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

Saturday, August 20, 2016

BREAKING NEWS ..... JUDGE STANFORD BLAKE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT ......

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

To paraphrase a line from the infamous 1971 movie DIRTY HARRY .....

..... "You’ve got to ask yourself one question. DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?"

For the past 22 years we have been very lucky. Thousands of prosecutors, Assistant Public Defenders, and private bar attorneys have all felt lucky. The clerks, bailiffs, correction officers, and courthouse staff have all felt lucky. But most of all, the citizens of Miami-Dade County have been luckiest of all to have a Judge named Stanford Blake on the bench.

He began his career as an Intern in the Public Defender’s Office in 1972. At the time, he was attending his third year of law school at the University of Miami. He said of those first days appearing in court: "Your deodorant was failing you in 10 minutes, but afterward you would say, 'What a rush!’" He accepted a job at the PD’s office and worked there for five years. Then it was on to 16 years of private practice before getting elected to the Circuit Court bench in 1994. Most of us know him from his years on the bench at the Gerstein Justice Building where he led the Criminal Division as Administrative Judge for eight years. He left us a few years back and went first to the General Jurisdiction and then to the Family Division where he serves today.

He will tell you that his favorite case ever sitting as a Judge was the case of State of Florida v. John Connolly that was tried before him in 2008.  In 2005, Connolly was indicted on murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges in the 1982 slaying of John B. Callahan and the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler, owner of the World Jai Alai sporting corporation. Callahan was murdered by John Martorano who left the corpse in the trunk of a Cadillac in a parking lot at Miami International Airport. Prosecutors alleged that Callahan was killed on the orders of Whitey Bulger and Stephen Flemmi after Connolly told them that the FBI was investigating Callahan's ties to the Winter Hill Gang in their ongoing investigation into Wheeler's death. Wheeler had been killed by Martorano in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May 1981.

Only in the movies, (they made one called The Departed based on these gangsters), could you ever see a cast of characters like those that showed up to testify in Judge Blake’s courtroom daily during the course of that trial. During the trial, Bulger associates Steve "The Rifleman" Flemmi and John "The Executioner" Martorano testified for the prosecution and admitted to murdering more than three dozen people.

There are a host of qualities you find in our great judges: intelligence, judicial demeanor, empathy, patience, calmness, respectful, fairness, efficiency, courage, diplomacy. Judge Stanford Blake had all of those qualities, but he had something rarely seen in our "great judges", something that we wish a few more of our judges might show: a sense of humor. It was Stan’s sense of humor that lightened up the courtroom atmosphere on those occasions when, where things might have boiled over, it was exactly what was called for. He always kept his smile and sense of humor despite having to deal with some of the "characters" he had to deal with on our side of the bench too.

Stan, at last year's FACDL black tie gala.
He always keeps us smiling.

Judge Blake was recently presented with the Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence where he was commended for his "rare mix of humor, intelligence, courage and diplomacy". Stan was called "a man of stature, a man of compassion, of a strong ethical and moral compass and one who has a unique understanding of the human condition." Another praised him for his "genuine compassion for the people and parties that appear before him." Several letters of support emphasized that, Judge Blake’s "contributions have been made without any desire or expectation of recognition. This is the truest measure of an outstanding public servant—to find reward in the very act of service."

All of these accolades and more are so true of our friend Stan Blake.

In addition to his work on the bench, Blake has served on the Exec Board of the Florida Judicial College for 20 years; the College for Advanced Judicial Studies for 10 years; and has taught litigation skills at UM Law School for the past 18 years. Also off the bench, Stan has been a fierce advocate for organ donation having donated his own kidney to his brother in 1996. He has also been a member of the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club for nearly forty years.

Below is Judge Stanford Blake’s resignation letter to Governor Scott:

Dear Governor Scott:

After almost 22 years as a Circuit Court Judge for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, I am at this time announcing my retirement as of August 31, 2016. .......

I have been blessed to have had this opportunity to change lives and help people. Few people are ever put in that position and I remember daily how important the responsibility I have as a judge. You have made excellent judicial appointments to the bench for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and I am confident the JNC will send you very talented appointees for this seat. While I am sad to leave this position which I love every day, I will always cherish these past 22 years as a judge.

