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, February 27, 2014

30 YEARS AGO : STATE V. OFFICER LUIS ALVAREZ

Can it really have been that long ago??



Perhaps Mr. Black  will write in with some remembrances. Mr. Laeser has done so and they are below.

They've done it before. See, The Case That Made Miami Burn. 

Hat tip to the second best blog in Miami: Random Pixels for the newspaper article. 

In our prior post, Mr. Black had this to say, inter alia:

Roy Black said..
The Alvarez trial was also a turning point in my legal life. It goes without saying that it was a hard fought battle with supporters on each side crying for blood and some even drawing it. The specter of another riot hung over the trial like an ugly dark cloud.


In answer to our request, Mr. Laeser emailed us this (unedited by us)


First, the case was poorly handled for over a year by prosecutors who had public cache, but limited courtroom skills.  I have no idea how the lead prosecutor was someone whose claim to fame was that as Gerald Ford's Chief Counsel, he was the creator of the Nixon Pardon.  How that became the basis of prosecuting a cop/killer will always be beyond me.  Then he actually quit - thankfully. 
 
Janet called me in to ask if I would take it -- with about six months left before trial.  I soon discovered that it could not reasonably be won.  More than enough probable cause, but 'probable cause' never met my witnesses.  They had spoken on TV, to the press, been badly prepared for deposition -- and those words which they had said would never be undone.    It made me wish, at times, that I had the other team's job.  Cross examination of young kids who had said far too much, in too many formats, was hardly worthy of Roy's skills.
 
Next, the community pressure was ridiculous.  I could not get police officers to meet with me.  The three officers involved in the case for MPD were the two who were trapped in the first moments of the initial rioting, and the I.A. investigator.  These three fine officers were living in fear - and not from the Overtown community.  Some of the cops who testified for the defense created fictional testimony.  One of them is now a Captain for Sweetwater ['nuf said?].  He testified that one could not see into the arcade.  Showing him multiple photos of the arcade from the outside, showing the minute details of the inside, only got him to say that the camera showed more that one could see at the time using one's eyes.  My post-trial idea of a perjury prosecution of this blatant liar was rejected by Janet.  The 'neighborhood' community was just as ridiculous.  They wanted assurances about the verdict.  Some were pissed that a white guy was still in charge.  In truth, the verdict made me proud for only one reason:  Given the history of the McDuffie rioting in May 1980 [worst four days of my professional life], and the rioting when Alvarez shot Neville Johnson, the "minor" response to this verdict gave me hope for Miami.  After the trial some of the rabble-rousers from P.U.L.S.E. actually thanked me for the effort, and told me that my work had kept the town from becoming an inferno.
 
Finally,  I have been second guessing my cross examination of the defendant for a long time.  I hate a lengthy cross.  He was a cop with limited impeachment available.  But I knew that he had panicked and shot Johnson.  He had modified his handgun to made it easier to fire.  But I decided that I needed to get under his skin - if I could.  If he stayed cool, as I am sure that Roy had practiced with him, then I had no reason to believe that a jury would overlook my awful witnesses and decide that the 'bad cop' finally showed his true demeanor.  Bottom line: the lengthy and aggressive cross was not fully effective.  Given the evidence presented, the jury was completely right in saying that the State did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.  It was my last loss ever in trial.  // ABE

Rumpole says: WOW! For you young lawyers raised on Starbucks and IPads, this is history speaking. This is a lawyer who went into battle, odds against him, the pressure on, and fought like hell for the truth and rule of law. 
The only thing better than this would be for some enterprising organization to bring Mr. Laeser and Mr. Black together on a stage for about an hour, each with a microphone, and let them just talk about the case. 

WOW again. We love this stuff. 

See you in court. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

DETAIN THIS



Below is the Memo containing the resolution authorizing the Dade Mayor to tell Dade Corrections that they do not have to honor federal detainers on inmates unless the Feds  agree to reimburse Dade County. Last year the costs to Dade taxpayers was over $600,000.00. 

Dade Mayor to Feds: "Take your detainer policy and shove it!..."





What this means: less detainers on your clients at DCJ. 

