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Saturday, July 18, 2009

FEAR AND OPPRESSION IN JUVENILE COURT

Update: Today, July 20 marks the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon. Walter Cronkite opined that the event perhaps relegated all other events of the 20th century to an asterisk.

The Apollo program remains the high water mark for our country.

We believe the comments by Judge Petersen re: Juvenile court should remain the topic for the day. We will reserve our thoughts on Apollo for tomorrow.

"DEMANDS FOR RIGID CONFORMITY AND OBEDIENCE".....

"UNREASONABLE AND ARBITRARY DICTATES"....

"AN ATMOSPHERE OF OPPRESSION"...

A Soviet Gulag? No.

President's Bush's White House? Not quite.

Broward? Perhaps, but not in this context.

No, those were the words of Retired Circuit Court Judge Tom Petersen on
the atmosphere in Juvenile Court engendered by ousted Chief Judge Cindy "The Tsar" Lederman.

Strong words from a very well respected member of the bench about a fellow wearer of the robe.

The title of the post links to Petersen's letter to the Herald.

Petersen said this about life under Lederman:

Unfortunately, she has done so while simultaneously creating an atmosphere of oppression and fear among those who work there. Many lawyers and judges, myself included, left the juvenile justice system rather than submit to her demands for rigid conformity and obedience to her sometimes quite unreasonable and arbitrary dictates.

Meanwhile, being immersed in dependency matters, Lederman left the delinquency side of the court to her assistant administrative judge. The result in delinquency has been years of lack of progress coupled with the same atmosphere of fear and oppression that has permeated the entire court.






37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, you omitted some of critical lines..

Petersen wrote "Judge Cindy Lederman has spent a decade on the dependency side and has earned respect and admiration in the field."

Let's put it all together...

"Judge Cindy Lederman... has earned respect and admiration... while cultivating an atmosphere of oppression and fear."

And her biggest administrative sin? Judge Langer's handling of the delinquency side at Juvenile. That's a failure of former Chief Judge Farina... not a reason to remove a judge who has earned national "respect and admiration."

On the other side of the coin... we must ask if Prescott and Sarduy make sense as Adminstrative and Associate Administrative Judge respectfully. Without insulting either, the answer is clearly no. How many judges of superior experience did Judge Brown skip over? How will Judges Prescott and Sarduy be received when they make a demand upon judges with a decade more experience upon the bench?

Anonymous said...

Rump- I am well known on the local golf blogs for my vocal arguments that Steve Stricker is the best player in the history of golf because he is the best ball striker in golf.

But today in Scotland will be Jim Furyk's day. The golf course is laid out perfectly on this championship Sunday for his game. Watch. You will see.

Anonymous said...

It's all politics, which it shouldn't be. What a way to reward someone who has dedicated their legal career to an often ignored and little rewarded field, and yet a field that is so crucial to a well functioning society. Forgive them Father for they know not what they do........

Anonymous said...

How much control does the administrative judge really have in juvenile delinquency court? Its not like they can rewrite the statutes and change how the children are punished. With the power of her pen she cannot move the courtrooms into more respectable office space. As long as judges are adjudicating cases in what amount to little more than walk in closets - there will be little respect for the courts. There is a reason why judicial buildings are grand. What would federal court be like if it were held in a similar space.

Anonymous said...

Juvy? Who cares.

Anonymous said...

oh wait - what happened to your quick cries of foul play, and pictures of sterotypical mafia images, in response to moving lederman out?

Pedersen is the Dean of Juvenile Court. He cared - and cares - deeply.

Rump - you're a reactionary jerk.

Anonymous said...

Just ask any judge who did a stint at juvy and you be told, off tje record, just how much trouble Lederman was. Tyrant is a word I heard over and over.

Anonymous said...

