Where should the prosecution and the defense sit in a courtroom?
Does it matter?
In a small courtroom on the third floor of the REGJB, it recently came to pass that the prosecution's table and podium was next to the jury box which holds the defendants that are in custody. The courtroom is one of the smallest in the courthouse. If a realtor was showing it they would call it "charming", "comfy" and "a good starter".
In reality, the third floor is where the judges with the least seniority are sent to adjudicate the miasma of the REGJB.
One day our intrepid CJ of the criminal courts division covered the calendar. Sensing a possible security issue, she had the prosecution and the PDs switch tables and podiums. No offense to the PDs, but most in-custody defendants would like to take a poke at a prosecutor.
And then Judge Blumstein returned to court, and exercising judicial wisdom and discretion, finely honed after hours of sitting in his third floor bantam-sized fiefdom, said "switch back" because the judge controls the positioning of the lawyers. See, Commonwealth v. Boyd, 246 Pa. 529 (Pa. 1914) "While in every criminal trial, the accused has a common law right to counsel, and this right may not be abridged by any rule or regulation which would operate to hinder and obstruct free consultation between the accused and his counsel, the refusal of the trial judge, in a murder case to permit the defendant to sit by his counsel, so that the defendant was compelled to occupy a, small enclosed place, about six or eight feet away from the counsel table, was harmless error where no defense on the merits was made..."
Although traditionally, the litigants with the burden of proof sit next to the jury.
See also, "Does the Placement of the accused undermine the presumption of innocence?"
But the SAO said NO! "We will not move to the back of the bus". Woops, wrong famous civil disobedience statement. The SAO actually said "No, we will not move to the other side of the courtroom."
And there we sit. So to speak
From Occupied America, sit where you want and fight the power. The SAO did. Good for them!
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, AND THE POPE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM