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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

REPRIEVE

BREAKING: John Edwards Jury has reached a verdict only on count 3 (the "Bunny Money" count for 2008). There is no verdict on any other count, including count 2 which is the "Bunny Money for 2007." The Judge did not have the verdict read  Edwards was acquitted on that count. The Judge sent the  jury back for more deliberations.   The Judge read an Allen charge and after further deliberation the jurors could not reach a verdict. A mistrial was declared. John Edwards spoke to the press afterwards and while denying that he did anything illegal, took responsibility for doing a lot of wrong things. 


"The Line" has been saved for now. The attorney entrance line at the back of the REGJB- scheduled for execution on Friday June 1, 2012 at 9:01 AM., has received a stay. For now the line will stay in business. The reason is ostensibly the backlog of applications for the REGJB Identity Card that all attorneys will need to gain entrance to the REGJB with waiting with Hoi Polloi (the great unwashed). 
NOTE: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AN FACDL MEMBER TO GET AN ID CARD. You do have to be a lawyer and have your bar multi-state results immediately available. 


Now these next words hurt, but they must be said: Broward does it right (ouch) and Dade does not. Give us a moment to recover from this painful observation. 


In Broward they have an employees line that attorneys can use with a Bar card. It is much shorter than the general line. Therefore, when an attorney from Dade who infrequently visits Broward has the unfortunate requirement of attending court in Broward, s/he can still gain admittance within a reasonable time. However, when our brethren from Broweird head south, they will have to wait in a lengthy line because their Bar card will do them no good in gaining entrance to the REGJB. 


The question is why? 
A card that allows all attorneys entrance to the REGJB without being screened is an unmitigated security risk. Either people get screened or they don't. If you screen three quarters of the people entering the REGJB, or 90% of the people, you might as well not screen anyone. Not screening everyone  is a security gap that is intolerable in a gun-ridden society.  Any lawyer has just as much a chance of becoming imbalanced (and more so  for the judiciary-sorry, couldn't resist the cheap shot) as any other individual. 
So why not just have a separate line for attorneys and staff and those who work at the REGJB like clerks and court reporters? Just like they do in ...ughh...Broweird. 


Our understanding is that as things now sit, once the attorney line is closed, all staff members from the SAO or the PD or any intern working with an attorney will have to stand in lines that sometimes have more than an hour wait time. So will any attorney who happens to visit from West Palm or Broward or from any other jurisdiction. Imagine you are an attorney hired for a big case in Tampa. A six or eight week murder trial, and every day you have to wait in line for an hour to get into the courthouse. Think your opponent will have an advantage over you? 


The current system will never work. Please fix it Judges Brown and Soto. 
Thank you. 
See You In Court. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

THE END OF THE LINE

Lots of intrigue in the hallways of the stately REGJB. It might look like business as usual from the outside, but we can assure you from the inside there is lots going on. 
First order of business is THE END OF THE ATTORNEY LINE. 
Starting Friday June 1, 2012, after 8:30 am any attorney seeking to enter the REGJB who does not have a special ID card will have to wait in the general public line. Can you just see Albert Krieger, Roy Black and Mr. Markus at the end of a line stretching around the block as they arrive at 9:15 for a 9:30 sounding? 


What is more likely to occur is that an attorney arriving with a staff member- investigator, assistant, secretary, intern, etc., at 9:15 will be faced with asking their assistant to wait in a hot, hour long line, if they want to enter the building and assist them. Seems to us that there needs to be a solution to this problem. The State Attorneys Office support staff/ employees seem to be able to skip the line. Defense attorneys need help too (sometimes, and never for us.) 
COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS
If you're under forty, if you've been practicing law for less than seven years, and if you think you're a good closer, then the UM Law School is hosting a "Legal Eagle Closing Competition." Click here for the details and if you enter and win and are a loyal blog reader, we promise you fame if not fortune. 
THE EDWARDS JURY
Wednesday was day 8 of the deliberations in the trial of USA v. John Edwards. Amidst reports of strange behavior of some jurors, the judge met with attorneys in a closed door (no media) session on Wednesday. 
HARD KNOCKS
Your home town favourite Miami Dolphins have been selected to appear on HBO's Hard Knocks series, which follows a team through training camp. 
Summary
Judges suing candidates; flesh eating zombies loose on the streets of Miami; attorneys waiting in stifling heat in lines that take hours to clear; no money for court appointments;  just another summer in paradise. 


See You In Court. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

JUDGE PATRICIA MARINO PEDRAZA SUES TO GET OPPONENT KICKED OFF BALLOT


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION CENTRAL .....  COUNTY COURT ... PATRICIA MARINO PEDRAZA FILES LAWSUIT ASKING COURT TO KICK CHALLENGER OFF BALLOT (from the DBR).

http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/PubArticleDBR.jsp?id=1202556158151&thepage=1

The DBR reports today that Rodolfo Pedraza, husband of County Court Judge Patricia "Marina" (the DBR spelled her name incorrectly) Pedraza, has filed a lawsuit against challenger (and Miami-Dade ASA) Frank Hernandez attempting to get him removed from the ballot this August.

