WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Monday, February 13, 2017

COMMITMENT IS A TEN LETTER WORD

We received some emails from the SAO.   
Upshot: The SAO is not a fun place to work. 
Everything is scrutinized and anyone who sticks their neck out gets it chopped off. 

Exhibit one: 
From our source:
An ASA who's worked at the office for over three years is leaving on Friday and an email for his/her going away happy hour went out to all ASAs in Graham at around 4pm today. The text of the email is below (with the name of the ASA omitted):

The SAO email: 

_______ has left the SAO!
With _____ gone, our halls will be a little more quiet and the Public Defender’s office will rest a little easier knowing _____ has hung up ___ trial shoes.
Come to Blackbird Ordinary right after work this Friday, February 3, 2017, to celebrate ______ time at the State Attorney’s Office and be reminded of just how much of a trial-dodger we all are.
Date: Feb 3, 2017
Time: Right after work
Place: Blackbird Ordinary
If you choose to drink please do so responsibly.

_______________

From our source: 

This ASA is well regarded by his/her peers as a great trial ASA and a hard worker and it's common knowledge that he/she is leaving before he/her just welcomed a baby into the family and the SAO salary isn't cutting it. Suffice it to say his/her happy hour will be well attended by and colleagues and well wishers and everyone is sad to see him/her leave. Even though he/she has been at the office for more than three years the upper management in Graham says he/she didn't serve out his/her three year commitment so he/she can't leave with his/her badge encased in plastic. 

Someone in management, writing from KFR's personal email account, was none to pleased with the happy hour email and responded with this doozy a few hours later:

________________

KFR email: 

I understand and, certainly, encourage the celebration of an ASA’s years of service to our office and to the public.  However, I was troubled by this email, because I was not aware that such emails were being sent on behalf of ASAs who were/are breaking their commitment to this office and the community we serve. 
As all of you know, we, as an office, take very seriously the commitment made by incoming ASAs.  I do not feel it is appropriate to use office e-mail to celebrate the departure of ASAs who have not honored their commitment.  What was particularly disturbing and offensive about this email, was, also, the denigration of those who work very hard and honor their commitment by stating that they are “trial dodgers.” 
I would like for you to develop a policy on the distribution of these types of emails.
Thank you.

_________________

From our source:

Needless to say, that's not a good way to boost the morale of your underpaid and overworked employees. The ASA in question served more than three years and isn't going to work for a direct competitor in the criminal defense field. And when someone isn't getting paid enough to support their growing family they don't have many choices but to leave the job they love and excel at. Also, the trial dodge line in the original happy hour email was an inside joke that clearly wasn't understood by the sender of the email from KFR's account. If anything, the response email will drive up attendance at the going away happy hour. 

Rumpole notes:
What an awful place to work, where emails are scrutinized and even jokes are criticized. 

From Occupied America...fight the power! 

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Scrutiny is just as tough at the PDO. It's like working during a colonoscopy. Always looking at your depo number, never at your results

Anonymous said...

If the asa did 3 years, how did they not make the commitment?

Steve Bustamante said...

Reminds me of the famous R.G. story. Upon telling Janet Reno that he loved his job but could not afford to pay his student loans and his car payment on his salary, and either needed a raise or would have to leave, R.G. was allegedly told, "If you can't afford a car payment, you should take the bus!"

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Anonymous said...

Stop the non sense about the overworked underpaid ASA's. If that is true, why are there over 100 applicants for each open spot? Ditto judges. They always complain about being underpaid. The solution is a simple one: quit and join the gravy train. Some do and most don't. The reason is that they enjoy what they are doing and are satisfied with the money.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Assistant did not serve out his three year commitment inasmuch as he was delayed in being admitted to the Bar. Early in his career, the SAO afforded the Assistant the courtesy of keeping him employed as a paid paralegal/certified intern until he was admitted. He repaid this earlier courtesy by accepting a position that required him to break his commitment to the SAO. It was suggested to him that he should request that the new job offer be extended so he would not break his commitment; the Assistant declined. The advertisement for the Assistant was not artfully drafted and seemed to be an outgoing critique of the trial motivations, or lack thereof, of remaining Assistants. This is why the State Attorney took offense. There are a lot of Assistants that tough it out so as to keep their word. Also, a young child is certainly an expense but at a combined household income of close to $100,000 between the Assistant and his spouse, also an Assistant; well there are a lot of folks out there that are making it on a lot less. Those that are quick to critique should have all the facts.

Anonymous said...

8:36am, I've heard of instances when ASAs who'd been there 3+ years were deemed "breaking their commitment" because they'd signed up with a specialized unit that required a commitment period. My understanding was that these individuals were told that the commitment was that they would not move to another unit/ division, etc., until after the commitment date. At no point did the SAO indicate in any way that this was an extension of the original three-year commitment, or so I'm told.

Then again, I also recall that this same reasoning did not apply to everyone equally.

And, BTW, they can do a lot more to you than refuse to enshrine your badge in plastic.

Anonymous said...

When I broke my commitment to the SAO, I was told by a supervisor that KFR was going to "blackball" me and that I would never find a legal job in Miami. True story.

Anonymous said...

Ovalle, or someone, should do a story on ASA/PD salaries. How were they indexed to Miami COL in 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005 and today?

Clearly Kathy Rundle and Carlos Martinez are satisfied with the salary-level ensuring the only attorneys who can afford to work in their offices being unmarried, childless 28 year olds, two years out of law school.

Im not entirely sure the public wants the prosecutors it depends on to be so young, with so little life experience, and with so little loyalty to the office. Everyone knows no one in the public gives a shit what PDs make - they defend bad guys, after all. But the public goodwill towards prosecutors and law-n-order should pressure Tallahassee in a way that Kathy and Carlos obviously cannot.

