Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CORRECTIONS KERFUFFLE



No post in recent memory engendered the high level of discussion than our post last weekend detailing the experience of our hapless private attorney friend who needed five full days and five putative attempts before he was allowed to see his client at the Dade County Jail.

(<---------check out the new poll)

In response to some high level inquires, the attorney in question has emailed me that he was never offered the option of seeing his client through glass in a booth. That appears to be the new policy of the Dade County Jail (Motto: "proudly keeping attorneys from their clients since well before you were born.")

In all seriousness, there is another side to this issue that needs to be examined: the new policy at the DCJ was created in response to the absolutely intolerable circumstances of attorneys visiting clients without being asked to in an attempt to "steal" clients away from legitimate attorneys of record.

While we applaud the concern, there are serious shortcomings with the new policy. The most glaring problem is that clients often legitimately wish to change attorneys or seek a second opinion and are unable to do so under the new policy.

Perhaps a better solution is for the jail to keep a record of which attorneys visit clients. This record can be made available to the attorneys of record, who can then report attorneys who solicit clients or who otherwise see clients without being requested to do so.

However, if the jail and the court system wants to turn their attention to these types of problems then perhaps the SAO can once and for all GET OFF THEIR BUTTS AND INVESTIGATE BONDSMEN WHO REFER CASES TO ATTORNEYS. This is not that hard to do. We have made several complaints over the years. Bondsmen were literally kidnapping clients by bonding them out, taking them to their office, having them call their families for money for the bond, and then forcing them to hire particular attorneys under the threat of surrendering them back to jail if they didn't. A start would be to look at several attorneys who we all know and despise. We are 100% certain that any decent detective would see that certain attorneys in particular have 95% of their clients who were bonded out by a particular bonding agency. It then would be a quick step to interview some former clients who would all tell the same remarkable story that their bondsman threatened to surrender them back to the jail if they didn't hire one particular attorney.

Anyway, Attorney Rick Freedman is on some FACDL committee that deals with the jail. They do two things at the FACDL exceedingly well: They form committees and they hound you for dues.

Rick wants everyone to let him know what they think the policy at the DCJ should be:

(choose 1, 2, or 3, then when you see Rick in the building just shout a number at him. Alternatively you can call Rick at home and just shout a number at him when he answers; then hang up. Or you can officially vote in our poll at the side of the blog post. Your choice. But sometimes shouting can be fun. )

1. Only the attorney of record can see the inmate face to face; (all others would be "under glass'').

2. If the inmate is represented by the PD, any attorney with a bar card can see the inmate face to face.

3. Anyone with a bar card can see the inmate; Miami Dade DOC should not have any rules restricting access.

Rumpole says: The DCJ has been a cesspool of corruption for decades now vis a vis the referring of clients and the stealing of clients. How many of you have been told that a corrections officer subtly slipped your client the card of an attorney he should hire? It is our great suspicion that the officers who refer inmates to attorneys are doing so for motive$ other than altrui$m.


35 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It is our great suspicion that the officers who refer inmates to attorneys are doing so for motive$ other than altrui$m."

Rumpole, back in the 90's, there was one instance where a client came to my office referred by an unknown corrections officer whose name I never learned. The officer pointed at my name in the yellow pages and told the client that I was a good attorney and could win the case, which was exactly what I did.

Rumpole said...

I know we all want to name names. But I can't allow it- however- if you send me an email from an address with your name- and you are willing to publicly make an accusation and stand behind it- I will print it. Otherwise I cannot do it because there would be too many people trying to settle scores and making unfounded allegations.

As to you 9:40- I don't doubt the episode. However, your story is few and far between. There are a 1000 referrals made for money for every case like you report.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Judge Wolfson! Godspeed!

Anonymous said...

Rump

Felony ASA here. You are asking the SAO to investigate. If this was brought directly to me, I'd follow up. However, no private would go to the office and report. You all just bitch about it.

Anonymous said...

is that beautiful correctional officer MARLEN HAN still at the justcie building? wow.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cap, why haven't you posted that Andrea Ricker Wolfson has been named to the County bench???

Anonymous said...

Bondsman get paid 33% of the referral...houseman get 20% of the bond premium, the numbers add up...good luck

Anonymous said...

My bondsman told me to choose no. 3

Rumpole said...

Not true felony ASA people have made complaints with names, case numbers, and witnesses ready to testify nothing was done .

Anonymous said...

