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

Monday, August 02, 2010

FIRST MONDAY IN AUGUST

Good Monday morning!. As we enter the final phase of the summer doldrums in the REGJB, there are actually a lot more things happening than usual including the penalty phase in the Baby Lollipops case before Judge Reemberto Diaz later this month.

Judge Kagan gets an up or down vote to become Justice Kagan this week. From the SCOTUS blog:
Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska became the first Democrat to announce that he will vote against Kagan’s confirmation. Senator Nelson cited the concerns of his constituents and his inability to address those concerns given Kagan’s “lack of a judicial record.” However, on Friday Senator Judd Gregg became the fifth Republican senator to announce that he would vote in favor of Kagan’s confirmation, thereby joining fellow Republican senators Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Richard Lugar, and Lindsey Graham.

August 2010 marks the final month of US Combat operations in Iraq. We think it will take ten to twenty years for the verdict on this costly war to be written.

August also marks the month when the new hires for the PD and SAO start their job. Fresh out of law school, fueled by Starbucks and an intense desire to learn their craft and perhaps make their mark, we've been wondering what you-dear reader- would say to these fledgeling new attorneys if given the chance? Write in and we'll post a few.

We also would like to hear your memories of your first day in court in the REGJB.

Our first foray was not memorable- but it did include a hearing before the kind and wise County Court Judge Morton Perry. And in that regard we were lucky because Judge Perry knew how to treat a young lawyer. Unfortunately the hearing went well, and that gave use courage to venture into Judge Alfred Nesbitt's courtroom, from which we still have reoccurring nightmares. We never actually knew a Judge could curse in open court.

But in our opinion no Judge was more patient and spent more time helping young prosecutors and PDs learn their craft the right way than Judge C.P Ruberia. He was a wise Judge and took seriously the obligation he believed County Court Judges had to help mold young lawyers into successful, confident, and ethical attorneys.


We may be depressed in a few days. If that tropical wave in the Atlantic becomes a depression.

We fixed the font issue with the blog. Almost.

That sound you hear in the NFL season right around the corner. Whilst our colleagues spend their down time in the summer catching up on FLW back issues, we are busy loading last years stats into our patented program that allows us to make such startlingly good predictions.

Did the Seahawks score more points on the road against an NFC team that plays the 3-4 or at home against and AFC east team that plays the 4-3? Don't worry because we know the answer.

Last year marked our first losing season after two seasons in which we outperformed any so called professional handicapper that posts their picks. Much like our hometown Dolphins, we are looking forward to making a comeback this season. And of course there will be the much beloved Rumpole's famous blog suicide pool.

Stay tuned. August turns into September and when things cool down we'll start to heat up.

Until then...see you in court. (damn fonts)


24 comments:

mikal said...

Advice for newbies? Do no harm!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Advice?
1. Be smart enough to realize that you know very little. This rule applies throughout your entire legal career.
2. If you win a case, you were probably lucky. If you lose a case, you were probably unlucky and unprepared or just never had the right cards to play with. Don't let any victory go to your head.
3. For each case you win, go back and figure out the mistakes you made and learn from them. Ditto when you lose.
4. Treat opposing counsel with respect even if he or she does not deserve it.
5. You are lawyer. Not a crusader. There are two sides to every story. 90% of the people you prosecute in county court are not bad people.
6. Bad habits are hard to overcome. The habits you develop in your first two years will stick with you for your entire career, for better or worse.
7. When a judge rules against you, don't act like a jerk.
8. Dress well. That means a tie and suit every day or a nice dress if you are a woman. If you want to dress casual, get a job at Pep Boys.
9. Treat court personnel with respect. They are an invaluable resource.
10. And finally, watch Eddie O'Donnell on trial. It's like watch Humphrey Bogart act.

Rumpole said...

well said 9:46. Well done indeed.

Anonymous said...

9:46 hit it right on.

