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, December 21, 2016

RANK THE JUDGES (not as fun as you might think)

POST ON JUDGES UPDATED BELOW

BREAKING: JUDICIAL ROTATIONS, V2.4

Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts will take over Judge Brennan's division January 17, 2017. Judge Sayfie will handle the division until then. 
Can we all agree now to just tag Judge Rodriguez-Fonts with the "ORF" moniker? 

Newly elevated Judge Del-Pino will take over for Judge Trawick, who heads to family court. Nobody knows what federal judicial selections will be like with POTUS 45 (maybe he'll just Tweet them), but Mr. Trump couldn't start off better if he considered Judge Trawick for the federal bench, who would be a fantastic selection. 

In some county court news, Judge Altfield, who we tag as the County Court Judge who should be in Circuit Court, will be heading to DV.  (In golf there is the dubious title of "best player to never win a major." It denotes a player who has talent and is expected to win. Much in that same vein, Judge Altfield clearly is circuit court material. We hope he will soon start applying.) 

Long time REGJB County Court Judge Louise Krieger-Martin takes a break and heads to South Dade. We are sorry to see Judge Krieger-Martin leave. She was clearly the dean of Criminal County Court trial judges. A real pro and she will be missed. Lets hope her southern sojourn will be a short one. 

Yes, we are being uncharacteristically soft on our robed readers. Rumpole is NOT a grinch, although many prosecutors think otherwise. 

RANK THE JUDGES
Holidays are the times for ranking. Best news story 2016. Best restaurants 2016. Best books, best movies, best songs, best whatevers...

So let's rank the best judges who sat at the REGJB, with this small caveat: 
The Judge must currently be retired or passed away. NO CURRENT JUDGES.  So...Stan Blake-eligible. Any judge currently serving-NOT eligible.  Think of it like the hall of fame. You need to be retired five years to be eligible. 

We will start. Hands down, the best judge to ever serve in the REGJB and the judge against whom all are measured was The Honorable Ed Cowart. Smart. Brillant. Fair. A southern gentleman who was always the best legal mind in the room. Perfect judicial temperament.  Judge Cowart is #1 in our book. 

Post your comments. Rank your judges, and we will post the most thoughtful on the blog. 

No one is in trial this week, right? If so, let us know. 

Here are some of the comments/rankings. We add that only one commentator mentioned the late and great Judge Rob Pinero. He deserves mention in any discussion. He was smart, fair, worked hard and very efficiently and always had a low case load and managed it without sacrificing justice or fairness. 

Rufus T. Firefly said...
In no particular order the best are:
Joe Farina
Stan Blake
Marshall Ader
Mark Leban
Arthur Rothenberg
Jeff Rosinek
Jerry Klein
Arthur Snyder
Fred Moreno
Arthur McGinnis


 Anonymous said...
Jack Tanksley
Dominic Koo
Joe Durant
Mort Perry
Arthur Winton
Meek Robinette
Jack Martin Coe
Nancy Pollock
Adele Segall Faske
Gerald Kogan
Bob Deehl
Fred Nesbitt
C. P. Rubiera
Joan Stember (later Lenard)
Mario Goderich
Ed Swanko
Bob Kaye
Harvey Baxter
Phil Knight
Gerry Klein
Murray Klein
Norman Gerstein
Joel Brown
Gerald Hubbart
Milton Starkman
May Cain
Skip Gross
Rumpole says- nice to see Judge Skip Gross and Gerry Klein, Mario Goderich, Gerry "Hawk" Hubbert  and C.P Rubiera mentioned.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The Honorable Victoria Brennan

Anonymous said...

Rudy Sorondo

Anonymous said...

Arthur Snyder (Pass his poly and go home)
Katy Pooler (Always candy for everyone)
Harold Solomon (Always a perfect gentleman)
Phil Cook (Possibly the nicest person on earth)
Ellen Morphonios (Her court was fun to watch)
Ted Mastos (He had balls)
Henry Oppenborn (Started court with the pledge of allegiance)
Darryn Gales (Respectful, nice and fair)
Stan Blake (A man you could trust with your life)
Frederica Smith (Cool, calm and legally correct)

Rumpole said...

