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

Friday, November 16, 2018

GOV. SCOTT NAMES THREE NEW MIAMI-DADE JUDGES .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

THREE NEW JUDGES COMING TO A COURTROOM NEAR YOU .....

Tonight, Governor Scott, announced the appointment of three new Judges in Miami-Dade County. Scott leaves office on January 7, 2019; (maybe even earlier if he is confirmed to have won the Senate race), and he clearly wants to leave his final and lasting impressions on trial court benches throughout the State. He moved quickly to name replacements for Circuit Court Judges Stephen Millan and Ariana Farjardo Orshan and County Court Judge Wendell Graham.


CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE ALEXANDER BOKOR

Judge Bokor, age 40, has been a member of The Florida Bar for 13 years. Bokor was an Assistant County Attorney, when, in October of 2016, Scott named him to the County Court bench. Two years later and Bokor is now a Circuit Court Judge replacing Stephen Millan. Bokor had applied to open seats on the Circuit Court, 3rd DCA, and Florida Supreme Court all within the past two months.


CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE CARLOS GUZMAN

Judge Guzman, age 48, has been a member of The Florida Bar for 21 years. Guzman was an ASA for two years, then worked for the FBI for six years as a legal advisor, followed by two years in private practice before working as a Chief Assistant Statewide Prosecutor for five years.  He was named a County Court Judge by Governor Scott in 2012. Six years later he becomes a Circuit Court judge replacing Judge Farjardo Orshan.


COUNTY COURT JUDGE LODY JEAN

Lody Jean, age 40, has been a member of The Florida Bar for 14 years. Jean was born in Haiti of Lebanese decent. For the first eight years of her legal career she was employed as an ASA in Miami-Dade County. She has been in private practice for the past six years handling immigration and criminal defense matters. She is the Immediate Past President of the Haitian Lawyers Association. She replaces Judge Wendell Graham.


NORTH OF THE BORDER .....

Congrats to Miami-Dade ASA Frank Ledee. Governor Scott named Ledee a Circuit Court Judge today in Broward County replacing Judge John Contini.

Scott named a total of ten new judges today, the four aforementioned judges as well as six others in Broward (County Judge Natasha DePrimo and Circuit Judge Gina Hawkins); 7th Circuit (Circuit Judge Christopher Ferebee, Ponte Vedra Beach); Palm Beach (County Judge Paige Hardy Gillman); 5th Circuit (Circuit Judge Gregg Jerald, Ocala); 14th Circuit (Circuit Judge Dustin Stephenson, Panama City).

Governor Scott still has ten names on his desk for two open seats on the 3rd DCA. We expect he will name those replacements sometime in the next 30 days.

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

ELECTIONS MATTER - THIS ELECTION MATTERS - PART TWO .......


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

 
THREE 1000-YEAR CONCURRENT SENTENCES
WITH PAROLE
DOES NOT VIOLATE THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT


So says the Florida Supreme Court in an opinion issued last week. (See Franklin v. State, SC14-1442, November 8, 2018).

In 1984, "at the age of 17, Arthur O’Derrell Franklin committed a series of brutal crimes against women. In each case, the female victim testified that Franklin violently attacked her, kidnapped her, drove her to a secluded area and brutally battered, raped, and robbed her while evidencing an extraordinary cruelty and a perverse enjoyment of the suffering he was inflicting." "In each of three cases, Franklin was convicted of armed kidnapping, kidnapping, armed sexual battery, sexual battery, armed robbery, robbery, and aggravated assault."

Franklin was sentenced to three 1,000 year concurrent sentences and the Parole Commission set his presumptive parole release date  in the year 2352.  Franklin, now 51 years old, has spent his entire adult life in prison.  As a result, and pursuant to Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010) and its progeny, Franklin filed a 3.850 which was denied by the trial court. The First DCA affirmed.

"In Graham, 560 U.S. at 75, the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment categorically forbids a sentence of life without parole for juvenile nonhomicide offenders, and required that any life sentence for a juvenile nonhomicide offender be accompanied by "some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation" before the end of the sentence and during the offender’s natural life."

In a 4-3 decision with Justice Lewis providing the surprising swing vote, the Florida Supreme Court approved the First District’s decision in Franklin and held that "Franklin’s 1000-year sentences with parole eligibility do not violate the categorical rule of Graham."  With their decision, our state supreme court was saying that, because Franklin's 1,000 year sentence was accompanied by "parole", the 17 year old (at the time he committed the crimes) Franklin had some meaningful opportunity to obtain release!

On Tuesday, November 6th, Election day, I wrote about the election contests that might interest our readers. The judicial contests in Dade and Broward and two of the constitutional amendments. But, the bigger point of the post, the title "Elections Matter", was clearly missed by more than a few voters.

As a result, it looks like we will be calling Ron DeSantis "Governor" for at least the next four years. That is unless the recount somehow manages to find some 33,700 more votes for Andrew Gillum.

So, it’s the decisions in cases like Franklin that we, as lawyers, and by extension, the clients we represent, have to look forward to over the next 20-30 years, or possibly even longer.

Why 20-30 years?  Because, unlike DeSantis, who may be our Governor for only four years, or at most, eight, the three Supreme Court justices he appoints, likely to be named in January of 2019, will be on our state’s highest court bench for decades.   The current make-up of the Court, with four left leaning justices includes three who will be retiring on January 8th: Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince.  With DeSantis' three appointments, the court will include six of seven justices who will all be Federalist Society dyed in the wool conservatives.