I would also add, listen to the criticisms of the judges you practice before. Even if you don't respect their opinion, you can learn something for your next trial.

Watch as many people in trial as you can - especially the more experienced. You will ALWAYS learn something. Whether it is what to do or what not to do.

And please adhere to the addage that you know very little. After 13 years, I still realize that I have a lot to learn and I learn something new every time I am in the courtroom.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, please listen to "when a judge rules against you, don't act like a jerk." If they are wrong, the 3rd will let them know. That's not your job.

I have seen people who have practiced for 30+ years who whine and throw tantrums when a judge rules against them. It's NOT cool, it's NOT admirable, and it only tarnishes your professional reputation.

Anonymous said...

"8. Dress well. That means a tie and suit every day or a nice dress if you are a woman. If you want to dress casual, get a job at Pep Boys."

Dressing well and wearing a suit and tie every day are not the same. Go to any calendar call before any judge in state court. LOTS of poorly dressed lawyers in suits and ties.

I'm better dressed in khakis and a polo than half the lawyers in state court wearing suits.

Anonymous said...

Morton Perry could also be impossible to deal with.

Remember the 1983 line up:

Crimes: Dick CP Rubiera (Dead)
Marvin Gillman (Lives in Jacksonville Beach)
Gerry Klein (retired
Morton Perry (Retired)
Fred Nesbitt (dead)
Arthur Winton (dead)
Murry Klein (dead)

Traffic: Harvey Baxter (Dead)
Marshall Ader (Retired)
Al Sepe (Retired-Fed Con)
Henry Oppenborn (dead)
Rick Margolius (brain dead but, working retired)
Meek Robinette (drunk daily in court and now dead)
Calvin Mapp (retired)
Robert Deehl (working retired and still kicking ass)

Anonymous said...

My first day in County Court as an ASA (we were only observing) I saw my friend's brother get sentenced to 180 days county jail for violating a no drive order.

It was the first of four old drinking buddies I saw in court in my first month.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Anonymous said...

Advice to ASAs:

1) DUIs are the most important/serious crimes you will prosecute in County Court. They are also surprisingly complex and have many evidentiary and legal issues that will transcend what little knowledge you possess at this point in your careers.

Prepare the DUI cases well. Read all motions and prepare your own responses. Don't rely on canned briefs or whatever rebuttal is written in the County Court manual.

The Judges are tired of the same responses, and as a service to yourself, you will become a better litigator.

2) Don't fall into the Miami-Dade SAO trap of becoming a slave to your victims. Victims have three constitutional rights under Florida law: 1) the right to be heard; 2) the right to be informed of all stages in the process; 3) the right to be present for all crucial stages of litigation.

Victims DO NOT have the right to tell you 1) how to do your job; 2) what plea you may offer; 3) what the outcome of the case will be (whether the case proceeds to trial or resolves in a plea.

Unfortunately, your supervisors will hammer home the notion that you represent the victims. That is true, but you represent the people of the entire State of Florida also. Your first job is to do justice.

True "victim" cases do not really exist in County Court, unless you are domestic violence. If you will be serving your time over at the REGJB, be mindful of the concerns and wishes of your victims, but never ever lose sight of justice. Sometimes you will have to stand up to abusive victims and tell them that you understand their concerns, but their desire to see a misdemeanor offender sentenced to jail is not consistent with the interests of justice.

3) Have fun. Have happy hours. Lots of them. Keep your office door open. Treat CCP like a fraternity house. As your progress through the office you will become more and more distant from your classmates. Many of these people will become your great friends. Before you are saddled with 300+ felony cases, career criminal issues, or the realization that you are 2 years out of law school and $250,000 in debt, enjoy your time in county court.

4) Don't get discouraged when you lose, because you will. Most misdemeanors are not serious crimes. Therefore, cops do not put a lot of work into them, and Miami-Dade juries don't like sitting in judgment of them. DUIs are a different story. Since the plea guidelines for DUIs are set by statute, there is less wiggle room. Many of them will plea out, but some will go to trial. As I mentioned earlier, these are the most important cases and the ones in which you will learn the most.

