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, November 22, 2017

THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT

On November 11, 1620, off the coast of Cape Cod, forty-one passengers of the Mayflower signed what is now known as the Mayflower Compact.  Some passengers of the Mayflower were fleeing religious persecution; others were adventurers and tradesmen looking for a new life in a new land. 

This was the first document, signed by individuals on these shores, that provided for the creation of a government, among the people, by the consent of the governed, to organize a society under "just and equal laws." A small and humble beginning to what eventually became a nation founded under the philosophy that all people are created equal, and that they have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Compact states, inter alia: 

...do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

These people, who we now call Pilgrims, endured a difficult journey through the rough Atlantic ocean winter waters, and landed in an new land, where they faced deprivations, starvation, and attack by native Americans. 

Yet in the face of all these obstacles, they not only survived, they prospered, and their sons and daughters, and their grandsons and granddaughters, founded a nation that twice saved the world from tyranny; that  put a human being on the moon, and has always been the last, best hope for freedom and peace on this planet.

As we gather with family and friends and give thanks for our freedom and prosperity, let us spend a moment and remember it all began with a small group of people who risked their lives so that they would be free to worship as they pleased. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

H. Rumpole. Esq., Blog Proprietor. 



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

" I CAN'T AFFORD A LAWYER ANYHOW "

The second DCA issued a nice decision in Noh v. State in which the court found that in response to the Miranda warnings, the defendant's statement " I can't afford a lawyer anyhow" without any further response by the officer that the court would appoint a lawyer for free, was sufficient to render the warnings null and void, and resulted in a new trial for Noh. 

Congrats to Ivy Ginsberg for the win. 

The opinion is below. 



Noh Reversal by Rumpole21 on Scribd

Monday, November 20, 2017

WHEN WILL THE OTHER SHOE DROP?

Hollywood. Congress. Liberal Senators and even TED talks conferences for goodness sakes... have all been roiled by accusations by women of unwanted sexual advances by men. 

When will the shoe drop here?

Take one powerful and experienced lawyer. Give them power (robes). Add dozens of not powerful and inexperienced lawyers, court reporters, and the like. Mix. KABOOM!
It's happened before. Many many many times. 
Who amongst us has not heard the whispers of the Judge with the young PD or ASA? Or the older lawyer with the law-school intern. 

The last few months have been eye openers. 

Here is our question: What procedures are now in place for a young ASA or PD or any of the courtroom personnel to make a complaint against an older, powerful lawyer?  Other than emailing us (and we have gotten those emails which we treat in the strictest confidence and destroy upon reading), where can someone in the legal system turn when an unwanted advance is made? 

From Occupied America, where the most powerful man in the world liked to "grab them" (meaning women)  in a region not suitable for discussion on a family blog, fight the power. 









Wednesday, November 15, 2017

BILL SUROWIEC HAS PASSED AWAY

Please see the update below: 

Former long time assistant public defender Bill Surowiec, who had since retired, passed away this week.  This is sad news.

Bill was a part of the fabric of the REGJB for many many years. He was a fixture and a friendly face that we would see many mornings. And he was a very good defense attorney.

We are sure there a million great stories about him, so please post them in the comments section.

Update: Two former REGJB judges who went on to have their own uniquely successful careers have written wonderful memories about Bill and these should be read by everyone. 
First up, former county court judge, circuit judge, US District Court Judge, US Chief District Court Judge, and appellate court nominee (that was not acted on  when GHW Bush lost to WJ Clinton in 1992) Federico Moreno: 

Bill tried a death penalty case involving 6 first degree murders before me. The first time it was a hung jury; the second time the defendant was convicted of 4 murders, acquitted of 2, sentenced to death, but reversed by the Florida Supreme Court; the third time after I left to federal court, the defendant was acquitted of all counts. Bill was not only a great lawyer, but a wonderful human being, always adding humor at the appropriate time without demeaning anyone. He was loved by jurors, prosecutors, judges, judicial assistants, bailiffs and correction officers, an accomplishment that few can claim. My condolences to his widow Lynn, a former secretary for Judge Alan Gold and now to appellate judge Stanley Marcus. God rest his soul. Fred Moreno

Next up is former County Court Judge, Former Circuit Court Judge, and REGJB regular Ted Mastos:
Anonymous Theodore Mastos said...
I join in the comments made by Lennie Glick about Bill. He was always good for a laugh in an otherwise dreary building.

Back in the day when I was a circuit judge, Katie Pooler was my division chief and Bill was her boyfriend and later husband. Katie, always ready for a party, would get Bill to make his world famous chili. He made two types: regular and industrial strength. We would gather in my chambers and it was hysterical to see people breaking out in sweat with tears running down their cheeks while eating Bill's chili. Those were great times when things were a lot more casual than they are now. Bill was a friend and a great lawyer. God how I hate these years in my life when I am going to more funerals and wakes than I ever imagined. Rest in peace old buddy.
We think Ted Mastos has mentioned an important point: Bill and Ted were from an era when Miami was a smaller town. The courthouse was smaller. The community of lawyers was smaller. Everyone knew each other, and things were much more informal.  People worked hard and then gathered in chambers, or at the Marine Bar, or at someone's home, and socialized. There was a friendlier attitude in courtrooms and among the lawyers and judges. It's probably gone forever, and we are losing the generation of lawyers and judges who made the Miami criminal justice legal community special. It's an era that is gone, and the memories are fading- held by a select group of people who were lucky enough to experience it. 

