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

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

RUMPOLES RULES FOR THE NEW YEAR

First, congrats to the 2019 Justice Building Blog Fantasy Football Champion Gary Bass, who bested Rumpole over the last two weeks. While not making an excuse, we did lose our top two RBs to injuries for the finals, as well as a starting TE. But injuries are part of the game and give Mr. Bass credit for snagging the QB we dropped earlier in the year- Jameis Winston from Tampa Bay. He was a big part of Mr. Bass's run to the championship. We have made the finals for the last two years, and won last year (our ability to brag officially ended on Sunday so Judge De La O can now rest easy). 
See you in 2020 Mr. Bass. 

Rules for the new year. 

1) No more Merry Christmas. That ended over this past weekend.

2) You can say "Happy New Year" through Sunday, and at five days that's stretching it. If you see us in the courthouse Monday (and you won't-see below) and say "Happy New Year" we will ignore you and keep on walking. 

We have a few rules for trials. We don't like Friday afternoon verdicts. They tend to be bad.  We don't believe in coincidences. It's usually not happenstance when two bad things happen to your client in a case.  As Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, once wrote- Once is a mistake, twice is happenstance, and the third is enemy action. 

But our number one rule for criminal defense attorneys, and this is inviolate, is do not- under any circumstances, allow a case to be set for trial for the first week of the new year. There are many factors at play during week one of the new year, and all of them bad. 

First, prosecutors have returned from vacation, refreshed and raring to go and one of their resolutions is to "get tough on crime". 

Second, and more ominously, Judges have returned from time off. And to the limited extent any of them engage in serious introspection, they have also decided that their case load is too high and they have the reputation of being too lenient. So, within the dark crevices of their black robes and hearts, they have decided  the best way to get people to plead and lower the case load  is to slam a few defendants right out of the box in the new year. The word will get out, lawyers (not your blogger) will fold their tents and plead their clients guilty. 

All of this leads to the inescapable conclusion to NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES allow a court to set your client's case for trial during the first week of the new year. Schedule surgery. Get married or divorced or both. Take you holiday vacation late. Donate blood. Volunteer for Lawyers without Borders. Do something. Do anything but make yourself unavailable during that first week of the new year. 

You ignore Rumpole's advice at your own peril.   

Happy New Year. We will be back in town sometime around January 15, 2020. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

WILL FLORIDA EXECUTE AN INNOCENT MAN

The headline in the NY Times Op Ed here is whether Florida will kill  an innocent man? 
The dirty truth is that in almost everyway possible, Florida has already killed James Dailey, 72, who has been on death row since 1987. It's a life wasted by a legal system that has only a passing familiarity with justice, and no real desire for fairness. 

By now we are weary of reading the same old story, over and over, each innocent life wasted over a case with some different twists for each injustice. In James Dailey's case it was the brutal murder of Shelly Boggio a teenager at the time. The killing was front page news in the community surrounding Tampa. The investigation centered on Jack Pearcy, a man with a violent history towards women, who admitted stabbing (but not killing) Ms. Boggio.  Pearcy was convicted but the jury did not recommend death, and that in turn, was something the prosecution could not live with. So they went after Dailey- Pearcy's roommate. And to get Dailey, they needed one of the most notorious jail house snitches in the sordid history of Florida's use of such scum- Paul Skalnik. 

Skalnik had a long history of crimes, including sexual assaults on children. He was a con man, a liar, a thief, a predator, and a jail house snitch that sent four men to death row. It would be comic if it wasn't tragic that when Skalnik finally accused prosecutors of lying and coaching him on his testimony- including his repeated testimony that he wasn't be rewarded for his testimony- when in Dailey's case he was released on a rape charge five days later- prosecutors responded that Skalnik was lying about them- but otherwise testified truthfully. 

As a stay expires, the governor has expressed an eager desire to sign the death warrant for James Dailey despite a second affidavit from Jack Pearcy that he and he alone killed Shelly Boggio. 

The State of Florida has already wasted thirty-two years of James Dailey's life. Thirty-two years in a death row cell as an innocent man watching his life slowly drip away day by day. And now the State wants its final pound of flesh from a Vietnam War Veteran who is innocent. 