SECURITY IDS


Colleagues,
now that I have your attention: it is URGENT that those of you who have not picked up your 2014 Security ID do so. The procedure is below. There is about a 120 people who have not picked up their IDs. About two dozen of those individuals are REGJB regulars. So please, avoid the lines, pick up your 2014 IDs. If you do not pick up your ID in the next two weeks, it will be destroyed and you will have to reapply for an ID. 


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   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. Acknowledgement form is included in the attached security ID package PDF. 
  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 surrender their old ID card (if the old ID has been lost, make that check for $20 instead). Note: this is only applicable if you have received an ID card in the past. 

Brian Kirlew
FACDL-Miami, Secretary 

And that wraps up housekeeping chores for the week. 

See you in court. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

OPEN COURTROOMS

UPDATE:  Through the good offices of a judge who is a certified friend of the blog, we communicated with the judge in question re: the bailiff who excludes children. As we suspected this was a good policy gone bad and the Judge was not aware of the nature of the entire speech. Needless to say the problem was resolved quickly and at least with this fine jurist, all is well. 

If you see/hear a bailiff excluding people from a courtroom for no good reason (it goes without saying a Judge has the right to control her courtroom and can and should exclude any individual who cannot behave themselves, which of course is why most people are there to begin with. ) please email us. Judges understand the law (shocking as that may seem) but sometimes their bailiffs are  a little too zealous. 


All too frequently, when we walk the hallways of the REGJB just before 9am, we hear a bailiff give a speech to the people crowding in front of the courtroom. And usually the speech is a variety of the same tiresome (and ILLEGAL) spiel: "only defendants can enter the courtroom....or only defendants or family members of the defendant can enter the courtroom...." We heard one Judge's bailiff tell people that "no children can come into the courtroom.

All of that is ILLEGAL. First, as to the ban on children, children are people too. And many children are being dragged to court because the parent cannot afford childcare. So it is an OUTRAGE that some bailiff, with no authority of law, would ban children from courtroom in the United States of America. This isn't North Korea or Iran.  

The law in Florida is simple: COURTROOMS ARE OPEN TO EVERYONE.  Period. 

There is one exception to that principle, and that is when one party files a motion to seal the courtroom. When that occurs, the media must be noticed and the court must hold a hearing, and even if the motion is granted, the courtroom is sealed for a limited time for a particular case. 

We think the Judge whose bailiff is banning children is a great judge.  We're sure her bailiff is a nice guy who does his job well. But this business of banning people from an American Courtroom in the United States of America has to stop. NOW. And banning children...? Really? That's the rep you want? We don't think so. 

Now this business of telling people they cannot wear hats or sunglasses  in a courtroom? We're not sure about that, but it's probably covered by the first amendment. We agree it's not respectful and we wouldn't counsel any client to do it. But we're pretty sure the bailiff and judge have no authority to enforce that rule either. Considering that the US Supreme Court has upheld the right of citizens to burn the flag and wear shirts that say "FU*& THE POLICE" and other such nonsense, if any person wanted to sit in court with sunglasses and a hat and got thrown out or arrested, we're pretty sure some civil rights group like the ACLU  would win that lawsuit. 

So stop banning people from court. Stop telling them what they can wear. Calm down, do your job, and we will all get along. 

See You In Court. 




Sunday, February 23, 2014

50 YEARS AGO THE GREATEST SHOCKED THE WORLD

50  yeas ago this weekend, Cassius Clay, soon to be Muhammad Ali, shocked the world in Miami Beach, Florida, when as a 7-1 underdog he beat the heavy champion of the world into submission. Sonny Liston couldn't or wouldn't answer the bell for the seventh round. You can make an argument that just a few months after President Kennedy was killed, the young, brash Clay ushered in the 1960's. 

Clay turned even the boring pre-fight weigh-in into an event. His pulse and blood pressure shot so high as he screamed at Liston and taunted him, that the fight doctor threatened to cancel the fight. Later, the doctor wrongly surmised that Clay's pulse and blood pressure were so high because he was scared. 







Sonny Liston would barely live out the decade. He died in Las Vegas in 1970. Officially his cause of death was a drug overdose, but it was known that Liston owed money to the Mob. His grave is in a cemetary near the Las Vegas airport. The tombstone reads "Charles Sonny Liston. A Man." 

