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

Friday, June 28, 2019

JUDGE ANDREA WOLFSON HONORED

We've been known from time to time to cast a disparaging eye at those who wear all black and sit a few feet above the rest in our courts of law. 
However, fair is fair. 

Judge Wolfson received a prestigious honor Thursday from the Florida Bar: The Judge William Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism award. This is no puff piece. This is an award that means what it says and it is earned. 
Congrats to Judge Wolfson, who indeed deserves this award:

Press Release from the Florida Bar: Yesterday at the Florida Bar Judicial Luncheon, Eleventh Circuit Judge Andrea R. Wolfson was named the recipient of the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award, given annually by The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism and the Standing Committee on Professionalism. The purpose of the award is to recognize an active judge who best exemplifies strength of character, service, and competence as a jurist, lawyer, and public servant. Judge Wolfson demonstrates the ideals of professionalism and justice while inspiring others to do the same, according to the center. Early in her career she established a reputation as “courteous, professional, well-prepared, respectful, and fair…never compromising her ethics,” said Rebecca Bandy, director of the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism. Judge Wolfson is currently assigned to criminal court, mentors young attorneys, and serves in many capacities in the local and legal community. She also serves as co-chair of the 11th Judicial Circuit Professionalism Committee, teaches a mock trial course at the new judges' colleges each year, and speaks to voluntary bar associations and various organization about the mandatory professionalism requirements implemented by the Florida Supreme Court. 



Thursday, June 27, 2019

DEMS DA BREAKS

Upon request, we open up the blog to comments about the Democratic debate which is being held here in Miami. 
If you watched the debate last night and saw the problem during the switch of moderators when the microphones of everyone including the people back stage went hot, you may not be aware of what caused the snafu. It turns out the microphones were plugged into a control panel that was connected to the power outlet by an extension. One of the extension cords also in the wall was followed out of the studio, out of the building, and to an illegal duplex in Hialeah. 


There are also two important Supreme court decisions today. 
The court ruled  in Rucho v. Common Cause that Judges cannot hear gerrymandering issues. Therefore a new congressional district that snakes through Doral, Penscaola, Two Egg,* and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, cannot be challenged in court. 

However, in a surprising decision (Department of Commerce v. New York, here), CJ Roberts joined with the court's liberal wing and held that the Commerce Department's inclusion of a citizenship question in the census was improper. Roberts noted that the Commerce Department defended the inclusion of the citizenship question based solely on the assertion that the answer will assist the Department of Justice in enforcing the Voting Rights Act.  Roberts noted one eeiney, weeney, tiny, problem, that being that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asked to have the citizenship question included within a week of taking office. It was then months later that Commerce employees began emailing bewildered Justice Department officials asking them they weren't they worried about the voting rights act and shouldn't Commerce do something to help like including a citizenship question in the census. 

Invoking the ancient and rarely used legal doctrine of "Liar Liar Pants On Fire" (literally "Bullshit") Roberts wrote:  "Several points, considered together, reveal a significant mismatch between the decision (of Commerce Secretary Ross) and the rationale he provided." 

"Mismatch". Nice word. We are going to use it: "Judge, there is a "mismatch" between the facts of this case and what the prosecutor just told you."


* Two Egg, Florida bills itself as "The Capital of the New South". Really. 



Wednesday, June 26, 2019

DADE JAIL MEDICAL EMERGENCY

THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY

The scene this evening at the Dade County Jail was one of multiple police vehicles, ambulances and fire rescue vehicles lining the block between the back of the courthouse and the front entrance to the jail. Throughout the day multiple inmates and corrections officers have been falling sick at the facility with symptoms of nausea and vomiting. 

A source informs us that there is speculation that fentanyl or a analogue fentanyl substance was smuggled into the jail on paper. As authorities began a search for the substance that was making people ill, the fentanyl-infused paper was burned, sending possibly poisonous fumes throughout the jail, making even more people sick. 

We will monitor this breaking story and update it as needed. 

GREETINGS AND SALUTATIONS

When you walk into court and respond to the former lawyer dressed all in black, how do you address the apparition hovering a few feet above everyone else ?