Happy New Years. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Philip Carlton Has Passed Away

There was a time (not that long ago) when the REGJB was populated by southern gentlemen lawyers. They wore hats and seersucker suits and highly polished shoes, Their manner was courtly, befitting the times.  Life was slower, and there were giants in the courthouse. We stand on their shoulders and we rest in the shade of the oak trees from the acorns they planted. 

Philip Carlton was such a lawyer. He was high polished. A showman in trial. A man of his word always. An accomplished litigator, a true gentleman. He mentored the lawyers who mentored the lawyers who are currently mentoring the crop of lawyers and judges we have now.   When you got in trouble in Miami in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, Phil Carlton was at the top of the list of lawyers to call. He passed away this week at the age of 89. 

His obituary is here. What we did not know until recently is that from 2000 until shortly before his death he was a voluntary Chaplain  at Everglades Correctional Institute. That tells you all you need to know about the man. 

Here are some of the comments on FACDL

I don't usually chime in, but Phil was a class act.  For those that never saw him in action, you will never know what you missed.  For those that did, you always learned something.  Always a civil, polite gentleman, and a damn good lawyer.  Something we need more of, not less.  Thanks to Sky for the sad information.

Jim Woodard

I, too, join in with the tributes for Phil Carlton.  Back in the 70's when I was just a new, fresh, and green prosecutor, Phil was already a legend.  What giants of our profession walked those hallways during those years.  He was always a charming, Southern gentleman, but inside that courtroom he was one tough litigator.  Rest in peace old friend
Ted Mastos 

He had a commanding presence with a flair for drama. We all learned from him. 
Mel Black 

One of my fondest memories as a very young prosecutor was trying a case against Mr. Carlton (as I called him then) and his son also named Phil. I remember telling Judge Moreno he should get judge Phil Knight to do the trial. 
Phil Carlton  was from a different era. He was a true southern gentleman trial lawyer from a time when Miami was a small southern town. He was polite and friendly and sneaky good as a litigator. I was always happy to see him on the other side because I knew the case would be a challenge in the best sense of the word  From time to time over the years I’ve often wondered where he and his son were. 
May he Rest In Peace. 
Phil Reizenstein 

Phil was a Justice Building fixture during my early practice days jumping from courtroom to courtroom there every day. He mentored many of our contemporary friends and was a lawyer who had the respect of the renowned  and notorious judges of the era such as Paul Baker, Al Sepe and Maximum Ellen Morphonios, legends all.
“Those were the days my friends, we thought they’d never end.” Phil was part of the fabric of those times.

Ed Shohat 

Phil Carlton was a great lawyer. He earned the respect of all who went up against him. As a young prosecutor, I learned an awful lot in the courtroom while going against him. Rest in Peace

s/ Jose M.  QuiƱon


Back in the mid-1970s when I was in high school I was in the court observer program. There was a major trial taking place in courtroom 4-1 and Phil was the lawyer for the accused, Sanford Bronstein. If I remember one particular thing about him it was his courtroom presence. He commanded that trial like very few lawyers I have ever seen. When I became a public defender and met him I told him about my recollection of him and he was genuinely moved. To echo the sentiments that have been shared, he was a true gentleman and the epitome of our profession.  May his memory be for a blessing. 
Barry Wax



Tuesday, December 24, 2019

BEST LEGAL MOVIES

UPDATES FROM THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.

Happy Christmas Eve (We say "happy Christmas, not merry Christmas here in England). 

There is nothing better than a good legal thriller to get the trial blood flowing. Rumor has it that everyone's favourite federal blogger routinely watches "A Few Good Men" before trial. 

Post your nominations in the comments section and we will put them up. In no particular order, here are ours: 

A Few Good Men- for those few of us who still try cases, it often comes down to whether or not you go for it on cross. It rarely works out as well as it did for Tom Cruise. 

