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, April 19, 2021

CLOSING ARGUMENT

 Former Police Officer Derrick Chavin most likely spent his last weekend of freedom for a very very long time. The prosecution heads into closing arguments this week on what we have seen to be a slow plea with evidence admitted that would never have passed muster in our trials, especially in Florida. ME's stating that the cause of death was homicide. Puhleeze. We would have savaged the academic bookworm who opined about the functioning of lungs and the excessive force. He would have been  gasping for his own air on the stand with a cross examination that would have focused on the last time he was surrounded by a hostile crowd while trying to arrest a felon who outweighed by a hundred pounds.  While he may make split second decisions about patients lives in an ICU, how many times does his decisions affect not only the patient's life, but his own? 

But we did not try the case. 

How do you prepare for closing argument? 

Mr. Markus is known to watch "A Few Good Men" for inspiration. 

We play Bruce Springsteen's "No Retreat No Surrender" in our car every day during a trial, and in the parking lot on the day of closing. Then as we have a small break in the proceedings just before closing we close our eyes and recite this stanza from Thomas Babington Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome:

Then Out spake brave Horatius Captain of the gate: 

"To every man upon this earth, death come soon or late. 

And how can man die better than facing fearful odds.

 For the ashes of his Father and the Temple of his Gods." 

Benefits of a classical education. 



Sunday, April 18, 2021

A NEW YORK LOVE STORY

 The time is 1959. Successful NY personal injury lawyer Burt Pugach sees a beautiful young Linda Riss, ten years younger than he is,  at a bus stop. He finds out where she lives and shows up every morning in his fancy car offering her a ride to high school. Rides turn into dates  at all the swankiest New York spots like the Copa or the Stork Club or the nightclub he owns. Burt is a pilot who  owns a plane and they go flying. Then Linda finds out Burt is married and ends the relationship sending Burt into a jealous frenzy including phone calls saying "If I can't have you, no one can."

Shortly thereafter Linda Riss is blinded when two thugs attack her and splash lye in her face. 

Burt Pugach in the middle being arrested

Burt is arrested and prosecuted and loses a trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison. 

This is where the story becomes a New York Love story. 

Released after 14 years Burt becomes a "paralegal" and begins wooing...Linda.  Blind, having her youth taken from her in a horrific attack, she is alone and succumbs to his entreaties and they get married and spend the rest of their lives together. 

Burt and Linda 

Linda died in 2007 and Burt passed away recently. The story dominated the NY tabloids at the time of the attack and then again when they were married. "Marrying him was the best revenge" Linda was quoted by a newspaper as saying. 

Of course along the way Burt had an affair with a younger woman, she dumped him, he threatened her, she had him arrested, he had another trial in which Linda stood by his side and he was acquitted. Once again they were tabloid fodder for weeks. 

There is an exceptional documentary on this unusual live called Crazy Love. 

We highly recommend. it. 


Friday, April 16, 2021

JUDGE RESIGNS!

 We know what you're thinking...but it's not a Judge whose name begins with a Z.

County Court Judge Mike Mirabal resigned Friday afternoon in the face of some very serious JQC allegations that carried over from a Bar complaint that was pending when he was elected- so much for the educated discernment of Miami-Dade voters. 

More on this as it breaks. But we have verified this with multiple- very political sources. 

Judge Mirabal- took office  January 5, 2021- resigned: April 16, 2021. 

Quite the tenure. 


Thursday, April 15, 2021

42

 April 15 is the anniversary of the day Jackie Roosevelt Robinson broke into the big leagues 74 years ago today. All ballplayers, coaches and umpires will honor Jackie Robinson by wearing 42. It is a well deserved honor. 

75 years ago, in 1946 a black man could not play in the major leagues. In 1947 one black man was allowed in. This two years after American black men fought for the United States (in a segregated army) and died for a country that would not let them use the same bathrooms, eat in the same restaurants, sleep in the same hotels, and allow their children into the same schools as white people. 

The question we are pondering is how much things have changed? Bathrooms, restaurants, schools (mostly) all go without saying as being integrated. But our streets are not as this horrible video shows: 

Angry Staff https://twitter.com/i/status/1382119550985048068

And then there is George Floyd and Daunte Wright. First, when did Minnesota become North Mississippi? Who knew the frozen tundra hid such vehement racism? And second- we admit to thinking after George Floyd (and the many police killings before Floyd-remember the epidemic of killings during the last year of the Obama administration?) "well this will change things." 

But things are not changing. An African American man or woman can go into any restaurant, but they cannot walk down or drive down every street. Two things appear to be at play here. First, systemic and perhaps unconscious racism. A strange man walks in a neighborhood where he is unknown and nobody pays much attention, unless he is black.  Then problems start ala Travon Martin, et.al. 

Second and more insidious are the actions of the police, They are reaching for their guns during misdemeanor traffic stops and minor felony arrests more and more when the suspect is black. Let's assume Daunte Wright resisted arrest- that he ignored the order of the police and wanted to get back into his car and drive away. 

