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

Monday, May 04, 2015

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

I've heard chatter on Judge Veronica Diaz, who was noticeably not herself when she took the bench Monday. Another judge soon relieved her.


Can't say what exactly was up with her and it wouldn't be fair for me, as the courts reporter, to speculate. I did ask courts spokeswoman

On Judge Diaz leaving bench, spokeswoman' response: "As in the past, when a judge is not feeling well, another judge covers the calendar."

QUERY: If A judge has a cold or a small headache and leaves the bench, that is one thing.
But what if a judge was "escorted" off the bench by her colleagues because it was determined she wasn't able to fulfill her duties?
What obligation does the chief judge have to make sure all litigants who appeared before the judge are informed the judge was escorted off the bench?

Judges make findings every day throughout the course of a calendar. Judges make findings about defendants during plea colloquies, they make decisions about bonds, motions for continuances, not to mention findings on motions to suppress.

Shouldn't a litigant who appeared before a judge who was unable- for whatever reason- to perform her duties- have a right to have their case re-heard by another judge?

And, while we are asking these questions, if the judge in question has a personal problem that intruded on their ability perform their duties, don't the judge or judges who are aware of the situation have an obligation to report that judge to the JQC?

There is lots of "chatter" that the situation involving Judge Veronica Diaz was more than a simple case of her not feeling well and seeking a judge to take over her calendar while she went home for a sick day.

Lots of questions. Not too many answers.




77 comments:

Anonymous said...

Diaz herself should set the record straight.

Anonymous said...

UNless it is so outrageous the JQC will recommend a slap on the wrist or some other minimal penalty. Look what they did with Gardiner and now Imperato in Broward. The JQC's penalties were so light the Supreme Court would not even accept them.

I have no idea as to what happned with Judge Diaz so I am reserving judgment on her situation.

Anonymous said...

What do the following judges or ex-judges have in common? Julian,Pollack,Gardiner,Imperto,Mecarthy,Watson,J.Schwartz? all female, "little girls" (some old Bags) who have gotten into trouble recently. I might have missed a few but these losers immediately come to mind. Another problem with diversity and having unqualified and incompetent girls on the bench.

Secret Judge said...

So what if the Judge was stoned, drunk or intoxicated. The defendants who appeared before her are relatively unimportant when compared to the commandment of judicial diversity. That supersedes all other concerns we might have. And the judges who were forced to take her off the bench after getting word from the clerical staff that Diaz was totally blitzed will of course forego their ethical obligations in deference to the aforesaid judicial diversity. Everyone should wise up. Diversity runs amuck and trumps all other concerns.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious she feels overwhelmed by a job she was not qualified for to begin with. Has anyone asked Sayfie or Soto about this woman? If you go north of the border, the info is spread is all over the blog and in the Sun Sentinel by the next day. Why so much courtesy extended to this woman. Cough it up. Inquiring minds want to know.

Rumpole said...

Surprising as this may seem I try and do a good job with the blog and not trash people who don't deserve it. She may have appeared intoxicated to some but what if she had a medicine mixup or some other problem that is not an alcohol problem ? A few years ago In a tragic mistake I reported that Judge rob pinero had passed away when in fact he was in a hospital fighting for his life. Word got to his family and I was mortified that in that hour of tragedy I had cause them more pain. It was a lesson learned. I don't report serious issues without confirmation. I have confirmation on the judge's who back story of the night before and that day but not with peoole who will go on the record.

Rumpole said...

That last line should read "the judge's backstory of the night before ..."

Anonymous said...

Rumpole,

You pretend to care about whether your blog causes hurt. Your FEW women readers have implored you to stop posting misogynistic slurs, like that from 6:48. You've decided instead to elevate a particular value -- the right to make hateful remarks about women -- over the persistent pleas of your FEW women readers to block that shit, as you would racist or homophobic remarks. You can say you never get racist or homophobic remarks and that's why you don't block them. But your FEW women readers will know that you are lying.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole - if Dade judges are covering for her, we are as bad or worse than broweird.

GB

Anonymous said...

From the people in the courtroom that day, Judge Diaz was noticeably high on the bench. She couldn't keep her eyes open, slurred her speech and was unable to get through simple plea colloquy's. She is a sweet lady most of the time, courteous and doesn't seem to have a dog in the fight, but she is woefully unprepared for this kind of responsibility. She should have been sent to Juvie and Mavel should have been sent to Felony. In fact, all the baby judges should be in Juvie or Dependency before they are trusted in the Felony division.

Anonymous said...

She was completely and utterly sauced. Why would she go to work while on medication?

Rumpole said...

