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, September 28, 2016

APPLICANTS SWARM FOR JUDGE BLAKE'S SPOT

Twenty-two lawyers (including some county court judges)  with visions of black robes dancing in their heads have filed to replace Judge Blake on the bench.

Bonus trivia question: Who did Judge Blake succeed on the bench and how did he get his spot?

Query: How does the JNC not send up Milena Abreu who ran a fantastic campaign and lost by the less than one percentage point?

See you in court.




Monday, September 26, 2016

NEW GRUNTS

The new ASAs, fresh out of law school, shiny new suits, fancy graduation-gift briefcases, and fully indoctrinated on the Miami-ASA way, hit the courtrooms today.

Over the weekend, long time ASA Frank Ledee was honored by the League of Prosecutors as Prosecutor of the Year.

We could tell the new ASAs a lot. But all they need to do is look at Mr. Ledee. Hardworking. Fair. A man of his word. Respected by his peers and the judiciary.

There's lots of advice new ASAs will receive. Some of them unfortunately will be looking to make a name for themselves by being tough. That just shows they have no experience and perspective. Some will be sneaky in trying to win cases. All that will do is get them a bad name. And some will work hard, make mistakes, pick themselves up and dust themselves off after screwing up in court and will try harder the next time but won't hold past failures against future defendants. These will be the ones who will succeed.

It takes a lifetime to make a name for yourself. And about a minute to ruin it.
Good luck and welcome to the REGJB, our work home since before you were born.

See you in court. When you least expect it, we will be the defense attorney whispering some friendly advice in your ear when you need it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

NFL WEEK THREE 2016

BREAKING ESPN confirming that Miami Marlins pitching ace Jose Fernandez is one of three people killed in a boating accident off of Miami Beach this morning. 

Sad news that reminds us sports is merely a part of life and it is life that is priceless and precious. 

The surprise of the week is that the majority of the Survivor pool is picking your Miami Dolphins, at home against the Browns.

After another scintillating week of picks last week, we confidently take on a difficult week three schedule, starting with the Cleveland Browns +9 to keep it close against the Fins in their home opener. WIN

Staying in FLA, we like the Bucs at home -5 over the tinsel town Rams.

The Raiders + 1 in Tennessee, WIN and Carolina -7 at home over the Peterson-less Vikes. loss

Under 51 Chargers at Indy, and under 44 Bears at Cowpokes.

SURVIVOR POOL 
Losses last week included everyone's favourite "Fake Freddy Moldovan" and (to Dan Lurvey's delight) "A judge smashed my windshield".  27 solider on. BTW if you've never read Stephen King's classic short story (originally published under the nom-de-plume of Richard Bachman in 1979) The Long Walk, now is a good time to do it. One of the best short stories we have ever read. 
(Basco is the late pick with the Fins). 
Update: Sadly, Sharon Cohen and Survive didn't. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

FIRST DAY OF FALL

Today at 10:21 was the Fall Equinox. 
No, that is not tumbling to the ground at a local gym. 

The Fall Equinox,  or Autumnal Equinox, as any robed reader would tell you, is when (other than the polar regions, duh!) the sun rises due east and sets due west along the horizon. 
The Spring Equinox is the only other day this occurs. From this point forward, daylight is shorter, nights longer, but REGJB judges lunch "hours" remain the same. 

"Rumpole, what does this mean?" you may say. 
Consider this- on September 1, 2016 there was 12 hours and 38 minutes of sunlight. 
On October 1, 2016 there will be 11 hours and 54 minutes of daylight. We are losing one minute and thirty seconds of daylight, per day from now until the winter solstice. 

Peace out- and don't curse the darkness- light a candle.



Monday, September 19, 2016

AFORMS BY EMAIL!!!

Breaking!! Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. !!! (as per TMZ ). While no one should ever celebrate a divorce, and we don't, we sense a slight opening...maybe a few months when she's ready to date again... 

Wanna get an a-form mailed to you? Scroll down and find out how. 
The FACDLers have been busy bees lately. 
They recently received some shocking news: there is gambling going on in this establishment. 