Ali went on to win and lose the heavyweight title a record three times. He refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War and was stripped of his title and could not get licensed to fight for over three years in the prime of his career. His conviction for draft evasion was overturned by the US Supreme Court. Ali went on to have epic fights with Joe Frazier and George Forman. He spends his days quietly in Scottsdale, Arizona, no longer able to speak much, his body ravaged by the blows he took as a boxer and the resulting Parkinson Syndrome. 

But 50 years ago- February 25, 1964-  the greatest shocked the world and change was in the air. 

See you in court. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

FACDL AWARDS


This email was sent Thursday announcing the FACDL Award Winners. 

Dear friends and colleagues,

Today I am extremely excited and proud to announce the award recipients who will be honored at our Annual Gala and Awards Banquet on April 26, 2014.  

Each year an award named after another fearless jurist is presented in recognition of an extraordinary career contribution and for dedicated service to the improvement of the criminal justice system, this year THE HONORABLE GERALD KOGAN JUDICIAL DISTINCTION AWARD will be presented to The Honorable William Thomas

Given, only when appropriate, this award to criminal defense lawyers who having undertaken a particularly difficult or unpopular client, represent the heart and spirit of criminal defense and epitomizes the courage of the criminal defense lawyer to stand apart (and often alone) as Liberty’s Last Champion.  This year, THE RODNEY THAXTON “AGAINST ALL ODDS” AWARD will be presented to Regional Counsel Attorneys Phil Reizenstein and Kellie Peterson – for their defense of Dennis Escobar during a grueling two month long homicide trial in 2013.

Presented to a young lawyer whose hard work in the legal arena and in service to the community exemplifies what young and fearless attorneys should strive for, THE GREGG WENZEL YOUNG LAWYER’S AWARD will be presented to Assistant Public Defender Sara Yousuf.

And finally, the THE DANIEL S. PEARSON-HARRY W. PREBISH FOUNDERS AWARD will be presented posthumously to FACDL Miami's Two Time Past President Richard Sharpstein.
 
I hope that all of our friends and colleagues, Attorneys and Judges alike, will join us in congratulating the award recipients and their families on April 26, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Downtown Miami.  Please share this email with anyone who might not have received it and who would want to congratulate the award recipients.  I hope to see you all in April, congratulations to everyone!

Best regards,
Eddie Pereira
President FACDL-Miami

Thursday, February 20, 2014

THE PUBLIC DEFENDER PARADOX

Here's some breaking news (steady yourself) The NY Times reports here that Public Defenders are (gasp!) overworked. 

The issue is money. Public Defender offices are underfunded. People will pay for prisons but not the legal representation to keep people who don't belong in prison out of prison. 

It has mostly always been that way, and it doesn't appear change is on the horizon. 

That the PDs are overworked and under paid is no secret. 

Here's the dirty secret of criminal defense: 
the private practitioner who is in a cut throat competition to get cases is also overworked and underpaid. The difference is that the private attorney is responsible for their own problems. 

The PD Paradox ( (c) Rumpole 2014)  is that the capitalistic-free market system is producing this result: the  unsophisticated client, thinking  that the free PD won't best serve their interests, hires a private lawyer who may and often performs worse for them.  The PD is often the best and most experienced lawyer the client is  going to see. 

In exchange for paying some money, the client gets  a lawyer with a fancier office and perhaps a more responsive staff. But what the client doesn't know is that the lawyer, in offering the lowest possible fee to secure the case, has only one incentive/goal: plea out the case as quickly as possible with as little work and investigation as possible. Meanwhile, the PD has the investigative resources to more thoroughly investigate the case. The PD is committed to taking all the depositions and filing all the motions necessary to defend the client, no matter how long it takes.


The free market has driven down prices through competition, but it has not raised the quality of service offered by private lawyers. Quality and efficiency are  usually (and in theory are required to be)  the most important byproduct of competition. 

What to do? 

See You In Court. 


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

NUN_SENSE

This marijuana - franchise business is lingering, like some weird smell that won't go away. 
Jeff Feiler's plans for a "Florida-Up-in-Smoke Shops" Franchise made the ATL "Non Sequiturs 2-18-2014"  column here. 

