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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

WHERE DOES YOUR LAW SCHOOL RANK?


Good Friday morning. 
It's National Donut day. 😋.

The US is now officially in a trade war. And like all good wars, we've started one with our friends-Canada and Mexico. 

Below the article on Law School rankings is an audio clip of Michael Cohen threatening a journalist on behalf of Donald Trump.

Query: What kind of idiot practices law like that? 
Answer: An idiot who works for Donald Trump. 

The Blawg Above The Law has their new law school rankings. 

1)University Of Chicago
2)Virginia
3)Duke 
4)Harvhard
5) Stanford  round out the top five. 

Yale came in at 7;  Colombia at 13 and NYU at 14, and to the chagrin of Judge Moreno, Notre Dame barely made the top 20 at 18. 

University of Utah is #50.

Tactics:
The way we practice law, if some jadrool
spoke to us like this, we would call him on his threat in a second. 
Those who can....do. 
Those who can't...threaten. 

It looks like another wet and rainy weekend. ☔⛈
Keep dry and fight the power!


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

THE BAR ASSOCIATIONS LINE UP AGAINST JUDGE MILLAN

The pressure on Judge Stephen Millan to resigned intensified over the lead up to the Memorial Day Weekend when the Wilkie Ferguson Bar Association published this letter.





That was soon followed by a remarkable letter to the Florida Supreme Court  calling for Judge Millan's removal  signed by the heads of many minority legal associations including the National Black Prosecutors Association, T.J. Reddick Bar Association, Gwen Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, Haitian Lawyers Association, and the F. Malcom Cunningham Sr. Bar Association. 

It can be lonely when you use ugly language to espouse repugnant ideas. 
But ideas and language are one thing. Actions are another. 

Enter the Herald Tribune's report and analysis on racial disparity in sentencing in Florida. The report had these disheartening findings about Judge Milan:

First Degree Felonies: a 93% disparity in sentencing between white and black defendants-meaning black defendants received an average sentence of 8,410 days while white defendants received an average sentence of 4,355 days. 

Burglary: This one is shocking. Black defendants received on average a sentence of 1, 718 days, while white defendants received a sentence of less than half- 619 days. That is a disparity of 149%. 

To be fair the report showed no disparity between sentences for felony DWLS cases, and a slight disparity for the crime of robbery in sentencing white defendants to 4,423 days in prison while black defendants  received an average sentence of 4,130 days, a negative disparity of 7%. But in every other category analyzed, Milan overwhelmingly sentenced black defendants to significantly more time in prison than white defendants for the same crime. 

There may be an explanation for this disparity. But when you refer to black defendants as "moolies" and call their families "thugs", the explanation rings hollow.
Call it Williams Rule if you will. A pattern of conduct that undermines the defense. 

 This small but sordid episode in the REGJB reminds us that for civil rights, for women's rights, for the rights of people everywhere to be treated as individuals regardless of their race or sex or economic status, there is still work to be done. 

Racism is insidious. It slips into every unseen crack, flowing like dirty water and infecting the foundations of our society. A snide comment here- a knowing glance there. A quiet nod between people who share the same racists ideas.  The price we pay for freedom is eternal vigilance.

This one is a no-brainer for the Florida Supreme Court. Either they remove Judge Millan or they brand Florida as a State that will tolerate racist Judges. 

If ABC can cancel their top-rated show because of the racist tweet of Roseanne Barr- who is nothing but a dimwitted comedian, then the Florida Supreme Court can remove a judge who sits in judgment of others. 

As we have repeatedly said recently, fight the power- which in this case is the ideas of racism and intolerance. 

There may be another side to this story. People can make a misguided comment. If Judge Millan or anyone authorized on his behalf wants to submit the other side to this, or an explanation, we will publish it unedited as a post on the front of the blog. 




Monday, May 28, 2018

REGJB THREAT RECEIVED

FACDL sent out the following email:

Good evening, 

Judge Sayfie advised of the following:


There was a threat made earlier today against REG that has been investigated and largely ruled out. As a precaution MDPD is continuing with a planned sweep of the building tomorrow before it is open to the public. We have been informed that it should be complete by 6:30 AM. Business should not be affected. 

We will update this post as events and information warrant. 


Sunday, May 27, 2018

MEMORIAL DAY 2018

Lest we forget, on Memorial Day we remember the men and women who died fighting for this country and the freedoms we all enjoy. 



