Wednesday, July 29, 2009
MILT HIRSCH DUST UP
And see the update on the appeal Milt Hirsch defended in this case, below.
Well, that is the first time this has ever happened: we started working on a post and thought we saved it only to later see it was on the blog. Well now you have an inside look at how we work.
OK: The New Times story on Milt Hirsch is here:
Basically a young man drove while impaired and killed an elderly woman. Milt found himself in the position we all find ourselves in- representing a nice person who committed a bad act where the lawyer finds himself or herself in the difficult position of telling the client there is not much they can do for them and that prison awaits.
The client flees the country and is caught. The client returns and gets 12 years and in a motion for post conviction relief avers that Hirsch and the psychologist Hirsch recommended he see both urged the man to flee. The client and his mother surreptitiously recorded Hirsch and Dr. Rappaport.
Judge Leonard Glick denied the motion and refused to listen to the tapes that the defense (David S Markus) claimed showed that Hirsch and Rappaport urged the client and his mother to flee the United States. (There are two excellent lawyers in Miami both named David Markus. Our favourite federal blogger is David O Markus and he is NOT involved in the case with Hirsch. David S Markus is a former ASA who shared an office with Sy Gaer for decades. )
A couple of thoughts:
There's a Georgetown graduate sitting in jail facing a 12 year prison sentence for DUI manslaughter. He had no priors and had otherwise led a lawful and productive (albeit no TDs) life. How do you think he and his family felt when they saw a star football player (OK. he played for the Browns who have no stars, but still...) get 30 days for the same offense?
Put another way- Donte Stallworth got 4,353 days LESS than this young man for THE EXACT SAME CRIME. Yeah, those guidelines work real well. And the law is blind. Right.
Second, and to us this is the real issue: Did Judge Leonard Glick do the right thing in refusing to listen to the tapes which are alleged to show that Mr. Hirsch and Dr. Rappaport lied under oath, and conspired to have a defendant flee the jurisdiction?
A man is in prison facing 12 years. Why not at least listen to the tapes? There is no exclusionary rule for citizens. It seems to us Judge Glick was 100% wrong on this one. What are your thoughts?
If this was a death penalty case and the tapes were alleged to show that the defendant was innocent (which is not the issue here) would Judge Glick have acted differently? Would that change your opinion on the issue?
UPDATE: For those of you debating Milt Hirsch's performance in this case, it was brought to our attention that Milt was able to see a novel issue and actually obtain an order of suppression in this case, which was unfortunately reversed on appeal at State v. Casey, 821 So.2d 1187
(Fla. 3rd DCA 2002). The point is that the media article makes it appear Milt just took the case, waived a white flag and told the client to flee- which is certainly not the case. Milt litigated the case as hard as we would all expect him to do.
Finally, and we break character here because this is such a sensitive and difficult issue:
I have had the same feelings Milt Hirsch is alleged to have advocated. (I am NOT saying Milt Hirsch said or did anything wrong). In our business you meet all kinds of people. The most difficult cases are the ones where good people did a very bad thing- and perhaps in no other area of the law do you see this more than in DUI Manslaughter. I have unfortunately had the difficult job of more than once sitting down with a very decent person and explaining to them why I was recommending settling the case with a prison sentence. In our profession you sometimes spend years meeting with and working with clients and their families. You see their children, their spouses, their elderly parents. And sometime you have to tell them that they need to go to prison. And it really is a painful conversation and I fully admit that on more than one occasion my feelings for my client have led to want to tell them to just flee. That prison is awful and will change them for the worse and better to live a free life as a janitor in a foreign land, then have your children visit you in a prison where it is a daily struggle to just survive. I have never acted on these feelings, but I would be very surprised if they are not common among those in my profession.
I have no idea what if anything Milt Hirsch said. He is an excellent lawyer and will, if elected, be an excellent Judge. It would be wrong and illegal for him or any lawyer to counsel a client to flee. I am just saying I understand the urge. I hope this works out for him and his client.