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, February 29, 2016

HE SPEAKS

Clarence Thomas startled on-lookers and attorneys alike on Monday as he suddenly began speaking during oral argument ten years and one week after he last spoke up in court. 

Thomas started speaking by spontaneously stating "As I was saying..." before firing off a series of questions about the first and second amendment in a rather minor supreme court case involving whether a misdemeanor conviction in domestic violence case would bar someone from acquiring a permit to own a firearm and committing  a mass homicide. 

The NY Times Article is here. 

FREE MARY BARZEE
DOM's blog has a good account here of the news reports about why Senator Marco Rubio (Wimp, Florida) is not releasing her nomination to the district court. Last year in February 2015, Rubio joined fellow Florida senator Bill Nelson in recommending Barzee to President Obama who then nominated the former circuit court judge. 

Rubio didn't "misplace his blue slip" and Barzee's nomination didn't "slip the senator's mind." This is nothing more than Rubio following orders issued by Senator McConnell (R, Pluto)  to stall as many of President Obama's judicial nominations as possible. 



FLORIDA'S PRISONS

Every now and then a person does their job really, really well. 

The Miami Herald has an article on State Representative David Richardson here: 


Standing in the center of a barren prison courtyard at Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell two weeks ago, encircled by towering razor wire and brick buildings, state Rep. David Richardson was on a mission.  
His legislative week hadn’t begun yet, so he had arrived for an unannounced visit to the youthful offender wing of the massive prison compound. Since August, the retired forensic auditor had learned that if he wanted to understand how inmates were treated in the state’s troubled corrections system, he had to find a place to conduct one-on-one interviews with offenders.

His conclusion: Find a very public space within the prison confines, out of earshot of corrections officers or prison staff, away from any recording equipment “and never ask what sent them to prison, unless it’s going to be your last question.” 

Over the past six months, Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat who had never set foot in a prison, has quietly met with more than 120 inmates during more than 30 visits to 23 different corrections facilities in his quest to determine how to fix the ailing system.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

GUESS THE MOVIE ENDING

UPDATED BELOW
The following is a quote from a narrative given at the end of one of our favourite movies. As a hint, we can say that the movie title is completely appropriate to the kind of work we do. 

It's very profound, Enjoy. 


We are all faced in throughout our lives with agonizing decisions. Moral choices. Some are on a grand scale. Most of these choices  are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are in fact the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly,  human happiness does not seem to have been included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love that gives meaning to the indifferent  universe. And yet most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and to find joy in simple things like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more. 

Once the correct guess is made, we will try and post a clip from the ending. 
GUESSED: Crimes and Misdemeanors. Our favourite Woody Allen movie. It's very underrated and one of the best movies you will see. 

We often are pitched novels via email. We had  nice email chat with this chap, and agreed to post his press release for his novels. If you like the genre, this is for you. Give him a read. As they say in England, you might find it a "cracking good read." 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
United Kingdom – While time-travel fiction has always been a staple of the fantasy world, both readers and critics are currently crying out for wholly-unique new narratives that don’t simply recycle the “same-old” concepts. Nick Jones is bucking the trend with gusto, throwing an unlikely “average Joe” on a time travel adventure in an attempt to deal with his dark and wounded past.
Jones’ ‘Downstream’ became an instant hit among fans and critics. For the first time, the complete first season is being released in digital box-set format.
Synopsis:
Meet Joseph Bridgeman, a reclusive insomniac with a weakness for ‘The Beatles’ on vinyl and a constant headache. When his annoying accountant suggests hypnotherapy might help him sleep, Joseph accidentally discovers he can time-travel and things get a little complicated.

With the help of Vinny, a local record shop owner, Mark, his old school friend, and Alexia Finch, his hypno-time-travel guru, Joe sets out to change the course of his life. He needs to get back to 1992, the year his world fell apart, the year that Amy, his sister, went missing. The only problem (apart from his clothes disappearing) is that the further back he goes the less time he gets to stay there. 

Can Joe master his new-found gift before time catches up with him?
As Jones explains his series began as a simple serialised writing project.
“I wanted to write something new and unique that played into everything time travel and fantasy fans crave, but without having some kind of “hero” in the middle. He had to be an average guy, suffering from real-world problems,” explains the author. “I wanted to release instalments in quick succession, and by episode five the ending had written itself and I became acutely aware that what I had on my hands was worth so much more than your average self-published novel.”
Continuing, “I also broke new ground by weaving a very unique brand of humour and drama into the mix. It all played into my goal of having a story, a character and a series that feel incredibly real and vivid to readers. This helps them put themselves in the middle of the action – and the glowing reviews prove it has paid off!”
Critics have come in force with five-star write-ups. For example, K.J. Noyes comments, “EXCELLENT time travel concept, original and funny, with a wonderful lead character and potential for development.”
Another critic adds, “If you love time travel stories, this is one for you. If you like adventure stories, this is one for you. If you like stories in general, you'll not go wrong with this one; you'll laugh, cry, and thoroughly enjoy every twist and turn in this book. Read it here, or read each episode individually, but don't let this author pass you by.” 
‘Downstream - Complete Season 1’ is available now:

Amazon U.K. – http://amzn.to/1RJabVE      
Amazon U.S. – http://amzn.to/1TV1HLQ


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS

UPDATE: Just left the REGJB Thursday morning. Tried to use the Wifi. No luck. Saw the signal. Couldn't log on. Back to carrier pigeons. 


