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, May 22, 2014

A PLAN FOR NO MORE SOUNDINGS IN COUNTY COURT

County Court is a mysterious place. It moves to its own pace and rhythm.  It has its own colloquialisms, argot and vernacular. There are multiple calendars taking place in multiple courtrooms everyday. Lawyers hustle to catch the 10:45 in Newman before sprinting to make the 11:00 am in Krieger-Martin.

We admittedly know little about the mechanisms of what makes the courtrooms on two, five and six tick. But not knowing much has never stopped us from having an opinion. Or making a suggestion. Or fixing a problem.

Wednesday seems to be the worst day. Soundings. When lawyers scurry from courtroom to courtroom and make announcements about cases scheduled for trial ten days hence.

Listen to Rumple. We can end soundings.

How?
Simple.
E-mail.

Instead of appearing in court on Wednesdays, lawyers will have to email the judge.

The email from the ASA would be: "On State v. Smith,  the offer  on the DUI is first minimum penalties, unless the defendant elects a trial, at which point we will ask for 364, not that we're punishing the defendant for going to trial."

The email from the defense would be: "This should be a state continuance. On 12/12 the court granted a motion to compel for the prosecution to provide us with the sanzafranz breath contraption log of standard deviations. That was four months ago. The prosecution has failed to comply."

The email from the court would be: "The case is specially set for 2/22. The prosecution must provide the log by 1/31 or the breath sample will be excluded."

Case handled. Period. No driving to court. No running from courtroom to courtroom. All done by email from the comfort of your office or chambers. Some cases might require a few more emails, like the defense saying they cannot try the case on 2/22 because their mother-in-law is scheduled for goiter surgery, but those issues can also be handled by email. The emails get filed in the court's computer system. A record is kept. Motions are made. Rulings are issued. Cases move along. No expenditure of fossil fuels by driving to and from court. Less people in the REGJB. It all makes sense.
First start with represented defendants. Then un-represented defendants can be added and within one year 98% of all misdemeanor cases can be sounded by email.

It will work.

No fee.

See you in court.

.

37 comments:

Fake Sam Slom said...

This is friggin genius.

Rumpole you magnificent bastard, I read your book. I read your book !!!

Anonymous said...

Rump don't know basketball. But he sure nuff knows how to fix a problem when he puts his mind to it.

Anonymous said...

Here's a problem: the courts love for defendants to constantly appear in court as it wears them down to the point that they decide to just take a plea and end it. This is more of a problem with the PD clients in most courtrooms. The same theory goes in felonies, too. But if a judge can get a defendant to come to court maybe four times, that guy/gal has missed worked on four days, lost money in parking and gas, and will say "f it" and just take the plea and end it all regardless of guilt or innocence or the strength of the state's case. This is why e-mail soundings won't work.

Anonymous said...

so let's say a trial judge, after some heated back and forth between counsel during a trial (with the jury excused) storms off the bench, but not before exclaiming "I cant take this from you guys, Im making minimum wage here and I don't deserve this!" Frankly, Im not sure the court reporter transcribed the words, but is this not worth reporting to someone? Surely some taxpayers might take issue with the Court feeling as if a salary in excess of $125,000 with above average benefits and make-your-own hours somehow compares to minimum wage. I was personally offended by the remarks, but what actions, if any, do you think may be warranted Rump?

Anonymous said...

Mr./Ms. 9: 49 am: Give that information about the judge to David O'Valle at the Herald. He'll run it.

Then we get to see what the lawyers did to piss off the judge too.

Anonymous said...

I love soundings. They give the prosecutor a chance to say something really stupid like this:

If client has prior DUI conviction within 5 yeas, they want the 10 days min mand.now and much more on trial date if ready.

But.... if client has prior BOT withhold on RD, they want 3 months jail right now.

Gotta love those kids at SAO.

Fake Kathy Fernandle. said...

Simple yet brilliant. I love it.

Anonymous said...

They do this in some courtrooms in the 9th circuit- privates and PD clients who have a waiver of appearance. The JA handles everything, the Judge makes final decisions on continuances, and an email is sent to all the morning before the sounding. If your matter wasn't handled then you still show up to the sounding

Anonymous said...

Simple. Smart. Easy. Three reasons why Dade hasn't done it.
Makes sense. Will work. Quick to implement. Another three reasons why they won't do it.

THE Q said...

The Q approves.

Anonymous said...

Rump,

If you saw the mess of county court before soundings, you would know that they are necessary, especially with DUI cases. And they don't do them for traffic and misdemeanor cases anyway. Cases are set for trial and if the victim or officer fails to appear, the case is dismissed. Done.

