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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE GREATEST AMERICAN NOVELS, #7, #6, #5

SURVIVOR POOL: Congratulations to co-champions Kenny Weisman and Dan Lurvey who navigated the rocky shoals of a tough NFL Season to finish 15-1 (one week all four survivors lost, so everyone continued.)

GREATEST AMERICAN NOVELS. 
Now it gets tough. Little Women?  Uncle Tom's Cabin? The Human Stain? Of Mice and Men (A personal favourite). Their Eyes Were Watching God? The Big Sleep? The USA Trilogy? The Jungle? The Good Earth? Rabbit, Run? The Bell Jar? One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?  We could make a case for each of these novels to be on the list. 

#5. The Naked and The Dead, Norman Mailer.  Mailer wrote the Naked and the Dead, based on his personal experiences of combat in the Philippines in WWII,  while in Paris in 1948, after the war, at age twenty-five, in a remarkable fifteen weeks. Every morning Mailer would read a section of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and then suitably inspired, would sit down and write. The Novel has it weak points, which Mailer inspired. It shows an immature writer. The extensive characters are often predictably stereotypical, a product of Mailer's immaturity as a writer. For instance, there is a white,  Liberal, Harvard educated sergeant (Robert Hearn), a smug Jew who believes himself superior to his comrades because of his education (Roth), an anti-semetic man of Irish descent (Roy Gallagher), a big-ol southerner with a happy-go-lucky nature (Woodrow Wilson).  
The war novel is the prototypical Great American Novel, because our last two centuries were shaped by massive wars (the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam) and writers write about such things. We choose Mailer's novel precisely because it was his first novel and precisely because the novel suffers from the juvenile shortcomings of a new writer. Because beyond those criticisms, the novel provides a brutally clear view on the dehumanization of combat soldiers. Compared to Hemingway's war novels, this novel more realistically confronts the reality of war. Men defecate in their pants from fear. American soldiers murder Japanese prisoners of war in cold blood. Power, love, death sex, misogyny,  and homosexuality are all at least touched upon. A remarkable first novel and a remarkable novel.   

6. "Here is a book which, if such a thing were possible, might restore our appetite for the fundamental realities. The predominant note will seem one of bitterness, and bitterness there is, to the full. But there is also a wild extravagance, a mad gaiety, a verve, a gusto, at times almost a delirium... "Anais Nin. 

Nin wrote the above as a preface to Tropic Of Cancer, by Henry Miller. But Miller, an American wrote Tropic Of Cancer in 1930-34, while living in Paris, and the novel is mostly about Paris.  The novel broke ground in the use of sexuality, and it was banned in the United States until 1961.  In 1939 Miller wrote a sequel, entitled Tropic of Capricorn, which was narrated by a "Henry V Miller" and was set in New York City. This novel was also banned in the US. 
 Because Tropic of Cancer was written in Paris and is about Paris, we included Tropic Of Capricorn, which was written about New York, as a dual selection. 

Tropic of Cancer centers on Miller's early struggles as a writer. iIn the novel, Miller uniquely explains what he is up to:

Up to the present, my idea of collaborating with myself has been to get off the gold standard of literature. My idea briefly has been to present a resurrection of the emotions, to depict the conduct of a human being in the stratosphere of ideas, that is, in the grip of delirium.

 Both novels use graphic and corse language to explore sex, and recount  Miller's sexual conquests. But beyond the sex, the novels represent an exploration of humanity- madness, death, dance, music, homelessness, hunger, anger, sadness, love, lust, despair. 

Miller and Vonnegurt represent our inclusion of novels with grounding breaking writing styles and subject matter. We expect these selections, grouped together as #6, will be the most controversial on our list. 

7. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegurt. The toughest pick for us. Spots one, two, and three, were relatively easy, and four, five, and six, also fairly clear. But in this spot the choice was a classic, like some of those we mentioned above. But we decided to include an author who was a startlingly new voice when he first published.  Slaughterhouse Five was fueled by Vonnegurt's experiences in WWII. His intimate familiarity with the death and destruction and horror of war (The Dresden Bombing) fuel this novel which examines the disturbing condition of humanity. This is the only "modern" or more precisely, "post modern" novel we have included. The writing technique was unique. The novel follows no time line as the narrator Billy Pilgrim believes he can time travel. Death is everywhere and knows no boundaries as the horror of Dresden vis a vis a man put to death for a small theft make the 
incomparable, comparable. "And so it goes...."  Has there ever been a fictional character like Kilgore Trout? We needed a modern/post modernist novel, and Vonnegurt, whose style is distinct makes the list for creating a branch of American literature all his own. Like his narrator, Vonnegurt was ill suited to be a solider and like his narrator, Vonnegurt was captured by the Germans at the battle of the bulge and like his narrator, placed in an abandoned Slaughterhouse (#5) where he and his fellow POWs and German guards survived the firestorm bombing of Dresden by hiding in a deep cellar at Schlachthof Fünf. 