Michael Hernandez, who committed first degree murder as a fourteen year old student, had a new sentencing hearing and was sentenced again to life in prison by Judge John Schlessinger, who presided at the original trial. Hernandez was represented at the new sentencing by the PDs office, who did as good a job as they could. 

A long time ago Sy Gaer told us that even the best lawyer can't change all the facts of a case. 

If you don't know who Sy was, please leave now. You're not welcome here. 

DOM has all the details on a bad day for lawyers in Broward. One was arrested for a horrendous child-sex porn case, and the other was arrested for forging judge's signatures approving payouts for structured settlement cases. 

Usually the news is a Broward judge getting arrested, so this is a change. 

22- YOU'VE BUSTED. 

Donald Trump won the Nevada causes yesterday, and then flew out to begin campaigning in the Super Tuesday states, which just goes to show that what happens in Vegas DOES NOT always stay in Vegas. 

Our colleague Roy Black took to Facebook to comment that he, like the rest of the world, underestimated Mr. Trump. 

Assuming Democrats and Republicans are about evenly divided, Mr. Trump's ability to get close to half the Republican voters to vote for him shows that there are about 25-35% of Americans who are so angry and feel so disenfranchised that they would vote for a man with very un-american ideas. 
Banning people from the country based on their religion or nationality is not something we should be proud of. 

But Trump should no longer be dismissed just because he acts like a buffoon, He has a legitimate constituency and although their ideas are flawed, they need to be heard and dealt with. We dismiss them, and Trump, at our own peril. 

See You In Court.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

JUSTICE BUILDING WI FI TO BE IMPROVED !!!

The Good News: The REGJB wi-fi system, which currently relies on the use of carrier pigeons, is about to be updated and improved.

The Bad News: This will occur right after the opening of the El Chapo Cafe, ( (c) Rumpole, 2016, all rights reserved.) currently scheduled for the day after Donald Trump's second inaugural. (For those of you counting on your fingers or wearing black robes, that's January, 2021). 

Here's the email, with our snarky comments inserted for your enjoyment: 

Hello All,

I wanted to give everybody an update on the status of the public WiFi in the Justice Building.

I just got off the phone with Mr. Carm Miranda in the IT department of AOC (please tell us this is a fake name) , who informed me that they are in fact almost done with an upgrade to the entire network in the building.(Translation: there are new carrier pigeon cages being built on the roof) They're currently working on the first floor but have already completed work on the other floors—minus an access point they are going to be replacing on the 5th floor. (How about just turning the 5th floor into a gym? It would be more useful.) 

As it was explained to me, there are three issues that affected/affect the quality of service on the WiFi network:

1) Signal Strength: (Currently there is no signal strength. So something is better than nothing.) They have addressed this by replacing the old access points with new ones that have a more powerful signal. ("Access point" is a technical term commonly understood to mean 'that point, usually in the corner of the building where David Ovalle huddles and can be seen raising his arms and legs in unusual formations to attempt to capture a signal. This is the usage accepted in Silicon valley. ) Additionally, they are doing a walkthrough to try to address coverage dead spots and to determine if more access points need to be added.; ("Walkthrough" means a bunch of people in coats and ties with official looking clipboards and cell phones making videos of Ovalle as he tries to get a signal and laughing at his futile attempts.) 

2) Data Plan / Account with Comcast: Mr. Miranda explained to me that they have increased their bandwidth in the past, and will continue to do so, however, the jury pool as well as all the other people in the building can sometimes overwhelm capacity; ("Bandwidth" means, in the context of the REGJB, the size of band members charged with disorderly conduct when viewed from the side. And therein lies the problem.) 
3) Disclaimer Page: Mr. Miranda also explained to me that they have recently replaced the server which hosts the disclaimer page that you have to interact with before being granted access to the network. He said that the new server can handle more users at the same time than the previous server could. The old server would encumber access because it would be overwhelmed with requests and could only handle a limited quantity of user requests at a time.
(Okay, here's where it gets tricky. We all know that only our intrepid Herald reporter David Ovalle was tenacious enough to continue to try and use the wi-fi in the last two years. So since he was the only one using it, the issue of the server being overwhelmed with requests seems a bit suspicious. BUT THEN, having viewed the overworked hamsters on the wheel which was used to power the server, the problem becomes readily understood. The solution is two wheels, and eight hamsters with better vet care and food and hay.)

Hopefully, you've already noticed an improvement in the Wi-Fi service in the building. (Nobody uses it, so no. )  I welcome any feedback you might have (read this post) , and would be happy to liaison with Mr. MIranda on behalf of the membership regarding any issues you encounter. (If somebody is really named "Carm Miranda" then a liaison isn't enough. We need to see them in person.  And bring them a big straw hat filled with fruit. ) 

Best,

David

NEW DISCLAIMER: 
Welcome to the REGJB wi-fi service. If you are using this service to commit a ponzi scheme check this box [  ]. Please be advised we cannot be responsible for financial transactions diverted to your overseas account. 
If you are using this service to access your account on Ashley Madison please check here. [   ]. Please be advised we are not responsible for liabilities in your divorce case for messages diverted to your spouse by mistake. 
If you are using this service to perform actual work related to your profession as a lawyer, please be advised we do not allow the service to be used for theft or fraud. Your connection has been terminated. If you are a member of the judiciary accessing a legal research service, please take your phone to the nearest window and snap a picture of the blue moon.  

Coming next: The REGJB is rapidly becoming "beeper friendly." A new bank of payphones will soon be installed and operational. Also, the chief judge advises that in certain circumstances, the flagpole in front of the building can be used for semaphore. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

RUMPOLE'S FEDERALIST PAPERS

The Scene: A small office building in Philadelphia sometime in late 1786: 
Alexander Hamilton: "Okay people, one last reading before we send this section to the printers. (sighs and rubs eyes) Article two, section two now reads:

The President shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.


