 

But in honor of Paul Harvey, let's look at an opposing view point, so that now you know...... 

Anonymous said...
As a former ASA I'm amazed to say that I agree with Rumpole. This judge was not trying to teach the 15 year old a lesson or to retain order in his courtroom. He was satiating his offended, overblown ego.

The purpose of his diatribe was to insult and demean and to re-establish what he sees as the proper power hierarchy. "Apologoze to me or I will throw you in jail." I hope it makes him feel like a big man to berate a 15-year-old girl.

Should the family have been admonished? Yes, but not screamed at and threatened. Judges don't scream and threaten; they conduct orderly business. This matter should be referred to the JQC, as should the other judges who conduct tirades at prosecutors, witnesses, victims, defendants, and defense attorneys.


...the rest of the story.

Horace Rumpole............................................GOOD DAY. 

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

life in prison for people who sell coke? if you ask me, he should be thrown off the criminal bench or not permitted to preside over drug cases. all sitting criminal judges should be required to try drugs so that they have that perspective.

REGJB Regular said...

REGJB Regular said...
"Sledge hammer to kill a gnat" Judge Pinero? That's the pot calling the kettle black, considering you serve on a bench with Judges who routinely sentence way beyond what is called for based on a defendant losing at trial. Have you seen Judge Miller's sentences? Judge Jackie Scola gave a guy 99 years on a PVH after he turned down 5 and then rubbed it in and asked "don't you wish you had taken the 5?"

Judge Adrien gave a guy 30 f'ing years when he pled open to the court and the state plea offer was seven.

Do you read the FLWs on vindictive sentencing coming out of the 3rd and 4th DCA's?

Remember Judge Lauren Miller who gave a guy 30 years for stealing toilet paper from a shed??? Toilet paper for christ sake!!

Clean up your own house first please. And start with Judge Cueto, because he looks like he's traveling down the path of judges who will go ballistic after a trial just to prove he's tough and prevent other defendants going to trial.

BTW: it appears to me Judge Pinero that you have found yourself in the situation we commonly find ourselves in: defending a client whose actions are not defendable. All you are left to rely on is lack of prior record.

Good luck Judge P, and lets hope Judge Miller or Adrien or Scola don't get the chance to sentence your client.

Good Day!!!

Anonymous said...

10:11....your response is totally over the top. Piniero is an excellent judge who is not afraid to ignore state offers and do the right thing (when I was a prosecutor he all but tubed one of my cases because he didn't like it and thought I was being unreasonable. I'm not saying that's right, I'm just saying that your suggestion that he has to clean "his house" is absurd). You can't hold him accountable for what other judges have done (they're all independent constitutional officers, remember?).

Suggesting that Cueto will sentence people vindictively based on this incident is ridiculous speculation. In case you haven't noticed, time and again posters have noted that he's a generally fair guy. Besides, the fact is that he went out of his way to be respectful and informative to the family prior to the daughter/sister's blatantly contemptuous behavior.

Frankly, I'd like to see judges be a little more aggressive with their contempt power. I'm tired of people turning courtrooms into a circus. Nobody would have even thought of behaving the way that young woman did in the old days (can you imagine anyone behaving that way in front of the likes of Margolious, Snyder, Stettin, Glick, Morphonious, etc., or what they would've done if someone had?). He yelled at her. Big deal. He should've held her in contempt. That would have been the "professional" and "appropriate" thing to do. Would you have been satisified if he had done so in a pleasant/respectful tone of voice?

Regardless of what you think, nothing's going to change until we can have intelligent discussions devoid of the kind of over the top rhetoric being spewed these last couple of days. Don't skewer Rob and the others with the guts to post with their names. Treat them with the respect they deserve......as anyone who's appeared in front of Rob would tell you, he'll listen.

BTDT

PS----ya'll are taking the comment on life in prison for selling cocaine way out of context. It's obvious he was being facetious.

REGJB Regular said...

BTDT you miss my point. I didn't criticize Judge Pinero, I did criticize his defense of Judge Cueto. Furthermore, I criticized judge P's words about Rumpole over-reacting, when he is a member of a bench of Judges who routinely over react when sentencing a defendant who loses a case at trial.

