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

Monday, September 30, 2019

JUDGE THORNTON RESIGNS

Football coaches have coaching trees: assistant coaches who worked under a head coach who then become head coaches in their own right. 

Judge Federico Moreno has a judicial tree. The judiciary is populated with former clerks and law partners of Judge Moreno, who entered private practice after leaving the federal public defenders office and starting the climb to CJ of the SDFLA (county court, where he famously issued a BW for a Dolphins star wide receiver and then wrote on the document "do not arrest on Sundays"; circuit court, federal district court, and a nomination to the 11th Circuit before Bill Clinton upset his plans by beating GHWB). The number of judges on the bench in South Florida who worked with him or as his clerk speaks to Judge Moreno's  influence and caring as a friend and mentor. Foremost in the Judge Moreno judical tree was Judge John Thornton, who along with 3rd DCA Judge Kevin Emas,  was partners with Judge Moreno in private practice in an era before cell phones and eight dollar cups of coffee. 
After a distinsguished career as a circuit court judge, and a couple of brushes with a federal judicial nomination, Judge Thornton has hung up the robes and resigned. As of this writing, the reasons are unknown, but the judiciary and South Florida will miss his wisdom, judicial temperament, and abilities as a wise and experienced judge. We wish him well in his future endeavors. 

SURVIVOR POOL 
The Rams let a lot of players down this week. One player DQ'd and one just got in under the MNF wire. We shall see. 13 solider on to week 5.

GREATEST QUOTE EVER

As state court practitioners begin ten days of reflection and introspection, and federal practitioners plod through their day with the First Amendment prohibitions against Shul and State firmly in place, we provide you with perhaps one of the greatest quotes of all time.

The context is the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs speaking to his team after an unexpectedly difficult win against the emerging Detroit Lions. The win was "ugly" and henceforth this shall define ugly wins:




Congrats to Judge De La O who, after losing the fantasy football  championship to your faithful blogger last year exacted his revenge yesterday and beat us and beat us good. The series isn't over until the fat judge sings.*

Enjoy your day off if you are Jewish and happy new year 5780 or something close to that. 
English Supreme Court ruling on prorogation coming soon. 


* For you millennials, this is a reference to a quote that was said during the 1978 NBA playoff series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Washington Bullets in which the Spurs won the first game. A "large boned" female opera singer was set to sing the national anthem during the final game, and thus the quote. It can be used after the prosecution presents its first witness during trial. Our use of a large judge instead of an opera singer should be viewed solely as humor. Any comparisons to any individual, any judge, any lawyer, any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental and unintended. The phraseology is clearly not politically correct and body shaming is wrong and we are against it.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

NFL WEEK FOUR 2019

A couple of interesting games headline week four in the NFL. Survivor-wise the Rams and Chargers are the top picks in our pool. One of them may lose!

The marquis game is the 3-0 Cheaters heading to Buffalo to take on the surprising 3-0 Bills. Unlike other prognosticators, we will pick the game for you. See below. 

Washington at the Giants. The o/u is 49. We like the Giants -2.5, but being Saquon-less, we like the under 49 even more. 

Panthers at Texans, under 47.5. When somebody on any of these teams finds some O, let us know.

Seahawks at Arizona. We like the Hawks -5 to bounce back. There is an incredible stat about Seattle winning outright when they lost as a favourite the week before (which just occurred). But basically, we do not like Arizona that much.

Chargers at Miami. We like our Fins +15.5 to keep it close. Quite frankly, we like them to win the game outright. Just watch and see. 

Cheaters at Bills. The game of the week. The torching of the pass or the passing of the torch? There is so much to like with the Bills +7, but we just aren't feeling it this week. Soon, but not today. Brady 37-21. 

Jags at Broncos. Jax is in disarray. Denver is not. Lay the three for the hometown Flaccos. 

Rumpole is again marching to a FF victory, but our well known respect for  members of the judiciary will prevent us from disclosing the final score of today's matchup. Judges should never be embarassed is our motto. 

SURVIVOR POOL. Lucy Lew made the pick last week-Cowboys. So she continues. We have verified the email she sent. 
The total pass yards for MNF last week was 563. DOM at 480,  Peter Sautter at 465 made it with 99 yards. Juan Gonzalez at 460 just missed. 
Picks for this week will be posted when the stragglers email their choices. 

STATE COURTS CLOSED MONDAY 
FEDS ARE OPEN

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO OUR JEWISH FRIENDS AND READERS. Monday starts ten days of reflection and introspection ending with Yom Kippur on Wednesday October 9. 




Thursday, September 26, 2019

PROROGATION PART TWO

When we last left you our readers, you were breathlessly following the legal maneuverings of the UK courts dealing with HRH's order Prorogating Parliament until October 14. The High Court of England declined to intervene, ruling the issue political and non-justiciable. There were, however, two cases proceeding simultaneously, and the second case was in Scotland. 

The High Court of Westminster's ruling was hardly unexpected. The lower court in Scotland, The Lord Ordinary,  dismissed the original petition. He found that the PM’s advice to HM the Queen on prorogation was, as a matter of high policy and political judgment and thus  non-justiciable. 


Rare is the Scottish barrister who takes "no" for an answer.  A petition for judicial review was raised by 79 petitioners, 78 of whom are parliamentarians at Westminster, on 31 July 2019, seeking inter alia that it would be unlawful for the UK Government to advise HM the Queen to prorogue the UK Parliament with a view to preventing sufficient time for proper consideration of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit).

Three Judges heard the appeal, just like at the 3rd DCA, but the court is a bit older (by two hundred years or so). 
The Chief Judge, The Lord President, Lord Carloway, decided that although advice to HRH the Queen on the exercise of the royal prerogative of prorogating Parliament was not reviewable on the normal grounds of judicial review, it would nevertheless be unlawful if its purpose was to stymie parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, which was a central pillar of the good governance principle enshrined in the constitution. 

Lord Brodie considered that whereas when the petition was raised the question was unlikely to have been justiciable, the particular prorogation that had occurred, as a tactic to frustrate Parliament, could legitimately be established as unlawful. This was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities. It was to be inferred that the principal reasons for the prorogation were to prevent or impede Parliament holding the executive to account and legislating with regard to Brexit, and to allow the executive to pursue a policy of a no deal Brexit without further Parliamentary interference.
Lord Drummond Young  (the liberal of the three) determined that the courts have jurisdiction to decide whether any power, under the prerogative or otherwise, has been legally exercised. It was incumbent on the UK Government to show a valid reason for the prorogation, having regard to the fundamental constitutional importance of parliamentary scrutiny of executive action.  The circumstances, particularly the length of the prorogation, showed that the purpose was to prevent such scrutiny. The only inference that could be drawn was that the UK Government and the Prime Minister wished to restrict Parliament from stopping the PM’s hard Brexit plans.
The court held the Prorogation order null and void. According to Scottish court, Parliament was still in session.
COMING NEXT PROROGATION PART THREE: THE SUPREME COURT OF ENGLAND RULES 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

PROROGATION PART ONE

Oh to be in England now that Parliament is in session. 
Is Parliament in session? 
Good question. You've come to the right place. 

Prorogation is a Constitutional Act in the United Kingdom used to end one session of Parliament and mark the time period before a new session of Parliament convenes. The order for Prorogation is ordered by HRH Queen Elizabeth, upon request of the Prime Minister (actually the Privy Council makes the request to the Queen pursuant to the Parliament Act of 1797 and the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004, but there are judges reading this post and we cannot make it too complicated). See The Queen on application of Gina Miller And Boris Johnson, The Prime Minsiter, High Court of Justice, Queen's Division, Case No: CO/3385/2019, ("A decision to prorogue Parliament is made by the Sovereign formally on the advice of the Privy Council but in reality on the advice of the Prime Minister.")

Prorogation  has been for many decades a routine order as a session of Parliament ended.  
Enter Brexit. 

The UK is disastrously withdrawing from the European Union. Sort of like North Dakota  withdrawing from the Union, but we are not sure we would notice it much. 
Britain's exit (Br-exit) can be soft and negotiated, or hard- like Trump ignoring an act of congress. 

England's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hilariously mocked by Larry the Cat, the official Mouser of the PM's residence at 10 Downing Street, on twitter,  has stated that he will withdraw the UK from the EU by Halloween or die trying. 
Right now Boris's  life span is looking less and less. 

In order to effectuate his hard Brexit, Boris asked the Queen for a Prorogation order well beyond the normal time, effectively shutting down Parliment until two weeks before Brexit. 

The good people of England were outraged and they sued in  England and Scotland (it's a long story why it was in both courts, just take a wee bit of Scotch or have a pint of Guiness and keep reading.) 

The English Court -the High Court of Justice in Westminster London (just a bit more distinguished than our Hialeah Branch Court) ruled the issue "non-justiciable". English law, which we are an acknowledged expert in, does not easily  provide for judicial review of the executive. Courts in England do not wade into politics and they rarely review acts of Parliament. 

“The more purely political (in a broad or narrow sense) a question is, the more appropriate it will be for political resolution and the less likely it is to be an appropriate matter for judicial decision. The smaller, therefore, will be the potential role of the court. It is the function of political and not judicial bodies to resolve political questions.”   A v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2005] 1 AC 68, Lord Bingham. 

In Gibson v Lord Advocate 1975 SC 136, 144 Lord Keith said:
“The making of decisions upon what must essentially be a political matter is no part of the function of the Court, and it is highly undesirable that it should be. The function of the Court is to adjudicate upon the particular rights and obligations of individual persons, natural or corporate, in relation to other persons or, in certain instances, to the State.” 


Based on stare decisis, the High Court in London held "In our view, the decision of the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is not justiciable in Her Majesty’s courts." 

But the case did not end there. The High Court in Scotland had a different view of the case. 

COMING NEXT PROROGATION THE DECISION OF THE SCOTTISH COURT 


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

BETTER RED THAN DEAD

Congratulations to DOM, Peter Sauter and Juan Gonzalez as they all won a one week pass in the Survivor Pool. Well done gentlemen.

Tuesday is the investiture of Justice Robert Luck in Tallahassee. How long lived that appointment will be remains to be seen. The Eleventh in Atlanta beckons. 

Coming this Friday- the investiture of Judge Robert Watson at 73 West Flagler, 12:15 PM, courtroom 6-1. 

And now, a Constitutional Calendar authored by the indefatiguable Judge Hirsch, with special resonance for our troubled times: 


On September 25, 1950, Justice Robert Jackson, sitting as circuit justice for the Second Circuit, rendered his opinion in Williamson v. United States.  The issue was whether certain leaders of the Communist party, having been convicted of conspiring to advocate and teach the violent overthrow of the United States government, were entitled to a continuance of their bail pending the adjudication of their petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.

In his opinion, Justice Jackson began by discussing the law of bail, and the propriety of consideration of future misconduct by a bail applicant.  He wrote about the protections of the First Amendment, particularly as applied to the defendants before him.  (“[T]he very essence of constitutional freedom of press and speech is to allow more liberty than the good citizen will take.  The test of its vitality is whether we will suffer and protect much that we think false, mischievous and bad, both in taste and intent.”)

But perhaps what is most noteworthy, and most instructive in our own times, is the language with which Justice Jackson concluded his opinion:

If, however, I were to be wrong on all of these abstract or theoretical matters of principle, there is a very practical aspect of this application which must not be overlooked or underestimated – that is the disastrous effect on the reputation of American justice if I should now send these men to jail and the full Court later decide that their conviction is invalid. All experience with litigation teaches that existence of a substantial question about a conviction implies a more than negligible risk of reversal.  Indeed this experience lies back of our rule permitting, and practice of allowing, bail where such questions exist, to avoid the hazard of unjustifiably imprisoning persons with consequent reproach to our system of justice.  If that is prudent judicial practice in the ordinary case, how much more important to avoid every chance of handing to the Communist world such an ideological weapon as it would have if this country should imprison this handful of Communist leaders on a conviction that our own highest Court would confess to be illegal. ... [T]he worst they can accomplish in the short time it will take to end the litigation is preferable to the possibility of national embarrassment from a celebrated case of unjustified imprisonment of Communist leaders.  Under no circumstances must we permit their symbolization of an evil force in the world to be hallowed and glorified by any semblance of martyrdom.


Coming next: Everything you need to know about Prorogue and why we know much more about it than you or anyone else you know. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

JAC BE NIMBLE

This seems important. 


Our next "JAC motion" shall be our first. 
"The protocol for filing"....hmmm... our mind wanders far and wide with that one. But uncharacteristically, (perhaps its the NYC Corned Beef weighing us down) we remain silent.