AH: "Did Livingston get back from Jersey yet?"


Pierce Butler: "No. It takes a week, I told you that."


AH: His wife makes the best muffins. Now where were we?


James Madison: Buddy Butler over there was worried about what happens when a Supreme Court justice dies during the time period the president is running for election.


PB: Let's just assume the worst case scenario. Something so crazy it's almost impossible to believe. (Leans back in chair and lights pipe). Let's say some black guy, born in Africa somehow fakes his birth certificate because his white mother knows at birth he will run for president someday and he makes it into office. 


(Loud guffawing in the room)


PB (holds up hands to get quiet) "Just bear with me here. And lets say his election is so divisive that nothing gets done and during the time he is running for re-election...no, lets make it better, at the end of his seventh year, a supreme court justice is killed in a cattle hijacking shoot-out, and immediately the Whigs starting putting out the word that the next president should be the one to make an appointment. How do we handle that?"


Nathaniel Gorham: Why not be totally crazy and say in the new election a former first lady is running for president along with a bunch of nuts and one really rich guy?


(Lots of laughter)


PB: "Be that as it may, we need to change the text. I'm thinking it should read (puts on monocle and clears throat)   'The President shall have the power, with advice and consent of the senate...blah blah yada yada yada to appoint Supreme Court Justices unless the president shall be 1) black and 2) in the last year of his term.'


Rufus King whispering to Roger Sherman "I don't know about you but I find it completely disrespectful to yada yada yada the federal constitution."


Roger Sherman : I once yada yada yada'd the price of hogs I was bringing to market. Will never do that again. Lost like eight dollars."


Ben Franklin (the oldest signer of the constitution, passes some gas loudly and then burps) "A black president. A woman running for president.  What kind of country are we going to have in 1900? (Turns to William Few) Mr. Few. I say with all this fanciful talk you might as well chip in and say what about if there is a peanut farmer from Georgia as president?  They grow peanuts in your state don't they?"


William Few: "Indeed they do sir. The finest in the land."


PB: "Okay, resolved, some presidents will lose the authority to appoint supreme court justices and ambassadors during their last year in office."


(Just then there is an enormous ruckus outside and everyone except Benjamin Franklin, who appears to have fallen asleep runs to a window in time to see  William Livingston return and get out of his carriage. The Pipe Pierce Butler had been smoking was set down on some paper on the table and the table goes up in flames)


WIlliam Few: "Fire! Fire! Everybody out of the building."


As the fire spreads Benjamin Franklin is the last to leave the room. Before he leaves he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a match and lights it and sets it to some papers in a book case and mutters to himself: "They want to amend article to two to stop some black president in the future from making an appointment to the supreme court?  I've never heard of a worse bunch of malarkey," 


William Livingston bursts in to stairwell as everyone is running down to get out of the building: What did I miss? 


And that's how Article II was NOT amended to prevent President Obama from appointing a justice to replace Justice Scalia. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

THE END OF AN ERA & JUDGE JOHNSON INVESTITURE .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

THE END OF AN ERA ....... BUT FIRST

JUDGE CHARLES "CHARLIE" JOHNSON INVESTITURE

County Court Judge Charles "Charlie" Johnson, recently appointed to the Circuit Court bench by Governor Scott, will be formally sworn in at his INVESTITURE OF JUDGE CHARLES JOHNSON, on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 12:15 PM.  The Investiture takes place at the Civil Courthouse, located at 73 West Flagler Street, 6th Floor, in the Ceremonial Courtroom.

Guests are advised to arrive early if they want a seat inside the courtroom.  There is an overflow room with a video screen available on the same floor.

Congrats again for a well deserved accomplishment.

ROBBINS, TUNKEY, ROSS, AMSEL, RABEN, & WAXMAN .....

In the mid-1970s, Fred Robbins and Bill Tunkey were ASAs working for Richard Gerstein.  They left that office and joined Paul Pollack's firm.  Jeff Weiner soon joined them.  In 1977, Jeffrey Weiner, Fred Robbins, and Bill Tunkey created the law firm Weiner, Robbins, Tunkey.

Soon thereafter, Alan Ross left Kogan and Kogan to join the new firm.  In 1982, Bob Amsel signed on right out of law school. David Raben left the PD's office in 1983 and joined the growing firm. And Benjamin "Benji" Waxman rounded out the firm in the mid-80s. There were many other associates over the past four decades that worked at the one and only criminal defense law firm in the State of Florida. (Two names that come to mind that worked there over the years include Barry Wax and Mark Eiglarsh.  Who else worked there?).

The firm lasted 39 years, a lifetime in the legal community in this day and age.  Jeff Weiner left in 1992 and they renamed the firm Robbins, Tunkey, Ross, Amsel, Rabin & Waxman.  Finally, earlier this month, after 39 years, the immutable Robbins, Tunkey, et al decided to break up.

They were known as Florida's oldest and largest exclusively criminal defense law firm. They were the exception to the norm in criminal defense firms, where the average size is one.  While many criminal defense lawyers share space and overhead, their firms are kept separate because of the issue of conflict of interest.  Robbins, Tunkey bucked that norm and created a powerhouse law firm of seasoned attorneys who did nothing but criminal defense law, on a State and Federal level.   Nearly all were former ASAs or APDs and they were really good at their craft.