If you are like Rumpole, you only call them "Judge". 
In our long and illustrious career we have only used the appellation "Your Honor" in addressing three individuals: 
1) Judge Jack Weinstein of the EDNY- the dean of all federal judges and the best District Court Judge of the last 100 years or more;
2) Judge Ed Cowart of the 11th Judicial Circuit, because he was the best Circuit Court Judge we have ever met, before or since; and 

3) US District Court Judge Edward "Ned" "Boomer" Davis, the former Chief Judge of SDFL. Judge Davis was the epitome of a Judge. A courtly manner. Learned.  Decent to all who came before him, calling him "your honor" just came naturally. 

What do you call Judges? 
Do you hold back on the "Your Honors"?

What current Judges merit being called "Your Honor"? 

Monday, June 24, 2019

THE WEST BANK

Discovery is exchanged these days digitally. 
Many times discovery includes videos, text messages, audio messages, and basically information that is best viewed on a computer or Ipad. 

Lately there have been discussions and complaints that private attorneys cannot bring an electronic device into the jail to review discovery. 

An attorney who is not a PD and wants to bring an electronic device into a Miami-Dade detention facility needs, in no particular order, a written order from the judge, permission from the Attorney General of the United States, permission from the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Pope "or a designated official designed to act in his Holiness's stead". Other than that, it's a snap. 

This policy was the result of intensive negotiations between FACDL and the department of corrections circa 2011. 
Want to bring a grenade launched into a jail? Sure, no problem as long as it's not loaded. 
Thermonuclear weapon? Ditto. 
Ipdad? UHHO! Danger WIll Robinson! No way are you bringing an Ipad into this facility without the approval of the UN, the Pope, et.al, see above. 

Why? 
Uhhh...because...an IPad can hide a file and hacksaw? An IPad could be used to send a text message to Al Quidah ...because an Ipad could be used to show part of the latest Avengers movie, because that's how most attorneys want to spend their evenings; watching Avengers End Game with their clients in the Metro West visitation rooms. (Popcorn extra). 


This is the link for the prior negotiated settlement
Perhaps it's time for a review and update? 

A little known fact is that the settlement and agreement on conditions to bring an electronic device into the jail was dead in the water until Benjamin Netanyahu and the head of the PLO interceded  and used their good offices to negotiate a settlement. The cannot decide on resolving the West Bank issue, but they could resolve the electronics issue with the Miami jails. Go figure. 

Electronics into the jails is Miami's West Bank issue. Maybe we need Jimmy Carter to bring the parties to Camp David. (If you're under the age of 40 you have no idea what this refers to, do you?). 


Saturday, June 22, 2019

STUFF HAPPENS

Judge Lisa Walsh was the  intended target of some defendant produced airborne waste products on Friday. When the defendant launched his aerial assault, the proverbial "stuff" hit the fan...but thankfully not the judge. 
The courtroom was now a hot-zone and was cleared. 
The defendant, who is wheelchair bound, was wheeled into another courtroom where the Judge concluded his trial. The jury did not witness the outburst, but they did see the PDs closing argument and that was enough to acquit him. 

The State gets another chance to flush the defendant down, because he is a career criminal and has other charges pending, not to mention possible new charges in assaulting Judge Walsh. No wonder she wants to be on the 3rd DCA (an appointment she richly deserves). 

Because trivia is a hot topic these days, name another Judge who had excrement thrown at her by an unhappy litigant. Hint- she was one of the answers in the prior blog post questions. 

THIS IS THE REASON IDIOT POLICE OFFICERS GIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT A BAD NAME
A Florida woman, who was the victim of domestic violence and whose estranged husband was in jail for crimes against her, was arrested after she went to her husband's apartment, retrieved the firearms he had not surrendered but had been ordered to do so, and brought them to the police station. 
"So you're telling me you committed an armed burglary?" the idiot cop asked. And then he arrested the woman. 
The story is here. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A LITTLE TRIVIA

UPDATE- THE QUIZ IS COMPLETE. Some of our readers have extensive knowledge and in a few cases they provided correct answers we were not thinking about when we wrote the quiz, including Jack Blumenfeld who added a third Dade Judge- Judge Dekle,  who unbeknownst to us went from the circuit bench to The Supreme Court.  There were also more Judges who started their career as law enforcement officers then we were aware of. '

One reader who didn't answer any questions grumbled that they were all common knowledge for an old-guy. There is a bit of controversy over a few of the answers including who prosecuted Jim Morrison from The Doors for obscenity. We always thought it was Al Sepe, but Ellen Morphonious has been added to the list, along with the great trial lawyer- the late Terry McWilliams. 

Only one reader knew Judge Ben Willard was the subject of a plaque on a small obelisk outside of the REGJB. 

