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, July 31, 2014

RUMPOLE AT REST....

UPDATE: The judicial races are heating up, and the Herald via David Ovalle here covers the story here, and credits a local blog of some renown in breaking the story about candidate Carrazana being canned by his firm for filing against Judge Smith. 
Speaking of which, Judge Smith has swamped his opponent in fund raising and support, but that's what happens when an unqualified lawyer with an Hispanic surname as his only "qualification" for being elected runs against a supremely qualified Judge.








... Because life is too short 

not to travel

to drink bad wine

to not follow your dreams

to eat bad food

to associate with bad people

to represent pain-in-the-butt clients

to tangle with clueless judges

to not read great books

to not see great movies (go see "A Most Wanted Man" John LeCare's intricate spy thriller and Phillip Seymour Hoffman's last great role.)

to hate your job

to not love and laugh and live. 

So get off your couch and follow your dreams. 

See you in court Monday. 






Wednesday, July 30, 2014

ANOTHER THOUGHTFUL JUDGE

Longtime and careful readers of this blog know the high regard in which we hold US District Court Judge John Gleeson (EDNY). And Judge Gleeson again proves that humanity and common sense belong in the justice system. In Judge Gleeson's courtroom, he has no use and little patience for the "it's not my job" and "there's nothing we can do" attitude. 

As you peruse this opinion, and you are hopefully a judge or prosecutor, ask yourself the tough questions- is it easier for you to deny a motion or a request from a defense attorney because it's not your job, or because there's nothing you can do, or because the "victim wants the max?"

Who among you is prepared to make the hard decisions for justice? As Judge Gleeson writes- "It's easy to be a tough prosecutor." And as we say "It's easy to be a tough judge." 

Are you the kind of prosecutor or judge who takes the easy way out? 








It is easy to be a tough prosecutor. Prosecutors are almost never criticized for being aggressive, or for fighting hard to obtain the maximum sentence, or for saying “there’s nothing we can do” about an excessive sentence after all avenues of judicial relief have been exhausted. Doing justice can be much harder. It takes time and involves work, including careful consideration of the circumstances of particular crimes, defendants, and victims – and often the relevant events occurred in the distant past. It requires a willingness to make hard decisions, including some that will be criticized. 

...


The United States Attorney has shown here that justice is possible in those cases. A prosecutor who says nothing can be done about an unjust sentence because all appeals and collateral challenges have been exhausted is actually choosing to do nothing about the unjust sentence. Some will make a different choice, as Ms. Lynch did here. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

A JUDGE SPEAKS

Every now and then the system works. A wise and experienced and successful individual runs for judge not because s/he needs a steady paycheck and a decent retirement, but because they want to give back to this community and hopefully make it a better place to live, work and thrive.

Miguel De La O is one such judge. His recent monograph to the Miami Herald says it all.






We once heard (and winced) when an experienced judge told a new judge "you can do anything you want in 98% of the cases, and give the public what it wants in 2% of the cases and never worry about being re-elected." 

We once saw a judge go back on his word in chambers and sentence a client to thirty years because he was under scrutiny by the Herald. 

Judge De La O is NOT that kind of judge. And that is why sometimes, the system works. 

See You In Court. 




Thursday, July 24, 2014

BRIAN MCDONALD RETIRES

In the arena of criminal law in Miami, Assistant Public Defender Brian McDonald has seen it all and done it all and given all to his clients.  He was here during the McDuffie and Lozano riots, and the crack scourge and the cocaine cowboy drug wars and saw the advent of minimum mandatory sentences wreck havoc on  his clients and their families.  And Friday he calls it a career at the PDs office.  Rumor has it that at Noon Friday there will be a soiree to wish him well. Stop by and raise a cool cola and say au revoir. (We weren't invited or you could also say hello to us as well.). This community owes a thanks to Brian McDonald and lawyers like him at the PDs office who stood up for those no one else would stand up for.

Well done Mr. McDonald. Well done indeed. Happy trails and godspeed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BREAKDOWN!

