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

Friday, January 31, 2014

PUBLICITY

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. 
But we're not so sure. 
Because this New Times Blog post about a City of Miami Beach Commissioner and REGJB lawyer  and former ASA is really a beat down. 

Are you a member of the media? Do you care about Justin Bieber? Of course you do. Silly question.
That's where I, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco, come in. Not only am I a former state prosecutor and defense attorney -- but I'm also available for comment. Right now. Call me. I know I told you last time that I'd only ask once. I was wrong. Whatevs. But, really, last time I'm asking: Let's talk Bieber. (Please.)
--XOXO Michael Grieco

And this isn't the first time this lawyer has gotten into a mess over relentless self-promotion over a case involving a celebrity. 

Just what is a "celebrity lawyer?" Can you register somewhere for the moniker? Do you sit in the office and turn away lucrative cases: "I'm sorry sir, I'd love to be your lawyer, but as you can see my practice is limited to celebrities and being on the front page of the local section of the Herald in handcuffs just doesn't cut it." 

What a joke. 

Enjoy your weekend. Super Bowl picks will be posted. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

HEAT LOSE AGAIN

The no talent, no heart, no hustle, cry babies Miami Heat got spanked at home last night. Again. Won't be very long until the arena is empty, and Judge Colodny is sitting by herself and all you front running die hard Heat fans will conveniently find something else to do.  You can read about the 112-95 drubbing here. 

DOM reports that the White House is vetting Magistrate Judge Robin Rosenbaum  Rosenberg for the Ft. Pierce District Court slot that Judge Will Thomas was originally nominated for. 
One door closes, another one opens. 

Super Bowl: We're working on our picks, including our fabled lock-no loss coin toss pick. 
The way we see the game, Seattle has a great, not a good, but a great for the ages defense. Their special teams stats are off the charts amazing. For instance, they have given up a total of approximately 75 yards in punt returns, for the entire season. Many teams give up more than that in a game. 
But the question is whether in this day and age with the current rules, can a great defense stop a great offense in one game? 

Tune in for the answer. 

UPDATE: Amanda Knox, the American college student convicted of murder in Italy, was convicted again today by an Italian Appellate court of two judges and six jurors. Knox is currently back in the US after she was released when  her conviction was overturned by Italy's highest court. Knox is subject to an extradition request by Italy. The NY Times story is here. 

See You In Court. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

RIP THOMAS TEW & MARTY FINE





SHOCKING: In the bizarre world of the death penalty, the Miami Herald reports here that states are considering a return to hangings, firing squads, electrocutions, keelhauling, standing in the security line at the REGJB, etc. 
Why are the states returning to "the good ol' days?"
Because the country that believes it has the greatest legal system on earth cannot get those other, less developed countries with unenlightened legal systems like France, Sweden, Denmark, England, etc., to sell them the lethal chemical cocktails needed to execute its citizens who have received their full measure of due process.

When is enough going to be enough? 

Query: Are killers born or made? And if they're made, what responsibility does society have when a person who grows up in poverty and is abused and perhaps mentally damaged becomes a killer?  

PCA: Wednesday is decision day at the 3rd DCA (Motto: "No oral argument or soup for you!"). And if you per chance peruse the decisions on their website you would see that today there are 27 PCA affirmances of criminal cases. For those of you not appellate-inclined, a PCA is an affirmance of the lower court decision without an opinion. It's a sort of an appellate FU for wasting our time with this nonsense. 

No oral arguments. No decisions. Not pretty. 

See you in court. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

PETE SEEGER

There was a time, before Starbucks and Iphones and Ipads and iPods, and texting and email, when stories were told by folk singers. For those of you hyper-caffeinated twenty something PDs and ASAs who march into the courthouse with one hand on a cafe latte and your head buried in your smartphone, you know who we mean- those of you who never stayed up all night banging out a term paper on a typewriter- the idea that a simple man could move a world through song without a twitter account or youtube videos might seem unbelievable.  And yet Pete Seeger did just that. 

After starting a radical newspaper, Seeger dropped out of Harvard (leaving behind a classmate named John Fitzgerald Kennedy), and then hitchhiked across the United States. Along the way he met and sang with legends like Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter- an Ex-con from Louisiana- and Woody Guthrie, an Okie minstrel. 

Pete Seeger helped write and arrange such classics as  the depression era "If I had a Hammer", the Vietnam protest song "Where Have All The Flowers Gone", and the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."