ELECTIONS MATTER.

PS: Please join me in wishing the Justice Building Blog and Horace Rumpole a Happy 13th Birthday.  It was on November 16, 2005 that Rumpole first posted.  I was invited to join the Blog a few months later.  Today's post is the 3,599th posted over the past 13 years.  Thank you Rumpole for allowing me the opportunity of contributing to your Blog. 

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


Monday, November 12, 2018

A TALE OF TWO MEN

One Hundred years ago this past Sunday, the guns of Europe were silenced at 11:00 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. Thus ended what was known as "the great war" and "the war to end all wars". In its aftermath humanity shuddered at the losses. The numbers of dead are staggering. The British lost six thousand men on the opening day of the battle of the Somme. To place that it context, the battle of Antietam is considered the bloodiest day in American history, when 3,650 soldiers fighting for the North and South killed each other. 

There were between forty and fifty million people killed during the war. Repeat that. Forty to Fifty million people, including civilians and soldiers. 

This is the story of one: Henry Nicholas Gunther. 

Gunther was born on June 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland to German immigrant parents. He grew up practicing the Catholic religion working in the service order for layman. He was trained as a bookkeeper and worked in a bank until the war. He was drafted into the 313th infantry regiment, which was part of the 157th Brigade of the 79th infantry division. The 313th was nicknamed "Baltimore's Own".  

The 313th arrived in France in July, 1918, and entered combat and engaged the enemy on September 12, 1918 in the battle of the Meuse-Argonne, which was the last major offensive of the war that broke the back of the Germany-Austria-Hungary alliance and ended the war. 

Henry Gunther was assigned to Company A of the 313th, and they fought at the front lines of the battle.  At about 10: 00 a.m., one morning, Gunther's company approached a German roadblock manned with a machine gun outside the village of Chaumont-devant-Damvillers. 

Sergeant Earnest Powell ordered Gunther to fix his bayonet and charge the Germans. Gunther did as ordered and a burst of machine gun fire struck him down and killed him. 

Gunther's death certificate lists that he died at 10:59 a.m., on November 11, 1918. Yes, Gunther was the last United States solider to die in World War I. He was twenty-three. The armistice had been signed at 5:00 a.m. the morning of November 11. It was to take effect at 11:00 am. The Germans in the roadblock were aware of the pending peace, and they tried to wave off Gunther as he charged, but he continued to charge until he was shot and killed. 

General of the Army Black-Jack Pershing mentioned Gunther on November 12, 1918, in his orders of the day as the last American to die for his country. Gunther was promoted to sergeant, and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Divisional Citation for Gallantry In Action. 
Henry Nichols Gunther, a kid from Baltimore; born of immigrant parents who raised their son in their church; son, and American Solider who followed ordered and gave his life for his country so that we may enjoy the blessings of peace he and his brothers secured. He was and is an American Hero that has largely been forgotten by history. There are over  hundred thousand others like him, as the United States lost 116,708 soldiers in the Great War. 

This article is about a tale of two men. 
Henry Nicholas Gunther was the last man to die for his country when he followed orders and charged a roadblock manned with a machine gun. His unit was in action on the front lines for fifty-nine days. He fought in trenches, slept in dirt fox-holes. ate cold food, was bombed and shot at and eventually died. 

On November 11, 2018, one hundred years to the day Henry Nicholas Gunther died, the President of the United States would not leave his hotel room to attend the services and honor the dead at the Aisne  Marne American cemetery where United States soldiers who died in the brutal battle of Belleau  Woods are interred.  There is a wall in the cemetery with the names of one thousand and sixty US soldiers who went missing in the battle and whose bodies were never found. 

The reason given for the President not honoring the American dead? It was raining. 

A tale of two men. 






Sunday, November 11, 2018

THE CANNABIS CONUNDRUM


How can anybody involved in some aspect of criminal law not have mixed feelings concerning the prosecution for the use of cannabis?  The juxtaposition between a widespread casual attitude yet potential for rigid punishment is frustrating and disheartening. The inconsistency as to how the law is applied, as well as the hypocrisy between attitude versus enforcement, is aggravating.   

I’m hardly a pothead or big marijuana advocate. To me, weed, is no different than pepperoni pizza, root beer, a Twix bar or any other guilty pleasure; if I had some… well, whatever… if I never touched it again… whatever.  It’s just not that big of a deal.

I grew up in the 1970’s where pot was common place. Anything associated with counter culture or a modern, hip lifestyle inevitably had a certain pot component. Most places that sold records also acted as “head shops”. Zig-Zag and Big Bamboo (rolling paper companies) tee shirts were as common as the black rock concert tee.

You went to a party… weed was there;
Attending a concert… the arena wreaked of pot;
High school… the burnouts had their place and there was smokin’ in the boys’ room.  

I would imagine that anybody under the age of 65 would have been exposed to marijuana culture.   If you grew up where there was a harsh winter, you probably hung out in friend’s basements, converted attics or locked yourself in bedrooms. And what was exactly going on there as you and your friends spun Zeppelin, Floyd, the Stones and Jimi? Of course, that is a rhetorical question since I have a feeling, I know exactly what you were doing. 

