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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE?

White House in crisis? 

How about the SAO in crisis? 

We received this comment:
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Morale at the office is at an all-time low. So many people have dropped papers that almost no one with experience is left to replace the open positions. At some point, this is going to mean that an important case is mishandled because really how can you expect ASAs who've been at the office barely 3-4 years to handle serious cases? And why is everyone leaving? Shit pay, zero appreciation, nonsensical administration, and a State Attorney who is so far removed from actual office and court life that she thinks the biggest problem in the office is the dress code. Money could be better distributed. The office could be better organized. But that would require a better leader. Leaving the office will be bittersweet but necessary.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 11:37:00 PM


What we want is to hear from the other side. A spirited defense of the Miami SAO, once the premier state prosecuting office in the nation. Lets hear from those prosecutors who want to say all is well, morale is great, and things couldn't be better. 

Let's get to the bottom of this. Is there an internal crisis of confidence at the SAO or not? 

From Occupied America...Fight the Power!

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now, here is something worth hearing about.I certainly hope for everybody's sake that that is not the case.

al crespo said...

Hey Rumpole, last year I did a 10 part series on how Katherine Fernandez-Rundle had politicized the office and had given out no-bid contracts to Court Options and The Advocate Program, and how Court Options had reciprocated by openly doing things to promote her reelection campaigns.

The worst part was how she extorted over $5 million in "donations" to the Denise Moon Fund as a condition for clients being able to successfully complete their pre-trial programs. The same hustle, for another Fund dealing with drunk drivers that as of my last public records request had collected over $2.7 million.

And that's before my story a couple weeks back of how she treated the information about homicide evidence that was destroyed as a result of gross incompetence by the Miami Police Department.

The days of the SAO being at the top of their game went away a long time ago. Twenty years as the State Attorney has corrupted both Katherine Fernandez-Rundle and the SAO, not withstanding the work they do on street level crimes.

Al Crespo
www.thecrespogram.com

al crespo said...

Anyone can read it all, with copies of all the cited documents by going to: http://www.thecrespogram.com/corruption-in-the-court-system.html

Anonymous said...

Didn't an attorney win a huge verdict in federal court some years ago against Kathy and the SAO for sexual harassment of one of their major crime secretaries?

Anonymous said...

That is why I favor terms limits. Two terms is enough. Over time the public rarely benefits from a person staying around for twenty years. That is the case with the Miami Dade SAO, KFR needs to and do something else. The same is true in Broward where King Michael Satz has reigned for 40 years. Why?

BTW: I also favor two terms for judges I realize we would lose some good ones but we would also get rid of a lot of crappy ones.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Sounds just like PDO.

Anonymous said...

This kind of stuff happens all the time. You try managing 1000 egos.

If Kathy could get the folks in Tallahassee to pay the staff better she would have done so long ago.

Relax, people.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of, the 3rd DCA dropped the hammer on a prosecutor for improper argument in closing, though fell short of reversing the conviction

"Although the State Attorney’s Office prosecutes these cases, the regional office of the Attorney General of Florida is required to handle any resulting appeals. One imagines that improper argument of this kind might diminish if the prosecutor who created the issue at trial was required to research and write the appellee’s brief, and then argue the appeal here."

http://www.3dca.flcourts.org/Opinions/3D15-1434.pdf

Anonymous said...

So a bit of perspective from an old timer. Attrition has always been high at the SAO and is not related to so-called "low morale." There have been over the decades ebbs and flows on Assistants leaving the office in larger or lesser numbers. The attrition has depended on the greater legal market, the economy, how much hiring the federal government is doing, and the like. Add that to the fact that the SAO has always hired nationally and that a lot of Assistants after three years begin to work their way back to there original homes out of state, and that adds up, again to a lot of attrition. The pay has always been too low. The lack of statutory cost of living increases since 2006 has hurt to be sure but once again, if you take a historical perspective, today is not much different than yesterday. Those of us that can remember back to the 1980's will tell you that back then, if you were not promoted to division chief and handling homicides within three to four years, then you were slow to promotion. Again, about a decade ago, there were division chief promotions within three years. A lot of those Assistants with not a lot of time on the experience clock did a great job in spite of quick promotions. Hell, a number of them are now well respected federal prosecutors, career state prosecutors, leaders in the private Bar and judges. One other thing, there was in the 80's, 90's, and early in this century to today, Assistants who gripe, most without any reason, and others who come to the office, go to court, do a long day's good work, and are very motivated. Anyone who has been around for a long time can confirm this - or they are not being honest. Oh, and by the way, there was never a time when giants roamed the earth. There have always been great judges, ASAs, and APDs, not great but competent judges, ASAs and APDs, and others. Finally, those that think that the current State Attorney, KFR is anything other than a progressive and dedicated chief prosecutor, well, I suggest that you travel the state and country and check in other chief prosecutors and their offices. If you are honest with yourselves, you will realize that this is undoubtedly one of the best prosecutors' offices in the nation.