HUAC- the House Un-American Activities Committee that ruined the lives of countless good Americans during the "Red Scare" of the 1950's, thought that the words like  "Freedom" and "people" in Seeger's songs were "code words" designed to help Communists infiltrate American Society. Called to testify before the Committee, Seeger heroically declined to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent: "I've sang for hobos and I've sang for the Rockefellers  and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody" Seeger told the committee. Asked to name names about people who may have attended suspected Communist meetings where Seeger sang, Seeger, who offered to sing for the Committee, refused to testify: "I think these are very improper questions for Americans to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this" he told the committee.  Seeger, who had sold millions of records before he testified, was convicted of contempt of Congress, sentenced to a year in jail, and saw all of his record sales and concert bookings evaporate. In 1962 Seeger's conviction was overturned on a technicality. A resurgence of folk music in the 1960's saw his career revived. 

He sang for presidents, with Bruce Springsteen, 
with homeless hobos, with young people protesting the Vietnam war and with countless leaders of the civil rights movement. Singing at Moscow's Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, he led an audience of 10,000 Russians through "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore". He was unique, an American through and through. 

Here is Pete Seeger-age 89- with the Boss, in 2009, at a concert on the Lincoln Memorial during the pre-inaugural festivities for President Obama. So make some room on your phone or iPod, erase a Jay-Z song if you have to, and download some Pete Seeger.




Monday, January 27, 2014

BOTTOMS UP

The NY Times Nicholas Kristof's OP ED on the police stop in New Mexico that ended with several rectal exams, three forced enemas and finally, a colonoscopy, in which NO drugs were found. The County ended up settling the incident with a $1.6 million dollar settlement. 

SECURITY: Apparently there is still some confusion on the security IDS:

Rumpole,
there has been numerous requests on the blog for information on renewing the REGJB Security IDs. Please share the following email with your readers. 
SECURITY ID INFORMATION
RENEWALS:
If you have previously been issued a card which has expired, or took your picture but never picked up a card, then your new card has already been printed and is available for pick-up at the AOC Human Resources Office at the Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse, Monday through Friday before 3:00 pm without the need to make an appointment.  When going to pick up your new ID card, you will be required to the following:
  1. The cardholder and only the cardholder, must bring and sign the attached 'Security ID Acknowledgement Form'.
  2. The cardholder must bring a printout from the Florida Bar website indicating that they are currently a ‘Member in Good Standing’ (use this link, enter your name, print).
  3. The cardholder must bring a check or money order made payable to 'Miami-Dade County' in the amount of $10.00.
  4. The cardholder must surrender their old ID card (if the old ID has been lost, make that check for $20 instead).
NOTEIf you previously applied for an ID and were approved, but you never went to have a picture taken, then you can’t just show up, instead you must call (305) 349-7351 to make an appointment to sit for your picture.


Your friendly neighborhood PD and FACDL guy Brian Kirlew sent the email and has all the info you need to avoid those long line. 

Planet Hillary: She's already running.  Time to get out those old email addresses for Hugh Rodham. For those of you who don't know, Hillary's brother was a PD right here in Dade County. And so was his brother Tony for a short time. 

Remembering Richard Sharpstein and the tragic way he ended his life, this CNN report asks why lawyers are killing themselves?  The article has some scary tales, but also this sop: "Lawyers are prone to depression." Really? Stop the presses! 

Roy Black, he of Bieber fame, has an audio of a Richard Sharpstein closing argument on his blog here. Richard was truly a performer at heart. 

Remember that the Super Bowl is coming up this Sunday. We'll have all you need to know, including what bets to make, and of course, our never fail guarantee on the coin toss. 

See You In Court. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

SECURITY ID INFORMATION

BREAKING: Judge Dennis Murphy sentenced Eric Rivera, Jr.,  to fifty seven and a half years in prison. Rivera was the individual who fired the gun that killed Sean Taylor (Rivera was convicted of second degree murder, although the jury found it was without a firearm, the facts of the case are that Rivera shot and killed Taylor).  ASA Reid Rubin gets the win and deserves credit for shepherding this case through the system over the last several years. Well done Mr. Rubin. Well done indeed. We are sure the Taylor family is extremely grateful for your dedication and efforts. 

It's been busy day at the REGJB. 

BREAKING. Someone named "Bieber" who is apparently a person of some renown in the entertainment world, was arrested earlier today. He had his first appearance before Judge Farina, who is a Judge of some renown in Miami. Bond was set. The media is breathlessly analyzing the cosmic implications of all of this. 

A lawyer named "Roy Black" muddled his way through the hearing without too much trouble. 

Occasionally we take a break from our award winning witty repartee; the continued disparagement of  our robed readers, and the downright tarring and feathering of judicial candidates, to post something useful to our readers. 