SURVIVOR POOL
For those of you who picked the Cowpokes and the J...E...T....S Jets Jets Jets  to win by 22 or cover, (Mssrs. Weisman, Markus, Sauter, and Gonzalez)  you advance to the MNF game. Send us the total yards passed. It matters not who throws the rock, just the total yards thrown. Top 4 within 99 yards win a pass. 
Mr. Markus leads the pick with 480  500  480 yards. (Yes, Mr. Markus has been emailing us multiple times throughout the day. He is taking this very seriously). 
Peter Sauter picks 465 yards. 
Juan Gonzalez 460
Mr. Weisman, having decided it is not worth the trouble, is out of the running for a weekly pass. 
For what it's worth, Rumpole says 350 yards
A valuable week's pass is up for grabs. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

NFL WEEK THREE

Good morning from the Big Apple, where fall is in the air. 
We have our second week pass up for grabs in the survivor pool. To win a valuable week off, first pick the winner against the spread in BOTH games: Jets +22 at Cheaters AND Fins +22 at Cowpokes.  Our pick? Cheaters and Fins. The new Miami QB may, just may, keep the Fins closer than 20. 34-20 sounds about right. 

If you pick both games, then get ready for the Monday night matchup. Bears. Redskins. Want that weekly pass? It's oh so simple. Get within 99 yards of the total pass yardage for the game. That means whatever the QBs throw, whatever the RBs throw on a trick play. When the ball is tossed in the air and caught the meter is running.  If it matters, the  top 4 closest to the total yardage get the pass. If someone comes within five yards if total passes, then they get a bonus- take a team off the bench they have already used with the ability to use them again. 

Here are the rest of our picks this week. Chiefs -6.5 against the Ravens. Baltimore just not as good as the Hype, while Mahomes is . 

Hard to pick against a home dog, but that just what we are doing when we take the Rams -3 in the dog-pound of Cleveland. Once again, the hype doesn't meet reality in the mistake by the lake. 

Have some coffee and pick the Seahawks -4 against the visiting Drew Breesless Saints

Raiders at Vikes. Yikes! Lots of scoring. Over 43. 

SURVIVOR 
Not surprisingly almost all the picks are the Cowboys. One for the Seahawks and one for the Pack and we are waiting for a few stragglers who always wait until the last moment.




What's on Tap for Rumpole in NYC? Well, after a stroll in Central Park and some time at Equinox, we might take in To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway. Macbeth at the MET this week is a must, as is dinner at Reverence in Harlem. But don't try joining your favourite blogger. The joint is small. Reservations as rare as judge picking up the tab.  And the food is offbeat-cool. It's not for the pedestrian "I'll have fries with that" taste of most of our readers.  

Friday, September 20, 2019

PET FOR CERT AND SURVIVOR CHALLENGE

In the (in)famous Adnan Syed murder case (anatomy of a murder) there is a petition before the United States Supreme Court asking this:

Whether a court evaluating prejudice under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), must take the State’s case as it was presented to the jury, as ten state and federal courts have held, or whether the court may instead hypothesize that the jury may have disbelieved the State’s case, as the Maryland Court of Appeals held below. 

You can read the petition below, or save yourself the trouble and rely on your faithful blogger to keep you updated with all the information you need to know. 

Speaking of which....Congrats to Antonio Brown. Released by the Cheaters on Friday afternoon, he signed a five year contract to be a Victim/Witness Coordinator with the Dade SAO. Starting salary at 36 smackers per, and a signing bonus of five hundred brady-bucks. 

SURVIVOR POOL
Want to earn a very valuable week pass? It's simple. 
First- send us your pick in these two games: 
Miami +22 at Dallas AND JETS +22 at Cheaters. 
Pick the winner with the spread in both games and that gets you to the ez Monday night game. Details to follow but first, lets see you get through the initial 22 point challenge. As for the last part of the challenge, lets just say you should be looking at how many yards the QBs toss the rock for on average. 

We think picking the Cheaters -22 against a third string starting QB who showed little last week is a no-brainer. With the new QB for the Fins, they could keep it under 20 against the overrated Cowpokes. Not sure about that yet. 




Wednesday, September 18, 2019

HOW WERE YOU TRAINED?