I’m not saying marijuana is a positive for it is, indeed, a vice. However, so are potato chips, soda, tobacco products and beer. “Marijuana, that’s a gateway drug, it will lead to worse things.” Really?  Don’t we all know people who were characters, stoners, a bit on the crazy side…yet they grew up to become successful business owners, professionals, community leaders, parents, etc.  Don’t most people ultimately outgrow certain vices since, as you age, you tend to lean towards the mainstream?  I have seen certain potheads gravitate towards more serious vices yet, perhaps, that was more indicative of an addictive and self-destructive personality rather than from the actual herb itself.  I have seen the all-too-common scenario of people inebriated on alcohol do very bad things while, conversely, I’ve never seen anyone getting high develop a desire to do anything but eat food out of the container and have a strong desire to watch anything that is on television.  

In most facets of today’s culture, marijuana has been pretty much stripped of a taboo reputation and more relegated to a widespread, casual attitude.  Forget about movies aimed at stoners, when mainstream flicks like “It’s Complicated” feature movie icon Meryl Streep toking, it’s hard to say pot belongs to the counter culture…that is as mainstream as you can get.  Turn on any pop radio station and you’re likely to hear many hip hop acts, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Miley Cyrus echo the sentiments of the population. These are mainstream songs, played on mainstream radio stations where the topic is celebrated, not condemned.  Television shows like That 70’s Show, American Dad, Mad Men, Parenthood, and The Office couldn’t take a more unabashed and informal approach towards marijuana use. Today, pot is a subject matter that entertains us while the irrational days of the oft-lampooned “Reefer Madness “are long gone.

In regard to criminal law; marijuana has had an evolution in the last 50 years. Whereas a joint may expose a person to just a fine today, in the past that same amount may have triggered a lengthy prison sentence. History should be a strong barometer for trends and trajectories. With the midterm elections just concluding, and more States allowing either the medicinal use of, or the legalization, the writing is certainly on the wall. Is it inconceivable that personal use of marijuana, on a national level, will be eventually decriminalized? [Excuse me, I have to take a break from writing this post because I need to check my cannabis stocks and marijuana mutual funds.]  Yes, decriminalization is only a matter of time.    

In the criminal justice system, a case that involves marijuana use may be impacted by the individual ideologies of the players in power; the judge and prosecutor. While I’ve seen some judges take the position that they will never incarcerate over the personal use of marijuana, other judges do not echo such sentiment.  For some judges, they will have no problem having marijuana act as the sole impetus for revoking a bond or violating court supervision. Smoking a plant that grows in nature could result in incarceration?! prison?!

I have a problem with blindly just following the law. History demonstrates that there have been some very oppressive and evil laws on the books.  Wasn’t one of the recent constitutional amendments to get rid of obsolete provisions within the constitution?  Technically, it is for the legislature to enact laws but some of the most dramatic, game-changing themes have emanated out of judicial rulings (Miranda v. Arizona, Gideon v. Wainwright, Roe v Wade, Brown v. Board of Education).  Inapplicable and irrational laws need not be enforced.  As most of us were preached to during our first year in law school, “the law does not operate in a vacuum”. Don’t like that I’m a proponent for challenging laws?  Kiss my  grits, anti-black, anti-Jew, anti-women, anti-Latino, anti-immigrant …there have been some horrendous laws on the books. If someone says “Jump!” to me, I would hardly respond by saying “How high?” If the law is out of touch then somebody, in a position of power, needs to have the guts to say something. This means you…Judge.

A horribly unfair aspect of marijuana (that I never see addressed in court)  is that pot has the capacity to act as a poor man’s medication. How frighteningly out of touch is the criminal justice system? The primary political issue facing our country is access to health care. Moreover, at a lower economic level, of course these unfortunates do not have appropriate health care. However, no matter how much money may be in one’s bank account, pain, stress and anxiety are universal. With so many taking a prescribed medication to deal with stress, wouldn’t you think the less fortunate also want something to take off that same edge? That is what marijuana is to some in economically depressed areas; it is a low cost and widely available stress reliever. If a white- collared defendant has an open criminal case and they are legally prescribed Xanax to deal with their stress from the consequences of their case, then that is okay. However, if a different type of defendant (you know…poorer, darker) smoked pot (they have no insurance so they can’t get Xanax or if they illicitly acquire it, then they are subject to felony prosecution) to deal with the same stress, their bond may be revoked.  It’s maddening and, in a way, is indicative of institutional racism and illogical insensitivity.   

As there is a national trend towards the legalization of a possessory amount of weed, then there must be a judicial interpretation that mirrors what the attitude is of the public. If the public doesn’t care about weed, then why are people having their lives ruined over it? How common are acquittals on possession cases, not because there was a great defense but, quite simply, because jurors  do not want to convict over the subject matter?  

Sending somebody to prison, over merely the use of marijuana, just because the law is on the books?  “I was just following orders” is hardly an acceptable justification when addressing morality. There can be a higher order than what may be codified.  The time has come where violating a probationer over the use of marijuana is wrong, forcing treatment programs for a non-addictive substance is antiquated, mounting forfeiture actions over a joint is mean-spirited, revoking bonds (where somebody is presumed innocent) over use can turn into is an obvious ploy to squeeze out a plea and criminal prosecution is utter hypocrisy.
Outside of court, a casual attitude towards pot is almost universal yet inside of court, it is hard to predict what will occur.  One judge may admonish while another may incarcerate…it shouldn’t be that way.

As the world is always changing so does the need for the criminal justice system. Judges need to do more than call balls and strikes, the lack of uniformity on this issue absolutely results in significant injustices.  Who wearing the robe will have the guts to stand up and address this problem?