The biggest controversy, as detailed below, is the correct answer to who was the first female Judge in Miami. We have always thought it was Mattie Belle Davis, but some comments listed Ruth Sutton who was a justice of the peace in the 1950's. 



A little REGJB trivia for some summer time diversion.

True or False?

A) A judge once tried and sentenced to death a defendant in the murder of a police officer within 40 days of the arrest.  T- Manuel Valle by Judge Morphonious. 

A1-Bonus Q- the conviction and sentence were obviously vacated. What new judge assigned to the case heard it and later sentenced Valle to death? A sentence that was carried out a few years ago. 

B) A County Judge used to keep a miniature electric chair on their bench.
FALSE. Trick question. It was a circuit judge who did it. Judge Morphionous. 

C) Dade County has never had an Asian-American Judge
False . Dominic Koo.  County Court. Quite a character.
There is a story about Judge Koo that probably has some truth to it. Over a weekend he was stopped for a traffic infraction in Miami Beach. The officer asked Koo what he did for a living and Koo truthfully responded that he was a Judge. The story goes that the officer responded something along the lines of "Miami doesn't have any chink Judges". And that Monday the officer, on an un-related case was subpoenaed to appear before Judge Koo. We should not forget that it was not that long ago that it was common to see signs in Miami Beach that said "No blacks or jews served here." 

D) A Dade Judge was a holocaust survivor.
Judge Frederick Barad, who once called a client "a no-good-nick", and had a noticeable German Czech/Slavic accent, was indeed a survivor of the holocaust. 

E)  The Dade State Attorneys Office officially investigated the Watergate Burglaries.
This is true and the investigation was carried out by famed Miami Dade State Attorneys Office Chief Investigator Martin Dardis. Dardis is a name that unfortunately too few people remember. He was one of the very best.

F) A Police Officer in Miami was a serial killer.
True. Sweetwater Police Officer Manuel Pardo.

G) There was once a murder in the REGJB.
False to the best of our knowledge. Lots of other crimes and assignations have occurred in our wonderful home away from home, but not murder most foul (although birds have been killed, so there has been murder most fowl). 

H) The current PDs office used to be part of a hospital.
This is false. Although Cedars-Sinai (now part of UM) was a hospital right across the street from the current PDs office, the office used to be the HQ of the Miami-Dade Police Department. The SAO was on floors 6 and 9 of the REGJB, and the PDs were on 7 (or was it 8?).

I) There was a football field named after a Dade Judge.
False (as far as we know). But there were/are the Arthur Snyder tennis courts in North Miami.


J) An MDPD Homicide Sergeant was convicted of murdering his wife in Miami.
TRUE.  Sgt Ted MacArthur  killed his lovely wife Pilar who was a popular Dade Correctional Officer. Ed O'Donnell Sr for the defense. Reid Ruben and Susan Dannelly  for the prosecution. 
MacArthur had an affair with a Miami Herald reporter at the time he killed his wife. He also had recently increased the amount of life insurance on her to almost a half a million dollars. MacArthur shot Pilar in the head, probably while she was sleeping, and then claimed she was playing with his gun and placed it to her head pretending to being held hostage by someone and pulled the trigger not knowing the gun was loaded. The forensics said otherwise. MacArthur was so sure of his acquittal he held a press conference predicting his quick acquittal. This is something Rumpole generally avoids having his clients do. 

K) A member of the Miami Dolphins perfect season team was prosecuted and convicted of cocaine trafficking.
TRUE. Mercury Morris. When he was sentenced, Judge Morphonious, who was required to impose a fifteen year minimum mandatory sentence, said "Sorry Merc."
George Yoss led the prosecution. The  conviction was overturned by the 3rd DCA. 

L) A former Dade State Attorney (not ASA) was once prosecuted by the office he/she ran.
TRUE. Richard E Gerstein who had retired and was in private practice  and an attorney/friend were prosecuted in the some-day-to-be Richard E Gerstein Justice Building for actions relating to their stop for a possible DUI, which included swilling mouth wash after the stop. The case was dismissed when "somehow" the discovery the state had filed and provided was not in the court file. WOW! Imagine that. Some clerk some where somehow neglected to clock in discovery that was filed. Oh well. You can beat the rap but not the ride. 

QUESTIONS

M) Which former Dade Judge represented a Florida Supreme Court Justice who was charged with drug trafficking?
We think this was Al Sepe when he was in private practice but now we are not so sure. 

