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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

DEAR JUDGE ....PLEASE FOLLOW THE LAW

The following sign is posted on a door to a courtroom.




Dear Judge:

There are lots of things you can do by virtue of your job as a circuit court judge. You can (in no particular order of importance- and BTW the following is not directed at any particular judge...if the robe fits...)
Deny motions without reading them; have your JA refuse to put motions on calendar without lawyers first faxing them to you (although you don't read them); start court whenever you want; show up late; finish court whenever you want; make juries stay until midnight in a misguided effort to show everyone how hard you work; lecture lawyers from the bench about how you tried every case you had within sixty days of inception (in other words, lie); brag about how you are on the short list for an appointment to a higher court (ditto); and otherwise feel that you and only you stand between the rule of law and anarchy.

Here's what you must do: follow the law.

Which means here's what you can't do:
Have your bailiff close your courtroom to anyone at anytime without proper notice to the media and a hearing on an issue;
tell people how to dress when they come to court (wearing a shirt that says "fuck you" has been held to be an expression of free speech under the First Amendment - which is part of the Constitution, which is a legal document that defines the ....oh never mind it's a bit complicated.)

You also CANNOT take personal property of people, without following Florida's Forfeiture Statute (and it's not entirely clear a member of the judiciary can be a "seizing agency" under the statute. ).  Which means that in order to seize the personal property of an individual, there must be an allegation that the property was used to violate Florida's contraband laws; see, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 932.703 (West)


(1)(a) Any contraband article, vessel, motor vehicle, aircraft, other personal property, or real property used in violation of any provision of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, or in, upon, or by means of which any violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act has taken or is taking place, may be seized and shall be forfeited subject to the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

Contraband is defined as, inter alia: 
5. Any personal property, including, but not limited to, any vessel, aircraft, item, object, tool, substance, device, weapon, machine, vehicle of any kind, money, securities, books, records, research, negotiable instruments, or currency, which was used or was attempted to be used as an instrumentality in the commission of, or in aiding or abetting in the commission of, any felony, whether or not comprising an element of the felony, or which is acquired by proceeds obtained as a result of a violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 932.701 (West)y 

So, oh wise robed one, pray tell what felony is the person who brings a cell phone into your courtroom, and listens to something on the cellphone with earphones, or takes a picture or video recording of court proceedings, committing? 

We will save you research (which is where you open a book and read a case and ....never mind, it's complicated)- THERE IS NO FELONY THAT ANYONE IS COMMITTING WHEN THEY LISTEN TO HEADPHONES IN YOUR COURTROOM OR VIDEO OR PHOTOGRAPH THE PROCEEDINGS. 
We often see a representative of the media taking footage of a proceeding. David Ovalle (Miami Herald/San Diego Chargers) has been known to whip out a camera and take a few shots. We don't see your bailiff wresting David to the ground or taking away his camera. There are no exceptions for the media (nor being a fan of a losing football team) that confers upon Mr. Ovalle an exception not available to us, our client, our client's girlfriend or aunt or friend. 

Sorry. We know this offends your sense of dignity. We know you believe yourself to be mostly all powerful. But you are not. We are a nation of rules and laws. We are a State of rules and laws. And to quote the last part of the standard jury instruction in criminal cases, "no one of us  has the right to violate those laws." 

So take the damn sign down. 

Now, no one is telling you that you don't have the right to remove individuals (not a class of people) from your courtroom for being disruptive or disturbing. Of course you can. People must be quiet so you can make the important decisions you make. And you have contempt powers for people who do not follow the lawful rules of the court. But if we choose to sit quietly in the back of your courtroom and video your wise decisions during arraignments, ("deny bond, set the case for trial"- truly awe inspiring stuff) while quietly listening to NWA on a pair of headsets, there really isn't a damn thing you can do about it. 

See you in court, where quite frankly our tastes run move to Gilbert and Sullivan (The Mikado and HMS Pinafore, not really Pirates) than NWA. And sorry, we're a bit cranky, but not having any coffee in the morning in court will do that to a blogger. 



12 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would be great if lawyers could control their clients, but they are too lazy and ineffective to do that anymore. It would also be great if you read Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.450, particularly the introductory paragraph. But, then again, you guys just make up the rules as you go along.

Anonymous said...