Saturday, November 10, 2018

SATURDAY NIGHT

There were two Saturday events that arguably defined the 1970's: The Saturday Night Massacre and Saturday Night Fever. One involved the twisting, physical machinations and mis-directions of individuals popular in the public's imagination....and the other involved a movie about the Disco craze. 
Considering most of our robed readers were not alive on October 20, 1973, a history lesson is in order. 

In October 1973 President Nixon was on the ropes. In the spring of 1973 Attorney General Elliott Richardson appointed Archibald Cox as the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the Watergate burglary. 


Special Prosecutor Archie Cox 
Cox soon issued a subpoena to Nixon for the tapes of White House conversations. The battle lines were drawn. On Friday October 19, 1973  Nixon offered what is now known as the "Stennis Compromise": Senator John Stennis (who was notoriously hard of hearing) would listen to the tapes and summarize them for Cox. Cox rejected the offer that same day. 

On Saturday Nixon ordered Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned. Nixon then ordered deputy AG William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus refused and also resigned. Next up: Solicitor General Robert Bork who suddenly found himself to be acting Attorney General Of the United States. He woke up Saturday morning as the unknown Solicitor General. Perhaps had some coffee and a bagel and reviewed some briefs. Before midnight he was the AG of the US. In Bork's defense, both Richardson and Ruckelshaus had given their word to Congress that they would not fire Cox. Bork had not, and the order from the President was facially valid. Bork had not wanted to go down in history as the man who "did the President's bidding" but he felt he had no choice. 

The next day Nixon was caught in a lie (which was a big thing at the time for the President. No so much now). The White House had officially stated that Ruckelshaus had been fired. But the letter from Nixon to Bork stated that Ruckelshaus had resigned in protest. 

On  November 14, 1973, US District Judge Gerhard Gesell (who was born in Los Angeles to parents who were immigrants, which currently raises suspicions about his loyalty to the US)  ruled that the firing of Cox was illegal and ordered he be reinstated as special prosecutor. Nixon fought the subpoena to the supreme court, where he lost in an unanimous decision Tump v. US  (not yet)  US. v. Nixon 418 US 683 (1974). Nixon resigned in disgrace ten months after he Massacre. 

Saturday Night Fever on the other hand was a 1977 hit movie staring John Travolta detailing the life of Tony Manero,  a Brooklyn kid who spends his Saturday nights dancing at local discotheques. The movie was based on a 1976 New Yorker article by writer Nik Cohn entitled "The Tribal Rights Of The New Saturday Night."  

V
incent was the very best dancer in Bay Ridge—the ultimate Face. He owned fourteen floral shirts, five suits, eight pairs of shoes, three overcoats, and had appeared on American Bandstand. Sometimes music people came out from Manhattan to watch him, and one man who owned a club on the East Side had even offered him a contract.  A hundred dollars a week. Just to dance. 

Interestingly, much like Nixon and the current POTUS, Cohn acknowledged in a 1990 interview that his article was mostly a fabrication. Cohn was a Brit and he was unable to garner enough material for  his assignment to document the emerging New York Disco-Club scene. One night,  Cohn- recently arrived from London,  went to the club 2001 Odyssey in Bay Ridge,  Brooklyn, and witnessed a drunken street fight outside the club. One of the combatants fell to the curb and threw up on Cohn's leg. Cohn quickly retreated to Manhattan and thereafter fabricated most of the story, relying on characters he knew from a gang in Derry, Northern Ireland, where he had grown up. 






Wednesday, November 07, 2018

BENCH AND BAR MIXER

BREAKING: Chris Christie at White House to discuss AG position. We have it on good authority it's either Christie or a Dade SAO CLI interning in DUI court. This will be a good topic of discussion for those of you who bite the bullet, take a shot, and mingle with hoi polloi (which we will not be doing, as we have other plans to weed our indoor herb garden this evening) tonight as detailed below: 

It's that time of year again when the holidays are in sight, and lawyers and judges congregate for free food and drink. 

They call it a "mixer",  but oil and water do not mix. Neither does the concept of truth and Donald Trump; ketchup and oatmeal; Fox News and responsible reporting; Justice Kavanaugh and a #Metoo rally; convenient parking and the REGJB; A Judge Hirsch opinion without a citation to Moliere; Republicans and health care coverage...  you get the picture. 

So whichever side of the bench you are on, the North Korean side or the South Korean side, cross over the DMZ and share a glass of spirits with "the other side" this Thursday:


























Rumpole of course will not attend. We have strict standards about who we associate with in public. 








TRUMP FIRES SESSIONS

BREAKING: Wednesday 3:00 PM. Attorney General Jeff "I hate marijuana" Sessions is O...U....T  out. 

Well, that didn't take long. 

Don't forget to take our new poll and vote for as many winners as you think appropriate. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

ELECTIONS MATTER ..... GENERAL ELECTION 2018 .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION CENTRAL: GENERAL ELECTION 2018 .....

Voters in Miami-Dade County face only one run-off election for a judicial seat. In Group 14, in the August primary, Renee Gordon tallied 122,561 votes (47.56%) while Vivianne del Rio received 89,587 votes (34.76%). Louis Martinez came in a distant third. Gordon & del Rio square off to replace retiring Judge Cindy Lederman.