The Dolphins are in disarray, but you didn't need a bullying scandal to tell you that. 

If you're not following the South Florida Lawyers blog's  continuing 24 hour coverage of Miami Super-Personal-Injury-Lawyer Spencer Aronfeld, then you're missing great entertainment. 

Nun_sense Nonsense:
A US District Judge sentenced Sister Megan Rice, age 84, to 35 months in prison for anti-nuclear protesting activities that included breaking into a facility used to store plutonium for nuclear weapons. The Chicago Tribune story is here. 

See You In Court. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

...WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

This will be a short post, as pending trials and brief deadlines are all breaking with alarming frequency. 

ORAL ARGUMENT:
We've been pondering the 3rd DCA's recent announcement that they will not be liberally granting oral argument. And here's what we've concluded: it's a dangerous trend because it undermines the public's confidence in the judiciary. 
When you attend and participate in oral argument, even when it goes poorly, litigants see that the panel has read the briefs and is well versed in the facts of the case. Now an increasing number of litigants will just receive a decision in the (e)mail which will invariably lead to grumbling that the court didn't really read the briefs and relied upon clerks in reaching their decision. Appellate courts are dependent in part upon the respect the public has for the institution. Less oral arguments will lead to more criticism, which will lead to less respect. The 3rd DCA is walking down a road full of potholes. In our opinion, they would be well advised to reconsider. Not because we believe the dedicated judges will not fulfill their responsibility, but because we are one lone voice in a wilderness that can become very cold and wild quickly. Just a thought. 

ORAL FIXATIONS:
Last week came the news via a DBR article that REGJB semi-regular Jeff Feiler is hatching a scheme to sell medical marijuana franchises. Hmm....having a residence in Colorado does not an expert in medical marijuana make. Nor does having a grill and chop-meat at home qualify a person to compete with McDonalds. IF medical marijuana is approved in Florida, and IF Florida travels down the path to legalizing marijuana, then the field MAY become lucrative. And if it does, then first in does not equate to the inside path to economic success. Just ask AOL and CompuServe and see where their profits  rank vis a vis Google for instance. 

Medical Marijuana outlets are a BIG gamble. We don't see the upside as large enough to erase the risk of losing your entire investment. The bankruptcy courts are full of lawyers who thought they could compete in other businesses.  Doctors don't know beans about running restaurants. Pilots don't know how to drill for oil. Google doesn't run a hedge fund. 

Stick to what you know, otherwise the "highs" won't ever outweigh the lows. 

See You In Court, doing what we know, and doing it very very well. 



Friday, February 14, 2014

VALENTINES WEEKEND


VALENTINES WEEKEND

What do you love about your job?

Take our new poll. 

Kiss your sweetie. 

Enjoy your weekend. 




Thursday, February 13, 2014

MACHINERY OF DEATH

The "Machinery of Death" ground fitfully with starts and stops yesterday, finally achieving the goal is was built for: the death of an inmate on death row. 

5,562 days after Judge Marc Schumacher sentenced Juan Carlos Chavez to death,  the Machinery of Death executed its purpose last night in Starke, Florida. But not smoothly. It never goes smoothly. There were by our count, nine separate appeals in the State and Federal courts. At least three petitions in the last two weeks. The last petition to the Florida Supreme Court was denied on the day before Chavez was executed, the court concluding that Chavez was engaged in tactical maneuvering because he was  aware of the issues he raised before he raised them on the week of his execution. Simultaneously, Chavez's attorneys filed petitions with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta (which for all intents and purposes was shut down because of the winter storm striking the east coast) and the United States Supreme Court. 

As the appointed time for Chavez's execution came and went (6pm yesterday) Chavez remained in the death cell next to the death chamber; Jimmy Ryce's Father and Brother sat silently as witnesses in the empty death chamber, along with prosecutors, police detectives, and one juror who sat on the case. They must have been wondering whether this date with death would be delayed again? Would they have to leave, unfulfilled, as the man who caused them so much pain, "triumphed" one more time, using the justice to system to mock them just by staying alive?