GREATEST AMERICAN NOVELS, CONTINUED.

We pause a moment in our countdown of greatest American Novels to report to you on, of all things, a Korean writer named Bae Suah. Ms. Suah is a writer of daring fiction. Her style is unique. There is a psychological tension to her stories. Her voice is singularly her own. She is the first and only female Korean writer of fiction we have ever come across. Ms. Suah's wikipedia page is here. 

We read her Novella "Highway With Green Apples" in the December 18, 2013, edition of "Day One", a Kindle publication that publishes one work of short fiction every week. Outside of purchasing the 12/18/13 edition of Day One from Amazon, we are not sure how you can access her fiction. But the effort is well worth it.  Bae Suah is the reason we read: to discover the surprising voice that takes you to places you have never been and can never get to (the mind of a young, dissatisfied Korean sales girl, for instance). 

And if you perchance enjoy new fiction, then we highly recommend the dollar a week cost of a "Day One" Kindle subscription. Reading a new short story over lunch is the perfect way to unwind from a hard morning in court. 

SURVIVOR POOL: Weisman vs. Lurvey. South Beach Style vs. Aventura Attitude. It all comes down to week 16. It has been a remarkable run and we have decided that if both pick a winner today they will be crowned co-champions, and forever more, making it to week sixteen will henceforth be known as a "Weisman-Lurvey" (yeah, we know, it needs some work. It sounds more like a comet or a new subatomic particle than a survivor pool achievement.). 
Weisman thinks the answer to his championship hopes are the Tennessee Titans, while Lurvey is confident the Bengals will dispatch the Ravens and crown him champ. 

Stay tuned as selections 7,6,5,4 are posted as the 2013 REGJB Blog's  Greatest American Novel countdown continues.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

GREATEST AMERICAN NOVELS

Here we go with our list of the greatest American Novels. This is a herculean task,  and when you do a top ten list in this category, it's almost impossible to not leave off a worthy tome. 

8. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner. Faulkner, the anti-Hemingway for his stream of consciousness writing style, is arguably the South's greatest writer. As a Nobel Laureate, Faulkner's greatness was recognized in 1952. The thirty year destruction and decompensation of the Compson Family of Jefferson, Mississippi, told in four distinct sections from four perspectives- all brothers in the family- including from a  brother (Benjy) who is mentally handicapped, is astounding in the breadth and scope of the writing and styles. Whereas James Joyce failed (gasp!) in our opinion of this type of loose writing style in Ulysses,  Faulkner triumphs. Family, the south, tragic lives, and history, all unfold in one of the very best southern novels ever written. (Not so) Honourable mention: Ulysses, James Joyce. Google any top novel list and Joyce's Ulysses is almost always at the top spot. Which is wonderful, except that Joyce is unreadable. Like the parable of the Emperor with no clothes, everyone raves about Ulysses and Joyce, but no one has actually read the damn novel and finished it and understood it. We call it as we read it. Faulkner makes out top ten; Joyce most certainly does not. 

9. The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison. The social protest novel? NO. An intellectual exploration of, not the plight of African Americans in the Southern  United States (which is a given in the Novel), but the plight of the human race.  The intellectual and philosophical choices an unnamed African American man is faced with as he matures are the vehicle for the book(the novel is told in the first person, with an unnamed narrator looking back on his life. The influence of Dostovesky's  Notes From Underground, in both the use of the unnamed narrator, and the narrator's style, is unmistakeable).  Ellison's disappointment in Marxism as a political avenue for freedom for African Americans is a theme which unmasked, reveals the shortcomings of Marxism as a political system in toto. And that is the genius of the book: the obvious plight of blacks in America is merely the anvil upon which Ellison hammers out his exploration of philosophy and the human condition. That is why this novel, and not Ayn Rand's two works, makes the list. A life changing scene?  If the famous "Battle Royal" scene doesn't affect your view of human nature, nothing will. This is a masterpiece of a novel and it is a novel that exemplifies why writers can change the world. Honourable mention: George Orwell's 1984: Another English writer excluded because of our American-centric rules. Thank goodness, because how do you choose between 1984 and The Invisible Man