Part of those freedoms the men who are buried in France (pictured above) fought for are the right to hold repugnant and unpopular thoughts. This is a uniquely American trait.  

We just don't think our soldiers died for the right for a Judge to call people of color "thugs" and "moolies"

We just don't think our soldiers died for the right of the President of the United States to call immigrants "animals". 

Both comments dehumanize people, and that is not what this country is about. Nazism dehumanized people. So did slavery which existed in our country for the first seventy-five  years. 
The best about America is the belief that "All men are created equal."  The best about America is that we hold our mistakes out for all to see, and then we strive to be better. 

Stay dry and enjoy your day off and remember those who sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy. 

From Occupied America, Fight The Power. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

It's a wet and rainy Memorial Day Weekend. 
South Florida's beaches and golf courses and outdoor malls will have to wait for another day. 

Court's are closed Monday so don't show up looking for a trial. 

Here's a couple of things to ponder:

When someone dies and we post an obituary on the blog, why do some people feel compelled to write awful things?

Ditto when someone retires. 
We would respect a negative comment if it wasn't anonymous. 
Ditto when someone runs for judge or is elected judge. 

The internet seems to be a great anonymous equalizer. It has become some sort of therapists couch where people feel free to open up and say the most awful things without fear. 

When someone gets a big case why do other lawyers snipe behind their backs? 
Why do lawyers resent the success of others? 

You know what we all need? 

More poetry in our lives. 
The writer Ray Bradbury wrote about his success as a writer and one of the things he said a successful writer needs to do is read poetry every day. 

So here is a poem. The Fisherman by W.B Yeats.  It's a bit deeper than the "there once was a man from Nantucket..." that many of our learned Judiciary's tastes run to: 


Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It's long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I'd looked in the face
What I had hoped it would be
To write for my own race
And the reality:
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved—
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer—
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelve-month since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face
And gray Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark with froth,
And the down turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream—
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, “Before I am old
I shall have written him one
Poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.”

Coming Tuesday: The Bar Associations are lining up.  Letters are being sent to the Supreme Court in Tallahassee. Ask not for whom the bell tolls....it tolls for thee. 



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DICK GREGORIE IS RETIRING

Famed South Florida Prosecutor Dick Gregorie is retiring from the US Attorneys Office this week after a career in prosecuting that began in the early 1970's. 
While Mr. Gregorie spent most of his career with the Feds, he did a two year stint at the Dade State Attorneys Office where Janet Reno hired him because the Republican fed administration  didn't want him. As we recall Mr. Gregorie's exposure to the sharp elbows of REGJB trials was a bit of an eye opener, and he didn't do as well as he was used to in the federal trials in  the cultured courtrooms where the ceilings are twice as high. But then Bill Clinton was elected POTUS and Gregorie was no longer persona non grata at the US Attorneys and he was back where he belonged. 

As this Herald article points out, Gregorie prosecuted Pablo Escobar, Manuel Noriega, and a score of other drug and money laundering cases (including an unfortunate couple of cases against Miami Defense attorneys gone bad). As Jose Quinon points out in the article, while Dick Gregorie was a formidable opponent, he never forgot his obligations as a prosecutor. He was honest and a man of his word. 

We congratulate Dick Gregorie on a career that made a difference in Miami,  (having made the pages of this blog his career is now complete) and we wish him well on the next chapter of his life. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

A DARK DAY

Lots of breaking news. Check the prior post of the Captain to see your two new county court judges- Elijah Levitt and Ramiro Areces. Congrats to both. 

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality." 
Dr. Martin Luther King

It is 2018. There is no place for racists in our midst, much less on the bench. And yet....