Finally, about an hour later, the Supreme Court denied a stay. Chavez was strapped to a gurney, and drugs- the subject of his final appeals- started flowing into his body.  How ironic that the specific type and mix of drugs used to end a death row inmate's life have become the subject of such intense litigation throughout the nation. The issue confronting the courts: will the drugs painlessly kill the condemned? 

Think about this logic: the state wanted to kill Chavez for his unspeakably horrific acts.  But until they got to kill him their way- painlessly- they gave him health care better than most Americans get. If Chavez had tried to kill himself even an hour before his execution, they would have employed as much medical expertise and technology available to the State to save his life- so they could kill him their way,  on their time schedule. 

The Chavez case is a hard case to talk about. And it is hard to argue against the death penalty for a person who did what Chavez did. But experience has shown us that the use of one or two outlier cases to make public policy usually ends in disastrous and unintended consequences. Would it have been so bad if Chavez had just wasted his life away in his small cell, dying a little bit every day, forgotten by the world, left only to ponder his unspeakably  horrible criminal acts?

We ask questions we are not sure of the answers to. 
We only know this: the machinery of death will continue to creak along like an old rusted machine built a hundred years ago; starting fitfully, grinding into motion, doing was it was built to do, just not very efficiently, not very predictably. It's nothing to be proud of, but in the end it does what it was built to do. 

May Jimmy Ryce rest in peace and may his long suffering Father and Brother find some peace and some slight easing of the pain they have carried in their hearts since the day Jimmy was abducted, be eased, even if just a little. 

See You In Court. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ANOTHER DEATH WATCH

Juan Carlos Chavez is next up for grist of the mill in Florida's death machinery. 
Infamous for perpetrating the tragic and horrific sexual assault and murder of Jimmy Ryce, a young nine year old boy, Chavez's case evokes no sympathy for the defendant. 

And yet, isn't our Constitution tested by the awful cases at the edge? 
Don't we want to be judged by the humanity we show to those who deserve none? Because surely if we can treat a person who committed such an unspeakable crime with fairness and provide him the due process the Constitution requires, then we can all feel secure that in less horrible cases the system will work. 

Unusual fact: As was pointed out to us yesterday, Chavez's appointed post conviction lawyer screwed up and missed the federal habeas deadline. When a new lawyer was appointed and filed a 2254 petition, it was dismissed as untimely. And since that ruling, Chavez has NEVER had an evidentiary hearing on his federal post conviction claims. 

This is the "machinery of death" that Justice Blackmun said he would no longer tinker with. 

Chavez is set to be executed tonight at six pm in Starke. 

Rest in Peace Jimmy Ryce.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MERCY: CLEMENCY

The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: 'T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown: His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; But mercy is above this sceptred sway; It is enthron├Ęd in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God's When mercy seasons justice. 
The Merchant of Venice.

The NY Times Op Ed Piece here on the Presidential power of clemency:

The constitutional provision that gives the president virtually unlimited authority to grant clemency was not an afterthought. The founders understood very well that there could be miscarriages of justice even under the rule of law. By allowing the president to commute unjust sentences or pardon deserving petitioners who had served their time, they sought to ensure that the workings of the courts could be tempered with mercy.
...

The perpetual punishment model of justice has had far-reaching consequences. Politicians stayed as far away from clemency as they could, fearing that voters would view them as soft on crime. Meanwhile, at the Justice Department, the clemency process — which had been a cabinet-level responsibility — fell under the authority of prosecutors who seemed to view even reasonable lenience as a threat to the prosecutorial order. The time required to handle clemency applications went from months to years; the backlog grew; the stream of mercy that had once flowed began to dry up.
The clemency system, in other words, is in a state of collapse. But the concept of mercy went out of fashion by the 1980s, when the country embarked on a mandatory sentencing craze that barred judges from exercising leniency when it was clearly warranted and placed the justice system almost entirely in the hands of prosecutors. As a consequence, even first-time offenders were largely viewed as beyond redemption.
These laws drove up the prison population 10-fold and filled the jails with young, low-level drug offenders who were confined far longer than their offenses warranted. They also created a large and growing class of felons, who are trapped permanently at the margins of society by postprison sanctions — laws that bar them from jobs and housing, strip them of the right to vote and make it difficult for them to obtain essential documents like driver’s licenses.
The perpetual punishment model of justice has had far-reaching consequences. Politicians stayed as far away from clemency as they could, fearing that voters would view them as soft on crime. Meanwhile, at the Justice Department, the clemency process — which had been a cabinet-level responsibility — fell under the authority of prosecutors who seemed to view even reasonable lenience as a threat to the prosecutorial order. The time required to handle clemency applications went from months to years; the backlog grew; the stream of mercy that had once flowed began to dry up.
The clemency system, in other words, is in a state of collapse.