(In a resigned voice as if he says this 100's of times a day):
"Hi. Welcome to the department of corrections. Please sign in and take a seat. We will be with your shortly."

"Yes, but you see I have to be back at work by 1:30 pm. Lots of people will be waiting for me."

"We all have to be back at work lady. Look around. See all those people ahead of you? They all want to be somewhere else too."

(Leaning over to whisper) "Yes, but you see, I'm a judge. I have a court calendar at 1:30."

Probation Intake Officer sitting behind the counter- leans back in his cheap, state issued swivel chair and loudly calls out to colleague "HEY GEORGE WE GOT SOME LADY HERE WHO SAYS  SHE'S A JUDGE!!" 
He swivels back to the woman: "Look lady, take a seat, right there, next to the governor and behind the senator."
 Probation Intake officer laughs to himself "A judge. Now I've seen it all." 

(Woman walks away, head hanging.)

Probation Intake Officer: "Hey lady, you need to sign in. Tell me your name. Your name."

"Lynn Rosenthal. Judge Lynn Rosenthal."

Item: 
Broweird Judge Lynn Rosenthal entered a plea of no contest to the reduced charge of reckless driving (what the DUI mavens call in their unique vernacular and nomenclature a "breakdown".)
She was sentenced to three months probation and twenty five community service hours. 

The Sun Sentinel article is here. 

So go put your client on probation in Broweird. You never know who she'll meet. 

See you in court. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

JUSTICE OR VENGEANCE ?

There was a time, before legislators reacted to Hollywood movies and began enacting sentencing guidelines and minimum mandatory laws, when Judges could be Judges instead of calculators. 
There was a time when Judges like Ed Cowart, Tom Scott, Tom Carney, Herb Klein, David Tobin, were trusted with deciding a sentence. They presided over a case, or listened to the facts of a plea, and based on their legal experience, sentenced a defendant. 

Then a few sentences got headlines, a few movies began to show criminals being released from prison and running amok in society, and everyone over-reacted and the legislature placed most of the sentencing power in the hands of a 25-30 year old prosecutor a few years removed from law school. Judges, many of who were  practicing law for as long as many of the prosectors appearing before them were alive, were regulated to moderately paid calculators - sorting through the alphabet soup of minimum mandatory sentencing laws (HVO, HO, PERP, WTF, etc) the prosecution refused to waive, totaling points, and imposing sentences without regard to the particular facts of the case. 

Rare is the case where a judge has any real discretion. 

Rarer is the jurist with the guts to exercise that discretion. 

It's easy to sentence a defendant to the maximum prison sentence. It doesn't make headlines in the Herald. Dog bites man. 
It's hard to temper justice with mercy. To ignore the bloodlust of prosecutors after a hard fought trial and sentence a defendant to what he or she deserves (in that Judge's opinion) without the fear or the Herald or the dreaded "victim".  Man bites dog. 

When did "victims", most of whom are not lawyers, take over sentencing? 
When politicians took over criminal law. 
This is not to disparage the victim of a crime. 
But victims are emotionally attached to what happened to them. They mostly cannot see justice, and just want vengeance. And criminal law is supposed to be about justice and not vengeance. 
But walk through any criminal court these days and you frequently hear the refrain "The victim wants the MAX" as the prosecutor's explanation as to why they cannot offer a reasonable plea that everyone but the emotionally affected victim knows is correct.

Nobody (successfully) runs for office on the slogan "fair on crime." 

Enter Judge Milt Hirsch. Faced with sentencing a 76 year old lawyer with prison, he instead issued a sentence that he thought fair or just. 
Judge Hirsch's sentence might be right. 
Or it might be wrong. 

But on this point there can be no doubt- it's the sentence of a JUDGE. Not a coward. Not a prosecution lackey who's afraid of the Herald and kowtows to victims who are understandably and rightfully upset. 
Tough decisions aren't always popular. But this is why we pay Judges those mediocre salaries: to do justice in the face of cries for vengeance. 

Sometimes, as Winston Spencer Churchill observed, you need to fight even though you may not win:

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

Better to do justice as a Judge, then perish a slave and lackey to prosecutors and negative media. 