The one thing I cannot figure out is why the courts don't have multi-week trial dockets. Sounding on Wednesday. Judge makes a trial order either on the bench based on case age or by Thursday afternoon. You start with case #1 on the first day of the two week period. I had a case in Brevard where the docket was one month long. There was much less "trial dodging" by lawyers and a one month docket allows for little schedule conflicts to be resolved.

What it really comes down to is that most judges are lazy and don't want to try cases, which is why their audits are crazy.

Remember how Pineiro's courtroom ran?

Anonymous said...

I've heard Joe Perkins campaign about how we need to incorporate more use of email into our courtroom procedures.

Anonymous said...

Rump -

I've been saying that for 5 years now.

You could do email or online soundings. Clerk's office/Court admin could set up chatrooms for each "courtroom." You wait in the queue while for your case to be called. It's a simple ready or not. Cases rolling for plea will be rolled, continuances will be granted or denied, trials will be set. No soundings at all, alleviate traffic. Pro Se defendants without access to computers could still appear in person.

Anonymous said...

There is evidence in hand that the high school graduate And Former JA to Judge Ivan Hernandez is up to his old tricks threatening judges. Additionally he is now allied with a suspended lawyer labeling themselves "volunteers" and positioning themselves for future elections. One particular Judge they are helping is widely disliked by lawyers and colleagues for a very poor work ethic and for a perception of favoring insurance companies.
The involvement of these people is worrisome

Anonymous said...

SAO eagerly suggesting that victim testimony can happen by email, too

Anonymous said...

Long holiday weekend. I'm calling the shumie for today and tomorrow.
How about dem apples Rump de la Rump?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Rump,

Going to court is part of the job and having soundings has made County Court run better. I don't hear you complaining about soundings in Circuit. You know that is where and how cases get resolved. All you are looking for is a better way to cause more congestion and take advantage of the volume in County Court.

Don't want to go to soundings, don't take misdemeanor cases. Nice try. Actually, not a nice try.

Sincerely,

A former County Court Judge who started the sounding calendars and cleared more case loads than you can imagine.

Rumpole said...

Judge- I am not complaining. I am analyzing. I would advocate for the same system in circuit court.

Here is what I am basing it on. Federal court. I have a case in Dallas, two in NY, one in Chicago. I have yet to make an appearance. true I hired local counsel for the first appearance and arraignment. At least two are going to trial. It's all being handled thru the cm/ecf system. We file pleadings. The judge reviews them and issues orders. Same with discovery issues and even some pre-trial motions. My point is there is way too many report dates in our state criminal courts that are a complete waste of time. I would immediately do away with felony soundings and reports. You get arraigned. You get a trial date and you either appear, file a motion to continue, file a discovery motion, a motion to suppress or a change of plea. Period. All these court appearances are mostly a waste of time and the reason for doing them is because...we have always done it that way. And that doesn't make much sense to me.

Rumpole said...

BTW- tune in tomorrow if you want to know how to cook and I mean really cook a great steak at home inside.

Anonymous said...

Gotta object to 4:32's shumie for tomorrow. You can't call a shumie a day a head. I am throwing the review flag.

Anonymous said...

Rookie. Learn the firggin rules. You can always call a shumie before a friday on a long weekend. That is not the issue. The issue is whether he called the shumie too early on Thursday. But hey, it's your objection and you make the wrong one, fool.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but soundings are a terrible idea. The old system of setting cases for trial daily worked best.

Anonymous said...

Rump,

There is a big difference between the limited number of cases on a Federal Judge's calendar and the incentives to resolve those matters and the volume of matters in County Court. Soundings where counsel and defendants must be present place pressure on not only the defendant, but upon the State to make offers which the defendant can hardly refuse and defense attorneys who do not wish to make multiple appearances on misdemeanor cases that are hardly high profit to resolve the case. Only those matters which actually NEED to be tried, then can be given their due, instead of continued delays, which only become compounded with larger case loads. Let's face reality, County Court is a volume business and needs to handled that way. Soundings are one of the tools that help deal with the volume.

The Judge

Anonymous said...

ASA wouldn't KNP a DWLS when PD client came in with a good license today. Apparently the new chief from DV thinks that a potty mouth shouldn't get their case kicked. Case is currently set for trial. What will the defense bar in Miami do? Sounds like they want a war...

Anonymous said...

Can we get an update on Nelson Santoni (the murder case in which the judge refused to accept the plea)? It looks like briefs were filed. I'd love to read them and to hear any updates you may have knowledge of.

http://jweb.flcourts.org/pls/ds/ds_docket?p_caseyear=2014&p_casenumber=609&psCourt=3&psSearchType=

Rumpole said...