Your crimes cases will not be great, but some will go to trial. There are plenty of hardheaded defendants out there who would rather roll the dice than take a withhold and court costs.

Try these cases as best you can, but remember to tone down the theatrics. When you are prosecuting murder cases you can get dramatic. When it's a one-officer loitering and prowling case, just keep it simple. And yes, you will probably lose.

But if you ever feel that you cannot prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, dump it! Unlike the felony division, there isn't much of a case screening process. Proceed in good faith at all times.

Anonymous said...

Advice for newbies?

The list of 10 is right on the mark. But I might add one -

Don't do anything just because someone tells you that you are supposed to. It is very probable that the "someone" has only 9 months more experience than you.

Anonymous said...

3:15 on a hot and boring Monday. Calling the Shumie. Everybody in the POOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Hope to God that you get a Judge like Soto (as I did) and do not get a Judge like Margolious......

Anonymous said...

Advice to young prosecutors in county court:

1. Get perspective! Watch some major crime trials in circuit court to get some major perspective. Misdemeanors and traffic cases are not even close to felonies, much less major crimes. You shouldn't treat them as such.

Remember the distinction between mala in se and mala prohibitum crimes? Keep it in mind in county court because most cases are mala prohibitum, that is, they are not bad in themselves (like thefts, batteries, or DUI's) but they are bad because some politician created them as "crimes" (like most traffic cases and local ordinances). Treat each case according to its "badness" value.

Likewise, don't get excited and call county court cases "egregious", "outrageous" or similar adjectives best suited for 1st degree or higher felonies. That's proclaiming to all who listen that you have no experience dealing with anything more serious than "egregious" DUI's.

2. The economy is awful and people can't afford to pay for their life necessities, much less for the county court costs that the legislature has raised so high and which no longer bear proportion to the crimes themselves.

3. Get a thick skin and realize that some of the things defense lawyers say are for the client's consumption and you shouldn't feel insulted over them. Don't take things personally!

4. Use your common sense! Think and act like a grown-up keeping in mind the long-lasting consequences to everyone of your words, actions and inactions. Many times I see new ASA's focused on a conviction without realizing that it is against the victim's or the State's interests.

5. Treat defense counsel like you'll want to be treated when you go private. Don't make enemies as an ASA with your future colleagues in the defense bar who can lend you an invaluable hand when you struggle in your new practice. Looking at the way you act in court, defense lawyers can figure out what ASA they will make job offers to.

6. Illegal aliens are not the enemy. They had, and want to have, licenses and insurance but your client, the State of Florida, refuses to renew or issue them licenses because of petty politics. It's not fair that the state doesn't give them licenses and then charges them $350+ for not having them. They are victims of politics like those who are damaged in accidents with them where there would have been insurance before the State began to sacrifice road safety to politics.

7. No matter how badly you want that conviction, it is not worth violating ethic rules to get it. Some nice defense lawyers will kick your butt in trial and, maybe, give you an ethics lecture afterward, but other attorneys will refer you to the Bar and you may be disciplined over a stupid misdemeanor.

8. Respect the judges and their rulings and don't try to intimidate them. They've got the power and you'll look like a foolish gnat in front of the whole courtroom.

9. Don't act condescendingly towards defense counsel as if they don't know anything and you know everything. Chances are that it is the other way around and, by being overconfident and condescending, all you are doing is putting your butt within easy striking distance of the defense attorney's foot.

10. Practice a lot. That's how you grow in experience, skills and common sense. When not in trial, watch trials and see experienced attorneys in action. However, don't take a case that should be nolleprossed to trial just for experience and put no one in jeopardy that shouldn't be. Learn the law and be up to date in it.

11. Always keep in mind that you are not dealing in abstractions in court. You are interacting with all sorts of people who can be positively or negatively affected by your actions. Respect yourself and others and you'll be respected.