We can tell you that the dissolution was amicable.  According to Bob Amsel, "we had all come to a point in our careers where we were all in different places and this change seemed to make sense."  We understand that a new firm has been born at the familiar location on SW 3rd Avenue.  That new firm is called Ross, Amsel, Raben, Nascimento (Joseph).  Fred Robbins and Bill Tunkey are sharing space together in the same building, while Benji Waxman has moved his digs to a new location.

Good luck to the newly named firm and to all of the other attorneys who once made up "the largest exclusively criminal defense law firm in Florida".

ELECTION CENTRAL .......

In Election 2016 news, yet another attorney has filed to run in Group 34 of the Circuit Court.  Attorney Mark Blumstein, a member of The Florida Bar since 1996, has filed in a Group that now includes five candidates: Renee Gordon, Antonio Jimenez, Denis Martinez Martinez-Scanziani, Luis Perez-Medina, and Blumstein.

Mr. Blumstein went to Nova law, he speaks Italian and Spanish, and his practice covers just about all areas of the law, according to his web site, which states that "our firm practices extensively in litigation, contractual disputes, business torts, military affairs as well as many other practice areas."

To date, there all still four contested Circuit Court Groups, and David Young is still uncontested in an open seat.

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


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

JUDICIAL TERM LIMITS??

Longtime and careful readers of the blog know that our respect for the judiciary knows no limits. 

Now back to reality. 

Despite our feelings about certain individuals who, like the Viet Cong, wear a version of black PJs to work, about the only thing we despise more than some lawyer who failed in private practice but has an "electable" name, are yahoo Florida legislators who try to make a name for themselves by introducing stupid but populist legislation. 

Meet Representative John Wood, Winter Haven (M)*, who has introduced a bill for term limits for appellate judges, including justices of the Florida Supreme Court.

Said Mr. Winter after removing the blade of grass from his mouth: 
"When a governor appoints somebody in their 40's to the Supreme Court- and Lawton Chiles comes to mind- and they are going to serve there for another 28 or 30 years, is that right?"

Rumpole answers: Yes, that is just fine. Unless of course Mr. Winter would have wanted Justice Scalia tossed from the bench 16 years ago in 2000,  having served since being appointed in 1986. 

What Mr. Winters really means is "I don't want no liberal, commie, pinko, soft on crime judges serving if I don't like them. But of course conservative judges should serve as long as they can.

Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding was quoted in opposition to the bill: 
"I could not help but think that one of the proper roles of the judiciary is to have qualified judges..." 

Noting that Justice Grimes took a 40K pay cut in 1973 to serve first on the second DCA before being appointed to the Supreme Court, Harding noted that Grimes told him he would never have done that without knowing that he would have the expectation to devote the rest of his legal life to the judiciary. Harding then noted this, which pleased us greatly:
"I really have a significant fear that, in my conversations with people that have served on judicial nominating commissions to find that there are numbers of unqualified people who are seeking judicial appointments because they are unable, in the practice of law, to make what a judge would make." 

Your fear, Justice Harding, is well placed sir. Welcome to our world. 

See You In Court. 

* M= moron. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

PAUL TUNIS HAS PASSED AWAY.

Paul Tunis, a former Dade State Public Defender, and husband of Judge Dava Tunis has passed away. 

I deeply regret and am saddened to inform you that Paul Tunis, husband of Judge Dava J. Tunis, has passed away.

Paul was an excellent trial attorney and a valued member of the public defender's office for many years.

All services will be private and held out of state.

Condolences may be sent to:

Judge Dava J. Tunis
Richard E. Gerstein Building
1351 NW 12th
Rm. 624
Miami, FL 33125

Please pass this information on to your offices and/or organizations if you wish.

Thank you.

Nushin G. Sayfie, Circuit Court Judge
Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division

We did not know Paul very well. But we knew his reputation as a superb lawyer.  This is sad news. 


On another topic: what if another supreme court justice passes away within the next month? What would the Republicans position be then on holding confirmation hearings? 

See You In Court. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

SOME LONG HELD THOUGHTS ON JUSTICE SCALIA AND THE APPOINTMENT OF A NEW JUSTICE

Two borrow a quote from  Justice Scalia, many judges come to the court as a wolf in sheep's clothing. Judge Scalia came to the court as a Wolf in Wolf's clothing. 

Our main fault with Justice Scalia is his long held philosophy that he is (using his own description)  a "weak originalist." In explaining this definition he gave himself, Scalia said he was an originalist in interpreting the Constitution right up to the point where following his philosophy would make him look "like a nut." As he then explained, "I am not a nut." One cannot have a philosophy only when it is convenient. It either works and its adherents are consistent, or it does not. 

No he was not a nut. But more troubling, he was not intellectually consistent. Scalia championed the originalist philosophy of interpreting the constitution so that there would be an intellectual basis for decisions now, and decades from now. Scalia, properly so, didn't want the constitution interpreted by the current whims, morals, or values, of un-elected judges

And yet, when his originalist philosophy failed him- and it would time and time again- Scalia was, like all the judges he decried, nothing more than an un-elected moralist in a robe.

Scalia could hardly defend originalist interpretation when challenged with the Constitution's acceptance of slavery and the diminishment of black people as less than 100% human, entitled to none of the rights and privileges of their white counterparts. And accepting the philosophy of interpreting the Constitution by what the founders accepted means accepting slavery, hanging, whipping, keelhauling,  segregation in general and segregated schools in particular, and locking people in stockades in public squares. 