If you truly have Been There and Done That, what was your experience in sentencing before Judges Miller and Adrien to name two?

Finally, Rumpole did not give Judge Cueto credit for one thing- getting off the bench when he realized he was losing it. He deserves credit for that.

Anonymous said...

judge "give him life for coke" cueto is not ready to be a criminal judge. i'm on rump's side. judge p is just off base coming to the defense of a friend.

but i would take cueto over judge eig any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the video for the first time. What I take from it was the Judge Cueto did what some bond Judge would not do or even have to do, he took the time to talk with the Mom and read from the affidavit and explain why in detail he set bond at $90-K.

Perhaps he should have done what other bond Judges do and just say "Miss I set the bond at $90-K, NEXT CASE PLEASE". He attempted to provide info to the mother as a courtesy (so much for trying to be nice).

I can see how Judge Cueto may have thought the big mature looking girl was probally over 18yrs. I thought until she said she was 15 that she was older. He realized that he lost his top to a 15 yr old girl was a mistake and left the bench immediately thereafter.

If we had video in Juvi I am sure you would see far worst conduct towards teens.

In my view Judge Cueto did not do anything wrong and may have actually set that girl on the right course to respect the institution of the Court.

Judge Cueto, is a good jurist and from what I saw on the video willing to explain his decision to a family member, which he has no obligation under any circumstances to provide. The Court, not him, was disrespected and for that he scolded rightly the offender.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Judge Pineiro's assessment, but based on the tape, Judge Cueto will not merely face criticism from lawyers and his colleagues. He will most likely before the Jqc which will issue a warning about abuse of power. Those warnings remain in jqc files, and can be considered if a judge continues to lose his temper. Read the removal case regarding Judge Sloop.

batman said...

My Dear Friend Judge Piniero

I have known you for so many years it seems like forever, but once I must most heartedly disagree. Your defense of an inexcusable display of temper and ego must not go without response.

You certainly know that such conduct calls for the criticism leveled Judge Cueto's way. The problem is that the pronouncements by Judge Cueto go further than a fit of anger at a lack of decorum by a participant in a hearing, but the clear prejudice shown towards a particular crime and perpetrator. Cueto has forgotten he is a judge not a prosecutor or a cop.

What does this portend for future matters before him on other offenses? The truth is that neither of the candidates in that race were judge material. Cueto was not even the lesser of two evils. Unprepared, unqualified and lacking the necessary tools to do the job he sits in judgment of others believing like so many do, that is an easy job.

In the end he will be a one term judge who will self destruct.

Anonymous said...

BTDT,

I wrote the "second view" comment that Rumpole posted on the front page today. To respond:

"Would you have been satisfied if he had done so in a pleasant/respectful tone of voice?"

Yes, that's what judges do. Calmly and rationally hold a contempt hearing, sentence her to a day of community service, and firmly explain to her that her conduct was intolerable. By losing his cool, Judge Cueto did precisely the same thing the 15-year-old did. By yelling at them, a judge (who is a symbol of the law to citizens) reinforces that the law condones abusiveness. That breeds recidivism.

I also disagree that Judge Cueto appropriately handled the situation before the outburst. He was clearly telling them "I've made up my mind and that's that." While he was well within his right to do so, he could have avoided the whole situation by saying: "Look, I have to keep the bond where it is because so few facts are before me. But, you can ask the trial judge to reduce the bond; and to do that you should start gathering testimony of friends, relatives, and community leaders to attest that your boy is not a flight risk and is not a danger to the community." That would have empowered the family to DO something positive, rather than disempowering them by playing the "I am the great and powerful Oz" game that he did.

I disagree with some of what Judge Pinero said, but I agree with him to the extent that kicking Judge Cueto off the bench would be a huge over-reaction. While I do think a JQC report is warranted, Judge Cueto's previous record as a fine jurist would likely warrant this situation resolving with a private reprimand.

Anonymous said...

Good thing none of us are held to the standards that some of you are espousing. I can't imagine that there's a lawyer in the building who's practice more than a couple of years and handles significant cases who hasn't lost his temper a couple of times inappropriately. We'd all be running around with records of reprimand or worse if the Bar enforced the rules as some of you suggest.

Give me a break. We're all human. So he yelled at her. So what. She deserved worse.