Saturday, July 19, 2014

AN ETHICAL LOOPHOLE

Miami Dade Judicial races bring out the......best? nah.  Brightest? Hardly. 

But a lawyer with an ethics probe or two? 
Take a number, get in line, pay your entrance fee and jump in the race. 

You wanna dance, you gotta pay the band. 
You wanna run for judge, you gotta pay the man. 
(taken from Rocky Balboa, Rocky.)



Benefited from a loophole.

And that brings us to Veronica Diaz, age 36,  Assistant City Attorney, legal experience about ten years, life experience less than four score.  Clerked for which Justice of the Supreme Court? Circuit Court? District Court? Dunno. 




Authored which winning appellate  briefs before the 3rd DCA? 11th Circuit? Can't find any. 
Tried how many jury trials?  Not really sure. 

But she's newsworthy all right. 

Hustles cases from the City Attorneys Office and The City of Miami (Motto: "we're shocked! Shocked! to find fraud in our city") 
to her BF's law firm: "Dewey, Cheatdecity, & Howe". At least that's the allegations. And as even an experienced and wise litigator like Ms. Diaz can tell you: innocent until proven.....hmmm..oh, yeah, guilty. Or as we say in Miami: Cupable. 

The sordid mess is reported in the Herald here. 


What the city didn't know at the time — and which nobody appears to have disclosed — [Horvat] was required to transfer its entire fee to the law firm run by Diaz's live-in boyfriend, Alvarez, under the terms of Horvat's employment arrangement with Alvarez Carbonell,” investigator Lawrence Lebowitz wrote.
The requirement was triggered, according to the investigator, because Alvarez brought the work to Horvat.
The no-bid contracts with Horvat didn’t violate any purchasing laws, because unlike other city departments the Miami City Attorney’s Office contracts with attorneys without a bidding requirement or any kind of rotating contract system. But Lebowitz wrote that “the appearance of impropriety is strong.”
“The only reason a complaint is not being filed under the anti-Nepotism provisions of the county code is because ‘fiancé’ or ‘long-term, live-in boyfriend’ are not included in the definitions of what constitutes an ‘immediate family’ member,” he wrote. (Rumpole notes: this is what you call a classic legal loophole.)

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/18/4243400/ethics-probe-assistant-miami-city.html#storylink=cpy



Ms. Diaz might not have all the credentials one would hope for in a potential jurist given the power of life or death over a defendant, but she's got life experience. That's what being under investigation does to you. It gives you experience and perspective. 

See You Monday. 

Oh yeah, there's another investigation- she likes to rock out to electronic dance music at Ultra for free, which is otro problema for the candidate, since she accepted two free weekend VIP passes valued at $1,500.00 while negotiating with the Ultra producers on behalf of the City. 

Leaked copies of a separate, ongoing audit show that Diaz is also currently under scrutiny for her receipt of two free VIP tickets from the Ultra music festival — a practice that isn’t uncommon among public Miami-Dade officials.


Ok, that's all for now because it's almost dinner time and we have to go buy dinner for the prosecutors handling our client's case Monday. No problem with that, right Ms. Diaz?

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/18/4243400/ethics-probe-assistant-miami-city.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, July 18, 2014

YOU SAY LAGOA, WE SAY LOGUA...LETS CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF

THE DADE COUNTY BAR POLL IS HERE!
THE DADE COUNTY BAR POLL IS HERE!!







Dade County Bar Association
2014 Judicial Poll 

The 2014 DCBA Judicial Poll will be conducted electronically and e-mailed to all members of The Florida Bar in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida* on July 16, 2014.  The deadline to complete the Judicial Poll is July 30, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. 

Poll results will be released on July 31, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in the Association's Executive Offices and will be posted on the DCBA's website.  We hope that everyone will take the time to vote.

To insure receipt, please set your spam filter to accept mail from:
Dade County Bar Online Voting [DadeCountyBar@BallotBoxOnline.com]
If you do not receive a Judicial Poll please check your junk file before contacting the DCBA.