To the person who wrote they could crank this out in 60 seconds and then listed from best to worst all the CURRENT Judges, can you not read? Re-read the post.

This is all about PRIOR judges. Not current ones. Why? Because I don't want the headache of reading every comment which will contain things like "judge so and so. Fat and ugly and dumb and stupid and cheats on his/her spouse and hit on my client and is smelly and stupid and drinks and uses drugs in chambers" which is pretty much what everyone wants to write when we comment on judges.

Why do people feel the need to anonymously trash judges this way? No idea. But they do and I have better things to do than read a 100 of those comments. I'm a busy man.

Anonymous said...

Rump, you are THE moderator. And the people want to rank the CURRENT lot of REG judges. No one cares about the prior judges. Just delete the comments that are inappropriate. Its not that hard.

Anonymous said...

Arthur Snyder & Phil Knight- extremely efficient

Peter Adrienne- it's not that he was so incompetent, it's that he was so arrogant about his incompetency . He was the worst judge I've ever seen

Barbara Levinson- Adrienne's role model ?

Bob Pineiro- best all around

Manny Crespo- worst judge to be before if you're in a rush

Gerald Wetherington- class personified

Ellen Morphonious- most entertaining judge , great to be assigned as govt atty

Rick Margolius - crankiest

Henry Ferrer- biggest waste of judicial election

Sidney Shapiro- gutsiest

Mike Salmon- most boring

Larry Schwartz- most effeminate

Ralph Person- most unfairly treated

Darren Gales- most obvious why promoted to Feds , great judge, great guy

Cecelia Altanega. - total package

Harvey Baxter/ Marshal Ader- racist, corrupt pieces of shit

Phil Hubbart- so humble for a former trial animal

Amy Dean- couldn't harness her superior intellect towards judicial temperament , perhaps all the bad hair days affected her

Eleanor Schockett- loopiest

Henry Vidal- taken from us way too soon

Rudy Sorrondo- hardest working

Ronald Rothchild- the Pineiro of the Broward court house

Robert Zack- can do a DUI trial, void dire to verdict in less than 4 hours , only judge to wisely say to the State, " enough already, just play the video!"

Anonymous said...

Ol' Red Henderson

Anonymous said...

I have been around for about 25 years and in no particular order I would go with Blake, Hubbart, Chavies, Crespo, Scola, Mastos, Lenny Glick & Lyette-Vidal

Kenneth Weisman said...

Personal Favorite:
Alfred Nesbitt

Anonymous said...

Jack Tanksley
Dominic Koo
Joe Durant
Mort Perry
Arthur Winton
Meek Robinette
Jack Martin Coe
Nancy Pollock
Adele Segall Faske
Gerald Kogan
Bob Deehl
Fred Nesbitt
C. P. Rubiera
Joan Stember (later Lenard)
Mario Goderich
Ed Swanko
Bob Kaye
Harvey Baxter
Phil Knight
Gerry Klein
Murray Klein
Norman Gerstein
Joel Brown
Gerald Hubbart
Milton Starkman
May Cain
Skip Gross




Rufus T. Firefly said...

In no particular order the best are:
Joe Farina
Stan Blake
Marshall Ader
Mark Leban
Arthur Rothenberg
Jeff Rosinek
Jerry Klein
Arthur Snyder
Fred Moreno
Arthur McGinnis

Claude Erskine- Browne said...

The Worst were:
Philip Davis
Harvey Shenberg
Ana Maria Carnasoltas
Richard Margolius
Harvey Baxter

David E. Troyer said...

The late Tom Carney.

Anonymous said...

Best judge all around ---David Young-so glad he will be back

Anonymous said...

This a difficult question. Any list of great Judges has to have Schumacher and Cowart on it and Adrien is on the list of the absolute worst. He should be disqualified as he makes the answer of who is worst too easy. Are you asking for retired or current?

Anonymous said...

I have to add Maxine Cohen Lando. Yeah, she was cranky. But, beneath that tough veneer, she was one of the kindest people you'll ever know. She was smart, compassionate, and fearless. She always did what she thought was right and wasn't afraid to admit when she made mistakes.