For the Plaintiff: None other than Michael Catalano

For the Defense: JC Planas

The Judge:  Looks like the case was originally assigned to Judge Ellen Leesfield.  There is a Recusal listed on the Docket Sheet and it may have been reassigned to Judge Victoria Platzer.?

The issue: Whether Hernandez filed a complete and accurate financial disclosure form required of all judicial candidates.

According to Catalano:

Hernandez did not include his home mortgage as a liability when he filed the disclosure form.  County records show that there are two mortgages totaling $250,000 on Hernandez's home.

According to Planas:   

Candidate Hernandez and his wife, Jodi, are listed on the warranty deed on the home, and both signed the mortgages. But Hernandez isn't on the mortgage note and therefore didn't have to list the mortgages as liabilities.  Planas called the lawsuit "frivolous" and has filed a Motion to Dismiss set to be heard this Friday.

Pedraza's attorney, Michael Catalano, has also demanded that Hernandez turn over copies of his bank statement on the day he filed the disclosure form.  The challenger did not list any bank accounts on his original form.



CAPTAIN OUT .....
captain4justice@gmail.com





Sunday, May 27, 2012

CELTICS IN SIX

Update: We put up one last post on DOM's blog before he returns. "Prosecutors Run Our System" (not our words, believe it or not). Check it out here. 
HEAT  vs CELTICS

Rumpole predicts: Celtics in six. 











URBAN WEEKEND PROCEEDING SMOOTHLY
According to the Herald and Ace Reporter David Ovalle, things on Miami Beach have gone fairly smoothly this weekend and the police have done a good job. Ovalle's report is here, including tenacious and in depth reporting on the "bikini-clad women" partying on south beach. No story is too difficult or disturbing for Mr. Ovalle.  He does what he needs to do to get the facts, bikinis notwithstanding. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

SUMMER FUN

BREAKING- we've posted a video of the FACDL court appointment  fees meeting- below. 


The much anticipated, hotly debated, often imitated,
 never duplicated,  Judge Milton Hirsch summer practice order ( (c) The Honorable Milton Hirsch, 2012 all rights reserved)  has been issued:
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Brutus, Julius Caesar. 
Good afternoon,
The judge has officially decided to initiate his “Summer Rules” for the upcoming summer term.  Starting July 2nd, 2012 and ending September 4th, 2012, Judge Hirsch’s calendar will begin at 9:30am, as opposed to the original time of 9:00am.  Please keep in mind that this will only be in effect for the stated time period.  In case this is not abundantly clear, this will ONLY be in effect between July 2nd, 2012 and September 4th, 2012.  Come September 5th, 2012, calendar will sadly return to beginning at 9:00am.  Thank you!  Feel free to call if you have any questions.


Rumpole says: Some addendums to the summer rules: Gin will be exclusively served until September 6, 2012. Gentlemen may wear poplin or seersucker suits from Wednesday through Friday whenst not in trial. Ladies and Gentlemen may begin to wear white through Labor day, but not beyond. Straw wide- brim hats are appropriate for gentlemen at the bar, while the fashionable lady lawyer may enter court with a petite parasol. Shaved ices will be served at Au Bon Pain along with iced tea and mint-sweetened or un-sweet. 


FACDL COURT APPOINTMENT MEETING.
Through the power of technology, an alert reader recorded the meeting. To set the scene, a frightened group of small business owners are threatened by a malevolent force about to strike in the summer. They schedule a meeting, and an unlikely, quirky loner offers to save the day- for $10,000.00. So ante up, and watch the video. 




"I'll find him for 3...but I'll catch him and kill him for ten....Ten thousand dollars for me by myself.  For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."


Rumpole says: The FACDL needs to hire Quint. 


See you In Court. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

COURT APPOINTMENT FEES MEETING

Don't miss the big court appointment fees meeting on Thursday, courtroom 4-7, 4 PM. 
Even if you don't take court appointments, the issue of the Florida Legislature eviscerating the Sixth Amendment is serious. All criminal defense attorneys should be bothered by this turn of events. If indigent clients do not get quality representation then the system will not work. 


A reader is sad, and that worries us:
Anonymous said...
Rump,

The weather had me down, so I started thinking about this criminal justice system that we devote our lives to and, well, let’s just say that I started looking out the window again to try to cheer up..

As I read about the hearings before Judge Cooke on the Greenberg/TD Bank fiasco, I could not help but think (after overcoming the automatic gag reflex I have to anything civil) how government prosecutors -- both state and federal -- routinely and more egregiously hide evidence – either through gross indifference or outright deceit -- without anywhere near the kind of scrutiny or consequences that has befallen these civil lawyers. Prosecutors and law enforcement get to play by different rules than everyone else. Judge Gold tried to hold prosecutors accountable for misconduct in the Shaygan case and he gets reversed by the 11th. The State legislature wants to pay appointed counsel less than minimum wage. And the list goes on . . .