9:44 PM. I walk a slippery slope here. I try my best. I hear you I really do. I want there to be a discussion of issues and whether you like it or not, there is a segment of population that has sexist attitudes about female lawyers or judges.

Your solution is for me to silence them, which might make the blog easier to read for you, but won't solve this issue.

I think the comments are repugnant. I think the market place should beat those ideas to a pulp.

I offer you two solutions- first- email me and we can discuss this more. If you want to retain anonymity, although I guarantee it but if you don't trust me, spend two minutes and create an anonymous email gmail account. Second, become a blog contributor and write about how stupid those comments are. I am offering you the front page here, unedited. Do you really want to fix this? Have at it.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, 1st time poster here. And infrequent female reader. Now I know why. Do YOU really want to fix it? We have real issues in REG with real clients who need us to fight for them. Instead you are chumming the waters on an issue behind the BS guise of "I'm not speculating but this is rumor & ovalle's 'chatter' from Twitter." And so called defense attorneys condemn immediately off this. Nice. And just out of curiosity, is there 1 bitter, anonymous misogynist out there posting repeatedly? Or is that the majority of your readership? Men that will never be judges and must be insecure about their abilities so they post anonymously about how great they are & how crappy the little girls are. 9:44 PM is spot on. You are part of the problem. I see no solution here.

Anonymous said...

She is completely unfit for the bench. Ask her courtroom staff, PD's and ASAs about the time she took the bench in an orange cocktail dress. Or when she announced in open court that she is "clueless" (at least she was correct about that). No one, defense or state, should have to argue a case in front of such an ethically and intellectually challenged selfie-taking (remember her investiture?) idiot. Note that I never called her a "little girl" in this post.

Anonymous said...

Another judge once drug tested my client because he showed up to court in a Hawaiian style shirt that had martini glasses on it.

If there is any suggestion that a circuit court judge was impaired on the bench, then it IS Ovalle's job (or someone from the Herald) to ask tough questions and root out the truth.

What does he mean that it would be inappropriate in his role? Does that mean he might lose access to sources if he offends? What is that access worth? Does the Herald have someone who doesnt care about friendships in order to report on this story?

And Rump, if you have sources that will not go on the record, you ought to quote them as unnamed sources. I mean -- you yourself are anonymous!

This is not comparable to reporting on someone's death prematurely.

The Professor said...

The "little girls" comment is out of line. Incompetnence wherever it is found has to be addressed on an intellectual, not sexist, basis. But, one's motivation for becoming a judge is relevant, and, if that motivation is not based upon the candidate's honestly held belief they are competent to do the job and a desire to serve the law, but upon a belief that being a judge is an easy gig and a desire solely for recognition and power (not to mention believing that it is a part time job), then that person does not belong.

The commentators who have stated that this particular judge is not competent are entitled to their opinions and should voice them. But those opinions should not be based upon this particular incident without further evidence of something more than illness.

There have been judges who have had to be taken off the bench due to physical infirmities that rendered them incapable of performing on any given day. If, this situation is one of those, then condemning Judge Diaz is inappropriate. However, I agree with some of the commentators that transparency is required, unless it infringes on a medical issue for which she entitled to privacy. If, on the other hand it is a substance abuse issue, then a proper investigation and discipline is required.

It would be best if Judge Diaz clarified the situation herself, but, if she does not, Chief Judge Soto must do it for the good of the system. If Judge Diaz is not capable of handling the pressures, then she should take the high road and either ask for a transfer to a division of the court where she feels more capable, or leave the bench.

Anonymous said...

Everyone I've spoken with who was in court that day was adamant that she was intoxicated. They're not doctors so it's unclear as of now - but that's exactly why Judge Diaz should clarify the matter. And if she *was* intoxicated, any judge who "escorted" her off the bench without contacting the JQC has some explaining to do.

Anonymous said...

Why was she assigned to Felony in the first place. No criminal court experience. A babe in the woods. Ship her off to Juvy, please. Bring on Mavel!!!

Anonymous said...

I 2nd the Professor & trust that Judge Soto will do her best to figure this one out.




Anonymous said...

If I were Diaz I'd use "I took an Ambien by accident " defense.

the trialmaster said...

I thought the comment made by Sky Smith in the Review this morning about "young, inexperienced,green judges acting like kids because they haven't grown up yet" to correctly describe the bench for the most part today. Of course we have exceptions like Stan and John.

Anonymous said...

The readers of this blog think that only REG matters. Why would you want to send an incompetent judge to ANY division? The abused child doesn't deserve one in dependency. The kids and the victims in juvenile court don't deserve one in delinquency. No other division deserves someone deciding on their cases that isn't qualified to sit on the bench.