To the ASA (May 26, 2010 10:00:00 PM), your are obviously well intentioned, but also obviously too young. Please do not insult our intelligence, your office is a joke. You have police officers perjure themselves, in open court, with clear evidence of their perjury, and neither the ASA nor the judge do squat. You go to the SAO and they tell you to refer the matter to “Internal Affairs” “they will check with us.” How ironic, it like the farmer whose chickens are disappearing hiring a fox to ferret out the culprit. This nonsense with Correction Officers making referrals has been happening for a very long time, and no one seems to care. Cops lying has been happening for a very long time, and no one seems to care. Colodny’s division, had a bondsmen get in the loop, refereed by the Corrections Officer, had a lawyer handle all co-defendants, I spoke with the ASA, told her what had occurred, and guess what, nothing. The SAO “Public Corruption Unit” or PCU, “Police Cuddling Unit” is a misnomer and an inefficient model of what a public integrity unit is and should be. The SAO is the chief law enforcement unit in the Circuit, why do they defer police integrity to the very institution at issue, much like the farmer asking a pack of foxes to guard the chicken coop or wolves to safeguard the sheep.

Anonymous said...

7:43 - what a whiner. Grow up. Nothing is perfect in any jurisdiction, and if you think that a prosecutor's office is going to prioritize attorneys' and bondsmen's fees over robberies, rapes and murders, you are living in a dream world. You're worried about your intelligence being insulted by an earlier post? Pleeeease.

Anonymous said...

RUMP - how is Judge MARGARITA ESQUIROZ doing? I heard that she was very sick and could not be a judge anymore. Is that true? I wish her the best and say mu prayers for her. She always treated me so nice.

CAPTAIN said...

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

YOUR NEW COUNTY COURT JUDGE IS ....

Boy, out of town for one day and the grief I get.

Judge Amy Karan resigned. The JNC sent six names to the Governor:

Tanya Brinkley (14 years)
Ivinne Cuesta (8 years)
Joseph Davis Jr. (37 years)
Steve Lieberman (26 years)
Anita Moss (13 years)
Andrea Wolfson (8 years)

Congratulations to Andrea Wolfson as she has been chosen by Governor Crist as your next County Court Judge.

Clearly, length of membership in The Florida Bar is not at the top of the list when the Governor and his staff chose. And since I do not know Ms. Wolfson (now Her Honor), maybe some of you folks can enlighten me as to her background. I do know that she attended Chicago Kent College of Law and has been working for the State Attorney's Office here in Miami Dade County for her entire career.

Cap Out ....

Anonymous said...

I have only one word for the selection of Ms. Wolfson as a County Court Judge. (And this is not directed at her personally) DISGUSTING!! An 8 year lawyer, barely in her 30's with little real life experience, whose sole legal experience is as an ASA, being selected over attorneys with vast life and legal experience which, in one case, began before she was born and in another while she was in Kindergarten.

Shame on the JNC. Shame on Crist and his staff. Shame on the legal community for putting up with this crap. As long as you sanction these selections you have no right to complain about the quality of the bench in this county.

Want to make a difference? Then speak up, as Captain says. Call the members of the JNC, not just to support or deride a particular applicant, but let them know you tire of this creation of a "career judiciary." Let them know that we who labor in court value experience and legal knowledge above longevity and a feeling of entitlement.

I, for one, have had enough.

Anonymous said...

Andrea is going to make a fine judge. She is fair, incredibly hard working and smart. She will be a shining member of our judiciary.

Time in the bar should not matter if the person is qualified, and she is.

Andrea is and will be great.

Congratulations Andrea.

D

Anonymous said...

Get used to it, 11:36 a.m.

Maximum Monica FTW!

Anonymous said...

Trafficking in Heroin Sentence:

...Particularly the judge’s
enthusiastic advocacy of the State’s pre-trial offer of a ten year sentence in return
for a guilty plea, and the unexplained 40 year sentence (the offense carried a 25
year mandatory minimum) which was imposed after the trial which followed the
defendant’s rejection of the offer, we must conclude that the sentence was, in legal
parlance, “vindictive,” requiring resentencing by another judge.

Viera v. State, Third DCA Case decision released today.

Anonymous said...

My limited experiences with Ms. Wolfson have always been positive and of the utmost professionalism. I believe she will be an asset to our bench, notwithstanding the fact that she was an A.S.A. (Just kidding).

CAPTAIN said...

Ouch! Tough week for the 11th JC as 3rd DCA carries the bigger gavel:

Prescott Reversed
Soto Reversed
Marin Reversed
Johnson Reversed

Anonymous said...

As a 10-year attorney with experience on both sides of a criminal case in Miami.....

Notwithstanding the fact that Andrea was the only attorney on the list I have ever heard of, I can tell you that she is certainly qualified. "Life experience" and years as an attorney don't mean shit in this town. If Adrien, Newman...etc. can scam their way onto the bench and do a disservice to the county on a daily basis, then Andrea should get her shot regardless of age/experience...

Anonymous said...

11:36 here -

Ms. Wolfson may well be intelligent, hard working and professional. But do not delude yourself. Of course time as a lawyer and in life counts and any belief to the contrary is idiocy and is at best naive.

