WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Monday, February 24, 2014

OPEN COURTROOMS

UPDATE:  Through the good offices of a judge who is a certified friend of the blog, we communicated with the judge in question re: the bailiff who excludes children. As we suspected this was a good policy gone bad and the Judge was not aware of the nature of the entire speech. Needless to say the problem was resolved quickly and at least with this fine jurist, all is well. 

If you see/hear a bailiff excluding people from a courtroom for no good reason (it goes without saying a Judge has the right to control her courtroom and can and should exclude any individual who cannot behave themselves, which of course is why most people are there to begin with. ) please email us. Judges understand the law (shocking as that may seem) but sometimes their bailiffs are  a little too zealous. 


All too frequently, when we walk the hallways of the REGJB just before 9am, we hear a bailiff give a speech to the people crowding in front of the courtroom. And usually the speech is a variety of the same tiresome (and ILLEGAL) spiel: "only defendants can enter the courtroom....or only defendants or family members of the defendant can enter the courtroom...." We heard one Judge's bailiff tell people that "no children can come into the courtroom.

All of that is ILLEGAL. First, as to the ban on children, children are people too. And many children are being dragged to court because the parent cannot afford childcare. So it is an OUTRAGE that some bailiff, with no authority of law, would ban children from courtroom in the United States of America. This isn't North Korea or Iran.  

The law in Florida is simple: COURTROOMS ARE OPEN TO EVERYONE.  Period. 

There is one exception to that principle, and that is when one party files a motion to seal the courtroom. When that occurs, the media must be noticed and the court must hold a hearing, and even if the motion is granted, the courtroom is sealed for a limited time for a particular case. 

We think the Judge whose bailiff is banning children is a great judge.  We're sure her bailiff is a nice guy who does his job well. But this business of banning people from an American Courtroom in the United States of America has to stop. NOW. And banning children...? Really? That's the rep you want? We don't think so. 

Now this business of telling people they cannot wear hats or sunglasses  in a courtroom? We're not sure about that, but it's probably covered by the first amendment. We agree it's not respectful and we wouldn't counsel any client to do it. But we're pretty sure the bailiff and judge have no authority to enforce that rule either. Considering that the US Supreme Court has upheld the right of citizens to burn the flag and wear shirts that say "FU*& THE POLICE" and other such nonsense, if any person wanted to sit in court with sunglasses and a hat and got thrown out or arrested, we're pretty sure some civil rights group like the ACLU  would win that lawsuit. 

So stop banning people from court. Stop telling them what they can wear. Calm down, do your job, and we will all get along. 

See You In Court. 




17 comments:

Anonymous said...

The greater tragedy of the FACDL awards is that the group never saw fit to give Richard the award while he was alive.

Anonymous said...

Why not lodge a complaint with the chief judge? Seems like a problem that can be easily addressed and fixed.

Anonymous said...

Don't recall if it's sill printed on them but court notices in Monroe county tell people that shorts and tank tops are not allowed in courtroom.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


The Captain Reports:

from the Sun Sentinel ...

Attorney Paul Petruzzi, getting some real justice for his client:

Lawyers ripped him off, now a house is his payback.

Patrick Coulton's lawyers ripped him off to the tune of $275,000 and left him to rot in prison.

But Coulton is getting payback: He now lives in his former lawyer's home — a three-bedroom house in Miramar that he will eventually own as part of a court-ordered punishment of the two misbehaving attorneys.

"Even though they threw me under the bus … There's a certain sense of unease about acquiring a house in this fashion," Coulton said after moving in last week. "I almost feel sorry for them."

The way Coulton and two federal judges tell it, this is the story of two very bad lawyers — Emmanuel Roy and Peter Mayas — and one very good one, Paul Petruzzi.

"Guys like them are the reason people hate lawyers," Petruzzi said. "They took everything from him and his family … I took it personally because this is what I do for a living. Lawyers are supposed to help people."

Read it all here:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/
crime/fl-client-gets-
lawyers-house-
20140222,0,6250104.
story

Cap Out ...
captain4justice@gmail.com

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Sorry Rump but I have to disagree with you on this one. The courtroom is a place of business. Supposedly serious business and is not the type of place where you bring little kids or four members of your family to watch a sounding. Bailiffs and judges have the absolute right to tell people to act accordingly, shut off phones, leave your crying children outside and dress appropriately. It's about respect for the functioning of a court of law, not trampling on people's rights to attend a courtroom with a baseball cap and sunglasses on.

