Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Item: New Public Defender Carlos Martinez  (Motto: "Proudly running the Dade County Public Defenders Office with help from Bennett Brummer since January 2009") has solicited the pro bono assistance of big firm civil lawyers for public defender cases. Martinez promises real trial experience in exchange for getting much needed help for clients. 

We received this comment and it is dead on and very funny:

Anonymous said:

Pro bono civil lawyer doing misdemeanor case list of things to do:

1. Send threatening demand letter to prosecutor about "ending up in court" and asking for fees upon conclusion of case.

2. Set depositions without filing a motion.

3. Go to court and walk into judge's chambers for hearing. Look for sign in sheet.

4. Follow up threatening letter with interrogatories.

5. Advise prosecutor that the depo of your client will be in your office.

Anything else?


Anonymous said...

maybe he could ask rory stein for a little help...

the ultimate

old guy said...

I cannot wait.

Maybe I can stop doing criminal defense + settle in to a comfy living suing these guys for malpractice.

Maybe I can even help my new clients file their Bar complaints.

What a dumb idea this is!

Anonymous said...

Rick Freedman

You are with out question a well intended man. An ass kisser, but still well intended...And you are far off base with your endorsement of of Carlos Martinez's plan to allow civil lawyers to handle serious felony matters. The state will walk all over them and as a result, clients will suffer. I know many PIT PD's in Dade County, none of which complain that they are over burdened with work. Have you heard any of them complaining on the blog? This whole plan is just politics as usual over at the Brummer building. It's weak!

facdl-miami said...

to Rumpole and to BTDT and to 5:26 am who is offering their services pro bono:

(reprinted so it will appear topical to your post)

I was at the meeting last Friday at the Dade County Public Defender's Office for the introduction of the Pro Bono Initiative.

While I understand your concerns, I can tell you that Carlos and his staff are providing all of the necessary resources to these "civil" attorneys for when they actually accept a case and take it into the courtroom.

They are required to attend a course that has already been videotaped by the PD and the cases they are given have been carefully screened before they are handed out to these attorneys.

There is a team of attorneys ready to help in any way they can, from Motion practice to second-chairing a trial, if the case gets that far.

I do agree that while the concept is admirable, in practice it does have to be closely monitored.

With that said, you may have read in the Daily Business Review article on Tuesday, that the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers will be announcing early next week our own Pro Bono Initiative in conjunction with the PD's office.

Every Board Member of FACDL-MIAMI has agreed to accept at least one third degree felony and we are strongly encouraging all 450 members of our organization to take at least one third degree felony from the PD's office.

We understand that this will only be a "drop in the bucket" when compared to the thousands of cases the office now handles. While it may be symbolic in nature, and not a cure, it is still the right thing to do.

46 years ago, in Gideon, the Supreme Court decided that we should be providing competent counsel to indigent defendants. Senate Criminal Justice Chair Victor Crist and the rest of our elected officials in Tallahassee seem to think that we can continue to fund the building of more prisons and continue to pass more criminal laws and add more crimes to the list of "alphabet soup" enhancements, while continually cutting the budget for the Public Defender and the budget for what is left of the Court Appointed Counsel system.

FACDL-MIAMI supports Carlos Martinez on his Pro Bono Initiative and hopes that all of our FACDL members do their share to help the cause.

By the way, BTDT, if you are not already a member of FACDL-MIAMI, please contact me off line so I can send you an application and encourage you to take a case.

Rick Freedman

Anonymous said...

Big mistake. Those damn civil lawyers will not be "civil" at all.

Anonymous said...

As one who practices in both the civil and criminal areas, love that post.

My issue with the pro bono project is that only big firm attorneys will be involved. While a handful of these attorneys will be ex-ASAs/ex-PDs, the rest will fall into one of the following categories:

1. Young associate who has never been in a courtoom before.

1A. Transactional attorneys of all experience levels who have never been in a courtroom before.