Well said Judge Moreno and Ted Mastos. Thank you for contributing your memories. 







Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A NEW ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE FOR CRIMINAL

Update. Tomorrow: Miranda and money and the 2nd DCA. A surprising result. 

With the departure of Judge De La O, the hot topic over coffee and pastelitos at the El-Chapo Cafe  was who would be the new administrative judge? 

Now we can answer the question. But first, an update on new judge assignments:

Judge John Schlesinger will be taking over for Judge Hanzman- division 19.  Chambers will be room 415, Courtroom will be 4-5.
(Fun fact: You can rearrange the letters in both judges names to create the word "henchmen" or "chasms" to name a few words). 


Judge Eric Hendon will be taking over for Judge  Richard Hersch-division 4.  Chambers will be room 413,  Courtroom will be 4-7.
("drench cord")

Judge Lisa Walsh will be taking over for administrative Judge De la O- division 15.  Chambers will be in room 228, Courtroom will be 2-10. (whales, hallowed and hashed). 

Judge Jorge Cueto will be taking over for Judge Pooler- division 13.  Chambers will be in cuarto  212, Courtroom will be 2-4.
(Ocelot, coupled, and recoup). 

 Changing chambers.... because every judge wants a better chambers. 

Judge Del Pino  Division 16 will be moving to  the seventh floor. Chambers will be in room 712, courtroom 7-3.

Judge Charlie Johnson  Division 9 will be moving to the fourth floor. Chambers will be in room  424, courtroom  4-3.

AND NOW, YOUR NEW CRIMINAL COURTS DIVISION ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE....

No, Judge David Young is not making an "Ali like" return to the ring or the REGJB. And no, neither Judge Blake nor Firtel are being lured out of retirement for one more REJGB go-around. 

Your new Administrative judge, a former ASA, an all around good guy and a very good judge, is none other than Judge Charlie Johnson!

So here are a few changes that could be made to make everyone's life at the REGJB easier:

1. A Starbucks on the first floor. 
2. A Prime 112 replacing Au Bon Pain. Call it "Prime 1350". Has a nice ring to it. 
3. Replace the dial up modem powering the Wifi with something more modern like from the late 1990s. 
4. A-forms...dare we say it... almost too much to dream for...but A forms scanned and on line. 
5. Valet parking.
6. A Fed-Ex Kinkos replacing the clerk's office on the second floor.
7. Not punishing defendants who go to trial and lose....okay okay, maybe be are asking too much. But the Prime 1350 and the Starbucks will be nice. 

From Occupied America, fight the power. 




Thursday, November 09, 2017

RUMPOLE CALLS OUT THE FEDS

There was a rare contretemps between what has otherwise been a prolonged period of peace between the best legal blog in Florida, and Mr. Markus's federal blog. 
On Thursday we commented (negatively) on the the SDFLA blog  that the new federal magistrate's 25 trials in five years as an AUSA was nothing to brag about. 
Mr. Markus's federal hackles were raised, and the debate is on. 

Rumpole says that federal prosecutors are spoiled. All the rules are in their favor. 404(b) evidence, no matter how flimsy, comes in ( AUSA: "Um, the defendant may have once considered selling cocaine." Court: "Motion to admit granted.")  The defendant is punished for testifying. And federal agents sit in court and watch all the testimony; holding the quaking hands of the AUSAs when things get rough. 

State court prosecutors get thrown into the fire. Bad cops, tough cases, depositions by sneaky defense attorneys- ASAs try 25 cases a year. 

Give us a five year ASA who's tried a hundred cases- dozens of which had serious issues- and held her own, over some Ivy League tower Fed who spent her time in the office shooting fish in the barrel by trying Illegal Re-entry after deportation cases. 

Rebuttal?



RECAP

It was a very nice turn out last night in the swanky Brickell Village area as hoi poloi mingled and discussed the issues of the day at the REGJB. 

Judges Gordo, administrative honcho De La O, Richard Hersch, (blog comments fav) Zilber, Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts, Jason Demitreoleas (sorry for the spelling) Tinkler-Mendez, among others showed the flag for the bench. 

And now, we've had our fill of socializing with those who wear robes for another year. 

Everyone's fav fed blogger has a few posts covering federal rabbits, and the selection of Lauren Louis (wife of ace criminal defense attorney Dore Louis we think) as the new magistrate. 

And lest you forget that the smartest POTUS with the self proclaimed best memory and highest IQ is in Asia, here is, word for word, the toast of the self proclaimed best and smartest President ever at the dinner with the South Korean President:

Together, our nations remind the world of the boundless potential of societies that choose freedom over tyranny, and who set the free. And we will free, and we will sacrifice, and we will hope, and we will make things beautiful, especially the aspirations of your people.

He had us at "and who set the free."

From Occupied America, with the world's most eloquent president, set the free, make aspirations beautiful,  and fight the power. 



Tuesday, November 07, 2017

BENCH AND BAR

Here's the latest updates on judicial movements:

Cuesta for Colodny (3-4)
Schlessinger for Hanzman
Hendon for Hersch
Walsh for De La O
Cueto for Pooler 

NB: All trades are not final until approved by the commissioner's office. 

Why not join some of the judges who don't want to go, and help them drown their sorrows at a Bench/Bar Mixer? 