N) Which former Dade Judges prosecuted Jim Morrison  of The Doors.
Al Sepe. Ellen Morphinious. Also Dade ASA Terry McWilliams who did not become a judge but was one of the finest trial lawyers in Florida. 

O) Name any Dade Judge who became a member of the Florida Supreme Court (we can think of two). Judge Luck was the most recent one.  The great Jack Blumefeld writes in the comments section that Hal Dekle is also a correct answer. We did not know that one. We were thinking of Gerald Kogan who has a Miami-FACDL award named after him and is one of the all time great people you could ever have a cup of coffee with. 

P) Name at least two Dade Judges who became a Judge on television.
This one was easy. Marilyn Millian, along with Alex Ferrer and Karen Mills Francis. David Young and Cristina Perreya-Shuminer round out the ones we are aware of. 

Q) Name at least two Dade Judges (current or former) who were police officers before going to law school. Ivan Fernandez is one. Alex Ferrer is another. And the late great Stan Goldstein was a motorcycle cop before becoming a lawyer, judge and then founding the First in the Nation drug court.  And of course Izzy Reyes, now in private practice, was a great homicide detective before becoming a lawyer and judge. The Great Ed Cowart and Arthur Maginnis who was one of the nicest men you will ever meet were also law enforcement officers. Add Calvin Mapp and Victoria Platzer and that exhausts our knowledge of former judges who were law enforcement officers. 

R) Name the former PD who ran for Senate in Florida (not state senate, but the Senate in DC).
Hugh Rodham, who's sister you may have heard of. Her first name is Hillary. Hugh's brother Tony, who also worked at the PDs just recently passed away. 

S) Name at least two former County Court Judges who made it to the Federal Bench.
There are lots of Judges who are in this category, including Judge Beth Bloom, Federico Moreno, Cecilia Altonaga, Joan Leonard (who we missed but a reader did not) and recently Rodney Smith, to name a few. Also Darren Gayles we believe.

T) Name one criminal defense attorney who without becoming a county or circuit judge was named to the 3rd DCA.
Phil Hubbard. 

U) Name the first female Judge in Dade County.
We think the correct answer Mattie Belle Davis.  However this is not without controversy. We have always believed it was Judge Davis, who was a complete Floridian. But some have answered "Ruth Sutton" who was a justice of the peace in the 1950's and was not-as is still a common practice- a lawyer. When the judicial system changed there are contentions she was grand-mothered in as a County Court Judge but of this we are not certain. 

V) Name at least one judge who was a professional athlete before becoming a Judge.
Ed Newman who was NOT on the 72 undefeated Dolphins, but does have a Super Bowl ring from the 73 Dolphins. 

W) Name the Judge who has a plaque located outside but nearby the REGJB.
ONLY ONE PERSON GOT THIS RIGHT- BEN WILLARD CONGRATS TO WHOMEVER ANSWERED THIS CORRECTLY. The inscription states (this from memory) "A man of the people, a man of the law." But it might also say something about "nature". Maybe someone can look. The obelisk is just in front of the parking lot across from the REGJB.

X) Name the Broward Judge who presided over the State criminal trial of a Dade Judge. Name the Dade Judge as well.
Apparently there are two correct answers to this. Our answer was Judge Daniel Futch, from Broward- a more ornery Judge you will never run across. The defendant was Howie "The Mouse" Gross, a Dade Circuit Judge who before Courtbroom, was accused of selling his robes.  Dade ASA Larry Levecchio for the prosecution. 

More Recently, Broward Judge Robert Lee presided over the trial of Dade Judge Reggie Richardson. Jayne Weintraub for the defense. 
Both Lee and Gross were acquitted at their respective trials. 

Y) Name the only Dade Circuit Judge currently sitting as a circuit Judge in another county.
Judge Lauren Levy Miller nee____ was a Circuit Judge in Dade County. She found love on vacation with a Dr who practiced in Collier County and she left the bench in Miami, only to snag an appointment in Collier County. 

HERE'S A BETTER BONUS QUESTION: NAME A FORMER DADE CHIEF JUDGE WHO LEFT THE BENCH TO TRAVEL (TO AFRICA WE BELIEVE) RETURNED AND WAS RE-APPOINTED. 
CREDIT TO PHIL MANIATTY FOR RESPONDING QUICKLY WITH THE CORRECT ANSWER- JOE FARINA. 