Judge: the excuse of low caseloads in federal court does not cut it. And putting pressure on the defendant- presumably you mean multiple court appearances and missed work- has no place in our discussion. As does pressuring an attorney's profit margin. And quite frankly, if you examine what you have written, you are squarely in the camp of the criminalization of america. We are producing a generation of citizens, mostly of color, that all have prior records. This is inexcusable. If the system cannot handle the case load then it's time to start de-criminalizing crimes like possession of marijuana, driving without eyeglasses, disorderly conduct and the like.

I proposed a way to make the system run more efficiently. You are in favor of the status quo. Look around. Are things fair for poor people? WOuld you or I be arrested for the majority of crimes they are arrested for?

I am sorry judge but your last comment was disgraceful. You are shilling for a system that we all know is unfair and you are shilling for a way to process the human refuse on the conveyor belt.

What we need is MORE trials to expose the injustices of this system. Not a more efficient way to process the cases that cops lie on.

Most respectfully, take a month off, and go volunteer in the early representation unit of a PDS office. Speak to the clients whose eyes are swollen shut and won't tell you that the cops did it and threatened to do it to their little brother or sister unless they confessed.

Then come back and discuss with us whether we should be making it easier for cases to go away by keeping the pressure up.

I look forward to your response. We should do a front page post on this- you have your say unedited and I have mine and you can remain anonymous and the discussion will be respectful.

As Judge Moreno likes to say....what say you to that?

Ric Margolius said...

This is only the second time I have written to the Blog since as a rule I avoid the juvenile nonsense that masquerades as legitimate discourse. My judicial career is 33 years wearing the robe and over 500 jury trials as a ASA, PD, County Judge, Circuit Judge and Senior Judge. Respectfully, anyone who advocates a sounding calendar is a blithering idiot. They simply serve no useful purpose. A complete waste of time and money. Disrespectful to the private bar, and takes valuable time away from the pit attorneys who need that time to prepare their caseload. I spent 15 consecutive years in 4-6 (the longest continuous tenure in criminal division in the history of the MJB) and next to Rob Pineiro (bless his soul) had the lowest case load year after year after year. How did I do it? Simple - never granted a second continuance except in exceptional circumstances. I wasn't there to be popular or win friends. You can all go screw yourselves was my motto then and that continues to this day. Ask any PD or ASA who worked in my Court, how I handled the caseload which NEVER exceeded 599. Thanks for reading, now you can all go back to writing about your imaginary nightclubs, imaginary trial lawyers and your sex lives which exist only in your imagination.

Anonymous said...

We miss you Judge Margolius! WOW I loved reading that.

Anonymous said...

HAHA! Sometimes I just love Ric. He's absolutely right on this one.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

Rumpole,
I completely agree with your 7:51 statement except for this line: "If the system cannot handle the case load then it's time to start de-criminalizing crimes like possession of marijuana, driving without eyeglasses..."

All of your other reasons and many more exist why these cases should be decriminalized. But simply because the system can't handle the load shouldn't be a factor in whether something is decriminalized.

Oh, and eyeglass violations have already been decriminalized. Although I think I would be better driving under the influence then I would be driving without my contacts. Couldn't get out of house without them.

DS said...

I loved being in Ric's Court. Things ran well and client's casesdid not linger.
Many times the state was forced to Nolle Prosse or offer a good plea.
If you lost at Trial and Ric thought the case was BS he would not max your client for going to Trial.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Ric but sometimes good lawyering takes time and there are often factors outside of my control (i.e. witnesses fail to appear for deposition) when I am preparing for motions or trial. Blanket policies such as yours without consideration of the facts of the case is worse than Sounding hearings.

Anonymous said...

246.........DS is right. Ric made exceptions when he should have, at least most of the time. While he hammered the attorneys he thought were screwing around, he treated the ones doing their jobs appropriately. I liked appearing in his courtroom most of the time.

BTDT

The REN said...

Hey say what you want about soundings but don't disparageThe REN. You don't believe it exists? Check it out on facebook here.

10855 SW 72nd street, Miami, FL, 333173
305-279-1888
open this holiday weekend from 9pm to 4am.

Waiting for your apology.

Anonymous said...

Driving without glasses was in fact decriminalized a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

OK, Rump. Let me put a piece and we can op-ed this. I will write mine. When it is complete I will take your word for it when yours is done. Then post both. Let the readers comment. I will let you know when mine is done and will send you it when you say you are ready.

The Judge

Anonymous said...

Ric had the ability to wirelessly transmit common sense and reasoableness to ASA's who would otherwise be unreasonable bureaucratic hard-asses in any other division. ASA's got the message quickly after getting "the look" from Ric and made decent plea offers appropriate to the circumstances of each case that made it possible to close the cases quickly and satifactorily.