10. The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway.  
A top ten list without Hemingway? Well, actually, conceivably yes. This is his only story we have been able to make it through. Personally, while we admire Hemingway, we just don't like his writing style. But this novel, especially for our locale, resonates. It's a complete little story. Extremely well done. By a great American Novelist. Honourable mention: John Updike and John Irving. Great American novelists. They have novels that easily make the top twenty five. But they can't squeak into the top ten. Also honourable mention: Remains of the Day and 100 Years Of solitude. Two of our our all time favourite novels. Kazuo Ishiguro and Gabriel Garcia Marquez are incomparably great writers. They are giants in the field of fiction. As are Vladimir Nabakov (Lolita) and E.M Forester (A Passage to India, Howard's End). Powerful novels. Spectacular. Life changing. But this is a list of Great American Novels by American authors, so thankfully they don't have to fight to make the list. 

Sneak Preview: Ulysses, James Joyce. The greatest novel of all time, or un-readable babble? 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

THE SLEDGEHAMMER JUSTICE OF MIN MAN SENTENCES

UPDATE: Miami Herald editorial slams Senator Rubio for freezing Judge Thomas's nomination to the federal bench:


The nomination of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas to fill a federal judicial vacancy is illustrative. Mr. Thomas, if confirmed, would become the first openly gay black man to serve on a federal bench. After first recommending him, Sen. Rubio withdrew support, citing concern over two rulings — even though a prosecutor whom the judge ruled against in one case wrote the senator in support of Judge Thomas. Mr. Rubio’s office points out that he has supported some of President Obama’s judicial picks; critics say opposition to Judge Thomas is rooted in anti-gay politics.
As 2016 approaches, the presidential campaign will pick up speed. Given Sen. Rubio’s obvious political appeal, he should be a strong contender for his party’s nomination if he chooses to run, but his political calculus should not require support for an agenda that does not fit the needs of a large, diverse state like Florida.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/21/3830328/rightward-shift.html#storylink=cpy



UPDATE: A chance conversation led us to ponder the best books of 2013 that we read and the Greatest American Novels of all time. Regarding the GAN(oat) we quickly picked the top two, which got us working on this list. We will post it over the weekend/next week. One pending controversy,  Hemingway may not make the list. 
What say you? 

Conservative columnist George Will joins the drumbeat of voices against minimum mandatory sentences. Will highlights the great Judge John Gleeson's  (EDNY) criticism of the minimum mandatory sentencing laws in the Washington Post here.
(Santa cap tip to DOM's SDFLA blog.)

Quiet last weeks of the year,  court wise.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

TRACKING SANTA 2013

NORAD SANTA TRACKER HERE




A YULE LOG


Watch live streaming video from yulelog at livestream.com

LARRY HANDFIELD MISDEMEANOR TAX EVASION CASE

@Davidovalle305 's tweet said it all:


This shocked many in Miami's courthouse: Prominent lawyer Larry Handfield quietly pleaded guilty in federal tax case


The Herald article  is here. 

We've known Mr. Handfield for decades. He is as fine a criminal defense trial lawyer as  there is in this town. 


We all have our mountains to climb in life, and if this is Larry's, we are confident he will climb it. We wish him the best and would never hesitate to vouch for his exceptional skills as a defense attorney. Many people in our community owe their freedom and in some cases their lives to Larry Handfield. He will over come this.

Later today, our annual Santa Tracker will go up.   So stop bombarding us with emails. 



Friday, December 20, 2013

CORRECTING CORRECTIONS

MONDAY UPDATE:
Double Down Weisman and Long Shot Lurvey both picked a winner yesterday in the Survivor pool (Chargers) so they head into the final week, capping an amazing season for them.

REGJB Blog Fantasy Football: The right and Honourable Miguel De La O is in the championship game against the experienced and wily  Richard Barron.

TWITTER:  The Fake Alex Michaels account, @draculawyer is on a classic rant this Monday morning. The best local twitter account by far, and one of the all around greatest.


An email from FACDL El Presidente on Corrections policies and the release of our clients (don't hold your breath):






Corrections quickly (11 days later) responded:






So there you have it. Problem.  Problem solved. 