So much then, for originalism. Accepting originalism was merely choosing one moment in time as the bedrock for analyzing phrases in the Constitution. It didn't have to be at the moment of conception, it was just more convenient for Scalia to pick that moment. Any moment in which the mores of the country could be determined would suffice. 

And originalism fell by the wayside when it came to politics (Bush v. Gore) and his Catholic faith, which ruled his judicial philosophy. Recall that when sodomy laws were struck down, he ominously (and correctly) predicted  that the court would find the right for  homosexuals to marry. Homosexuality in general, and homosexual marriage in particular, were an anathema to his strict Catholic faith. And far from being a friend to defendants, one can feel secure Justice Scalia would have lost no sleep in millions of Americans being locked behind bars for the crime of homosexuality. In an earlier time, Scalia would have defended anti-miscegenation laws which were successfully challenged before the court- as mixed race marriages were considered unlawful by the founders (which didn't stop some of them from having black mistresses).  

To quote Marco Rubio, make no mistake that Justice Scalia didn't know what he was doing. He knew what he was doing. He was employing a narrow and flawed judicial philosophy where it suited him, and he abandoned in and became a robed and un-elected moralist when the result in a case suited him. 

To the intellectual conservative moment who understands the crucial need for a consistent philosophy that works, Scalia stands as no hero. He merely was the same altruist, collectivist, statist, whose ox was less gored than most. 

That Scalia is being mourned as a giant of judicial philosophy is just an indication of how far removed we are from having judges who understand the meaning of the term. 

See you in court. 

Coming Next: Why President Obama MUST nominate a judge to replace Scalia. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

JUSTICE SCALIA DEAD

Justice Scalia died unexpectedly  today at age 79. He was found dead at a resort in Texas. 

The NY Times story is here.

Not to get too political here in this hour of loss and sadness, and make no mistake, this is a loss of monumental proportions, but is there anyway in hell Obama gets a Supreme Court Justice through the Senate? 

UPDATE: We just confirmed that the President can make a recess appointment to the Supreme Court. With two terms of the supreme court at issue until the next president is sworn in, and with 25% of Obama's second term still to be served, the President cannot wait as the republicans have already said, until the next President is sworn in. 

Query: Would you want to be the sacrificial lamb as the President's nominee to the court? 


GOODBYE

In 1989, history reveals that  a woman named Elaine had an encounter with an alien in a bar in a Holiday Inn in Paramus, New Jersey. 

The alien told Elaine that the world would end on Valentine's Day, 2016. 

If you're like us, you aren't prepared. There's four pounds of stone crabs that a client gave us recently, still in the freezer. Can't let those go to waste. And we have stuff at the dry cleansers we haven't picked up and don't you know, they're closed on Sunday. And there's that sentencing in a few weeks before Judge Cooke and we haven't filed a motion to continue. 

There's a price to pay for procrastination. 

The revelation of the ends of days comes from the culturally significant piece of cinema verite: Ghostbusters, II. 

This could not come at a worse time. Monday's a holiday, and now that's a waste. And we just had that difficult trial in Tampa, which if the world had ended a few weeks ago, we would have been spared the intimate knowledge of Tampa's airport in general, and SouthWest Airline's terminal and gates in particular. 

So, we're defrosting the stone crabs and opening that bottle of 40th Anniversary Camus, and we wish you a fond farewell. 

Unless of course, Ghostbusters, II, for all of it's cultural significance, has made a mistake in reporting the infamous alien encounter. 

See you in court on Tuesday, maybe? Hopefully. 






Friday, February 12, 2016

CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS CONFIRMS SHARPTON'S IRRELEVANCE. SANDERS IS DRINKING HIS OWN KOOL-AID. BLOOMBERG WAITS.

(The following post is by blog contributor The Professor. Enjoy. )

Al Sharpton got his legs cut off from under him Thursday, when the Congressional Black Caucus endorsed Hilary Clinton.  Sharpton, after having breakfast with Sanders on Wednesday morning, made statements that indicated he was going to endorse Sanders and urge other reverends to join him in the "revolution".

Sharpton, who, until several months ago, had his own show "Politics Nation" weekdays from 6 to 7 pm on MSNBC, is a self-proclaimed star, who super-novaed.  First exposed at making several million dollars for which he paid no taxes, he then lost relevance after the events in Ferguson last summer. His "Politics Nation" was relegated to one hour early on Sunday mornings.

Sharpton had hoped to renew his importance by endorsing Sanders and co-opting the African-American religious leaders, and subsequently the CBC, into doing the same.  He then would claim to be the leader of the African-American Movement for Sanders.  Even if Clinton eventually won the nomination, he would have a seat at the table, demand to be a surrogate on the campaign trail for the nominee and claim influence over the eventual Democratic President.  Now, that will not happen, because he will not confront the CBC head-on.  In addition, if he now endorses Hilary, he will be just another follower.

This is huge for Clinton.  She needs to trounce Sanders in South Carolina and Nevada.  Then she has to put him away on SEC Tuesday and Super Tuesday to wrap up the nomination by early April.

To me, Sanders is playing the same game as Trump.  Making promises he knows he can't keep, except he is praying upon the selfishness of young Americans (who all think they are just "awesome"), who believe there is such a thing as a "free lunch."  In this case, free college and heath care and that somehow the $19 Trillion tab will be magically paid for by someone else.  It shows just how ignorant and short sighted the youth of today are, that they do not know Sanders can not do this without a Congress ready to raise taxes to 50% or more, which Nancy Pelosi, let alone Paul Ryan, has said she will not do.

With reapportionment not until after the 2020 census, the Republicans will continue to control the House for at least 6 years of the next President's two terms.  Please explain how Sanders is going to accomplish anything that Obama was not able to accomplish in 6 years of Republican control of Congress.