Here's a gem from family court:


Q. Are you married?
A. No, I'm divorced.
Q. And what did your husband do before you divorced him?
A. A lot of things I didn't know about.


From Occupied America, go drink with a Judge and Fight the Power.



Monday, November 06, 2017

BATTERY ON A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

Miami style....



 Does the A-form say "an impaired woman was being escorted out and she took a swing at an officer and in a display of professional law enforcement technique she was punched unconscious by a law enforcement officer?"

We doubt it. 

For all our black-robed readers who often deny motions by ruling "why would the police lie?", take another look at the video. For all those cases where clients said the officers beat them up but the prosecutors and judges didn't believe them... take another look at the video. 

From Occupied America, where police beat up citizens, fight the power. 


Friday, November 03, 2017

WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE?

A couple of things are on our busy mind: 

First: And with apologies to everyone's favourite federal blogger for entering his milieu,  why does FDC need to know the license plate of our car and the make and model when we fill out that form to see a client at FDC? Sometimes we take Uber. Sometimes we park on a lot on Flagler, do some business with our civil brethren, and then walk a few blocks over.  How far away does our car need to be before that information is not important enough for the feds to require it on the form to enter the facility? 

We are old enough to remember when most federal clients were held at the facility by Metro-zoo and you had to drive and park in the lot. But with a facility downtown served by Uber and Metro-rail (btw- the former Chief Judge, Federico Moreno, has been a proponent of taking Metro-rail to court ever since its inception), why do they still require this information? 

Second: We can email the facility to see our clients. Why can't we fill out the forms in our office and email them as well? 

It's hard enough to be a lawyer without all this nonsense. 

Third: As we approach Thanksgiving, just how many trial weeks are left in the year? Figure next week and the week after. The week of Thanksgiving (the 20th is out). Then the following week and the weeks of December 4 and 11. So that's a total of five real trial weeks left in the year. 

And while we are on the subject of it, now is a good time to remember Rumpole's first rule of trial: never ever ever allow a trial to be set the first week of the year. That's when Judges and Prosecutors- who have spent the holidays ruminating on the defendants who got away- put their plan and resolutions to be tough on crime and defendants who go to trial into effect. 

From Occupied America, fight the power. 



Wednesday, November 01, 2017

HERRERA HAMMERED

Attorney Jose Herrera, who was once the counsel for the Miccosukee tribe, but has since lost that plum job with his disingenuous handling of a case, that for a time unfairly besmirched the reputation of two fine lawyers,  (see our coverage in 2013 of that contretemps here) has been found GUILTY by Judge Tunis, who was the appointed Bar Referee.

Sanctions come next. It won't be pretty.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

There's so many scary things going on in the world today, sometimes it's nice to just take a break and have a piece of candy. 



Halloween comes from the Celtic festival Samhain. Which means that the holiday is an  Irish one.  

Coming tomorrow: a scary verdict for a lawyer in a Bar case. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

THE GREATEST LAWYER

In  speech earlier this month to a Chicago law school, Supreme Court Justice Kagan called Thurgood Marshall (for whom she clerked) "the greatest lawyer of the twentieth century...no one did more to advance justice."

High praise indeed. 

It's the "advance justice" portion of the quotation that has us wondering. 

Marshall was a top-notch appellate advocate and as Kagan stated, he was also a very good trial lawyer- a skill that is oft not considered when looking at Marshall's career. 


Lee Bailey and Edward Bennett Williams and Gerry Spence were  better trial lawyers in the 20th century than Marshall, but one cannot say they did more  to advance the cause of justice. And as Kagan pointed out, Marshall went into courts and trials in the south often under the threat of death. So Marshall faced obstacles Bailey and Williams and Spence never faced. 

And finally, we tend to look through the lense of "greatest lawyer" as "greatest trial lawyer" but that's like saying the greatest doctor must be a surgeon. 

So, query: Who was a "greater" lawyer than Marshall in the 20th century? 

From Occupied America, where the downfall of a president could have started with the indictments today (we can only hope), fight the power!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO

UPDATE: AND THE SIGNS ARE DOWN. Well done Judge, Well done indeed. 
While many who wear black robes may disagree, judges aren't perfect. But they need to strive to be. The measure of a judge is not that they may make an (innocent-pun intended) mistake, but whether they are intelligent and honest enough to admit it and correct it. 

Coming soon (maybe) (New Judge) bans defense attorneys from trials. Says they "just slow down the process."

----


There's something about new judges that causes them to lose common sense. 
Some new judges decide that by picking juries at 8pm and forcing attorneys to do opening statements at midnight will somehow give them a good reputation. 
For many new judges there is something irresistible about banning people from their courtroom. They just  love to do it. 
And for those judges who love to ban people from their courtroom, children are their top targets. Why these judges are so offended by a child entering a courtroom is beyond us. But as sure as fall follows summer, some new judge will take the bench and start littering the doors of their courtroom with signs banning all sorts of people. 
Of course, it's against the law. Florida courtrooms are open to all and can only be closed after following a specific procedure that requires, inter alia, notice to the media. 

So it comes as no surprise that some new judge has done it again. This time, it's the denizen of 2-10. 

Before we make a BIG BIG issue of this, we ask one of two things: either the judge explain to us via email why they feel they have the right to ban any particular class of people from a courtroom in the State of Florida and the United States of America? We promise to print the email unedited, including any curse words, if they send it. 

Or they can make life easy and take the stupid signs down. 