Please note,  the last name of Third District Court of Appeal Judge Barbara Lagoa was misspelled as Barbara Logua.  We apologize for this error.  The security protocols do not permit us to edit any portion of the poll once it has been broadcast. 

Vote early. 
Vote often. 
Vote Lagoa....or Logua....

Hot summer weekend is here. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED

UPDATE: SCOTT SAUL IS A GREAT TRIAL LAWYER. ETHICAL. HONEST AND ALL AROUND GOOD GUY.
In the comments section of the last post, someone mentioned a disbarred lawyer with a first name of "saul". Other people began commenting about "Saul" being unethical and dishonest. In this day of Google, those comments could unfairly reflect on Scott Saul. We have fixed the issue as follows: 1- we removed the comments about "Saul", but not the comment with his full name. 2- With this update, it should- Google wise- knock the other comments out in any search, especially since we have deleted them.

We do our best to make sure innocent people don't get caught in the google shrapnel of dishonest comments (unlike the JAA blog which does not moderate comments). So hopefully this helps Scott Saul, who, as any judge or lawyer in Dade-Broward-West Palm, wherever, will tell you is an excellent, thorough, honest, talented, and all around great lawyer.


If you know what a "1201 alarm" and "1202 alarm" are then you, like us, think that 45 years ago on July 16, 1969, we as the human race neared the pinnacle of achievement when we blasted off from earth on an adventure that would end  four days later (July 20, 1969) with us landing two men on the moon.  What we did as the human race, and what the United States did, is truly remarkable, especially when considering 1969 technology. One man of vision, President Kennedy, challenged our country, and we responded with the greatest achievement in this history of this nation and the world. 

Watch the video. At about 30 seconds, the first of three 1201 and 1202 alarms occur. The alarm, which was the computer saying that it had too much to do and was going to start disregarding less important tasks and reboot, could have resulted in an abort. Despite the tens of thousands of hours of training, Armstrong and Aldrin  had a 1201 and 1202 alarm thrown at them only once  during any of the hundreds of simulated moon landings in the simulator- on the last day of training. 





Consider that the average age of the men in mission control was 26. 
And one of those 26 year olds was a man named Steve Bales. Bales recalled the alarms from the final SIM, and because the mission control team had trained so superbly, Bales who otherwise was not in the "go/no-go loop" stepped in, and knew immediately that in the parlance of NASA that they were still "go on that alarm." Bales communicated the "go" to Charlie Duke, the Capcom guy- the guy at NASA speaking to Aldrin and Armstrong, and Armstrong took manual control of the LEM while the computer rebooted. 

Then comes the real drama. At 3:45 of the video you quickly hear Duke say "30 seconds" which is the amount of fuel left. 30 seconds. A world away. Armstrong flying the LEM vertically by the seat of his pants over a big crater, burning fuel, the computer furiously re-booting, and as Duke famously an laconically  drawled once the Eagle had landed: "You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue down here" because they were all holding their breath. 

Amazing drama. A way too cool former Naval Aviator bringing his craft down with a few seconds of fuel left before disaster,  on ....the MOON! 

Humans were on the moon. Just stop and think how remarkable that was and is. And  if we can do that, what can't we do? We can cure any disease, fix any problem, reverse global warming, stop losing rain forests, and have world peace. We can do anything (except quicken the lines into the REGJB) because we put men on the moon. This was the world we grew up in. 

What a day. What an achievement. The best we are as a country and as a race of humans on this small blue and green planet. 

See You in Court. 

BLAST OFF



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

JUST A NORMAL TRAFFIC STOP....

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

between a cop on patrol and an IA Louie. Of course it ends up in a fight. It's Miami. As David Ovalle likes to say "arroz con mango".

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE TO THE BIG HOUSE:
Can a former (GWB) deputy white house counsel beat his wife senseless with a flashlight and get away with it? 
Not if you're John Farren. The former Xerox counsel and deputy white house counsel in the last Bush administration was convicted Friday (Rumpole's rule of trials- avoid Friday verdicts at all costs) of attempted murder and was taken into custody. Farren smacked his wife when she served him with divorce papers. 