Sanders has made a living for the past almost 40 years holding office.  He has accomplished nothing in his 28 years in the House and Senate  The people of Vermont like their gladfly, so they keep electing him.  He has done nothing for his state or the country, except build up a $250K per year pension, collect $225K per year as a Senator and received free heath care for him and his family.

By the way, has anybody noticed his new wardrobe: suits, ties, shirts, shoes, glasses, hairstyling and a tan. (How he got that in cold New Hampshire, I don't know!)  The truth be known, if my ultimate choice is any of the remaining Republicans vs. Bernie Sanders, I will do all I can to help Michael Bloomberg win as an independent.  At least he always delivered on his promises and never strayed from what he has told you he would do or accomplish, even if you don't necessarily agree.

By the way Bloomberg can use $2 Billion of his own money to run a campaign and it would amount to only 5% of his net wealth.  If Trump on the other hand spent $2 Billion of his own money, by his own calculation, he would use up at least 25% of his wealth (probably more), which he will not do.

Bloomberg could be the first Jewish president, not a 74 year old Brooklynite Socialist, whose parents were rumored to be Communist sympathizers.  I think Bernie knew that when he started, but he has started drinking his own Kool-Aid.

That's right.  I was for Hilary in 2008 and I am for her now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

NIXON RESIGNS! DEWEY BEATS TRUMAN!


From the JAA Broward Blog yesterday:

Imperato to resign? – a bailiff was caught scurrying away earlier this morning with what looks to be some of Cindy Imperato’s personal belongings in an archive box, including an FSU football.  When asked a few minutes later whether Imperato was indeed calling it quits, her JA said she was “undecided“.  We’ll be following up with the chief judge and Tallahassee shortly

Rumpole says: Good riddance.  This judge was a nasty, sarcastic, impatient jurist who pandered to police officers. We had a memorable motion to suppress in front of her, during which she spent the entire time chatting with her clerk, snickering and passing notes to the clerk, and rolling her eyes and playing to the other police officers who were in the courtroom for another case. Our client said "I can't believe this is happening to me in a courtroom in the United States." So, no great loss to the bench or the cause of justice. Karma. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE 

Just think about this: if ten months ago we told you Bernie sanders, a 74 year old, cranky socialist and former mayor of Burlington, Vermont would WIN the democratic primary in New Hampshire, you would have called us crazy. 

If we further told you that a reality TV crass buffoon named Donald Trump would win the Republican primary, you would have called us nuts. 

If we told you Sanders and Trump would both win their respective primaries, you would have told us to call you when we sober up. 

Truth is stranger than fiction.

See You In Court. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY TODAY

The irascible, grouchy, unpredictable, "live free or die" citizens of New Hampshire go to the polls today and vote in the nation's first political primary (as opposed to the Iowa caucuses) in this presidential season. 

We can't help but be reminded of Emerson's thoughts about the citizens of the granite state:

"The God who made New Hampshire taunted the lofty land with little men." 

 THE MACHINE OF DEATH 

The criminal justice committee of the  Florida Senate (motto "Yes, Florida has a senate") voted to require- steady yourself here- a unanimous jury vote in death penalty cases. 

After weeks of posturing about not letting the Supreme Court push us around, some lawmakers in Tallahassee have decided to actually read some case law and have begun to reach the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, unanimity is needed in death penalty cases. 

Florida prosecutors have pushed back by suggesting that if the law is going to go completely crazy by requiring unanimity, then the least the legislature can do is expand the types of cases where the death penalty can be imposed. 

Coming soon: how to death qualify a jury in a first DUI. 

See You In Court. 


Monday, February 08, 2016

Bern Your Enthusiasm

The Super Bowl is over. We called most of it right, including the dead-lock coin toss prediction, and advising you to take Denver and the money line, although we didn't watch one lick of it.

REGJB wise last week, we saw the man labeled as the facebook killer for posting pictures of his wife's body on facebook get life in prison. As the late Judge Morphonious once said, "and may he serve every day of it." 

And last week the tragic case of Michael Hernandez was back in court. Hernandez, a juvenile at the time of the offense,  had his new sentencing hearing last week as the Supreme Court said the law now requires. Any juvenile must be sentenced with a meaningful opportunity for release. Judge Schlessinger made a quick return to the REGJB for the hearing before skedaddling back to civil. 

It's Monday and time to get crackin, but as our favourite federal blogger does from time to time, we leave you with a Monday morning moment of Zen: Bern Your Enthusiasm. 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

SUPER BOWL 50 AND....yeah.....DONALD TRUMP

Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday!
As we wrote in our last post, we will not be watching the game. But we have some sights for you. First, don't under estimate the importance of good coaching. Bad coaching can cause errors that can turn the game around. See the video below as to what happens when you have bad coaching:  


Now on to the game. 

Right now, the best coach in the playoffs was one of the worst head coaches in the last ten years: Denver's defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.  While Denver got lucky that a third string running back fumbled in their first playoff game, their defense was superb against the New England Cheaters. 

We will take a good defense almost any year in a super bowl game. The hesitation is that the Broncos couldn't stop an injured Ben Roethlisberger,  and but for that fumble, they probably wouldn't have won the game. And Panthers QB Newton is a bigger, younger, faster Roethliberger. BUT....Roethlisberger performed poorly in his first super bowl experience, winning because of a good defense, a great running game, and a trick play (WR Randle El throwing a TD pass to WR MVP Hines Ward). 