Today is that day. 

If you've been walking around staring at your expired security ID without any idea what to do next, then this is for you. 


There is NOTHING more important in the lives of lawyers at the REGB than the ability to bypass the hour long lines outside of our humble courthouse. 
This is, of course, a lawyer-centric view. We imagine the judicial-centric view of what is important  might revolve more along the lines  of locating the local free lunch buffets or making that 3pm tee-time or mani-pedi appointment. (Our ability to hold in abeyance the cheap shots at judges isn't very good.)

Go get those IDs. Don't wait in line. Pass Go. Collect your fee. 
See You In Court. 


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

LUNCH AND LEARN

We received a few emails. One is about a CLE seminar tomorrow and one was a discourse between The Captain and a Judicial candidate.

CLE SEMINAR WEDNESDAY:





Not sure what a "DAO" is. 

Attorney Joseph Perkins is running for circuit judge. He has received criticism, including, in the comments, some from us. We say that at the outset to clear the air. We also have a policy of allowing individuals to have their say, unedited, and without, as Roy Black once said about us, "smarmy comments" or words to that effect. The Captain emailed Mr. Perkins and here is his response, without edits or comments by us. 

I am running for judge as a seventh-year attorney because I am ready and able to devote my life to serving our community on a full-time basis. I believe the People of Miami-Dade County will entrust me with such honor based on the quality of my experience and other characteristics that make me well-suited for the position. Trial experience is one of the many factors our community will consider. I do have federal and State trial (bench and jury) and evidentiary hearing experience (six in total), and have served as lead counsel, co-trial counsel, and as second chair. (I also argued before a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.) Another factor our community will consider is legal ability and intellectual capacity. My cases, which often involve high-stakes and last many years, routinely involve issues of first-impression, and I have demonstrated the legal ability and intellectual capacity to grasp quickly sophisticated legal issues. Our community also desires a judge with a reputation for strong character and integrity and even-keeled judicial temperament, which are, of course, essential to a functioning, well-respected judiciary. A judge with strong integrity sets aside personal prejudices, personalities and partisan influences. Although I will be firm and confident on the bench, I will always be humble, intellectually honest, and courteous to the parties and lawyers before me. My devotion to the improvement of the quality of justice is another factor our community will consider. I will work hard to ensure legal clarity and predictability in my opinions. In the private sector, I wake up early and generally work weekends, and as a judge I will continue to do so to enable me to issue opinions quickly, but only after (always) reading and considering applicable authorities. Finally, when choosing the next Group 27 judge, our community will consider the fact that I have demonstrated sound judgment in my personal life. I married my lovely wife when I was only 19, and we remain happily married nearly 11 years later. I got my bachelor’s degree when I was only 20 and my law degree when I was only 23. Thus, when our community considers, on balance, the quality of my experience and other characteristics essential to an honest, well-respected judiciary, I believe our community will entrust me to be the next Group 27 judge, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve. 

 We invite other candidates in the race, or any race for that matter, to email us a few paragraphs on why they have the "Right Stuff."

See You In Court. 



Saturday, January 18, 2014

HAVE YOUR SAY

Have your say at the 3rd DCA; maybe yea, maybe nay:
Appellate Maven Roy Wasson sent out this FACDL wide email:

 Chief Judge Shepherd at  meeting this morning clarified the
way the new policy limiting oral arguments will be handled.  When the request for OA comes in, the clerk will continue to set all cases for argument.  About 30 days before the scheduled argument date, the panel will
review the briefs to determine if argument will be useful.  The attorneys handling cases that are not selected for argument will then receive a notice of cancellation of argument.  The cases will still be listed on the online calendar on the date the argument was originally scheduled, with a notation
"Argument Cancelled By Court."  That will enable counsel to see who is on the panel starting the week before the original OA date.


New Oral Argument policy: What say you? Yea or Nay? 

CAMPAIGN FUN:

 Wannabe Captain said...
Captain is not doing his job, so I will.