No, really. Word has slowly filtered back to FACDL that lawyers were being forced to wait to see clients at Metro West because a few of the interview rooms were closed. One was closed because a paper-clip was found unaccounted for, on the floor, and a team was pondering the way to remove it safely. A second room suffered from some water being spilled from a paper cup, and the crack staff at Metro West was awaiting the arrival of the team from FEMA.

Colleagues,
 The FACDL-Miami liaison committee met with corrections today to discuss the issues of extended wait times and client access. Please see the update below.
 Our liaison committee recently met with the Department of Corrections.  Many of you have asked about the delays our members have been experiencing when attempting to visit their clients at Metro West due to the closure of certain visitation areas.  We confirmed that this should no longer occur after the end of September.  The fourth visitation room, which had been closed for a period of time, has been re-opened and is in use now.  The larger contact room, which is undergoing repairs due to ceiling leaks and floor tiles being replaced, is expected to re-open by September 30th.
 Michelle Estlund heads up this committee and she will be providing an update as to the issues of getting our non-attorney professionals admitted more easily into all of the county jails sometime next week.
Brian Kirlew, Esq.

And if that wasn't bad enough to age our long suffering president, he received a classified briefing on delays at the clerk's office that was down-right terrifying: (keep reading for the a-form email info)

Colleagues,
 As many of you are well aware, the delays on the 9th floor during peak morning hours is unbearable. It’s taking up to a half hour or more at times to get certified copies or to view documents in the court file. In an effort to relieve the delays, FACDL-Miami, along with the DCBA Criminal Courts Committee, has been in contact with the Clerk’s office to see if something could be done to relieve the backlog on the 9th floor attorneys window. In June, two deputy clerks were let go for budgetary reasons. That directly affected the staffing of the attorneys window. Both of those clerks will be brought back effective October 3rd.
 Also effective October 3rd, in addition to any requests to view files, you may also email requests for A-Forms to felonyfr@miamidade.gov. The A-Forms will be emailed back to you directly and the files will be waiting at the Attorneys service area. Files that are in court or at the record center may take one to two days to be retrieved.  

The email feature is intended to reduce delays for the attorney requesting the A-Form or file, and the attorneys waiting in line for other matters. It will only work if the defense bar actually utilizes the service. So instead of waiting in line for an A-Form or to get copies from the court file, send an email to felonyfr@miamidade.gov instead.

A big thank you to Jude Faccidomo and Jonathan Meltz for their efforts on this issue.
 Brian Kirlew, Esq

A forms by email?? What will they think of next? Wi-fi in the REGJB? We can dream, can't we? 

See you in court with stacks of a-forms being emailed just for fun. 

AS FLORIDA GOES ....

Florida is considered a bell-weather state. The problems a candidate has here are illustrative of the problems they have in other states. 

Item: After a disastrous summer spent insulting the parents of a dead marine killed in combat, and demonstrating a remarkable inability to grasp fundamental issues (for example, Trump did not know what the nuclear triad is and pondered why we spend so much money on nuclear weapons but don't use them) Donald Trump is polling ahead of Hillary Clinton in Florida. 

Why? 

Because Clinton cannot, at the moment, reassemble the Obama coalition in Florida. While she leads Trump among educated voters, women voters, millennials, and Hispanics, she doesn't lead Trump by the numbers Obama won those groups over Romney. 

Thus, Donald J Trump, the least prepared person in the history of this Universe to be president, has a chance to become President of the United States. 

Sorry to ruin your Monday. 

Who's in trial? 

This football Sunday made one thing very clear: it wasn't that the Dolphins were good that kept their game against the Seahawks close in week one. It was how bad the Seahawks were. Thus, the Fins were blown out in week two. 

Newman!
Speaking of the the Fins, we didn't get a invite to a victory party that Circuit Judge Ed Newman's staff threw for him this past Friday, but we heard it was very nice, including the ol-softie tearing up at the end. 

See You In Court.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

NFL 2016 WEEK TWO

We went a nice 5-2 to open the season which isn't perfect, but pays the bills for the nice Cabs and Petit Sirahs we ordered. 

There's been some chatter about the Fins covering this week. We don't like it but we are staying away from the game. The same with the Bucs at Arizona. Some weird comments about the Cardinals looking off kilter in the pre-season have us staying away from this one as well. 