Sincerely yours,

Stanford Blake
Circuit Court Judge
Eleventh Judicial Circuit


Judge Blake: Thank you for your years of service to our community. We have been very lucky to have you. Good luck in all your future endeavors.

Readers: Please share your favorite Stan Blake story in the Comments section.

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

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG the writing is ppor and ponderous and such a poor take and what you, Rumpole write. Yeah Blake was an okay judge and blah blah blah but really- all those long, boring side tracks and declination's into nothingness. Even the opening paragraphs and the tortured allusion to Clint Eastwood when really no one puts Wastwood and Blake in the same sentence, much less a blog post. Why do you allow this tripe? Lucky it's Saturday and I can drink otherwise this would have ruined my evening.

Good luck Blake but you deserved a much better send off than this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories. Judge Blake was a pleasure to appear in front of. First when I was an APD and then in private practice. Miss him greatly at the Justice Building. He should have returned here so we could retire his jersey and he could retire from the building where he belongs.

Anonymous said...

Say it ain't so. Don't leave. What are we going to do without your model of judging when we have the Victoria Brennan's of the world. And even worse if we have to deal with Del Rey.

Anonymous said...

Judge Blake will go down in history as one of the best. Hands down. Even temperament , approachable, funny, human, fair. Can't say enough about him. Love him

Anonymous said...

Best judge ever. Brennan must be happy her vilification is over on this blog and we can look to a life well lived. Stan, you were the best. Vicki, you were the worst. Fortunately, you will be off the bench, Stan will always be beloved. You, on the other hand, should retire with money you never made and fight to keep your kid out of jail. Props to rich parents and loser kids. Yes, Vicki, you are the loser kid.

Anonymous said...

I love stan.

Anonymous said...

Where do you find that photo? So classic Stan Blake. Disagree with 5:39. Spot on. I hear the Judge is going into mediation. Any idea if he has hooked up with a group or doin it on his on?

Anonymous said...

Only 1 d in Stanford. Fix your headline. And retire is not the same as resign. Only two facts in your headline are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Stan Blake is our Usain Bolt. Just like I love watching Bolt do his thing it was the same with Blake and going to his courtroom. Always on top of his game.

Anonymous said...

Judge Blake was my first assigned division as a C when I was an ASA. I got lucky to learn from him and I am a better person and a better attorney because of it. Can't thank him enough for making sure I saw the bigger picture and also that every file represented a real person

Anonymous said...

We will miss you Stan. If only you could have done a curtain call at the MJB! Is it true that you are retiring to resume hosting your iconic public television show "Constitutional Controversies"?

Best of luck to you my friend!

BR

Anonymous said...

Never heard of the Connolly case. Who were the lawyers?

Anonymous said...

Nothing but wonderful complements for that man...in all facets of his life.

Stan Blake said...

OMG, someone told me to look at the Justice Building Blog and I hope my obit is this nice one day. Thanks for correcting the extra "d" in Stanford that was there and yes, since I finished DROP a year ago, leaving before the end of a term is called "retiring" and not "resigning". Unfortunately, the State doesn't add to the pension after you finish DROP so financially they kind of force you out. To answer one of the comments, yes, I am going to mediate on my own beginning Sept 1st so Stanford Blake Mediation will be my next adventure. There was no better division than Criminal. That was always my love and passion. I have been the lucky one to be in a position of being able to effect lives, hopefully in a positive way. I was planning on coming back as a senior judge from time to time in the REGMJB but the Supreme Court changed the rules and you can't sit as a senior judge in a county where you mediate. Thanks again to the many, many friends I have from my days as a PD, private practice and 22 years on the bench. I am soooooo blessed.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


The title to the post has been corrected. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What a loss for our system. Stan is a true mensch in every sense of the word. Smart and talented. An excellent lawyer and an even better judge, both in his division and as an administrator. But, perhaps best of all, he was just plain fun. No one whoever heard Stan speak walked away without learning something while being greatly entertained. He was one of the few trial lawyers who could reasonably charge a cover and a two-drink minimum for one of his closings. Just a great, great guy. Enjoy retirement and hit 'em straight, Stan. You have richly earned it.

