UPDATE: The Herald and our favourite reporter Susannah Nesmith on Abe Laeser retiring. Make sure to watch the video.
THE UTIMATE SMEAR: In our humble opinion the boys at the Broward Blog have hurled the ultimate insult at Judge Seraphin. In linking to our article, the Broward Blog has this title: "Judge Seraphin has a Broward Moment." Ouch. Being compared to his robed brethren North of the Border says it all. Double ouch.
UPDATE BELOW. A county court lawyer writes in about the problem.
(accused of the crime of "not calling lawyers out of turn")
What in the Sam Hill is going on in County Court?
Our email is going crazy this morning.
Here's a sample:
I am blogging as I stand on line in Judge Seraphin's courtroom. I have been standing here for 30 minutes but he refuses to call attorneys out of turn (so there is a line of attorneys out the door). He is also rude What is wrong with him? He is up for election on 2010. I'll pledge $500 to whoever runs against him.
Can some county court lawyer write in and give us the low down on what is going on?
UPDATE: a lawyer sent us this email:
Rumpole, please keep my name private. I am in county court every day. Judge Seraphin is causing a big problem. Today there was a line out of the door of his courtroom. One lawyer missed a deposition because he was kept waiting over an hour. When the bailiff handed the judge a note asking him to call the lawyers out of turn, the Judge made a big show of reading the note out loud and then crumpling it up. It was rude and uncalled for. It made a lot of lawyers very angry.
The larger issue is that there is a problem in county court on Wednesdays: There are lots of lawyers who stream in and out of courtrooms trying to get their cases called. Meanwhile, unrepresented defendants who are sitting in court waiting for their 9:00 AM case are not getting their case called until 11 or 11:30.
What is the solution? It takes some creative thinking that these judges are incapable of doing. For instance: Everyone gets a continuance if they want one the first time the case is up. Have a sign in sheet for "first time up cases." Defense attorneys who want a continuance should be able to walk in, sign the sheet, list the case and their bar number, leave a cell phone number in case there is a problem, and then leave. This would take care of 25% of the cases.
Second solution: About 10% of the cases are resolved with a plea where the defense attorney has a plea of absentia form. Create another sign in sheet. Have the state leave the plea offer. Have the defense attorney sign in, leave the plea of absentia form, and leave the other information, and leave. That takes care of 35% of the cases, and I've only spent about ten minutes thinking about this.
Another solution. Create a master list. If the state is ready, and the defense is ready, and both sides want it set for trial, both sides can sign the list for a particular case, and BAM! the case is set for trial without it ever being called and without the lawyers having to wait in line. This probably takes care of 40% of the cases on any given Wednesday. Now we're up to 75% of the cases in question without anyone ever having to wait in line.
Anyway Rumpole, Seraphin is overwhelmed and making most of us miss Judge Lindsey terribly. His response is to be rude and unconcerned with our problems. Seraphin was never a private lawyer who made a living like we do in County Court. He doesn't understand the need of most of us to be in every courtroom on Wednesday, and then back to our office before noon. One way to handle this is for every lawyer , when they are before the other county court judges to say "I'm sorry I'm late, but I was in Judge Seraphin's courtroom and he doesn't call lawyers out of turn and made me wait an hour to do one case."
This is an issue for the administrative judges to step in an handle, so you know what that means. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
As you like to say Rumpole. "See you in (county) court."