But no reason not to take the Lions -6 at home over the Titans. 

The Skins bounce back with a win over the Cowpokes. DC's coach is 3-0 in the second game of the season after losing the first. 

We're riding the Raiders to the AFC championship game!  Take Oakland (soon to be Vegas) -4.5 over the sinking Falcons. 

Under 47 Broncos/Colts; Over 43.5 KC and Texans

Panthers the consensus pick in the survivor pool.  The weak pick today could be the Ravens. Not a great team. On the road. The Cleveland QB Josh McCown has been with the team a while and has a better feel for the receivers than RGIII did and had a good pre-season. We're picking the Brownies +5 as a home dog (you know we love those) in the Dog Pound to win and the Ravens to regress to the norm and lose one. Baltimore is a 9-7 or 8-8 team at best. 




Waiting on Lucy Lew and Immache. 
Check back around 1- waiting for the last few stragglers to pick and we have cross training until about 12:45. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

LIGHT MY FIRE

Update: Several people think the doors were installed to stop fleeing prisoners. But this doesn't make sense. If a prisoner is fleeing and running down the escalators, then the doors are not in his or her way as they perambulate to the first floor. Which reminds us of a story about a fleeing prisoner, Judge Sepe and Kiko Sarasua and a perfectly thrown punch. Next time you see Kiko, as him about it. 

The Richard E Gerstein Justice Building. An enigma. A riddle wrapped in a mystery. There are hidden courtrooms. A third and fifth floors with original and bizarre courtroom architecture that differs from floors two and four.

If the REGJB was a woman, she would be Ilsa- Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. Who does she really love, Rick or her husband the resistance war hero Victor Lazlo?

And now the mystery of the second floor doors.
 Why are they there? Why are they always closed? Why aren't the doors to the escalators to the other floors also closed?

There are key holes in remote areas of walls in our aged courthouse. There are secret bathrooms, oddly shaped rooms, and hallways that have desks that haven't been used in thirty years.

And now we have the mystery of the doors.

As to the title? The doors- Jim Morrison. "Come on Baby Light My Fire". The Doors. Morrison was prosecuted in the REGJB by the eponymous original State Attorney Richard E Gerstein.
See? It all fits if you are over fifty.

Have a good football "fall" weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

GET OUT THE PEN AND WRITE

The Third DCA released sixteen decisions in criminal cases on Wednesday. Fourteen were PCA Affirmed. Of the two decisions, one was in a pro se post conviction case affirming a denial without prejudice for the petitioner to properly file the motion, and the second was in a first degree murder case where one of the two burglary convictions were vacated, but the murder conviction affirmed.

Query: Shouldn't criminal defendants be entitled to a short opinion? There seems to be a PCA epidemic lately.

NB: PCAs (Per Curiam Affirmed, literally "Feh! Are you kidding me? Affirmed." ) are for all intents and purposes impossible to appeal further.

Check out DOM's blog, where he reports on the 11th circuit and Judge Rosenbaum writing dissents about the moon and green cheese. At least they're getting opinions in federal court.

See you in court.

Monday, September 12, 2016

" ???" TO THE FEDS?

The federal bench for the southern district of Florida is "littered"  populated with a liberal dose of former State Court REGJB Judges. From former Chief Judge Federico Moreno, to Ursula Ungaro, Joan Leonard, Beth Bloom, Cecilia Altonaga, Bob Scola, and Darrin Gayles, the REGJB has been a feeder to the federal bench. And while we strive to forget the courthouse to the north, Broward has contributed three fine additions to the SDFLA: Judges Cohn,  Rosenbaum and Dimitrouleas.

So our question today is....who's next? Who has that rare combination of talent and political pull to garner an appointment and lifetime job of lunches at Joes and sentencing enhancements for the unpardonable sin of going to trial and losing? It's a good gig if you can get it. 

It's Over Johnny...
The puzzling, unexpected, and sad saga of L'Affair Brennan ala Florida Keys has concluded with the decision not to charge her son with a DUI (Herald article here)-the event that precipitated the Rube Goldbergesque chain of events that ended with an arrest warrant for a circuit judge. 