Monday, July 14, 2014

WELCOME TO HELL

Prosecutors and Judges often wonder why clients facing ten years in prison balk at a reduced offer of five or three? 

One reason is that they are not entering a "correctional facility" designed to modify their behavior and return them to society better adjusted and ready to live a law-abiding life. 

They are entering hell. 

Here is the Herald's report: 

For weeks, the Miami Herald has reported on claims of abusive treatment by corrections officers, as related by inmates, nurses and a psychotherapist, primarily at Dade Correctional Institution, where an inmate was herded into a scorching hot shower and left until he collapsed and died. Now claims of abuse are coming from DOC investigators, the persons charged with rooting out such abuses...


“We got inmates down there that are getting their throats slashed on a regular basis,’’ Land said, according to a transcript of the Miguel interview filed with the lawsuit. “Their faces slashed, beat down with locks and socks; tremendous amount of contraband … allegations that staff is ordering this and bringing in contraband and being paid … and everybody we’re talking to is saying, ‘You know they killed that kid.’ ”

And the NY Times reports that a popular sport at Rikers Island - the second largest jail in the US- is beating up mentally ill inmates. What fun!


After being arrested on a misdemeanor charge following a family dispute last year, Jose Bautista was unable to post $250 bail and ended up in a jail cell on Rikers Island.
A few days later, he tore his underwear, looped it around his neck and tried to hang himself from the cell’s highest bar. Four correction officers rushed in and cut him down. But instead of notifying medical personnel, they handcuffed Mr. Bautista, forced him to lie face down on the cell floor and began punching him with such force, according to New York City investigators, that he suffered a perforated bowel and needed emergency surgery.

So why aren't clients jumping at those deals? 


See You In Court. 



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/07/4223414/prison-system-mired-in-corruption.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/07/4223414/prison-system-mired-in-corruption.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, July 11, 2014

CHARACTER COUNTS

BREAKING: Friday night 9:50 PM Jury finds Clifford Friend guilty of second degree murder. Total sell out compromise verdict. This was a whodunit? It's either a first or an NG. Such is our justice system. 

Just substitute "he" for "she".

He's gone
He's gone
Oh why?
Oh why?
I'd Better learn how to face it.
He's gone
He's gone
Oh why?
Oh why?
I Beg the devil to replace him
He's gone 
He's gone
oh why ?
What went wrong?








LeGone. He's Gone. 
Character Counts. 

Enjoy the summer weekend. Maybe you can take YOUR talents to South Beach now that there is a vacancy. 




Thursday, July 10, 2014

AN UN-FRIENDLY JURY INSTRUCTION

BREAKING: LEBRON......LEGONE
When the going gets tough, the spoiled pick up their ball and run home to momma. 

Just wondering about all those fake Heat fans who told Rumpole that we knew nothing about basketball because Le-gone opting out of his contract was just a a way for him to re-sign with Miami. 
Well here's the thing, we might not know a lot about basketball, but we know everything about CHARACTER and LeGone has none. 

Sorry Judge Colodny. It will be lonely next year in the stands. 

UPDATED: SEE OUR OUERY BELOW. 

For those of you following the Cliff Friend trial, Friend is being tried before (our friend) Judge Tess Pooler on the charge that he killed his wife Lynn Friend. Peter Heller (who we're friendly with) for the defense. 

The Prosecution (which usually aren't our friends) put on a jail house snitch (who are never our friends) who testified that he and Friend were watching a Telenova in which a woman was tied to an anchor and thrown overboard. Cliff Friend is charged with stabbing his wife and throwing her overboard with an anchor. The snitch said that when Friend saw the show, he said something like "wow, that's what I did."

The prosecution put on the snitch. 
Heller crossed the snitch with proof that his client was on the jail house phone the entire time the telenova was being shown. Heller didn't turn over the impeachment evidence, in violation of the rules of discovery. The prosecution was given time to review the issue and consider the un-considerable- that some rat crawled out from under the detritus of a jail cell to make up some story to get time off his sentence. 
The prosecution, apparently shaken in the proof that one crucial element in their world imploded (the trustworthiness of snitches) agreed that the testimony should be stricken. 