If anyone wants to take their children to any courtroom in the State of Florida and have them observe proceedings, they have an almost absolute right to do so. And of course, such a block-headed sign shows absolutely no understanding for the defendant who is a single parent of say a two month old infant and has no access to child care and has a notice to appear for an arraignment. 

Why punish children? Why punish parents of children? And why, when we already live in a society where the president attacks the rights of news media to question public officials,  does a judge turn a courtroom- a sacred place of liberty and justice- into a place of fear, where children are banned? 

At least once a month  we are approached by someone in a hallway who timidly asks us if they are allowed in a courtroom? We respond: "This is the United States of America- of course you can go into any courtroom you want."
Except now there is one judge who wants to make sure a child doesn't dare enter their little fiefdom. 

So, do you really want to be known as a judge who bans children? A judge who builds a proverbial wall excluding the best, the most innocent, and most precious parts of our society from a hallowed place of justice? 
Really Judge? You want to be known as the "child-banning" judge? 

We see so many judges take time to welcome children into their courtroom and make them feel at home. Former Dade Circuit Judge Beth Bloom lined the walls of her courtroom with pictures children had drawn of what justice meant to them. No wonder Judge Bloom is now a federal judge.  Perhaps you could speak to some of your colleagues, or a therapist, and identify where this anger (or fear) of a small child comes from?

Because the sign bespeaks of an authoritarian bent where the courtroom belongs to you and not the public. And we all know that is not true. 

From Occupied America, where we love children, Fight the Power. 

GRIECO: I DIDN'T DO NUTTIN




While the case of former and embattled Miami Beach commissioner Michael Grieco is closed, he is maintaining his innocence as this Miami Herald Article reveals:

After a court appearance in which he did not admit guilt, Grieco told the Miami Herald he had no idea that two of his friends — Coconut Grove real estate broker Tony Rodriguez-Tellaheche and Norwegian millionaire Petter Smedvig Hagland — were planning to worm foreign money into his secretive political fundraising group. Only people with U.S. citizenship or permanent residency can contribute to American elections. Hagland, scion of a wealthy oil family, is a Norwegian citizen.

The only thing missing from the plea/denial dance that went on yesterday was Grieco calling the plea, the allegations, and the prosecution "fake news". 

From Occupied America, where Floatopia is most certainly not fake news, Fight The Power. Never admit. Never talk. Never plead. Go to trial. 


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

GRIECO CASE CLOSED







Observers reported that it was not that nearly dramatic, nor poignant, nor bittersweet, as Michael Grieco signed the rights waiver former and answered the plea colloquy questions from Judge Sam Slom in a clear and steady voice on Tuesday morning. Hours before arriving at court, Grieco, as required by his plea agreement, resigned as City Commissioner for Miami Beach, perhaps ending a promising political career. 
And perhaps not. 
Because adjudication was withheld, and all the plea agreement requires is that Grieco not run for office during the time he is on probation. 
Stranger things have happened. 

And perhaps with an eye to the future, Grieco sent out this email to his supporters. We just have one question: What is "Floatopia" and why did Grieco battle against it? 



Monday, October 23, 2017

GRIECO TO PLEAD TO MISDEMEANOR

Former ASA, current criminal defense attorney and Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Grieco will plead guilty Tuesday to one misdemeanor count of a state campaign finance law. He will serve one year probation. 
The Herald went live with this story at about 9:45 pm:

One source with knowledge of the investigation said Grieco, a criminal defense attorney, will plead to one misdemeanor count of accepting a political donation disguised through a straw donor, a violation of state campaign finance law. As part of the plea deal, he will submit his resignation at City Hall on Tuesday morning before going to Miami-Dade criminal court. He will receive one year of probation during which time he will not be able to run for public office. Grieco will also pay the costs associated with the state attorney’s public corruption investigation.
Grieco, a former assistant state attorney, was investigated by the same office that once employed him. He resigned from the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office in 2006 after an ethical misstep — he was accused of using his position as the prosecutor on a high-profile case to promote his side job as a weekend nightclub disc jockey.


HIJACKED

For those of you bored enough to ponder civil law and who have recently checked out the South Florida Lawyers civil blog,  we have learned that the blog has been Hi-Jacked and is being held hostage. 

You see, if you give someone your log-on credentials, they can log on and change the password. And then you, as the owner, are locked out. 

Meanwhile, for our less gullible readers, we offer this business opportunity which involves the tragic death of a Nigerian business owner, and the offer of 50% of the proceeds of the recovery of 37 million dollars being held by the Bank of Canada in Nigeria. 

What Rumpole is Reading:
We were pleased to see the release of two wonderful biographies by two accomplished biographers this past week. Grant, by Ron Chernow, who has also written biographies of Alexander Hamilton and Geo. Washington. And Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, whose last subject was Steve Jobs. 

Fun fact: Grant's given name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. When Grant's father asked his congressman to nominate Grant for a spot at West Point, the application was inexplicably filled out for Ulysses S Grant. When Grant arrived at West Point, his name on the board was U. S. Grant, which caused his classmates to nickname him "Uncle Sam", shortened to Sam Grant, which is how he was known to his classmates forever more. 

From Occupied America, where Chief Justice Chase wrote in Texas v. White  that "the Constitution in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States", fight the power!