Truth is stranger than fiction. And Miami truths are stranger than all. 

See you in court.  


Sunday, September 11, 2016

SURVIVOR POOL WEEK ONE FINAL

Lots of people who picked the Seahawks and KC Chiefs are breathing a lot easier after a very close call in both games.

Kudos to Dory Louis, who as always, picked his Miami Dolphins and spit in the face of reason and logic and almost pulled it off. A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero dies but once. Mr. Louis went down, but he went down fighting.



NFL WEEK ONE


ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL??

It's week one of the 2016 NFL football season. Every team is in first place. Dreams of fame and destiny and holding the Lombardy trophy in late January, 2017, are dancing in the minds of un-drafted rookies and wizened football veterans alike. 

But today the rubber meets the road, and if you go by the early picks in our world famous, earth shakin, viagra-takin Survivor Pool
( (c) JBB 2016 all rights reserved) YOUR Miami Dolphins are in for a rough start and a disappointing season. 




Your Fins are a 10.5 road dog at Seattle, and it's hard to see them competitive this season- we think the Hawks cover. 

We've financed a lavish lifestyle by taking home dogs over the years, and today is no exception. Tennessee Titans getting 3 at home over the injured Vikes. 
J..E...T...S... Jets Jets Jets +2 at home over the Benagls. And also take the over 42. 

We're jumping on the Raiders train this year, and that starts with them getting 3 at the Saints. The O/U 52 is a high number, but what the heck? Lets go ovah. 

Is RGIII for real with the Browns? Not sure, but we like the over 41 with the Browns at Philly. 

Ravens -3 at home against struggling Bills. Is this Rex's last year in Buffalo? Could be. If Bills lose the first few, Rex could be gone before Halloween. Boo!

Get your Survivor Picks In. We're at the Eagles game courtesy of a client so no internet this afternoon, although Blog-interns will be clearing comments. 

Today is September 11. So take a moment to remember, and never forget. 




Wednesday, September 07, 2016

LACTATION ROOM GRAND OPENING .......


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

WELL, APPARENTLY IT'S A SLOW NEWS WEEK, SO .......

This and That:

ENQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW? WHERE IS OUR LACTATING ROOM?***

According to a Press Release issued by the 11th Judicial Circuit, there is a big shin dig happening at the Dade County Courthouse on Thursday, September 8th.  Ribbon cutting, dignitaries, food and drink to be served.  The occasion is the opening of a Lactation Room at the courthouse. (We wonder whether Judge Seraphin will be a guest speaker?).

So, paraphrasing Rodney Dangerfield:  "Hey, we get no respect, at the GJB". 



***We received an updated Press Release, which states in part:
 
This project, a joint effort by the County, Miami-Dade FAWL, and the Eleventh Circuit, will be the first lactation room in the Miami-Dade Courts, to be followed in the very near future by the opening of lactation rooms at our other court facilities.
 
“We are very proud to offer this safe, comfortable space for nursing mothers. This room will be especially useful for attorneys and other court participants who often spend many hours here and could really use a quiet space for lactation,” said the Honorable Bertila Soto, Chief Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.


SO, YOU WANT TO BE A CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE .....

The JNC announces that due to the retirement of Judge Stanford Blake there is an opening on the Circuit Court bench.  Applications to replace Judge Blake are due on September 26, 2016.  Submit your application along with ten copies to:

Daniel Fridman
White & Case LLP
Southeast Financial Center
200 South Biscayne Blvd., Suite 4900
Miami, Florida 33131

SOMEONE WHO IS GETTING RESPECT .......

North of the Border, 33 year old, career prosecutor (8 years to be exact) ASA Jennifer Hilal has been appointed by Governor Scott to an open seat on the Broward County Court bench.  The Sun Sentinel story can be read here.

That's all for your this and that for today.

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

Saturday, September 03, 2016

SURVIVOR POOL 2016

Labor Day Survivor Pool Update: 22 30 + players constituting the South Florida Legal Elite (and some judges) have signed up. Notable absences: David "pollo" Ovalle, former Judge Jon Colby, a usually reliable participant, and any members of the SAO, whose servers still block us.

Special Labor Day Weekend Holiday Update  below: Brennan Cleared! No FF league. 