Police appear to have this attitude that they are never going to allow that to happen even if that means killing the person, which they are doing with alarming alacrity. What can be done so that police do not treat these encounters as personal? 

And yet the other point of view is that the person has committed a crime, has a warrant, may well be dangerous and the police are not doing their job by letting them go and arresting them at another time. 

There has got to be a way to resolve this because it is ripping our country apart. We have experienced it here in Miami in the Officer Lozano case in which a city of Miami police officer shot and killed Clement Lloyd who was on a motorcycle in 1989. Ovalle wrote about it here in 2014 when Pandemic was just a word under "P" in the dictionary. 

By now we realize this is not going away. Police are killing people during minor stops and encounters and although they are being prosecuted with increasing frequency still the killings continue. Eric Garner was put in a choke hold by police in NYC in 2014 and killed despite the fact he said "I can't breathe eleven times". His crime was selling single cigarettes.  Michael Brown (18) was killed in Ferguson Mississippi in August 2014  for suspicion of stealing a box of cigars. Tamir Rice (12) was shot and killed in November 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio when police saw him with a toy gun. Walter Scott was shot in the back five times by a white police officer for driving a car with a broken taillight in Charleston South Carolina in April 2015. Philando Castile was killed by police while driving his girlfriend in  St. Paul, Minnesota in July 2016. Stephon Clark was shot seven times by police officers in  March 2018 while he was carrying a cell phone in his grandmother's back yard in California. And of course there is Breonna Taylor who was shot eight times and killed by police while she was in her apartment in March 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. 

It just goes on and on and on. 

If we are keeping count, who will be this tragic number 42? 


ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S DEATH

 Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, and our greatest, died today at 7:22 a.m in 1865. 

Secretary Of War Edwin Stanton  State William H.  Seward was reported to have said 

                                    "Now he belongs to the ages.



Of all the wonderful things Lincoln said, perhaps this short sentence carries the most meaning after the last four years we have been through: 

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

HERALD SLAMS ZILBER

 In a positively Rumpolian editorial, the Miami Herald (who we suspect may just be reading this blog) "slammed" Judge Zilber and called for the Florida Supreme Court to "slam" Judge Zilber.  The Editorial is here.  

The "Tiger Slam" in golf is winning all four major tournaments consecutively, albeit over two years.  The "Zilber-Slam" shall be forever known as getting slammed by the JQC, Rumpole, and The Miami Herald, in that order.  Not to be confused with the "Full Ginsberg", which is media speak for appearing on all the Sunday morning nationwide news talk shows in one morning including Meet the Press, Face the Nation, The Week On ABC,  (Trump's) Fox News Sunday, and the Late Edition on CNN. The term is so named after attorney William H Ginsburg, who accomplished it on February 1, 1998, while defending one Monica Lewinsky. 

From the Herald Slam: 

Here’s one more achievement for Martin Zilber’s scrapbook: The Miami-Dade Circuit judge is facing a 60-day suspension and $30,000 fine for routinely skipping work, ordering his staff to run personal errands for him and, yes, having a staffer assemble a scrapbook of his achievements. 

(ouch)

...

In addition to being in charge of the judge’s calendar and running his office, this beleaguered woman also was forced to work on the scrapbook. Once, according to the JQC, he asked this pregnant assistant to wheel his chair up “several floors to the courtroom and then lift it onto the dais prior to hearings.”

We can only hope the judge wasn’t seated in the chair when he made her do this.

(Yowza! What a shot! We are seriously jealous of whomever wrote that Zilber-Zinger). 

...And once the coronavirus pandemic hit, he hit the road — to Malibu, California, for a week.

Well as they say in the Media, "This story has legs"- just not the ones attached to a certain formerly pregnant JA. 

In all seriousness, the pompousness of the Judge's behavior and his  treatment of his staff speaks volumes and is what is fueling this story we believe. Judges -especially during the pandemic- just don't have a lot to do at times. At other times, despite what this blog sometimes implies, they work very long and hard, slogging through trial after trial, separating the legal wheat from the inadmissible chafe.  

So the Judge not being in Court is no big deal to us. But we think the insight into his character by the way he has been reported to treat his staff- ordering them to run personal errands, driving him around as is he is some celebrity,  creating some ego-driven scrap book, moving furniture for goodness sakes- all of this speaks to a person with a big ego who thinks they are special. The best judges we know are the ones who know they are not special. The judges who truly act on the belief that they are privileged to hold their position. We see these judges- the ones who are in their chambers brewing coffee for their jurors and the lawyers; the ones who are photocopying cases and doing whatever needs to be done to move a calendar and a case. This is what is so offensive about the reported conduct, and this is what is giving the story the "legs" we are talking about. 

STACK THE COURT

UPDATE: We have never used our considerable influence as a legal blogger who is widely read. However, precedent is made to be broken is what we always tell the appellate courts in oral argument. SO, if anyone knows the defendant in this case, please let them know we are very interested in representing and defending them. 

Stolen Doritos Truck Involved in 100-Mile Chase | Food & Wine (foodandwine.com)


 DOM blogged the horrible news that US District Court Judge Sandra Feuerstein EDNY was killed by a driver in Boca over the weekend. The news was extensively reported in NYC and the driver's name was Snape" who allegedly told the police she was Harry Potter. 