Sunday, October 22, 2017

SUNDAY DOLPHINS GAME

UPDATE: After a late Jets-McCown INT in Fins territory, the home team kicked a 35 YD FG, to win the game after the Dolphins came back to score the last 17 points after being 14 points down with Matt Moore, the back-up to the back-up leading the team. The view here is that Moore has won the starting QB Job. Cutler is a stiff who needs to retire.  

The real story here today however is the reprehensible condition of the field which saw innumerable players slip and fall.  The footing was akin to a December game in Chicago on a frozen field. Shameful. 


We will do  a little live blogging from todays game against the J...E...T...S Jets Jets Jets from the luxury suite where we are enjoying the game. Pardon us a moment while we try some of the lobster...

Currently the Fins are down 14-7 and it looks ugly. 

Query: When did football become synonymous with patriotism? Despite the kneeling controversy, the NFL works to make a connection between soldiers overseas and football. What if you're a football fan who is a pacifist?  It all has the feel of fake jingoism with a twist of xenophobia. It's not pleasant and it takes away from the game. We get the feeling that if some fan, sitting and sweating in the stands, didn't stand during the anthem or during some patriotic mini-event during a commercial, it would get ugly. And shouldn't politics be a refuge from sports and not a continuation thereof? 

Isn't it time to do away with the playing of the National Anthem before every sporting event? Maybe if we played it less, it wouldn't be taken for granted and would be given more respect. Just a thought. 

We highly recommend the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2015 reserve, with shellfish. 

With six minutes left, QB Matt Moore has hit WR Kenny Stills twice for tying TDs. The first was nullified by a flagrant offensive pass interference, but the second was good and props to Moore and the Fins for fighting back from two TDs down. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

BLACK TUESDAY

Tuesday of this week will forever be known henceforth as "Black Tuesday" judging (pun intended) from the moaning, groaning and shocking movement of judges in and out of the REGJB pending the New Year. 

For example, Judge Richard Hersch was said to be beside himself (and not in a good way) with his pending assignment to Juvenile in the new year. Ditto Judge Pooler. 

Some judges are calling it a massacre. Others could just be heard weeping softly into their cafe-con-leche's Wednesday morning. 
The loss of these judges along with De La O and Rudy Ruiz, along with the loss of Judge Colodny who already went to probate (Probate???) recently, means that the REGJB has suffered and will suffer a substantial talent drain. 

The list is below:
(btw that new judge "vacancy" listed as going to Juvie could well be the best of the bunch. Guaranteed not to screw anything up.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

YOUR NEW FEDERAL COURT JUDGE

Your new federal court judge may just come from the following Miami State court judges who have applied and think they have the right stuff for Federal Court (Motto:        " The benefits include: Really big chambers; the guidelines are advisory; no idiot can run against you") 

Antonio Arzola (Former Fred Moreno Clerk)

Mark Blumstein (Not been on bench long enough to find his parking spot)

Betty Butchko (Former ASA)

John Kastrenakis*

Peter Lopez (Well respected judge, often spoken of as Fed Material) 

Migna Sanchez-Llorens (Former Fed PD)

Orlando Prescott (Former ASA, distinguished himself as Administrative Judge in Juvenile Court)

Thomas Rebull

Rudy Ruiz (Making very positive impressions during his short time on the bench)

Rodney Smith (Former ASA, very compelling personal story and journey to becoming a Judge)

John Thornton (Not his first federal rodeo, Fred Moreno connection which is not something to be overlooked)

Daryl Trawick (Former AUSA)


*Judge Kastrenakis sits in West Palm Beach, but he is a former Dade ASA, Former Southern District AUSA, and rumored to be a reader of the blog, so we include him in the list. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

ROY GONZALEZ HAS PASSED AWAY

There's a new Hawaiian shirt in heaven today. 
We received some very sad news that long-time Assistant Public Defender Roy Gonzalez, who had retired, has passed away. 
Below is the obituary that we received from his wife.

Roy was a wonderful man and a great and dedicated attorney. And, as legions of young assistant public defenders learned, he was one of the go-to guys in the office when you needed help on a case. And if he wasn't in court, then he wasn't hard to find- just look for the guy wearing a brightly coloured Hawaiian shirt. 

Roy loved reading our blog.  His reading our blog and participation was a source of pleasure and pride  for us.  

None of these are easy, and these last two- George and Roy, have hit hard because they were good men, and their passing was so unexpected. 

Hang in there folks and make every day count. 


Roy Gonzalez, Jr., went to be with his Lord on October 14, 2017, after a short battle with cancer.  He was born July 10, 1944, to Rogelio (Roy) and Margarita (Casanueva) Gonzalez, in Miami Beach, Florida.  He attended Miami High, graduating Class of '62; the University of Florida (Go Gators), graduating Class of '66; and the charter class of the Florida State School of Law, graduating Class of '69.  He was a proud veteran of the U.S. Army like his father before him, serving at Camp Howze near the DMZ in South Korea as a 1st Lieutenant with the 2nd Infantry Division during the Vietnam Era.  He worked in the Florida legislature and practiced criminal defense law in Miami, both in private practice and with the Public Defenders Office of the 11th Judicial Circuit, where he was famous for wearing Hawaiian shirts when not in court. 

He is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Robin (Ledee) Gonzalez, who he cherished and loved to spoil.

Luke 10:15 says there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents, and what a party the angels had in 1994 when Roy found Jesus and was born again into the Christian faith. He lovingly served his Lord by becoming a choir member and moderator of the Key Biscayne Community Church from 1995 until 2006, when he moved to Highlands County, where he continued his service as deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Placid and where he also continued to make a joyful noise to the Lord by singing in their choir.