Uno momento por favor,  said Judge Pooler who went one step further and gave the jury this instruction, as tweeted by our friend David Ovalle:




Judge read curative instruction to jury saying jail inmate Garcia Florez with telenovela story "fabricated his testimony." Very rare move.

QUERY: A bit of a legal contretemps has broken out over whether Heller was require to disclose the phone tapes of his client, thus impeaching the snitch?
Rumpole says yes. See, 3.220(d)(iii),
(d) Defendant's Obligation....
(iii) any tangible papers or objects that the defendant intends to use in the hearing or trial.
Other learned scholars say, as hard as this is to comprehend, that Rumpole is mistaken!!
What say our learned readers?

18 MONTHS FOR OFFICER FUNNY FACE:
Judge Tinkler-Mendez gave former officer Derick Kulian 18 months in prison for the reckless driving with serious injuries conviction stemming from his break-of-dawn joy ride on an ATV on Miami Beach with a bride to be on the back of his vehicle, fresh from a bachelorette party Kulian crashed while on duty.
Selfie of officer waiting for verdict. No selfies allowed in prison, (For photos anyway)/ 

What a crazy day, or as @Davidovalle305 likes to tweet:
"Arroz Con Mango"

See you in court.











Tuesday, July 08, 2014

FREE SPEECH, NORTH OF THE BORDER



BREAKING: EX MIAMI BEACH POLICE OFFICER "FUNNY FACE" DERICK KUILAN, HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS FSP.  MIAMI HERALD STORY IS HERE

BREAKING: KEN KUKEC ARRESTED IN KEYS FOR POSSESSION OF COCAINE. KEY'S NET HAS THE STORY HERE. 

BREAKING MIRANDA RE-SENTENCES ALEX MICHAELS-
In a hearing that appeared to many observers to be more contentious than the outcome, Judge Miranda sentenced Alex Michaels to an adjudication, six months probation, 50 community service hours, and 2 hours of CLE in an ethics course. 

Query: The case was on remand from the 3rd DCA. One of two counts of contempt were vacated, as was the original sentence of two days. Did Miranda have authority to increase the sentence, and was this an increased sentence? Take our new poll. 

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

FREE SPEECHNORTH OF THE BORDER  .................

My Mother's Day Facebook post:

"Happy Mothers day to all the crack hoes out there.  It's never too late to tie your tubes, clean up your life and make (a) difference to someone out there that deserves a better mother."

My Facebook post after reading about a 19 year old home invasion suspect who was met with brut force by the residents of the home:

"They should have shot him in the head, anyone that invades another home, in a violent manner should be executed on the spot."

My Facebook post made in the midst of the Donald Sterling controversy:

"Join me in supporting free speech and the right to have your own private opinions kept that way (regardless if you agree with them). Join me in changing your FaceBook profile photo to one of DONALD STERLING!!!."

And finally, my "fast food" Facebook post showing a photo of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonya Sotomayor:

"Reason enough why no country should ever engage in the practice of Affirmative Action again.  This could be the result.  Where would she be if she didn't hit the quota lottery?  Here's a hint. "Would you like to supersize that sir?"

Those four posts are not mine.  They are the posts from Assistant State's Attorney Kenneth Lewis, one of the top prosecutor's in the Orange County (Orlando) State Attorney's Office.

Elected State Attorney Jeff Ashton, (Ashton was the lead prosecutor in the 2011 Casey Anthony trial), in response to the backlash that the posts created has stated: "I am not going to punish someone for what is clearly political speech." 

WFTV's coverage can be found here.

Contrast that to what has been going on in Broweird County recently.  No, it's not what you think - there were no citing's of a Broward County Judge getting arrested this week.

Instead, this time the focus is on the Public Defender's Office; specifically on two Assistant Public Defenders' and one elected PD named "Help Me Howard" Finklestein.