2. More senior associate/junior partner who knows his/her way around a civil courtroom but knows as much about criminal law as REGJB regulars know about the Rule against Perpetuities. Also have no clue that about 95% of criminal attorneys are generally collegial, keep their word, and fight their fight in the courtroom where it belongs.

2A. Senior bigshot partner who has the same experience issues as Category 2, but has an ego so fucking big he can only get in the door sideways.

3. Ex-ASA/Ex-APD who may be a tad rusty, but knows what he/she is doing.

Needless to say, there won't be many Category 3s. The Category 1/1As, however well-intentioned, should have "RULE 3" tattooed on their foreheads. And the Category 2/2As may eventually get some grasp of what they are doing but will piss so many people off and ruffle so many feathers it won't be pretty.

This new SAPD program is well-intentioned. But unless the attorneys involved (or at least the lead trial ones) have criminal law experience, this whole program is going to be nothing but a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Rick, you're a great guy and I admire your commitment. And, I think VERY highly of Carlos (he's a huge upgrade from Brummer and I expect great things from him). But, I can all but guarantee this project will fail for reasons that I and others have mentioned already.

And possibly one other: Who's going to try the cases? If not the civil attorneys, they'll stop volunteering (they'll have nothing to gain). If the civil attorneys, how will the APD's gain experience?


PS----I truly hope I'm wrong.

facdl-miami said...

Dear Anonymous 7:15:

That's the nicest compliment I've had today. I don't recall anyone mentioning that civil attorneys would be handling "serious felony matters". They are being limited to misdemeanors.

FACDL has offered to take on felony cases and/or misdemeanor cases.

And to answer your question, YES. I think the fact that the PD's office has seen the highest turnover rate in the past year is a reflection of higher caseloads combined with low salaries. Of course, that has always been the complaint, but I think it is worse than ever.

The real question we should be asking is whether the clients are getting short-changed in all of this debate? Are they being deprived of effective assistance of counsel because of the higher than ever caseloads? Are some indigent clients getting adequate representation at the expense of other PD clients? That was the issue before Judge Blake and, based upon the evidence before him, he ruled that to be the case. He listened to several days of testimony and many viewed many exhibits before issuing his ruling.

There are many dedicated young attorneys working very hard at their jobs at the State Attorneys Office and the Public Defenders Office. They do so at a starting salary of $39k and $42k respectively. They have not had the benefit of a raise in three years. Many are strapped with college and law school loans that top $100,000. They get paid once a month and you can find many of them eating macaroni and cheese toward the end of the month.

And despite the fact that is gets harder and harder to earn a good living in private practice (unless you are an ass-kisser), with the economy and competition, these young attorneys are leaving both offices in droves.

There is a problem and we should all be looking for ways to try and solve it, including lobbying the legislature, and offering to satisfy your pro bono hours by handling a case or two.


Anonymous said...

L&L Twins got Stallworth and Panunzio-must be doing something right.

Anonymous said...


CAPTAIN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

While I'm sure they have good intentions, I assume that this is primarily a publicity type deal. To think that civil lawyers are going to make a dent in the numbers fo cases handled by the PD's office is a stretch. And oh by the way, if you think your local criminal defense attorney is struggling in this economy, just go down Flagler Street and take a look at the lawyers who are worried about losing their jobs like a GM factory worker. Hard to see that many mid level associates telling their boss that they missed out on half a day of billing because they had to go sit at a misdemeanor sounding.
And wait til they have to sit in trial for two full days.

This has a purpose only to filter up to Tallahassee about how desperate everything is down here. Just like a few months ago when the judge up in Brevard or Volusia ordered a private criminal attorney to represent an indigent defendant against the attorney's will.

Anonymous said...

The new program I think seems to be working. While everyone here seems to be speculating as to the program, as an ASA, I've actually dealt with a few civil attorneys in the SAPD program; if anything, they seem to be taking these cases just as serious, if not more, than the normal privates/pds. I was in shock to actually receive reciprocal discovery that simply stated, "we have no reciprocal discovery." This as opposed to the alibi witness who was "unknown" until day of trial, yet is a relative of the Defendant.