If you had told me a story where a bailiff or judge booted a family from a trial, Arthur hearing or motion to suppress, that would be one thing. But a daily calendar is a whole different matter.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

Courtrooms & Children .....

Rumpole, your point is well taken and I have always felt the same way when I witness bailiffs announce who can and cannot be in the courtroom during morning calendar.

Having said that, children do not belong in the courtroom. It's one thing if we are talking about a Civics field trip for the 5th grade class.

It's another when we are talking about a four year old having to be dragged to court and watch their mother or father stand before a Judge. If the parent "cannot afford childcare" the GJB offers a solution.

That's why there is COURT CARE at the GJB. It is located on the 5th floor, (305-548-5128), and it is open from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm every day. It is closed for lunch from Noon until 1pm.

If your client has a young child, you may want to suggest to them that they can drop their child off and get free babysitting while the client is in court.

I am betting that neither North Korea nor Iran offer Court Care in their courtrooms.

Cap Out .....

Rumpole said...

12:03 there is a big difference between requesting silence in a courtroom and not allowing anyone to speak on a phone, which is entirely proper, and banning a human being, much less a US Citizen, even if that citizen is under the age of 18. Florida has laws, and the law is that they cannot close a courtroom without notice. Period.
Plus, you didn't address the fact that many bailiffs tell people in the hallway that only defendants not in custody can come into court. So does that ban also extend to David Ovalle and the media? There is a balance here and the bailiffs are doing a poor job striking the balance. In federal court the marshals allow attorneys, then defendants, then people related to the defendants, then the general public into courtrooms in that order, based on seating. Nothing wrong with that. But just banning anyone but defendants or just banning children is completely illegal and wrong.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you, Rumpole, but not sure why you're focusing only on Florida law. I'm pretty sure that the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted to require access to the courtroom, too, unless there is a sufficiently compelling interest not to do permit it (e.g., a child's testifying in a molestation case).

Anonymous said...

parents bring their kids to court in an effort to get sympathy. I'm sure they can get childcare for the day, just like they did when they allegedly committed the crime. Young children do not need to see their mom, dad uncle, etc. in jail uniforms. Enough coddling, Rump. Take those kids up to the 5th floor.

Anonymous said...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Rumpole said...

Court care doesn't fix the issue. The issue is that bailiffs and judges have NO AUTHORITY to ban people from courtrooms just because of their age or because they have no relation to a case on calendar. Period.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Rump.

Back in my PD days at Juvie I saw a judge send home a defendant for sitting in the lobby area with his pants sagging down. I had to tell our own judge that my client was not present for trial because this other judge ordered him out of the building.

When the continuance was charged to my client, I approached the PD's appeals office, who didnt really think it was worth fighting.

Anonymous said...

Remember the signs that said you couldn't enter the courthouse with a camera?

I had a client who read it waiting in line and went back to his car to get rid of his camera-phone. He was then late. Judge was angry about it. (Former Miami dolphin-guess what judge)

I complained to the chief judge and it took 6 emails and many calls to get the signs changed and they made it clear they didn't appreciate anyone telling them to follow the law. (Not Berdie)

I reminded them that they cannot ban anyone from a courthouse or courtroom absent a specific order such as a child rape closed courtroom.

I had to make a threat of a suit and they responded by suggesting I get duct tape and fix the signs. I did. Then, they looked so ugly so, they fixed them.

Signs were changed. They said I messed up their budget.

I am a royal pain in the ass when it comes to government breaking the law... guess who I am.

Anonymous said...

Wrong: Parents bring kids to court mostly because they have no babysitter.

Get real.

Cops sometimes bring kids to depositions. We deal with it.

mikal said...

Courtrooms are closed to the public in adoption cases because of the confidential nature of the cases.

Anonymous said...

Public Government Meetings in FLA , Even, , No Esspecially the COURTS are open to the Public. Remember FLA has Not only lives under the US Constitution, the FLA Constitution, but a specific law on Point, its caloled the Government in the Sunshine Law