ELECTION RESULTS:  - 99% reporting

DEL RIO - 227,519 - 52%    326,085 - 53%
GORDON - 209,005 - 48%   287,367 - 47% 

In other contests, former ASA and former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco is now State Representative Grieco as he defeats his opponent J.P. Parker, with 63% of the vote.  Unfortunately, Mary Barzee Flores did not defeat Incumbent US Rep Mario Diaz Balart. Diaz Balart garnered 61% of the vote.  And it looks like both Constitutional Amendment 4 (64%) and Amendment 6 (62%) will pass.

Vivianne del Rio - she is an ASA and has been with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office (SAO) for her entire 26 year career. Since 2012, she has headed the Post Conviction Unit and she reviews claims of actual innocence.

Renee Gordon - she is an Assistant Public Defender (APD) and has spent her entire 22 year career at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s office, part of that time as a contract attorney for the office. She has devoted much of her career to bettering the juvenile justice system including by managing the Miami Halfway House and as a participant in the Dept of Juvenile Justice’s Quality Assurance Program. Ms. Gordon ran for an open Circuit Court seat in 2016 in a four person race eventually won by Mark Blumstein. She missed out on the run-off by a mere 1,737 votes.

NORTH OF THE BORDER: In Broward, there are four run-offs, two in Circuit and two in County: (The four Winners, all women, are listed in PINK).

Jason Allen-Rosner v. Stefanie Moon (Circuit);

Maria Markhasin-Weekes v. H. James Curry (Circuit);

Corey Cawthon v. Tanner Demmery (County);

Allison Gilman v. Jackie Powell (County).

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS:  There are a total of 12 on the ballot today.  Two of them, Amendments 4 and 6 would have a direct effect on the criminal justice system.  It takes 60% for any of these amendments to pass.

Florida Amendment 4, the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative. A "yes" vote supports this amendment to automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole, and probation. Florida is one of only four states where convicted felons do not regain the right to vote, until and unless the State Cabinet agrees to restore an individual's voting rights.

Florida Amendment 6, the Marsy's Law Crime Victims Rights, Judicial Retirement Age, and Judicial Interpretation of Laws and Rules Amendment. A "yes" vote supports this amendment to: •add specific rights of crime victims, together known as Marsy's Law, to the Florida Constitution; •increase the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75 years of age; and •prohibit state courts from deferring to an administrative agency’s interpretation of a state statute or rule in lawsuits.  Critics of the amendment point to several issues.  For one, the amendment reduces the amount of time in which you can file an appeal post conviction.   It reduces it to two years for a noncapital, non-death case and five years for a death penalty case.  Given the fact that Florida leads the nation in exonerations from death row, this part of the amendment is extremely problematic.  Many of those death row inmates would have been wrongly executed if this amendment was in place.


ELECTIONS MATTER ..... THIS ELECTION MATTERS ..... VOTE

Because there is such a short list of judicial elections on the ballot, we decided to post this powerful tweet we saw on Twitter recently. It was tweeted by Alicia Sharon, she calls herself @ASharon004, and describes herself as "a UCLA Law ‘18; D.C. to Los Angeles; Fly Eagles."  According to LinkedIn,  she worked in the Office of Correspondence at the White House during the summer of 2010. She has quite the impressive Resume from 2008 - 2018. She is currently a Law Clerk at Venable LLP in Los Angeles.

"I recently tweeted about my time working in Obama’s mail room while in college. How he received a tremendous amount of hate mail, a disproportionate amount being racist (sometimes graphically). But the letters of hate aren’t what I remember most clearly.

Instead, what haunts me are the letters and stories of every day struggling Americans. Too often politics becomes about gamesmanship and strategy and people forget that politics has real world consequences. It can literally kill.

So as we near one of the most important midterms of (maybe) our lives, I want to highlight some of the stories I remember best. Stories that might be about your neighbor, your colleague, or your own family. Remember these stories. These are the people we fight for when we vote.

The single mom with three boys. She was worried about gangs so she put her kids in sports, hoping that would keep them safe from after school violence. Her middle son was gunned down walking home from practice. She just wanted to save enough money to move to a safer neighborhood.

The dad who promised his daughter that he would pay for her to go to the best college she got in to. She got into her dream school, Duke. But he got laid off during the recession and he didn’t know how to tell her he could no longer afford her dream that she worked so hard for.

The parents of a child with severe developmental disabilities. They were getting old and they were worried about who would take care of him after they were gone.

The couple who endured the pain and loss that comes with having 7 miscarriages. All they wanted was a family. They couldn’t afford expensive IVF treatment. They wanted to adopt but felt the agency didn’t like them – they were a mixed race couple living in the deep south.

The mom who knew her son was being bullied at school because he didn’t speak English very well. They had just moved here. She would stay up until the early morning to teach herself English, hoping she could then help him.

The single mom who admitted she sometimes went days without eating so her kids could have 3 full meals. She worked 3 jobs but was still struggling to make ends meet. She didn’t want them going to school hungry, she knew education was the only thing that would save them.

The parents struggling with a daughter who was an addict. They were wealthy so they could afford to get her treatment. But they had met lots of families in group therapy that couldn’t afford it. They wanted to make drug treatment facilities more affordable for everyone.

The father with terminal cancer who confided that he thought about ending his life early, just to spare his family the costs of sustained medical treatment. He didn’t want to leave his wife and 2 young kids with a mountain of debt.
The gay couple who had been together for 50+ years. But they were still afraid to hold hands in public for fear that they would be physically attacked.