A Miami judge faces suspension for using the word "moolie" to describe an African-American defendant and referring to another man's supporters in court as "thugs."
An investigative panel for Florida's Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stephen Millan be suspended for 30 days, fined $5,000 and be issued a public reprimand. Millan agreed to the punishment, which must be approved by the Florida Supreme Court.
Millan, 52, who is of Italian and Puerto Rican descent and grew up in New York City, "readily admitted to his misconduct" and paid to attend racial sensitivity training. Still, the JQC said, suspension was "warranted to demonstrate to the public, and to remind the judiciary, that racial bias has no place in our judicial system."
Millan sat on a bench in the courthouse of the great Judge Ed Cowart. Of Judge Henry Oppenborn who fought as a paratrooper for his country. This is the courthouse where Attorney General Janet Reno had her office as State Attorney. Ms. Reno sent her prosecutors to court every day telling them to do justice and go where the evidence leads them. 
It is a dark day when we learn that in this courthouse  where we all work  and strive to do justice, that a person with repugnant ideas and ideals sat wearing robes in judgment of others. 
Stephan Millian very simply should not be a judge. His ideas darken the doors of our courthouse. He casts a shadow of hate and ignorance that reaches back to a time when courthouses in Miami were built with two water-fountains side by side and multiple rest- rooms to accommodate segregation. 
Millan has the right to his beliefs. He just does not have the right to sit in judgment of any one at any time for any reason on any case. 
It's probably true that Millan feels bad that this has come to light. The question is whether he feels bad about what he said and did? Is there any remedy for  a person who looks at people of color as thugs and demeans them with a dirty racial epithet? 
This is shocking. This is sad. It's a sad day for justice in Miami. 



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article211618154.html#storylink=cpy

TWO NEW COUNTY COURT JUDGES NAMED .......


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

AND YOUR TWO NEW COUNTY COURT JUDGES ARE .......

As I reported last week, the Governor was scheduled this week to name two new County Court Judges, to replace Judges Multack and Kravitz. Today, the Governor chose:

Ramiro C. Areces, age 35, a nine year member of The Florida Bar to replace Judge Shelley Kravitz. Arces worked for the firm of Jorden Burt before becoming a solo practitioner.

Elijah A. Levitt, age 39, a 14 year member of The Florida Bar to replace Judge Spencer Multack. He served both as an ASA in Miami-Dade County and an AUSA for the Southern District of Florida before becoming a solo practitioner.


Following up on Rumpole’s post from earlier today:

1:34 PM asks a great theoretical question:

Captain, what would happen if the candidates in one group had also applied through the JNC process and the governor appointed them to fill vacancies after qualifying day but before the election? Would qualifying be reopened to get candidates for the election? Or would the seat be considered vacant and the governor would get to appoint someone to fill it? 1:34 PM, Comments section.

The Captain Responds:

So, using a current race as an example, what if Milena Abreu and Mike Mirabal had both gone through the JNC process, both names had been sent to the Governor for two open seats, and the Governor picked both Abreu and Mirabal for the open seats (after May 4th, the last day to qualify, and before August 28th, the date of the election?)

Well, first, of course, Abreu and Mirabal would both become judges. Now, the problem is that both are currently running against each other in County Court Group 43, where the winner is scheduled to be decided in the August primary election.

So, with the Governor's two picks, nobody would be a candidate in Group 43.

But, what the questioner forgets is that, the seat, Group 43, is anything but vacant. In fact, Judge Joe Davis, (the current occupant of the Group 43 seat), is very much alive and well and serving out his final term which will end on January 2, 2019. Therefore, the seat is by no means open and the Governor has no power under Florida law to throw the seat to the JNC, for him to then choose the eventual replacement.

Instead, similar to when there is a death or resignation of a state house or state senate member, the Governor is authorized to call for a SPECIAL ELECTION pursuant to F.S. 100.101. The Dept. of State, pursuant to F.S. 100.111, would set the dates for the special qualifying period where new candidates can declare their intention to run for the seat. Once that qualifying period is closed, those that qualified would be the new candidates to be chosen by the voters.

Now, here is the kicker to all of that. If you follow the letter of the law, the Special Election could not occur until after August 28, 2018. Why is that? Because, F.S. 100.101 states that, the Governor cannot call for a Special Election until such time as:

(1) If no person has been elected at a general election to fill an office which was required to be filled by election at such general election.

So, after August 28th, when no candidate would have been chosen by the voters to take over the seat in January, (because there were no candidates remaining on the ballot), only then could he call the Special Election. And if you read further into the statutes, the Dept of State would likely set qualifying dates very soon after the Governor calls for the Special Election, likely in early September. And the date of the Election would undoubtedly take place on the same date as the General Election on November 6th, 2018.

Thanks for that very interesting question. We are always here to provide our readers with the answers to those burning questions, and always at Horace's disposal to handle the affairs of judicial elections, the JNC, and the like.

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



A GREAT QUESTION

An alert reader asked a question which we will paraphrase: 

Assume two candidates are vying for a seat on the bench. 

Both candidates apply for multiple open seats and the governor appoints both of them. 

What happens to the election? Does the seat open up for special qualifying and a special election, or does the governor get to make an appointment to that seat as well?