As for the "diversity" comments, I agree that there are many judges in our current judiciary who aren't anything to write home about. I would even agree that there are some that are a complete and utter embarrassment. But that doesn't apply only to the women on the bench - it applies across the board. On any day, I could easily name you multiple Hispanic, Jewish, Black, Women, and plain old White Male judges who are (as I said) nothing to write home about. It isn't about race, gender or ethnicity. It's about the qualifications of an individual person.

The Professor said...

For 5:37 on May 4,

The Supreme Court has heard your message and rejected the negotiated discipline for Schwartz and Imperato.

I agree that the JQC has been too lenient and needs to toughen up, just as the Bar has. This not only will result in judges who don't belong being removed, or at minimum leave them incredibly vulnerable, but may discourage those who are either incompetent or unprepared from seeking office, lest they find themselves being humiliated by removal or other discipline.

Anonymous said...

The fact that she's on the bench is scary. The fact that other judges are covering for her is even scarier. I wonder if she drove to work that morning.

Anonymous said...

Well, here in CT in the New Britain Superior Court, if your judge does not come in, is sick or really late or is afraid to drive in inclement weather your court date is pushed another month to six weeks down the road. No opportunity for questions no chance at an explanation, nothing. Oh, have you been waiting for a month to have your day in court? TFB and STBY. See you next month.

Anonymous said...

She's embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

The most important issue, other than the obligation to report to the JQC, is that raised by 8:15 AM:

Ovalle apparently not wanting to "burn bridges" instead of doing his job.

The Fourth Estate is DEAD.

Anonymous said...

When some of our clients are arrested, the Herald and the local news channels run the story and ask questions later. This Diaz cover-up is unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so it looks like the Herald reporter is going to deep-six the Diaz debacle. It's alright. Some of us where there and will never forget her slurring her words. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Ambien on the rocks.

Anonymous said...

Ovalle is probably friends with her boyfriend Ben Alvarez.

Great job at selective reporting, Ovalle.

Anonymous said...

My client asked how he can get assigned to the party judge. The one that seemed "high" or "drunk" in court the other day.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere out there Renier Diaz de la Portilla is laughing right now.

Anonymous said...

What a great example the judges that escorted her off the bench are setting for the general public. We'll judge you and your shortcomings, but when one of us is slurring our words on the bench and appear inebriated in court you can't judge us.

Bravo.

Anonymous said...

"The judge wasn't feeling well."

WHAT A JOKE!

Anonymous said...

We all really believe she "wasn't feeling well." Is that code for showing up drunk or stoned to work?

How modest of everyone to sweep Judge Diaz's hiccup under the rug.

Kissimmee Kid said...

“Men that will never be judges,” whew. Lady, do you think there is a worse possible job than Judge? First, the system is hopelessly corrupt, if justice occurs in the justice system it is a coincidence. It is just a tool of governmental and corporate oppression; a way to give monied might the means of wearying out the right. No man with a functioning heart and brain would want to be a judge.

Second, the judges have no freedom. They can’t make just decisions because if they did, some pressure group or another would hound them off the bench. That’s in the odd cases where they are allowed to make a decision, most of the time their hands are tied by guidelines, mandatory sentences and the like. Do you really think a human being with a conscience could send a fellow human to prison for twenty-five years because they had some pills? Only an evil, soulless fuck, could do such a thing; and that is why our judiciary is so poor.

Not only does the work suck, but the hours are horrible. Take a fifty-five year old man with his own practice. He’s in the office by ten, out the door by five. Most of us have sports we play; usually tennis or golf, that take up time out of the day. Could a judge take most of a workday off every week for golf? Is life worth living if you can’t play 18 rounds on Thursday? Judges are monitored; Broward has that a-hole popping in to take photos of empty courtrooms, and Chief Justice Lambada is on the warpath. I should be chained to the bench for forty hours a week? I think not.

Third, the legal system is racist. No need to explain that thought, everyone knows it. Judges make it racist; who would want to do that for a living? (And no, you can’t change it from the inside.)

Lawyers have a much better life than Judges, plus, we have a far better chance of obtaining at least a small measure of justice for our clients. Only a loser would give up being a lawyer to be a judge.

Former ASA said...

I think we get all these "bad judge" stories (and not very good judges) from two main types of judges.

1. People with very little experience practicing law.

2. People that have solely practiced within government offices. (SAO, PD, or city/county/state or fed government) and have no private sector experience.



Anonymous said...

I heard about this and wondered what happened to the judge. I guess we're all going to act like it never happened.

Cue the The Twilight Zone music.

Anonymous said...