JUDICIAL CAMPAIGN REPORTS
As the judicial season begins, this is the way things stand today:

COUNTY COURT
Only 1 contested race (so far):

$ amounts are totals of candidate loans and contributions

Rachel Glorioso Dooley $12,390.00
Jacqueline Schwartz $231,031.00

CIRCUIT COURT
$ amounts shown are contributions/candidate loans

Group 16
Cobitz, Thomas Aquinas 2,725.00/10,000.00
Diaz de la Portilla, Renier 0.00/0.00
Millan, Stephen T. 1,500.00/0.00

Group 27
Gomez, Mary C. 5,690.00/0.00
Milian, Alberto 35,488.00/100,000.00
Perkins, Joseph David No Report

Group 58
Rodriguez-Fonts, Oscar 34,169.00/0.00
Ruiz, Mavel 6,687.00/0.00
Zilber, Martin 80,400.00/100,000.00

Fun Fact: Did you know judicial candidates use campaign funds to get their hair and makeup done? Jackie Schwartz spent over $150 of campaign funds getting dolled up for a fundraiser on 11/15. Funny story though, her fundraiser wasn't until Nov 21st. Ha ha ha. That Jackie. She's hilarious...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

SAY IT AIN'T SO

The Captain Reports:

Has the Broward BLOG reached a new low?

Today they "expose" the length of the penis of the Chief Judge of the 16th JC; (that's Key West for those not in the know).

Yes, it appears that the CJ has posted his pick and the size of his penis on a web site called MANHUNT.

So, you decide, newsworthy or more trash from JAABLOG:

http://jaablog.jaablaw.com/

Cap Out .....
captain4justice@gmail.com



Here's the post: Let's Get Sweaty.

Rumpole says: ummmmm.....let's not. 

FYI The site is "Manhunt." The screen name is "DavidKW" 
 Who knew?
What's next? Gerald Weatherington on Ashley Madison? 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MENTORS NEEDED FOR I'M READY COURT PROGRAM


At great risk of ruining our reputation (by helping out a robed reader) but in the spirit of the holidays and such, and because we can put aside our petty differences and recognize that the "I'm Ready" program is a very worthwhile program, we re-print this request for help which arrived in our email in-box: 

Basically you need to be in court  AT THE STOCKADE at 1pm tomorrow and become a mentor to a teen who needs help and agree to put in about 7 hours over the next six months. Contact Judge Glick for details. 

Rumpole,
I need your help......If you could post this on your Blog, I hope I can fill 12 open mentor spots with some of your loyal readers.....Thanks
As many of you know, the 'I'm Ready' program was started by Judge Bloom to accommodate youthful offenders who were interested in accepting Boot Camp as a way towards a second chance, but who because of a physical ailment were not permitted to participate in the physically demanding program.  I'm ready employs the same military/discipline approach to reforming youthful offenders, but replaces the most physically demanding aspects with a more mentally challenging approach. 
I have worked hard to integrate the "Im Ready" program into the current Boot Camp program whereby they will be enrolled in the Boot Camp as a cadet (with lower impact) due to any physical obstacles or mental challenges they face. But I believe it creates tolerance and acceptance by all who participate. No bullying will be tolerated, no isolating those that are in the low impact component.  They enter as a enter as defendants, they leave as cadets/students. 
 As the Co-Chair to Beth Bloom, I am asking you to please send this message out to your readers to help get  23 mentors for the 23 students that are graduating Wednesday. They do not need to be attorneys.  If you can't make Wednesday, I understand. But if you are interested in this wonderful project, please feel free to contact me via email at  Sglick (@) jud11.flcourts.org  ASAP.
This Wednesday, January 15th the next class of 23 students (this is a large class, which is great news) willdisplay some of their new skills at the "I'm Ready' Graduation Ceremony.  These graduates who will be 'stepped down' from the on-campus (Stockade) phase of the program are in serious need of mentors.  There are only two commitments asked of mentors: 1) attend the graduation on Wednesday, January 15 at 1:00pm and 2) agree to attend a complimentary dinner with the other graduates and mentors once a month for the next six months; a total of approximately 7 hours over 6 months (and free dinner).  
Thank you in advance,
Stacy D. Glick

OK readers. We did our part. Now who will step up and be counted? (The free dinner should get some judges to volunteer. Ok cheap shot. But we're in a grouchy mood.) 

Monday, January 13, 2014

SCRAM

Whist perusing the FACDL emails last week (for which we are grateful to our readers who forward them to us. Nothing against FACDL personally, but we just don't join organizations. It's a religious thing....sort of) we came across several emails which, if you didn't read closely, you might have thought the participants were discussing the imminent meltdown of a nuclear reactor. Terms like "SCRAM" and BOT and IID were being tossed around with frequency and alacrity.

We give FACDL a hard time, but the truth is that the muckity-mucks do what they do for free, donating their time and efforts on behalf of the defense bar and our clients.

Thus, we give FACDL Miami their due, and recognize their current president who stepped in last week and mediated an  impending contretemps over what appears to us (with admittedly limited knowledge in this obtuse area of the law) to be the equivalent of PTI for DUI, known as BOT. OK? Now scram. 