I’m really down today about the unfortunate realities of our criminal justice system and how unfair it is. Got anything to cheer me up?
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 4:29:00 PM
Rumpole says: A long holiday weekend is coming up. Does that help? Judge Venzer is coming back to the REGJB. That's always good for a few laughs. The Marlins Giancarlo Stanton has hit two grand slam home runs this month. That's something to cheer for. Egyptians are voting in a free presidential election this week. The Facebook IPO fizzled- come on-laugh with us at those chumps who bought that crappy stock. Oil is below $60 a barrel and Bin Laden is still dead. Plaxico Burress is bucking a trend and wants to play for the Dolphins. 

And finally, here's a touching story of a five year old African-American boy who was photographed in the Oval Office running his hand through President Obama's hair. The President  bent down when the boy asked if the President's hair was the same as his. A white house photog snapped the picture. It's a nice, feel good story. 
Cheer up Bucko. 
See You In Court. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

ANOTHER ATTACK ON COURT APPOINTMENTS

UPDATE: Couple of blog additions. Vote in our new poll directly  to the left of this post. Also- want to get email updates when your favourite blog has a new post? Enter your email address at the bottom left of the blog. Note: we share our email addresses with selective Inupiat-Yupik merchants who may send you solicitations from time to time. 


(For those of you following the Kaufman murder trial, a/k/a Magistrate Matthewman's last trial, ME Dr. Hyma is scheduled for cross examination Tuesday.) 
If the Florida Legislature is in session, then an attack on the fees of criminal  court appointed attorneys cannot be far behind.  The support for having tax payers fund legal fees for criminal defendants is as popular in Tallahassee as say an Obama fundraiser at a Mormon Church, or a proposal to have the Tea Party endorse raising taxes.  The point is that no politician wants to defend using taxpayer money for paying lawyers to defend the accused. (Coming soon- Lawmakers express outrage over the presumption of innocence. "Cops don't make mistakes, so why presume all these crooks innocent" said Billy Bob Joe Schmo,  R- Some where in North Florida). 
There is now some such bill floating around in Tallahassee* to do away with paying lawyers more than the statutory cap on fees no matter how many hours they put in, or no matter how complex the case is. 
Update: Rick Freedman knows all- see his letter. The bill passed. 
Court Apptpdf







The way it works now (and we do not take court appointments so we have very little experience with this) is that there is some ridiculous cap on fees like fifty bucks for any felony in which someone is not killed. But when a lawyer puts in more hours than the cap provides for on a complex case, the lawyer can file a motion which some entity called JAC then opposes by phone, and in which the Judge usually grants. But no more. Now the new law will  tar and feather any lawyer seeking to exceed the cap. 


Enter the FACDL.  Jude "The Hammer" Faccidomo has scheduled a meeting at the REGJB this Thursday at 4pm in courtroom 4-7. 


There's actually an important point at stake here. The sixth amendment right to counsel. In a day and age when almost every felony prosecution is followed by an alphabet of enhancements and minimum mandatories that turns even a third degree felony into a mandatory ten year sentence,  the same body of lawmakers that passes those inane minimum mandatories has the obligation to make sure that the accused receives proper representation. 


It's ironic that the lawmakers in Tallahassee have no problem passing laws that allow sentencing judges to exceed the statutory maximum prison sentence, but  want to prohibit the lawyers representing those poor souls from exceeding the statutory cap for fees in those protracted and complex court proceedings. 
Ridiculous. 
See You In Court. 


We put a little post up on DOM's blog. Some federal nonsense. Check it out. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

THE DEATH PENALTY ... IT'S STILL ALIVE (AND WELL IN FLORIDA)


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

THE DEATH PENALTY .... IT'S STILL ALIVE (AND WELL IN FLORIDA)

Two recent articles on the death penalty deserve mention today.

First, Fred Grimm, from the Miami Herald, wrote an Op Ed called Dollars and Sense on Capital Punishment.  Part of it reads:

"Some 14 death row inmates in Florida have been cleared by DNA testing, after spending an average of 20 years on death row. Outside of the old Confederacy, that might be cause enough to reexamine the underlying morality of capital punishment."

"Instead, Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoed funds earmarked for the Florida Innocence Commission, charged with sorting out flaws in the criminal justice system — an embarrassing mess of misidentifications and false confessions and lying jail house informants — that made Florida the national leader in wrongful convictions."

Read the rest here:  

And, the Huffington Post, speaks about the "murder" of a Texas death row inmate who was convicted for starting a fire that killed his three young children.  Governor Perry gets the award here for the latest Governor to sign a death warrant that executed an innocent person.

