WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Sunday, August 09, 2009

OH SUSANNAH

Today is Monday and if you're not in court trying a case like the rest of us, perhaps business is a bit slow? What are you going to do about it?

Looking at the phone won't make it ring. And don't even think about calling that slimy bondsman who slipped you his card last week.

Do you have a website? Do you have a web presence?

Do you have a story to tell about who you are and what your firm does?

Then click on the title to the post and contact our favourite former Herald Reporter, Oh Susannah Nesmith who has reinvented herself as web consultant to the stars of the South Florida legal community.

Atticus Finch revisited.

Poke any lawyer in Au Bon Pain at the REGJB and odds are he or she will tell you they wanted to become a lawyer after reading or watching Atticus Finch's defense of Tom Robinson in "To Kill A Mockingbird." Most of them will also tell you they considered naming their first son "Atticus" or their first daughter "Scout."

But if you think about it, Finch's defense of Robinson was half hearted at best.

He engaged in the "blame the victim-she wanted it" defense by putting his client on the stand to say Mayella Ewell tried to seduce him. Finch even engages in a little sliming of the victim by having Robinson recount a conversation with Ewell in which it is readily apparent that she is having an incestual relationship with her father.

Finch relies heavily on Robinson's left arm being useless while Ewell had bruises to the right side of her face. But is it beyond the realm of possibility that Robinson hit Ewell with a backhand or otherwise struck her while her face was turned?

Finch has Robinson recount an almost unbelievable story by Ewell of saving money for a whole year just so she could send the children out of the house that particular day in the knowledge that Robinson would be walking by. Can you just imagine a prosecutor saying in closing argument "In order to find Robinson not guilty you must believe Ewell planned this a year in advance."? Finch manages to co-mingle the "she wanted it" defense with this absurd story to the point where one must believe Ewell was so sex starved that she worked on this scheme for a whole year.

Yes Finch has his admirable qualities. He stood on the steps of the jail to stop a lynch mob. But his lawyering skills leave a lot more to be desired.

This New Yorker has a an article about the South and Finch's defense revisited here. We recommend it.

The final condemnation of Finch is just as severe- his complicity in Sheriff Tate's obstruction of justice. In the conclusion of the Novel, Boo Radely saves Scout and her brother and kills Ewell's father:

Sheriff Tate brings the news to Finch, and persuades him to lie about what actually happened; the story will be that Ewell inadvertently stabbed himself in the scuffle. As the Sheriff explains:


Maybe you’ll say it’s my duty to tell the town all about it and not hush it up. Know what’d happen then? All the ladies in Maycomb includin’ my wife’d be knocking on his door bringing angel food cakes. To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head. If it was any other man it’d be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch.

“Scout,” Finch says to his daughter, after he and Sheriff Tate have cut their little side deal. “Mr. Ewell fell on his knife. Can you possibly understand?”


Understand what? That her father and the Sheriff have decided to obstruct justice in the name of saving their beloved neighbor the burden of angel-food cake? Atticus Finch is faced with jurors who have one set of standards for white people like the Ewells and another set for black folk like Tom Robinson. His response is to adopt one set of standards for respectable whites like Boo Radley and another for white trash like Bob Ewell. A book that we thought instructed us about the world tells us, instead, about the limitations of Jim Crow liberalism in Maycomb, Alabama.


Sorry to burst your bubble. Give Ms. Nesmith a call.

We can't for obvious reasons, plus we don't need the business, but we bet she

does a bang up job.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rumpole
Sorry, old chap, but you miss the mark in you review. Finch defends the poor with all his might, even when he and his family are in mortal danger. He is flawed, but that does not change his heroism. While his client is convicted, which reader or viewer does not believe the disabled defendant was Not Guilty?. As the preacher said, Stand up your Fathers passing by.
D. Sisselman

Rumpole said...

Read the article Mr. S. Read the Michigan law review article on Finch. He is admirable, but only to a degree.

Jeff Gamso said...

Years ago, at an appellate practice CLE, we began by brainstorming the ineffective assistance arguments against Atticus Finch.

Start with a basic lack of investigation and go from there.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the 1991 trial when Scott Saul prosecuted a one-legged older black man for the "rape" of a huge white Virginia young woman. Diane Ward got a not-unexpected not guilty.

blog reporter said...

HAS RUMPOLE GONE TOO FAR? :
(c) Blogger News Inc., 2009. All Rights reserved.

A palpable buzz has arisen in legal circles as lawyers debated Miami's grouchy legal blogger Rumpole, and his latest post in which he takes on, and takes down, one of the law's great legal Icons: Atticus Finch.

Rumpole argues that Finch engaged in a not too subtle "blame the victim, she wanted it" in his famous but ultimately unsuccessful defense of Tom Robinson in the novel Too Kill A Mockingbird.