Anonymous said...

One of our great GATOR and TEP judges.

Anonymous said...

Please give us more judges like Stan Blake and less like Victoria Brennan.

Stan...thanks...been a pleasure.

Anonymous said...

The Connolly case was totally intriguing. The Irish mafia, FBI informants, Whitey Bulger, mob hits, most of it happening in Boston. But that one guy, Callahan, met his demise here. Manny Casabielle for the defense, who did an exemplary job; Michael von Zamft for the State. U could tell Stan was enthralled by the whole thing, with that look on his face. Boy, how we will miss him.

Anonymous said...

Love me some Stan. Best of the best. Too bad he's a gata.

Anonymous said...

Blake called a Shumie. BFD. Yawn. He was no Brandeis or Scalia. Maybe a Winton or McKenzie or Klien (pick any of them) at best.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to know where to start to describe a person many of us know as "Stan." I was an APD and he was in private practice. I watched him do his schtick before various judges and the great results he got. It showed me that a lawyer with tremendous skill, a quick wit, and a good sense of humor creates an excellent blend for success. After his election in '94, I practiced before him and supervised other attorneys in his court. He never got "robe fever." He never mistreated lawyers, defendants, or others in his courtroom. He always kept the courtroom atmosphere as light as a criminal courtroom could be. I also tried a few cases before him. It was a pleasure. Evenhanded, even tempered, and fair are traits that immediately come to mind.
I retired not too long ago. I keep up with the goings on at the REG and seeing all the stuff involving other judges or would be judges, it kind of feels like the passing of an era with Judge Blake retiring. The bench will not soon see another like him. Good luck Your Honor.

Anonymous said...

The reverence shown this man is all one needs to see how special he is in our community. Best of luck in the future and thank you for your tireless commitment and service to justice. It will take a special person to fill your shoes on the bench. Perhaps a David Finger or a Jay Levine. I can think of no others.

Anonymous said...

One of the finest examples of the great character of this man is something, surprisingly, no one has mentioned. He donated one of his kidneys to his brother.

Anonymous said...

Hang his robe from the rafters. He'll go down as one of the best to ever do it.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


To 10:05 AM. Couldn't agree more with your comment, except, see below and re-read my Post, the last paragraph (which mentions the kidney donation to his brother in 1996, and also mentions organ donation), just before Stan's letter to Governor Scott:

"In addition to his work on the bench, Blake has served on the Exec Board of the Florida Judicial College for 20 years; the College for Advanced Judicial Studies for 10 years; and has taught litigation skills at UM Law School for the past 18 years. Also off the bench, Stan has been a fierce advocate for organ donation having donated his own kidney to his brother in 1996. He has also been a member of the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club for nearly forty years."

Cap Out .....

Anonymous said...

A little known fact. Stan started as a "zum-zum" man selling refreshments at the orange bowl at dolphin games. Who would have thought that this zum-zum man would later be able to sentence defendants who deserved the death penalty. Stan is a great guy and never got bit by Black Robe Fever. Phil Hubbart once said, the its the judges who are ill equipped to be a judge who develop Black Robe fever. The great ones, like Stan, Ed Cowart and John Gleeson of the EDNY never have this ailment. Good luck Stan, and GO GATORS.

Anonymous said...

LOVED STAN! Sometimes he was his own best audience, but he was always fair.

Anonymous said...

Dear Judge Blake. I had the privilege of practicing before you on a handful of cases including one murder trial as an sapd before they got rid of the wheel. I love you man. You are and were great. A total class act. I hope you remain active in retirement. If you were to say jump, people would say how high? Perhaps you can lobby the Miami Dade politicians for more recreation centers and a tough countywide ordinance making it tougher to drop out of school because I know from my time before you you really cared about the young men appearing before you. Enjoy your retirement.

Stan Blake said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful comments that have been left in response to the blog's living obit for me. I hope the Supreme Court rethinks the ban on senior judges not being able to sit in a county where the retired judge mediates. Who knows--if my mediation business is successful enough, I may leave that and come back to the REGMJB--my real "home". One more week and I'm sad about leaving but excited about the new adventure. Remember that attorneys make a difference in people's lives. How important of a responsibility is that?! Embrace it!