Friday, August 21, 2009


Update: Speaking of justice, John Leighton and Ira Leesfield are two of Miami's well known and well respected attorneys. For many years they worked together in a partnership. The South Florida lawyers blog writes about their blow up and here is a copy of the shocking complaint in Leighton v. Leesfield. 

This is sad to see a 42 year friendship dissolve in this fashion. 

There are two news items for us to ponder in our never ending examination of Justice:


On December 21, 1988 terrorists blew a 747 out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 innocent men, women, and children.

The one man convicted for this horror has terminal cancer and has been released to go home and die. We do not agree with the decision. None of those killed by his cowardly act had a chance to go home and say goodbye to their loved ones. Their lives were violently and unexpectedly ripped from them.

That being said, there is a strong measure of admirable humanity in the reasoning behind the release. Here is part of the transcript from a CNN interview with the Justice Official in Scotland who authorized the release:

MacAskill: Well, I've said all along, and I said in my statement, I'm very, very sorry for the grief. It started in the 24th of December, 1998 (sic) when a heinous atrocity was perpetrated above one small town in Scotland, taking the lives, not just of Americans, but 11 people from our small land.

Nothing can assuage their grief. There is nothing that I could say to Mrs. Cohen or to anyone else that will ease the pain that they have on a day and daily basis.

But in Scotland, our justice system is not predicated on vengeance, but on bringing people to account. And equally, our value system is predicated on seeking to treat people in a matter that is merciful and compassionate, even if they do not show to us as we would wish to show to them.

Blitzer: Do you...

MacAskill: So I'm so heartfelt sorry for Mrs. Cohen and every other victim for the Scottish, UK, American or wherever else. But equally, we are adhering to the values that we have and are following the due process of law that we possess.

Blitzer: Do you realize that you've made their grief so much more powerful right now because they see the picture of this guy walking on a plane and flying back home to Libya where he is about to be received with a hero's welcome?

MacAskill: I've released a sick man. The medical evidence given to me in a report dated 10th August by the Scottish Prison Service says that he's terminally ill. That is a sentence that I cannot impose in Scotland, no court could. We do not have the death penalty. It's final, terminal and irrevocable.

That sentence that he now faces cannot be revoked by any court or overruled by any jurisdiction. I have decided to allow him to go home to die. I am showing his family some compassion. I accept there was a compassion not shown to families in the United States, or in Scotland.

But we have values, we will not debase them, and we will seek to live up to those values of humanity that we pride ourselves on. He was brought to justice after tremendous -- what, not simply by Scottish police and prosecution authorities, but by the United States.

Equally, as I say, in Scotland, justice is tempered with compassion. And that, as I say, is why he has been allowed to go home to die.

Rumpole says: We're not so sure he's right; we're not so sure he's wrong. We are sure our prison system needs a strong dose of what Mr. MacAskill is saying.

Item: Plaxico Burress pleads guilty to shooting himself in the leg and gets two years.

As many people are commenting- one football player in Miami drives impaired and kills another human being and gets 30 days. Another football player shoots himself in the leg and gets two years.

Something's wrong here?

Maybe. Maybe not. New York has very strict gun laws. In the US in 2006 there were 30,896 gun related deaths- or more than ten times the number of people who died in the 9/11 attacks. And that number remains fairly consistent year in, year out, decade in, decade out. States have legitimate interests in regulating the carrying of firearms and NY has well known and very strict laws about illegally carrying firearms.

The problem, if any, is in the result of the Stallworth case not the Burress case. If Mr. Burress wants to emulate the "thug life" he sees in videos and music, then he can do the time and pay the price that kind of life leads to .


eye on the Q said...

I can't help thinking that in both cases someone should have called the Q.

Anonymous said...

My friend's father was one of those who perished in the Pan Am bombing. He and the rest of his family still bear wounds that will never fully heal.

As to Rumpole's statement that American prisons could use a dose of what the Scottish minister had to say--agreed. Nearly anybody involved in the prison system will tell you that the vast majority of inmates, especially younger ones, leave prison worse than they came in. But there are a class of criminals--the Libyan bomber included--whose crimes are so heinous that they are beyond rehabilitation, beyond compassion. That leaves two options, life without parole or the death penalty. While I am not a huge fan of the death penalty, there are a rare few cases where it is deserved. The Pan Am bombing was one of them.

Anonymous said...

Plexico hurt no one (other than himself). Two years in prison for this crime seems unjust. Then again, I think we should legalize marijuana, and I don't disagree with the Scottish Court's decisions also mentioned in this blog post.

Rumpole said...