No one will get rich as a prosecutor or PD. But things as they stand are ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I left the office shy of my 3 years because the pay was peanuts. I ended each month with about $20 in my checking account. The management consisted of ASAs who couldn't cut it in court, and those were the ones approving your pleas.

The SAO is fun when you're in County Court. You're young, just happy to be doing actual trial work and getting a paycheck (albeit a shitty one). You don't know any better. You have tons of friends and CPP is like one big dorm.

When you get to felonies, it gets lonelier. I've been gone for many years now and I can't imagine still being there unless I was a DC or some higher up.

I had a great going away happy hour, and yes, we used the ALL ASA email system. Now I make in a slow afternoon what I used to make in a month. Private practice is much, much better.

Anonymous said...

The Camelot days occurred between 1972-1982 at the PDs office under Phil Hubbart. Many a great trial lawyer cut his/her teeth during that time. Never to be repeated.

Anonymous said...

The ASA in question has worked (hard) for the SAO for over 3 years but did not meet the "commitment" as part of that time, he was a CLI and therefore not an official ASA. Total crap, but this is a case of knowing when to not hit 'send all'

Anonymous said...

Nice response Lorna.

Anonymous said...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Unknown said...

I have to ask the question on everyone's mind: how was the happy hour!?

Anonymous ASA said...

Sorry, you're wrong. When joining many of the specialized units, we are given a raise- usually 10% of your current salary. In exchange, we agree to an additional 18mo commitment. If you want to leave a specialized unit before that commitment is up, any application for another position within the office will be rejected. So the bs excuse of "I didn't know my commitment is a commitment" will not fly. It's all explained to you both verbally and in a letter from Mr. Horne detailing your pay increase.

Anonymous said...

Does it make sense that a police officer on the job for 5 years makes $100k plus overtime and an ASA out the same time makes about half?

Anonymous said...

ASAs are grossly underpaid. If you were to trim the fat in that office, cut out the people who have been there so long that useless positions have been created for them, you could pay ASAs much more, but in return, you would have them double up on responsibility.

Lots of overinflated salaries in that office from people who haven't set foot in a courtroom since the Macarena was in the Top 40.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous ASA (2/13). You claim that when making a commitment to a specialized unit "it's all explained to you both verbally and in a letter." That is not true. But let's pretend it is .... Read what YOU YOURSELF said:

"If you want to leave a specialized unit before that commitment is up, any application for another position within the office will be rejected."

What in ANYTHING you just said addresses whether that commitment extends the original commitment of three years? If it had said "any application for another position within the office will be rejected AND YOU ALSO AGREE TO REMAIN IN THE SAO AN ADDITIONAL 18 MONTHS," then you'd be right. But it doesn't.

My understanding is that the person(s?) who got dinged for this had no notice that it ALSO extended the three-year commitment.

Anonymous said...

Sad. Kathy had Lorna, Don, Esther, and Jose over at Trulucks where they discussed how to give preferential treatment to arbitrary attorneys. This party had better wine and was in a private room.

Anonymous said...

The SAO salaries are inexcusably awful. But, blaming KFR is ridiculous. She has always done what she could to increase the salaries. Place the blame where it belongs---on the Florida Legislature.

As for the ASA, I have no sympathy for him. First, hundreds of people apply for jobs with the office. He shouldn't have taken a position from someone who presumably would have stayed. Second, he knew the salary before he accepted. Third, as 11:13 pointed out, KFR stood by him (as she has done for many, many others) when she didn't have to. Sorry, but castigating KFR over what happened is just plain absurd.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

If the job was with the PBA all would be forgotten and forgiven. Kathy shows her true self when it doesn't serve her. Time for change.

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.

Anonymous said...

The time, effort and money that goes into training for the SA or PD is certainly worth the making of a commitment. If you are unable to keep your word on a commitment to the State Attorney and the people of this community, your "word" won't mean much on other issues. If as has been reported, this ASA flunked the bar and was given the opportunity to remain a paid intern or paralegal it's quite obvious that any 3 year period would run from the date you are sworn in as an ASA. It's common sense. To the extent there was any ambiguity or misunderstanding this ASA could have and should have worked it out, especially if he wants his "word" to mean anything in the future to either the SAO or the PD's office as he now seeks to represent police officers. The initial email sent by his ASA wife was likewise poorly written and in poor taste. Yet, rather than either of them taking responsibility for their own poor choices, they instead choose to feed the beast of division blaming the State Attorney who truly did a favor for this young family by giving someone who flunked the bar the opportunity of a second chance. He could have been fired. We reap what we sow folks and there are lasting consequences of promises and commitments of this magnitude broken. It's nothing to be taken lightly and nothing to brag about. To now allow this to become a bashing session against KFR and the SAO is incredibly wrong.

Anonymous said...

Agree, entirely, with 12:26.

Anonymous said...

This is not true in every case. There have been times where the committment letter was presented to the ASA after that person accepted the new position. One such case occurred when the posted position mentioned nothing of a committment. When the letter was presented the ASA was told it was inadvertently ommitted. What recourse does that person have? The rules at the SAO are arbitrarily applied because they bet on the fact that no one will do anything more than leave and as we all know ASAs are "fungible". The overall lack of care about the employees at the SAO, support staff included, is truly appalling and disheartening.There are many ASAs past and present who truly love the job. However there's no shame in not wanting to struggle financially or wanting to be appreciated for their service. At least how about not being mistreated? Most would settle for a fair working environment. That's not asking for a lot. Promotions are arbitrary and not always merit based. The losers in all of this are the residents of Miami-Dade county. Not that the SAO cares.

Anonymous said...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 8:52:00 AM

Can anyone say Kathy Rundle & Joe Centorino? Just to name a few...don't get me started!