The Verdict- our personal favourite. Hollywood loves second chances and comebacks. Rocky as a PI lawyer. Downtrodden, beaten by the world, Frank Galvin (played by Paul Newman)goes up against the evil big law firm and pulls a surprise witness out of his hat. Lots of good lines by Newman ("I know you, You were a bag man for the boys downtown. You couldn't hack it as a lawyer" - to the judge in chambers). Great supporting case- James Mason as opposing counsel (Newman calls him "a good man", Jack Warden responds "A good man? He's the prince of fucking darkness..."); Jack Warden has Newman's law school professor and aging co-counsel who referred him the case; Milo O'Shea, a Judge Sepe-look-a-like. Directed by one of the best film-noir directors in recent times- Sydney Lumet. 
And of course, the all-time greatest rejoinder by a lawyer to a judge at sidebar- "With all due respect your honor, if you're going to try my case for me, try not to lose it.

Judgement At Nurenberg- Spencer Tracey as a former American Judge assigned to preside over the trial of "the judges and prosecutors"- the German judiciary that was corrupted by the Nazis and became complicit in their crimes against humanity. Maximillian Schell as the young lawyer assigned to defend one of the Judges. Directed by Stanley Kramer, the movie was groundbreaking for its time (1961) in using the courtroom to explore the complexity of moral uncertainties and how to view the professional class that remains silent when society falls under the sway of a dictator. Sound familiar? Perhaps some of our judiciary should spend two hours and watch the film.  

To Kill A Mockingbird-A rare example of a movie becoming as classic as the book.  This has fallen just a bit on our list, mostly because every student in law school says they wanted to be a lawyer because of Atticus Finch. That being said, Gregory Peck is sublime as a lawyer defending an innocent man on trial in a small southern town beset by racism and petty jealousies and family secrets-  sort of  how we feel in trial in Broward, except we win those as well. 

We're going to add The Caine Mutiny- a superb film adaptation by Stanley Kramer of Herman Wouk's novel. Besides the wonderful acting of Humphrey Bogart (whose birthday is December 25, 1899 btw) as Captain Queeg, there is the ground breaking role of Jose Ferrer who played Lt. Barney Greenwald, defense attorney for one of the mutineers. Along with a spellbinding cross examination of Queeg, Ferrer's role was groundbreaking- Hollywood had never placed an Hispanic in the role of defending a Caucasian. Hispanic roles were at the time mostly subservient. 

FROM THE COMMENTS SECTION 

My Cousin Vinny (of course- a great one) which has some great lessons for aspiring trial lawyers including number one in our book: "Always go to the crime scene", and never accept that your client has confessed; 
and 
Twelve Angry Men- a classic. Henry Fonda read the book/play and was instrumental in bringing it to the big screen. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

A VERY DIVERSE BENCH IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY .......

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

DIVERSITY ON THE BENCH .......

Congratulations to our seven newest judges in Miami-Dade County; three to the Circuit Court and four to the County Court. And more importantly, congratulations to the one and only lawyer appointed to the bench by Governor DeSantis that comes directly out of the P.D.’s or F.P.D.’s office - AYANA HARRIS.

On another local note, the bench is a changing. For you old-timers,  you will recall a day when, in your law school class, there might have been one or two female students in your class. The same was true of the bench as it was tough to find a female judge in Miami-Dade County "back in the day". To the credit of our last several Governors and to the voters of Miami-Dade County, that has dramatically changed.

Today, there are a total of 123 judges in Miami-Dade County - 80 Circuit and 43 County. Of the 80 Circuit Court Judges, 44 are female and 36 are male. In the County Court the numbers are even more dramatic with 26 female judges and only 14 male judges with three open seats to be appointed by our Governor. Who could have predicted in 1989 that thirty years later 57% of the judges in our County would be female.

It was also nice to see Governor DeSantis choosing three attorneys of color of the four County Court appointments.

One final note: some will recall the brouhaha in 2018 when Judge David Miller was up for re-election. Seemingly out of nowhere an attorney with 11 years of experience from Cole, Scott, Kissane filed to run against Miller. Her name, Elisabeth Espinosa. After she filed, her law firm filed two dozen Motions To Recuse Miller from cases before him where the defense law firm was CSK. Miller denied all of the Motions and the 3rd DCA upheld his decision in each and every case. Well Judge Miller, you can now welcome your new judicial colleague to the bench: The Honorable County Court Judge Elisabeth Espinosa.