Anonymous said...

This is a community out of touch and at risk.We refuse to understand that over 50% of this community feels that the laws do not apply to them,from the least serious(misdemeanors and criminal traffic to 1st degree and life felonies).The law applies to others;the blame to everything happing bad to them is the fault of others,not themselves.
Judge are constantly being demeaned,attorneys are constantly being demeaned,and law enforcement officer are often times looked at with disrespect.
Yes,good judges in fact excellent judges,prosecutors,public defenders do exist as do members of the law enforcement community.
Yet,they are also human beings and the judiciary should not have to tolerate constant beratement which fosters total disrespect for the judicial system.
The verbeage and disrespect to the judicial system is much greater in our community,Miami Dade than any other county in the State.Check with judges in other jurisdictions to verify this information,because they do not rant,rave or argue;they often times use their contempt powers.Maybe such should be tried by our judges;but that would create another outrage.
Most judges do not wish to reprmand defendants or their respective family members;but when people get out of control what do you do.And yes,many refuse to show restraint even after being warned not once,twice,three times or more.Many after even being warned by judges to be quiet,and others suggesting they be quiet refuse to listen and ncontinue with their tirades.COME TO THINK OF IT,
PERHAPS CONTEMPT IS THE ANSWER!!!

Anonymous said...

BTDT "Judge Cueto's previous record as a fine jurist?????" Tell us about it since he's only been on the bench 2 months.

Anonymous said...

This is unbelievable. Only in Miami would a circuit judge offer support for a colleague (Judge Cueto has been a colleague for all of about five minutes) for a feckless and unprofessional tirade from the bench. And why did this colleague deserve the support of another member of the bench? Because his father did time in Castro's jails. Of course, I am not minimizing the affect such treatment would have on the psyche of an individual and family, but is it something you, Judge P, would consider in sentencing for irresponsible behavior? And should it be? If so, what other family misfortunes should be considered? Can you see the slippery slope you are tacitly advocating?
At any rate, I think that banishment, temporary or otherwise, from the criminal bench is not appropriate, but reasonable people (practicing memebers of the bar) could disagree, and a sitting judge weighing in is entirely inappropriate. Your support of your colleague for this rant should be private.

Anonymous said...

judge cueto lost his temper a little, so what? the girl was rude and obnoxious. the mother clearly has no control over her children, ie. alledged drug dealer son and potty-mouth daughter. On the other hand, she's 15-- even though she looks older. fifteen years old and mad at the world for no reason other than being hispanic and female, young and powerless, so she did the immature gesture and resorted to cursing. Judge Cueto should have looked over that girl and just send her on her way.

Anonymous said...

When will people stop using "his cousin (brother, father, uncle, whoever) spent 30 years in one of Castro's prisons..." as an excuse for everything under the damn sun?

LA DI FRICKIN' DA.

GET OVER IT, YOUR HONOR!

the trialmaster said...

Big Ed Cowart would have said," good luck to you Partner, now leave the courtroom."

Fake Alex Michaels said...

In my country, person who yell at judge get thrown in cave with rabid wolves. Person who swear at judge get thrown in boiling oil. We call it Fancy Roumanian Fondue.

Judge Cueto do nothing. Deeees esssss BULLSHEEEEEEEEET!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Rumpole:

I wanted to celebrate my anniversary by writing to you and letting you know that I will be running for State Representative. Just like MLK, I have a dream.

Happiest regards,
Phoenix

PS God Bless America and the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Funny how Judge Cueto is good and so is Judge Eig. Kendall Coffee gets on a Federal Nominating Commission and Judge Chumbley gives a performance at UM.

Did we not see this coming or what? Comments?

Anonymous said...

7:52..........Cueto is generally regarded well, this incident notwithstanding. Have you seen ANY other complaints? Nope. Not one.

Anonymous said...

1:43 --- I am probably just a little slow this morning, but I don't understand your comment. Could you explain what it means?

Anonymous said...

next time my client commits a crime, if his daddy spent time in cuban jail should i bring that out in sentencing? what about if his daddy did time in dcj?

Anonymous said...

To most judges, banishment from the criminal bench is not punishment. It is a highly sought-after goal.

Anonymous said...