The Huff Post article is called: 

"Cameron Todd Willingham Exoneration Was Written But Never Filed By Texas Judge"

And reads in part:

"A Texas judge who reviewed the controversial 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham planned to posthumously exonerate the father who was put to death for killing his three daughters in a house fire. "

"Scientific experts who debunked the arson evidence used against Willingham at his 1992 trial and a jailhouse witness who recanted his shaky testimony convinced District Court Judge Charlie Baird in 2010 that "Texas wrongfully convicted" him. But Baird's order clearing Willingham's name never became official, because a higher court halted the posthumous inquiry while it considered whether the judge had authority to examine the capital case."

Read the rest here:  

--------------------

In local news, the State of Florida vs. Adam Kaufman continues in Courtroom 4-1 on Monday.  Bill Matthewman and Al Milian for the Defense.  Dramatic testimony ended the week with a Crime Scene Detective returning to the stand to first deny and then admit having an affair with the lead homicide detective.

In case you missed it, the Herald article started out this way:

"But on Thursday, the trial took an unexpected turn when the defense attacked the morals and honesty of Detective Ana Howell, the lead crime scene investigator for Aventura police.
It was revealed in court that Howell, who gathered evidence in the death of Eleonora Kaufman, had an adulterous affair with the lead homicide detective on the case, Anthony Angulo."

"Kaufman’s defense attorney William Matthewman asked Howell about the affair.
“Isn't it true, ma'am, you previously had an intimate sexual relationship with detective Angulo?” Matthewman asked her in court."

“I am married and have three kids. My job is very important to me,” an uncomfortable Howell said from the witness stand. “This is very important to me, sir, because this is my life here,” she told defense attorney William Matthewman."

Read the rest here: 

--------------------

Stay out of the rain and enjoy your weekend.

Captain Out .....



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/17/2805151/at-aventura-murder-trial-in-miami.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/17/2805151/at-aventura-murder-trial-in-miami.html#storylink=cpy"

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/07/2788432/dollars-and-sense-of-capital-punishment.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BROWEIRD V.3.4

MIAMI HEAT UPDATE: The Heat are down 2-1 against the Pacers. Game 4 is in Indiana. Miami Superstar Dwayne Wade was 2-13 and scored 5 points in the Heat's latest shellacking. 
Let us take a moment to analyze this series....seriously......
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! What a bunch of spoiled babies. One player gets hurt and the whole team collapses. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! 




In the United States of America court proceedings are, with rare exceptions,  open to the public. One of those rare exceptions is Broward county, where judges and their thuggish courtroom deputies routinely close the courtrooms and bar both the public and the litigants from court. 


Now we pause a moment to note that courtrooms aren't open to the public by the good graces of a Judge in a decent mood. No, the courtrooms are open to anyone and everyone by right and law  and not even judges are allowed to arbitrarily close them. There is a procedure involving notice to the media and the public and the right to be heard before a courtroom can be closed. 
Back to Broweird,  Judge Mary Robinson and this excerpt from the JAA Blog:
The trouble began shortly after 9:00 a.m. this morning, when the accused showed up for her hearing.  BSO Court Deputy Seymour blocked access to the public courtroom, stating anyone showing up after 9:00 a.m. had to go to the Clerk's office to reset their court date.  Arraignments are set at 8:15 a.m. it was explained, meaning people forty-five minutes late or more won't be heard.  One little fact the Deputy left out?  Observers told us Robinson herself didn't take the bench until after 9:00 a.m, making the judge at least forty-five minutes late as well, which is when we're told she usually shows up for 8:15 a.m. dockets.

Enter your humble author, who at least secured entry into the public courtroom for the woman in question.  Then at 10:20 a.m., she called to explain that she had been told again that her case would not be heard.  Court was still ongoing of course, and the courtroom was full of people waiting for their cases to be called.  At that point we returned and filed a pro bono Notice of Appearance to help the bewildered and capias concerned citizen, after some very angry and seemingly contradictory remarks from the bench in response to our questions regarding the judge's policy concerning late arrivals.

A call to Robinson's office not too long ago confirmed there is a policy, despite Robinson's refusal to use the "p word". Remarkably, the J.A. stated that unless she happens to be downstairs picking up mail and communicates to the courtroom that there are delays or long lines at security on any given day, Defendants arriving after 9:00 a.m. must reset their cases with the Clerk or get a warrant.  However, when questioned about Robinson's typical arrival times, the JA would not provide any information.  