The young schoolteacher who worked at a Title I (low income) school. Many kids didn’t get outside for recess during the winter because their parents couldn’t afford to buy them winter coats. She raised money, including her own, to buy them herself.

The newly single father who was terrified he was going to ruin his kids after their mother passed away from breast cancer. He cried in the aisle at Dick’s Sporting Goods because he didn’t know what size shoe his son was. His wife used to buy the kids cleats for baseball season.

The father who was dealing with depression, but was too afraid to tell anyone. Men weren’t supposed to be weak. He loved his wife and new baby daughter. He didn’t understand why sometimes he felt like everyone would be better off without him.

The parents who dreaded Friday evening. Their son was a freshman at an Ivy League School, but he was having trouble fitting in. Other students suggested the only reason he was there was affirmative action. He spent Friday nights in his dorm alone, talking to his parents.

The wife who married young. Too young she would say. Her husband was physically abusive, but now they had 2 kids and she couldn’t leave and financially support 2 kids on her own. She hoped she could save up enough money to get out before he killed her.

The mother who knew her son was gay, but knew he would have to hide it until he left the house. She knew her husband would hurt him if he found out.

The parents of a girl who had to get 3 heart surgeries before she was 3. They were terrified she wouldn’t make it to be a teenager. And even if she did, it still meant lots of additional and expensive surgeries. They knew another surgery would push them over the financial edge.

The young veteran who struggled with PTSD and nightmares. He was afraid he was going to hurt his wife while they slept. He hated his new job at a manufacturing plant, but he felt he couldn’t complain because at least he came home alive.

These are the types of stories people wrote to our President about. Not because they were looking for handouts, but because they were hoping something could be done to make their lives just a little easier. Life a little more affordable. Opportunities a little more reachable.

These are the people we fight for when we vote. So please, show up on Nov 6th and make your voice heard. People’s lives depend on it."

END

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

Monday, November 05, 2018

JOHN ADAMS AND KHURRUM WAHID

John Adams was the second president of the United States. He is one of the founding fathers of our great country. He was elected to represent Massachusetts at the First and Second Continental Congresses. He was the chief architect of the Massachusetts Constitution which, with its unique (at the time) series of checks and balances on the branches of government, served as a model for the Constitution of the United States.  Adams served as an envoy to Paris where he negotiated a peace with France, codified in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. 

Patriot. Founding Father. Architect of Constitutional Freedoms. Diplomat. President. And....CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY. 

On the evening of March 5, 1770, in Boston, a City pulsing with anti-British fever, a fight broke out between a squad of British Soldiers and colonists at the Boston Commons. Five Boston Colonists were shot and killed in what was quickly called "The Boston Massacre."  A Grand Jury indicted the British soldiers and their commander, and John Adams agreed to undertake the defense of the British Soldiers. 
Lets us repeat this, so those who are too dull to initially comprehend the above statement (RON DESANTIS) can let this sink in: Attorney John Adams, patriot, future president, and criminal defense attorney agreed to undertake the DEFENSE OF THE ENEMY OF HIS COUNTRY. John Adams represented members of the army occupying his city. John Adams defended British soldiers who were accused of murdering his countrymen. 

And he won. 

History records that Adams was concerned that his unpopular defense of the enemy could affect his career, his business, and his future political endeavors. But Adams strongly believed in the right to trial and presumption of innocence. The first trial was of British Captain Thomas Preston who was accused of ordering his men to fire upon the crowd. The prosecution produced fifteen witnesses who testified, somewhat contradictory on basic facts, that Preston had ordered his men to fire. Adams produced twenty-three witnesses who testified that the soldiers, surrounded and threatened, were intimidated and provoked by the crowd. No one could positively testify who said the word "fire". When Preston was acquitted (after a the jury was sequestered) a verdict of Not Guilty was returned after the judge charged them with the term "reasonable doubt"- the first time a judge in Massachusetts had used that soon to be historic phrase. 

Adams serves as a lodestar to all criminal defense attorneys who are asked to take on unpopular cases and clients. His actions continue to inspire those who practice law. 

Enter Khurrum Wahid, a super-star Miami criminal defense attorney, and Ron DeSantis, the historically ignorant Republican candidate for governor of Florida. 
Here is the Tweet DeSantis sent out on November 5:





Mr. DeSantis- Meet John Adams. Because your tweet applies as much to him, if not more, than to Khurrum Wahid. Mr. Wahid has acted in the highest traditions of our profession. You, with  your ignorant and racist comments, have acted like the lowest fear-mongering racist trying to appeal to people's fears. 

Khurrum Wahid stands with the heroes of our country like President John Adams. Your words Mr. DeSantis, place you in the dark depths with  politicians like George Wallace.  You have revealed yourself to not just be a racist, but a fool ignorant of his country's great history and the brave acts of our founding fathers. 

Know this Khurrum Wahid: The entire defense Bar of Miami stands with you. And as word of this infamy spreads, we are sure the entire defense Bar of this country will stand right beside you. 

Saturday, November 03, 2018

VOTE FOR MARY BARZEE-FLORES

One of our own from the REGJB is running for Congress, and if you live in her district, you should vote for Mary Barzee-Flores. If you don't live in her district, you should contribute to her campaign and volunteer to help for this last weekend. 

Mary Barzee-Flores started her career at the Federal PDs office. One of her trial partners was a young David O Markus. You may have heard of him.  From the Federal PDs, Barzee-Flores ran for Circuit Court judge and won when after qualifying, her opponent withdrew.  