The stark reality is that outside of DUIs, the majority of M1s are straight forward.

Anonymous said...

Falling in line with what 8:28 said, the DBR article ONLY showed big firms having volunteered, and a lot of those firms have very few attorneys that have ever handled criminal case, be it as a CLI in law school or as an ex-ASA or ex-PD. If they're lucky, they'll have a some ex-federal prosecutor, but then again, why does s/he need to do this for trial practice...oh year, that's right -- it's for 'pro bono' and the greater good...yep.

They really need to be hitting up the regional or local insurance defense firms, where many of the ex-ASA's and ex-PD's migrated for $ reasons, but they still miss the smell of REGJB. Maybe go to the Dade County Defense Lawyers Association (I'm assuming they're something like that for the civil realm). It won't be for 'practice', that's for sure with they attorneys, as soon as the rust rubs off.

Anonymous said...

Have anything to say about this?


I hope "BO" hears this, as should "Tiny Tim"!

Anonymous said...

Never say:

"civil" lawyers
cases carefully screened
video taped courses
team of attorneys
closely monitored
strongly encouraging
symbolic in nature

the ultimate does not use words and phrases like Rick Freedman does. he is not an ultimate male.. the ultimate feels that criminal clients are innocent until proven indigent.

Anonymous said...

8:28. I cannot even fathom any BigLaw types above about four years experience having anything to do with this program. The reason why firms do this in other states is so that their brand-spanking-new 26-year-old attorneys can make mistakes on cases that, to the firm, don't matter.

If you think for a split second that a partner, billing $400-500/hour, will spend even a minute on one of these cases, you've got another thing coming. And any associate with over 3-4 years experience is desperately trying to bill hours, conduct depos, maybe try a small case, and gain clients so that they will make partner.

The firms will be able to report a ton of pro bono hours vis-a-vis their 1-3 year associates; they'll be able to say on their recruiting webpage that their firm puts 1-3 year associates in the courtroom right away; and the partners and more senior associates will have nothing to do with this program.

Although this program has worked in other states, it is usually restricted to the absolute easiest possible cases. So get ready to see a Greenberg-Traurig first-year defending all those pesky speeding in a manatee zone cases.

Anonymous said...

Here's a much better idea:

Pay the APD's and ASA's more competitively. The cost of losing, hiring, training lawyers is absurdly high. My proposal would save money in the long term and greatly improve services. There. I said it.


Anonymous said...

This posting has been removed by a blog administrator for violation of section 322(b)(4) of the dumbest things ever said rules.

Anonymous said...

Pro bono civil lawyer doing misdemeanor case list of things to do:

Going to criminal courthouse: Bring Coach purse, not the Marc Jacobs

Shumie-Grapevine said...

Spotted the great man himself twittering w/the Colombian. It's been declared Shumie Time!

Anonymous said...

The entry at 10:07 referenced Pununzio. Did he get in trouble?

Anonymous said...

Update on Markus' prosecutors:


Anonymous said...

Is it true the civil defense lawyers are asking for mutual releases and confidentiality agreements? I also hear they will not accept any plea offer unless it is followed up with a confirmatory letter.

Anonymous said...

6. call the defendant to testify as an adverse witness; 7. make jury argument that defendant wo9uld have testified if he wanted the truth to be known.

CAPTAIN said...


Interesting and "informative" quotes today from the House Sponsor of the bill to eliminate depositions in 3rd degree felonies.

Rep. Nick Thompson, R-Ft. Myers, obviously knows what he is talking about when he says:

“A lot of these cases we are talking about don’t rise to the level of prominence on the court’s docket,” he said. “These cases sit on these dockets for years.”

Query: How many 3rd degree felonies have any of you bloggers had that sat on the docket for "years"?

and he went on to say:

"Defense attorneys, Thompson said, feel compelled to take the depositions to avoid a claim they provided ineffective assistance of counsel. Police officers who had only incidental roles in the case find themselves called in — taking away from their time on the streets — and asked two or three questions before being released," he added.