So there you have it.  A massive dose of callous indifference to the plight of litigants who can't afford private attorneys, with what looks like a massive dose of hypocrisy to boot.  
But the trouble didn't end there for the courageous JAA blogger, because when he tried to appear before Judge Robinson the following day, he found that he would no longer be welcome in her court:
And speaking of disqualifications - neither Mike or Mary Robinson wants to hear our cases anymore.  Both judges entered sua sponte recusals this morning, following our reporting of Mary Robinson's tardiness on Monday, and refusal to hear cases of similarly late Defendants.  Is it simply a personal pride issue, together with spousal loyalty?  Is it because of possible JQC scrutiny?  Or has the Florida Bar received some judicial gripes of late?  Stay tuned, it could get very bumpy indeed ...
So lets summarize what has occurred:
1) A deputy barred a member of the public from entering the courtroom at 9am. The blogger eventually got her in. 
2) The Judge (who didn't take the bench for her 8:15 arraignments until after 9AM) refused to hear the woman's case, placing her in danger of a bench warrant. 
3) The blogger filed a pro bono notice of appearance thwarting the Judge's ability to issue a warrant for the woman. 
4) The next time the attorney showed up in court he was informed that Judge Robinson had entered orders of recusal on his cases before her. 


The Judge "punished" the attorney for stopping her from punishing a woman who was late, but not as late as the judge. 
Only in Browierd. 
See You In Court. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A BRILLIANT VICTORY

"NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GIVE UP. NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER GIVE UP"*
Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941, Harrow School, U.K. 


David O Markus never gave up. It took him eight years, a few trips to the 11th Circuit, and multiple court appearances. One of the lawyers he shares office space with also mentioned plenty of sleepiness nights. But in his post conviction relief advocacy for Yuby Ramirez, David never gave up. 


Ramirez was convicted at trial and sentenced to life in prison for what has been described as a "bit part"  in a Wille Falcon and Sal Magluta plot to murder a federal witness. 
On Monday US District Judge Joan Leonard found a reasonable probability that but for the flawed advice of her attorneys at the time of her trial Ramirez would have accepted a plea offer (which was as low as five years at one point) and that the mis-advice of counsel as to her maximum prison exposure (ten years) led her to reject the Government's plea offer. 


David took the case on pro bono eight years ago and he litigated his heart out, never giving up on his client who was serving a life sentence while the two Colombian brothers who orchestrated the plot received six year prison sentences. 


The Miami Herald article is here. 


Well done DOM. Well done indeed!


* The PM was not talking about the lines to get into the REGJB. but he could have been.


JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS - WHERE HAVE ALL THE VIRGIL HAWKINS' GONE?????


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
image
VIRGIL HAWKINS (1907-1988)
In April 1949, Virgil D. Hawkins, a former faculty member of Bethune Cookman College, applied for admission to the University of Florida's law school. In May of 1949, the University of Florida, through the Florida Board of Control (later Board of Regents), denied his admission (as well as five other African-American graduate school applicants) based solely upon race. Mr. Hawkins sought relief through the Florida Supreme Court. The Court acknowledged that he possessed "all the scholastic, moral and other qualifications except as to race and color" for admission (State ex rel. Hawkins, 47 So. 2d 608, 609 (Fla. 1950)). He did not prevail due to the Court's finding that under the Equal Protection Clause, Florida could pay for his legal education in a different state or Florida would build a law school for black students [at Florida A&M University]. In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ordered the public schools desegregated "with all deliberate speed" by 1956 in Brown v. Board of Education and in a companion decision ordered the University of Florida to admit Virgil Hawkins. However, Virgil Hawkins was still not admitted to the University of Florida.
Petitioning for his admission to the University of Florida College of Law, Mr. Hawkins eventually went before the Florida Supreme Court three times and the United States Supreme Court twice. After the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Florida to immediately enroll him in 1957, the Florida Supreme Court concluded that federal law could be superseded by state law in some instances (the now-discredited "interposition" doctrine).  In 1958, Hawkins withdrew his application in exchange for a court order desegregating UF's graduate and professional schools. On September 15, 1958, George Starke was admitted to the College of Law, UF's first African-American law student. Mr. Hawkins' efforts to desegregate UF law school led the way for the desegregation of the entire State University System in Florida. In 1962, W. George Allen became the first African-American to graduate from the University of Florida College of Law. ( http://www.vhfcnba.org/virgil.html ).  For additional information read: http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/36072;



10:49 am - here is what I AM saying:


JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS BY GOVERNOR SCOTT 


15 MONTHS - 15 APPOINTMENTS


In the past 15 months, since Governor Rick Scott took office in January of 2011, he has had the occasion to appoint 15 Judges in Miami Dade County to the County, Circuit and Appellate court bench.

(By contrast, in Broward, there has only been one appointment in that same amount of time).

Governor Scott has appointed eight males and seven females.  He has appointed five Hispanics.  He has appointed ZERO judges of color.

His appointments:

Victoria Brennan
Lisa Walsh
Michael Hanzman
Dawn Denaro
Spencer Multack
William Altfield
Thomas Rebull
Rosa Figarola
Ivan Fernandez
Donald DJ Cannava
Angelica Zayas
Norma Lindsey
Richard Hersch
Rodolfo Ruiz
Ariana Fajardo

But, let's be fair.  The Governor relies on the JNCs to send him up to six qualified names for any open positions on the County, Circuit, or 3rd DCA.  So, the real question is, how many African American names have reached the Governor's desk?  Best that we can tell, out of a possible 90 names (15 open seats multiplied by 6 nominees per seat), the answer is exactly two (2): Judge Rodney Smith and Attorney Tanya Brinkley.  So, is it the fault of the Governor?  Obviously not.  Maybe it's the fault of the JNC.

