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

IT'S MILLER TIME

Congratulations to your new Circuit Court Judge Bronwyn Miller. By picking a county court judge the governor now gets to pick a new county court judge. And so it goes.....

There were many excellent comments and suggestions by readers in response to our solicitation of rules and principles that new ASAs and PDs should follow for a successful career.

Our number one thing we impart to all attorneys is: It takes years to build a reputation, but just one court hearing to destroy it. Be known as an attorney whose word is their bond.


Some of the best suggestions included:

Be smart enough to realize that you know very little. This rule applies throughout your entire legal career.

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.

Treat opposing counsel with respect even if he or she does not deserve it.

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.

Dress well. That means a tie and suit every day or a nice dress if you are a woman.

Treat court personnel with respect. They are an invaluable resource.

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.

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.

Have fun. Have happy hours. Lots of them. Keep your office door open.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Practice a lot. That's how you grow in experience, skills and common sense.

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.


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.

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.



Rumpole says: we have some very wise readers.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

to young APDs,

try every case you can if a trial is in your client's best interest. Good plea negotiators do not get enough credit and practice on that part of your craft. In private practice, your clients are paying not to go to trial.

Take advice from Bobby Aaron. He has a wealth of knowledge, has the heart of a lion and will provide you with invaluable counsel. Just don't act like him in court. You have not earned the right to yell at the judge yet. Bobby Aaron has.

To county court APDs, you have two training attorneys and Rick DeMaria. Rick will never steer you wrong. Listen to him. As far as your training attorneys go, you will realize in a few days that one of them will teach you how to be a great lawyer and human being. The other one, well, she will teach you how to self destruct. The former is Teresa Enriquez.

To the Juvie APDs, Shelly Marlowe is great. Listen to her. John Brandow is equally great. Listen to him. Have fun in Juvie. If you plea, the kid gets probation. If you lose at trial, the kid gets probation. Free trials. So try everything.

Say good morning to the court staff, introduce yourself to the JA and correction officers. Don't think because you are a lawyer you have the right to be condescending. Treat everyone with respect, especially your secretary. It will make your job a lot easier.


Finally, have fun. You get paid peanuts. So go to trial and don't be afraid of losing.

Anonymous said...

Rump:

"Never, ever, under any circumstances prosecute someone whom you aren't damn sure is guilty." was the golden rule when I was in law school (admittedly decades ago), has that changed?? It shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Horace
WWJD
DS

Anonymous said...

Young PD's

Don't try cases because it is almost never in your clients interests. Instead, get a social worker to do a mitigation reports and beg for a plea. Remember, clients are as important as family members, so treat them as such. Take lots of depositions and be at work at 9 and don't leave until 5.

Anonymous said...

I learned more from Rory Stein than anyone else in the PD's office. He still takes my calls to this day even though I am long gone. My advice... go pick his brain. Despite what a few substandard people may post here, his knowledge and advice is invaluable.

K hole said...

Here's a bit of advice for ASA's old and new from Rump that may have been overlooked...

"Trying a defendant that a prosecutor knows is innocent, or even bringing to trial a person that the prosecutor knows there is not sufficient evidence to justify a conviction is an offense so odious to the American system of justice that prosecutors who engage in such abuse should be referred to the bar for disbarment."

Put this somewhere conspicuous so you can read it each and every day you go to work and make sure "overcharging" is something only your alternator does...

Anonymous said...

I've seen APD's taking loser cases to trial where a defendant is going to get jail. That should be avoided. It'll give the APD practice and experience but is not in the best interests of the client. As with everything in life, pick your battles and remember that it's the client who will suffer the consequences of the loss.

Anonymous said...

Judge B Miller will be a fine judge but, one has to wonder why Charlie Quisp overlooked Gayles and White-Labora. They were even more qualified and have been around longer.

I bet Miller is a repulbican and the others democrats.

Anonymous said...

Bobby Aaron has not earned the right, nor has anyone ever earned the right, to yell at a judge and show disrespect for the Court. Bobby Aaron is no role model. He has no conception of the term "perspective". There are better role models in that office.

Anonymous said...

The facts are that judges have been taking loans to use in campaigns as long as there have been judicial elections. Documents from Div of Elections prove this. No one, including the JQC was ever interested. In fact, Judges were taught at judicial college that it was legal. The, along come Rodriguez, and later Pando, who did the same thing and beat anglo and jewish candidates, and suddenly it is improper, and the JQC is interested. I'm sure it was just a coincidence that they are hispanic!