A celebration of life will be at First Presbyterian Church, 118 N. Oak Avenue, Lake Placid, FL,  on Saturday, October 21, 2017.  Visitation with the family will be at 1 p.m. with the service at 2 p.m., with Rev. Raymond Cameron officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Genesis Center Building Fund, P.O. Box 326, Lake Placid, FL, 33862, or Heartlandcatrescue.com in honor of the beloved cats Roy and Robin had adopted through their years together.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

NEW JUDGES

"No Judge writes on a wholly clean slate."
Felix Frankfurter, 1937. 

Judges Ivonne Cuesta and Laura Stuzin were elevated from county court to circuit court this week, replacing the vacancies that occurred with the retirement of Judge Cardonne-Ely, and elevation of Judge Lindsey to the 3rd District Court of PCA Appeals. 


Judges Altfield, Brinkley and Multack, along with ASA Luis Perez-Medina were among those whose names were sent to Tallahassee but were not given a seat when the music stopped. 


Judge Rosa Rodriguez, a former Dade Public Defender, resigned from the Circuit court after 18 1/2 years on the bench, effective Halloween, 2017. Boo!

Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverend than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.
Francis Bacon, "Essay LVI: Of Judicature", Essays (1625).


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

GEORGE CHOLAKIS FUNERAL DETAILS

There will be a visitation with family on Thursday evening at Van Orsdel Funeral Home at 4600 SW 8th street, Miami, Fl, from 6-9. 

The funeral services will be Friday morning at St. Sophia Church, 2401 SW 3rd Avenue at 10:00 AM.  

No more of these for a while please. This has been very very hard. 

He was a man. Take him all in all. 
I shall not look upon his like again.  Hamlet, Act I, Scene 2.  

Peace. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

BIZARRE CONNECTION BETWEEN POLICE SHOOTING AND DEATH OF GEORGE CHOLAKIS

Lots going on. It's either feast or famine in the blogging world.

Judge Rosa Rodriguez has called it quits. Hanging up the black robes, she resigned this week.

Judge Stuart Simons, a very well respected Dade Jurist passed away this week, his death in retirement overshadowed by the untimely death of our friend and colleague George Cholakis.
Our post referencing the election for the spot vacated by Judge Simons in 2008 is here

And then there is this...

Retired Miami-Dade homicide detective John Butchko was with George when he was stricken at the Dolphins game. Det. Butchko, an all around good guy and very good detective in his day, accompanied George from the game to the hospital where George tragically passed away.

On the way home, Det. Butchko was struck by an impaired driver who then fled the scene. It was the same driver who was stopped a few blocks away by the Miami Beach Police department. The driver attempted to flee, struck a  police officer, and then was shot and killed.

Channel Ten has been all over the story, along with video of the shooting here. 



Just an awful and bizarre Sunday, one best put behind us as soon a possible.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

GEORGE CHOLAKIS HAS PASSED AWAY

It is with a very deep and heavy heart that we report that our good friend and colleague George Cholakis has passed away. The details are still unclear, but it appears to have occurred at the Dolphins game on Sunday. And if you knew George, you know that Dolphin home games  and tail-gating with his friends were one of the things he looked forward to all year. 

This may be one of the last pictures of George. Taken at today's game. 
George was a good and dedicated lawyer. The highlight of his career was most likely the work he did as a prosecutor taking down a violent street gang. It was a case he dedicated his heart and soul to, and he often spoke about it, proud of the work he had done to make our community safer. 

George was also dedicated to his wife and his family as well as his church. 

George was the type of lawyer who always had a smile and time to sit down and talk with you. He was a good guy. A good friend. A dedicated lawyer, husband, and member of this community.

He will be greatly missed.  

Friday, October 06, 2017

GOVERNOR ...WHO????

POTUS 45 needs cabinet members. Department of Homeland Security for starters.  
Governor Rick Scott, a Trump fav, needs/wants to get out of Tallahassee. (Can you blame him?)

Which leaves a wide open race for Governor in 2018. 

Enter...steady now....

Katherine Fernandez-Rundle!!! ??

Yes, we have it on good authority that this is more than just water-cooler chatter. 

"Governor Kathy?" Has a ring to it. 

From Occupied America, Fight The Power. 

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

FIRST TUESDAY IN OCTOBER

Monday was the first Monday in October.
Some grow-up waiting for opening day in baseball. Others spend their childhood  waiting for the autumnal smells and sounds and the cooler weather that signals the start of football season. 
For legal beagles like our fellow federal blogger, it was the first Monday in October that heralded the start of the new Supreme Court season that was circled on his calendar. While friends traded Baseball cards, he read the NLRB opinions of Douglas and Fortas.

This season started, unlike last year, with a full contingent of Supreme Court Justices. You will remember that the court operated for some time with eight justices, because of the "McConnell Law" which states "No justice shall be confirmed if nominated by a democratic president beyond thirty days in office of the new president's first term"- the reason behind the law being that after 30 days in office, it's better to wait four or eight years so the will of the people in a new presidential election can determine who can serve on the court. 

Did you know? That when Chief Justice Fred Vinson  died, President Eisenhower,  made a "recess appointment" of new Chief Justice Earl Warren in September, 1953? Warren served on the court as the term began in October, and then was confirmed by the Senate in January, 1954.