In keeping with our Fall theme, and changes, we received several emails forwarding us an email from our State Attorney talking about the "intensive six week training session" for a record 57 new assistant state attorneys. 
We imagine hypotheticals like this being bandied about:
"Judge Ds calendar starts at 9 but she never takes the bench until 9:30. 
Judge U's calendar starts at 9:30 and she is on time. 
Judge M's calendar starts at 9:30 and he is late about half the time.
Judge B's calendar starts at 9 and he takes the bench at 8:55. 

Question: "You are in trial seeking ten years on a possession of cocaine case against a first offender because it's fun to do. In what order do you go to the courtrooms and what do you tell the Judges about your current trial before Judge Y?"

OR

Police Officer T hit the defendant in the head with his flashlight before arresting him for battery on a police officer. 
Police Officer H claims the defendant hurt his head by repeatedly slamming it against the jail cell door.
Police Officer U claims the defendant slipped down the flight of stairs twice which is why his foot was broken during the arrest.
Police Officer G claims the defendant committed battery on a police officer by scratching the officer with a potato chip, which required the officer to use mace and a choke-hold to subdue a violent offender for his own safety and the safety of the community. 

Describe with particularity which defendant you file enhancements on and why.

Training for PDs and ASAs was not always this complete and intensive. Let's hear from the old guys and gals about how y'all did it in the old days. The days when you were hired on a Friday and showed up Monday with fifty files on your desk. Days before Starbucks, and cell phones and computers, when you shepardized cases in the SAO library on 9 and  asked Richard Shiffrin for some advice. 
Days when a new PD walked into Snyder's division and he snarled he was taking all your clients into custody at arraignment. 

Days when Roy Black and Jack Denaro were taking off their socks and putting them on their clients hands and demanding the state seek a search warrant before getting their prints. (Wasn't Professor HT Smith their intern at the time?) 
The good old days.
Have at it. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

CHANGE OF SEASON / CHANGE OF JUDGES

You can't tell the players without a scorecard. 
And you don't know about the new Judges unless you read The Blog. 
(You know what's cool? Over the years we have become "The Blog" No further discussion needed. It's sort of nice. We like it and we rarely like anything.)

Apparently Judge Fine couldn't get out of criminal court quick enough. That's too bad. We heard great things about him. But not every civil litigator who dons the black robes  is cut out for the rough and tumble of the REGJB. Where have you gone Judge Murphy? Our courthouse turns its lonely eyes to you. 

From the Chief Judge of Criminal Court:

Good afternoon,



On Monday, June (Rumpole says the chief means September)  23rd, newly appointed Judge Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos  will be taking over for Judge Fine in division 2.  For now the division will remain in courtroom 6-2.  I will be sitting with her through the transition as well as Judges Tunis & Tinkler-Mendez.



As soon as the other changes are finalized I will let you know.  We will be getting Judges Altfield, Beovides and Cruz as well. We will be losing Judges Diaz, Multack & Walsh. These changes will not occur until mid-October or later. 

No offense intended to the others, but Judge Walsh is an absolute gem. Why does she want to/have to go?  You know how a judge is deemed great these days? When she is so fair and her legal background is so diverse and she has so much experience that she cannot get an appointment to the 3rd DCA because of the aforementioned qualities. That's how you know you want to be before a judge. Got some black-wearin-card-carryin-federalist society- hack whose name is being whispered for the the 3rd? RUN as fast as you can from the umpire who swears they only call balls and strikes because you're in for an unpleasant experience. 

Only because we cannot pass up the opportunity to razz the chief (and because she punches back harder)...
Shouldn't the sentence in the email read : "The division will remain in courtroom 6-2 for now.  I will be sitting with her through the transition. So will Judges Tunis & Tinkler-Mendez." 
Otherwise you could make an argument that the Chief will be sitting with Judges Fernandez-Karavestos as well as sitting with Judges Tunis and Tink. We're sure they would enjoy the company, but that's not the point. 



JOE HELLER HAS PASSED AWAY

UPDATE: DOM is a flaming liberal who doesn't want dangerous criminals to go to prison. 
His Blog Post is here 


Longtime and careful readers know Rumpole is a connoisseur  of obituaries and a life well lived. This is one of the best. 
This obituary has gone viral. We should all go out remembered as well as Joe. 

You can see it on-line here.
https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/hartfordcourant/obituary.aspx?n=joe-heller&pid=193855516&fhid=24219


We didn't know Joe, but we wish we did. He was a hell-of-a-guy. 




Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, "generally well-lived and with few regrets." When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that "your father is a very sick man," in unison they replied, "you have no idea." God thankfully broke the mold after Joe was born to the late Joseph Heller, Sr. and Ruth Marion (Clock) on January 24, 1937 in New Haven, CT. Being born during the depression shaped Joe's formative years and resulted in a lifetime of frugality, hoarding and cheap mischief, often at the expense of others. Being the eldest was a dubious task but he was up for the challenge and led and tortured his siblings through a childhood of obnoxious pranks, with his brother, Bob, generally serving as his wingman. Pat, Dick and Kathy were often on the receiving end of such lessons as "Ding Dong, Dogsh*t" and thwarting lunch thieves with laxative-laced chocolate cake and excrement meatloaf sandwiches. His mother was not immune to his pranks as he named his first dog, "Fart," so she would have to scream his name to come home if he wandered off. Joe started his long and illustrious career as a Library Assistant at Yale Law School Library alongside his father before hatching a plan with his lifelong buddies, Ronny Kaiser and Johnny Olson, to join the Navy and see the world together. Their plot was thwarted and the three were split up when Joe pulled the "long straw" and was assigned to a coveted base in Bermuda where he joined the "Seabees," Construction Battalion, and was appointed to the position of Construction Electrician's Mate 3rd class. His service to the country and community didn't end after his honorable discharge. Joe was a Town Constable, Volunteer Fireman and Ambulance Association member, Cross walk guard, Public Works Snow Plower and a proud member of the Antique Veterans organization. Joe was a self-taught chemist and worked at Cheeseborough-Ponds where he developed one of their first cosmetics' lines. There he met the love of his life, Irene, who was hoodwinked into thinking he was a charming individual with decorum. Boy, was she ever wrong. Joe embarrassed her daily with his mouth and choice of clothing. To this day we do not understand how he convinced our mother, an exceedingly proper woman and a pillar in her church, to sew and create the colorful costumes and props which he used for his antics. Growing up in Joe's household was never dull. If the old adage of "You only pull the hair of those you love" holds true, his three daughters were well loved. Joe was a frequent customer of the girls' beauty shops, allowing them to "do" his hair and apply make-up liberally. He lovingly assembled doll furniture and built them a play kitchen and forts in the back yard. During their formative years, Joe made sure that their moral fibers were enriched by both Archie Bunker and Benny Hill. When they began dating, Joe would greet their dates by first running their license plates and checking for bald tires. If their vehicle passed inspection, they were invited into the house where shotguns, harpoons and sheep "nutters" were left clearly on display. After retiring from running Bombaci Fuel, he was perhaps, most well-known for his role as the Essex Town "Dawg Kecher." He refused to put any of his "prisoners" down and would look for the perfect homes for them. One of them was a repeat offender who he named "A**hole" because no owner would ever keep him for very long because he was, in fact, an a**hole. My Dad would take his buddy on daily rides in his van and they'd roam around town with the breeze blowing through both of their fur. He never met a dog he didn't like, the same could not be said for the wanna-be blue bloods, snoots and summer barnacles that roamed about town. His words, not ours. Well maybe not exactly his words as those would been much more colorful. Joe was a frequent shopper at the Essex Dump and he left his family with a house full of crap, 300 pounds of birdseed and dead houseplants that they have no idea what to do with. If there was ever a treasure that he snatched out from under you among the mounds of junk, please wait the appropriate amount of time to contact the family to claim your loot. We're available tomorrow. Joe was also a consummate napper. There wasn't a road, restaurant or friend's house in Essex that he didn't fall asleep on or in. There wasn't an occasion too formal or an event too dour that Joe didn't interrupt with his apnea and voluminous snoring. Besides his beloved wife, Irene, and brother, Bobby, Joe was pre-deceased by his pet fish, Jack, who we found in the freezer last week. Left to squabble over his vast fortune, real estate holdings and "treasures" are his three daughters Michelle Heller (Andrew Bennett) of Newton, MA, Lisette Heller (Lenny Estelle) of Ivoryton, CT and Monique Heller (John Parnoff) of Old Lyme, CT. He relished his role as Papa and Grampa Joe to Zachary, Maxwell and Emily Bennett, Megan, Mackenzie and Ryan Korcak, and Giovanna and Mattea Parnoff and hopes that he taught at least one of them to cuss properly. Left with decades of fond and colorful memories are his siblings Pat Bedard of Madison, Richard (Pat) Heller of Oxford, and Kathy Heller of Killingworth, sisters-in-law, Kathy McGowan of Niantic and Diane Breslin of Killingworth, and 14 nieces and nephews. No flowers, please. The family is seeking donations to offset the expense of publishing an exceedingly long obituary which would have really pissed Joe off. Seriously, what would have made him the happiest is for you to go have a cup of coffee with a friend and bullsh*t about his antics or play a harmless prank on some unsuspecting sap. If we still haven't dissuaded you and you feel compelled to waste your hard-earned money to honor his memory, donations may be sent to: Seabee Memorial Scholarship Association, PO Box 667, Gulfport, MS 39502. A celebration of his life, with Joe laid out in all his glory, will be held on Thursday, September 12, at the Essex Fire Department, 11 Saybrook Road, from 4-7. A light dinner will be served as Joe felt no get-together was complete without food. None of his leftovers or kitchen concoctions will be pawned off on any unsuspecting guests. Feel free to be as late as you'd like as Joe was never on time for anything because of the aforementioned napping habits. Joe despised formality and stuffiness and would really be ticked off if you showed up in a suit. Dress comfortably. The family encourages you to don the most inappropriate T-Shirt that you are comfortable being seen in public with as Joe often did. Everybody has a Joe story and we'd love to hear them all. Joe faced his death and his mortality, as he did with his life, face on, often telling us that when he dropped dead to dig a hole in the back yard and just roll him in. Much to his disappointment, he will be properly interred with full military honors (and maybe Jack) next to his wife on Friday, September 13, at 10:00 am in Centerbrook Cemetery. The family is forever in debt to his neighbor, Barry Peterson, for all of his help in recent years. We couldn't have done it without you. Sorry, Mom, Lisette and I did the best we could to take care of him and keep him out of your hair as long as we could. Back in your court now. To share a memory of Joe or send a condolence to his family please visit www.rwwfh.com Arrangements by the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home in Centerbrook.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