Truth is stranger than fiction. 
Just look at our president. 

E FILING JUST GOT EASIER 
When e-filing a document through the State of Florida portal you no longer need to list how many pages the document is. This makes life easier. 
Of course you still can't go on there and obtain copies of documents previously filed in PDF format. But then, that's asking a lot- asking the State to provide the same services as every other e-filing entity. This is Florida after all. 




Sunday, May 20, 2018

TIPPING

How much should we tip? 
Here's what's on our mind. 
Last year according to our credit cards we used Uber over 150 times for transportation for work in Miami and in many other cities. This year will be close to 200 trips. The difference between tipping $2.00 and $5.00 per trip is a savings of (or expenditure of) $600.00. 

We use Instacart and food delivery services several times a week. Again, the difference between tipping 10% and 20% is over a thousand dollars a year. 


We live in a service economy. We use Instacart and Uber Eats because we can make more on a hourly basis working, then shopping or eating lunch or dinner out. So should it matter if we tip an extra ten dollars? But those ten dollars add up to thousands over time.

Someone as successful as Kevin "Mr. Wonderful" O'Leary, a billionaire,  proudly calculates that he can brew a cup of morning coffee for 20 cents and saves and invests the $2.50 Starbucks charges. 
So perhaps it pays to be a bit parsimonious. 
But it's not in our nature. 

So what do you tip? 



Why Kevin O'Leary refuses to spend his money on fancy coffee from CNBC.

Friday, May 18, 2018

LEAGUE OF PROSECUTORS JUDICIAL ENDORSEMENTS 2018 .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

JUDICIAL ENDORSEMENTS .......

The League of Prosecutors has spoken:
(those endorsed are listed in BLUE)

 
CIRCUIT COURT

GROUP 8

Elisabeth Espinosa
David Miller

GROUP 14

Vivianne del Rio
Renee Gordon
Louis Martinez

GROUP 25

Yery Marrero
Joe Perkins

COUNTY COURT

GROUP 2:

Rosy Aponte
Kristy Nunez

GROUP 32:

Lizzet Martinez
Chris Pracitto

GROUP 33:

Olanike Adebayo
Eleane Sosa-Bruzon

GROUP 40:

Michael Barket
Elena Ortega-Tauler

GROUP 43:

Milena Abreu
Mike Mirabal

TWO NEW COUNTY COURTS JUDGES COMING TO A COURTROOM NEAR YOU:

By this time next week, Governor Scott is expected to name two new County Court Judges (to replace Judges Spencer Multack and Shelly Kravitz) from among the following names:

Milena Abreu
Ramiro Christen Areces
Raul Antonio Cuervo
Marcia Giordano Hansen
Julie Harris Nelson
Peter S. Heller
Kimberly Hillary
Lody Jean
Elijah A. Levitt
Jonathan Meltz
Griska Mena
Luis Perez-Medina

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

THE HOT CORNER

In baseball, third base is called the hot corner because that's where the action is. The third baseman is closest to a right handed batter. He has to guard the line and is often required to field sharply hit ground balls and make long throws. Just watch a you tube video of Brooks Robinson handling the hot corner to see how it's done. 

We have our own developing hot corner in the REGJB at the end of the second floor, with the two courtrooms facing each other manned by Judges Hirsch and Hersch. 
And Tuesday we have action, with Judge Hersch handling a robbery case (Phil Maniatty for the state) and Judge Hirsch presiding over a trafficking in cocaine case (Mike Walsh for the defense). 

Here's a great example of the hot corner. 1978 world series. Yankees-Dodgers.  Game Three. The Gator-Ron Guidry on the mound. Watch Yankee Third baseman  Gregg Nettles save two runs. Bases loaded. Two out and a line drive to the hot corner.  



Monday, May 14, 2018

FACDL AWARDS BANQUET

The FACDL had their annual awards banquet this past Saturday. 
We received positive reviews from several attendees, including high praise for  PD Abbie Waxman who received the Gregg Wenzel Young Lawyers Award, and Michelle Estlund who won the Rodney Thaxton "Against All Odds Award". 

Ms. Waxman was a Rumpolian 17 of 18 in jury trial wins this past year for her clients. A very impressive record, bit considering her pedigree, not surprising in the least. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

Significant in the praise we received was Ms. Estlund's remarks about Rodney Thaxton, a legendary Public Defender in Miami who died way too soon.  
Rodney Thaxton was the type of lawyer who comes along once in a generation or so. Ms. Estlund deserves credit for remembering Rodney Thaxton in her remarks. It was a classy thing to do. 