According to the State Constitution one only needs to be a member in good standing of the Florida Bar for 5 years to be "qualified". The State Constitution also requires highly qualified judges to retire at 70. Does that mean that in reality that 5 year lawyer has the qualifications to judge all the relevant issues in a matter before them? Does that mean the 70 year old judge is senile or has somehow lost those qualities that made him a good judge. Absloutely not on both counts.

Somehow all of you think that being a judge is an easy gig and only about making decisions. It is a major part of it. But, it is far more. People's lives and fortunes can hang in the balance of every decision you make. Knowing how to apply proper discretion in many matters is a question of experience in life, not just being able to read a book and find a "simple answer."

Grow up yee of the entitlement generation. Pay your dues. Live a life. Prove your worth. Then ask for the responsiblity of dealing with other people's lives, including mine.

P.S. It will interesting to look at Charlie Crist's next campaign report and see how much Ms. Wolfson's family has contributed in recent weeks.

Anonymous said...

Andrea Ricker Wolfson will be a great judge! Andrea is hard working, smart, fair, and is a professional. She has always treated fellow ASAs and the defense bar with courtesy and respect. She will be an asset to the bench. Her years of experience should not matter because she is qualified to hold this position. Best of luck to you Judge Ricker Wolfson. I know you will be great!!

bob said...

1.Experience counts.The rules should be changed for judicial appointments to at least ten years experience. Experience alone,however, does not qualify one for the bench.Best of luck to Judge Wolfson, see you in court!
2.SAO has know for years about issues with the jail and bondsman kickback schemes,they don't care.
3. I was with Judge Esquiroz yesterday, she is a courageous, inspiring person, she is hopeful of getting back on the bench by late summer.If you pray, keep her in your prayers!
Bob P.

old guy said...

Is it too late to vote for a kartoffel, preferably baked - with sour cream and scallions?

Anonymous said...

u all want lawyers arrested for paying kickbacks to bondsmen? We really are held to a higher standard as criminal lawyers. Name me a single "top" plaintiff lawyer in miami who is not paying a cop a nurse funeral director or any other host of well placed non lawyers a kickback. Rumpole says he is flying net jets but he cares about 5k bondsman cases. I don't buy it!

Anonymous said...

bondsman control the flow of cases...believe it

Jonathan Davidoff said...

I have known Andrea since she started at the SAO in 2001. Andrea is an excellent attorney, and even a better person. Andrea is bright, extremely dedicated to the community, a very hard worker, and she sacrifices herself for the betterment of the world. There is no doubt in my mind that Andrea is going to be an excellent judge.

Remember, just because a judge does not rule in your favor or give you what you want does not mean the individual is a bad judge or a bad person. In fact, too many people evaluate a judge on the result of a case or a ruling on an individual matter, rather than based on who they are and what they stand for.

Anyway, not to get away from the point of this blog comment, Andrea is a tremendous person, and will be an AWESOME judge. Regardless of how many years she has been an attorney, or that she has not played both sides of the criminal fence, she knows what she is doing and she is probably smarter than 95% of us.

Jonathan Davidoff

Anonymous said...

Rumps,

Why not call these attorneys out? If you know it to be true, do it!

Anonymous said...

Former ASA here.

Like I said before- eliminate all bonds in misdemeanor cases (or make the defendants post a 100 cash bond) and give PTR to all 3rd degree non violent felonies.

Remember that misdemeanor cases outnumber felony cases by nearly 2 to 1. Fortunately, the bond schedules have barely changed for the last 15 years.

As far as the SAO not caring about the bondsmen, police officers, corrections and slimy attorneys BREAKING THE LAW within yards of the Graham building- they dont.

Anonymous said...

I have personaly given the sao names of bondsman, attorneys and offered up my client to wear a wire and get them.

NOTHING IS EVER DONE.

Anonymous said...

hey RUMPOLE - do you think that the informed investors should be BUYING BP stock now and hope for a takeover by exxon? it pays an 8% dividend!!! What say you my financial guru...

Anonymous said...

Should we expect long lines to get into the courthouse on Tuesday?
What happened to Slom's idea of not scheduling traffic infractions on the morning after a holiday?

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting story for us criminal attorneys...

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/28/1653065/miami-police-sergeant-is-target.html

Anonymous said...

Rumpole
Both Ivonne Cuesta and Margo Moss are fine lawyers who would make good Judges. They are solid on the law , Know what it is to be a line PD and are lovely people.
D. Sisselman

Anonymous said...

May 27, 2010 7:43:00 I agree with you about police officers committing perjury, but I also understand there is an attorney (who will be a judge in January 2011), Milton Hirsch, who committed perjury in open court and the SAO is doing absolutely nothing about it. You are right, no one seems to care. Where is the justice?