One more final note. On Friday, Gov DeSantis appointed another five judges to open seats, four to the County Court and one to the Circuit Court bench. Of course, it almost goes without saying that all five are current or former government attorneys. Shannon McFee to the 20th Circuit is a former ASA; Sara Shullman and Melanie Surber were both appointed to the Palm Beach County Court directly out of the AG’s office; current AUSA Michael Bagge-Hernandez was appointed to the Hillsborough County Court; and finally, James Moody III received an appointment to the bench in Hillsborough County Court. He is a former ASA. You might recognize the name "Moody" as in our current AG Ashley Moody. James is her brother.

With 51 appointments to the bench in Governor DeSantis’ first year in office, AFPD Ayana Harris stands as the lone appointment coming directly from either the PD’s or FPD’s office. In contrast, according to a piece in the Florida Bar News, 44 of the appointees had ASA, AUSA, AAG, and/or Judge in their resume.

Happy Holidays to all of our readers. Make it a safe New Year. See you in 2020.

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


Sunday, December 22, 2019

NFL WEEK 16 2019

For the second year in a row your blogger is in the finals of the Fantasy Football league. Last week, for the second year in a row, we dispatched Judge De La O in a bitterly fought two-week playoff, creating what may become a storied REGJB-FF rivalry. 

Cowboys at Eagles. Which team wants it least? Which team will back into the playoffs, a ripe target for easy pickings in the first round. 
Cowpoke QB DaK P may have an injury.
 (Yes, we wanted that sentence to rhyme). 
The Iggles are at home. Bet several Pat's cheesesteaks wit on the home dog (bird). Iggles +2.5 at home.

Chiefs at Da Bears.  You think Andy Reid won't have his team peaking for playoffs? Us either. Take the Chief in chi-town over the hapless Buins -5.5. 


Bengals at Fins.   This game doesn't matter, except to Miami. The Fins have no quit in them, and we like them to bounce back giving one to the Bengals who are all quit. 

Monday night get-even game. The Pack goes to Minny. In days gone by faithful fans would bundle up, thermos's of coffee, hip-flasks of brandy, and warm hats adorning their game gear. It would football with a capital F, the way it was meant to be played- by tough men in the cold. These days the game is in a temp-controlled arena, 5-G wifi allowing fans to follow the game on their phones and apps.  Cafe' Lattes are delivered in seat-side-service, and re-plays are included in selfies on snap-chat and tik-tok. Give us the old days and take the Vikes -5.5. One team is on the upswing (Vikes), the other is not (Pack)

Coming this week- a full week of blogging. On Monday the Captain breaks down the gender and ethnicity of the Dade Bench. On Xmas eve Rumpole asks you to comment on your favourite legal movies. Give us a few days to travel and we will be back up and running before the new year. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

JUDICIAL HOLIDAY SCHEDULE

UPDATE: What causes your favourite federal blogger to shout "woo-hoo!!"??  Why nothing less than the 76-17 vote confirming Raag Singhal as the newest federal judge for the Southern District of Florida.  The coverage is on his blog here. 
Congrats to Judge Singhal and welcome to the party. 

You cannot tell the ballplayers without a scorecard, and you won't know where to go to have your case called these next few weeks without the Judicial Coverage  Holiday Schedule. 
The December, 2019 holiday schedule is out! (Woo-hoo! Oh wait, that was already done). Here is what is confusing: some judges are listed as covering their own calendars. That seems weird. Let's say we are starting a jury trial. And the Judge introduces the parties. She wouldn't say "And representing the defendant, covering for Horace Rumpole, is Horace Rumpole." 
Does that make sense? 
With that being said, here's your 2019 long awaited, much anticipated, earth shaking, viagara-taking, Judicial Coverage Holiday Schedule. And once again, a shout out to Judge Tinkler-Mendez, the hardest working judge in show business. 


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

IMPEACHED

At about 8:25 PM on Wednesday December 18 2019, Donald J Trump, the forty-fifth President of the United States became the third President of the United States to be impeached by Congress. 

A few thoughts:


Never do an enemy a small injury

Machiavelli, The Prince. 

The Democrats are ignoring this lesson to their own peril. 