I cannot disagree with you 8:25. I am not in favor of compassionate releases for mass murderers/terrorists like this man. He never gave those poor people a chance.

However, I cannot disagree with the reasoning of Scotland- to give mercy even where mercy was not given. For me, this is just not the case where Mercy should ever be considered.

As to Plex- it is only by luck that the bullet hit him and not a bystander. Then what? he needs to be punished. 2 years? Ok maybe 1 year is enough. But he needs to be punished. Guns kill people. Simple as that. He should not be carrying a gun. If he wants his second amendment rights, wear a tank top.

Anonymous said...

The only difference is that judge murphy may need to run against someone next election cycle and the judge in New York doesn't care. Eventually, miami shows itself to be the backwater town (spic v. anglo) it will always be. before you object, think about the politics involved.

Anonymous said...

On NPR, they were saying that many officials believe that the Lockerbe bomber was released not solely based on compassionate grounds but for the unstated reason that there remains serious doubt whether he was actually invovled in the bombing. According to the report, even some vicitms' relatives were shocked that the court found him guilty on the evidence presented.

Not saying I necessarily agree or disagree with this or that I agree or disagree that that might serve as a reason to commute a sentence, I'm just saying what I heard.

Anonymous said...

David from the S.Dist Blog makes a good point. The crime was carrying a gun without a license, not just carrying a gun. If some flunky drove a car without a license, crashed it into a nightclub, and hurt no one but himself, would he get prison time? As to the argument that we had 30,000 gun relate deaths in the US last year, I am sympathetic, but we also had about 43,000 automobile related deaths last year, and the driver in my hypo would probably not get any prison time.

Anonymous said...

Guns kill people like pencils make spelling errors.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, 8:25 AM here. I agree with you that mercy should be granted in appropriate cases--but this was not one of them. Also, this was one case where the death penalty would have been very appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Any truth to the rumor Hon Pak See Woo got three NG's this week including the coveted Federal in the morning, state in the afternoon verdict and then trumped that with a quick NG in Broward Thur and today.

Anonymous said...

Happy 65th to a robed reader.

Anonymous said...

1127 you and markus are both idiots.there is no license this man could have had to allow him to carry a gun in new york. unlike florida, ny doesnt hand out ccf perimts to every moron who wants a gun. you have to show a special reason as to why you should be allowed to carry

Rumpole said...

Well at least David and I are in good company. :)

Anonymous said...

He is right. We are ignorant and savage.

othereyeonq said...


In RE: Leighton v. Leesfield:

The first one who calls the Q usually wins, doncha think?

Hey- is it true you can't coach speed?

fake blecher said...

You're a Jerk RFB. A real putz!

Anonymous said...

"Eventually, miami shows itself to be the backwater town (spic v. anglo) it will always be. before you object, think about the politics involved."

anon @ 10:13, no.

the reason miami may show istelf to be backwater is thx to racists like you.

Anonymous said...

2:03: 11:27 here. I may be wrong about New York law (a state in which I have spent less than a week collectively in my life), but at least I am not petty enough to call someone an idiot for disagreeing with me. Have a beer, settle down, enjoy life. Its better than anonymously talking trash about others.

run ted run said...

Visit tedmastosforjudgethemovie.com for the latest updates and fun trailers on the candidates win at no costs effort to derail the Milt train.

I was thinking the other day: Milt Hirsch? For Judge? nah.

real fake blecher. said...

FB your're gonna pay my friend. Pay and pay.

I will have you thrown off every blog in the state, especially this one. A-hole.

Fake Alschuler said...

Fake and real fake have been fighting across all the blogs in this state today- starting in Pensacola, through Tampa and Tallahassee, down to the Orlando and Jaz courthouse blogs, and then here.

These two are like the Frank Gorshin Character in star trek- the half black/half white guy fighting the half white/half black guy for eternity.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Judge Murphy likes being called an "Anglo." One of the problems with such ignorant ethnic stereotyping is that it disguises antagonisms in the so-called "Anglo community" that go back for hundreds of years. I venture to guess that there are similar antangonisms in the "Spic community."

former PD said...

My civil practice is taking off.
1.1 million in settlements in the last two weeks. I think the REGJB has seen the last of me for a while.

CYA. (wouldn't want to be ya).

Oh yeah- I'm calling the Shumie and I'm outta here.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Scottish minister and while we are at it since rumor has it Osama bin Laden is ill, we might as well call off the search for him too.

Anonymous said...

The Captain & Rumpole are not the only ones talking about Plexico.

I heard on the Jim Mandich show this afternoon on WQAM, Mandich said:

Shoot yourself and get 24 months; kill a bunch of dogs and get 18 months; get drunk and hit and kill a guy with your car and get 26 days.

