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. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

IN PRAISE OF MICHAEL CATALANO

Michael Catalano, much discussed on these pages in the last few days, does not need anyone to defend him. He is quite capable of doing that himself. We however, do feel compelled to praise him.

The facts of this mess are contained in the previous post and the link to the Herald article. In brief, Mr Catalano refused to take part in an attempted fraud upon the court that would have benefited his client. Beyond refusing to participate in the fraud, Mr. Catalano reported the crime and cooperated with the investigation, making controlled phone calls and wearing a wire at one point.


The first thing Mr. Catalano needs to be praised for is his agreement to assist the public defender on a pro bono basis in this extraordinarily difficult case. As pro bono clients go, this is as difficult assignment as one could find- causing the death of three innocent children.

The second thing is that what most commentators on this blog have seem to forgotten (and what Mr. Catalano did not forget) is that we as criminal defense attorneys do not have any special immunity that allows us to not report a crime or not to assist authorities when we witness a crime. (Outside of the unusual circumstance of the attorney learning of a crime through the attorney/client relationship.)

Mr. Catalano (if he is to be believed) was solicited to commit a crime. And not just any crime, but perjury in the form of an affidavit that would perpetrate a fraud on the civil court system. This was a serious crime that strikes at the heart of our legal system.

The easy thing to do would have to been to ignore the solicitation and avoid this mess.

The hard thing to do- and the right thing to do- was to report the crime, which Mr. Catalano did.

For that Mr. Catalano deserves praise on these pages, and elsewhere. Mr. Catalano did the right thing. His payment thus far has been negative publicity and headaches that have not and will not soon end.

For doing the right thing in the face of adversity, Mr. Catalano deserves our praise.

And now a brief word about Milt Hirsch.

Mr. Hirsch, superb defense attorney, and current candidate for Circuit Court judge, was quoted in the Herald as disparaging Mr. Catalano's actions. Mr. Hirsch's words implied that as a defense attorney, Mr. Catalano should have known better than to report a crime and cooperate with authorities. Mr. Hirsch's words implied that Mr. Catalano had somehow violated some oath and requirement of confidentiality.

Nonsense. And Mr. Hirsch should know better. If and when he becomes a Circuit Judge, Mr. Hirsch will be responsible for judging those who are accused of violating the laws of our State. Attorneys have an affirmative duty as officers of the court to not just avoid perpetrating frauds upon the court, but to report such behavior upon learning of it.

Would Judge Milton Hirsch disparage an attorney for outing an attempted fraud upon the court?

Attorney Milton Hirsch can defend his client to the very best of his considerable abilities without disparaging an attorney who has done the right thing. And shame upon Mr. Hirsch for doing otherwise.


This case is a mess. Mr. Catalano didn't create it. He volunteered to represent a client who needed help when no one else would stand with him. Mr. Catalano has acted in the very best traditions of our profession. And along the way Mr. Catalano has been dragged into a mess he didn't create and surely wishes had never occurred.

There was an easy way out for Mr. Catalano, but he didn't take it.

How many of us would have taken the easy way out?

See you in court. Sometimes this job is a lot harder than it seems.



28 comments:

Anonymous said...

First. So now we know who rumpole is

Last time I read this blog.

Ever.

This post is a joke.

The Straw Buyer said...

My hats off to Catalano. How the hell did the SAO screw this up?

Anonymous said...

when I was a young prosecutor, I learned a lesson that I will always remember and have yet to deviate from over 2 decades later..."dont comment to the press". I know that many attorneys love to talk to the press, but it can get us in trouble, just like talking gets our clients in trouble.

Rumpole said...

I'm not going to miss you 10:27.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think it was very well said. Assuming everything Mike said is true (which seems reasonable given the fact that he was willing to be wired), I wholeheartedly agree with you Rump except, possibly, with one thing. The question remains.........who went to the press. If it was Mike, the he doesn't have clean hands. This stuff should be handled in the courtroom, not in the media.