Bot letter from Justicebuilding


Perhaps the next time you see Mr. Pereira you should buy him a beer. But not too many, else wise he might need to enroll in BOT. 

GOODBYE
To the great blog Hercules and the Umpire, run by the exceptional US District Judge Richard G. Kopf.  Judge Kopf ended his remarkable blog on January 1, 2014. You can still peruse the blog and comments (and find an exchange between Rumpole and the Judge on his last post, disproving the notion that we're never nice to those who wear the black robes) and we highly recommend the blog post on sentencing, where the Judge reflected on the harsh sentence he gave a defendant who went on to be released, graduate law school, and receive a prestigious clerkship with a DC Circuit Judge.  

Well done Judge Kopf. Well done indeed. 

See you in court. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Who's Running For Judge in 2014



THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2014 .....

On Tuesday, August 26, 2014, voters will go to the polls for the Primary Election of 2014.  Judges in contested elections will be on the ballot that day.  If a Run-Off is needed, that will take place on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

This election cycle, 47 judicial groups are up for election; 38 in the Circuit Court and 9 in the County Court.

The deadline to file your papers and run for office is Friday, May 2, 2014.

Currently, of the 38 Circuit Court Groups, there are three contested elections.  Of the other 35 Groups, 29 Incumbents have filed to run again while six sitting Judges have not yet filed their papers.

In the County Court, all nine Incumbents have filed for re-election and one of those Incumbents currently faces opposition.

CIRCUIT COURT

GROUP 16

Judge Leon Firtel is retiring.  Three candidates have filed.  They include:

Thomas Cobitz
*24 years Florida Bar; criminal defense practice

Renier Diaz de la Portilla
*6 years FB; Miami-Dade School Board 8 years; Florida House Legislator 2 years, 2000-2002; (ran again in 2012 and lost); Mediator;

Stephen Millan
*22 years FB; criminal defense practice; ran unsuccessfully in the past for Judge; 2006 lost to Karen Mills Francis in a County Court race; 2008 lost in a run-off to Yvonne Colodny in a three way race for a seat on the Circuit Court; (Pat Kopco was eliminated in the primary)

GROUP 27

Judge Ronald Dresnick is retiring.  Two candidates have filed.  They include:

Mary Gomez
*18 years FB; marital & family practice

Albert Milian
*26 years FB; criminal defense practice; ran unsuccessfully for State Attorney in the past.  2000 lost to KF Rundle; 2004 lost to KF Rundle after defeating Leslie Rothenberg in the Republican primary; Gary Rosenberg also lost in the general election as he ran as an IND.

GROUP 58

Judge Marc "SHU" Schumacher is retiring.  Three candidates have filed.  They include:

Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts
*13 years FB; criminal defense & immigration practice

Mavel Ruiz
*17 years FB; criminal defense practice

Martin Zilber
*25 years FB; Mediator; Councilman in Coconut Grove; Public Health Trust Member; In House Counsel to transportation companies; insurance defense; corporate & real estate

*If we have made any errors in the bios, I am sure our fine readers will point them out and correct us.

The following Incumbent Judges have not yet filed their papers for re-election:

Rosa Figarola
Eric Hendon
Cristina Miranda
Orlando Prescott
Bernard Shapiro
Dava Tunis

We have spoken with all six judges, and all have indicated that they intend to file their papers to seek re-election in 2014.

The following Incumbent Judges have filed and currently have no opposition:

Jerald Bagley
Beatrice Butchko
Marcia Caballero
Jeri Beth Cohen
Yvonne Colodny
Jorge Cueto
Abby Cynamon
Reemberto Diaz
Spencer Eig
Ariana Fajardo
Alan Fine
Stacy Glick
Richard Hersch
Jacqueline Hogan Scola
Sandy Karlan
Norma Lindsey
Fleur Lobree
Peter Lopez
Celeste Hardee Muir
Thomas Rebull
Jose Rodriguez
Maria Sampedro-Iglesia
Migna Sanchez-Llorens
Victoria Sigler
Rodney Smith
Daryl Trawick
Diane Ward
Sarah Zabel
Angelica Zayas

COUNTY COURT

GROUP 19

Incumbent Judge Jacqueline Schwartz has an opponent.  Attorney Rachel Dooley has filed to run against her. 

*Ms. Dooley has been a member of The Florida Bar for 16 years and handles criminal defense and family matters.