I have known Judge Tom Peterson for a very long time and was quite surprised at his letter to the Miami Herald. I would think that in retrospect letting that little turd sit for a day before sending it out would have been a better idea.
As to the characterization of Judge Lederman, I think we tend to be gender-biased in our description of judges. Male judges are viewed as being "demanding" and "strict," while female judges are "bitchy" and "menopausal." The same applies to judicial polls where a dress costs the reviewed judge at least five points.
Frankly, I do not know how anyone could stand the cesspool of dependency court where the mass of humanity in front of the bench all of whom are paid by the State try to throw 90 percent of the really hard calls at the judges instead of making a studied recommendation.
I have appeared before both Judges Lederman and Langer many times. I think the criticisms of my good friend, Judge Tom Peterson, are not apparent from the other side of the bench. More importantly, creating a personality crsis about a shift in admin duties when a new chief judge comes in does no one any good.
I think that both Judges Lederman and Langer deserve our appreciation for a tough job that would tax anyone from time to time. I think both of them likewise should be pleased by the quality of appointment of their successors, which shows that the new Chief understands the importance of that division.
I hope that he at least does the division the benefit of making sure that everyone knows that certain appointments are going into that divison when a vacancy is announced for at least four or five yaers, so that it is not used as "new judges'school." Likewise, it would be nice if the State Attorney could hire some folks who wanted to make a career in that division as is the case with a number of PDs.
At last, we are supposedly building a new facility for this division. I think it would be great if we could schedule a barn- burning for the old facility when the new one is built. I also think we should all have a great deal of appreciation for the judges who work in that dump today.
Finally, to Judges Prescott and Sarduy: Good luck. Do the best you can for our kids, and don't count on accolades on the way out. It just ain't our style!

Anonymous said...

There is a big difference between federal and state courts. Federal courts are funded by a government that simply prints the money it needs to erect structures that make those who inhabit them feel like and think they are God. State courts are funded by that part of the government which must collect its money from its citizens' pockets on a pay as you go basis. So what would federal court be like if it were held in the same type of buildings that house state courts? A hell of a lot better. The only extra buildings that would be needed would be to house all of those deflated egos that would be piled high like leftover cellulite from a thousand lyposuctions at some Boca restoration factory.

Anonymous said...

judge leaderman is a power driven egomaniac. she has made a lot of enemies on the bench. Not as much for her rulings but for the way she treats people.

i fart in her general direction

langer is a good man and cares for the kids.

Anonymous said...

At 11:47:00 AM, Anonymous wrote, "How much control does the administrative judge really have..."

Precisely.

This is why the fear and oppression line, spooned out by Brown's supporters makes no sense.

Any judge may abuse those who come before the court. But unless you're elected chief judge, an administrative judge has no ability to "abuse" the judges they administer.

the trialmaster said...

I think Peterson is a cranky old man. I doubt he has ever tried a jury trial in his life. He is a lifer on the public trough. Never in private practice and kissed Gerstein's and gelber's ass'

Anonymous said...

Peterson tells the truth. He's an old school guy from the Gelber/Carhart days of Richard Gerstein. Wish we had more like him.

Prescott and Sarduy will be a breath of fresh air for 27th Avenue.

Anonymous said...

What's funny about these comments is that a lot of people are acting like Brown is some kinda Cheney rightwinger in dumping Lederman.

Well, Tom Peterson is a bleeding heart liberal - God love 'em - so, all you lib posters out there, PLEASE, cut the sh**, and realize Peterson has a real point to make - juvenile has been hell for dependency lawyers - and obviously a lot of judges - who cross Cindy Lederman.

Anonymous said...

If Peterson says it's true, I believe it. He calls it like it is. I think if there's a plaque of you in the lobby, you're allowed to talk all you want about the court.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that many people have very strong feelings, but pro and con, about Judge Lederman.

But this really isn't about Judge Lederman. This is about how the Chief Judge, his ability to administer judges he cannot fire, and to advocate on behalf of the court within Dade County and throughout the state.