Did you also know that Warren, governor of California, was Dewey's running mate against Truman in 1948?

Did you also know that at the Republican Convention in 1952, Warren was California's favourite son, and was angling for the Vice President's spot on the ticket with Ike, before Nixon- the senator from California outmaneuvered him? Warren never forgave Nixon, and in 1952 privately and presciently called him "a crook and a thief"?   

This year's first day of the new term saw the re-argument of Sessions v. Dimaya, which was argued last year and resulted in a 4-4 decision. The case involves the question of what is a violent felony that requires the deportation of an immigrant? 
Dimaya was convicted of a residential burglary. "Out you go!"  said the Department of Homeland Deportations.
But citing a Scalia opinion in a similar case where the late Justice held that the Armed Career Criminal Act was void for vagueness,  Dimaya challenged the law. 

All eyes were on the new kid on the bench. Justice Gorsuch seemed skeptical of the Government's case. Judge G felt the law, which set up "categories" of crimes, rather than using specific lists,  forced judges to do the work of legislators. 

And we all know that there is no better way to anger the Federalist Society, which oversees all opinions of the Supreme Court, than to say "a judge is legislating"!

From Occupied and bullet-ridden America, Fight the Power!



Sunday, October 01, 2017

GREGG TOUNG HAS PASSED AWAY

Gregg Toung, a very well liked and respected Assistant Public Defender has passed away. Gregg was a training attorney as well as a lawyer who handled some of the most difficult Jimmy Ryce cases.

We didn't know Gregg, but emails and comments have been flooding in talking about his life and passing from cancer at way too early an age. Some of the comments are below, and we will post more:

Gregg was my training atty when I started in the public defenders office. What a decent and caring man. May he Rest In Peace.

I will miss Gregg. He and I tried many Ryce cases against each other, took may depo trips and had tons of laughs. Gregg was a terrific lawyer but an even better person. His word was his bond. 
May his memory be a blessing. My most sincere condolences to his family. 
Audrey Frank-Aponte



Gregg Toung has passed away. Most PD's and ex-PD's in the last 15 to 20 years were trained at some point by Gregg. He was a classy, warm, genuine person and loved a good fight as a lawyer. The entire Miami Public Defender community is heartbroken by this news. He handled the hardest cases (Jimmy Ryce and Death Penalty) yet always maintained his gentlemanly demeanor. I really do not know anyone who has anything bad to say about Gregg. He will be truly missed.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

GRIECO NO SPEAKO

When embattled FORMER Miami-Beach Commissioner, and FORMER ASA, and putative REGJB irregular, Michael Grieco held a press conference and resigned his commission seat, he stationed a police officer in front of him, ostensibly to keep the press away. 

We would say this is Nixonian, except Nixon plotted against the press and other enemies in secret. It's actually a page from the current POTUS playbook, who used security thugs during the campaign to evict protesters from his rallies. 

Having resigned to spend more time on his health, family, and law practice, Grieco exited stage left. 

Of course, one could speculate that a deal with the SAO to wrap up their investigation would have included a requirement that he immediately resign from his office of public trust. 

But that is just speculation. 

For now. 

Politics is a nasty business. A pool full of sharks trying to rip your flesh from your bones- and those are your friends. 

From Occupied America, where deeper scandals pertaining to higher officials than Miami Beach City Commissioners lurk, Fight the Power!


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

THE CONSCIENCE OF A CONSERVATIVE

When in due course of human events a woman is faced with career choice that sets her values against her goals...

We are guided by the principle that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to remain silent and do nothing.

What should a talented lawyer/judge do when a person of such low values and intellect who occupies the highest office in the land offers them a career defining job like the US Attorney For the Southern District Of Florida?

Gaary Wills, writing in this month's Vanity Fair as one of a group of authors who are presidential historians, finishes his article on Trump thusly:

"People who have crawled to him are feeling the sickness of shame...More people must resign from office on principle. More people must explain why they refused his offers of government jobs. He degrades women. He degrades races and religions. He degrades us."

What would a person of high moral character, integrity, and intelligence like Judge Ariana Fajardo-Orshan  do as US Attorney? Would she enforce immigration policies that deport Dreamers- many of them young, Hispanic men and women who are good Americans in all but legal name only?  Would she follow the recommendations of Attorney General Sessions and seek maximum incarceration penalties for marijuana cases? Would she subvert the property rights of Americans by enforcing the new and draconian forfeiture laws that Sessions seeks to enforce? Can a conservative, knowing that the Philosopher Ayn Rand persuasively wrote that property rights are the foundation of all rights, seek to deprive citizens of their property based on the suspicious innuendo of the police state?

At the end of WWII, Dwight Eisenhower supported the prosecution of all Nazis to the end that two million Germans were prosecuted and one million were convicted of crimes associated with joining the Nazi party.  Eisenhower knew that National Socialism could not have succeeded without the cooperation of the middle class professionals. The college professors who took over from their jailed Jewish colleagues. The lawyers who prosecuted laws against Jews and the Judges who found the Jews guilty. The shop owners who refused to serve them, the business men who bought the Jewish businesses for pennies on the dollar when Jews were prohibited from owning businesses.
All of them profited from the turn of events of Germany in the 1930's. All of them turned a blind eye to the rantings of the Chancellor of Germany and accepted the professional and business opportunities their mad times dropped in their laps.