As for Margolius, I think he was very underrated. He could be incredibly nasty, but, at times gracious. More importantly, he knew the law and, like Lando, did what he thought was right. I always respected that. Plus, he was great in trial. He ruled quickly and accurately on objections and kept things moving.

I don't normally like the idea of bashing anyone on a site like this, but I have to take issue with whomever listed Baxter as a great judge. Harvey was cantankerous, disrespectful to everyone who had the temerity to disagree with him, and as prejudiced as the day is long. He used to threaten to send Haitians and Cubans back to "where they came from" in inner tubes. Despicable. Some of the chiefs wanted to JQC him, but the court reporters never took down his inappropriate comments.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

How about Herb Stettin and Wilkie Ferguson?

Anonymous said...

The late Maxine Cohen Lando. She was terrific. Trial active, tough but fair. Excellent teacher to younger lawyers for both the state and the defense.

Anonymous said...

Who is replacing Altfield and K-Mart in County?

Anonymous said...

All in all, but for a few --- lightweight legal minds. No scholars. Lots of bullies. Judge Scott Silverman has the highest integrity.

Anonymous said...

W. F. Blanton. He was THE county judge according to old timers at the downtown courthouse.

Anonymous said...

What about Rosinek? Come on now.

Anonymous said...

Judge Larry SCHWARTZ .... "Chambers Mr. Saar!" .... a gem of a family man and a brilliant jurist. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Judge Jack Martin Coe had so much warmth and was an intellect Judge.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kenny W - what is the deal? I thought Judge Magnet?

Anonymous said...

Family lawyer here.

Judge Motel Rubia Del Rey skipping dependency and criminal. Headed to family to take over for Echarte. Lord help us. Remeber, we already heve Eig.

Anonymous said...

What about Judge Henry Ferro? He wanted high ethics and style. Preparedness. Good man. Brilliant. Miss him.

Anonymous said...

Noooooooo!!! K-Mart please don't go! One of my favorites to try a case before, or even just have a Sounding in front of. And her J.A. and courtroom staff are the best in the building. Please don't go!

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


BTDT:

We don't always agree on things, but on the Harvey Baxter comment, you nailed it. While it may have been happening in the early to mid 80s, it is still no excuse for the way he treated people from the bench. Nobody could get away with that type of conduct today.

11:52 am may have said it best: "Harvey Baxter/ Marshal Ader- racist, corrupt pieces of shit". (Ader was almost as bad; he just did it a bit more quietly). And Ader was the Chief Judge of County Court. Ader believed that the Public Defender's in his courtroom were simply an obstruction to resolving a case. If he could have done so, he would have banned all of the APDs from his courtroom. As a former ASA, it never sat well with me.

Harvey was arrogant, prejudiced, rude, obnoxious, condescending, mean, disrespectful to so many that appeared before him. And he did state to defendants in open court, on a daily basis, that he would like to send them (Haitians and Cubans) back to "where they came from". Yes, he was novel with his BIP (Baxter Incentive Plan $25/$525) but he simply did not belong on the bench.

Cap Out .....

Anonymous said...

Jackie Schwartz
Victoria Brennan

Anonymous said...

Tam Wilson.

Anonymous said...

where do amy dean and stacy glick fall?

Anonymous said...

Word is Barakat and Capote are going to take over Altfield and K-Mart. This needs to be confirmed, however, but it comes from a reliable source. Stuzin is going to Jail Division. Gonzalez-Whyte to Miami Beach.

Anonymous said...

What about that nice Judge Linda ?? Remember she passed away. She was so loving and kind in DV. Mark King Leban was a man among men. A champion. Best of all? Judge Eleanor Schockett. Right?

Anonymous said...

Judge LOREE FEILER was brilliant, an experienced prosecutor, married to a gem of a guy Jeff and conducted court like a Federal Court. She was loved by all. God bless her and her beautiful family.

Anonymous said...

Ok. The absolute rudest and nastiest judge EVER? Judge AMY STEELE DONNER. She was vicious. She had no temperament and no knowledge of the applicable law. She was a gossip and would say bad things about the other judge colleagues. She hurt many along the way. I have personal knowledge because she actually tried her best to hurt me, but people knew that she was a nasty woman. I once saw her take down a saleswoman in a store and blast her that she was "Judge DONNER" and not "Mrs. DONNER "!!! This poor girl was terrified! Yuck and good riddance Mrs. DONNER.