But, let's be fair.  The JNC relies on the members of the bar to apply for these open seats.  In the past 15 months, the two JNCs have publicized 15 openings and requested applications from any attorney wanting to become a County Court Judge, a Circuit Court Judge, or a Judge on the 3rd DCA.  The two JNC's (Eleventh Judicial Circuit and the 3rd DCA) have received hundreds of applicants for these open seats.  How many of the applicants were African American?  The best that we can tell (and we do not know the race of every attorney that has applied), the answer is four (4): the previously mentioned Judge Rodney Smith and Attorney Tanya Brinkley and attorneys Michelle Delancy and Gordon Murray.


So, now you know the whole story.  Maybe this is not the fault of Governor Scott or our local JNC's.  Why are there not more African American attorneys applying for these open seats?  Certainly there are many more than qualified attorneys of color in our community that deserve to be on the bench.

We currently have ten African Americans on the bench in Miami-Dade County:

Circuit Court Judges: Bagley, Trawick, Prescott, Gayles, and Thomas.

County Court Judges: Graham, Lundy Thomas, Hendon, Smith, and Seraphin.

There are 123 Judges on the County and Circuit bench in Miami-Dade, so these ten judges represent 8% of the total bench.

But, having said all that, would it surprise you to know that, based on the latest numbers reported by The Florida Bar, (there were 93,293 lawyers as of May 1, 2012), that the percentage of lawyers in Florida that report themselves as African American is only 3.74%.  That works out to less than 3,500 African American attorneys, statewide.

So, when I first posed the question as to why there were no judges of color on the 3rd DCA, I thought the problem might come from the top and I immediately looked to the Governor's office.  But, taking a much more in depth look at the picture, one finds that maybe there are simply not that many qualified African American lawyers out there that are applying for any of these open seats.
Why are there so few African American lawyers in Florida? Why are there so few African American lawyers applying for all these open seats? 

We asked for comments from Wilkie D. Fergsuon Jr. Bar Association President Nicole Ellis and from the Gwen Cherry Black Women's Bar Association President Kymberlee Curry Smith but we have not heard back from either attorney.  If they do email us, we will provide our readers with their comments and thoughts. 

What are you comments and thoughts on this issue?


CAPTAIN OUT .....

Monday, May 14, 2012

RIP

As we do from time to time, we are sorry to report a death. 


The Fourth Amendment has died, after a long illness in New York City. 


Few details of the actual last moments of the amendment are known, but the NY Times reported yesterday on the long, sad tragic decline of a once proud member of the Bill Of Rights, reduced at the end to a mere figurehead, ignored by those sworn to uphold and respect it. 


From the article on stop and frisks in NYC:
Nearly 700,000 people were stopped and frisked by police officers in New York last year, up from 97,000 in 2002. 
Young black and hispanic males constituted 41% of the stops while they account for less than 5% of the population of New York City. 
50% of the stops- that's almost 350,000 people- were done in response to a "furtive movement." That's a lot of suspicious movements in the city that never sleeps. 
6% of the stops- less than 40,000- led to an actual arrest. That's 660,000 stops that ended with "Never mind. Have a nice day.
1808 people a day were stopped for no reason last year in New York City.  That equals 75 people an hour- more than one every minute-  twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year. 


The once mighty amendment, whose frequent use curtailed the excesses of police officers, was killed- not in one mighty blow from an assailant like, say, a politician- but by a death from a thousand, or in this case, 350,000 a year tiny cuts of "furtive movements." Ignored and diminished and ridiculed, the amendment died a slow sad death, and with it died  the freedoms of the citizens it protected to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures.


The Amendment is survived by nine other siblings. No immediate details have been released about the funeral arrangements. The Fourth Amendment was born on December 15, 1791.  It was 221 years old. 















Sunday, May 13, 2012

YESTERDAY

There were a few big events yesterday in the State of Florida. 


The University of Florida and University of Miami Law Schools had their graduations Saturday. A bevy of new lawyers will be taking the bar in July and some of them will be lucky enough to stumble into the REGJB for their training as Assistant Public Defenders or Assistant State Attorneys. Good for them. 
We feel it is every experienced lawyer's obligation to mentor a young lawyer. Give it a try. You might surprise yourself and find it a rewarding experience. 


THE HAMMER 


The other note worthy event was Saturday night's FACDL dine and doo-wop extravaganza at the Biltmore. The yearly get together of the elite of Miami's Criminal Defense Bar featured the instillation of 
Jude "The Hammer" Faccidomo as the President of the Miami Chapter of FACDL (Motto "It's all about the dues"). 
The highlight of the evening was when Sacha Baron Cohen crashed the event dressed as former Judge Peter Adrian and attempted to incarcerate everyone. 