Will our next US Attorney lend her imprimatur to the xenophobic  policies of our President who seeks to ban people based on their race and religion? Will she seek fines designed to pay for a wall on the Mexican border?

Will any person of good conscience accept any job- Judge, prosecutor, government bureaucrat from a man who called the white-supremacist protesters in Charlotte "Good people"?

Turning down the offer of a dream job may hurt. But some day, when your daughter or granddaughter asks you "Mom, what did you do when Trump was trying to deport Dreamers, and called global warming a hoax, and demeaned women and gave hope to racists?"

Will you be able to hold your head up high and talk to your children and grandchildren about the higher call? What Senator John McCain reminded us is "Duty, Honor, Country?" The same Senator who as a POW refused to be released from the torture and beatings until all his men were released first. The same Senator our president who didn't serve his country  said wasn't a war hero because he was captured.

Or will you be unable to look at yourself in the mirror because you compromised your morals?

We all like to think that if we were on that bus with Rosa Parks we would have spoken up and said "Not today. Today Ms. Parks sits in the front next to me."

That we would have stood firm on the Freedom Bridge in the face of the dogs and the water cannons. That we would have sat at the lunch counter and demanded they serve our black brothers and sisters with us. That we would have gone to jail with Dr. King and countless others rather than back down to the racist police. That we would have stood outside the arena in Chicago in 1968 during the Democratic National Convention and suffered the beatings of police nightsticks while chanting "The whole world is watching."

Now is the time to make that stand.
No government can exist without the support of the governed.
Evil cannot exist without the silence and compliance of good people.

If you are offered the job of US Attorney Judge Ariana Fajardo-Orshan, don't take it. Don't compromise your ideals and morals.
Take a stand.
Be a hero.

Fight the power.











Monday, September 25, 2017

GRIECO DROPS OUT OF COMMISSIONER'S RACE

Former ASA, REGJB irregular Michael Grieco has formerly ended his re-election bid as a City Of Miami Beach (Motto: "Soon to be underwater and loving it.") Commissioner. 

With confirmed State and possible federal investigations swirling around the beleaguered pol, what do you make of this development? 

There are several different ways to view this. But far be it from us to engage in unwarranted speculation.

In 1972, Senator George McGovern, having locked up the Democratic nomination, was looking for a VP candidate. Nixon, appearing unbeatable, frightened most of the top politicians away. Kennedy said no. So did Senators Humphrey, Muskie, and our fav- Birch Bayh. Bahstahn Mayor Kevin White accepted, but Ken Galbraith kaboshed it, threatening to walk the entire Massachusetts delegation out of the convention if that occurred.  

Finally George M settled on Missouri Senator Thomas Francis Eagleton. Who was a good pick EXCEPT....for his treatments and hospitalizations for chronic depression by psychiatrists- which at the time was akin to being a closet communist/transgender devil worshipping porn lover- politically speaking. Of course today, pretty much every chambers at the REGB has a bottle of Wellbutrin or the like tucked away in it. 

Having named Eagleton, McGovern had to stand by him, until Eagleton withdrew and Sergeant Shriver tried to bring a little Camelot to the campaign. 

Our point being, (and we have gotten a little lost here) is that people withdraw from political races for a whole host of reasons- from infidelity (Gary Hart in 1988 - who BTW was McGovern's campaign manager in 1972), to health (Eagleton), to pending criminal investigation, to just being an obnoxious jerk who tweets x-rated pictures to underage girls(Anthony Weiner who Monday was sentenced to 21 months in prison). 

From Occupied America, fight the power and remember- not only commissioners can resign from public office. Presidents can too. 

Coming Next: The Conscience of a Conservative. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

DIARY OF A MAD PRESIDENT: STAND AND DELIVER EDITION

Dear Diary: 
Best week ever of greatest presidency ever.

Loving the Rocket Man quip. They loved me at the UN. It was so quiet during my speech, you could hear a pin drop. That's how much they loved it. None of that polite clapping junk. 

But this week is all about the National Anthem. I love being the president who defends the national anthem. Obama never did that. Neither did Bush. Or his brother the other Bush.

I know more about the first amendment than any lawyer alive. It doesn't cover free speech at work. When you're at work, you have to do what your boss says. Or...and this is my favorite...you're fired!

And that's all I was saying in my speech in Atlanta. When Benjamin Franklin was drafting the first amendment, he never meant it to be applied during work. You can say whatever you want when no one is listening. That's what free speech is. And, excuse me but kneeling isn't speech. It's a physical action, so duh! It's not speech and no first amendment. Otherwise, first amendment? Repeal and Replace!!

When our greatest general ever, George Patton was about to invade Japan, he gave a speech that what they were fighting for was for the young boys back home, on freshly cut fields of grass, about to play little league baseball and football and who were standing for the national anthem. That's what the invasion was about. And when some solider didn't agree, Patton SLAPPED HIM!

That's what I am talking about. NFL owners should slap those players who sit during the national anthem. Then fire them. 

What we need is more Patton and less...what ever is not Patton and that means less sitting during the national anthem. 

Memo to whoever is my chief of staff: After repeal and replace we need new law: Everyone must stand during the national anthem and if they sit they lose their health care and face a mandatory...five...no ten years in prison with NO PAROLE.  And then deportation to Mexico after paying a five ...no ten thousand fine to pay for the wall. 

I love this job! And I'm so damn good at it! 

DJT.