The following Incumbent Judges have filed and currently have no opposition:

William Altfield
Donald Cannava
Betty Capote
Jason Dimitris
Carlos Guzman
Spencer Multack
Rodolfo Ruiz II
Nuria Saenz

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

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

ARTHUR HEARINGS UNDER ATTACK


UPDATE: Miami Dade killer Thomas Knight was executed by the State of Florida at 6:45 pm Tuesday evening. The execution was for the death sentence Knight was under for the murder of a Corrections officer at Starke where Knight was on death row for the double murder of Sydney and Lillian Gans. Knight was working for Sydney Gans under an inmate release program in 1974 when Knight kidnapped and then executed the couple. 
David Ovalle, who witnessed the execution, posted his story here. The State spent 40 years trying to exact "justice" for the Gans double murder. Query: was justice done?

This email crossed our desk yesterday:

Has anyone else recently been told by ASA that if you proceed forward with an Arthur hearing, there will be no below guidelines plea later?

I have burg/batt case. Client is friend of victim family and visits often. He was super high on drugs, went into house and was caught stealing stuff. No priors.  Fight among three teenage boys.... all who have been friends for years.  Client then went into convulsions.

Clearly, a judge would grant a bond but, ASA threw that bombshell at me.

Anyone been down this road?

Rumpole replies: Yes, we've been down this road, and let us guide you. 

We have no idea whether or not this is the new policy of the Dade SAO or some pissant ASA who is either 1) lazy; 2) trying to make a name for themselves or 3) both. 

Here is how you respond to this type of tyrannical bullying:

Dear ASA:

You informed me that if I asked for an Arthur hearing for my client for the purposes of obtaining a bond that you would, in your official capacity, retaliate against my client by refusing to ever in the future examine the merits of the case and the justice of what punishment my client deserves, and punish my client for having the temerity for seeking his rights under the constitutions of the United States and Florida.  As you informed me, the punishment for seeking to exercise his right to bond would be that you would NEVER offer a below guidelines plea regardless of how the facts in this case are developed through discovery and whether justice would require a below guidelines plea.  

Good for you. 

Could you please respond in writing confirming that it is your policy, and your office's policy, to punish defendants who exercise their constitutional rights? While we are at it, besides your office exacting punishment for a defendant seeking bond, are there any other exercises of constitutional rights that your office has decided merits punishment?  For instance, will asking for discovery trigger an increase in the offer? Will taking depositions trigger a larger increase in the offer? Will demanding a trial by jury trigger a decision by your office to seek the maximum allowable punishment under Florida Law? Is there a part of your office's website that conveniently lists the "triggers" and corresponding punishments? 

Are you proud of your role in punishing defendants for the exercise of their constitutional rights? Did they recently change the oath you take as a prosecutor, changing the requirement of protecting the constitution and constitutional rights to suppressing those rights that you find personally troubling or time consuming? 

I am assuming that the punishment for asking for an Arthur hearing includes the blanket refusal by your office to ever drop charges even in the event my client turns out to be innocent. Clearly a dismissal would be a below guidelines result. 

I await your response. 

Yours, etc.
__________
Your name Here, Esq. 

Any input from the FACDL (besides their annual dues bill)? 

The point here is to never, ever, ever back down when a prosecutor threatens your client for exercising a right under the constitution.  The remedy is to embarrass them. Make them say it in open court on the record. Ask in writing that they confirm the conversation-threat. If they don't think there is anything wrong with their policy, why shouldn't they proudly announce it on the record and in writing?  That the Dade SAO continually seeks to play these types of games is troubling. 

"The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke. 

See you in court. 


Monday, January 06, 2014

REGJB 2014

Welcome Back! You've had your holidays, drank too much egg nog, eaten too many cookies and slices of candied nut cake, dealt with client emergencies when no Judge's chambers was answering their phone, and if they did, they didn't want to schedule a hearing until today. 

But if you're in the REGJB with a case set for trial, then you ignored our second rule of jury trials ((c) Rumpole 2014, all rights reserved) Do not EVER let a case be set for trial the first week of the new year. EVER. 

Lets examine this closely. There are multiple problems with scheduling a trial for the first week of the new year. 

First: You spend your holiday working and  preparing for trial while your phone and email is flooded with pictures of friends on the top of the mountain in Aspen or at the top of the water-slide on a cruise ship. It stinks. 

Second: The prosecutor has spent the holidays thinking about their new years resolutions, one of which more likely than not was to try more cases and ask for tougher sentences. They want that promotion in the new year that their spouse/significant other spent the holidays haranguing them about.