Chief Judge Brown, by making her removal his first significant action, has stirred up a hornets' nest. While it will fall from these pages soon enough, it is not something that will soon subside in the minds of those who are upset.

What are the consequences for Chief Judge Brown?

-What will commissioners and legislators, who are well acquainted with and respect Judge Lederman, think of Chief Judge Brown... whose reputation is unformed.

- Having won by the thinnest of margins, CJ Brown faces re-election in 18 months. Will he be written off by his fellow judges as a "lame duck"?

-And, speaking of of lame-ducks, why oh why didn't Judge Farina remove Judge Lederman when he could have done so without political consequence?

Anonymous said...

Latin supremacist Sonja Sotomayor continues her march towards confirmation. It will be interesting to see how her ethnic and gender bias' effect the United States.

Anonymous said...

Please do not compare the days of Gelber and Carhart to the way things are now in Juvenille. When Sy was there, the Juveile Justice Center was NEW and a shining example of a Juvenile Court. The bulding was made for fewer judges and less work. Look at the place now.

The volume of work, the lack of cooperation from DCF and other agencies, the lack of money and, for most of the judges, the lack of commitment makes the place purgatory for all involved.

It takes an iron handed approach just to keep the court's head above water. Lederman may have been hell on wheels in hell itself.

Anonymous said...

Tom Peterson is one of the finest people we have ever had in this community, a true "mensch". I respect his opinion and the fact that he was willing to write a comment in the Herald about Judge Lederman speaks volumns.

Anonymous said...

Judge Petersen implies he left Juvenile because of Judge Lederman. He writes "Many lawyers and judges, myself included, left the juvenile justice system rather than submit to her demands for rigid conformity and obedience to her sometimes quite unreasonable and arbitrary dictates." Hogwash.

As you point out, Judge Petersen retired, more than a decade ago, because of his age. It was age, not Judge Lederman, that caused his departure. A pity he chooses to imply otherwise.

And there is this... "a good, caring and compassionate judge" does not abandon justice because he dislikes an administrative judge. This is precisely what Petersen's letter seems to say.

"Sorry lil' Jimmy, I'd love to help, but a mean little white woman has struck fear and oppression through the heart of this elderly man. I know you've been stabbed, beat-up and shot-at, but that ain't nothing like being on the blunt end of an angry memo from Cindy! You understand lil' Jimmy?"

Anonymous said...

Lederman's twin sister Jeri Cohen will remain at Juvi? So what has changed for lawyers and staff? One less loud mouth?

The attorneys who practice at juvy gossip like 7th grade school girls. The whole place is a disgrace.

BTW - who has the power to remove Lederman's right arm Joni Goodman?

C.J. Brown, if you are really going to clean up Juvi - just a thought - consider removing Cohen and Goodman.

Courting Disaster - Miami New Times said...

Captain why do I have to do your job?

Courting Disaster

Judge Cindy Lederman, champion of justice and advocate extraordinaire, bends the rules on the bench

By Tristram Korten
published: March 23, 2000

Anonymous said...

Tom Petersen, kisses the ass of who ever is in power. He goes in the direction of the wind.

Anonymous said...

DAN Lurvey rocks!!!! And his associate is a hottie.

Anonymous said...

http://opinions.1dca.org/written/opinions2009/07-17-2009/09-0188.pdf

ROCC declared (partly) unconstitutional (Section 19 anyway, which makes the counties fund it).

Figured you already knew?

Anonymous said...

At some point, Lederman's genine desire to improve the lives of children turned into a desire to be treated like she is above everyone else. She acted (and acts) like SHE is the ONLY one who cares, and if you disagree with her, then you are not on the side of children. With an attitude like that, it's only a matter of time til the paybacks arrive. So now they are here. Maybe with an ego adjustment she will be back to working on behalf of children but not against those who appear before her. And by the way, good for Tom Peterson to have the guts to go public with his opinions. Now that he's out of court, he can do so. Some of us, however, cannot.

Anonymous said...