There are certain hallmarks to the end of summer. The sky turns a deep blue; there's the barest hint of fall in the air, and judges start returning from summer respites at their retreats in the South of France (or Hialeah Lakes) and trials scheduled long ago in April and May, when September was a whisper, now loom large on an attorney's calendar. 

And then there is football and Rumpole's world famous, earth shaking, viagra-taking Survivor Pool. (Yup, we were at the Springsteen concert last week).

Hop in, the water's cool and inviting. 

"How do I play?" you may be saying. 

Piece of cake. It's so easy even those who wear black robes for a living can do it. Here are the rules. 

1) Send an email to FBpool12@gmail.com. NOT to our regular email. 
2) Include in the subject line "I used to be an ASA but I resigned because the work was too hard." 

3) Every week send us ONE pick before the start of the games. If you miss the 1PM games, you can still pick a 4 PM or Sunday or Monday night game. 

4) Once you use that team, you cannot use the team for the rest of the year. Point spreads do not apply. All you need to do is pick one team each week who will win. 

Sounds sooooo easy. A piece of cake. 

So roll up your sleeves, check the games, pick a winner and have fun. 

Enjoy your holiday weekend (viagra or no viagra) and see you in court in about ten days (we don't ever fly home the day after a holiday. Too much hoi poloi in the airports and we don't mingle well.) 

POSTSCRIPT

Judge Brennan cleared!
David Ovalle and the Herald story here.  Close-out memo will be posted below after we overcome some technical difficulties and copyright issues. $2,500 restitution for a $225 windshield covers tax, tag, title, instillation, undercoating, delivery fee, storage fee, restocking fee, and interest and penalties. 


No FF league. We don't have the time to run a fantasy football league- it's not like we wear a robe and show up to court an hour late and then continue everything. We work for a living. BUT....

If someone wants to set up a Justice Building FF league we will bless it, promote it, post the links and the results. 
Also, we are thinking of creating a Draftkings League for our readers. Put your money where your mouth is. 



Thursday, September 01, 2016

HANGING CHADS; GET YOUR MAGNIFYING GLASS OUT ......


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

A special prize to the first reader that can name the Judge above (no googling)

And your next County Court Judge, Part One, will be:

Judge Fred Seraphin or Challenger Milena Abreu

The final tally of votes with all 783 precincts reporting has Incumbent Judge Seraphin up by 689 votes.

SERAPHIN - 105,779
ABREU       - 105,090

An automatic recount of the votes cast for the County Judge, Group 5 race in the August 30, 2016 Primary Election, will be conducted, pursuant to Section 102.141(7) and 102.166, Florida Statutes. The members of the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board will oversee the recount process commencing at 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, 2016, and continuing in succeeding days as needed, at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, 2700 NW 87th Avenue, Miami, Florida.

Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board Members:

Honorable Shelley J. Kravitz, County Judge, Chairperson
Honorable Andrew S. Hague, County Judge, Substitute Member
Christina White, Supervisor of Elections, Member


And you next County Court Judge, Part Two, replacing Judge Jacqueline Schwartz, will be one of these six names sent to Governor Scott today by our local JNC:

Ramiro C. Areces; 7 year member of The Florida Bar (TFB); small firm lawyer in Gables

Alexander Spicola Bokor; 11 year member of TFB; Miami Dade County Attorney's Office.  Handles litigation cases and has worked as legal counsel for Miami Dade Dept of Transportation, Public Works, Property Appraiser and Tax Collector; formerly with Jones Day and Kozyak Tropin

Raul Cuervo; 30 year member of TFB; with Carlton Fields; insurance defense; commercial litigator

Elijah Levitt; 12 year member of TFB; AUSA; former ASA (remember the cat killing case)

Joseph Mansfield; 13 year member of TFB; ASA

Julie Harris Nelson; 20 year member of TFB; insurance defense attorney with ROIG Lawyers; former ASA

The Governor has 60 days to name a replacement.


JAMES "JAY" HOGAN .........

 Please join us for

A Celebration of Hogan

at

The Biltmore Hotel Country Club Ballroom

Friday, September 2, 2016

Eleven a.m.

Remembrances welcome


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