The real question is not what would Judge Cowart do. We should all be asking ourselves WHAT WOULD JUDGE MARGOLIUS HAVE DONE?

Anonymous said...

8:25 pm...........Judge Piniero should've kept his support for Cueto private? Are you kidding me? Putting aside the fact that he retains First Amendment rights despite his tenure as a sitting judge........his public support of Cueto deserves respect. He could've just laid low and let Cueto twist in the wind. Instead, he, unlike virtually all others, has the guts to publicly support a friend and that's wrong? PLEASE. Private support is worthless at this point. Kudos for Piniero for continuing to post his thoughts and use his name despite the ridiculously nasty tenure this blog often takes. And, more importantly, kudos to him for being a real friend, regardless of the blowback that he surely knew would come from his post.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

I'm glad he did what he did except by raising his voice, he brought himself down a notch. Had he said the exact same thing in a calm, exacting, cold-hearted manner - not only would it have been more effective but also would not have attracted all the attention.

Anonymous said...

What about the bond decision to begin with? Despite whatever the cops decided to label it on the a-form, it was clear from the judge reading the narrative that the crime was selling 40 bucks worth of cocaine on the street to the wrong guy. The bond the judge set was $90,000. I.e. no bond for a poor person, which was what had the family upset to begin with. There may be some circumstances where $90,000 is an appropriate bond for $40 of cocaine, but not many.

Thats what the young girl called bullshit on, setting the judge off. Should she have done that, no. Should the judge have reacted that way, no. But the defendant did get a raw deal on bond that day--thats what sticks out to me in the video.

Anonymous said...

I have reported the Mom to DCF in the hopes of getting the 15yr old girl in protective custody. This mom surely is unfit, with one kid in jail on criminal enterprise drug traffic and the other kid telling a sitting Judge this is bull shit.

How many other criminals is this mom breeding. DCF get to work and pull all the kids out of that home. PROTECT THE COMMUNITY!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
What about the bond decision to begin with? Despite whatever the cops decided to label it on the a-form, it was clear from the judge reading the narrative that the crime was selling 40 bucks worth of cocaine on the street to the wrong guy. The bond the judge set was $90,000. I.e. no bond for a poor person, which was what had the family upset to begin with. There may be some circumstances where $90,000 is an appropriate bond for $40 of cocaine, but not many.

Thats what the young girl called bullshit on, setting the judge off. Should she have done that, no. Should the judge have reacted that way, no. But the defendant did get a raw deal on bond that day--thats what sticks out to me in the video.

Monday, March 02, 2009 2:15:00 PM

------

The Judge mentioned something about a Criminal organized drug ring or something like that. Did he not mention that cop's did not arrest him right off the bat because of a on-going investigation and under-cover sting? I find it hard to believe that he got a $90-K bond for just $40 in cocaine?

This is a job for the Captain to post the link to the defendants case and case docket info. What are the real charges? Who is the defense counsel? Did he get bond reduced by the trial Judge?

Captain go to work.

Anonymous said...

Steve Langford of Howard 100 has a huge Shumie!

Anonymous said...

Why can't we all just get along.

Anonymous said...

Okay I'll weigh in on this Rump.

Didn't someone famous once say: 'that all positions, taken to the extreme, often lose their intrinsic value and ultimate message on a listener who disagrees with the extreme position but may have agreed with some portion of a more moderate, reasoned approach?'

Here's how I view your recent column and the comments of the last few days:

1) you are correct that there were many ways for the judge to handle the situation, short of the 'C' word (take your mind out of the gutter, it's: contempt.)

2) give the judge a break, as he is a new judge (with no long judicial history as some have pointed out,) yet he's a human being learning a new job.

3) the writer that spoke of his tone of voice hit the issue squarely. The issue is not whether the judge had the legal
authority to do what he did in calling the sister back into court; the issue should be framed in terms of whether after calling the defendant's sister into court, was it handled as a seasoned jurist would have handled it.

4) calling for the judge's removal from the criminal division (here I agree with Judge Pinero,) was like reading a
National Enquirer type of paper, instead of hearing from you. Your seasoned years of reason on this point were overcome by your visceral disagreement and disappoinent in the way it was handled. By way of reiterating another writer, no judge in Miami can remove him, therefore you made an empty threat.