Lederman is no good.

I know Carl Hall and Virginia. They are good people. The New Times article is true. What goes around comes around judge. Now it's time for you eat some humble pie.

Judge Tom Petersen said...

Hey ! I enjoy the repartee and accept criticism but I am neither senile nor absent. I am 67 and sit in County Court Criminal.

Believe me, I get absolutely no pleasure of writing a letter like that but I believe it to be true and felt I had to say it.

Judge Tom Petersen

Anonymous said...

Who cares about Lederman. Brown was elected Chief Judge by a majority of the sitting judges in the circuit. He has the right to appoint judges to serve in administrative positions who share his vision of the direction of the circuit. That's part of the game and if anyone's ego is bruised then too damn bad. Lederman can run for chief judge next time and send Brown to the corner if she wants.

Anonymous said...

Why did Brown go with Sarduy as associate administrative judge in Juvenile? He's among among the bottom 10 in terms of judicial seniority.

Meanwhile, over at Civil, Izzy also ranks at the bottom in terms of seniority.

Does this mean we can expect the Chief to replace Stan Blake with Maria Sampedro-Iglesia?

Judge Tom Petersen said...

In response to my being uninvolved in Juvenile, I have been involved for 42 years, beginning as the first PD there after the Gault Decision in 1967. prosecutor, ten years as Judge and for the past 15 years administraor of the TROY Academy school and the Teen Cuisine restaurant/culinary arts training program, both of which I initiated in 1992, three years after becoming a Judge.I have been Adjunct Professor of Criminology at the UofM for almost 20 years.

Thanks for your comments.

Judge Tom Petersen

Anonymous said...

Joni Goodman's been retired for about a year. Check your facts, anonymouses.

Anonymous said...

Judge Petersen,

Given your comments, why was Judge Lederman allowed to remain administrative judge for the past ten years?

It is repeatedly said by many that Judge Lederman ruled with fear and oppression. What examples can you give us?

Is this the first time you have spoken out publicly regarding the fear and oppression at Juvenile?

Why do you think Judge Lederman has so many admirers given number of detractors?

Anonymous said...

9:00 am has a point. Why voice his rusty retired thoughts now? Why not say 2 or 3 or 6 or 8 years ago?

I am tired of retired Judges prancing around the Court house.

Anonymous said...

Please note, that judge peterson has not entered a denial that he has ever tried a jury trial.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Petersen kept his mouth shut, as have other judges, to avoid a JQC complaint...

Airing judicial laundry in public is fun for the anoymous, but essentially verboten for judges.

Anonymous said...

I personally practiced in front of Judge Lederman for years. I found her to be inflexible and yes even tyrannical.

There were lawyers who fought hard for heir clients. Because their clients were parents perceived to be horrible parents (and many were) it was generally felt appropriate to ease up on the zealousness. Because the aim of dependency was reunification of the family and most parents generally had some addiction or anger control problem a weak defense was expected in my opinion.

After fighting particularly hard for a mentally ill client, I found that I did not get an appointment in her courtroom for nearly two years. No other dependency judge ever had a problem with me.

Though the appointment of lawyers was supposed to be random, I watched her bailiff go to the room where the appointment forms were tossed on the table. He would pick through the appointment forms and take the lawyer he wanted. I had seen this procedure many times. Therefore I never thought it was truly a blind process.

I believe that Judge Lederman cared for the children and felt a great sense of responsibility for their care and well-being. But so did all the other dependency Judges.

I disliked appearing before Judge Lederman and hope to never appear in front of her again. I am in agreement with her removal as the chief dependency judge.

I also appeared hundreds of times before Judge Peterson. He is a thoroughly decent man -- very kind-hearted. He was not afraid to take on the Department of Juvenile Justice. He gave the kids a fair chance, did not treat them as scum, was respectful to everyone.

When I retire and reflect upon all of the fine judges I have appeared before, Judge Peterson will be there at the top.