Z) Name the judicial candidate who ran for Judge multiple times whose name began with a "Z".
This question may not have been artfully written. While it is true Judge Zilber ran (and won), the question asks for a "judicial candidate" who ran multiple times, indicating they never won. The answer we were looking for was ALBERT ZEMLOCK who used to put up "Z" signs everywhere. He never won. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

CONUNDRUM

UPDATE: As first reported on @Davidovalle305 Officer Jonathan Aledda was convicted Monday evening of the misdemeanor of culpable negligence and aquitted of all other felonies in the re-trial of the shooting and death of an autistic man. The first trial ended in a hung jury. Reid Ruben and Don Horn for the prosecution and Jay Kolsky and Doug Hartman for the defense. We blogged about the first trial here. 
https://justicebuilding.blogspot.com/2019/03/state-v-officer-aledda.html
Judge Alan Fine presided over both trials. 

The NACDL's motto is "Liberty's last Champion". 
Criminal defense attorneys defend the un-defendable. Before they get to our client they have to get though us. We honor attorneys with the John Adams award named after our second president who, as an attorney, represented British Soldiers who fired into a crowd in Boston.

We defend people charged with unspeakable crimes. 
One of our brethern stepped into the breach in 1996 and represented Richard Jewel who was accused by the FBI of planting the bomb at the 1996 summer olympics in Atlanta. Jewel fit the classic profile of a bomber. A loner, estranged, and a classic under-achiever. The world recoiled at Jewel's cowardly act. He was universally reviled and condemend. And he was innocent. As the FBI later admitted, Eric Rudolph, an abortion opponent, was the bomber. 

Much of what we do involves a system rife with racial bias. From police officers who stop and arrest (and sometimes shoot and kill) young black men who have done nothing wrong, to prosecutors who still systemically exclude African Americans from jury service, racism still stains our system of "justice". We are not so far removed from a time when a small heroic band of lawyers like Thurgood Marshall raced around the South defending  African Americans in small towns where trials were shams. 

So what do we do about this? 




Comments? 


Monday, June 17, 2019

REQUIEM FOR THE DEATH PENALTY

UPDATE: The best federal blog in the business looks at Judge Altman's remand at sentencing policy and discusses something we missed: the cost to the system of housing defendants in local facilities for upwards of a month before transporting them to their designated prison. DOM's blog has it here. 
http://sdfla.blogspot.com/

Since 1973 the Death Penalty has been wrongly imposed 165 times. By "wrongly" we mean the condemned individual was later exonerated- meaning they were innocent. Let that number 165 sink in. Can you do 165 pushups? If you lined each exonerated individual up on a football field, you would need two fields. The number of wrongly convicted individuals sentenced to death is most likely higher. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas in 2004 for murdering his three children by splashing gasoline around the house and setting it on fire. Except subsequent  forensic analysis shows there was no gasoline used and the fire was probably caused by faulty electrical wiring. 

Clifford Williams Jr.  and Herbert Meyers were  sentenced to death in Florida in October, 1976 for breaking into a woman's home and shooting her in the head. Except Williams and Meyers had been at a birthday party miles away, confirmed by dozens of witnesses. And the small fact that the State alleged Williams shot the victim in the house, when there were bullet holes through glass and curtains showing the shots came from outside the house. Williams and Meyers were indigent African American men  with appointed lawyers who didn't call one witness.  Meyers who was 18 at the time and the nephew of Williams turned down the prosecution's offer of five years in prison to testify against his uncle. 

The jury was never told about their alibis; the jury didn't hear from the alibi witnesses; and the jury didn't know about the forensic evidence contradicting the prosecution's case. Both men were spared from death by a 4-3 vote of the Florida Supreme Court and languished in prison for 42 years- innocent men- and would have died in prison but for Jacksonville State Attorney Melissa Nelson. The Jacksonville SAO has a Conviction Integrity Unit. Here is their report on the Williams/Meyers exoneration. The Miami SAO, believing themselves to be perfect, does not have a process to review convictions. 

Here is the NY Times article  by Nicholas Kristoff on all you want to know about the death penalty and its abject failure in this country. 

Someday, perhaps in our lifetime, we will shake our heads at the dark days when state's executed inmates-innocent and guilty alike. 
And someday, someone with an ounce of brains and some courage in the Dade County State Attorneys Office will look at the numbers and say something like "Hey, if 165 innocent people were sentenced to death, how many innocent people are serving non-death prison sentences? Maybe we should do something about that."