Query: Has the man even read the Rule of Procedure, 3.220 (b)(1)(A)(i-iii):

(i) Category A. These witnesses shall include (1) eye witnesses, (2) alibi witnesses and rebuttal to
alibi witnesses, (3) witnesses who were present when a recorded or unrecorded statement was taken from or made by a defendant or codefendant, which shall be
separately identified within this category, (4) investigating
officers, (5) witnesses known by the prosecutor to have any material information that tends to negate the guilt of the defendant as to any offense charged,
(6) child hearsay witnesses, and (7) expert witnesses who have not provided a written report and a curriculum vitae or who are going to testify to test results or
give opinions that will have to meet the test set forth in
Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923).

(ii) Category B. All witnesses not listed in either Category A or Category C.

(iii) Category C. All witnesses who performed only ministerial functions or whom the prosecutor does not intend to call at trial and whose involvement with and knowledge of the case is fully set out in a police report or other statement furnished to the defense;

and 3.220 (h)(1)(A-C):

(A) The defendant may, without leave of court, take the deposition of any witness listed by the prosecutor as a Category A witness or listed by a co-defendant as a witness to be called at a joint trial or hearing. After receipt by the defendant of the Discovery Exhibit, the defendant may, without leave of court, take the deposition of any unlisted witness who may have information relevant to the offense charged. The prosecutor may, without leave of court, take the deposition of any witness listed by the defendant to be called at a trial or hearing.

(B) No party may take the deposition of a witness listed by the prosecutor as a Category B witness except upon leave of court with good cause shown. In determining whether to allow a deposition, the court should consider the consequences to the defendant, the complexities of the issues involved, the complexity of the testimony of the witness (e.g., experts), and the other opportunities available to the defendant to discover the information sought by deposition.

(C) A witness listed by the prosecutor as a Category C witness shall not be subject to deposition unless the court determines that the witness should be listed in another category.

Captain Out .....

Anonymous said...

The third degree felonies with good evidence - the ones that make ASAs lives easier, sit on the dockets for years. The crap ones get continuances denied and speedy trial motions dropped.

Big Ego Hotshot Civil Lawyer said...

What the fuck is going on in criminal court? I received an oral plea offer today, and was laughed at when I asked for it in writing. And what is this shit about depositions? They can only take place at the State Attorney's Office or that horrid building housing the Public Defender's Office? Why not in my mahogany-paneled conferece room with the photos of myself and my bloated ego partners? And I have to ask PERMISSION OF THE COURT to take depositions? I can't serve Interrogatories on the Plaintiff, er, State? WHAT THE FUCK??????? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO HANDLE THIS SHIT?????

Anonymous said...

No depos? Okay. I want an APH on EVERY case in which the prosecutor fails to file on time. It will be just as good as a depo, but now the judge and gthe prosecutor get to sit there and listen to it.
Plus, why would the State care that a defense attorney takes a depo on a third degree felony? When was the last time a C ASA showed up for a depo? I think I get an ASA at a depo about 10% of the time.

Anonymous said...

Have I been asleep at the wheel?
Laeser, Waksman and Gilbert laid off for budgetary reasons?

Anonymous said...

They did not get laid off. I heard they entered the DROP program. Which means they'll all "get laid off" with a BIG, FAT check representing 5 years of salary. I'd estimate they all collect half a million each (before taxes). Then they get a nice pension of probably 100k per year. Not exactly getting laid off. No need to pass a hat around for them.

Not that they dont deserve it. They are all great prosecutors who devoted thier careers to the public. They'll be just fine.

Anonymous said...

Actually that is not totally accurate. Although they have been in the drop system, they will never get 100% of their salary. It comes to 51%. So, at top salary, they will receive about $350K from drop. However that is all taxable as you take it out and from what we understand, Abe will pay max tax.

$70K a year plus what they take from drop is hardly a great retirement. Although you don't have to "pass the hat" it is not the lap of luxury you seem to infer.