"Be careful what you ask for in life, you may get it."
Now that the President has been impeached, the worst is behind him. This date most likely marks the nadir of the Trump Presidency. It doesn't feel like a low point for the President, does it? It doesn't feel like a victory for the Democrats does it? 

This moment will be marked and debated and raised by both sides right through election day in November, 2019.  The voters will decide, but we cannot help but feel that this is net-positive for the President. 

Item: The RNC and Trump reelection campaign raised over ten million dollars from small donor contributions within the last week. 

Prediction: Two of the next three presidents will be impeached. Impeachment has been cheapened and will become a political tool for the party controlling Congress when a President from the other party occupies the White House.  Abuse of power is such a nebulous and flexible concept that it will be applied as the measuring stick for the next twenty years against Presidents, and when the other party controls Congress, few will measure up. 


We will update this as further thoughts strike us throughout the evening and tomorrow. 



Monday, December 16, 2019

NEW JUDGES DECEMBER 2019

Your new Circuit Judges are …..
Judge Ramiro Areces; 
Judge Christina DiRaimundo; 
Judge Robert Watson:
All are county court judges heading to circuit... (hmmm sense a trend here?)

AND 
Your new county court judges are...

Elisabeth Espinosa (Cole Scott and Kissane- cue star wars Darth Vader music) 
Julie Harris Nelson  (Former ASA)
Miesha Darrough (Fed AUSA and former ASA)
Ayana Harris (Fed PDS)

Three former Prosecutors and one PD....the scales of Justice are leaning just a weeee bit to the right. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

NFL WEEK FIFTEEN 2019

Rumpole lives! We are so busy conducting our own form of shuttle diplomacy (Chi-NYC-DC, rinse repeat- Google Henry Kissinger [Henry K has never Googled anything to our knowledge] if you weren't alive in the 1970s and never heard the term Shuttle Diplomacy) that we didn't realize last week that in our own Fantasy league we have a two week playoff system. So while the ever crafty Judge De La O (seeking revenge from his loss to Rumpole in the finals last year) jumped out into a lead during the first week of the playoffs (aided by career days by bit players who will not perform the same this week), Rumpole is alive for week two of the playoffs!

Currently, based on the decent performance of our Raven WR Hollywood Brown on Thursday night (14.5), Rumpole leads 170-168. If QB Russell Wilson bounces back this week for Team Rumpole, then we are in the hunt. In the other playoff AB Foot Helmut(Gary Bass) leads Team Guarjiros (David Alvarez) 196-173. The two winners play in the championships the next two weeks. 

Congrats again to Dustin Tischler for outlasting, outplaying, out thinking everyone in the award-winning Survivor Pool. See you in September, 2020. 

Picks for week 15:  Some very important games with playoff implications are on today's schedule. 
The resurgent Tennessee Titans play the Houston Texans for the division title. Recall in week six that Houston was 4-2 and Tennessee was 2-4. Then Titans made a change- not as significant as when Bruce Springsteen sings in Tenth Avenue Freeze Out "We made the change uptown and the Big Man joined the Band..."- but still successful in its own right by benching QB Marcus Marotta for former Miami slinger Ryan Tannehill. All RT has done is go 6-1 with 15 TDs vs 4 ints.  It is a home game for the Tennessee 11, and we are happy giving three. Didjaknow? That Titans Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith is the 37 years old  son of FedEx founder Fred Smith?  In the last 4 games the Titans have averaged 37.5 points per game. "When you absolutely, positively, have to score a TD...." Lets also roll with the over 50 because who doesn't like a high-scoring game? (Double loss)

Bills at Steelers. Ahh the Steelers. The team we have the worst record picking over the last several years. When they're good, they're bad. When they're bad they're bad, except sometimes they're good. Sort of like that old ex BF/GF that occupies way too much space in your head. 
This a defensive battle between two very good defensive teams. The Bills have the edge on O, the Steelers are on their way to having the best D in the league. The O/U is 37.5 and while this game could easily be 17-13, sometimes defensive matchups surprise you. Just for fun we are talking the over because life is all about doing the opposite of what you should do. 