On the bench at the REGJB Judge Barzee-Flores was one of the very good judges we have had in our courthouse. Her intelligence was undeniable, and she was firm, fair, and moved her docket efficiently. She sentenced defendants to just sentences and she called it as she saw it. That her opponent is running offensive negative commercials cheery-picking some decisions to attack her is both troubling and a direct assault against an independent judiciary. 

After leaving the bench, Judge Barzee-Flores went into civil practice where once again, her litigation skills and talent were obvious and undeniable. A well deserved nomination to the federal bench followed, but the republicans played politics with all of President Obama's nominations in his last two years and they ran out the clock on her nomination through blatant political stalling tactics. 

Now, Rumpole says, is time to show the Republicans that they should be careful what they ask for, because they may get it. Having kept Mary Barzee-Flores off the federal bench, she is now back running for Congress. 

Here is the kind of congresswoman we believe Mary Barzee-Flores will be: 

She will not vote to deprive Americans of health care. She will keep Obama Care, which all of the sudden Republican candidates who voted against it numerous times- like her opponent- now support because they know Americans with pre-existing conditions want to be protected. 

She will not look at the rising oceans and see the regular flooding of Miami Beach and other cities on Florida's coast and throw up her hands and say "you can't prove why this is happening." Mary Barzee-Flores understands and embraces that science now uniformly accepts that humans have caused global warming and she will work to put our country back on track as one of the leaders to save the planet. 

Mary Barzee-Flores will not respond to another tragic shooting by pandering to the NRA. She has called it as she sees it- there are too many guns in our country which are easily accessible to mentally ill people who use them to shoot up schools and houses of worship. 

Mary Barzee-Flores  will not call the exodus of poor people in Central America fleeing gang violence "a caravan of thugs, gang members and middle easterners." 

We could go on and on. But the simple fact is this- we need good, smart, hard working people like Mary Barzee-Flores who has dedicated most of her career to public service. She will respond to the problems we have with smart and common sense solutions. 

This election could not be more important. 
Our planet is in jeopardy. The response is not "drill baby drill." 
Our society is hemorrhaging in violence. The response is not to arm teachers and priests and rabbis. 
Health care costs are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy. The response is not to repeal landmark health care reform. 
Poor women and children, hearing the call of the words on the Statute of Liberty are looking to the country President Reagan called a "shinning city on a hill." The response is not to send the military to shoot them dead at the border.  

The beginning of the road  back to sanity is to elect smart, strong and dedicated women like Mary Barzee-Flores. Vote now. 
You can go here and volunteer and contribute. 
https://marybarzeeflores.com/

I am Horace Rumpole, and I alone am responsible for the contents of this blog post.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

DAVID GILBERT HAS RETIRED

The State Attorneys Office  lost a great one when ASA David Gilbert retired at the end of October. 
Great is a term often overused, but in Mr. Gilbert's case, it doesn't seem enough.

David Hugging a surviving victim in an awful mass shooting case 

Mr. Gilbert has been a fixture at the courthouse and the SAO roaming the halls and courtrooms (back in the 70's and 80's in his trademark three piece suit) handling many of the toughest cases the State Attorney's Office prosecuted. Homicide cases. DUI Manslaughter cases. And not just slam-dunk cases with DNA, video and confessions. But the types of cases that merited a trial, where there was a story to tell on each side. And Mr. Gilbert did it with exceptional skill, style, and the type of fairness not often seen from lawyers on either side of a case. 


Mr. Gilbert representing the SAO on the Justin Bieber DUI case (not one of his more serious cases) 


From the defense bar viewpoint, Mr. Gilbert was the type of prosecutor you could feel comfortable speaking with. You knew he was going to seek justice wherever the road took him. And if justice meant a more lenient plea, or even a dismissal, David Gilbert was the prosecutor you wanted to work with. If justice meant a trial and a stiff or maximum sentence, then you knew you were in for a fight- a fair fight- but a fight. 

We will not see his like again very soon. And we in the criminal justice system have all benefited from having a man like Mr. Gilbert working for justice. 
We wish him Godspeed in a well earned retirement. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

WE ARE ALL PITTSBURGERS TODAY

Pittsburgh is a proud city. A peaceful city. A city that bursts with public pride in itself, its people, its beloved sports teams, and its transformation from steel to tech. It is a city profoundly dedicated to family and friends. 

Today Pittsburgh mourns and we all mourn with Pittsburgh. 
Pittsburgh has a large Jewish community that began settling in Western Pennsylvania just before the Civil War. Saturday witnessed the largest and deadliest  individual attack against Jewish Americans in the history of the United States. 

The Anti-Defamation League reports a 70% increase in Anti-Semitic attacks  between 2016 and 2017. We now see candidates for public office repeating in public the right-wing hateful speech of "Jewish Conspiracies".  An African-American "minister" said in 2018 that Jews were his enemies and were "termites". 

What happened in Pittsburgh in Saturday didn't just happen. It was bound to happen. And that is a serious problem we all need to confront and address. 

Today we are all Pittsburghers. 

HR

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

3RD DCA JNC SENDS TEN NAMES TO THE GOVERNOR FOR TWO OPEN SEATS .......


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

YOUR TWO NEW 3RD DCA JUDGES .... WILL BE NAMED FROM THE FOLLOWING LIST OF NOMINEES .....