It's an absolute stain on our country's soul that resources are not spent on examining wrongful non-death penalty convictions in a  systemic manner. An innocent  person serving a life sentence has to hope he or she can get an experienced lawyer interested in their case within the time periods set by law. 

Of course the US is currently in good company, with nations like North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, contributing to the most executions by nations. Bastions of enlightened judicial systems all. 




Saturday, June 15, 2019

THERE'S A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN

Howdy pardner. There's a new sheriff in town and his name is Judge Roy Altman, and he sits in the SDFLA in Ft. Lauderdale which, if you didn't know, is an old native American word loosely meaning "Land of spring break". 

Word spread rapidly Friday by telex, fax, and a flurry of texts and emails in which Assistant Federal Public Defenders breathlessly informed defense attorneys that Judge Altman, in a Kennedy-esque manner, stated "let the word go forth, at this time and place, to friend and foe alike,  that the torch has been passed to a new generation of judges, appointed in this century, tempered by trials, disciplined by a hard and bitter appointment process, and unwilling to witness or permit defendants to self-surrender.

Yes dear reader and peruser of fine legal blogs, you read that right. Judge Altman will be requiring defendants to surrender at sentencing, except in "exceptional circumstances" (or if it's Rumpole for the defense, because we know no surrender). 

Is Rumpole outraged? Are you expecting a Rumpolian screed on the unfairness of it all? Sorry to disappoint mon-ami. Not hoy. 
(Hai, that's a little French followed by a little Spanish). (Hai is Japanese for yes). 

It's always been a dichotomy that for all it's perceived unfairness, defendants in federal court usually have been allowed to self surrender while such an event was a rarity in State Court. Lets be honest- a defendant who scores a level 12 or above on the federal sentencing guidelines (motto: "maybe they apply and m..a..y..b..e they don't"  can expect a prison sentence. So the argument that defendants need time to prepare for prison is really a nullity. They knew going in to sentencing that they were going to prison, so why didn't they prepare?

Of course, a sentencing is a difficult enough procedure (so we hear). It's fraught with emotions and pathos and it represents one of the worst days in the life of your client. A few weeks to gather themselves before being swallowed into the belly of the beast is a decent and reasonable thing to allow to occur and we applaud those members of the Federal Judiciary who allow it. 

But we cannot fault Judge Altman for forewarning the defense bar of his intentions. We hope he keeps an open mind and makes the decision on a case by case and defendant by defendant basis. Judge's who have a "policy" are not judges at all. They are single minded bureaucrats who have abandoned the practice of Judging. Like cattle in line for slaughter,  there is no variation from the all-mighty "policy.  Such are the practices that make bad judges. 

It's been said that it's a right of passage for a Judge in South Florida to fall upon the laser-like inspection and wit of this humble blog. We  wish Judge Altman well. 

As self-appointed keeper of the legal and judicial history of Miami, we believe Judge Altman has become the second judge in recent memory with the forename of "Roy". The first Roy's  foray into the judiciary didn't end too well
We think  and hope Judge Altman will do much better. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

LICENSE AND REGISTRATION PLEASE

Thursday June 12, 2019, a date that will live in infamy for traffic lawyers in Miami-Dade County, came the decision, irrevocable and final, that driver histories cannot be displayed to private attorneys on the in-court Spirit system.  (**Gasp!**). 

"Sir! Step away from the terminal. Stop reviewing your client's traffic history. Put the cell phone down. Put the ipad down. Put your brief case down. Take the Apple watch off. Put the starbucks latte down and raise your hands in the air and slowly turn around and walk away from the terminal."

And now, the email from Judge Slom that broke the tragic news. A copy of this email has been preserved in the Justice Building court archives for historians: 

Dear Ms. Estlund:
For distribution to all lawyers immediately.
Thank you.

To all privately retained attorneys who handle traffic matters:

Effective this morning, to our surprise, DHSMV stopped permitting driver histories to be displayed to privately retained  lawyers on the in-court Spirit system.

Per the DHSMV attachment below, (since private attorneys no longer have access through SPIRIT in court to view driver histories,) there are several options available for attorneys who wish to purchase their client’s driver histories:

·        Mail a request to Tallahassee, allowing 2-4 weeks of processing time, using the following form: https://www/flhsmv.gov/pdf/forms/90511.pdf
·        Purchase the transcript from a third party vendor, which will charge an additional fee for this service. A list of providers can be found at:
·        The website https://www.add123.com (autodirect.com), driver histories can be purchased, once an account is set-up. This website seems to be more affordable.

