Monday, January 28, 2013

IN RE: RILYA WILSON

WAY-TO-GO! 
In the aftermath of the verdict in the case involving the disappearance of Rilya Wilson, the FACDL listserv was flooded over the weekend with emails congratulating the attorneys who defended Geralyn Graham. Graham was accused of abusing and then murdering Rilya- a young child in foster care. 
Certainly the defense attorneys had a very difficult job in defending someone accused of killing a child. Could any charge evoke more emotion? And in the best tradition of our noble profession, both attorneys who were appointed to represent Graham stepped up and tread where few are brave enough and skilled enough  to go. In the face of overwhelming emotion and sadness, the defense held the prosecution to their burden of proof. As to the murder count- at least one juror agreed. The mistrial on the murder count had the practical effect of saving the life of the defendant, who was otherwise facing the death penalty. So to the defense- job well done. 

But what disturbed us over the weekend was that lost in the chorus of congratulatory emails was the absence of any mourning for young Rilya Wilson, who is still missing, and most likely dead. She was a young child, born into difficult circumstances, and placed into a foster care system that horribly failed her. Children depend upon us to protect them and provide for them until they become adults. Children like Rilya Wilson are the most vulnerable, without permanent parents to provide a safe and nurturing  home. Rilya Wilson needed the State of Florida's foster care system to protect her, and instead it killed her.

A child is dead because of the incompetence and negligence of Florida's foster care system. And that tragedy should always remain foremost in our thoughts - beyond the natural urge to indulge in congratulating  two colleagues who did an outstanding job in a very difficult case. So our last words on this subject are on the memory of this young child- Rilya Wilson. Multitudes of State officials testified that in the wake of Rilya Wilson having gone missing, changes were made in the way the State monitors children in foster care homes. 


Rilya Wilson- hopefully your death will not be in vain. 

Sorry to start the week off on such a difficult note, but this was on our mind all weekend. 

BENCH AND BAR MIXER: This Thursday at Tobacco Road. 5:30-7:00 pm. More on this later in the week. 

Have a good week.




27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, don't act like you are so morally superior because you recognize the tragedy of a young life cut short. Many people on and off the blog have expressed sorrow over the horrible fate of that little girl.

In addition, don't blame what happened to Rilya on DCF. DCF didn't kill her. Graham did (even if 1 juror held out on so finding).

DCF obviously did not do its job properly, but if there weren't so many idiots having babies when they shouldn't, DCF wouldn't have to try to save the children's lives.

I don't excuse the misconduct of DCF officials, but given the number of morons breeding without any thought for caring for their kids, it's amazing that there aren't even more Rilya stories out there.

One child's death is too many, but blaming DCF is wrong. Especially considering how little funding that agency gets - people love to point fingers at DCF, but this is a failure of our entire society, not just of DCF.

Rumpole said...

I am not expressing moral superiority. I am saying that I found the flood of "hey Great Job guys" emails over the weekend very disturbing. There is nothing to celebrate here- and knowing the defense attorneys in this case- I believe they would agree with me. They lived with Rilya's death for years, and being the type of gentlemen that they are, I am sure they were not popping champagne corks Friday night.

DCF bears direct responsibility for that little girl's death, although I recognize they are way underfunded.

Anonymous said...

I watched the same stream of emails and had the same thought. That people were celebrating a hung jury on a charge about the death of a child was more than mildly disturbing.

Anonymous said...

Rump, you're observation that these congratulatory comments were made on the FACDL Listserve explains why it was not necessary to also comment on the tragedy of a child's death. That is not a public forum. We are speaking to each other. I don't believe that it is necessay to temper every 'congratulations' with a reminder of the underlying tragedy. Rather, it is a time for the lawyers to let the stress subside, to feel good about the importance of their work and to celebrate in the knowledge that they did their work well under very difficult circumstances.

Anonymous said...

facdl is hack city.
anyone who would be a member let alone run for elected office is questionable. and when you don an facdl pin on your suit lapel it is time to end your life..

Rumpole said...

8:41 I do not dispute your points. I just feel the emails were unseemly in light of the tragic facts.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole: We, as a community, need to do more than simply "blame DCF". Yes, the DCF of Rilya's time significantly contributed to her disappearance, but Florida's Child Welfare system drastically changed and will continue to change and improve for the future. Instead of pointing fingers, encourage your readers to be part of the solution. Quality foster parents are desperately needed, something Rilya never had. If your readers truely believe they can do better, have them step up to the plate. They can go to http://www.fosteringflorida.com/index.shtml to learn how they can get involved and make a difference to ensure that what happened to Rilya doesn't happen to another innocent child.

Anonymous said...

If I were the state I would try the case again and execute the animal.

Facdl is lame

Anonymous said...

Unseemly? The emails said "commendable job representing an unpopular client in a case with terrible facts." Get off your soapbox.

Anonymous said...