Congratulations to Ms. Waxman and Ms. Estlund for being part of Liberty's Last Champion. 
Well done. 
Well done indeed. 




Friday, May 11, 2018

AN EPIC RANT

He's the James Bond of criminal defense. He (almost) never loses and he never loses his cool. 

But he went on an epic rant here about prosecutorial misconduct in general, and the failure to turn over discovery in particular. And along the way he touches on the trial tax, the incessant requests for pre-trial detention or excessive bonds, and a whole bunch of other problems with the criminal justice system. 

Go read DOM's blog post before he regains control and takes it down. 

Sometimes it's good to lose control. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018: NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... PART TWO


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018:
NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... PART TWO

Attorney Jason Rosner is running for Judge. Rosner has been a member of The Florida Bar since 2004 and he can be located on the Bar's web site under the name Jason Allen Rosner.

But, a review of the same web site finds that there is no licensed attorney in the State of Florida with the name Jason Allen-Rosner. Despite that glaring fact, Allen-Rosner has qualified to run in Broward’s Circuit Court Group 38 race for an open seat. Allen-Rosner filed to run against candidates Melissa Donoho, Linda Leali, and Stephanie Moon. By filing under the name Allen-Rosner, (adding a hyphen between his Middle name and his Last name), instead of using his real last name Rosner, Jason goes from last to first on the ballot in Group 38.

Jason Rosner has a law practice in Hollywood, Florida handling mostly criminal defense and family law cases. He has a web site (that can be found here) and lists his law practice under the name Jason A. Rosner.

Jason Rosner was married in 2005 in Miami-Dade County and he filed a marriage license with the name Jason Allen (middle name) Rosner.

His LinkedIn page uses the name Jason Rosner. His AVVO pages, Superlawyers page, Findlaw page, and so on, all use the last name of Rosner. Not a one lists the name Allen-Rosner. It appears that the hyphenated name was invented for the first time on the qualifying documents filed with the Department of State in Tallahassee last Friday.

In fact, most of the documents Rosner filed with the Department of Elections actually do NOT even use the hyphenated name. On January 19, 2018, Rosner files his first set of papers with the Division of Elections. His Statement of Candidate lists Jason Allen Rosner as a "candidate for Circuit Court Judge". The filing includes a letter written on office stationery with a letterhead that reads Law Office of Jason A. Rosner, P.A. Rosner also filed the Statement of Candidate for Judicial Race and the Appointment of Campaign Treasurer, both indicating that the name of the candidate is Jason Allen Rosner. The State sent Rosner four letters over the next four months, all addressed to Jason Allen Rosner. On May 4, the day he qualified, he filed his Public Financial Disclosure and to prove who he was for the Notary, he used his Florida Driver’s License issued in the name of, you guessed it, Jason Allen Rosner (no hyphen). Not until he filed his Candidate Oath did he finally use the name Jason Allen-Rosner.

Even more amazing, Rosner first decided to run for Judge in the 2016 Election cycle. Rosner filed in Group 9 on February 9, 2015, using the name Jason Allen Rosner (no hyphen). He went on to file seven documents with the Division of Elections using the last name of Rosner. Not once did he use the name Allen-Rosner. He ultimately withdrew from the race without qualifying on April 18, 2016.

By all accounts, Rosner has an excellent reputation and he is a well respected attorney in both criminal court and family court. Nobody doubts that he is more than qualified to sit as a Judge. He was an Assistant Public Defender for two years and he is currently a Civil Traffic Hearing Officer in Broward County and has been for the past six years.

But running for Judge means that one has read and is familiar with the Code of Judicial Conduct. Canon One of the Code discusses INTEGRITY and states that "An ..... honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing high standards of conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity ..... of the judiciary may be preserved."

INTEGRITY, for those of you keeping score at home, is defined as: "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles".

WHAT IS THE LAW???

We spoke with Jesse Dyer, an attorney in the General Counsel's office with the Division of Elections, Florida Department of State, and here is what he told us about the issue of what name they permit to appear on a ballot:

First, there are no Florida Statutes or Florida Administrative Codes that directly address this issue.

Second, there is an Advisory Opinion issued by the Division of Elections, authored 32 years ago, AO Number 86-06 (that can be found here) that primarily addresses "nicknames" appearing on the ballot.