Third: The Judge has also spent the holidays thinking about new years resolutions, but most likely their resolution is the opposite of the prosecutor's. "I worked too hard last year. I didn't spend 100K to become a judge just to let some snot-nosed defense attorney keep me in trial until 5pm every day. Why that Judge in Lee country bragged to me at the judicial reception in November that after he gave a defendant thirty years on a third degree felony that he only had to try one more case the whole rest of the year."
The Judge, with their addled capacity for logic, decides that by trying a few cases in the first few weeks of the new year, and handing out stiff sentences, that the word will go forth and they will soon be sipping margaritas poolside by 3pm every day, or squeezing in a quick back nine after a long lunch. 

Whereas the last few weeks of the year are a great time for a defendant to be sentenced, the first few weeks of the new year are a minefield for defendants. The time is best spent preparing for trials in February and March. We speak from experience on this. If you are unlucky enough to be walking the hallways of the REGJB the next few days, listen to what your colleagues are saying about judges and prosecutors and see if we aren't correct. 

As a practical and beneficial side effect, if you've scheduled a vacation for these next few weeks, the hotel rates are lower, the ski slopes are less crowded, and you can turn the tables on your miserable colleagues and send them selfies of you on an empty ski slope or strolling an empty beach at Cabo. 

Happy New Year. 

See You In Court, just not this week. 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

THE TWO GREATEST AMERICAN NOVELS

This is our list, and as such, we take as much literary license as we see fit (plus, we can't count very well). 

The two Greatest American Novels are Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, and The Grapes Of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. 

Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (The "The" was added in later editions. If you have an edition lying around the house without the "The" in it, give us a call, we'll take it off your hands and save you the trouble of storing it) represents a groundbreaking change in American Literature (which has been a criteria for inclusion in our list): it is the first American Novel to be written almost entirely in the local vernacular of the places in the Novel. And of course, the Novel takes place along that most American of locales: The Mississippi River, which itself shaped the course and history of this nation. The most American of stories, about the most American of places, with the most American of characters. How could this novel not be number one? 

Well, because our personal favourite Novel was written by our personal favourite author.

When we initially conceived of this list, we wrote a short paragraph distinguishing why The Grapes of Wrath (TGOW) edged out To Kill A Mockingbird.  At that moment we had Adventures third.  In our mind, we were awarding first place based not only on the greatness of the novel, but Steinbeck's body of work. Every book Steinbeck has written is a masterpiece. Of Mice and Men doesn't make the list only because it is a Novella, and not a Novel. otherwise it shares second with Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye.  As a young boy, we plucked Steinbeck's Travels With Charley off the bookshelves of our grandfather's library, and we were hooked. 

There is so much that is so great about TGOW that we cannot cover it in a simple blog post. The writing is simple. It tells a very American story (the second migration to California, this time by American farmers/refugees from the depression and the dustbowl). Issues of politics, personal liberty, suffering, motherhood, exploitation, class, and the great American struggle for a better life for the next generation all are at the forefront. 
"If you're in trouble, or hurt or need-go to poor people. They're the only ones that'll help- the only ones. 
Ma Joad, The Grapes Of Wrath

Once you read TGOW you must immediately read Steinbeck's "Working Days- The Dairy of The Grapes Of Wrath". 


May 31, 1938: I shall try simply to keep a record of working days and the amount done in each and the success (as far as I can know it) of the day. Just now the work goes well.

June 5: …My whole nervous system is battered…I hope I’m not headed for a nervous breakdown…

June 9: …This must be a good book. It simply must…

June 11: …My life isn’t very long and I must 
get one book written before it ends. The others have been make shifts, experiments, practices. For the first time I am working on a real book…

July 8: I wonder how this book will be. I wonder.

September 7: So many things to drive me nuts… I’m afraid this book is going to pieces. If it does, I do too… If only I wouldn’t take this book so seriously. It is just a book after all, and a book is very dead in a very short time. And I’ll be dead in a very short time too. So the hell with it. Let’s slow down, not in pace or wordage but in nerves.


Readers of this blog are not (yet) familiar with our other writing endeavors. But we will share this with you: writing a novel is stepping off a cliff into space with no safe place or way to land in sight at the first step. You must simply trust that your thousands of hours of effort will not be for naught. And yet every day you are besieged by self doubt.  At those moments, to know a genius like Steinbeck was similarly overcome with doubt, makes the journey though a novel somewhat easier (only somewhat- the doubts are crippling). 

As an interesting side note, Steinbeck has been translated to the big screen very successfully. Both the movie versions of TGOW (Henry Fonda as Tom Joad) and Of Mice and Men  (a spectacular movie with Gary Sinise and John Malkovitch as George and Lenny. And if you can ever find it, don't miss the original 1939 film with Lon Chaney as Lenny and Burgess Mereidith as George. That film received four Oscar Nominations) are classics. 