Rumpole says: For too long Congress and state legislatures and Representatives and Governors and Senators have engaged in the unseemly and struthious like spectacle  of hiding their heads in the sand while tens of thousands of Americans were sentenced to life altering minimum mandatory sentences for minimal and non-violent drug activities. 
Stop the madness. 

See You In Court.

Friday, February 07, 2014

NO MORE DELAYS

"There's no good reason good can't triumph over evil, if only angels will get organized along the lines of the Mafia." 
Kurt Vonnegut. 

Ok. Now the Herald is getting serious. 

In light of Senator Rubio's (R. Alternate reality) refusal to allow the nomination of Judge Will Thomas  proceed to the  senate judiciary committee (Motto: "We'll get right on it") the Miami Herald Editorial Board now has it's dander up. It's feathers are ruffled over this kerfuffle,  and they've had enough dammit! 

The Herald is calling for (steady yourself) an end (gasp!) to the delays in approving judicial nominations. Through some careful reporting and sophisticated analysis, the Herald is now prepared to say that politics are behind the delays in confirming judges. And they don't like it one bit:


These delays of nomination votes have unfortunately become routine in gridlocked Washington. President Obama is hardly the first Oval Office occupant to see his federal judicial nominations languish in the Senate. But really, senators, almost two years to confirm a single judicial appointment?
The delays are driven, almost entirely, by crass partisanship. The result is U.S. District Court vacancies that go unfilled, literally, for years. That’s justice delayed, justice denied. And it’s entirely the fault of the U.S. Senate.

Rumpole says:  Judges Beth Bloom and Darrin Gayles benefit from Senator Rubio's intransigence on Judge Thomas. 
Rubio got his pound of flesh and won't stand in the way of Bloom and Gayles' nomination. 

Life is all about the timing. 

Enjoy your weekend. 

See you in court. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/06/3917656/no-more-delays.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, February 06, 2014

DE LA O FANTASY FOOTBALL CHAMPION


RICHARD BARON: You know him as an incredible lawyer, great guy, charitable fellow. Gives his time and money and talent to worthy causes.  And now: FANTASY FOOTBALL LOSER

The following is an email we received from Mr. Baron, paying off his bet to the Honorable Miguel De La O, who is the Justice Building Blog's reigning fantasy football champion. Baron and De La O faced off in the Fantasy Football Finals in the Blog league. This blog post recognizing Hizzoner accomplishment is long over due. 

From Richard Baron:
(this is how he looked just after finding out he was beaten by Judge De La O)

First, trying not to sound ingratiating, I LOVE the BLOG!  It’s clever, insightful, intellectual and funny. I can only imagine the time you spend putting it together, so thank you for my evening fixes.

This email is long overdue.  I had a small wager with Judge De La O as he and I were in the finals of the fantasy football league you ran.  My team was noprobablecause. I really thought I’d take that trophy away from his Honor, and our bet was the loser posts a comment on the blog about the winner’s incredible ability to pick fantasy football teams.  So here goes:

I am a very poor loser. I don’t like losing motions or hearings and I hate losing trials. But even more than losing in the world of jurisprudence, I REALLY hated losing  the final game in my only fantasy football league.  And I lost to a perennial winner, the most honorable Migel de La O.  I really like the Judge; both personally and as a Jurist.  But I can’t stand that he continues to place so high in these leagues.  He doesn’t even look like he knows the difference between a quarter back and a cheerleader.  But does he ever know how to pick the winners in fantasy football.  So here’s to you Judge De La O;  You’re the best fantasy football league player in all of REG and I for one stand up and cheer you for knowing the difference between a quarterback and a cheerleader.  
Regards.
Richard

You can email Richard to further discuss his loss at Richardbaronfantasyfootballloser@gmail.com. Judge De La O has graciously set up the account and will monitor it for a while. 