The AO reads, in pertinent part:

" ..... Under common law principles, not abrogated by Florida law, a name consists of one Christian or given name and one surname, patronymic or family name; therefore, the name printed on the ballot ordinarily should be the Christian or given name and surname"..... "However, it has been determined that any name by which a candidate is known is sufficient on a ballot, and a person is legally permitted to have printed on the ballot the name which the candidate has adopted and under which he or she transacts private and official business, 29 C.J.S. Elections §161."

The Advisory Opinion goes on to state that:

"Election officials, however, may be justified in refusing to print on the ballot a candidate's nickname when it is not shown that the nickname ever was used by the candidate as part of his legal name, and such officials may be equally justified in refusing to print on the ballot a candidate's choice of a name which has not been adopted by him or her and under which the candidate has not transacted private and official business. See C.J.S. Elections §161."

Dyer told us that, when a candidate wants to use a "nickname", the Department requires that the Candidate complete an Affidavit swearing that they have used that name and are generally known in personal and/or work circles by that nickname. But, he went on to say that the staff that accepts the paperwork are ministerial officers and they generally accept the paperwork at face value. The candidate must complete the Candidate Oath Form and on that Form it actually says: "print name above as you wish it to appear on the ballot".

We located one case that directly addressed the issue, Planas v. Planas , 937 So.2d 745 (Fla. 3d DCA, 2006), on the use of a nickname:

"We hold that, as a matter of law, by designating a name, “J.P.” Planas, which “ha[d] not been adopted by him . . . and under which [he] ha[d] not transacted private and official business,” Division of Elections Opinion 86-06 (May 1, 1986)(citing C.J.S. Elections § 161 (now 29 C.J.S. Elections § 273 (2005))), the appellant did not “act[] in [the] good faith and . . . honest purpose,” 26 Am. Jur. 2d Elections § 293, at 109 (2004), required of all candidates". 

For additional guidance, we read the SUPERVISOR’S HANDBOOK ON CANDIDATE QUALIFYING that can be found here. In lockstep with what Dyer told us, the Handbook advised that: "A qualifying officer’s duties are ministerial in nature. (Section 99.061(7)(c), F.S.)".  "... any question as to the truth or accuracy of matters stated in a candidate’s qualifying papers becomes a judicial question if and when an appropriate challenge is made in the courts. (State ex rel Shevin v. Stone, 279 So.2d 17 (Fla.1972))."

Digging deeper into the Handbook though, one come's to Chapter 5, page 13: Q: "May a candidate use a nickname on the ballot?"
A: "A nickname may be printed along with one’s legal name if the candidate is generally known by that name or the name is used as part of his or her legal name. (See Appendices G and H - DE Opinions 86-06 and 09-05.)" 

And Appendix H (DE 09-05), found on page 48, says, in response to a question from a City Clerk official, that asked: “What level of scrutiny must a filing officer apply to ascertain whether a prospective candidate legitimately has a nickname that is eligible for placing on the ballot?”, the Director of the Division of Elections answered the question in part as follows: .... “the short answer is that a filing officer may require a candidate to make a satisfactory showing that the candidate has been generally known by the nickname or the candidate has used the nickname as part of the candidate’s legal name”.

In closing, Dyer, the Division of Elections attorney, stated if another candidate, or a registered voter in that County, feels like a violation of the election qualifying law is being committed, they would have to file an Injunction, and litigate the case in Court.

So, there you have it. Maybe it’s time for a change in the law. Or maybe, just maybe, we should expect just a bit more integrity from some of our judicial candidates.

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

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018: NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... PART ONE


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018:
NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... PART ONE

"That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet" (Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, 1597)

But, if you had to vote between Capulet and Montague, whom would you choose? Especially if Capulet appeared first on the ballot.

Known as "First Listing Bias, the issue has been widely discussed and broadly researched by political scientists for decades. Here are just three of the many articles easily found online that discuss the fact that, in a primary election, with no political party involved, the candidate listed first stands to gain anywhere from 5-10% more votes simply because their name is first on the ballot. You can read the articles here and here and here.

So, why, pray tell, is El Capitan waking us up on a Wednesday morning with a poli sci lesson you ask? You want the truth, loyal readers; ..... you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall (A Few Good Men, Columbia Pictures, 1992); sorry, I lost my train of thought there .....

The answer is BROWEIRD.