Anonymous said...

Good evening & challenge accepted!

I am actually saddened to read the comment that is the subject of this thread—but as I respectfully disagree, this is not the image that I would like to leave the readers with. I hate to use the cliché, but, the job is truly what you make it.

As a little background, I’ve been an ASA with the Miami-Dade SAO for almost ten years. I moved to South Florida (from another state), for the sole purpose of working with this office. I was attracted, first, by the extensive training program, as well as the Justice in Motion program; and then later, after interning for a summer, Ms. Rundle herself. Ms. Rundle believes in justice…whether that means dismissing a case, asking for prison or getting a person into a rehabilitation program. These values are important to me…I did not want to work for an office, where the sole goal was “conviction”. As such, I am able to dispose of my cases in a thoughtful, reasonable, conscientious manner.

As to the pay…it is not a surprise. The salary is on the website and each person is asked about it in their interview. Once hired, there are several opportunities for promotions—and pay increases—early on in your career—the onus is on you to excel, and apply. Additionally, keeping in mind that this is a State position, the salaries are set by the legislature. Ms. Rundle spends a substantial amount of time advocating on our behalf for pay increases. During my time in the office, there have been several merit increases, due to that hard work.

Regarding distribution of the money…truly not sure how this works, but, I will say, I have been proud of some of the changes. I’m sure money went to develop our Human Trafficking division—the unit that does outstanding work and saves many, who could not otherwise help themselves. We are developing and staffing a Veteran’s Court to assist those with special needs. Isn’t that part of the justice equation?

Last, one of my favorite reasons to continue working for the office, is that they do indeed reward hard work and value the opinions of those on the front lines. If you have a path you are interested in taking, communicate with your supervisor. You will be instructed on the best way to achieve your goals…and will be assisted with your career development. The way to show you care about your position, is not to complain to your fellow prosecutors, but make suggestions—become involved in policy decisions—this will show you care about improving the office and our community.

And seriously, the dress code is important. Is it really too much to ask that professional lawyers do not attend court in anything but professional attire? We represent the State of Florida and Ms. Rundle’s office…those facts, along with professional dignity and self-care, should give one the incentive to look their best.

As I first mentioned, the job—career—is what you make it. In the words of someone I heard today, there are no shortcuts to glory. You have to work hard, be ethical, care about your work and be involved in your community. That is the path to success. Quitting after only a year or two is only shortchanging what could have been a phenomenal, rewarding career—one with actual impact on your community.

My twenty cents.

Anonymous said...

Let's start with this. If you need the State Attorney's validation to keep up your morale, you not only need a new job but also a large dose of adulthood. To think that the person who runs an office of around three hundred attorneys, who has to maneuver through more political and ethnic groups than are hanging around in the Balkans, who has to fight the most creatively corrupt citizenry in the U.S., and who has to do all this without being the subject of investigations by the Miami Herald on a daily basis has time to make friends,stroke or in general tell a professional his or her work is especially appreciated is silly.
Second, the pay is not good, but it is not like anyone tells the new hires that they are going to make more than they actually do. If, however, a lawyer is willing to stay with the office, work hard, and show the character and proficiency that a good prosecutor demands, a middle class income is assured. If this is not enough, then by all means find employment elsewhere. It's not for everyone to pursue this for a long period; there's plenty of instances of moral ambiguity and the rewards tend to be more in the form of next-of-kin hugs and not bonuses, but at the end of the day, actually at the end of a lot of days, looking back on a career as a prosecutor can be awfully satisfying. If you are not going to be in for the long haul, don't bother blaming the State Attorney though. Those of us that realized we had found our calling and not just a job have heard the complaining before. In fact we face those who decided this office wasn't for them everyday in court, depositions, and trial everyday.

Anonymous said...

Your twenty cents are a joke.

If you speak your mind you are seen as a problem. If you tote the line you end up as a Division Chief - even if you have no clue how to put together or try a case.

Many ASAs leave early. Many show up late. There is no rhyme or reason to the office dynamics. They place the most unreasonable attorneys in the courtrooms where the Judges are equally unreasonable. Minimum mandatory waivers are arbitrary depending on if your chief likes you.

They file trash cases, and most ASAs, due to poor training, are afraid to think for themselves.

Anonymous said...

As a public servant, money and raises will always be an issue for the SA and PD. There will always continue to be two groups of public servants, those who consistently whine as if they need a diaper chamge and those who push through to fulfill the oath they took. There will be those who complain about leadership and the tools they are given and those who sharpen the tools they are given, striving to be the best bathroom cleaner, trash remover or ASA they can possibly be. There will always be those who are entitled and those who know we are blessed to do what we do and are grateful to be given this opportunity. There will be those who over extend their credit cards and student loans and whine when you don't get a raise to afford it those who don't. There will be those who quietly push through because they choose to remain as a public servant, with diligence and integrity, and those who will continue to blame their lot in life on KFR. If your morale (joy) is based on material things you can loose or KFR, I would suggest you re-evaluate your life's journey. KFR has done more for this community in 20 years than most of us can count on one hand.