Since we're off law for today....

WHAT RUMPOLE IS READING:
The amazing novels of acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Start with "A Wild Sheep Chase" and go from there. 

See you in court. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

POST BOND? DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH

The problems with the Dade County Jail and Corrections continue: Like the Roach Motel, you can check in but you cannot check out:


Dear Colleagues,

Please see the below information regarding acute delays in the releasing of defendants from MDCR custody.  It appears that Miami Dade is experiencing a lack of connectivity with the national AFIS system which is used to confirm the identities of detainees.

I have been in touch with MDCR's legal advisor and she is unsure as to whether this a nationwide or local problem, but has been told by Miami Dade representatives that AFIS should be up and accessible again by 9:00 pm.  Having checked in with Ken Hassett in Broward and based on the lack of complaints there, it appears to be a local problem for us. 

We will continue to monitor the problem and prepare to take all necessary options that are available to us.  If any of you have experienced delays today, please contact me to discuss details.

Best,
Eddie Pereira
President FACDL-Miami

JUDGES BLOOM AND GAYLES NOMINATED:
Dade Circuit Judges Darrin Gayles and Beth Bloom were nominated by the White House today to the  United States District Court for the Southern District Of Florida. As we have seen, a nomination is barely worth the paper it is written on. Does the White House have the clout to move these nominations out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and to a full vote? 
The citizens of South Florida could not be better served than by having these two outstanding judges confirmed. 

See You In Court. 

PS. No truth to the rumor a certain local Miami Beach politician sent out requests to the media to be interviewed on this story. 

E FILING HAS ARRIVED!

 The Dade Clerk's (Motto: "Hang on a minute will ya?") Website has this startling E-Filing announcement:


Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin, partnering with the Honorable Bertila Soto, Chief Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, is pleased to announce the commencement of a phased rollout effectiveFebruary 3, 2014 with Criminal Case Pleadings of the Circuit Criminal Felony Division available for electronic filing with Miami-Dade County via the Florida Courts eFiling statewide ePortal.  The phased rollout of Juvenile, Misdemeanor and Domestic Violence and, finally, Traffic divisions will follow. 
In using the Florida Courts eFiling Internet Portal, registered users will be able to submit Circuit Criminal documents in accordance with the Florida Supreme Court mandates SC11-399 and Administrative Order AO SC14-1. 
For your convenience you are invited to visit the eFiling Frequently Asked Questions, links to training videos and other materials of interest via our  eFiling Online Services Section.

For your convenience we have included the FAQ's and answers:

1. What entity has mandated the phasing and timing of eFiling?
A: Hippolita, the hot dog lady on the corner of 12th Street. 
The Florida Legislature then tagged along. 

2. What documents must be eFiled in accordance with SC11-399?
In the beginning, only exhibits to motions to suppress, motions to withdraw, and all common writs of ne exeat.  In the coming years the portal will accept notice of appearances, and discovery responses. In accordance with SC11-399 the Dade County system will not be compatible with any other system in Florida, nor with any system in the various divisions, eg., Civil, Juvenile. Family, Traffic, Appeals. Furthermore, all passwords must contain two letters in Sanskrit. 

3. What is the ePortal?
If you're sitting at your desk, look at the floor. There should be a metal round object on the floor. The ePortal is very similar to that receptacle. 

4. What about CJIS?
CIJIS will of course remain. The log in will be updated and simplified to look more like this:  C:/

5. How will conflicts and disputes about documents eFiled be resolved?
All traffic magistrates will now have a 6:45 AM "eFiling dispute resolution calendar." 
For example: Jesus Doe is arrested for drug trafficking. 
Attorney A working with Bondsman X eFiles a notice of appearance at 9:15 am Saturday morning. 
Attorney B working with Bondsman Y eFiles a notice of appearance at 10:01 Saturday morning. 
Attorney C working with Bondsman Z hand files a notice of appearance on Monday morning at 9:22 AM. 

Q: Which attorney has the right to $6,255 dollars in five dollar bills which was taken from the defendant (originally $11,455 but some of it didn't make it into property)?