On Friday, May 4th, the final day to qualify to run for judge, at precisely 9:01 AM, judicial candidate Shari Beth Africk-Olefson filed in Broward Circuit Group 8 against Incumbent Ernest Kollra and challenger Alan Schneider. ***

Shari Beth Olefson has been a member of The Florida Bar for 29 years. On the other hand, Shari Beth Africk-Olefson is not an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Florida. Despite that fact, Shari Beth Africk-Olefson is running for Circuit Court Judge.

Shari Olefson is Board Certified in the field of Real Estate law under the name Shari Beth Olefson. She has an exemplary reputation in the legal community using the name Shari Olefson. She is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator under her name Shari Olefson. She is the author of several books in the fields of real estate law and economics, all using the last name of Olefson. She appears regularly on TV as an expert, (using the name Olefson), including a Fox News segment hosted by Jamie Colby, (yes, that’s former Judge Jonathan Colby’s sister), called "Take Charge". She is a mover and shaker in politics having hosted a "Conversation With Hillary" Clinton at her home for a fundraising event on May 21, 2016. The invitation to the event was from Shari Olefson. By the way, she is not running for Judge for the salary; (she has a Net Worth of just under $11 million dollars).

The point being, Shari Olefson has made her name in the legal community using the last name of Olefson. Why oh why would she then want to sacrifice 29 years of building up the reputation of that Olefson name, by running for Judge using a different name? Isn’t she running for Judge because of that stellar reputation? And nobody doubts that she has a stellar reputation and that she is more than qualified to sit as a judge.

Why then is she using the name Africk-Olefson to run for Judge? Because, she is also married to Pamela Beth Africk. They tied the knot on March 1, 2018.

The Florida Bar lists no licensed attorney by the name of Shari Beth Africk-Olefson. Despite that fact, Shari Olefson has filed all of her campaign documents with the Department of State and she is running as a candidate for Circuit Court Judge under the name Shari Beth Africk-Olefson.

Who gets to decide which name comes first when two love-birds tie the knot? Well, traditionally, of course, it has always been the husband’s last name that replaces that of the wife’s last name. For some, (think Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example), it is the wife who adds her husband’s last name after her maiden name. In Ms. Olefson’s case, she has married another woman; ("Not that there’s anything wrong with that". Seinfeld, The Outing, Episode 57, Season Four, 1993). And she has chosen to hyphenate her name, using her spouse’s name first. So, we ask again, who gets to decide which name comes first?

More importantly, shouldn’t we be asking whether Ms. Olefson is using the Africk-Olefson name primarily for the purpose of being placed first on the ballot? We wouldn’t even be asking the question if not for the fact that Ms. Olefson lists her name with The Florida Bar as Olefson while she wants the voters to elect attorney Africk-Olefson to the position of a Circuit Court Judge.

*** At 11:15 AM, 45 minutes before the end of qualifying, candidate Africk-Olefson switched races and filed in Group 36 against challenger Kristen Padowitz.

*** At the time Africk-Olefson switched races and joined Group 36, there were two other candidates in that race: Karen Berger and Kristen Padowitz. By using the last name Africk-Olefson, the candidate jumped to the front of the alphabetical list, ahead of Ms. Berger. This moved Berger down to the second slot on the ballot.

***So, at 11:57 AM, three minutes before the close of qualifying, candidate Karen Berger, made a savvy move herself. She jumped from Group 36 to Group 43, filing against candidate Dan Casey. Casey had announced in Group 43 last July, and had been unopposed for nine months. He was three minutes away from getting elected without opposition when Berger filed against him. By doing so, Berger, who had been first on the ballot in Group 36, before Africk-Olefson jumped into that Group, became first on the ballot once again, this time ahead of Casey.

The Captain agrees that a candidate should make their filing decision with winning in mind. Nobody runs to lose, and if you can improve your chances of winning, by running in a race where there are two candidates instead of three, or by running in a race where your name appears on the ballot before your opponent, well then, go for it. But that doesn’t mean you get to use a name that you have never used before, and one that you don’t even use to maintain your license with The Florida Bar, just to run for Judge; (which carries with it the requirement that you be a lawyer in good standing before you can even run for judge).