Anonymous said...

Truthfully, I can count on 2 fingers the "GREAT" judges. A "handful" of good ones ... and a ton of average to very weak minds, intelligence and lack of temperament! Why would anyone with a good practice want to be A Judge to just sit there like a bump on a log. It is an EASY JOB. Believe me.

Anonymous said...

No sitting judge truly likes or respects any other judge.

They actually hate one another and they think they are the smartest and best.

Losers. Most of you. Not all of you. But most of you.

You would have diarrhea and you would vomit on your way to court if you were a lawyer again and had to pick a jury and organize your trial theme. No superstars on the bench. Maybe Judge David Young. He was a GREAT trial lawyer. Also, Judge MARTIN Zilber was a legal legend. His orders now are second to none. Brilliant guy who gave up much to give back to all of you. He actually showed Hanzman the way to preside over juvenile cases. They are best friends forever. Kudos.

Jonathan Blecher said...

I don't know how this judge rules on motions, but he gets my vote.

Anonymous said...

By the way - Judge Arthur Snyder was a BULLY too. I once saw him tell our own PHIL R. to go sit in the jury box with all of the prisoners just because he didn't have the guts to say "I'm sorry" to poor PHIL. Not a nice man and he had an "entitlement" attitude and was masogynistic to woman. I KNOW THIS FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

Anonymous said...

Brennan ' s Circuit spot open. This should be Wolfson's.

Anonymous said...

Have you forgotten Mary Ann McKenzie or Rosemary Usher Jones?

Anonymous said...

Dennis Murphy is the best judge in REG. Never bullied by the state, always does what he believes is fair, and an absolute pleasure to appear in front of. Always kind and treats lawyers with respect. Knows what it's like to have to be in two places at once. Joette, his JA, is one of the best as well - always answers the phone or if not, promptly returns calls. Goes the extra mile to help you out. Best judges have the best JAs.

Anonymous said...

martin kahn--total class act knew his stuff

Lenny Glick--best demenaor of any Judge I have ever been in front of in 20 Plus years in Court

Eleanor Shockett--one of the worst and least knowledgeable judges ever to sit

Levinson--never knew what you get, could be very nice or very nasty and had no memory, one day she would yell at you next day very pleasant.

Harvey Baxter--a nasty bigot who should have been a judge in Alabama in the 50's

Rosinek--too many jokes.

Larry Schwartz--good judge knew the law, but cranky as all hell--like your grandmother at the rascal house when they didn't bring her food out fast enough or give her extra rolls she could take home.

Leslie Rothenberg--no one worked harder in that building. Ever.

Anonymous said...

2:53 you are correct

Anonymous said...

Cannava is coming back to DV to be Kelly's do-boy in late January.

Anonymous said...

Baxter was a brutal bullying nasty spiteful vidicitive evil,man

Anonymous said...

I'd go with Brennan as the best ever

Seth Sklarey said...

How about best sense of humor on the bench as a category.
Milt Starkman and his dry wit comes to mind.
Dick LANTZ and his "He didn't smile when he crossed the street" doesn't count.

Rothenberg and his opening court speech about the Magna Carta and the Assizes of Clarendon to a courtroom of people recently off the boat or who flunked out of elementary school has to count as inadvertent humor.

Philip Maniatty said...

My first jury trial of my career was before Richard Fuller. He was an excellent judge, but very intimidating. I wish I had crossed his path later in my career, when I had more confidence.

Anonymous said...

Judge Martin Zilber has been a Godsend. He taught Judge Mike Hanzman how to make intelligent and well reasoned rulings in juvenile court. We hope Judge Zilber will teach Judge Hanzman criminal law, especially how to write a good order.

Anonymous said...

The comments have morphed into stupidity

Anonymous said...

Family Lawyers: you all got what you voted into....del rey! As she has AJ Barranco backing her up, or having "done her up," to support her. Del rey is useless and will make a mess out of an already messy part of the law. Thank goodness my divorce is over with, and I don't have to be in front of her, because she will favor all the "pobresita" women that come before her!