See you in court. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

XMAS SLOWDOWN

We're officially in the Christmas slow down. County Court will be virtually nonexistent for the next two weeks and we are in a pattern where Christmas and New Years fall on Wednesdays, essentially wiping out the rest of the weeks for each of the holiday. We once got a verdict on 12/31/1999, but that was a rarity. Very few cases are being tried and Judges who can get coverage are taking the week off. 

Did you know? That Judges have no set amount of vacation days? As an independent branch of Government, the legislature cannot set how many days they must work. Any time a judge can cajole a colleague into covering their calendar, they can take the day off. And as well all know, any day a judge cannot cajole a colleague into covering their calendar, they can still take the day off. (Perhaps our last shot at the judiciary for the year. Maybe.)

Rumpole Practice Tip #7: Where to set your depos. You don't want to set your depos at the SAO because then some pesky prosecutor will sit in on the depo. And BTW, if you read their own rules for setting depos at their office, they reserve the right to set the time limit for your depo. They have no statutory authority to do this, but the SAO makes it a condition of scheduling one of their offices. So off you march to the PDs office, where the lines are long, the tempers short, the waiting rooms full of clients with no money, and no help from this nightmare in sight. What do you do? 

Did you know that the court administrators office (Motto: The agency you can't find...for a reason") has set aside rooms in our own REGJB that you can call and schedule (for as long as you want) to take your depos in? 
It's easy, convenient, no check in windows, no hassle, no hustle, just a room with no view to take your depos. 

This is the 3rd tip in a series of ten that we will be releasing on how to make your life and the practice of law more fun and easy. Coming next: bathrooms, booze, bagels and broads. 

See you in court next year. 




Tuesday, December 17, 2013

MARCH

There's a "March" today in support of Judge Will Thomas's nomination to the federal bench. Not really sure where or when, just the why. 

If you think about it, the explosion of the "nuclear option" which did away with senate filibusters  (literally Latin for "blunderbuss nonsense") for judicial nominations (except for the supreme court and Dade Traffic Magistrates) makes the path for Judge Thomas even more difficult. 

When last we checked, Senator Marco Rubio (Consv, Pluto) had not forwarded the blue slip on Thomas's nomination. Rubio can hold on to the blue slip until hell freezes over, or there's no traffic in Hialeah, whichever comes first. With the knowledge that Thomas's nomination cannot be filibustered, which would make his confirmation virtually assured in a democratic controlled senate, the only way Rubio can block Thomas's nomination is to keep that blue slip in his vest pocket.  Absent Seal Team Six confronting Rubio on a secret mission at his compound somewhere in Northern Florida or the mountains of Tora Bora, and liberating the Blue Slip, things look dim for Thomas. 

Unless......







Rumpole's Practice Tip #9: Misdemeanor Speedy Trial:
We're giving you a peak into our playbook and allowing a quick look at our top ten practice tips for 2014. 
When you have an important misdemeanor case, do not send in a NOA. Appear at the arraignment and file the NOA. The reason is that if you mail in the NOA, the clerk cancels the arraignment and immediately sets the case for report, and you lose the time between arrest and arraignment. So don't send in a NOA on misdemeanor cases. (Thanks to the Colonel of County Court for this tip.) 

See You in Court. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

LIFE GOES ON

We buried a friend yesterday. It was a sad affair. There was pain and bewilderment as the ultimate finality of it all sunk in. Richard Sharpstein was remembered by his friends and family for the remarkable life he lived and that is how it should be. We take the lessons from the good of his life, his warmth, humor, humility....his compassion. And that is what we remember as we go on about the business of living our life. 

(deep breath)......

For those of you following our survivor pool, Lucy Lew was tripped up with the Saints who were upset by the Rams. A remarkable run of correctly picking 13 of 15 weeks of winning football teams. Weisman and Lurvey rolled with the hometown Fins. Your finalists are REGJB regulars Kenny "double down" Weisman and Dan "long shot" Lurvey. 

Practice tips. In preparation for the new year, we have compiled our top ten practice tips. Little nuggets of information we have gained from experience that will help make you a better lawyer in 2014 and help you enjoy the practice of law.  It's Rumpole's playbook, and we offer you a peak, free of charge. 

Rumpole's Tip#10: Avoid the Friday Re-set.
As you wind your way through the various courtrooms and cases during an average week, invariably there are cases that need to be re-set. And as the work load of judges and lawyers increases, Friday looms as the day when most of the detritus will be cleared away and the lawyers will have some time to get the work done needed to resolve the case. The problem is that every other judge and lawyer in the building has the same idea and Friday is now jammed with the all the problem cases from the week. The courthouse is as crowded as a Tuesday or Wednesday and everyone is scrambling to get out early and the result is that not as much gets done as everyone envisioned and Friday becomes a wasted court visit. 