Anonymous said...

To the Rory Stein Comment-yes, Rory will teach you the art of bagel and doughnut eating. I dont think that happens at the SAO's office.

Anonymous said...

Florida Bar News: Jose Miguel De La O disbarred on consent. This is not the same De La O that you bloggers are always talking about as a future judge is it?

Anonymous said...

the comment of "Bobby Aaron earning the right" was not meant literally. But older attorneys, private and pd, get away with a lot more frankness in front of the court than younger ones. And that was the moral of my comment. A younger attorney has to earn the respect to truly speak his/her mind all the time whereas the older ones already have. Furthermore, Rory is a great resource and truly cares about his staff. He will go to bat for each and everyone of them and he gets far too much flack on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm a former ASA, and have some advice for young APDs and ASAs:

FOR YOUNG APDs:
(1) Recognize that justice in many cases means serving some time. Probation is not appropriate for all of your clients. (2) Treating all ASAs like the devil reincarnated will not always serve your clients' best interests. ASAs have a job to do just like you do, and many APDs forget that. (3) Learn from the more seasoned defense attorneys and pick your battles. Yelling and screaming about everything all the time can make it more difficult for you in the long run.


FOR YOUNG ASAs: (1) Don't be afraid to stand up for what you think is appropriate in your cases. Your name, not your DC's, goes on the record, on the dispo sheet, and maybe in the Herald.
(2) Instead of taking off early to go to that happy hour, go catch the afternoon session of a trial, preferably a Gail Levine trial.
(3) KNOW YOUR CASES, KNOW YOUR CASES, KNOW YOUR CASES. This involves more than reading the a-form. Pick up the phone and call your victim. Subpoena your witnesses to come talk to you. Listen to 911 calls and taped statements. Pick apart those depos and all police reports, they are not just there for decoration. If you know your case, you won't just come up with plea offers out of thin air, and you will be able to back them up. (4) Enjoy your time at the SAO, it is one of the best jobs you will ever have.

Anonymous said...

Memo to all APD's

from Rory and Carlos

We don't care what you do as long as you (1) set every single deposition on every single case,
(2) go see all of your jail clients within two weeks and (3)
burn out in three to five years and
leave the office.

Anonymous said...

Bobby Aaron's solution to all problems was to talk about or to file recusal motions- against the judge the prosecutor whomever...

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment on the original post about ASAs not being slaves to the victims; funny how that mentality only applies when the victim wants a more harsh punishment that the defense attorney thinks is appropriate. I hope whoever provided that lovely comment remembers it the next time the victim in his/her client's case wants either to not prosecute or to give PTI, and the ASA wants jail or has no plea.

Anonymous said...

Rory Stein needs to retire already. But them old dudes never leave. They get to the point where they cant walk away from the fat pension- its just like wealfare.

And I know because of KRS 1

Anonymous said...

When is the last time Rory Stein tried a case???????????

Anonymous said...

What is "wealfare?"

Anonymous said...

word on the street has it that the newly minted circuit judge miller is taking over for the "soon to be transferred to civil" judge david miller. any word on that?

Anonymous said...

@ 1:24 p.m.

That's it. You figured it out. Because Latinas are having SUCH a hard time getting on the bench.

mm-hhmm. That's it, alright.

Anonymous said...

Bronwyn was a GREAT pick. She was a superstar prosecutor who distinguished herself not only from her classmates, but from those with 3-4 years more experience. She was a fantastic trial lawyer. More importantly, she is very bright, has outstanding judgment and a great personality/temperment. She instantly becomes one of the best circuit judges in Miami-Dade.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

