JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG

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. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM. Winner of the prestigious Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award.

Friday, April 19, 2024

REVENGE OF THE JEDI AND FACDL

 FACDL had this to say about the SAO and all that...

And oh yeah, we are getting reports that our friends at NBC 6 Miami just covered the below press release and asked for the SAO for a response but were told everyone was busy with seeking prison on resisting arrest without violence and NVDL trial because crime is crime and that's the fact jack. It takes a whole bunch of prosecutors to scope out witnesses on a case, get them together to get their stories straight, get them some food and arrange a conjugal visit, and then rush to cover it all up. So it's understandable they could not immediately comment. Ya. 


For Immediate Release 

April 19, 2024

            The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL) is appalled by recent and ongoing unethical conduct by the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office, along with retaliatory targeting of criminal defense lawyers.

 

            In one case, State of Florida v. Corey Smith, Judge Andrea Wolfson issued an order on March 6th, 2024, plainly identifying instances of unethical and potentially illegal conduct by Miami Dade assistant state attorneys. FACDL has been advised that the senior prosecutor subject of that order was allowed to resign with no further consequences. FACDL also has learned that a second prosecutor implicated by Judge Wolfson’s order faced no discipline whatsoever.

 

            As referenced by Judge Wolfson in her order disqualifying the two assistant state attorneys, it’s apparent that the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office has lost sight of its ethical obligations to the citizens of Miami Dade County and its duty to the rule of law.

 

            Another case, State of Florida v. Kim Clenney et. al.,the defendants are similarly subject to seemingly unethical conduct. The Defendant Courtney Clenney is charged with second degree murder in a companion case. It would appear to be a straightforward matter on its face. Courtney claims that her stabbing of an abusive boyfriend was justified. The State believes otherwise. Instead of ethically addressing a very serious matter involving a homicide, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office has allowed one of its assistant state attorneys to run amuck, targeting criminal defense lawyers acting in their function as client advocates and creating a distraction.

 

            Without a trial date in sight for the homicide, the case has featured a young prosecutor leaking attorney/client communications of the defense to the press. Going further, the same young prosecutor has engineered the arrest of the defendant’s parents. In doing so, this same prosecutor has implicated opposing counsel, respected and longtime defense attorneys, in claimed criminal conduct. The actions of this prosecutor are so far outside the norms of the criminal legal system that it is apparent he is using his State Attorney badge as a sword and not a shield. Worse yet, this conduct has been brought to the attention of his supervisors, and no discipline of any kind has been enforced. The Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office has surpassed mere acquiescence of unethical behavior and is now encouraging it.

 

            The purported criminal conduct consists of no more than reviewing, in the context of the fact-specific case, possible defense evidence. This is a standard, necessary obligation of the defense lawyer in every case where such evidence may exist. Not doing so would be malpractice.

 

            Without repercussion, the prosecutor has dug through reams of electronic attorney/client defense communications—conduct worthy of investigation by the Florida Bar and the court.

 

            Speaking to the courts in pursuit of this tangent, the young prosecutor’s affidavits contain glaring omissions of relevant fact. Specifically, omitting that there was an attorney client relationship between the targets and the attorneys and that all information was gleaned because of the State and law enforcement reading text messages between the defense team and their clients.

 

            In normal circumstances, more seasoned, managing prosecutors would step in. For reasons that remain unclear, that has not occurred. What does seem clear is that Miami Dade State Attorney has fostered conditions permissive to a toxic culture. As a result, within this culture, prosecutors act contrary to their ethical duties. Ms. Fernandez Rundle’s prosecutors seem to be encouraged to disregard the rules of court and conduct in favor of a “win at all costs” approach. More representative of that culture is the disdain with which the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office apparently views the vital Constitutional function of defense counsel.

 

            In their most recent filing, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office plainly accuses two respected criminal defense attorneys of conspiring to commit the very offense with which their clients (Ms. Clenney’s parents) are charged. Specifically, the State is alleging that the act of defense attorneys reviewing material, ignored at their client’s apartment by law enforcement, is, in and of itself, a crime. This position shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the role of a criminal defense lawyer and outright disdain for every citizen’s Sixth Amendment right to effective representation of counsel.