A: None. The bondsman has already claimed the cash. 



Tuesday, February 04, 2014

THE YOUNGEST VICTIM

For those of you who support capital punishment and trumpet the greatness of the American judicial process, the news that George Stinney may get a new trial is probably considered good news and proof of the fairness of American courts. The triumph of Due Process as it were. 




The problem is that George Stinney was electrocuted at the age of 14 in Georgia on June 16, 1944. 
George Stinney was so small that the straps on the electric chair couldn't be tightened enough to secure his hands and legs. 



Stinney, who by now you probably realize was black,  was convicted of the first-degree murder of two white girls: 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker, and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames.  No physical evidence existed in the case, and the sole evidence against Stinney was the circumstantial fact the girls had spoken with Stinney and his sister shortly before their murder, and his confession, which was obtained after the police bought him an ice cream cone.

Following Stinney's arrest, Stinney's father was fired from his job. Stinney's parents and siblings were given the choice of leaving town or being lynched. The family was forced to flee, leaving George Stinney with no support during his 81-day confinement and trial.
The entire Stinney trial, including jury selection, took one day. Stinney's court-appointed defense counsel was a tax commissioner campaigning for election to local political office. Stinney's lawyer did not challenge the three police officers who testified Stinney confessed to the two murders, despite this being the only evidence presented by the prosecution. The police did not make written records of Stinney's purported confession, and at trial, Stinney denied confessing to the crime.
The jury at Stinney's trial consisted entirely of white people; due to racial segregation, no African-Americans were present in the courtroom. Stinney's counsel did not call any witnesses. Trial presentation lasted two-and-a-half hours. The jury took ten minutes to deliberate, after which they returned with a guilty verdict.

Lawyers have now filed a motion for a new trial which a circuit judge is considering. 

We don't about you, but we keep thinking of that poor small child, his family forced out of town, surrounded by unfriendly white faces, being led in and out of court, and then a few months later, being led down some hallway in some prison, strapped into a chair, and electrocuted. 

Yeah, this is some great system of jurisprudence we have.  Something to brag about. 
The next time someone tells you that no innocent person has ever been executed in the United States, mention to them that George Stinney never really had a chance to prove his innocence. 

See you in court. 

Monday, February 03, 2014

FDLE CHEMIST SCANDAL

Super Bowl: Boy was that a smack down. That was a super bowl beating of almost unprecedented proportions.  Seattle's great defense becomes a defense for the ages, earning the right to be mentioned with the 70's Steelers, 85 Bears, and 2000 Ravens. A great defense can and did (to our surprise) completely dominate a great offense in the 2014 NFL. If it's possible to feel sorry for athlete earning over $20 million dollars a year, we feel for Peyton Manning. He had arguably the greatest season a QB has ever had, and capped it with one of the worst performances a QB in a Super Bowl has ever had. Ironically, Manning set a record for super bowl completions while being less than a non-factor in the game. Manning was a detriment to his team. The "record" is insult to injury. 
Last year the Manning led Broncos had an epic collapse in the last minute of the AFC championship game against the Ravens. This year, from the first play, the team was obviously not ready to play in the super bowl. We're not sure how an athlete and a team recovers from such a thorough whipping. Many members of the Broncos were almost literally frozen from the fear of the big game. As unusual as it sounds after such a great season, the Broncos need to clean house and bring in new blood that is not traumatized from what happened on Super Bowl sunday. 

And thus ends the 2013 NFL Season. See You Next Year. 


FDLE CHEMIST LAB SCANDAL. 
The Orlando Sentinel reports that in over 2,600 cases an FDLE Chemist stole pain pills that he was responsible for analyzing. The chemist was working in the Pensacola lab and it's doubtful his actions affected cases in South Florida. 

That being said: Never trust the prosecution's expert without  doing a thorough independent evaluation. Never. Ever. 

FLORIDA BAR PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE:

Florida Bar president Eugene Pettis has breaking news for members of the Florida Bar: in 2014 lawyers face increased competition and the challenges of harnessing new technology. 





A stunning revelation. 
President Pettis also warned that there might be some instability arising out of the Watergate investigation of President Nixon. 
The man is a visionary. 

See You In Court.