As for your comments re Milton, whom I have tremendous respect for and support as a candidate, I wonder whether you'd say the same thing about him disparaging a non-lawyer in the press? I hope so. Frankly, and as I indicated above, I think it's inappropriate when attorneys on either side (including, in this case, Milton) personally attack witnesses or opposing counsel as he did. Unfortunately, it seems par for the course these days; many of us forget that we're lawyers and not PR reps.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

Rumpole we all know that you are Rory Stein Just admit it.

Anonymous said...

for what it's worth, mike and milton have deflected all attention away from the mammoth lines outside the REGJB today

Anonymous said...

Catalano for Judge.**

Ethical
Honest
Vote for Catalano for Circuit Court Judge.

**May tape record other jurist in there private chambers. Will not take bribes and has SAO investigators on speed dial.

Catalano taking ethical behavior to a new level.

Anonymous said...

``In Florida, you cannot trade lighter time in prison for money,'' Catalano said Friday.

What planet is this guy from? Mr. Catalano, please explain how Dont� Stallworth is not sitting in a Fla. State prison. Please explain how the wife of the Chief of Police of Ft. Lauderdale did not get convicted for a felony but was able to plead to a misdemeanor WITHOUT a firearm. Oh that's right, she got away with it because of her husband's connections. Anyone not in law enforcement or not having a family member in law enforcement would have received at least a 2nd degree felony for shooting into an occupied dwelling not to mention attempted murder. Of course her husband did testify that he never felt his life was in danger. REALLY??? Chief were you thinkging that as you were running out the back door to get away from your deranged wife? To top it all off, his office has already been cleared of any wrong doing in the Scott Rothstein debacle. How?

Anonymous said...

Why would Mike have to explain Stallworth?

The man darted out in front of a football player's car. The player threw millions of dollars at the case but, it remains that causation is hard to prove with a "dart out" victim.

I look forward to hearing the tapes.

One other thing, it appears as if the PI lawyers were making threats toward Mike. He had a right to talk with the press to protect him from them.

Anonymous said...

Milton might have been a great lawyer back in the day but he is totally detached from reality today.

Anonymous said...

As I was watching the winter games last nite it occurred to me that Catalano is the Scott Hamilton of DUI law.

As for Milton Hirsch, he thinks he is Bob Costas

Anonymous said...

Rumpole,

In the midst of this Catalano/Hirsch situation, the blog has failed to comment on two rather serious incidents that have occurred recently:

1) A man convicted of a 1984 murder of a state parks employee was executed last night.

2) A Plantation police officer working a crime scene fired his gun at a moving car as she drove around him.

Any thoughts?

Uncle Miltie said...

A few years back Milt said he doesn't give money to judicial campaigns out of principle.

Now hes handing out endorsement envelopes and holding fundraisers (20 since November).

Anonymous said...

most people who comment on this blog do so with reason and with respect for their fellow man. then there are some of you who just know how to throw insults. In all my time reading this blog, I have never seen Rump insult anyone, just state his point of view. It is really sad that as attorneys some of you just can't express yourself without the low blow insults.

Anonymous said...

catalano voluteered for the publicity similar to what galenter does to get his name in ink.

Anonymous said...

Let's just say this simple. Milt is one of the brightest guys I know. He can fill a room with the enclopedic knowledge he possesses. He will forget more constitutional law than you can imagine and still know more than you.

But that does not make him good judge material. He is too much of an advocate and he is too self righteous. I just don't think, especially after this last episode he could ever put down his advocate hat and be a fair and impartial arbitor.

Some people (far too many) become judges to get the salary and the benefits because they can't make a living or need the easy job so they can take care of their kids. Some become judges making a personal sacrifice to perform public service to pay back for the life they have lived and the monetary comfort they enjoy from hard work. Lastly some become judges because they are going to save the judicial system all by themselves and prove how wrong everyone else is. The last is Milt.

The truth is that Milt belongs at a podium teaching young legal minds to think as analytically as he does. Milt, recognition is half the battle. See what is really your calling. Keep fighting for truth, justice and the American way. As a judge it is not and will not be your fight anymore.

Anonymous said...

Ok, maybe the quote should have been that in Florida you can not "legally"trade lighter time for money.