Dear Judges:

Don't expect the public to respect you when you're covering up for drunk judges.

Very truly yours,
The General Public

Anonymous said...

8:10 found an almost decent way to criticize a judge.
Clueless, ethically and intellectually challenged are more important than a judge's gender.

You let me down on the orange cocktail dress part though. Possible she had an event later that day and we don't make fun of the male judge we all know who wears faded jeans in an attempt to look like a cool 20 yr old.

Anonymous said...

Is she the judge that appeared intoxicated while in court? I was wondering who everyone was talking about.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you stop writing about something you don't know anything about? All you and your stupid blog do is create even more controversy over something that didn't happen. She didn't feel well. That's the end of the story. Now shut your freakin' mouth.

Secret Judge said...

As to the comment at 10:25 AM, allow me to clarify my position. It would make not a beans worth of difference to me if ALL the Judges were female, or Jewish or African-American or from another planet AS LONG AS they were the MOST COMPETENT available to do the job. That should be the ONLY criterion used. Diversity has poisoned the well and we see the results of it on a daily basis here in South Florida. It is WRONG and a disservice to the public to choose Judges on any basis other than ability. Selecting Judges based on their race or gender is simply WRONG. Why is competence and proven ability not the formula used? The answer lies in the agendas that certain factions of our community have. The result is the public suffers and the reputation of Bench and Bar declines even further.

Anonymous said...

Won't ever be mistaken for John Peter Zenger, this one.

Can't say what exactly was up with her and it wouldn't be fair for me, as the courts reporter, to speculate. I did ask courts spokeswoman


On Judge Diaz leaving bench, spokeswoman' response: "As in the past, when a judge is not feeling well, another judge covers the calendar."

‏@DavidOvalle305

Anonymous said...

I don't know what caused the Judge's behavior last Monday, and I truly hope it was the chronic stomach condition she told her division she had when she first started. She is young, and obviously still learning, but she had been doing well. In fact, far better than many of the other new judges who appear to think they have nothing to learn and use the bench as their pulpit. She's polite, she's enthusiastic, and she appears to listen to all sides and make a thoughtful decision. If it wasn't her stomach and she truly was drunk or high, then there's no excuse. But I think people nitpicking about things like her forgetting her robe one day in the car and taking the bench without it--come on.

Paul Petruzzi said...

Blame it on bath salts

Anonymous said...

I have appeared before Judge Diaz twice. Both times, she was polite, professional, listened to both sides, and seemed to consider the arguments and law before making a decision. I left the courtroom with a positive impression of her. I really hope (for her sake and ours) that she was in fact ill and not impaired.

Anonymous said...

To Kissimmee Kid: I don't know many lawyers that have it better than judges. Some are very hard working. Others took the job so they wouldn't have to work. How do you explain the fact that the courthouse is empty on Friday, that some judges are on their third (lengthy)vacation this year and actually posts pictures on Facebook, and others just go home after calling calendars?

Anonymous said...

Secret Judge at 5:58 p.m. should add cronyism as another reason not to select at judge. See Judge Nina Di Pietro in Broward. If you organize a picnic for a Republican fundraiser you can become judge these days.

Anonymous said...

Ovalle is pulling a "weaver ."

Anonymous said...

Diaz isn't polite. I've seen her get snippy at attorneys for things she shouldn't be snippy about. I also don't think she listens.

Anonymous said...

Diaz isn't polite and does not listen. I saw her yell at at an attorney who was doing nothing wrong, for normal run of the mill things that happen in the building.

Also, why does Judge Schwartz get in all this trouble for cursing out a store employee, but Judge Denaro gets to yell and rip Diaz's JA and Bailiff for letting Diaz get on the bench? Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone pulled the audio from her courtroom? There is digital recording being used in there. It would clearly show she was slurring her words. Maybe even send it up to the JQC. . Why all this deference to her. This is appalling.

Anonymous said...

New DUI defense: "Like Judge Diaz, my client wasn't feeling well."

Kissimmee Kid said...

So, maybe they don't have to spend as many hours at the courthouse as I think they do, how can they live with themselves after imposing one of these nonsensical min mans?

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Anonymous said...

One day, when Secret Judge's identity is revealed, I bet we discover that he is someone who:

1. Is narcissistic
2. Thinks he is way smarter than he really is
3. Is bitter
4. Thinks he should be the final word on every topic
AND
5. Who is, in fact, delusional because he is average at best.

Anonymous said...

Kissimmee Kid:
You said "Only a loser would give up being a lawyer to be a judge."
You hit the nail on the head. Welcome to the quality of the bench in Dade county.

Anonymous said...

