Tuesday, July 02, 2013

LAGOA TAKES MIRANDA & VON ZAMFT TO TASK

The much anticipated oral argument at the 3rd DCA occurred today in Alex Michaels contempt case. We watched the live video feed, and were much amused by Judge Schwartz almost stroking out and holding a litigant in contempt in a mortgage foreclosure case heard before Alex's case came before the court.  
But then it was time for Alex's case and the panel in courtroom left and Judge Wells (who was on the prior panel) led Judges Lagoa and Shepherd into the courtroom. 

Ken Speiller (counsel for Alex Michaels) was barely finished introducing himself when Judge Lagoa interrupted him and began a series of questions that must have made Alex and his lawyer thrilled. 

Lagoa started off by noting that Judge Miranda's contempt order found two separate and distinct actions by Alex Michaels contemptuous: first- by making what Judge Miranda characterized as a "violent gesture" and second, by muttering a Romanian curse word under his breath. 

Lagoa noted that nine witnesses testified at the contempt hearing. None testified that the gesture- Alex holding his hand out as if to say "stop" while Von Zamft was interrupting him- was a threatening gesture. Lagoa noted that Von Zamft's co-cousnel testified that when Von Zamft approached the podium it was his fist that was clenched. Before the first few minutes were over it was clear that one of the two counts of contempt against Alex Michaels had not withstood judicial scrutiny. 

Then came the bombshell: Judge Lagoa chastised Judge Miranda for holding Alex in contempt on a Friday, sentencing him to two days jail, and not allowing him to post an appeals bond. Her displeasure with Judge Miranda's actions was very clear. Lagoa followed that up with several comments about Von Zamft, noting the clenched fist and Von Zamft's repeated statements that he was going to seek to have Alex Michaels Baker Acted. It became very clear to us that Judge Lagoa was of the opinion the wrong lawyer was standing before the 3rd DCA. 

Judge Shepherd was willing to concede the now infamous "threatening gesture" count, but he was clearly troubled by the possible curse word. Judge Wells was just troubled. She opined several times that the entire hearing was out of control and she was greatly displeased by the behavior of both attorneys. 

Rumpole says: The panel clearly had trouble with proof of criminal contempt beyond a reasonable doubt. To us, the normal appellate court's  desire to defer to the trial judge was eradicated by what they perceived as the judge's completely improper sentence of two days jail without providing the lawyer the ability to appeal. Judges Shepherd and Wells are not thrilled with this case and the actions of both lawyers. However, Judge Lagoa's apparent strong belief that nothing in the record supports the finding of contempt against Alex Michaels appears to us to be sufficient to carry the day. 

FU
Oscar Madison: I can't take it anymore, Felix, I'm cracking up. Everything you do irritates me. And when you're not here, the things I know you're gonna do when you come in irritate me. You leave me little notes on my pillow. Told you 158 times I can't stand little notes on my pillow. "We're all out of cornflakes. F.U." Took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!


We're trying to post the video of the oral argument, but it might take us some time, so check back. 

See You In Court. 

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're all thinking it, I'm just sayin' it: Judge Lagoa is hot.

Anonymous said...

As you censor the comments, you probably won't post this, but it is so obvious from your posting that you are unfamiliar with practice before the Third. Watch a couple more oral arguments before you start guessing about the results. The contempt order gets affirmed. Michaels gets referred to tbe Bar AGAIN!

draculawyer said...

Von Zoom away has been and always will be the villain in this and many other cases.

Rumpole said...

I'm fairly certain that I've won more cases before the 3rd than years you've been alive.

Anonymous said...

MVZ needs to be disciplined AGAIN.

Anonymous said...

bo right but it will not matter. Shepherd and Wells vote together as a matter of course. Affirmance with a vigorous dissent, and an opinion with strong statements about the out of control courtroom, with no teeth in it. ASA will not be reported to the Bar.

Anonymous said...

Lagoa came out of the gate like that because she knew Sheppy and Wellsie are affirming one count (and threw her a bone on the gesture, but she wanted to pin them down because she doesnt trust them.)

I agree with @ 7:14 pm.

I will add that I think Judge Lagoa has distinguished herself here.

-GB

Anonymous said...

How things go at oral argument is not always indicative of how an opinion will come out...

Anonymous said...

Judge Shepard followed the bouncing political ball to the 3rd DCA. Was a hard working senior attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation. A distinguished jurist indeed.

Anonymous said...

Von Zamft needs a silver foot stuffed in his mouth. The 3rd DCA will never do anything to him.

Anonymous said...

Judge Lagoa did a great job. Look at how both the asa and other judge tried to talk over her, when she clearly had total command of the subject. She will call out both asa and appellate counsel for refusal to confess error on "threatening gesture"

Scott Saul said...

You know what I don't like?

When a prominent Judge and active lawyer passes away, there's just a smattering of comments (how ironic for a "Justice Building-themed blog") however, when it comes to gossip, negative criticism, anonymous posturing and shallowness, the posts keep on rolling in.