Not that accuracy or completeness matters to some, but the presiding judge does have the power to limit cell phone camera use in the courtroom under 11th Judicial Circuit Administrative Order 14-02.

Anonymous said...

http://m.wesh.com/news/should-people-go-to-jail-for-using-their-cellphone-in-a-courtroom/31740306

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Rumpole
Do Judges have the power to set dress codes for court. Saw a Judge tell a lawyer to tell his client to dress more appropriate for court. He was indigent, wearing jeans and a shirt, not a T-shirt, no foul writing, no sagging.

The Professor said...

I am sorry Rump, but with all due respect, I disagree. You are operating from perspective that ignores the judge's inherent power to control the way his courtroom operates in a way that does not interfere with the administration of justice.

The sound of telephones ringing or buzzing, or people talking on their phones, is disruptive. If you are there for a purpose does the judge have to divine that the person with earbuds in their ears is the person whose case is being called. You should be paying attention.

Under your argument a judge would have no power of contempt. The 1st Amendment gives all the freedom of speech. Does that mean that you are free to say whatever you want to judge, no matter how disrespectful? Do you have the right to shout down a judge, or talk while the judge is conducting the business of the court, hearings or calendar? A courtroom is not an exercise in democracy. Somebody is in charge, and that person is the judge. It is his or her courtroom. It is their castle, and it is their rules.

Anonymous said...

When you read a note like that, simply send a copy to the chief judge and the Supreme Court. They will very quickly remind the judge that he or she is not God.
Don't put your name on the note!!!!!

Anonymous said...

You wear a "Fuck You" tee-shirt to court, you're begging to be jailed for contempt.

The constitutional case you referenced (Cohen) involved a tee-shirt that said "Fuck the Draft". It conveyed a political statement, which was the basis of the case holding. Big difference.

Anonymous said...

Beepers??? What is that???

Claude Erskine- Browne said...

Didn't the Florida Supremes about 20 years ago state it is improper for a sitting Judge to comment on how people dress in court? It gad something to do with a Judge comments on how a female litigant was dressed.
But go to Brevard , or N. Florida and Judges have dress codes that bailiffs enforce, even blocking access T the court based on how a person is dressed.
No T-shirts, no sandals, no jeans, no saggy pants, no short ir tight dresses...

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


FLORIDA RULES OF JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION

RULE 2.451. USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES

(c) Use of Electronic Devices by Others.

(1) The use of electronic devices in a courtroom is subject at all times to the authority of the presiding judge or quasi-judicial officer to

(A) control the conduct of proceedings before the court;
(B) ensure decorum and prevent distractions; and
(C) ensure the fair administration of justice in the pending cause.

(2) The use of electronic devices in a courthouse or court facility is subject at all times to the authority of the chief judge to

(A) ensure decorum and prevent distractions;
(B) ensure the fair administration of justice; and
(C) preserve court security.

ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT A.O. 14-02

WHEREAS: .....

..... "the use of electronic devices in a courthouse or court facility is subject at all times to the authority of the chief judge to: (I) ensure decorum and prevent distractions; (ii) ensure the fair administration of justice; and (iii) preserve court security

4. LIMITATIONS RE USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES DURING COURT PROCEEDINGS. Subject at all times to the authority and prior approval of the Presiding Judge:

a. electronic devices may not be used by anyone for photography and videography unless they have prior approval from the Presiding Judge. Such devices include but are not limited to cell phones , cameras, digital voice recorders, or similar technical devices.

5. LIMITATION RE USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN COURT FACILITIES.

Subject at all times to the authority and prior approval of the Chief Judge or the Chief Judge's designees (specifically Administrative Judges and Associate Administrative Judges in their respective court facilities), electronic devices may not be used by anyone for photography or videography in the hallways and common areas of court facilities.

10. VIOLATION AND ENFORCEMENT

Rumpole has violated these Rules by taking the photo he posted on the Blog today without prior approval from Judge Sayfie and as such, he is subject to the discipline of the Judge or her designee. Penalties may include immediate removal from the courthouse facility and prohibition from returning to the courthouse facility.

July 8, 2014 Chief Judge Soto

Anonymous said...

what do you have against NWA all of a sudden?

the pinafore better than straight outta compton or 100 miles and runnin?

not even close

Anonymous said...

So who was the judge?