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Thursday, November 13, 2014

"THERE ARE NO WINNERS IN THIS CASE"


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

IT'S A SAD, SAD, SAD, SAD, WORLD .........

Just over three years ago, in July of 2011, the fate of two people, who did not know each other, collided at the intersection of Lejeune Road and Aledo Avenue, in Coral Gables, at 4 o'clock in the morning.  The results were nothing short of catastrophic.

Ace reporter David O'Valle, (who recently hit the 5,000 mark for twitter followers), covers the story in the Miami Herald here. 

Peter Munoz, 27, was a police officer employed by the Coral Spring PD.  By all accounts he was a good cop with a great career ahead of him.

Jenny Gutierrez, 23, was a single mother of a three year old girl.  She was employed as a paralegal and she was also enrolled in school at Miami-Dade College.  By all accounts she was a good person, a great mother, and she was working hard to provide for a better life for herself and her young child.

Munoz was traveling Southbound on Lejeune.  According to the accident reconstruction investigation, he was driving his vehicle at a maximum speed of 56 mph in a 40 mph zone.  He was also under the influence of a large quantity of alcohol.  His blood, taken after the crash, showed a BAC of .229, nearly three times the legal limit.

Gutierrez was traveling Eastbound on Aledo.  She entered the intersection immediately in front of the path of Munoz.  She violated his right of way.  She was also operating her vehicle with a suspended license.  Toxicology results performed by the MEs office indicated positive for both Xanax and Cocaine.

The investigation also showed that there was a 6 to 8 foot hedge that likely obstructed the sight of Gutierrez's vehicle as she was pulling into the intersection to turn left and head Northbound on Lejeune.

Munoz was fired shortly after his arrest.
Gutierrez was pronounced dead at the Ryder Trauma center two hours after the crash.  Her daughter is being raised by Gutierrez' mother.

In 2012, defense attorney Alan Ross filed a Motion to Suppress the Blood.  Judge Murphy, after hearing testimony that the first officer on the scene did not detect any signs of impairment, that the THI did not believe he had PC for the search warrant when he submitted it to the judge, and after finding that the warrant, (which was the basis for the collection of the blood evidence) lacked key essential facts, granted the Motion to Suppress.  The State dropped the DUI Manslaughter charge.

This week, the state dropped the remaining charge of Vehicular Manslaughter.  The speed, by itself, was not enough to establish the element of recklessness necessary to obtain a conviction.  (See Luzano v. State, 3D13-1678, Oct. 1, 2014).

We have been quoted in the press on more than a few cases as saying that "there are no winners in this case".  It appears that that statement certain would apply here.

It's a sad, sad, sad, sad, world.

HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY TO MIAMI DADE DRUG COURT .......

Crack reporter for the DBR, Julie Kay, wrote a great story about 3rd year law student Shayna Finkelstein, who recently was in Miami with her University of Florida mock trial team.  The team won first place in an ABA southeast regional mock trial competition.  The younger Finkelstein, daughter of famed Help Me Howard Broward PD Finkelstein hopes to follow in her father's footsteps some day and says she will be applying for a job as a PD in Miami and Palm Beach County.

But, here's the problem with Kay's article.  In it, she states that Finkelstein "was instrumental in forming Florida's first drug court ... in Broward County".

Veterans' of the Metro Justice Building (MJB), (yes, that was the name of the building from it's opening in 1962 until it was renamed in 1992 after six term State Attorney Richard E. Gerstein, who served as the elected chief prosecutor from 1956-1977), know that the "first" Drug Court in Florida, and in the United States, opened in the MJB in 1989.   It wasn't until two years later that Broward followed suit; (Las Vegas had the second ever drug court, with Broward's coming next after that).  In the past 25 years, the overwhelmingly successful Miami-Dade Drug Court has had only four judges including Judges Stanley Goldstein, Jeffrey Rosinek, Deborah Labora-White, and current Drug Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen. 

Julie's a great reporter, but she needs to get her facts straight.   Credit goes out to Chief Judge Gerald Wetherington, Admin. Judge of the Criminal Division Herb Klein, Public Defender Bennett Brummer, and State Attorney Janet Reno for having the vision to create the ground-breaking program 25 years ago.  Their slogan is appropriate: "Miami's Drug Court - saving lives, one addict at a time".  Happy Birthday Miami-Dade Drug Court - you've come a long way.

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

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the first APD in Dade's Drug Court, Hugh Rodham., who helped pull it all together for the clients

Anonymous said...

totally disagree with your assessment of Julie Kay as a great reporter. Sloppy with the facts does not a great reporter make. One need only harken back to her irresponsible reporting on Richard Sharpstein's death where she quoted an unnamed Miami Beach PD source and Richard's ex wife that a heart attack caused his death. Ms. Kay continues to be sloppy with her facts. Lazy reporting is not good reporting.

Just Another Intern said...

THI?
I'm not familiar with that TLA

Anonymous said...

Here's one (of many) problems with this case.
He was said to have had a bac of .229. That's very high.
According to many medical reports he should have been have been staggering, disoriented, unable to stand/walk, dizzy, vomiting, and possibly much more with that bac.
So did nobody there notice that?
1st officer said no signs of impairment. What about anyone else there?
the blue wall? Or perhaps these tests to determine bac are not as accurate as we think they are and they don't really help in determining impairment?
Most people at .229 are sloppy falling down drunk.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


8:40 AM

Traffic Homicide Investigator.

Cap Out .....

Deborah Baker said...

I think Julie Kay is fantastic and when working on tight deadlines and with information that is fed to her by third parties, she can only deal with the facts she gets. She has many times called me to verify facts that have been fed to her. She is always the first to issue a correction when new or better information becomes available. That is the nature of jouralism and she reports on issues that others are too afraid to report upon.

Anonymous said...

Check your suicide pool. There appears to be several players still alive that have clear losses on their picks.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


Deborah, I agree. I did send her a copy of my post.

Julie does a great job and works hard on getting it right.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


To Julie's credit, here is the information pulled directly from Mr. Finkelstein's web site:

http://www.browarddefender.org/howard.html

"As a Chief Assistant, Howard was instrumental in forming the first drug court in Florida and initiating a misdemeanor and later felony mental health court in Broward County."

Someone needs to "Help Howard" with the truth about who was first in Florida, and the country, with the drug court.

Cap Out .....


CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...




The Captain Reports:

Well then, happy birthday to both the Miami Dade Drug Court AND The Odd Couple.

UPDATE on my Drug Court Post; scroll down below the Odd Couple post.

Howard Finkelstein contacted me and immediately credited Miami Dade as having the first Drug Court in the country. He even admitted that he visited several times to get an idea of how to get it going in Broward. He remembers seeing Hugh Rodham, the first PD in that court.

He did not realize that his web site said what it said about being the first. He will get that corrected.

Cap Out .....
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

956..........while it's true that most people are severly impaired above .20, some functional alcoholics can look good and pass all of the SFSTs other than HGN at levels above that level. Ask any experienced DUI cop.

BTDT

Seth Sklarey said...

Still no answer about why all the parking lot signs mispell Gerstein building as Gersten building.

Just Another Intern said...

So he was hammered, she was high on coke and Xanax, and she ran a red light into his path? Is that how it reads?

Anonymous said...

btdt,
If they're functional and pass all the field tests, are they still too impaired to drive?
Legally, yes, but maybe we need to rethink using these numbers as presumptions.