ADDENDUM: We emailed Ms. Africk Olefson and asked her why she chose to add the hyphen between the two names?  She did respond with the following: "When I married, Africk-Olefson became my legal name.  Which is why it’s the name on my judicial filing papers.  It didn’t occur to not combine and hyphenate surnames when I married. But I suppose there are cultural reasons for doing that.  I do recall feeling proud to take on the Africk family name with my own, particularly because my father in law has been an important mentor and role model. "

So, readers, what say you? Have at it.

COMING TOMORROW: North of the Border, Part Two, and What is the law in Florida concerning what name a candidate is permitted to use on the ballot?

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


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

THE CONGO-BONGO TRIP

There is no pleasure when a hard working and respected jurist makes a mistake and catches a public Supreme Court reprimand. The Herald article on Judge Maria Ortiz admitting that she failed to report free hotel rooms and trips, including a "congo-bongo" trip is here.  Her husband is facing criminal charges for the freebies. 


Have you ever seen a public judicial reprimand? The Judge is called before the Supreme Court and basically they just yell at her for five minutes. It's a bizarre punishment. Like a modern day shaming. 

Meanwhile, are you wondering which former REGJB judge who quickly scurried out of the Justice Building to delinquency court is now going to resign in the face of a noxious complaint about using racial epithets in course of his work-day is? 
Just wait a little longer until he waves the white flag and quits. 
This is someone who needs a good shaming. 

Santeria is alive and well outside the REGJB. The chicken, however, is dead. 





From occupied America....for shame for shame!





Friday, May 04, 2018

JUDICIAL ELECTIONS 2018 ..... CONGRATS TO OUR THREE NEWEST JUDGES .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

QUALIFYING DAY HAS COME & GONE .......

Congratulations to our newest judges who will all take the bench in January of 2019. None of them received opposition as of Noon today:

CIRCUIT COURT

Carlos Lopez

COUNTY COURT

Betsy Alvarez-Zane

Jacqueline Woodward (and Happy Birthday to Jackie today).

AND NOW FOR THE CONTESTED ELECTIONS. ANY PREDICTIONS .....?

CIRCUIT COURT

19 Incumbent Circuit Court Judges were reelected without drawing any opposition; (for a list of those judges please see our post from May 3rd ). There are three contested races this year. One candidate, Renee Gordon, returns for a second try after losing in the primary in 2016 to eventual winner Mark Blumstein. Judge David Miller is the only incumbent Judge in Miami-Dade County to draw opposition. Judge Miller is no stranger to contested elections - in 2012, the last time he ran for office, he also drew an opponent. He soundly defeated Mauricio Padilla in that contest with 62% of the vote. Miller first won election to the Circuit Court in 2000, when he defeated two other candidates, Arthur Spiegel and David Peckins (in the runoff). In fact, the only time Miller has not faced opposition was in 2006.

GROUP 8

Elisabeth Espinosa
David Miller - INCUMBENT

GROUP 14 (OPEN SEAT - Judge Cindy Lederman retiring)

Vivianne del Rio
Renee Gordon
Louis Martinez

GROUP 25 (OPEN SEAT - Judge Dennis Murphy retiring)

Yery Marrero
Joe Perkins

COUNTY COURT

17 Incumbent County Court Judges were reelected without drawing any opposition; (our May 3rd post also includes the names of these judges). There are five contested races this year. Four of the candidates have past experience running for Judge. In 2016, Milena Abreau just missed out when she lost a close County Court race to Incumbent Judge Fred Seraphin. Abreu lost by only 677 votes out of a total 210,919 ballots cast. Lizzet Martinez lost out in 2016 as well, to Incumbent County Judge Ed Newman. Rosy Aponte lost a Circuit Court race in the primary to eventual winner Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts and Elena Ortega-Tauler lost a Circuit Court race to Incumbent Judge George Sarduy. 

GROUP 2: (Judge Mary Jo Francis retiring):

Rosy Aponte
Kristy Nunez
(Jeffrey Cynamon withdrew from this race at 11:58 AM today).

GROUP 32: (Judge Caryn Canner Schwartz retiring):

Lizzet Martinez
Chris Pracitto

GROUP 33: (Judge Teretha Thomas Lundy retiring):

Olanike Adebayo
Eleane Sosa-Bruzon

GROUP 40: (Judge Don Cohn retiring):

Michael Barket
Elena Ortega-Tauler

GROUP 43: (Judge Joseph Davis, Jr retiring):

Milena Abreu
Mike Mirabal

The primary election takes place on August 28, 2018 with any runoffs to be decided on November 6th. Good luck to all of the candidates.

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