Saturday, June 15, 2019


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


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


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


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

Phone Repair
Shoe Cobbler
Dry Cleaning
Ice Cream

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


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




"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


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.

Saturday, June 08, 2019


Those who have a limited understanding of history will pause on June 6 and give lip service to the Normandy invasion, and then move on. Most likely they thought little of what occurred in France on June 6 as the years passed into the 1960's, 1970's, 80's 90's, and beyond. But the current daily intrusion by electronic media caught their eye this week, and they paused with  faint praise this Friday, without understanding the significance of the day or the men who fought on the Cotentin Peninsula or the sacrifices made. This faint praise includes this blog yesterday, for which we offer an apology. D-Day should never be mentioned in a line or two  as an afterthought on a post about some pedantic local politics. Neither should Antietam, Gettysburg, Meuse-Argonne, The Somme,  Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Midway, Bastogne, The Chosin Reservoir, or Khe Sanh, to name other important battles in American history. 

On D-Day + 75 years, we've decided to  examine General Norman Cota. Cota was 50 years old on D-Day. He landed on Omaha Beach at H hour plus one. As a One Star General he was one of the highest ranking officers to land on the beach on D- Day. Cota landed with the 29th Division, which was led by a cadre of West Point Cadets and had a nickname of "The Blue and Grey" division. Prior to the landings, Cota was heavily involved in the planning, and highly critical of the invasion's plan. Most presciently, Cota did not believe the bombing and naval shelling would destroy the German fortifications and that when the 1st and 29th divisions landed at Omaha Beach they would face heavy opposition. 

Cota was correct. While the 4th Division which landed at Utah Beach suffered less  than 200 casulaties during the landings, V Corps (the 29th Division and the 1st Division nicknamed The Big Red One )  suffered close to 5,000 casulaties at Omaha Beach, giving rise to the nickname "Bloody Omaha."

The First wave at Omaha floundered completely. Some units lost over 90% of their men. Cota landed in the second wave around 7:30 am, with the 116 Regiment of the 29th Division at a portion of the Beach known as Dog White.  At Dog Green, to the right of Dog White, the Second Rangers batallion lost two thirds of their men during the landings. The earlier support of tanks and naval bombardment had failed to materialize and the Dog Green landing  was a disatser.  

Meanwhile, at Dog White Cota and his regiment had also landed without much support.  Lt. Colonel Max Ferguson Schneider, the commander ot the Fifth Rangers batallion  in a landing craft behind Cota recognized the sitiuation at Dog Green and ordered his boats diverted to Dog White. 

There is a small sea-wall separating the beach from the road at Dog White and Dog Green. Directly across the road is a small bluff, rising perhaps two hundred to three hundred feet. At the base and  top of the bluff, the Germans were dug in and well armed. To the right, at one of the exits off the beach on a road leading in land, was a German bunker (see below) that had a clear view of Omaha Beach and had survived the bombings and was laying down a deadly stream of fire. 

Cota and the members of the 116 of the 29th huddled under the beach wall. Wave after wave of men landing on the beach behind them  were being cut down and killed. The tide was now beginning to come in , and those men who were wounded at the water's edge began to drown. It was almost 8 am, June 6, 1944, and something needed to be done. 

Cota called for Bangalore torpedoes to attack the fortifications at the base of the bluffs. Slowly the equipment came forward and holes were blown in the barbed wire and some of the defenses at the base of the bluffs were neutralized. 

Lt. Colonel Max Schneider bumped into General Cota. Cota asked Schneider what outfit he was leading. "5th Rangers" came the reply. 

Now came two quotes that Cota is remembered for. But beyond the words, it is the action of this one American that turned the tide at Omaha Beach. 

When Schneider told Cota he was was with the Rangers, Cota stood up and pointed to the holes the Bangalores had blown open and shouted "Rangers lead the way!". Schneider's Rangers charged though the holes and up the bluffs and engaged and defeated the German defenders.
Rangers Lead The Way!  has gone down in history and now is the motto of the Rangers. 

At some point Cota began walking along the beach wall, ignoring the bullets, and rousing his men huddled behind the wall- shouting the second phrase he is remembered for: "Gentlemen, we're being killed on the beaches. Lets get up there and be killed in-land.
Slowly Cota led his men off the beaches and up the bluffs. Once the Germans at the top were cleaned out, the Rangers headed towards Point Du Hoc to meet up with the battalion that was scaling what later became the famous cliffs. Cota led the 29th in land to achieve the objectives of the 29th division. 

Your faithful blogger has stood several times at the precise spot on Dog White where General Cota and Lt. Colonel Max Schneider met. There are peaceful beach homes at the base of the bluffs  that belie the carnage of the beach on June 6, 1944. Rumpole has walked up (mostly crawled) the steep bluffs behind the sea wall and hiked from Dog White all the way to Point Du Hoc. Every American should visit Normandy once in her or his life. 

For his actions on Omaha Beach  General Norman "Dutch" Cota received the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery under fire (the only higher award is the Congressional Medal Of Honor). Lt. Colonel Max Schneider was also awarded the DSC for his actions on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. 

Cota was later given command of the 28th Division and was part of the liberation of Paris, and then took part in the invasion and liberation of Belgium. He was awarded the Croix de guerre with Palm by France, the Croix de guerre with Palm  by Belgium. The Croix de Guerre is awarded to an individual or unit that distinguishes themselves with heroism under fire. Field Marshall Montgomery pinned the British Distiguished Service Order on Cota. The DSO is awarded only to military officers who distinguish themselves under fire in combat. 