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


JEFF SESSIONS as your next AG: an editorial from the WP by George Will


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-very-bad-reason-jeff-sessions-is-very-unhappy/2016/12/23/213a3cb8-c86d-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_term=.dd65106bbddb&wpisrc=nl_opinionsA&wpmm=1

Cap Out .....

Anonymous said...

Trust me, family lawyers dont want del rey. A barely competent family attorney should not be on the family bench. And AJ Baranco? He carries about as much weight in the family courthouse as the hot dog vendors carry at the REG.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a dinosaur so I can't name judges from the 70s, 80s, 90s, etc.

Recent good judges that I've practiced in front of (in no particular order):

Thomas
Bloom
Sayfie
Murphy
Johnson
R. Hirsch

Anonymous ASA said...

I would like to say a word in defense of Peter Adrian. New Judges learn from the PD supervisor and the DC in their division. (They also are advised and guided by their black robbed colleagues.) While I have heard from far too many of the Judges who were rebuffed by Commacho, I also witnessed how he was treated in his own courtroom by the state; then DC Herb Walker.
Poor Peter was belittled, condescended to, and outright lied to on a daily basis. Had he more experience on the criminal bench, he would have sought Herbie's removal and rightly so. Walker was an embarrassment.
I am not excusing Peter's arrogance, or ignorance- but his judicial demeanor/temperament was developed in an abusive atmosphere, and, IMHO, he was led astray purposely by an arrogant, unethical clown.
A kind, charming man off the bench, Peter was ruined by the unethical machinations of Herb Walker; a pathetic excuse for a prosecutor, lawyer, and human being.
Peter may have failed anyway in his quest to become a "good judge," but Walker stole any chance he had.

Phil R said...

I am going to respond to the above comment about Adrien. All of what I am going to write is reported at Davalos v. State 988 So.2d 130 (3d dca).

I was called in to assist a client who was represented by another lawyer who was woefully unprepared. The client sold 220 grams of cocaine. Was approximately 24 years old. Had two children and a prior juvenile burglary as a prior. The lawyer after much wrangling finally agreed to a deal for the 7 year minimum mandatory sentence. The state then raised the offer to ten. The lawyer then told the client to plead open which he did and Adrien gave him 30!!. I filed a motion to withdraw the plea. Both Adrien- who was the judge and bears the responsibility and Walker the ASA, could not have been more mean, nasty and condescending. He denied the motion without a hearing and then refused to write an order and made a nasty comment to me about appealing him - I think he sneered "good luck with that". But he also- bless him- made this comment to me on the record: "Why would a defendant place his life in the hands of a trial court judge?"

I used that as my opening line before the 3rd DCA on an appeal alleging error in denying the motion to withdraw the plea and judicial vindictiveness. After I made that opening comment with the argument that who else should a defendant look to for protection and fairness- the panel asked me to sit down. They then proceeded to rip the AG, forcing him at one point to apologize to me for defending an outrageous 30 year sentence. Needless to say, the appeal was granted and the client received the 7 he deserved.

My comment is about Adrien. I never saw a judge more mean spirited and nasty in my 30 year career. He was also fairly uninformed about the law- once giving me a difficult time in filing a limited notice of appearance in a DUI manslaughter case where the client had not been served. He thought I was trying to get a fee and didn't understand the issue of not submitting to the jurisdiction of the court. I also saw him abuse an elderly witness on a case and take him- without authority- into custody on a case. I spoke about these and other abuses I saw openly during the campaign in which he was challenged and beaten.

I cannot comprehend anyone believing that "justice" is 30 years on 220 grams of cocaine for a young man with one juvenile prior. It was to me clearly an attempt to "send a message" to defendants who came before him. Any judge who would treat the life of an individual so cavalierly should not be a judge, and in his case I decided to not remain silent. Seeing the above comment, I choose to respond because it is the truth.

Anonymous said...

Family Lawyer

I think everyone should make sure to bring a court reporter to every hearing in front of La Motel Rubia. When she starts her favoritism and just generally showing how incompetent and unqualified she, it will be there in black and white. Keep your phones handy around that one

Anonymous said...

Someone please run against Judge Spencer Eig. No empathy whatsoever from this man.