Perhaps this is indicative of the sad state of the profession (and why people complain about the lack of business), because the priorities are all screwed up?

It's appalling that the deaths of Sydney Smith and Joe Deehl generated such few responses. I would say "what's wrong with many of the lawyers?" but that would be rhetoric since it is obvious what is wrong.

For all you workaholics, cut- throats, making the law your only concern or even the highly dedicated...take heed...when you die, nobody gives a shit

Rumpole said...

Scott- the first time we covered the death of a judge was the great Manny Crespo and there was well over 50 comments remembering his life and work. It was a surprise- we never considered the blog would become a place of remembrance. Since then, there have been posts for Rob Pinero, Gerry Klein, and many others I cannot remember at this moment. In every case we have received an email from a family member thanking us. We got one from someone close to Judge Deehl, and perhaps the best was from a grandchild of Judge Calvin Mapp.
So this is a service that works. But it is a simple fact that life goes on. You and I remember Judge Deehl, and we pause and feel a bit sad and perhaps feel our age a bit more than we might like. But for some 28 yr old PD or ASA it's something they barely notice and they have their own problems. I'm sure when you were a young whippersnapper in the SAO the passing of some elderly Judge you never knew barely registered on your radar screen.

The good of this blog are the thoughtful comments and interesting discussion. The bad is the trash. Like everything in life, you take the good, filter out the bad, and move on.

And believe me when I tell you, the level of mean, nasty comments that I do not publish, is astonishingly high. But I won't let that stop me from doing what I enjoy.


Anonymous said...

You know bothers me Scott, you come on this blog and try to be the moral compass of the comments. As if you are a better person than most. Yet when you are in court, you are not polite, you don't speak to the young PDs & ASAs, except the ones you want to get a plea from, and you carry on about your way. You make no effort to bridge the gap between the "old" and the "new". For all the shit people talk about Ted Mastos and Alex Michaels, they make an effort to bridge that gap. We know who they are more importantly, the know us. Alex does it in his own way, but he doesn't walk in like he is better than anyone. You do. You would be surprised how a 15 second chat with a young pd goes a long way in creating those bonds you decry don't exist.

Anonymous said...

And don't forget this:

"Hooper drives the boat, Chief".

Anonymous said...

Here's a problem with all of you who are suddenly Alex Michael's biggest fans--he makes it bad for all of you who practice criminal defense. Unlike a standup guy like Sy Gaer (and even Ted Mastos), Alex has become a raving, abusive lunatic. He freely calls women lawyers "b*****s" and "c***s", curses at other lawyers, and is abusive to judges, court personnel, and witnesses. He embodies what the public perceives as the negative aspects of the criminal defense attorney. Instead of lauding him and acting as his collective cheerleaders, why doesn't somebody reach out to him and help him? He used to be an excellent attorney--now he's just a parody. He's not helping his clients, he's not helping himself, and he's reinforcing the public's negative view of the criminal justice system.

Anonymous said...

Former ASA here:

I'm 43 and I can barely remember Judge Deehl being on the bench other than covering the occasional calendar. Of course you're going to get more comments about an active lawyer/judge who passes away than you will about a retired/semi-retired/senior judge.


Anonymous said...

who is this dooley chick that filed again judge jackie scwartz--their addresses are awfully close to one another based on filing docs.....is she a plant? has the captain contacted her?

Anonymous said...

You know what I don't like, Scott? The way you act like you are the arbiter of class and professionalism when you write on this blog, when your acts and reputation in the courthouse indicate differently.

Anonymous said...

Who is 'Joe Deehl'?

the trialmaster said...

VZ should have punched this wacko in the mouth.

Anonymous said...

Rump Odd Couple Trivia

what was the name of the racing dog that Oscar bought?

what was the name of the fighter that oscar had a picture of and was surprised that his girlfriend knew about?

what role did mr miyagi play in the odd couple?

what member of the miami performing arts scene made a cameo?

what la rams defensive end made a cameo on the odd couple once

Anonymous said...

Lagoa buckles under pressure of protestors.
FREE ALEX MICHAELS!

FREE ALEX MICHAELS!!

FREE ALEX MICHAELS!!'


paid for by the committee that dislikes von zamft.

Rumpole said...

Swear I didnt google this.

Al bummy davis.

Decon jones

Edward vallela.

He owned a japanese restaurant and met felix on island during wwii.
Cant remember dog's name.

Anonymous said...

To 10:33, I don't know Michaels and am not cheering for him. I'm applauding Judge Lagoa for her knowledge of the law and the record, and willingness to make a ruling on these, rather than offensive personalities. Intentionally jailing a lawyer over the weekend should be treated seriously. Judge Lagoa exposed some pretty flimsy resaons,

Anonymous said...

Scott:

First like many others I did not know Judge Deehl that well other than to see him cover a docket. The same for Mr. Smith. I have been a lawyer for 20 years what do want me to say?