 

            More disconcertingly, by naming those lawyers and accusing them of a crime in conjunction with discharging their duties, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office abuses its authority.

 

            In Florida, charging a person with a crime falls entirely within the purview of the respective State Attorney’s Office. That power is almost wholly unreviewable and must be discharged ethically and with great care. While most state attorneys understand the weight of this authority and act accordingly, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office seems not to simply overlook but rather condone ongoing misuses of power.

 

            Readers of Florida legal documents are familiar with the concept that criminal offenses are charged, and potential criminal penalties sought, to protect the “peace and dignity of the State of Florida.” In the case of Ms. Clenney’s parents, charging decisions and resulting arrests have instead been improperly made to protect the ego of a young prosecutor.

 

            Worse yet, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office has now doubled-down and is attempting to bully or target the lone check and balance on its power—criminal defense lawyers.

 

            Ms. Fernandez Rundle’s young assistant has besmirched the names of two of FACDL’s members and all but threatened them with arrest and prosecution. This arrest and prosecution would flow from defense lawyers having the temerity to zealously fulfill their Constitutional roles.

 

            The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers will not tolerate this abuse of their members. The Association, on behalf of its involved members, demands an immediate and formal apology.

 

            Addressing the citizens facing criminal prosecution: all criminal charges pursued substantially to protect the ego of a young assistant must be dismissed. Further, considering the available facts in both Clenney and Smith, FACDL is calling for the dismissal of the offending prosecutors and a full, independent ethics review within the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office.

 

For more information contact Luke Newman, FACDL President at luke@lukenewmanlaw.com.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

ELECTION CENTRAL - 2024 - COUNTY COURT RACES


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

CAMPAIGN CENTRAL - ELECTION 2024

Today, as promised, we bring you the County Court races.


COUNTY COURT JUDGE:

There are a total of 19 County Court Groups up for election in 2024. With 11 days to go, we currently have three judges who are retiring. Group 4, where Incumbent Judge Robin Faber is retiring, has drawn only one candidate. Group 12, where Incumbent Judge Steve Leifman is retiring, that Group has also drawn only one candidate.  In Group 29, where Incumbent Judge Myriam Lehr is retiring, that Group has drawn three candidates including one who is a former Judge who was defeated in the last election. 

There is one Incumbent Judge, recently appointed Judge Christopher Green, who has drawn one opponent in Group 31.

The other 15 groups have Incumbent judges currently facing no opposition.


Group 04 (Judge Robin Faber retiring)

Michelle Marie Urbistondo 
Raised $54,150 Loan $100,500

Ms. Urbistondo has been a member of The Florida Bar for 12 years. She is a solo practitioner who practices in the areas of civil litigation, focusing on real estate transactions, and marital and family law matters.


Group 12 (Judge Steve Leifman retiring)

Mariano Ariel Corcilli
Raised $43,801 Loan $120,000

Mr. Corcilli has been a member of The Florida Bar for 14 years. He is a member of the Military & Veteran Affairs Committee. He devotes a substantial amount of time to our vets. He formerly served in the U.S. Marines attaining the rank of Sergeant. He runs his own law firm where he concentrates on criminal defense and personal injury cases. He is a former ASA.


Group 29 (Judge Myriam Lehr retiring)

Christopher Benjamin
Raised $32,078 ($5,745 from State Rep election account)

Christopher Benjamin has been a member of The Florida Bar for 22 years. He is Of Counsel with International Law Partners, LLP. and a panelist with the ADR firm of Salmon & Dulberg. He works in the areas of general litigation and serves as an arbitrator, mediator, and special magistrate. He has been a certified mediator and arbitrator for 15 years and in 2010 he was appointed as a Hearing Officer in the 11th Judicial Circuit’s Traffic Division where he served until 2020. In 2020 (and again in 2022), he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives to represent the people of  District 107.