This past Monday and Tuesday, the 3rd DCA JNC interviewed a total of 17 for two open seats on the appellate court.  Today, the JNC narrowed the list to ten and forwarded those names to Governor Scott for his consideration.  The list includes six current and one former judge among the ten nominees.

Governor Scott has 60 days to name replacements for Judges Leslie Rothenberg and Richard Suarez. The two new judges will likely be chosen just two weeks before Scott leaves office as a lame duck Governor.

The list of nominees (click on the names of the last three listed below to be taken to their complete bio):

Hon. Monica Gordo
- 19 years Florida Bar; Circuit Court Family Division; eight years on the bench; former ASA

Hon. Eric Hendon
- 39 years Florida Bar; Circuit Court Criminal Division;  sixteen years on the bench; former ASA, APD, AAG

Hon. Timothy Koenig
- 34 years Florida Bar; Circuit Court Monroe County; four years on the bench; thirty years in private practice

Hon. Fleur Lobree
- 26 years Florida Bar; former Circuit Court judge (2 years) and County Court judge (1 year); former AAG, ASA

Hon. Bronwyn Miller
- 21 years Florida Bar; Circuit Court Civil Division; thirteen years on the bench; former ASA

Hon. Thomas Rebull
- 21 years Florida Bar; Circuit Court Civil Division; seven years on the bench; fourteen years in private practice

Hon. Lisa Walsh
- 26 years Florida Bar; Circuit Court Criminal Division; ten years on the bench; former APD

Oren Rosenthal 
-22 years Florida Bar; currently an Assistant Miami-Dade County Attorney; Oren Rosenthal currently serves as the lead attorney for the Miami-Dade Elections Department and the Information Technology Department. Oren has previously served as a member of the Federal Litigation section of the office. Oren is experienced as a litigator and as a transactional lawyer. Oren's litigation experience includes federal civil rights suits, intellectual property claims, complex commercial matters, as well as challenges to elections and the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter. Oren has also handled numerous appeals before both state and federal appellate courts.

Ann St. Peter-Griffith
-24 years Florida Bar; currently with Kasowitz, Benson, Torres LLP; has a national practice that focuses on all aspects of complex commercial litigation, including health care, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, False Claims Act, product liability, constitutional, and employment discrimination cases in federal and state trial and appellate courts. Also represents health care clients in civil and criminal matters throughout the United States. Former AUSA. 

Melissa Damian Visconti
-23 years Florida Bar; currently Of Counsel to Damian & Valori; experienced trial and appellate lawyer who has appeared in state and federal courts across Florida and around the country. Ms. Visconti is Of Counsel to the Firm and focuses her practice in the areas of state and federal court appeals, complex litigation, and receiverships. Ms. Visconti has extensive experience in state and federal appeals courts, as well as in the areas of products liability, whistleblower and False Claims Act cases, securities, multidistrict litigation, and class action litigation. She is also experienced in criminal law, advising clients who are the subjects of or material witnesses in federal and state investigations

Who didn’t make the final cut:

Hon. Jason Bloch
Hon. Alexander Bokor
Hon. George Sarduy
Hon. Angelica Zayas
Jeffrey Geldens
Kansas Gooden
Edward Guedes

Predictions anyone?

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


Monday, October 22, 2018

JUDGE BRUCE LEVY HAS PASSED AWAY

Sad news has reached us today. We forward the email we received that was sent by Jeff Weiner: 

Sad news: the death of a kind and compassionate fellow defense attorney and judge, D. Bruce Levy. Bruce was a former Assistant Public Defender and a circuit court judge. He was a true gentleman, and the kind of judge we all want to appear before. (Unlike too many judges), Bruce honored our Bill of Rights and was fair, smart and courteous to all. He was respected by everyone. To sum it up, Bruce was a great guy!

He will be missed.

Well said Mr. Weiner. 
Judge Levy was all of those things and more. In these troubled times, when many Judges, lawyers, and everyone else sometimes lack the courage to speak up, Bruce Levy was one of those people. He spent his professional life righting wrongs. What better way to live? He has been missed and he will continue to be missed and remembered.



A CARAVAN IS COMING

Item: A caravan of refuges escaping the gang violence of Honduras has grown to approximately 7,000 people. See the NPR story here

Many of these migrants are fleeing poverty and violence.

At the border, a woman named Maria tells James, "It was our decision."

"We asked for people to give us rides, we sold the little we had to come," she added. "I'm doing this for my daughters and granddaughters."

James tells NPR that people at the border say they'll do whatever is asked of them, as long as they aren't sent back to Honduras.
Over the weekend Trump called the people in caravan "Hardened Criminals."
That kid in the yellow shirt looks muy peligroso 





Any thoughts that the above actually means something, should be put to rest by this: 
From occupied America where words that once gave comfort to the world are tossed into the trash bin by an  utterly amoral idiot. So....FIGHT THE POWER.
Rumpole has been traveling in Europe. We haven't had full internet access for a while and we thank the Captain for keeping the posts coming. We can report that our European compatriots are completely puzzled by what we have done to ourselves. But they are now taking stock of a new world order, where the US not only doesn't lead in advocating for human rights, controlling and reversing global warming, and collective security and peace, but actually works against those goals. Mark our words. Europeans have written us off for the foreseeable future. And when this darkness that has descended upon us lifts, like a significant other that has discovered their partner is cheating, they will NOT welcome us back with open arms. We will have to re-earn their trust and respect and it will take decades.