Please know that this policy implemented by DHSMV was their decision alone and we had no idea that they were going to take this action on today’s date. We understood that at some point this might occur but we had no idea DHSMV was going to take such measures without stuffiest notification of the implementation date.

I truly regret any inconvenience this may have caused.

Thank you.

Judge Sam Slom
Administrative Judge, County Court Criminal Division 


Of course this tragedy gives rise to the lyrics from the famous song:
"Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology 
Don't know much about the French I took
Don't know much about a science book
But I do know that I don't fear-it
If I could see your traffic history in court on Spirit, 
what a wonderful world this would be..."

Sam Cooke, Don't know much about history. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

AND THEN A HERO COMES ALONG...

UPDATE: Judge Rodney Smith was confirmed today as your newest United States District Court Judge. DOM had the vote by vote analysis on his ever popular blog here. The Vote was 78-18. 
Congrats to Judge Smith. We are sure he will be the bastion of conservative legal jurisprudence that POTUS and his senatorial minions conspire to have on the bench. 
Meanwhile, County Court Judges across the 305/786 are saying "Smith  was confirmed? Hmmm...another opening..."

All it takes is one person saying they have had enough. Facing seemingly insurmountable odds, they don't blink. They stand up for what they believe in. 

Oliver wanted more for breakfast. 

The man who stood in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square, China (whose president, BTW loves , we mean really LOVES our president...so we hear). 

Rosa Parks. 

Jackie Roosevelt Robinson. 

Ali wouldn't go to Vietnam. 

Winston Spencer Churchill: "Never never never surrender."

The St. Louis Blues this week. 

The 1969 Miracle Mets. 

Miami Attorney Jeff Weiner and Judge Moore.

This is the email that went out on FACDL which was forwarded to us, which we have, without permission, intentionally, and perhaps unlawfully, used in this post. So sue us.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I was recently in federal court before a magistrate judge for an initial appearance and bond hearing, on a Friday afternoon. After the hearing, I wrote the attached letter to Chief Judge K. Michael Moore. (For a brief statement of the issue presented, please see the letter.)

Upon receipt of my letter, Judge Moore called me. To his credit, he expressed dismay that the magistrate judge (whose name I did not mention) had been unwilling to hold a bond hearing on a Friday afternoon.  He said the magistrate "should have stayed until 8 p.m., if necessary" to hold the hearing. Judge Moore indicated that he was going to look into the matter immediately and did so.

Judge Moore advised me yesterday (while in court in Key West) that there is now a system in place wherein an alternate magistrate judge will always be available to hear contested bond hearings should the duty magistrate not do so on the day a defendant initially appears in court. Judge Moore made it happen! He asked that I inform the Defense Bar that we need only to request the alternative magistrate, if necessary.

While in court in Key West, I mentioned to Judge Moore that the next step would be to have a duty magistrate judge available on weekends to allow defendants who are arrested on a Saturday, Sunday or holidays to have same-day initial appearances and bond hearings. While Judge Moore declined to commit “one way or the other,” he did ask the Assistant United States Attorney present in court if a federal prosecutor required a magistrate judge on a weekend to sign a warrant or issue an order, would the prosecutor accept having to wait until Monday? The prosecutor responded, “no.”   If a magistrate is available for the prosecutors, he or she must also be available for defendants. I was left with the clear impression that Judge Moore would seriously consider the matter.

I thanked Judge Moore for his involvement and concern, to which he responded- in jest- that I was damaging his reputation. I told him “No, it has been enhanced.”

So, I respectfully suggest that the weekend duty magistrate be asked for same-day bond hearings for clients who are arrested late Fridays, on weekends or holidays.  FRCrP 5 states that a defendant must be brought “without unnecessary delay before a magistrate judge...” It seems only fair that if prosecutors have access to a duty magistrate on weekends, that we do as well.  Perhaps our requests will result in fewer late Friday, weekend and holiday arrests since it is unlikely that magistrates will want to spend their weekends holding bond hearings. 

All the best, 


Jeff Weiner

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

HALF OFF WITH DISCOUNT CODE

List of things we would buy upon seeing an advert on a bus bench: 

Pizza
Hamburger
Book
Magazine 
Movie
Clothes
electronics
Phone Repair
Shoe Cobbler
Dry Cleaning
Ice Cream
Liquor


List of professionals we would not hire if they advertised on a bus bench:

CPA
Neurosurgeon

Cario-Thoracic surgeon
Any surgeon
Any doctor
Dentist 
Hair Transplants
Computer Repair
Engineers
Pilots
Divorce Lawyers
Bankruptcy Lawyer

and....