In 1962 Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature and TGOW was prominently mentioned as a basis for the award. 

Then I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be ever'where—wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there... I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'—I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready. An' when our folk eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build—why, I'll be there...

Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath. 

 Monday: Back to work. A new year. A new you. A new blog? 

See You In Court, but not next week, and long time and careful readers know why. If you don't know, click in tomorrow and find out. 

HR. 


Thursday, January 02, 2014

STAND YOUR GOUND AND #'S 3-2 OF GREATEST AMERICAN NOVEL.

SYG:  A very nice win for the PDs office on a petition for a writ of prohibition (the proper way to appeal pre-trial the denial of a stand your ground immunity motion). APD Susan Lerner, Esq gets the win for the PDs. Judge Rebull reversed. FYI: It was a 2-1 win with Judge Salter in a learned dissent that quite frankly we would have expected to carry the day at the 3rd DCA (deferring to a trial judge's findings of facts and all that.) Mobley v. State, here. 

#3-#2 GREATEST AMERICAN NOVEL:
Numbers 3 and 2 on our list are  Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger, and  To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. 

Both Novels were written by authors who don't have a large body of work for which they are remembered, other than their masterpiece. In that sense, you can pick which is two and which is three. They are interchangeable on this list. If forced, we would rank Catcher third and Mockingbird second. 

Of the two novels, Holden Caulfield is perhaps the more unique fictional character and the writing style and subject- teen age angst and coming of age are more unique to the top ten list than the subject in Mockingbird. Salinger, like more than one author on the list, saw active duty in war, landing on Utah Beach at D-Day, and fighting in a combat role through the Battle of the Bulge. There is some criticism to Catcher: the character never matures. He is at the end of the novel the same way he began. Also, the writing is very dated, which makes Catcher a period piece. There is no relationship between the experiences of a teen-age Caulfield that would or could possibly compare to the experiences of a teenager today. Yet, the novel is uniquely American. No other culture could produce a Holden Caulfield. 

To Kill A Mockingbird is the personification of the classic American Novel. Only one novel tops it, and as we will shortly explain, we awarded that Novel top spot because not only of the genius of the Novel, but the author's body of work gave it the ever so slight edge over Mockingbird and Catcher. The brilliance of Mockingbird is the way in which the Novel highlights the great strengths of America and its darkest shame. Only America could produce an Atticus Finch, with the heroic qualities to speak up and defend a black man in the deep south circa 1930. Is there any more powerful line in a book then Tom Robinson, a black man, testifying that he felt sorry for Mayelia Ewell, a white woman? The distinction between the hard working and honest man (who is black) and the trashy woman from a slacker family whose father Bob Ewell is the town drunk (but who are white) is pure genius. That the jury must believe the white woman over the black man is a foregone conclusion in the deep south.  The fact that Finch proves Ewell a liar by showing that one of Robinson's arms- the arm that Ewell said Robinson used to choke her- is lame from a tractor accident- just highlights the clash between racism, culture, and the constitution that existed in the country for the better part of 150 years. And what to make of Boo Radley? Ahh, we save that for the high-school term paper, of which there are probably hundreds of thousands if not millions of them written on the subject. That the reclusive Boo saves Atticus's children and kills Bob Ewell in the process ties the novel up in a sweet ending. 

So now all that is left is which Novel is number one? 

Happy New Year and welcome back. See You In Court in a few weeks.


* Rumpole's second rule of trials: never ever ever let a case be set for the first week of January. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

GREATEST AMERICAN NOVELS #4

UPDATE: Court is open Thursday and Friday. 

Now comes the fun and easy part. We knew the top four novels before we begin this endeavor and for us, the only question was whether the Great Gatsby came in at 4 or 3?

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. There is nothing more American than the concept of excess wealth, decadence, and "making it" in finance: The American Dream. Throw in Jazz, the roaring twenties, a murder, sex, the Plaza Hotel, a spurned lover, and finally, a return to middle western sensibilities, or in Nick Carraway's case, a literal return to the midwest.  This Novel encompasses one aspect of the American Experience, one part of the theme of America. The novel stands alone in it's cautionary tale of American greed and excess until perhaps, Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. But the Great Gatsby is a giant in it's own right, casting a shadow over the genre it created. We again looked for and  choose a novel that changed the conversation and discourse of the literary world. 
We were fascinated to learn that upon publication the novel received mixed reviews and did not sell well, and that when Fitzgerald died in 1940, he believed he was failure and that his work was doomed to be discarded and forgotten. Nothing could be further from the truth and TGG often is listed as The Great American Novel.