Until you've seen your favourite judge and PD doing the conga, well, you haven't really... lived...drank enough to make you forget such a disturbing sight.  


HANG ON...WAIT A MOMENT.
David Ovalle from the Herald reports here that Clerks offices throughout the State are about to lose 31 million dollars in over due funding which means.....more waiting. 


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY. 
Don't forget to call your mom...even she wears robes during working hours. 







Saturday, May 12, 2012

NAME THAT DEFENSE

"Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall."
Shakespeare, Measure for Measure.  


There used to be a game show called "Name That Tune" in which contestants dueled each other  in how few notes they could identify the song. Now comes our own favourite Federal Blogger who has been retained to represent Miami filmmaker nee REGJB  juror Billy Corbin who has been summoned to appear before Judge Joe "Don't tweet with me" Fernandez  to explain why he engaged in a little social media-ing during a trial in which he served on the jury. Enter DOM who, never missing an opportunity for a clever quip,  told ace Herald reporter David Ovalle this:  “I can defend Billy in 140 characters or less: He absolutely did nothing wrong.(78 for those of you counting at home.)


Rumpole plagiarizes: "Some rise by Facebook, and some by virtue fall with Twitter." 



MARLINS COMEBACK!
Your Miami Marlins blew a one run lead in the eight inning and  were down 5-3 going into the ninth inning. But a bloop walk off  single by Gregg Dobbs in the bottom of the ninth  brought everyone to their feet as the Marlins won for the ninth time in ten games. 

JOHN GOODMAN SENTENCED
John Goodman, the Palm Beach businessman/socialite/Roy Black client was sentenced to sixteen years yesterday for DUI manslaughter. The Sun Sentinel article is here.  The Judge denied a hotly contested motion for a new trial based on a juror who self published an e-book between verdict and sentencing in which the juror described a test he engaged in to see if the defense theory of the case was plausible. The judge set a seven million dollar supersedeas bond (appellate bond for you robed readers) after the defense agreed to hire off duty police officers for twenty four hour security, along with electronic monitoring.  

Enjoy your beautiful weekend.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

SPECIAL NEEDS....TURTLES?

UPDATE: Live blogging (sort of) from the Marlins game. The NY Mets are in town for a weekend series, with day games Saturday and Sunday. Your Miami Marlins were 8-1 on their 9 game road trip. Tonight  Austin Kearns launched a  two run homer in the first has your Miami Marlins up 3-0, bottom of the first. 
Update: top of the seventh- 3-2 Fish. Marlins bullpen needs to step up.
Update: And the bullpen failed us again. A three run Met eighth has it Mets 5- 3.  The Marlins rallied twice on the road to win after surrendering the lead. Can they do it again? 


Teenage Mutants, and special needs turtles: 
The Herald article here references the theft of two "special needs" turtles. 
And just what, pray tell, are special needs turtles? 
Are they "slower" than the other turtles? 
Do they have Turtle Attention Deficit Disorder? 
Are they shy and hesitant to come out of their shell? 
Meanwhile. the turtles were stolen by "foul mouthed teens".  
So the BOLO is "Two special needs amphibians in the possession of two cursing teenagers. Approach with caution." Or something like that. 


According to DOM, Supreme Court Justices like to read How Appealing. 


How didactic. 


Enjoy the weekend. 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

CHALLENGES AND CHANGES

UPDATE BELOW: How do you get to Lincoln Center ( or in this case- get inside the PDs office)? Practice practice practice. 


What's the most significant  change or challenge that will affect the way we practice law in the REGJB in the near future?  For your convenience we have listed some of the possibilities for you:
1) The State Attorneys Race
2) Jurors access and use of social media. 
3) The lines to get into the courthouse. 
4) The lack of funding of the judiciary. 
5) The lack of funding for court appoints and due process costs. 
6) The new menu items at Au Bon Pain. 


PD ADMITTANCE PROCEDURE:
Only in Miami does it take dozens of  emails, meetings, discussions, threats, pleas, offers, acceptances, consideration, revisions, oral modifications, parole evidence, etc., to arrive at a procedure for attorneys to enter a public building. In this case it is the Public Defender's Building.  The memorandum with the updated fourteen step procedure* is below.  




Admittance Procedures for Private Attorneys 5-9-2012 Query: Why can't people walk into a building- get screened like the rest of the world, and move on dot org? 


In other news: 
DOM covers the latest nomination mess with the 11th Circuit. 


Joe Biden  (D, tan), apparently was off the reservation and forced the president's hand on gay marriage. Biden's comments on a Sunday morning news show set off a frantic 48 hour scramble to get the president to announce his new views. 


Rumpole says: the opposition to gay marriage has always been puzzling.  Why would people who oppose homosexuality in general not want gay people to be as miserable as the rest of society? 


See You In Court.