10:21...you're kidding, right? Within the past 3 years, I was involved in a case in with DCF personally attacked its own "quality foster parents" solely to further its own interest. DCF is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Rumpole said...

I would prefer "highhorse". Soapbox has connotations that are a bit cheap.

Anonymous said...

DCF sucks. Especially since they privatized everything and have no accountability anymore. Worst area of Florida law. Our children suffer because of it.

Been there, done that, from BOTH sides.

Anonymous said...

@12:01pm - Helpful comment. So what are your ideas to help abused children? Dismantle DCF because that's the problem, then what? Who is going to respond to the 300k+ abuse reports called in every year? Who is going to care for the 20k+ children currently involved in the dependency system. Interested in learning about your ideas. You should share them with your state rep too; maybe they will sponsor a bill in your name.

Anonymous said...

Rumpy, it was a fucking FACDL email. It wasn't a prosecutors group email.

Of course we feel bad that a child died but, the emails were congratulating defense lawyers for doing a good job. None were meant to disrespect the dead.

Get real!

Anonymous said...

10:21
On one hand I disagree with your defense of the agency based on my experience where the caseworker did made multiple home visits without bothering to find the child. Big surprise when EMS was called because the toddler "wouldn't wake up." BUT - on the other hand, your challenge is well taken. You're right. I should step up.

Anonymous said...

It is tragic when a child dies.

Anonymous said...

Do people still go to Tobacco Road? The food is terrible. Staff is not friendly. It seems that people want you to listen just a couple of songs, eat, drink something and go away as soon as possible. The staff seems to be in a bad mood. The bands are always unknown and weak. It's not a place I want to go back. This USED to be a great venue for music with decent food and drinks. The service was NEVER good but it has become awful. Not only is the service slow, rude, and often indifferent to customer needs, but now they actually curse at you (and wife) and threaten you. They go as far as to chase you into the parking lot. I will NEVER go back to this horrible place

Anonymous said...

@1:48 p.m. Start by properly funding DCF so that eminently qualified persons (from CPIs to attorneys are hired, trained and retained. Then dismantle the private provider agencies and their overpaid executive directors, assistant directors and staff attorneys. Return accountability to the State of Florida vis a vis DCF. The buck should stop there.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole,

this is a misguided post. As defense attorneys, we have an obligation to our client. The FACDL represents defense attorneys. In any death penalty case, the primary objection of the defense team to get death off the table or if the case proceeds to trial, avoid the death penalty through a jury's verdict. The lawyers in the Rilya Wilson case did just that for their client and that must always be applauded. It is no secret that many defense attorneys abhor the death penalty and every western country but our own has abandoned it as a form of punishment. The more progressive and more educated states in our union have done the same. So I think that your posts misses the mark by a mile. These congratulatory emails were not meant to deface the prosecution or the memory of little Rilya Wilson; there were meant to congratulate the lawyers who ensured her memory was not tainted with state sponsored murder. That is what many of us criminal defense attorneys believe.

The memory of this little girl should shake the foundations of DCF and be a lesson to legislatures are they slash funding for programs that can provide care to the countess other Rilya Wilsons out there.

But using this tragedy as a way to denegrade the defense attorneys in question or FACDL in general is abhorrent to our common values.

Anonymous said...

Rump,

Didn't you congratulate the attorneys in Broward who recently walked the guy on several murder charges?

You can't be pissy about FACDL attorneys congratulating one another on a private listserv, yet congratulate attorneys who walked a guy whom the prosecutors couldn't convict. What's the difference between the cases? The Wilson case concerned a little girl while the Broward case didn't?

Just wear your Depends the next time you get pissy.

Anonymous said...

Just a note Graham was not facing the death penalty as the State waived it a couple of years before trial.

Anonymous said...

Bench and Bar Mixer AGAIN! Another chance for Alschuler to be noticed. He he goes again the king of CLE.

Rumpole said...

9:17 you are correct and of course every life is precious. I guess I am just more touched by the death of a child, especially one with no parents or home. She had no breaks, no real chance. A real tragedy.

Anonymous said...

"...abhorrent to our common values"

true believers annoy my values

CAPTAIN said...


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

AND YOU NEWEST COUNTY COURT JUDGE IS .....

coming from the following list of names that were sent to Governor Scott today to replace Judge Eric Hendon (who was elevated to the Circuit Court):

Robert Coppel
Jason Dimitris
Michelle Delancy
Steven Lieberman
Jonathan Meltz
Sandra Miller-Batiste

Cap Out .....

Anonymous said...

"DCF sucks. Especially since they privatized everything and have no accountability anymore." Hey, don't forget how they use confidentiality to cover up when they screw up. I saw a case where a kid was removed from parents who loved him to prevent possible, "prospective" abuse and was then sexually abused by foster parent's uncle. DCF fought like hell to keep the case, "confidential," and refused to tell the parents about the abuse.

Anonymous said...

Shumie time? Want a steak and a beer and some of that micro distillary bourbon I have before going to my Honduran GF's house and bamfing her non-stop.