Second, your ego is way out of wack. In the 20 years I have been in the justice building I have never heard your name mentioned as one of the elite lawyers in South Florida. I know 200-300 lawyers that I would refer a client to before even considering you. What big case did you win in the past 2 decades to justify your arrogance?

Anonymous said...

What does Fake Alex Michaels always says? Hmmmm? Doesn't art imitate life?

Phil R said...

My response to 6:39pm is that I speak with Scott often over coffee and we discuss cases- the ones we won and the ones we lost, and Scott has won a lot of very difficult cases over the years. Give me an experienced trial lawyer who cut his teeth in the old SAO of the 70's -80's any day of the week. Maybe I am biased, but it ain't braggin if you have done it, and Scott has won more than his share of cases.

Anonymous said...

Dude - I haven't seen Scott Saul try a case in. 20 years

Anonymous said...

Wells and Shepard will vote to affirm. Consistent with right wing principles they believe that if a criminal defendant or criminal defense lawyer wants relief they go to the jury for it.

Judge Lagoa will file a dissenting opinion. Judge Lagoa has courage to have taken the positions she took at oral argument.

FORMER JUDGE said...

Scott Saul is correct as to the fact that one who has worked in the Justice Building for a good part of their life -- passes away -- no one really cares for too long, if at all. One should keep in mind that there is inherent competition among attorneys (for clients and for judge's adoration) and among judges (for bragging rights on the number of times their cases are listed in the media so their names are published). Their are very few real friendships among Judges. The same is essentially true among the attorney community.

One should remember that you should always strive to be your best at what you do, but do it for the "system" and for justice -- maybe even do it for your long term financial plan -- but, don't waste your time trying to win insincere friends at the Courthouses of Miami - Dade County.

Love your families. Take your kids fishing. Be kind to your community and the less fortunate. Don't gossip or take joy in other's misfortunes. Just do your job well -- leave the building before you breathe in too much toxic asbestos -- and go home humble and grateful.

Just one Former Judge's observation ....

Anonymous said...

Leave Scott alone.

Anonymous said...

whose Scott Saul?

relax said...

Former Judge has got it right. I hope that when I die that my friends and family remember me fondly because I spent enough quality time with them. I hope that at least a few people remember me because I had a positive impact on their lives because of the work I did on a case. What some self-proclaimed "heavy hitter" or anonymous commenter has to say about me should matter very little grand scheme of things. Those who are now commenting on how many comments a deceased has or has not received and saying shame on you for commenting o a different story, I don't know either of you personally, but please work on making sure that your friends and family remember you fondly. Stop worrying so much about policing the actions of others, on a blog no less. It might lead to a longer and more enriching life.

Anonymous said...

the dogs name was golden earrings.

otherwise well done rump all i wanted on the miyagi question was that he owned a japanese restaurant

Rumpole said...

Yeah, I wasn't close on that one. I answered them from my phone right before the start of an exercise class. I didn't have much time. Neither Edward Vallella nor Deacon Jones had a cameo role. They had a staring role in each episode. For Jones, Felix is offered a chance to direct a commercial if he can get Deacon Jones to endorse shaving cream. Oscar is friends with Deacon. When Deacon finally takes over the commercial after Oscar flubs his lines several times, Felix says "That's really speakin Deacon."

For Mr. Miyagi- the episode starts with a flashback to him as a japanese solider meeting Felix on an island during WWII. When they meet up again, he is pitching Felix on investing in his restaurant, which is a big hit with the college crowd: "The kids think it is hip to eat nip". Not really politically correct for these times.

My thought is that Vallella appeared in a few episodes.

Juan Ramirez, Jr. said...

I did not know Joe Deehl, but I did know Judge Robert Deehl. First I want to commend Scott Saul for using his own name. He's the only one with guts, in my view. Second, as a former judge myself, I have a lot of great friends who are and were judges. The thing about a judge dying almost twenty years after retirement is that so few remember him or her. When Manny or Rob died, they were in their prime as active judges. Maybe Gen. MacArthur's saying should apply to judges where we live too long--we just fade away.
And no, don't try to guess the result by the questions at oral argument--at the Third or at the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

Um, Juan, did you really mean to say that some judges live too long? Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Juan - trolling for business on the blogs won't work

In fact, It makes you look well, not busy

You have to be a good lawyer to make rain . It doesn't just rain bc you were a state judge. Right?

Your self promotion lately is sad

"Congrats judge shep - when I was chief ..." blah blah blah

And your "herding cats" comment? Poor judgment . You denigrate the position . Not good timing when youre ostensibly congratulating another.

Anonymous said...

To 10:33, thank you.............
Alex Michaels is a discrace to the profession and he does nothing but hurt his clients. Maybe he needs help but the courtroom is not the place to help him. i applaud you for speaking the truth and to Rumpole for printing it. But he doesnt deserve another minute of discussion.