In case you missed it last week, three Israeli teenagers were murdered and in the coverage that followed it was reported that Palestinians were celebrating about the kidnapping and murder of the three teen-age boys.  Someone posted on their FB page about the celebrations. 

APD  Gary Sheres and APD Bruce Raticoff both commented on the article about the Palestinian's celebration.  The comments stated that Palestinians are "filthy swine'' and "cockroaches.''

Sheres wrote: "They are filthy swine they don't eat. Their ignorance to the world bewilders the dumbest people I have ever met."

Raticoff added: "That's why the Palestinian people are considered the cockroaches of the world. Reprehensible and despicable with utter disregard for civility and humanity. Burn them to the ground." 

The Sun Sentinel's coverage can be found here.

Today, after meeting with both attorneys, Finklestein's response was swift and strong.  In the words of Donald Trump, "YOU'RE FIRED".

New Times coverage of the firings can be found here.

So, who was right?

CAPTAIN OUT ........
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

STATE VS FEDERAL COURT

The gauntlet has been thrown down!

That known troublemaker David O Markus with a K,  has been fanning the fires on his blog here.  The agitators are in the comments section. 

Which system produces the better trial lawyer? State court or federal court. 

It would be interesting to speak with Judges Gayles and Bloom in a few months and hear their perspective. 

The ceilings may be higher in federal court, but that's just to fit the egos in the courtroom. And ego does not equal skill. 

See you in mediation*


* see DOM's post. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

SUMMER

With the end of the 4th of July holiday, summer is in full swing here in Miami. It's hot and getting hotter. 

There was a mistrial last week in the contentious murder trial before Judge Tinkler-Mendez.  The trial that allegedly began with a well placed "FU" between opposing counsel, ended not with a bang, but a whimper, as discovery issues forced the court to end the trial and start all over again. 

Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court is in summer recess. When you're the top dog, you eat when you want and rest when you want.

CRASHING THE PARTY:
So there was this 90th Birthday for a Cuban Hero on Sunday. He's the guy who many years ago outed Fidel as a communist before Fidel came out of the closet. 

Lots of political types attended to pay their respects, including that rag tag army of Dade Judicial Candidates. But the event was  "invite only", and it was held at an event hall with a fancy sit down lunch. Based on the nature of event, children were not invited. 

But that didn't stop one candidate from crashing the event, and bringing his tykes wearing "Martin Zilber for Judge" t-shirts in tow. 

Being a judge requires (hopefully) many things, including the ability to know right from wrong (Broward judges excluded of course.) 
Tact and courtesy are nice traits. But crashing an old man's 90th birthday party to try and drum up a few lousy votes bespeaks of a candidate who is perhaps not ready to wear the black robes. 

As our favourite podcast is called, "What say you?"

Welcome back. See you in court. 


Friday, July 04, 2014

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

WORLD CUP UPDATE: It was like May, 1940, all over again, as Germany ran over France with nary a peep from the French. This time it was on the Soccer Pitch, but the result was the same, and like 1940, it wasn't as close as the score indicated. 

Next up: Brazil vs. Colombia. 




In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absoluteDespotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Remember the power of these words. And recall those who bravely sacrificed their lives for the rights and freedom these words created and established. 

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY


Enjoy your holiday weekend.  See you in court Monday. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

MISTRIAL

A mistrial (Legaleese for "start all over again") was declared this week in the big murder trial before Judge Tinkler-Mendez. The Defendant, James Rolle, is accused of killing off duty Miami Detective James Walker. The state didn't  turn over a trial transcript of testimony of a witness in a related trial. Interesting to note that while the prosecution didn't provide it to defense attorneys, the defendant had it. 

Something is wrong with that.

THE TRAGEDY IN ISRAEL. 

Three teenage boys were abducted in Israel a few weeks ago while hitchhiking. They were murdered. A nation mourns the loss of it's sons. 

This madness must stop. Killing children is no way to advance a political cause and settle disputes. 


We came across this missive by Rabbi Ed  Feinstein. 