Dolphins at Giants. For the first time this year the Fins are the team with the better record (3-10) vs (2-11). We like the fish getting 3.5 and they are one of the reasons we eat at 11 Madison Park when in NYC this year. But beware the emotions of Eli's probable last home game for the Gints. Stay away, but you can take a flyer on the over 46 with Fitz (it's actually 46.5 but that didn't rhyme). (Winner winner chicken dinner!) 

Rams at Dallas. Dallas stinks. The Rams had an amazing win last week on MNF (their D crushing Rumpole's QB Wilson  when we desperately needed the points to defeat the shifty Judge De La O). 
The Rams are on the upswing. The Cowboys falling apart. Their owner is going to make a coaching change  after the last game  quicker than it takes to smoke a brisket for Texas BBQ(about 12 hours).  So.....be different and  pick the Cowpokes -1 just because  sometimes even when you get impeached you still win the trial (actually, so far when you get impeached you always win the trial.) 

We are entering the holiday season. No trials. Nothing much accomplished legally. So blog-wise we are planning such posts as "The Best Legal Movie Ever" and such. Sip some egg nog and have some fun. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

PARTY PARTY PARTY

EPISODE THREE: A NEW COLD WAR 

Yes three parties in the title. Because on the day when triskaidekaphobia runs rampant, Friday December 13, the SAO, RC3 and the PDS all had their holiday soiree. 

Can't we all just get along? 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was a day when the PD party was the only game in town. When PDs, judges, and ASAs gathered for drunken bacchanalias that entered into lore of the REGJB- "did you see the judge and the court-reporter? Aren't they both married?" 

But those days have faded faster than a sideways lingering and longing glance in the #metoo movement. 

Now our State Attorney frowns upon fraternization between her droid-assistants and Mr. Martinez's ragtag band of heroic defenders. 

What is she worried about? That prosecutors will get drunk enough to admit "the whole we have to do what the victim wants stuff is crap, but if I don't do it I'll get fired." 
Or that a prosecutor will engage in a liason that will end with pillow talk "we really don't turn over everything we are supposed to in discovery, but don't tell anyone." 

In any event, gone are the days Ronald Regan would have a late night scotch with Tip Oneill and talk about the days events without partisan politics. And gone are the days when a PD and ASA could sit in bar and discuss the results of a trial without their colleagues whispering behind their back with recriminations about the company they keep. 

So now each legal office, whose lawyers hold the fates of hundreds if not thousands of Miamians every year in the decisions they make and their ability to communicate and influence the other side,  are separated by  a new cold war- one fostered by the "chiefs" in their office who are too young to understand the value in being able to pick up the phone and call the other side or sit down over a Cuban sandwich at a small Cafe and settle a case. 

No, in their world of Starbucks  and binge-watching Netflix, they send cold texts  between bites of their Postmate-delivered burrito while pausing a movie on the DVR: "I cannot offer you a plea to anything other than the Max because that's what the victim wants". 

Comity is a word they have to Google because it wasn't on their SATs, LSATs, or the bar exam. And going to the other-side's party could result in their termination (via text from their HR department). 

Sad. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

NEW COURTHOUSE ???

Bigwigs are talking. Hushed conversations in the backrooms of places like La Loggia and Capitol Grille. Judges stopping in hallways for a quick chat, while deal makers wave large cigars while using words like "bond referendum" and "county commission". Naturally, as a well known trouble-maker and raconteur, not to mention pain-in-the-judicial-robes-,  Rumpole is excluded from these pow-wows. 

But emails are being sent. People are conspiring, combining and confederating, and our loyal readers are sending us the evidence. 

Now before you start celebrating, they are not talking about replacing our beloved Criminal Justice Building. The same building whose floors we have paced countless times awaiting those lovely words "not guilty". The building where we know every crack and crevice and upon whose dirty, ego-stained floors lie the shattered the hopes of more than a few young, aspiring "know-it-all" prosecutors who sanctimoniously lecture us as to why they are offering life on a first offense burglary: "The victim wants the max". Ahh, the beauty of those famous last words as a few days later Rumpole and his client saunter out of the courthouse, one free forever, the other free until the next jury is convened by the next smug ASA and bewildered wearer of black robes. 