So avoid the "Friday re-set." It is an illusion; a mirage of time and light calendars. Friday is in fact it is as busy and hectic a day as any other. 

(another deep breath) Put one foot in front of the other. Handle a case, then another. Go home, hug your family and keep on living. 

See You In Court. 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

DEATH WILL HAVE HIS DAY

Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.” 
― William ShakespeareRichard II



Richard's funeral will take place at Temple Beth Shalom in Miami Beach today at 1:30. The address is 4144 Chase Avenue.
The funeral will be live streamed ( a first for us) at Temple Beth Shalom Website. 



 For Sharpie 

It seemed a bright and sunny day 
when our friend Richard passed away. 
A razor wit, a silver tongue, 
upon each word of his we hung. 
He walked with grace and spoke with pride, 
all loved to be there by his side 
to hear the tales of battles won, 
of wars he’d fought, of wrongs undone. 
If only we could learn his skill 
to bend a courtroom to his will! 
To turn the tide, to find the way 
to bring back light on rainy days. 
When storm clouds gathered, skies grew dark, 
Richard’s was the name we’d hark- 
for he could see the sun obscured 
and find a path to light restored. 
If only we had known the wrath 
of storms that darkened Richard’s path 
Could we have lent what we had learned 
to help our friend at our turn? 
What clouds were these that darkened skies 
the day that our friend Richard died? 
-Jason Grey 

“For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin” 
― William ShakespeareRichard II



A reader sent us this email. It speaks for itself:

I wanted to mention an example the way judges felt about Richard. After the post-argument renewal of a Rule 29 motion in USA v. Craig Toll, in a case that Richard and Ari tried 4 months ago, Judge Dimitrouleas spoke about the case and Richard:

THE COURT:  Well, I think -- at this point, I think I'm going to stick with my prior decision, that it's a question of fact for the jury, and deny your Rule 29 motion.  BUT I WILL SAY THAT I'VE HEARD A LOT OF CLOSING ARGUMENTS IN MY TIME, AND I DON'T KNOW THAT I'VE EVER HEARD A BETTER CLOSING ARGUMENT THAN MR. SHARPSTEIN GAVE YESTERDAY.






Friday, December 13, 2013

WHO KNEW?

Who knew that Chief Judge Moreno was Richard Sharpstein's intern at the Dade SAO? (comment courtesy of "The Chief")

Who knew that Sharpie would routinely come back from court when he was a  prosecutor, in the dog-house with then circuit court and soon to be 3rd DCA Judge (and a legendary chief Judge of that court)  Alan Schwartz? (Comment courtesy of legendary prosecutor Abe Laeser). Apparently most of Abe Laeser's limited experience as a defense counsel was in defending Sharpie, his C prosecutor, from possible contempt proceedings. 

Who knew that Richard was a legendary camp counselor as a teen? (Comments from several of his campers). 

A life is so much more than the sum of it's parts; like a painting is more than just individual brush strokes. The things we do, great and small,  add brush strokes to the canvas. Then at the end, our friends and family step back and look at the canvas. Sharpie painted a rich, full masterpiece. So did Stuart Markus- DOM's dad who passed away Sunday. Stuart Markus was remembered as a lawyer who never said "no" to a client in need. What a remarkable life he led, and what a wonderful example he set for the rest of us. 

What are you painting? Are you living each day to the fullest? Making the world better; helping a friend who is troubled or a stranger down on their luck? Are you giving a smile and stopping for a chat with the person who cleans the building you work in, or are you saving your time and energy just for those who are above you on life's ladder and can do something for you?  All that you do - all these brush strokes- create the work of art that will someday be your life. That is one thing the comments on the blog about Sharpie and Stuart Markus have taught us. 

For those of you just hired out of law school and working at the PDs or SAO, your whole life is in front of you. And sooner than you think, most of your life will be behind you. Big cases will come and go. But if you don't take the joy out of each day, bring something special to  each moment you interact with someone, and if you don't bring joy and happiness to those you meet (as Sharpie and Stuart Markus did) then your canvas will be dull; gray and black strokes, the picture muddled, the canvas wasted. 

Richard's funeral will take place at Temple Beth Shalom in Miami Beach. The address is 4144 Chase Avenue.