*It's not really 14 steps. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

TO SPEAK THE TRUTH

The Heartburn and Learn seminar on Voire Dire, given by Voire Dire Jedi Master Gene "Obi Wan" Zenobi will commence today at 12:00 noon in Judge Beth Bloom's courtroom on the sixth floor. (6-1??) So run down to Au Bon Pain, grab a soup, take a purple Nexium, and come learn the proper way to select a jury. 


Too many lawyers think that voire dire is an opportunity to pre-try their case. Amateurs (or federal lawyers). Voire Dire is NOT about that. Voire Dire, when practiced properly, is an opportunity to learn about the jurors so you can make an intelligent decision. Voire dire is the most important part of any jury trial- except in Federal Court, where the legal system is unfortunately broken because Congress and Federal Judges have taken that very most important part of a trial lawyer's craft and trashed it under a twenty question or so questionnaire that tells the lawyers very little about the jurors. 


LUGER OUSTED
Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) a voice of moderation and reason in the senate for over thirty five years lost the Republican primary to Ricgard Mourdock (Tea Party-Fanatic) on Tuesday night. Luger's loss is further evidence that the Republican party has lost its soul, not to mention the remaining members have lost their mind. 


OH SHOOT
In Cook County, Chicago, they shoot lawyers who say sh*t in court. From the ATL blog, the story of one over worked, under paid, thesaurus deprived PD. 


See You Court, never cursing. 




Monday, May 07, 2012

DON'T MESS WITH MIAMI DADE

On Thursday in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the court hears Shelton v. Dept of Corrections, and the challenge to the constitutionality of Florida's drug laws. 


On Tuesday an FACDL team  (Ben Waxman and Maggie Arias) argue for the retroactive application of Padilla before the Florida Supreme Court in Diaz v. State. 


The Herald's Fred Grimm on the expense of the death penalty in Florida. 


JUDGE D TAKES A SHOT AT MIAMI-DADE
Federal Judge William Dimitrouleas, sentenced a man to life in prison on Monday for running a brothel with under aged girls in Broward county. And then- commenting on the defendant's extensive priors and the absence of any state prison time, Judge D took a shot at us: 
From the Sun Sentinel:

Dimitrouleas also criticized the Miami-Dade criminal justice system for its lax sentencing of Mozie for prior crimes, including armed robbery, possession of a gun by a felon, and drug charges, after serving short jail terms.
"I think Mr. Mozie's criminal history is an indictment of the Miami-Dade criminal justice system … he has never been in state prison," Dimitrouleas said, adding that the system is "overburdened and has not been working for a long time."

Really? The system hasn't been working for a long time? Why doesn't he come down here and tell that to the thirty plus judges who work in our humble courthouse, along with the hundreds of prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks, cops and witnesses who show up every day and do their job? 

True, in Miami Dade we don't punish black people 100 times  more for possessing crack cocaine than their white counterparts who possess powder cocaine. We don't have specific enhancements for testifying in court and then losing. We don't have prosecutors who threaten defense attorneys when they file motions to suppress- and then file additional charges when the threat doesn't work. We don't have judges over turning jury verdicts when it is revealed the government suppressed exculpatory evidence, like occurred in the prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens. 

Seems to us that Judges who work in glass courthouses shouldn't throw stones. 

See You In Court. 


VIVA HOLLANDE

Update: Heartburn and Learn (Formally Lunch and Learn)- Want to know all the things you are doing wrong in voire dire? Then attend this months "Heartburn and Learn" in the REGJB as Voire Dire Jedi Master Gene "Obi Wan" Zenobi tells you everything you always wanted to know about Voire Dire, but didn't know who to ask. Bring your lunch.

Francois Hollande was elected president of France Sunday, becoming the nation's first socialist president since Francois Mitterand was elected in 1981. 
Hollande ascends to the French Presidency having never held elective office. In 2007 his partner and mother of his four children- Segeolene Royal lost to Nicolas Sarkozy.  Hollande endured a scandal- an affair with French journalist Valerie Trierweiler, who remains his main squeeze. 
President Sarkozy becomes the first French President not to be reelected since Valery Giscard d'Estaing lost to Mitterand. 




BIG MURDER TRIAL TO START MONDAY. 
Want to see one of the very best criminal defense attorneys in action, for perhaps the last time? Then head over to Judge Bronwyn Miller's courtroom and watch Bill Matthewman defend Aventura developer Adam Kaufman who is charged with the second degree murder of his wife. (This may be Matthewman's last trial before he becomes a Federal Magistrate.) 


ASA Joe Mansfield for the prosecution. 
Dr. Bruce Hyma will be under the gun as it were, as a major part of the defense is the cause of death. 


If you see one of the attorneys during the break, maybe one of them will comment on this entry in the court docket sheet- we have never seen this before: 
ORDER: AGREED ORDER AUTHORIZING DEFT ADAM KAUFMAN TO WORKOUT
Does that include pilates, or just free weights? 

Enjoy the week.