If you haven't done so scroll down to the comments in the California Case Law part one. The comments are evenly distributed that the Judge's actions are no big deal and the Judge's actions are a big deal. The Florida Supreme Court has the final say.

Query: Do you think the US Supreme Court should be expanded? Every appellate court in the land has panels why can't the Supreme Court have sixteen or eighteen  judges and meet in panels of nine. As the caseloads expand throughout the country, only the Supreme Court has nine judges struggling to handle the appeals from all the circuits. It should not be as hard as it is to get certiorari for important issues.  As a well known defender of Judges, we are the first to say that the nine in DC appear to be overworked and could use some help. Perhaps there could be a system where a bipartisan panel of judges selects nine experienced judges throughout the country to serve two or four year terms on the court. Wouldn't you want to see Judge Sola or Moreno or Cook or Jordan or Luck get a shot on the court for a few years? 

There is no constitutional requirement for nine judges on the court you know. 


Monday, April 12, 2021

COVID UPDATE

It has been a while since we did a simple Covid19 update, what with reports of pregnant JAs lugging furniture around the courthouse, things have been positively "Broweird" in Miami. 

Florida's Dept Of Health Covid dashboard reported 5,520 new cases on Sunday. Miami reported 1,160 new infections and 12 more tragic deaths. 

Statewide 7% of the tests administered were positive which probably means we are not doing enough testing. 

The all important R rate in Miami-Dade is stubbornly staying above 1 at  about 1.06.  This tracks the number of people an infected person is infecting. Once the number falls below 1, the virus dies out because every new person infected is infecting less than one other person. The more people who get vaccinated and who continue to wear masks, the sooner that number will fall below 1 in Miami, Florida, and the world (except for some cities and states who believe the whole thing was scam designed to get the former president out of office. Those people will just eventually die out from covid19  and pure stupidity). 

Have you gotten your first/second shot yet? We have our second on board and are feeling great. 

No appointment necessary shots for people age 16 and up begin at the Hard Rock Stadium today from 8 am to 10 pm. Here is the Herald article covering it all.  For kids 16-17 they need a parent and a both certificate (it's not Joes so a folded up 50 isn't going to work). 

Lawyers Only: Take our Vaccine Poll

I want to get vaccinated 

I have been vaccinated (either first or second shots or the J&J)

Vaccines are for chumps/Trump Won/I don't trust the vaccines and Dr. Faucci. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

CALFORNIA CASE LAW PART TWO

 Rumpole for the defense. 

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. You have heard the evidence. When last seen, the victim, one Judge Martin Zilber, was staggering out of the JQC with a knife in his back. And the prosecutor wants you to convict my client, Judge Zilber's former judicial assistant, of the crime. 

But lets do what the prosecutor has not done and apparently will not do. Let us look at the evidence not by saying "why did she do it" but "did she do it?"

The prosecutor says there was motive. Judge Zilber had her do his shopping on line, he had her not file leave slips when he was in Malibu, he had her moving furniture while pregnant. 

But as we say in the law, Cui Bono?  Which is Latin for "who benefits"? 

We all know that after leaving her position as a judicial assistant, Ms. Moneypenny went to work for an attorney. Now this is not just any attorney, it is an attorney who specializes in defending litigants facing mortgage foreclosures. This lawyer fights for the little guys against the big, bad banks. And this lawyer is notorious, coming into conflict with not just many judges, but panels of the Third District Court of Appeals, who after one contentious oral argument saw fit to refer this lawyer to the Florida Bar. 

Now where was the victim of this stabbing assigned? The civil division. And what types of cases did he handle you may ask?

[dramatic pause...deep voice] M o  r  t g  a  g  e   F o r e c l o s u r e s!

The Daily Business Review has reported that the JA went to this lawyer and told him that the Judge unfairly targeted the lawyer's foreclosure defense clients. 

And who actually prepared the JQC complaint? Was it Ms. Moneypenny alone? 

NO! You heard the evidence it was Moneypenny along with her new employer. 

This was not, ladies and gentlemen of the jury murder most foul, it was a more baser motive..it was VENGEANCE 

VENEGEANCE which the bible teaches us is reserved alone for the almighty. Vengeance is mine sayeth the lord! 

It was not Ms. Moneypenny who stabbed our good judge. It was not the butler in the laundry room with the candlestick. It was the lawyer, defender of foreclosures, angry at the judiciary, looking to strike back at the evil empire who takes homes away from his clients. It was the lawyer  who slipped the knife in when no one was looking. 

My client is not guilty. 

Item: The DBR has reported that Judge Zilber's former JA went to a foreclosure defense lawyer who helped her prepare the JQC complaint and then hired her to work for him. A veritable love fest.  It does not excuse Judge Zilber's self admitted conduct, but it sure puts a different spin on this case. 

Item: Where in the world was Judge Zilber was part of the JQC investigation. Exclusive to the blog is evidence that was proven that Judge Zilber was NOT on Mars checking out the Ingenuity Helicopter.