NFL 2019 WEEK TWO

Careful research has led us to this fact: Teams playing a second divisional road game in the first two weeks of the season since 2015 are 1-14 against the spread!!! Yowza!!$$$$.  What does that mean? It means you bet AGAINST the Colts (Titans -3.5) LOSS, Bills (Giants +2) LOSS, and Chiefs (Raiders +7) LOSS this week. Yeah, it's hard to take the Raiders +7. That's only for the hardy amongst y'all. 

We also like, in no particular order, 

Eagles vs. Falcons, under 52.5 (WIN) ; Chargers v. Lions under 43 (WIN); Browns v. Jets under 44. 

And for our special, hop on the train now before it leaves the station pick, take the visiting Vikes +2.5 (try and find it at 3) over the Pack. The Pack is not back. The Vikes are the real deal and are NFC Championship bound. LOSS


SURVIVOR POOL
Rumpole took a spill on the home town Panthers Thursday night and is O...U...T out, but the pool continues. Last week saw most of the participants slip by on close calls with the Eagles and Saints. 
Top picks this week are the Ravens and the Cheaters with the Texans a distant third. 



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

THE TWIN TOWERS

UPDATE: On Wednesday, September 11, 2019, the NY Mets, playing at home won 9-0 on 11 eleven hits. 9 runs, 11 hits. 9-11 on 9-11. Just sayin....

Regretfully, Ms. Zhang finished second in jury widely watched trial this week before Judge Altman in Broward federal court (Motto: Federal court...but worse- it's Broward!).  We were rooting for her and she gave it her all. 

See DOM's blog for the details and the report on Judge Singhal's committee hearing for the federal spot. 

SURVIVOR POOL: NFL Thursday night football Rumpole is picking the home town Panthers to beat the visiting Tampa Bay Bucs. 



This is what we choose to remember. Not the pain and the horror, 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

GREATEST OPENING EVER

Your Southern District of Florida Blog, David O Markus, Esq., blog proprietor, is breathlessly covering all aspects of USA v. Yujing Zhang, the jury trial before new federal Judge Roy Altman, where the defendant is representing herself against charges she did something wrong in, near or around Mar A Lago (reading indictments bore us to no end). 