Anonymous said...

Re your closing comment that "KFR has done more for this community in 20 years than most of us can count on one hand", if that's the best thing you can say about her, it's not much of a compliment, is it?

Anonymous said...

415, 743 (aka 20 cents), and 713 said it well.

As for the other comments, you all need to grow up. I was a prosecutor for more than a decade. I ALWAYS spoke my mind and didn't hesitate to criticize policies/prosecutors I had a problem with. KFR NEVER silenced me. In fact, I was promoted multiple times and felt free to express my views. Why is that? Because I worked my ass off and everyone knew that I gave my all.

For the most part, the prosecutors who work hard and try to make a difference love their jobs and do well. The prosecutors who approach the job with a "what can you do for me attitude" end up hating it and leaving (which, frankly, is for the best). The biggest problem at the SAO isn't KFR or the Chiefs, it's the whiners who think they should get paid more than they were ever promised and work half the hours they need to. Sorry, no sympathy here. As most former prosecutors who gave a damn would say, working at the SAO was the best job I ever had.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

7:13 is the summation of Baby Boomer arrogance and the definition of being born on third base, thinking you hit a triple.

I'll bet Rumpole a bottle of whiskey that if 7:13 identified itself, we would see an SAO employee who received multiple yearly raises (remember those?), whose combined household income is over 250k, and who went to undergrad and law school before the catastrophic, astronomical tuition jumps in the 90s and 00s.

Lecturing some millennial ASA with 150k in debt about not "whining"....

No wonder it's a shitty office with shit morale. An "oath"! Im laughing my ass off at that one. Does Kathy take an "oath" to you? And if she is so powerless to achieve a pay raise in Tallahassee such that her attorneys can be paid 75% of what the cops make, then why doesnt her loyalty to an "oath" demand that she step down to let someone else try?

Lol. What a shit show that office must be.

Anonymous said...

These defenders of a prosecutor in a major city who pays 65k after 10 years are hilarious. Anyone who has worked in the office recently knows that Kathy is petty with her raises and promotions. Oh, and you only get one if you sign another commitment. Oh, and she will take it back a pay raise and dock your pay to pay it back if you want to move into a different position during the middle of your commitment.


Sure it is a great experience for 3 years. But the only way a person can afford to stay after their initial commitment that is if they have family money. Maybe they have a rich mommy and daddy who paid for law school and bought them a nice house. Or maybe they have a hardworking spouse. But the people who stay long term can't make it anywhere else and have the means, outside their pitiful salary, to wait 20 years to break 100k. They value vacation days over hard work.

Anonymous said...

The common thread in all of these posts appears to be that there are a group of people not afraid to do their jobs with boldness and to speak up when something does not seem right to them. They are promoted and respected and heard. Perhaps the negative posts say more about those writing them than about the State Attorney.

Anonymous said...

Stunning that you all continue to trash the woman who signs your paycheck rather than move on and find something that truly makes you happier. Do something in the community rather than complain incessantly about what you believe you are entitled to.

Anonymous said...

208/437...........you seem to forget that the young ASAs know what they're going to be paid before the start. I agree that the pay is inexcusable, but suggesting that those who stay are simply spoiled and lazy is a terrible and unappreciative over-simplification of what's happening.

Further, you obviously know nothing about Florida politics if you think KFR and the other SAs are responsible for our Legislature's obstinence (EVERY SAO and PDO in the state, along with the judiciary and EVERY state agency, has the same problem). Our ingenious Legislature spends all its time slashing budgets/pay and trying to look tough on crime instead of dealing with the real issues. THEY are the bane of the system, not the grossly underpaid people trying to make it work.

Want to make a difference? Put the blame where it belongs and vote for people who will increase the prosecutors' (and other justice professionals' pay).

BTDT

Anonymous said...

I agree with the reply to your 20 cents. I was an ASA for a long time and while I learned a lot, I learned perhaps the most valuable lesson early on, unless you drink the kool aide hook like and sinker, SAO doesn't give a damn about your ideas, suggestions or your career path goals.

Kissimmee Kid said...

Term limits: Term limits are the end of liberty. In a free country, one would be free to pick who represents one's self. A tyrannous government picks who you "choose." Lawyers should remember that the fight for liberty began in England. In the 1750s the battle was over who chooses to pick the parliamentary representatives, the people or the government. The people won, temporarily. Now the term limits folks have turned back the calendar. Term limits strip the people of the right to choose; and the government chooses for them. You can support freedom and liberty, or you can choose term limits; you can't have both.