Rumpole, who is known for his relentless criticism of Judges and their intellect or lack thereof, not to mention what Rumpole calls their predilection for eating and drinking for free, may have gone too far when he attacked Finch in his latest blog post at www.justicebuilding.blogspot.com.

Finch is beloved among the legal profession for his uphill battle to defend a black man in the deep south for the almost unspeakable charges of raping a white woman. But Rumpole attacks Finch much the way he accuses Finch of attacking the victim. Rumpole claims that Finch not only engaged in a tired "blame it on the victim" defense but that Finch blew it by putting his client on the witness stand to tell an almost unbelievable story of the victim planning her advances on Robinson a year in advance. Couple that story with what Rumpole calls "slimming the victim" when Finch had Robinson obliquely refer the victim's sexual relations with her Father, and you have the makings of a dead loser defense.

Finally, Rumpole takes Finch and the Sheriff to task for, in Rumpole's words "Obstructing Justice" when Boo Radley kills the victim's father.

"A lot of Lawyers in Miami read the blog" said one long time public defender who asked for anonymity. "But he has gone too far now. All of us admire Finch and this post is just...just outrageous!"

"I'm glad" said one Judge. "He's a jerk and he's always calling us jerks, and now the public sees that he's the real jerk."

Rumpole did not respond to repeated emails to his gmail account.

Anonymous said...

that's the last case scott saul tried - hey scottie - here's a tip: he who talks loudest last, does not win and is not the smartest.

try a case pal.

Anonymous said...

How bout... you are all jerks. Judges and Rumpole and Prosecutors and Defense Lawyers, but especially Judges.

Anonymous said...

To the Blog Reporter: if you take the time to read the New Yorker article that forms the basis of the post, you will see that Rumpole has plenty of company in his criticism of Atticus Finch.

P.S. (to 10:22): Scott Saul has tried many more than his share of cases in the last 18 years and shouldn't even have to respond to such B.S.

Anonymous said...

12:45 is either a cop or a clerk.

real deal appeal said...

I'm writing this stupid appeal and I can't find any case law. A marijuana case. The state never calls a chemist and never qualifies the cop as an expert and the most the cop says is "i believe the substance was SUSPECT marijuana."


Thanks. And I'm so frustrated I;m leaving for the day

sad shumie news said...

Dude- call shumie time and get out of there, tomorrow is another day.

Speaking of shumie, sad shumie news. Click the link.

Anonymous said...

3:25:00 p.m., that should have been a JOA. Who was the judge?

Anonymous said...

Not a Miami case. Question is give me some case law. State can prove marijuana based on officer's experience. But 1) Do they have to tender him as an expert? 2) Is the testimony I recounted enough?

fake jay white said...

I'm going spear fishing now. Check you later on the blog homes.

old guy said...

Marijuana issue:
1. Nobody has to be tendered as an expert anymore. On the other hand, the reviewing court must be able to clearly agree that the proper level of expertise is shown by the testimony. Saying that I can "just tell" is clearly insufficient to meet the burden of proof.

2, As long as the issue of sufficiency was preserved at trial, you should be OK on direct appeal.

Anonymous said...

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My sincere condolences.

-Lou, Miss Pooh Bear and Tigger, TSTC

Anonymous said...

The issue was NOT well preserved at trial.

I keep seeing the prosecutor mention that he does not have to tender the officer as an expert but I can't find the case. Any tips?

down wit it said...

Yo Fake Jay White!

Shoot me one of those hogfish.

Smell you later homey playa.

Dolphin poet said...

Rump:

The weeks have dragged by
so sad and long
it makes me very gloomy
the heat of summer
bakes my body
and suddenly I start to lose my frown
as I realize its not too long until I hear

AND THAT'S ANOTHER MIAMI DOLPHINS FIRST DOWN!!!!!

Anonymous said...

6:25 who do you think you are,
the fresh prince of bel aire?

Anonymous said...

YO YO YO FAKE JAY WHITE IN THE BLOG!!!!

Anonymous said...

fuck the dolphins and thier clown ass fans

Anonymous said...

Marijuana issue:
1. Tender as an expert? Look at Sinclair v. State, 995 So.2d 552 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008) ("marijuana identification by nonscientific means is a settled issue in Florida law") and cases cited in that opinion.

2. Sufficiency of the evidence? Look at F.B. v. State, 852 So.2d 226, 230 (Fla. 2003) ("The second exception to the requirement that claims of insufficiency of the evidence must be preserved occurs when the evidence is insufficient to show that a crime was committed at all."). Seems like that might work in your case as possessing "suspect marijuana" is not a crime.

Good luck!

the trialmaster said...

I understand that the TRIAlMASTER hit another big civil case and will not be in the Justice bldg until November. The weather will be better and the bottom feeders with offices within walking building will be quoting their fees of $750.00 for a second degree felony and $ 1000.00 for a murder charge. Pithic

Anonymous said...

Rumpole
I have read the New Yorker article. A. Finch was a good man and a good Attorney. I stand by my first statement.
D. Sisselman

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