In sum, the disagreement in the manner it was handled probably could have been avoided through the tone and impatience conveyed. But, let thisnew judge learn. Logic dictates that if he cares about being a good judge, these series of posts alone have created the awareness your post may have ultimately intended.

palm-beach-lawyer-for-the-princess said...

Rumpy baby you sly dog. You and the colombian twiterring. Nice comment over on SFL......Heh-Heh-Heh.

Say hello to her on your twitter page in BIG BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS. I'll be dropping by your page to check it out.

real fake blecher. said...

4:27= I will handle this for Rumpole if he will let me.

Removing a Judge from a particular assignment can be done, and is in fact the job of the Chief Judge. What will Brown do for you? Why, he will assign you to family, or criminal, or Hialeah branch court, so don't piss him off.

A few years ago, based on a sinister movement by the State attorneys office, and a dweeezle of a Chief of County Court, there was nefarious movement that ended in the removal of Judge Pando from DUI court. That decision was made by the chief judge, or at least the administrative judge of criminal county court.

You are wrong. The administration of Judges can remove and re-assign another judge. They do it all the time.

fake mendy said...

Judge Spencer Eig. OY VEY!!

Anonymous said...

5:06 fake Blecher my thought is that the Hon. Rump doesn't need help handling anything.

You may have cited an example of movement of a County Judge, but this judge is in circuit court. He has no seniority for family, civil or probate. He does have senority for criminal. That's why he's not at juvy. There are limits to the 'shipped out', choice. Don't forget, he's doing bond hearings, not a division and not criminal backup.

I bet two cases of Chateau Miami River- with actual corks- this is a column and topic that will blow over and bring NO
judicial reassignment. If something else happens, then there's a possibility of further evaluation.

Leave the cases at Au Bon Pain two weeks from tonight.

Anonymous said...

Guys:

Lets Give Judge Cueto a break, or should I say a pass, on this one. Looking at the video, from my perspective, he was more than patient with the mother, perhaps a mistake, but never the less, it was the defendant's sister with her outburst and profanity that got to him. I wonder what Judge Margolis would have done under the same circumstances? My personal experience with Judge Cueto goes back many years, to before he was even a lawyer. While I recognize Judge Cueto can have a temper, as many of us do from time to time, particularly we perceive disdain or disrespect, but unfair, unjust, or vindictive, he is not! :.

Anonymous said...

I know this is off subject, but I have to get it off my chest. I went out on my own a few years ago and like every good newbie, I decided to take wheel cases, until I could develop my practice.
Now that the Legislature has spoken for their distats of private lawyers and the Regional counsel's office is in place, will judges please stop assigning me cases when the few guys I have left pick up a new case. Instead of me having to take another case (thus keeping me working pro bono for yet another case), please give my case the RCO. They actually get paid for this stuff. I wont even bill for it. I just need to get off the case.

Tip for judges: If you look at an attorney and ask if they would like the new case and thier response is half of a smile and something along the lines of "Well judge, I will do whatever the court desires," then that is our way of saying "No, we dont want the new case." Or, if we have to detail the new procedure to get us appointed, then we are silently screaming to please give this case to the RCO.

On the other hand, if we do want the second case, WE WILL LET YOU KNOW IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS. You'll hear something along the lines of "Judge, I'd be happy to take the second case" or "Judge, wouldnt it be easier to appoint me instead of going through all this conflict stuff?"

Nothing against you judges, but the legislature has deemed us unimportant enough to not accept our below cost work. We love you, but let the RCO take these cases.

Anonymous said...

Funny to see people criticize Cueto's decision on bond without knowing a thing about the defendant, the investigation, the gang the defendant belonged to, etc. It never ceases to amaze me that the some of the same folks (defense attorneys) who constantly ask judges to not jump to conclusions do the same thing time and again on this blog when they condemn prosecutors and judges.

BTDT

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Anonymous said...

Eig must go.

Fernandez must go.

Areces must go.

Pozo must go.

Scolas must go.

Pinero must go.

Farina must go.

Slow must go.

Figarola must go.

Lederman must go.

Manno must go.

Any questions?

El Alcalde said...

RUMP,

http://politicanorthof36street.blogspot.com/

Yours Truly,

The Mayor