Cota died on October 4, 1971 and is buried in the West Point Cemetary. 

Gen. Dutch Cota- A true American Hero. 

The Beast Of Omaha: 

One of the defending Germans at Omaha Beach  was MG42 gunner Lance Corporal Heinrich Severloh who was in a well emplaced bunker; "Widerstandsnest 62" with good fields of fire. Severloh was instructed to target the US troops while they were still wading towards the beach. That Bunker still stands today and you can visit it. Severloh engaged the landing Americans for 9 hours, firing 12,000 rounds before his ammunition ran out and according to some historical analysts, Severloh may have been responsible for up to 3,000 of the casualties taken by the American forces. Severloh was nicknamed the "Beast of Omaha" by US survivors of the landing

Thursday, June 06, 2019



"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." — General George S. Patton, Jr.

75 YEARS AGO TODAY, D-DAY, June 6, 1944. It was the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare when more than 150,000 brave young soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in a bold strategy to push the Nazis out of Western Europe and turn the tide of the war for good. A total of 4,414 Allied soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice that one day.

Today we honor them.


STEPHANIE SILVER, age 42. Ms. Silver has been a member of The Florida Bar for 18 years. She is currently the County Court Division Chief at the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office. She has worked her entire legal career as an ASA. She replaces Judge Michelle Barakat who was recently elevated to the Circuit Court bench.

ZACHARY JAMES, age 39. Mr. James has been a member of The Florida Bar for 14 years. He is currently a partner at Meland, Russin, and Budwick, PA where he concentrates his practice as a business litigator. He has been at that firm for the past eight years. He formerly served as an AUSA in the Southern District of California and before that as a state prosecutor and a trial attorney for the Department of Homeland Security. He replaces Judge Tanya Brinkley who is also now on the Circuit Court bench. James is also a marathon runner and triathlon competitor.

Governor DeSantis made three other judicial appointments today throughout the State. Tesha Ballou (former prosecutor) to the Circuit Court 18th Judicial Circuit; Anthony Salem (former prosecutor) to the Duval County Court; and Charles Young (former prosecutor) to the Escambia County Court. DeSantis goes five for five in appointing former prosecuting attorneys to the bench!!!



Michelle Suskauer was sworn in as President of The Florida Bar in June of 2018. Her term ends this month when she turns over the gavel at the Bar’s annual convention in Boca Raton. It looks like Suskauer is going to need the extra time as she now has to defend herself against a Bar complaint filed by a Federal Court Judge.

Judge James Cohn filed the complaint after Suskauer, a criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach, allegedly permitted a disbarred attorney to represent one of her clients.

The Facts (from the Palm Beach Post).
+ U.S. District Judge James Cohn told Suskauer this week that he would contact the Bar after one of her clients told him that disbarred lawyer John Garcia met with him, sat at the defense table when he took a plea deal and handled all the details of his wire fraud case. "Certainly his role was more than that of a paralegal," Cohn said after looking at dozens of emails Garcia exchanged with accused fraudster Anthony D’Amico. "And he had direct client contact, which is prohibited by the Florida Bar. And it is a serious allegation." "Quite honestly," Cohn continued, "the Florida Bar needs to take a look at this, and I plan to refer it to the Florida Bar."

+ D’Amico, the client, pled guilty to five counts of wire fraud in February.

+ Garcia, was disbarred for five years in 2007 after he pleaded guilty to federal charges, admitting he hid a client’s drug money and lied to federal agents about it. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. In 2014, he was permanently disbarred after he was accused of practicing law without a license.

+ D’Amico explained that he hired Suskauer and paid her a significant amount of money. He said that Suskauer urged him to also hire Garcia because he was a "federal court specialist". So he did and he paid Garcia $10,000.

+ At the February change of plea, Garcia sat at the defense table. Suskauer was not in court; she instead sent an associate.

+ Suskauer says: "Garcia brings a unique perspective to clients. He not only knows the law, but can advise people about what it’s like to live behind prison walls." "We used him as an expert so that our clients, if they’re sentenced as such, will be able to be better acclimated to the procedure." "Aside from offering prison counseling, he worked only as a paralegal, she said."

+ Judge Cohn said, Garcia — with Suskauer’s help — may have stepped over some important lines. He asked Suskauer about various Bar rules that attorneys must follow when dealing with disbarred lawyers. Suskauer said she wasn’t familiar with the rules but was convinced that neither she nor Garcia violated them. "Well, perhaps you should acquaint yourself with Florida Bar Rule of Professional Conduct 3-6.1," Cohn said. "I think you may come away with a different opinion."

The Rule:

(a) Authorization and Application. Except as limited in this rule, persons or entities providing legal services may employ suspended lawyers and former lawyers who have been disbarred or whose disciplinary resignations or disciplinary revocations have been granted by the Florida Supreme Court [for purposes of this rule such lawyers and former lawyers are referred to as "individual(s) subject to this rule"] to perform those services that may ethically be performed by nonlawyers employed by authorized business entities.

An individual subject to this rule is considered employed by an entity providing legal services if the individual is a salaried or hourly employee, volunteer worker, or an independent contractor providing services to the entity.

(d) Prohibited Conduct.

(1) Direct Client Contact. Individuals subject to this rule must not have direct contact with any client. Direct client contact does not include the participation of the individual as an observer in any meeting, hearing, or interaction between a supervising lawyer and a client.

Our own Brian Tannebaum has been retained to represent Ms. Suskauer in the Bar proceedings.