Are you happy now?

now, thanks to the 5: 20 pm post, all the judicial candidates will stupidly think Catalano is running for judge.

Anonymous said...

Catalano may do alot of things. But lie about this? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/southflorida/story/1483855.html

"Before prison, McGee was a young man with a family, four children and big dreams.

After prison, three years and seven months later, McGee was divorced, living with his mother and working three jobs to get by.

On Tuesday, with a few strokes of a pen in Fort Lauderdale, the 42-year-old signed the papers that will deliver compensation from the state for his lost years: $179,000."

A mere pittance. The law falls short of the havoc wrought by Broweird.

"It began in 1991, when he was convicted of the armed robbery of a Chevron gas station on Oakland Park Boulevard.

No physical evidence put him at the scene. The time card from his job as a custodian at Fort Lauderdale High School showed that he was at work.

But a gas station clerk picked McGee out of a lineup. McGee's defense lawyer at the time brought the wrong time card to court."

For shame...

Rumpole said...

9:27 Am- I am fairly certain I have insulted some Judges along the way.

I know I've tried.

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS to LOURDES SIMON
Dade's newest County court Judge!
She will Make us proud.
David Sisselman

Anonymous said...

Who to run against, Milt or Miguel.. ummmm.

On the one hand Milt recently insulted me, but on the other hand Miguel insulted me in the hit n' run case.

Catalano vs. De la O

or

Catalano vs. Uncle Miltie

I need to consult with my fellow bloggers.

Anonymous said...

when i was a young judge, mr. catalano came before and impressed me with his compassion for his client and his incredible knowledge of his specialty. at his request, after passionate argument, i released one of his clients whom i had imprisoned after mr. catalano had shown to me that the defendant was dying of aids. he is a good man and a real advocate. bravo mr. catalano for excelling in your chosen profession. your clients are blessed to have you as their advocate.

Anonymous said...

10 Thoughts
1. The phrase “when I was a prosecutor” is so frequently used it can officially qualify as a speech tick, means little given the fact that,
2. The majority of the folks who are in private practice in the misdemeanor world cannot try their way out of a paper bag, couldn’t do it when they were prosecutors/Pds and can’t do it now
3. And those same folks don’t know the law, are too lazy to read what they cite and bank on procedural luck (NOEs etc) or the lack of prowess of a state attorney who is 1 year experienced which is the reason why,
4. Them there misdemeanors make $$ because practicing there is like being a 32 year old 6th grader, not too hard to rule the playground, your job is like the movie groundhog day, but of course even with all that practice, what have you accomplished,
5. And of course the important term in #3 is practice, you eventually should LEARN
6. Unless of course you are entirely focused on $$ which leads to,
7. Defense is where you go when you need money, you might like the elegant rationalization that you are “defending the constitution” but its just that, a rationalization and unfortunately your lack of passion for this life path results in
8. Constant noise. You deflect the above reality and drown it daily in noise. Be it arrogance or discontentment, media coverage, and the occasional self-righteousness, maybe you should take a deep look inward and
9. Walk quietly and should you actually work, research and win or lose on more then luck, carry a big stick
10. Because your legacy should be more then this- a little self-truth would go a very long way- and maybe impact what you say, when you it, if you do

Anonymous said...

Bravo to this blog entry. Well reasoned and appropriate in tone. I frequently disagree with Rump's views on this blog but cannot agree more with your perspective here.

Anonymous said...

Catalano and Hirsch sat right next to each other last night at the FACDL board meeting. Catalano told some before the meeting that Milt apologized for speaking before asking him what really happened. He accepted the apology so, everyone please stop assuming that they are angry with each other.

They were both just defending their clients.

He also told the rest of the story. Boy what a scheme that PI lawyer had concocted! He was pressuring everyone in the case to help him sue a deep pocket that probably had no liability in the case.

People, move on!

Anonymous said...

You're in Miami, Mike. You run against the gringo.

Catalano vs. Hirsch.

If it were 1980, it would be Hirsch in a landslide.

But in 2010- Catalano wins.