Maddog thought that the 24 months for Plaxico was way over the top and so do I. He was made an example of.

Anonymous said...

Those who kill innocent people for political reasons deserve no mercy. Period.

The hero's welcome this man received in Libya makes me sick. The Libyan government's "contrition" is a sham as anyone who pays attention knows. Their response here was entirely predictable and disgusting. How anyone can defend the ridiculous decision is beyond me. How about a little "mercy" and "sympathy" for the innocents who were killed and their family members who will forever suffer for their losses.


Anonymous said...

Plaxico should go home embarassed and on paper; Donte should go to the hole. But what do I know, just a simple defense attorney

Anonymous said...

It bears repeating...

The death penalty shows that we, as a society, believe that life is so valuable that those who kill must be killed. But we do not kill them because they are a danger or because it is cheaper, we kill to show that killing is wrong.

Fake Jay white said...

I never get tired of hearing or saying this:


Anonymous said...

Congrats Fake Jay and I wish you a good season.

In Pittsburgh we celebrate super bowls, and in Miami you celebrate first downs. Good for you.

But I promise you this- come Sunday evening February 7, 2010, in Miami of all places, the Steeler announcers will be saying AND THAT'S ANOTHER PITTSBURGH STEELERS SUPER BOWL WIN.

Enjoy your first downs.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. We just got smacked down on our own blog.

Anonymous said...

"we kill to show that killing is wrong"
and that is what, showing by example? demonstrating our higher principles by copying their lower ones? not sure i get that one...

Scott Saul said...

Plaxico doing 2 years is absurd. I know he made some bad strategic moves and he is a knucklehead but that is a ridiculous result.

The impact of the Lockerbie incident is so enormous,

so unfathomable for a person to be able to empathize with,

the crime was such a sin onto humanity

that any sympathy for the convicted cannot be justified.

The hero's welcome and national embrace of the convicted is sickening and creates, in me, hatred and disdain for the whole nation. That country admitted to allowing/sanctioning the crime.

As long as we are in Iraq we should make a little side trip and take care of business.

I was a big supporter of Obama but his reaction to this is terrible, It portrays a weak America.

Humanitarian? The man convicted of Lockerbie should die in prison.

Anonymous said...

Why do I see business cards saying "Jeff Felier, International Man of Mystery?"

He's not that mysterious....but then I'm non international.

Anonymous said...

Can somebody summarize the substance of the dispute between Leighton and Leesfield so that we don't have to read that long complaint?

Anonymous said...

Was talking to a friend who was an ADA and defense lawyer in Brooklyn. It is well known that NY is very strict on gun offenses. If you carry a gun without a permit, you go to jail.
Gun without a permit= go to jail.
Gun without a permit= go to jail.
Gun without a permit= go to jail.

It's so simple, even a NFL player can understand it. Or maybe not.

C'ya Plaxico.

Anonymous said...



The death penalty is intended as a lesson.
It teaches that life is not sacrosanct.
It teaches that a person who is not a threat may be killed for revenge.
The death penalty, by cheapening life, by giving society's imprimatur on retributive killing, teaches a culture of killing.

Anonymous said...

Let me summarize Leighton v. Leesfield for the lazy.
Sometime in the 20th century, Lees hired Leigh. Lees tells Leigh that Leigh will inherit the firm. Leigh keeps waiting and that day never comes. So Leigh starts looking into firm finances and see that Lees has been spending a ton of firm dough on private family stuff. Lees finds out that Leigh dug up the dirt, and locks him out. Voila!

Anonymous said...

3:28:00 ...

Right. Nobody would be killing anyone if we did away with the death penalty. Good analysis.

Anonymous said...


I do not suggest that "Nobody would be killing anyone if we did away with the death penalty."

I suggest the death penalty cheapens life and thereby promotes killing. I do not expect that a person, such as yourself, unable to follow simple logic, would grasp a moral argument.

Do keep trying.

Lisa said...

Even though he is dying,he should not be trusted and he should still be monitored.

Anonymous said...

12:07.........let me see if I can simplify this...........suggesting that society bears ANY responsibility for the homicides that occur because it imposes the death penalty is just plain asinine. Simple enough for you?

Anonymous said...


I suggest you are wrong, but simple.

Anonymous said...

LOL. And I suggest your simply wrong and simple.


HAHA. Great debate. ;-) Almost like the pros. Seriously, I do understand your point. I just disagree that the death penalty cheapens life and always find it amusting that some people think it actually leads to more killings (as if these guys sit around thinking, society does it, why shouldn't I?).

Anyway, at least we can laugh at each other and ourselves. Have a good one.