Ha! My first days as an ASA in County Court. I remember that piss hole, even though I've tried very hard to forget. It'll probably take years of therapy. I've since left and my life is slowly improving. Hell, the first few days...I remember walking into a completely congested Courtroom. It was so packed with people you could hardly move. Defendants standing up, shouting at anyone passing by in a suit in the off chance that the person might be able to help them. It didn't matter if they were a PD, ASA or a private attorney who charges $1000 / hour, it was always, "Yo, uh...can you help me baby? I don't know if I'm supposed to be here." If that wasn't enough, at the same time, you were probably be talked at by other defense lawyers, the court staff, your PD and a few "midnight officers" all at once. The cops wanted me to issue a bench warrant (???) for the defendant whose case was passed for a private attorney so that they could go home...as if any of us had the power to make something like that happen. The judge wants to know what you're doing with the case of "Eduardo Gomez St. Croix De La Herrera Jr." ...so you race to the podium, trying to block out the sounds of other people yelling at you, racing through 15 pages of some sort of "plea sheet" ...constantly asking yourself if it's listed under "E" "G" "S" "C" D" "L" "H" or "J"..."Excuse me Judge, as I search through each and every letter of the alphabet to find this Defendant." 20 minutes later - you discover that the guy isn't even on your sheet, and that the file disappeared into the abyss 10 years earlier. The Judge just wants to be done with this so he tells you it's a battery case and shouts out some names. The Cops runs up to you and says he didn't witness anything and can't remember it...so you announce a big old dismissal and then, 15 minutes later...the victim runs up on you with her crazy-insane family threatening your LIFE because you screwed up their case. Had you actually been in possession of the file, you'd have known that the case involved a defendant who had an open, related felony because he beat the victim unconscious with a chainsaw and killed all of her puppies after stripping completely naked and whacking off in front of a school bus full of special education children. So you get back to the Office, get screamed at by 10 different people for the same crap, and you just want to crawl in a hole and die. But sadly, you're still alive and breathing, and you have to find the energy to finish a 6 page long motion calendar (to set aside all of the bench warrants for the defendants who slept through the insanity at court today), and repeat the whole process until you die of a massive heart attack from hauling four boxes full of crappy files using a metal pull-cart fastened with bungee cords across a nasty alley way, four lanes of traffic and up a flight of stairs...all in 119 degree weather with the sun beating down on you (or pouring rain, take your pick). All of this for a whopping 40K per year. Don't spend it all in one place. Have fun kids! :)

Anonymous said...

Ha! My first days as an ASA in County Court. I remember that piss hole, even though I've tried very hard to forget. It'll probably take years of therapy. I've since left and my life is slowly improving. Hell, the first few days...I remember walking into a completely congested Courtroom. It was so packed with people you could hardly move. Defendants standing up, shouting at anyone passing by in a suit in the off chance that the person might be able to help them. It didn't matter if they were a PD, ASA or a private attorney who charges $1000 / hour, it was always, "Yo, uh...can you help me baby? I don't know if I'm supposed to be here." If that wasn't enough, at the same time, you were probably be talked at by other defense lawyers, the court staff, your PD and a few "midnight officers" all at once. The cops wanted me to issue a bench warrant (???) for the defendant whose case was passed for a private attorney so that they could go home...as if any of us had the power to make something like that happen. The judge wants to know what you're doing with the case of "Eduardo Gomez St. Croix De La Herrera Jr." ...so you race to the podium, trying to block out the sounds of other people yelling at you, racing through 15 pages of some sort of "plea sheet" ...constantly asking yourself if it's listed under "E" "G" "S" "C" D" "L" "H" or "J"..."Excuse me Judge, as I search through each and every letter of the alphabet to find this Defendant." 20 minutes later - you discover that the guy isn't even on your sheet, and that the file disappeared into the abyss 10 years earlier. The Judge just wants to be done with this so he tells you it's a battery case and shouts out some names. The Cops runs up to you and says he didn't witness anything and can't remember it...so you announce a big old dismissal and then, 15 minutes later...the victim runs up on you with her crazy-insane family threatening your LIFE because you screwed up their case. Had you actually been in possession of the file, you'd have known that the case involved a defendant who had an open, related felony because he beat the victim unconscious with a chainsaw and killed all of her puppies after stripping completely naked and whacking off in front of a school bus full of special education children. So you get back to the Office, get screamed at by 10 different people for the same crap, and you just want to crawl in a hole and die. But sadly, you're still alive and breathing, and you have to find the energy to finish a 6 page long motion calendar (to set aside all of the bench warrants for the defendants who slept through the insanity at court today), and repeat the whole process until you die of a massive heart attack from hauling four boxes full of crappy files using a metal pull-cart fastened with bungee cords across a nasty alley way, four lanes of traffic and up a flight of stairs...all in 119 degree weather with the sun beating down on you (or pouring rain, take your pick). All of this for a whopping 40K per year. Don't spend it all in one place. Have fun kids! :)