This was her opening statement that Mr. Markus ponders may be the greatest ever: 
"Good afternoon Grand Jury. What I want to say...I don't believe I did anything wrong. And thank you USA." 

As you ponder the greatest opening statements of all time you have seen, lets break down this opening, because there is more here-much more- than meets the ear and eye. 


First: "Good afternoon Grand Jury."   Is there any better way a pro se defendant can start? She is polite, and in two words she is demonstrating her ignorance of the trial process. Grand Jury. Of course trials are not conducted before  a grand jury, but she is a small, innocent, unsophisticated defendant. A stranger in a strange land.  She doesn't know a lot. And she just proved it in four words. Bravo Ms. Zhang. So many pro se defendants strive to prove they are smarter than the prosecutor and judge. She went the other way. She zigged (or maybe Zhanged) when everyone was expecting her to zag. Excellent beginning. 

Second: "What I want to say...".  This is what she conveyed in four simple words: "I'm doing my best here. Please listen to me. This is what I want you to know."   Isn't this what openings are about? Another great sentence. 

Third: "I don't believe I did anything wrong."  Now her  brilliance  is showing .  She didn't say she didn't do anything. She is subtly admitting the government may have evidence. BUT...she didn't THINK she was doing anything wrong. No mens rea.  An argument that every juror understands. Can we convict the defendant if they didn't realize what they were doing was wrong? That they didn't know the law and they didn't want to do anything wrong.  And once again, she conveyed an entire defense in less than ten words.  Now the jurors know that they do not have to pay too much attention to all the government's proof about what she did. Can they prove WHY she did it? That is the question here. How do you prove what is in someone's mind beyond a reasonable doubt? It's infinitely more harder to prove intent then the act. The government presumably has mounds of evidence of what she did. But how much evidence do they have about intent? Once again Ms. Zhang has out maneuvered experienced prosecutors and agents. 

This was a home run opening. The Gettysburg address of openings. Lincoln has been lionized for the eloquence and brevity of his address on the battlefield. The same will be said for Yujing Zhang. Go back and re-read her opening. There is poetry in how it is constructed. Four words. Four words. Seven words explaining her defense. And four words to close. No other trial lawyer we know could have done this as simply and poetically and economically as she did. What do jurors hate about lawyers? Being long winded and boring and wasting their time. No worries about that in Ms. Zhang's opening. 


Fourth: "And thank you USA." Sheer genius. How many times have we seen lawyers stumble through a long, not believable, and thoroughly boring pandering to the jury about thanking them for their time and how important jury service is and how no one else can do their jobs without them showing up, blah blah blah blah.

What do we   they chant at Trump rallies? USA! USA! USA!. It evokes memories of the Olympic hockey team's miracle victory over the Russians in 1980. It is the simple jingoistic chant meant to invoke pride in our country.  She nailed it with again four simple words. 
There is so much more to this woman, Yujing Zhang, who at the start of the trial showed up wearing her simple, peasant, jail issued brown clothing. She was embracing the underdog role. The Judge was flummoxed and the trial was in disarray before it began. Check out DOM's blog for all the coverage on that. 

This is no simple pro se defendant fighting against all odds- although that is the story line she is conveying. Yujing Zhang is one of the greatest, most effective, and disarmingly smart trial lawyers ever to make an appearance in a court in Florida.  Mark our words. This is a trial and a courtroom performance not to be missed.  


Monday, September 09, 2019

FABER WINS APPEAL

Justice Thomas issued the opinion of the Blog Court of Appeals, Survivor Pool Division: 

Judge Robin Faber, judge, soon to be head-honcho of Criminal County Court, and all around nice guy who reads the blog and participates in the survivor pool appeals the Justice Building  Blog author's decision that the appellant  picked the Fins in the first week of the Survivor Pool. We have jurisdiction. The controversy is justiciable.  
Because the record fully supports the appellant's position, and Rumpole has confessed a rare error, the decision is reversed and remanded with directions to change Judge Faber's pick to the Ravens and to restore him to the survivor pool. 
Roberts, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kavenaugh, Gorsuch, Thomas, concur. 

Appendix:

Robin Faber

Tue, Aug 27, 8:48 AM (13 days ago)
to me
Week 1 pick = Ravens over Dolphins


Also, Weisman and Grieco are in having picked the Saints before the game began.