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

Thursday, March 06, 2014

CONVICTION UPHELD DESPITE FALSE TESTIMONY

(Good morning...the role of Rumpole will be played by an understudy today. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please turn off your cell phones and mobile devices and enjoy the show.)

What do you do as a judge when presented with evidence stipulated to by both the prosecution and defense that a defendant was convicted based, in part,  on false testimony? 

US District Court Judge Joan Leonard took a scalpel to the testimony, excised the diseased potion, and decided after the surgery that she was satisfied with the result and did not vacate the conviction. 
Jay Weaver and the Herald cover the story here. 



In a rare move, both defense attorneys and federal prosecutors urged a Miami judge to throw out the 24-year prison sentence of a West Palm Beach man convicted of crack-cocaine dealing based largely on the tainted testimony of a now-disgraced police officer.
But U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard, while vacating a key drug offense in the case, refused on Tuesday to toss out the main conspiracy conviction that sent 47-year-old Elroy Phillips to prison in 2002.
Both sides agreed that fired West Palm Beach police officer Michael Ghent falsely testified that he was working undercover with an informant who allegedly bought crack from Phillips for $50 on April 6, 2001.
While the judge acknowledged that Ghent’s testimony in Phillips’ trail was tainted, she ruled that fact alone wasn’t enough to undermine the government’s entire drug conspiracy case. Lenard cited other co-conspirators accused of dealing who cooperated and testified against Phillips.

Talk about a troubling precedent. 
We get the Judge's logic- there's enough evidence to satisfy her that the defendant is guilty. 
But isn't there more to it? Don't we explicitly agree that the strength of our justice system is that guilty defendants go free when the evidence isn't trustworthy and doesn't provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt? This ensures* that an innocent defendant who appears guilty won't be convicted (like that has never happened in the United States before). 
Shouldn't a new jury have the chance to hear the case in toto without the prejudicial and false testimony?
And while we're at it, shouldn't federal courts be just a wee bit more defendant friendly? 

 Come back soon Rumpole.  This is muy harder than it appears. 


* For a good discussion of the battle between "insure" and "ensure" go here. 



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/05/3976434/despite-false-trial-testimony.html#morer#storylink=cpy




16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rumpole … how do you stay in Miami Dade County. There is a dearth of:

intellect, wisdom, courage, collegiality, kindness, authenticity, genuineness, leadership, entrepreneurship, loyalty and humanity.

Oh sorry, for those citizens of Miami Dade, "dearth" means a shortage or scarcity or lack of …"

Why any civilized human being, with an ounce of self worth and decency, would stay in such a selfish and inhumane city/county -- I don't know.

Look at the decline in leadership in Miami Dade in the County Commission (an embarrassment of ethical violations and lack of intellect).

Just drive down the street and look next to you at the car at the red light. 78% chance that they have no insurance coverage and a 21% chance that they are driving with no valid license. Good luck people.

Get out while you can. How could there be such a lack of interest in Roy Black's comments -- a true success and a brilliant advocate for his clients. The Heat and all these high paid athletes? Who cares when the world hand the economic and political system on a global scale are irreparably falling apart.

My prediction within 30 -50 years, there will be a revolution by the 99% of the population living in poverty plus vs. the hedonistic showoff ultra rich 1%. Guess which group will be able to win that conflict. In the interim, expect more Socialist leaders like Chavez to be elected --- elected in the United States.

Buy tax free bonds as soon as the rates improve people!

Rumpole said...

Who lives in South Florida?

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

Moral turpitude- Dirty cops will feel no need to be completely honest when testifying before Judge Joan Leonard, as they are working with teammate Leonard. If their bs ever sees the light of day teammate Leonard will be there for the rebound.

Secret Judge said...

As someone who has followed this case for years, I am appalled at Judge Lenard's decision. I invite all readers to learn more about this case and how Mr. Phillips has been railroaded throughout his many years awaiting justice. Obviously, a new untainted jury should have been empaneled to consider the evidence against him. The precedent set here by the Judge is abominable. But this is what happens, despite her many years on the bench, when well-intended people become judges without significant trial experience or at least some dabbling in criminal defense work. Even the prosecutors were taken aback by this decision. A very sad day for justice. Of course, none of you idiots could care less, preferring to boast about some nightclub that doesn't even exist.

Anonymous said...

I just got a call from my college roommate - he got clipped for having 50 bags equal to 2.5 grams of dog food, and 4 needles. The cops turned him into a rat and want him to cop to possession with intent. Too say that he was talented was an understatement- in college he was the best actor, musician, pitcher and pool shark. Drugs have ravaged him. Now the system will finish him off. Until we legalize ALL drugs we will not be a civilized society.

Anonymous said...

Google best criminal lawyer or top criminal lawyer miami and it is amazing that these guys pay for that type of self promo SEO. I think at a certain level advertising becomes bush.

Anonymous said...

http://gawker.com/a-letter-from-ray-jasper-who-is-about-to-be-executed-1536073598

Texas death row inmate Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death on March 19. He has written us a letter that, he acknowledges, "could be my final statement on earth." It is well worth your time.


You can find all of our letters from death row here.

Update: For those who have asked, Ray Jasper's mailing address is: Ray Jasper 999341, Polunsky Unit, 3872 fm 350 S., Livingston, TX 77351.

Anonymous said...

What, no comment on the FSC's ruling that the undocumented cannot be licensed attorneys in Florida?

Anonymous said...

24 years in prison for a 50 Dollar drug deal.. that is the problem.

Anonymous said...

No mercy from Joan Lenard.

You expected mercy?

Anonymous said...

As a law clerk in 1997, the firm I worked at had a case in front of Lenard and they kindly referred to her as "Judge Looney." I see things haven't changed.

Give me a break, judge. When the government and the defense actually agree on something, perhaps you should just let it go through, instead of looking for ways to become a super secret crime fighter. How pathetic and insulting to the AUSA, in particular.

Anonymous said...

i just read the herald article. seitles should have said becomes A criminal not The criminal because his client was A criminal also. I think lenard was correct.

however our drug laws are a joke. they should all be legal.

Anonymous said...

This is for the federal blog .

Anonymous said...

"Drugs have ravaged him"....always a good argument to make in a rant supporting legalization. LOL.

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/07/3981101/bill-would-give-floridas-next.html THIS IS WHAT WE REALLY NEED, DUMB FLORIDIANS HUNGRY FOR WORK VOTING ON SHIT THEY DONT UNDERSTAND.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't already read Jeff Goodell's piece in Rolling Stone on sustained living in Miami, you need to check it out. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-the-city-of-miami-is-doomed-to-drown-20130620
Sure he took artistic license, but what if he's not completely wrong???