Anonymous said...

For the ASAs: Remember that your job is to do justice, not rack up convictions and hammer everyone. Never, ever, under any circumstances prosecute someone whom you aren't damn sure is guilty. Keep an open mind and remember that everyone, including the victims, is human. I spent half my career fighting with defense attorneys over nonsense. Learn from my mistake........you've got nothing to gain by doing that. Fight for the stuff that matters, seek jail for those you're afraid of and have mercy on those you're not.

For the APDs: The vast majority of your clients are guilty. They still deserve the best defense you can muster. Don't sell your soul for your clients; most made a bad decision which resulted in their being where they are.

Both: Treat opposing counsel with respect. It makes it a lot easier to get things done and makes the job a hell of a lot more fun!

Good luck to all.

BTDT

Justin Weisberg said...

My first day as an attorney I was sworn in by Jacqueline Schwartz, then a defense lawyer, now a county court judge. Then I was given instructions to continue a case against all hope, and Judge David Young let me continue the case for the first time after guessing it was my first time speaking in a courtroom.

Anonymous said...

I saw Morton Perry amonth ago at Temple in the Pines. He is still kicking but long in the tooth. He used to say 'dont worry counsel I didnt hurt your client'
Nice guys for the most part were those 'old men' that did misdos in the late 80s n early 90s
DS

Anonymous said...

Advice to new public defenders:

Try every case you can. You are there for trial expierence. If u are there for any other reason your clients will suffer and you wont progress.

Go to every crime scene without exception.

Do not take advice from Bobby Aaron.

Respect the clerk.

Drink scotch after every trial.

Anonymous said...

Rump,

I have been hearing that Ed O'Donnell is fantastic in trial. Please post the next time he is in trial. Would love to watch.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to new circuit court judge Bronyln Miller. Good luck in circuit court.

the trialmaster said...

I long for the days of the "master calendar". I recall fondly the prelimnary hearings before Tanksley,Winton and Hickey. I could make Gene Williams storm off of the bench any time I wanted. Those were the good ole days.4 criminal judges, Baker, Goodman, Sepe and Ellen M. and 3 of them probably were criminal. Baker died much too young.

Anonymous said...

2:03 pm, the judge you are listing was C.P. Rubiera from county. Not to be confused with Dick C.P. Lantz from circuit.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with 3:31 re: Judge Soto. Great judge to have as a newbie.

Anonymous said...

Former ASA here:

To the new ASAs,

Dont use the word "egregious" or "outrageous" when describing a misdmeanor. There is no such thing. That's why they have the felony division. And you can learn alot from the defnse atty and the judge, one or both of whom was probably an ASA for many years.

I had one case where my client was charged with Resisting w/ Violence and was a HO. (one of those "the defendant would not take his hands off the steering wheel and resisted my efforts to take them off" cases). State offerred one year probation. After one depo, the felony ASA reduced it to resisting w/o.

Case file went to county court, where the baby ASA treated the red file like my client was a member of the Taliban and the offer went to 364 DCJ. ASA called it a "most outrageous Resisting w/o Violence." After jokingly asking if the case could be bound up to a felony again so I could get a better offer, the judge offerred a WH/SES which we took.

When that baby ASA grew up and went to felonies, we had cases together and we laughed about our prior encounter.

The worst ASAs are the ones that think every defendant is guilty, every defense atty is a slimeball and every judge is an idiot who has to be whipped into shape by an ASA that has been out of law school for fifteen minutes.

Jack Blumenfeld said...

To Trialmaster at 8:59:

In the days you refer to, when Ellen defeated Everett Dudley for the bench, there were 5 Criminal Court of Record Judges. You forgot Jack Turner. When Williams, Tanksley and Hickey sat on the 4th floor, it was already the Circuit Court. You also may be the only one who remembers that Master Calendar experiment fondly