Perhaps a post on "Why Kathy Fernandez-Rundle runs an office where prosecutors cower before victims and play politics with justice" is in order. But for another time.... Here is what is being said about the new civil digs:  


Dear Bar Leaders,



Please see press release attached and below, and message from Chief Judge Soto below. I am copying here my assistant, Ms. Marissa Gavica, who is helping me while I am out on temporary leave. Thank you.   –Eunice & Marissa on behalf of Chief Judge Soto



Message from Chief Judge Soto:



Dear All,



The new civil and probate courthouse project is back on the County Commission calendar for this coming Tuesday, Dec. 17th.



This had been previously scheduled for Dec. 3rd, but was postponed pending receipt of approval of the project from the Federal Transportation Administration. That approval has now been received.



We need you and your clients to contact your County Commissioners and attend the Dec. 17th meeting to have your voices heard on the importance of having a clean, safe and functional civil and probate courthouse for this community. If you are planning to send representatives to speak at the Commission meeting, kindly advise via reply email so I may recognize your presence that day.



Thank you for your support in the past years. You and your clients know how critical the need is, because you have seen firsthand how many times floors have been closed due to mold and A/C leaks, and how many times judges and staff have had to be moved in order to remediate these potentially health-threatening issues. In fact, some of you have been present when water leaks have disrupted live court proceedings. Now is the time to share your experiences with those who have the power to make positive and lasting change for the justice needs of our community.



Below are details on how you can help. We count on your support again on Dec. 17th.



--The Honorable Bertila Soto, Chief Judge







How You Can Help:

  • Share this update with your membership. We will continue to keep you updated on new developments as the date approaches.
  • Encourage your members and their clients to attend the County Commission meeting on Dec. 17 and speak about the importance of a safe, functional civil & probate courthouse for Miami-Dade County.

    Note: A speaker card must be completed between 9am and no later than 9:30am. By completing a speaker card, you can be called at the beginning of the meeting, so those of you with other demands on your time that day can be called as early as possible.

    Address:             Stephen P. Clark Government Center
                                 111 NW 1st Street, Commission Chambers (take moving escalator to second floor chambers)
                                 Miami, FL  33128
  • Contact your County Commissioners about the importance of a “yes” vote for this project. District maps and contact info. for the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners may be found here: http://www.miamidade.gov/commission/districts.asp
  • Review the attachments to this email message for background info.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

ITS ELECTION DAY

UPDATE: As the polls close here in the UK, it appears that Boris Johnson and his conservative party are headed for an almost 90 seat majority in Parliament, more than enough to form a government and yank the UK out of the EU in January. God save the Queen.

It's election day here in the UK.
Amidst allegations of outside influence and a deeply divided parliament (sound familiar?), citizens of the UK head to the polls to vote for their local members of Parliament (MPs). When one party has a majority or can form one with smaller parties, it can form a government and choose a Prime Minister (PM) and a cabinet. What is at stake is the future of whether the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (Brexit) or whether there is a second referendum which is what Labour Party and its head-Jeremy Corbin- are promoting. 

The current PM Boris Johnson is given to Trump-like actions and pronouncements, while Mr. Corbin is an avowed socialist, making the current election sort of like a preview of Trump v. Sanders/Warren. 

The problem here as we see it is that there is no middle ground. The divisions in the UK are deep and stark and politicians seem content to divide rather than unite (sound familiar?). 

This is Britain's fifth election in five years, the third general election within that time, and that doesn't include the two general referendums (Scottish Independence (no, although we supported it) and Brexit (Yes, although we were against it.) ). 
At some point, enough is enough. Just get on with it laddie. 

We will be watching the returns from our favourite local pub- The Dog and Duck, with a few pints of Guinness, and maybe a wee bit of Macallan (double cask gold is our current fav).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Arturo Alvarez has Passed Away

Memorial information for Arturo Alvarez.



This sad news comes from one of his colleagues via the FACDL listserv:

Colleagues, it is with great sadness that i inform you of the passing of Arturo Alvarez. Arturo was an excellent lawyer no matter what type of case he handled. He was a great friend to many and an excellent athlete. We again lose an invaluable asset and friend to the legal profession and our community. 
As soon as i receive any information on the services i will post it.

Thank you,
Frank Quintero Jr.