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS 

ENTRANCE TO PARKING LOT ACROSS FROM COURTHOUSE



"Hey honey... we need to hire a criminal defense attorney. 
F. Lee Bailey is supposed to be good. 
Or how about that guy on TV all the time- Michael Avenatti? 
Those guys from Morgan and Morgan advertise all the time. Maybe they can get me 400K for a wrongful arrest...oh wait! Look at that ad! And he handles criminal cases. Well, that was easy."

Coming soon: 
Law firms on coffee cups in the EL Chapo CafĂ©; 
The ABC law firm lunch special; 
Lawyers Ads in the new elevators;
Basically we can monetarize the entire REGJB. Ads on escalators, walls, over courtrooms. You name it and you can advertise there. 




Monday, June 10, 2019

APPEASEMENT

The name of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin is inexorably linked by history with the appeasement of Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany. But it wasn’t Chamberlin and England that allowed Hitler his remarkable sting of foreign policy achievements. It was the capitulation of Germany’s neighbors, many in the face of crises that Hitler manufactured, that solidified Hitler with the German people.
Hitler created two crises. First was the need for “lieberstruam”- living room, for the German people. Although Germany was sufficiently large for the German people, Hitler saw Germany being closed in by foreign races on all sides. The German people needed room to live. Concomitant with that was the need for Anschluss- or reunion  of the German people who lived outside of Germany.
First up was Austria in 1938.  Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, bullied by Hitler during a meeting at Hitler’s retreat home in Berchtesgaden, agreed to a greater Nazi presence within Austria. He appointed a Nazi minister of police and announced an amnesty for all Nazi prisoners. Schuschnigg hoped that agreeing to Hitler’s demands would prevent a German invasion. But Hitler insisted on greater German influence on the internal affairs of Austria-even placing German army troops within Austria. When  Schuschnigg repudiated the agreement signed at Berchtesgaden German foreign minister Hermann Goering then faked a crisis by engineering a “plea” for German assistance from inside the Austrian government (really from a German agent). On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria. Hitler announced his Anschluss and Austria was now a nameless entity absorbed by Germany.  
Next up was Czechoslovakia and the Hitler manufactured crisis of the Sudeterland- an area of Czechoslovakia populated by Germans. Hitler claimed there was a crisis of Germans being oppressed in Czechoslovakia.
I am asking neither that Germany be allowed to oppress three and a half million Frenchmen, nor am I asking that three and a half million Englishmen be placed at our mercy. Rather I am simply demanding that the oppression of three and a half million Germans in Czechoslovakia cease and that the inalienable right to self-determination take its place.
— Adolf Hitler's speech at the NSDAP Congress 1938

The incorporation of the Sudetenland into Germany that began on October 1st, 1938 left the rest of Czechoslovakia weak, and it became powerless to resist subsequent occupation. Part of the borderland region known as Zaolzie was occupied and returned to Poland. On March 15, 1939, the German Wehrmacht moved into the remainder of Czechoslovakia as Hitler watched from Praque Castle.  Czechoslovakia now ceased to exist.
Next up was Poland. Poland had signed a mutual defense treaty with England and France. If Hitler invaded, France and England were bound to come to the aid of Poland. Once again, it was a manufactured crisis. SS troops dressed in Polish Army uniforms attacked a German radio station on the border. Hitler faked outrage, and declared a “defensive action” to protect Germany.
France and England declared War on Germany. Germany responded in kind. Chamberlin was replaced by Churchill, and the rest was history.  
The lesson from pre-world war II Germany is that bullies will go as far as the nations around them allow them to go. Dictators  will manufacture a crisis, and then seek to resolve it, earning the praise of their citizens.  
Item: President Trump declares an “emergency” at the US/Mexican border. Claiming there is a crisis, Trump threatens ruin upon the Mexican economy, threatening to raise tariffs 5% a month on Mexican products unless Mexico capitulates to Trump’s demands.  Over the weekend, the Mexican President appeased Trump, acquiesing to his demands. 
 The thing about history is that you never know where a dictator that manufacturers a crisis will pop-up. Even, tragically, as President of the United States. What we do now will be judged as harshly by history, as history now judges Chamberlin and other European leaders in 1938-1939.