2:10,
If you "where" there, as you say, and you're an attorney, then ethically, you need to report it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 7:31:00 AM. I have appeared before this judge on a number of occasion and found her to be polite, in control of her courtroom, and efficient. It is my understanding that her background is civil. I doubt she asked for criminal. If she has some areas where she needs to learn, I am sure that she will.
What is distressing is the fact that this incident is tied to gender and age. Let's just focus on what happened, and maybe cut her a break and see if it ever happens again. And, before we get all huffy about this stuff, has anyone thought about what the results would be if everyone at RGB had to be drug-screened once a month? They aren't and we do not know what Judge Diaz's problem was, and I do not view one isolated circumstance as a cause to hang her or to continue this "conversation."

Anonymous said...

What's the deal with the ASA who banged a Judge's bailiff at their investiture in the bathroom?

Anonymous said...

Civil is the answer

Anonymous said...

Is the Captain slacking? It look's as if Ed Newman in group 7 already has competition in attorney Lizzet Martinez.

Anonymous said...

Of course this is who you are; not merely a Muse, but Nubile Muse...

One sees inspiration accompanying the author in his actual work on the new book. She accompanies him (for by now we are in the presence of a nubile muse) by means of successive flashes to which the writer may grow so accustomed that a sudden fizzle in the domestic illumination may strike him as an act of betrayal.

Anonymous said...

There should be an answer to what happened and it is the responsibility of the chief judge and judge safie to inform the public. Or are they going to continue to cover up bad behavior like the behavior of shwartz, pando, saenź? Are they going to be real leaders? I think that there is an ethical obligation to report at the very least document the incident, furthermore, Ovalle do your job, pull the record. You can see everyone who was on calendar and interview the inmates as well as the courtroom staff and corrections. Diaz has been lying since the beginning of her election and judgeship, making claims that are not true. She's a disgrace but then again what can you expect from someone who associates with such scum?

Anonymous said...

She was ill. Not drunk. Not high. Ovalle is a legitimate reporter. He is trying to get more information but he's not an anonymous rumor mongering coward & misogynist. And what makes you all think that the Chief is NOT doing what her job & ethics require? Because she doesn't bring anonymous Rumpole and anonymous bloggers in the loop?

Anonymous said...

10:26: I know who Ed Newman is and what he has done. Who is Lizzett Martinez and what has she done except maybe be a pawn in Hector Lombana's hate list, along with Judge Bloch?

Anonymous said...

8:16 - Amen.

Anonymous said...

8:49 a.m., if you don't know Lizett Martinez,then why do you attack her? She certainly would not be a "little girl" on the bench, as she's been practicing for a long time in family court and is a very pleasant person to deal with.

Anonymous said...

8:49 am:; I know who special ed is, but I don't like what he has done.

Anonymous said...

Pleasant person in family court? Ha!

Anonymous said...

I would rather have an inexperienced, young female lawyer [capable of making mistakes] take the bench [who has integrity and a true desire to dispense justice], than a male lawyer with plenty of experience, without integrity or good intensions [and we have many]. Addictions are a bitch and I hope Judge Diaz gets help [if that was her issue], but they can be dealt with. Lack of integrity is a bigger problem on the bench and has no cure.

Let's not forget the infamous Operation CourtBroom, which will soon be celebrating its 25th birthday. There weren't any females lawyers involved or indicted in that judicial fiasco.

Lastly, the "little girl" comments are offensive to many honest, hard working, and brilliant female judges. As a male lawyer, knowing much about the quality of lawyers and judges in our community, I find them offensive a well. Federal Judge Beth Bloom, a superstar in all respects, is just one example. She took the County Court bench very early in her legal career.

Let's not be so insecure when a female judge takes the bench. Chances are, she's worked much harder than her male counterpart to achieve her recognition and success.

Wake up, it's not really a man's world any more.

Anonymous said...

Lizzet Martinez would be a huge upgrade over Newman

Anonymous said...

Lizzet Martinez, for example, would be a good judge because of her experience and maturity and her time in private practice.

What we criticize are the young judges (male or female) with no life experience or common sense, who have only practiced as government attorneys and who are immature.

Anonymous said...

My English is not perfect but I want to comment as a Lizzet Martinez client for more than 10 years. I personally know Lizzet Martinez. She is a great human being, high ethics standard and also very professional. She can be a great judge. As a American citizen and Miami-Dade County citizen also I honestly think she can be a great judge and is what we really need. I'm tired of judges with low ethics and high expectations.

FAKE FORMER MIAMI SHORES LAWYER said...

The story repeated today "Monday with Judge VD. Not her self at all.

FAKE FORMER MIAMI SHORES LAWYER said...

Veronica Diaz