Rabbi Ed Feinstein:

We Pray for the Children
JERUSALEM, July 1, 2014

I visited Israel for the first time when I was 16 years old. I came with my family and we stayed in Jerusalem with friends who had immigrated years before. Each night, the neighborhood kids took me out on the town. When my parents expressed their reservations about this, they were told not to worry. Israel was safe for kids. In Israel, everyone looked after kids. In Israel, everyone was family, there were no strangers. As a protest against the fear that haunted the generations of Jewish exile, Israel had constructed a child-safe society, a child-nurturing society. Embracing children was the way Israel affirmed life after a generation of Jewish death.

Only if you understand how Israel looks upon children will you grasp why the tragedy of this week hurts so much. After so many wars, so much terror, after Intifada, suicide bombers and random rocket attacks, why are we so affected by the death of three young teens? Because Israel's greatest achievement was to return the promise of childhood to the Jewish people. Childhood is the most powerful human symbol of renewal --of new life and new possibility, of an open future. The promise of childhood was taken from us in the Holocaust, in the pogroms and in the brutality of exile. Israel gave us back childhood in all its sweetness. And that's what was murdered on a highway near Hebron.

"We will learn to sing without you," affirmed the mother of Naftali Frankel. And at that, the entire Jewish people wept.  This is more than politics, more than nations struggling for power and territory.

This week, Israel struggles for life against death, for hope against despair. This week, Israel struggles for childhood and its dreams. There will be military operations and diplomatic negotiation. Those will not heal the wounds nor will bring closure. What was taken cannot be won back by bullets, but only by a renewal of hope, a rekindling of faith in tomorrow.

So this week, we will hold our children tighter, and we will pray. This week, the entire Jewish people join together in prayer for the children we have lost. We will ask God for the strength to reassure our children that tomorrow is coming....soon.

Revenge Killing: In the wake of this horrible murder of three Israeli teenagers, comes word that an Arab teenager: Muhammed Abu Khedir was abducted in front of his home the day after the burials of the three Israelis. Muhammed was kidnapped and murdered  as be prepared to leave for early morning prayers.

Muhammed. Age 16. 


This is madness. The killing of children as targets in an ancient war between two peoples that have similar roots and supposedly similar values. 

There is and never can be any moral justification for the killing of innocent children. Today, Israelis and Arabs need to pause a moment, and collectively hang their heads in shame for these outrageously horrible murders. 

Shame on them. All of them. Children are being murdered. THIS MUST END. 




Tuesday, July 01, 2014

NOT QUITE FIREWORKS

JAA BLOG is back we are happy to report, with a new, sleek and modern look. 

USA vs Belgium Nil-Nil deep into second half, but Belgium is outplaying USA.  After missing a wonderful chance in front of the goal with about two minutes expired in added time,  the teams are tied heading into extra time.
FINAL:  BELGIUM 2- USA 1.  
After 90 minutes of 0-0 play, including a record 12 stops by USA Goalie Tim Howard (a record 16 saves over all including added time), Belgium erupted for two goals, putting USA down 2-0. But after a string of substitutions, including 19 year old phenom Julian Green, Green brought the USA back to 2-1 on a beautiful play where he took a picture perfect waist-high pass and planted it into the back of the Belgium net. After pulling back within one,  the team had several opportunities, including a beautiful play on a free kick that had a USA player free with the ball in front of the goal. But Belgium held on, and the dream of Team USdied on a warm Brazilian evening on the edge of the jungle. 

That was some storm we had Monday night. We have storm windows, but the rain pelted the windows something fierce, as the thunder rumbled and the lighting sliced through an early, blackened sky. 
There is something comforting about being home, curled up with a good book or your favourite blog while the weather rages outside. 

Simon Steckle gets a rare "nol prosse" in a murder case after the prosecution was satisfied his client was in another country at the time of the killing. Richard Scruggs did the honors for the state. And is is and should be an honor for a prosecutor to dismiss a case. Seeking justice is their highest calling, and that comes in many forms, including dismissing charges against innocent defendants. 

Mid part of the short week. But boy are we busy. 

See you in court.