We will take the experience of Denver's D over the Panthers and Cam Newton. When they were routed in the Super Bowl two years ago, Broncos GM John Elway, who knows a thing or two about losing and winning super bowls, went about building a defense to carry Peyton Manning to one last super bowl. It's worked so far. 

The smart money: 
Our Man 52nd Street Irwin has been monitoring the money flow in Vegas all week. He sets the line for a series of smaller sports books in Nevada. And all week the books were searching for Denver money as the Panther money flowed, starting at Carolina -3 5. By the time it got to Carolina -6 the Denver money showed up, big time, by the pros. 

Our Pick: Our head still says Carolina, but we would like to see Manning win one for the Gipper and go out a winner. If we were betting this game, and we are not, we would eschew the spread and take take the money line Denver + a juicy 195. Lay a hundred and get almost 2-1 on Peyton Manning in a super bowl. We'll do that all the time. 

Over 44.5

Tails for the coin flip. 

Take Adventure Of  a Lifetime as the first song ColdPlay plays during halftime. Odds are 2-1. 

BTW there has NEVER been a punt returned for a TD in 50 super bowls. In general it's 20-1 for a punt to be returned for a TD, so it's pretty long odds against it never occurring in 50 games, so put us down for a punt returned for a TD in this one. 

JUSTICE BUILDING PROPS. 
A proposition bet is a fun bet, like will Kobe Bryant score more than the total in the game?, etc.  So we've put together some REGJB themed prop bets: 

Double the final score OR the sum of Judges De La O and Glick's calendar pages on Monday. (Lets say the final score it 27-20, that number is 94 or the total of the two judges' calendar pages on Monday). 

The final Nielson rating for the game versus the total number of pages of Judge Ward's calendar?

Total points scored in first half versus the total number of pages of Judge De la O's calendar or Judge Richard Hersch's calendar (Pick one)? 

Which will be the higher number? The longest field goal made in the game or the total number of pages of Judge Murphy's calendar? 

Which will be the higher number? The total number of yards rushed by the Panthers, or the total number of calendar pages of the sum of Judges De la O, Murphy, and Glick? 

Which will be the highest number? The total number of receiving yards of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas,  or the total calendar pages of Judges De la O, Murphy, Glick, Tinkler-Mendez, and Richard Hersch? 

Longest touchdown scored from scrimmage or the total number of calendar pages of Judges Hersch and Hirsch? 

SPORTS/POLITICS/REGJB

What will be higher? Total percentage of the vote Donald Trump gets in the New Hampshire Primary, the number of points scored by Carolina, or the number of pages of judge Milt Hirsch's calendar on Monday? 

Have fun and if you are watching the game, enjoy it and let us know who wins.  We'll be attending a lecture at the Met later this morning  entitled "When Belief Meets Art."  And if you've never seen "The Curious Incident of the Dog At Night" (and most of you haven't) you're missing Broadway at its most ingenious and finest. 

See You In Court. 







Saturday, February 06, 2016

WHY WE ARE NOT GOING TO WATCH THE SUPER BOWL

This Sunday a hundred million people (or more) will gather world-wide to watch something that is a mixture of religion, US jingoism, and a sporting event that usually falls way short of the hype. 

Here is why we're not going to watch the super bowl:

Because with the understanding of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) , the sport is no longer building character, but destroying minds. 

Because more Americans know who Tom Brady is, than Iago, or Doctor Alexander Manette.

Because more Americans know the story line of any particular super bowl than the story line of Hamlet, or a Tale of Two Cities (Doctor Manette is a character in the story.)

Because the game has assumed a religious fervor. 

Because Cities and States spend more money on building new football stadiums, than on building new schools. 

Because the Super Bowl becomes a festival of gluttony in a country where children still go to bed hungry at night and go to school hungry in the morning. 

Because the average fan can't afford a ticket to the game. 

Because the average fan can quote the forty-yard dash time of their favourite superstar, but can't run forty yards themselves. 

Because the NFL makes heroes out of people who kill (OJ Simpson and Rae Carruth), people who traffic drugs and plan to kill judges (Darryl Henley), players who beat their girlfriends and spouses (pick a team, every team has at least one), players who sexually harass staff (Brett Favre) and players who beat helpless children (Adrian Peterson).  You can't find a group of people less worthy of admiration. 

Because we are contrarians by nature and when everyone likes something and wants to do it, we want no part of it. 

Because it is in the end, a meaningless game in which men spend hundreds of hours devoted to the minutiae of the game. Spend that time and care and consideration on removing greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, we say. 

Because in the end, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference to anyone but a few dozen players and coaches who wins this game. And those people mean nothing to us. 


So we will not be watching the game. We will be going to a fascinating lecture on Ayurvedic  health and yoga.

But fear not, we will have our picks, including the deadlock winner coin toss, and a special feature available only on your favoritie blog: the REGJB-Super Bowl special prop bets. 
For example, will Judge De La O's Monday calendar have more pages than Broncos TE Owen Daniels has receiving yards? 

Stay tuned, and enjoying super bowl weekend doesn't mean you have to watch the game. 


Friday, February 05, 2016

YOUR NEW COUNTY COURT JUDGE


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

YOUR NEW COUNTY COURT JUDGE IS .....

GINA BEOVIDES

Congratulations to Ms. Beovides; she is 34 years old and has been a member of The Florida Bar for ten years.  She began her career working for the law office of Leon Brunet.  After one year, she joined Miami Dade Legal Aid and she has been an attorney working for them for the past nine years.  Ms. Beovides has been a Civil Traffic Infraction Hearing Officer since 2011.  She is also a member of the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee and also the Vice-Chair of the Family Law Domestic Violence Committee of The Florida Bar.  You can read Ms. Beovides' bio from the Dade Legal Aid web page by going here.