Arturo Alvarez lived the history we always think others made. He came to Miami at a time when Cubans were discriminated against. He was a prosecutor for Richard Gerstein ;Head of the Litigation for the City Of Miami Attorney's Office; A founding member of the Cuban American Bar Association; member of various state and federal Judical Nominating Committees including the 3rd DCA, the Florida Supreme Court, and US District Court; and a member of the North Miami City Hall of Fame.  

There isn't a lawyer in this city who didn't know that Arturo Alvarez was not only one of the finest trial lawyers in the nation, but a true gentleman. Kind, decent, friendly, always ready to lend an ear and help out. And as Frank said, no discussion of Artie  would be complete without recognition that he was a life long athlete. He was legendary among the lawyer football leagues. 

Artie made his make on our community, our legal system, and among his friends. He will be long remembered and missed. 


Monday, December 09, 2019

MEET AND GREET

UPDATE: And your 2019 Survivor of the award winning, earth shaking and mostly Viagra taking Survivor Pool is....drum roll please....DUSTIN TISCHLER. 
Judge Faber went down with the Fish losing to the J...E...T...S, and Fake Alex Michaels flamed out on the Arizona Cardinals. 

Fantasy Football. Rumpole was upset and is upset. After rolling to a lead leading 10-2 mark, in the first round of the playoffs Rumpole faced his old nemesis from last year- Judge De La O. In 2018 your blogger beat the jurist for the championship. In 2019 the Judge got his revenge after the Rams defense was too much for Seattle (and Rumpole) QB Russell Wilson. Throw in a few lucky career games for the Judge's other players, and he nipped Rumpole by just a few points. 
Judge De La O has made the finals two years in a row, and that says something about his FF prowess. The Judge at 8-5 (did we mention we were 10-2?) now faces off against AB's Foot Helmut (Gary Bass). Lets hope for the Judge's sake he doesn't become the Buffalo Bills of Fantasy Football and he manages to grab the brass ring. We congratulate him on a well played year (even though he was 8-5 and we were 10-2 and by all rights should have had a bye this week). 


There are a lot of things to like about federal court. No meddlesome depositions. The guidelines are advisory. Judges are granting downward variances, and the safety valve does away with the worst of drug minimum mandatory sentences.  The prosecutors are easy pickings. Most of them have never come up through the REGJB and don't know the first thing about the rough and tumble of a real trial. Take away the lead agent whispering in their ear, and they are often bewildered during a trial. 

The cases move quicker, and the fees are often better. 

So of course the judges had to ruin it. 
Now we have to hobnob with those flag toting bureaucrats who come from large firms or have clerked for the same judges ruining all our fun. 
The new local rules in SDFL require the defense and prosecution to...meet (yuck) and confer and even try to agree on timetables. 
What is this- a railroad or a court system? 
Where are we going to meet? Rumpole doesn't set foot in a DOJ office building unless absolutely necessary (if they want a plea, let them come to us we say) and the hoi polloi who labour there do not frequent our bistros and are not welcome in our  "members only" establishments. 
Will Skype satisfy the local rules? 
How about a real chatty phone confab? 

We implore our judges to reconsider. Does Nancy Pelosi have lunch with Matt Gaetz?  Did Lee break bread with Grant? All is fair in war- we shot down Yamamato's plane after all.  Why do we have to meet and fake smiles and be civil when there are a myriad of better things we could be doing?



LR 88.1





(5) In accordance with Fed. R. Crim. P. 16.1(a), no later than fourteen (14) days after a defendant’s arraignment, the attorney for the government and the defendant’s attorney must confer and try to agree on: (A) any anticipated request for modification of the timetables and procedures for pretrial disclosure prescribed by this rule and Fed. R. Crim. P. 16; or (B) a timetable and procedures for pretrial disclosure under Rule 16 if the Standing Discovery has not been requested and entered. 



In accordance with Fed. R. Crim. P. 16.1(b), to facilitate preparation for trial, one or both parties may ask the court to modify the time, place, manner, or other aspects of disclosure prescribed by this rule or Fed. R. Crim. P. 16, or to determine the time, place, manner or other aspects of disclosure that have not already been determined by this rule or Fed. R. Crim. P. 16.