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
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
ALL RISE, COURT IS NOW IN SESSION
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
ALL RISE, COURT IS NOW IN SESSION .......
The Honorable Fleur Lobree presiding.
JUDGE LOBREE: Good morning, ladies and gentleman, to the Gerstein Justice Building. I am Judge Fleur Lobree. Court is now in session. This is the Arraignment Calendar. Clerk, call the first case.
CLERK: State v. Malcolm David Brown, F13-11499.
LOBREE: Mr. Brown, you are charged with Burglary of a Dwelling and Possession of Cannabis. How do you plead?
ATTORNEY: Your Honor, we enter a plea of not guilty, request trial by jury, and demand discovery.
JUDGE LOBREE: Enter a plea of NG and set the case for Report on 9/11/14. Clerk, next case.
CLERK: State v. Nelson Santoni, F14-4513-A.
JUDGE LOBREE: Mr. Santoni, you are charged with Murder in the Second Degree, Armed Burglary with an Assault, Attempted Armed Robbery/Carjacking, and Grand Theft in the Third Degree. How do you plead?
ATTORNEY EDITH GEORGI: Your honor, Mr. Santoni pleads Guilty.
LOBREE: Enter a plea of NG and set the case for Report for 9/11/14. Clerk, next case.
MS. GEORGI: Excuse me, your honor, but Mr. Santoni has pled Guilty. We are ready for sentencing.
This series of events in Judge Lobree's courtroom actually took place in March of this year. The State informed the Judge that they were seeking to Indict the defendant before the Grand Jury. Knowing this, and knowing that an Indictment charging First Degree Murder could follow, and the result could eventually be a sentence of Death, Senior APD Georgi, after consulting with her client, chose to enter a plea of Guilty.
Now what? The ASA argued that the Judge could/should not sentence the defendant. APD Georgi asked why not; you asked us how we plead and we said guilty. My client is very remorseful and he is willing to give up his legal battle and put the victim's family at ease.
The ASA objected to the plea and argued that the constitutional right of the homicide victim's next of kin to be present at crucial stages of criminal proceedings meant that the Judge could not accept the guilty plea and move to sentencing.
Judge Lobree, after argument from both sides, agreed with the State and refused to accept the guilty plea. Judge Lobree: "I'm required to balance not only the rights of your client but also the rights of the victim".
The defendant filed a Writ of Mandamus directing the trial court to accept his guilty plea.
So, what did the 3rd DCA say? You can read the entire opinion here:
In a word, DENIED. The writ was denied and in their opinion the 3rd DCA stated that "a trial court has the discretion to decide when to hold a plea hearing. Because the timing decision lies within the sound discretion of the trial court, mandamus is not available to control the scheduling of the hearing."
Crack reporter David O'Valle covers the entire story here:
POSTSCRIPT: On August 1, 2014, the State filed their Indictment charging First Degree Murder and the defendant has now entered a plea of not guilty to that charge.
So, my Justice Building Blog readers, Trialmaster, BTDT, and others, any of you ever have anything like that happen in your cases?
In the words of Horace Rumpole, "see you in court" where we plead all of our clients Not Guilty, because they are.
CAPTAIN OUT .......