She received both her bachelor's and law degree from UM.  She fills the vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Charlie Johnson to the Circuit Court.

The other five names that went up to the Governor included:  Ramiro Areces, Alexander Spicola Bokor, Karl S.H. Brown, Joe Mansfield, and Julie Nelson.

NORTH OF THE BORDER .......

No changes in the line-up of candidates that have filed to run for Circuit and County Court Judge in Miami-Dade County, but there was a big change in Broweird.

Popular sitting Judge Matthew Destry drew an opponent this week when attorney Brian Greenwald filed to run against him.  Greenwald served in the Broward County PD's office for eight years.  He has been in private practice as a criminal defense attorney for the past three years. Destry is the third sitting Circuit Judge in Broward to draw opposition; (also drawing opponents - Judge Stacy Ross and Judge Barbara McCarthy).

Also in Broward, they have two new Circuit Court Judges.  This week, Governor Scott announced that Ernest Kollra, age 62, and Alberto Rivas, age 48, have earned appointments to the Circuit Court.

Kollra replaces Judge Lynn Rosenthal, who resigned, (in lieu of pending action by The Florida Supreme Court).  He is in private practice in the areas of mobile home law, landlord/tenant, criminal defense, and business law.

Rivas replaces Judge Laura Watson, who was removed from the bench by The Florida Supreme Court.  Rivas has been a member of The Florida Bar for 20 years and has been an ASA in Broward for the past nine years.

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

Thursday, February 04, 2016

WE'RE NUMBER 1

 149 people were found to be falsely convicted and their convictions vacated in 2015. 40% of those were in murder cases. The average prison sentence for these innocent people was fourteen years. 

Again we say, lets go behind the numbers. 

These were cases of people in prison actively investigated. How about people who weren't imprisoned or who were released?  The number will be much higher. 

It is our assumption here that most of those cases involved wrongful identifications, because as we who are in the business all know, personal identifications are some of the worst, most unreliable evidence there is. 

How many more innocent people have to suffer until we fix a broken system? 

Here is the NY Times article. 


In the REGJB Thursday morning, convicted killer Michael Hernandez, who as a juvenile killed a classmate, was back for re-sentencing under the new Supreme Court rules that most juveniles should not be sentenced to life, and all of them should have a meaningful opportunity for release. 

For the first time Hernandez took the stand in his own defense. 
ASA Gail Levine, who moaned about having to listen to weeks and weeks of his phone calls, conducted a soft-spoken and sensitive cross examination. 

You can follow the proceedings on TV and on David Ovalle's twitter at DavidOvalle305.  
No truth to the rumor there is a Gail Levine fan club twitter account. 

See You In Court. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

SILENCE IS THOMAS & PRYOR LETS LOOSE

This month it will be ten years since Justice Clarence Thomas asked a question from the bench during oral arguments. And no, it was not to ask directions to the head. The NY Times has an article on the silence here. 

PRYOR SHOWS NO RESTRAINT. 

Our colleague who blogs the Miami-Federal scene, the ineffable DOM, has this post about Judge Pryor's dissent in a 2254 case. The more we think about it, the more it bothers us. 

Pryor was upset when Judge Jordan and visiting judge Haikala gave a state court petitioner a second federal habeas review. Here is part of what Pryor wrote:

Ace Patterson—a child rapist, kidnapper, and burglar—won the habeas lottery today. The majority gives him a second chance to collaterally attack his convictions in federal court, seventeen years after his trial and nine years after he filed his first federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Most state prisoners are not so lucky, as the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act prohibits the filing of a “second or successive” petition for a writ of habeas corpus. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b). 


So the cat is out of the bag. 
Apparently if Ace was arrested and convicted for stealing from parking meters (Ala Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke) then Pryor may have joined with the majority. 
At least Pryor hasn't shied from how he makes decisions. He looks at the crime, and if it's heinous enough, he decides to deny relief. Kudos for telling the truth, but that is NOT a judge's job. Judges expect jurors to give any defendant a presumption of innocence. Judges expect jurors not to make a finding of guilt merely because the charge is serious. 

Under Pryor's analysis he would have summarily denied relief  to  Richard Jewell who was for a time considered the main suspect in planting a bomb at the Atlanta Olympics, until it turned out he was innocent. 

Pryor should not sit on any more criminal cases in the 11th circuit. He has by his own words demonstrated a bias against any defendant convicted of a serious crime.  If that is the way the judge feels, so be it. But it disqualifies him from sitting on criminal cases where once he sees the seriousness of the crime he works to find a reason to affirm the conviction (Harmless error anyone?)

"The defendant raises serious errors in his trial. However, based on the heinous nature of his crimes, we deny relief.

Visiting Judge Haikala had this to say in concurrence and she hit the nail on the head:

There is no doubt that the conduct that gave rise to Mr. Patterson’s conviction and sentence is heinous, but that conduct has no bearing
upon the legal standard that governs the issue before the Court. As the United States Supreme Court wrote in Chessman v. Teets: “On many occasions this Court has found it necessary to say that the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment must be respected, no matter how heinous the crime in question and no matter how guilty an accused may ultimately be found to be after guilt has been established in accordance with the procedure demanded by the Constitution.” 354 U.S. 156, 165 (1957). 



Give Judge Pryor props for at least writing what we've all suspected all along. 

See You In Court.