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

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

WHY PHIL DAVIS MATTERS

UPDATE: DAVIS JURY OUT- if someone could email us when the verdict comes in that would be appreciated. 

Far removed from the familiar confines of NW 12th Street and 12th Avenue, we have been wondering why we have taken such an interest in the current trial of disgraced former Judge Phil Davis.
Here's why.

Phil Davis was a one of three sitting Circuit Court Judges to be arrested in Operation Courtbroom. Judges Alfonso Sepe and Roy Gelber were the other two sitting circuit court judges to be arrested along with sitting County Court Judge Harvey Shenberg, former Circuit Court Judge David Goodhart and a few other criminal defense attorneys. There were a few separate crimes and conspiracies going on at the same time, the chief offense being that defense attorneys were giving circuit judges kick backs for what was then lucrative court appointments. Along the way County Court Judge Harvey Shenberg agreed to sell the name of a CI that he was led to believe would be killed, for $50,000.00.

Davis and his cohorts represented both the end of innocence at the Justice Building, and a shattering of the belief that Judges-like them or not- were there to do justice. Sometimes wrong, often arrogant and seemingly uncaring, many Judges seemed to us at the time as petty and insecure, and not really suited for the responsibilities they had been entrusted to shoulder. But never in our wildest imagination did we believe that a Judge- not to mention four sitting judges- would be actively striking against the principles we all stood for.

Suddenly, every ruling a Judge issued resulted in whispers. "They're on the take, just like the rest of them" people would say, and what could we as lawyers do to respond? For all we knew, our world having been turned upside down, maybe there was another shoe or two to drop.

An innocent cup of coffee between a Judge and a lawyer now looked like a conspiracy.

In short, Davis and his conspirators turned our courthouse into an outhouse. They defecated in it, and then they left. Hustled out in handcuffs. We- the lawyers and judges who remained- were left to clean up their effluent waste.

Today, the court appointment system is almost gone. Interaction outside of court between Judges and lawyers is much rarer. And perhaps that's a good thing. Our building survived, our reputation has slowly been rebuilt and in many ways our system of justice in Miami is stronger and wiser because of Courtbroom.

And then, almost like a one night stand you regretted once the sun rose, there is Davis, back in our courthouse, a defendant once again. And all the memories of the disgrace and pain and shame he brought upon all of us is dredged back up to the surface once again.

Davis was acquitted in Courtbroom, mostly due to the eloquent closing argument of former Federal Judge and now Congressman Alcee Hastings. And just to show that Courtbroom was not an isolated incident, Davis managed to find more trouble shortly thereafter and was disbarred. And now for the second time in twenty years, Phil Davis will stand before a Jury to hear his fate. This time, Alcee Hastings won't be standing next to him.

It doesn't really matter what happens to Phil Davis. The damage he did remains, although the scars have faded. He is clearly a tortured soul. He had a job many aspire to- and he threw it all away. He had a profession many envied. And he threw that away too. He set up charitable organizations to ostensibly help the underprivileged, and now he stands accused of the reprehensible act of stealing from the poor he promised to serve.

In the final analysis, it's not the damage Davis did, but the lessons we learned.
It's not the money he stole, but the integrity we refused to relinquish.
It's not the office he disgraced, but the proud service of those who came after him.

Which is why, in retrospect, Phil Davis doesn't matter at all.



13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Traffic lawyer alert.

My neighbor's kid just turned 18yrs old attends FIU college. He gets pulled over on the campus and the cop does not like the kid asking too many questions and gives him 6 tickets for tinted windows. One ticket for each window on the car. As a bonus gives the kid another ticket for tinted headlights.

So now this 18 yrs old kid has over $1000.00 in non-moving violation tickets because the cop did not like the kid asking questions.

Traffic lawyers speak up.

Anonymous said...

Great post old man.

Anonymous said...

Traffic lawyers speak up?

Ok, it's $99 for the first ticket and $29 for each additional. No points or your money back.

Anonymous said...

So many thoughts on 5:02:

This type of sh*t happens all the time.

It sucks. This is what gives officers a bad name.

As a 'traffic lawyer' I love this stuff - more fees for me. Even though I think it's reprehensible what the officer did.

The kid's tickets will get dismissed.

Nothing will ever come of it with the officer because traffic court isn't the right venue to complain about an officer's behavior and it's probably not worth the time and energy for the kid to complain and see no result anyway.

Tell him to file complaint with FIU PD.

Next thought - this kid wasn't 'asking questions.' 18 yr old. Probably started talking back to the officer. Officers pull stuff like this when the person starts mouthing off.

Another thought: Tell the kid to remove the tint right away if it's illegal. Otherwise next time he's on campus he gets stopped again. Especially if he's filed complaint against guy. If tint is legal, installation shop should provide proof.

Who tints their friggin headlights, anyway?

Rumpole said...

Guess what? You call me names, I don't publish your comment. I win, you lose. It's called a zero sum game.

Fake Roy t gelber said...

I'm on it Rump, like white on rice, or like sweet C-note tucked into a pleading.

fake kenny said...

Yo yo yo me and fast Phil Davis don't always agree, but we agree on this- Cash money ain't NEVER gonna play out.

fake kenny said...

Yo yo yo me and fast Phil Davis don't always agree, but we agree on this- Cash money ain't NEVER gonna play out.

Anonymous said...

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking-news/story/1315784.html

Anonymous said...

This is why juries set criminals free. One asshole officer makes the good guy cop look and sound bad to a jury panel.

South Florida Lawyers said...

Home run, Rump.

Anonymous said...

11:43, some people tint their headlights. I've seen pimpmobiles with pink-tinted headlights and other cars with green or purple-tinted headlights. Tinted headlights are usually combined with shiny chrome 24 or 26-inch donk wheels and a fancy candy-coat paint job.

Anonymous said...

Well, of course, you don't have to take your shoes off to count the good guy cops.