Scott Janowitz 
Raised $1,250 Loan $500

Former Judge Scott Janowitz has been a member of The Florida Bar for 18 years. He began his career as an ASA in Broward. He then joined a law firm before getting appointed to the bench by Governor DeSantis in 2020. He ran for election in August of 2022 and lost to current Judge Alicia Priovolos by 60% to 40%.

Alina Salcines Restrepo 
Raised $9,510 Loan $40,000

Alina Restrepo has been a member of The Florida Bar for 24 years. She has worked in a law firm with her brother who is also a lawyer and she has been a solo practitioner as well. She concentrates her practice in the areas of real estate, probate, criminal, civil, traffic, estate planning, and bankruptcy law.


Group 31

Rita Maria Baez 
Raised $9,500 Loan $200,000

Ms. Baez has been a member of The Florida Bar for 28 years. I was unable to locate any information about her other than she may practice personal injury law.

Christopher Green (I)
Raised $48,803 Loan $58,600

Judge Green has been a member of The Florida Bar for 31 years. He was appointed to the County Court bench in December of 2022 by Governor DeSantis.  He currently presides over civil cases in the South Dade Justice Center. This is his first election. Before his appointment, Judge Green was a trial attorney for 30 years with both civil and criminal jury trial experience.  He started his career as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County.  For the next 22 years, Judge Green worked as an Assistant City Attorney with the City of Miami City Attorney’s Office litigation division. 


Group 01 Patricia Marino-Pedraza

Group 02 Kristy M. Nunez 

Group 06 Jorge Perez Santiago

Group 10 Diana Gonzalez-Whyte 

Group 14 Gloria Gonzalez-Meyer 

Group 18 Betsy Alvarez-Zane

Group 21 Jacqueline Michelle Woodward 

Group 22 Linda Singer Stein

Group 26 Maria De Fatima Ortiz 

Group 32 Lizzet Martinez 

Group 33 Eleane Sosa-Bruzon 

Group 37 Yara Lorenzo Klukas 

Group 40 Michael George Barket 

Group 41 Larry King 

Group 43 Milena Abreu


We will continue to monitor both the local election office as well as the office in Tallahassee for any group movement by the candidates as well as any new filings over the next 11 days.


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


Monday, April 15, 2024

ELECTION CENTRAL - 2024 - CIRCUIT COURT RACES


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION CENTRAL - 2024

On August 20th, voters in Miami-Dade County will head to the polls to elect several new judges in both the Circuit and County Court. As I have for the past 19 years, your Captain will be on top of all of the races, bringing you the breaking news that our readers have come to expect from your humble Blogger. You won’t get this kind of coverage in the Miami Herald, nor the Daily Business Review, the Miami News (now I’m aging myself), or any other local thread. Thanks to Rumpole and the Justice Building Blog our readers know that they will obtain their best election coverage from The Captain.

Today, we bring you the filings from the Circuit Court.

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE:

There are a total of 24 Circuit Court Groups up for election in 2024. The deadline for filing is Friday, April 26, 2024. With 11 days to go, we currently have three judges who are retiring. Group 8, where Incumbent Judge David Miller is retiring, has drawn two candidates, and one name should be very familiar to most of our readers as he has been a Judge and ran in two contested elections in the past. In Group 29, where Incumbent Judge Pedro Echarte is retiring, that Group has also drawn two candidates.  In Group 49, Incumbent Judge Terera Pooler is retiring, and only one candidate has filed so far.

The other 21 Groups have Incumbent judges currently facing no opposition.

***In the contested and open races we are providing you with information on how much money the candidates have raised as well as how much they have loaned their individual campaigns.


GROUP 8 (Judge David Miller retiring)

Jason Edward Bloch
Raised $0.00 Loan $575,025

Jason Bloch has been a member of The Florida Bar for 30 years. He spent 20 years working for Miami-Dade County as an Assistant County Attorney. He was appointed to the Circuit Court bench by Governor Rick Scott in 2014. He ran in his first election in 2016 and lost to Judge Marcia del Rey 52% to 48%. He has spent the past seven years working pro bono on legal matters. He ran again for Circuit Court Judge in 2022 against Incumbent Judge Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts. He lost by 1,851 votes out of 262,589 votes; 50.4% to 49.6%.

Bonita Jones-Peabody
Raised  $28,526 Loan $25

Ms. Jones-Peabody has been a member of The Florida Bar for 33 years. She is currently working as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County as a supervisory and training attorney. She has been with the office of Carlos Martinez for the past 20 years.


GROUP 29 (Judge Pedro Echarte retiring)

Heloiza Correa
Raised $107,313 Loan $11,000

Ms. Correa has been a member of The Florida Bar for 14 years. She is originally from Brazil. She began her legal career as an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County working there for nearly four years. She spent three years working for a law firm before opening up her own law office. She concentrates her practice in the areas of commercial litigation, complex business litigation, and construction litigation.

Cristobal David Padron
Raised $2,700 Loan $120,000

Mr. Padron has been a member of The Florida Bar for 12 years. He is a solo practitioner working in the areas of family law, dissolutions of marriage, paternity actions, domestic violence matters, as well as complex civil litigation and appeals.


GROUP 49 (Judge Teresa Pooler retiring)

Marie Elizabeth Mato
Raised $133,884 Loan $10,100

Ms. Mato has been a member of The Florida Bar for 24 years. She has dedicated her entire legal career as an Assistant Sate Attorney in Miami-Dade County where she currently handles the most serious felony cases in the office.


GROUP 2 Ariana Fajardo Orshan

GROUP 13 Jose L Fernandez

GROUP 14 Vivianne del Rio

GROUP 15 Maria Elena Verde

GROUP 24 Mindy S. Glazer

GROUP 25 Yery Marrero

GROUP 31 Carlos Lopez

GROUP 36 Lisa Sharon Walsh

GROUP 42 Miguel M. de la O

GROUP 43 Ellen Sue Venzer

GROUP 47 Maria de Jesus Santovenia

GROUP 53 Jason Emilios Dimitris

GROUP 54 Antonio "Tony" Arzola

GROUP 56 Javier A Enriquez

GROUP 58 Diana Vizcaino

GROUP 61 Christine Bandin

GROUP 66 Lourdes Simon

GROUP 68 Victoria del Pino

GROUP 71 Charlie Johnson

GROUP 78 Valerie R. Manno Schurr

GROUP 80 Marisa Tinkler Mendez


We will monitor both the local election office as well as the office in Tallahassee for any Group movement by the candidates as well as any new filings over the next 11 days.

TOMORROW, THE COUNTY COURT RACES.


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



Wednesday, April 10, 2024

DONT GO

 There is a "happy hour" sponsored by the Dade County Bar Association on April 11. 

Here are all the reasons you should not go. 

1. There will be civil lawyers present. 

2. They will probably be drinking white wine spritzers. nuff said, right? But if you're still considering....

3. Their war stories are always something like "Then during summary judgement they forgot I had an affidavit from the insurer indemnifying my client ...." as which point all the civil drones listening say something like "Are you kidding me? I would have love to seen what Judge Monica-Beth Gonzalez-Schwartz-Sanchez-Goldstein said when you dropped that on them!!!!!" 

4. They will endlessly complain about having to wait to use a Tesla supercharger. "I liked it better when I was the only one in my neighborhood who had a Tesla. Now everyone has one."

5. They will want to show you pictures from their phone of their Italy trip last summer. "Here we are getting Pizza in Rome. Isn't my youngest cute? And here we are at the famous steps and when my wife learned we had to walk up them she told us to go without her..." 

6. They will say things like "So I bought Bitcoin when it was fifty dollars and I have 20 coins. How many do you have and I'm thinking of selling my Apple stock that I bought at 30 three years ago and buying Eth. How much Eth do you have?" 

7. At which point they will say "Did I tell you about the summary judgment motion I won last week?"

8.  Did we mention this event will be populated by civil lawyers? 

9. And as you walk away from the ignoramus with the Tesla and Bitcoin you will stumble into a covenant of civil lawyers and one will be saying "So I turned down the 1.4 million offer and said see you at trial and like an hour later their insurance lawyer started blowing up my phone..." 

10. Most of the food most likely will be gluten free vegan crapola. Our whole generation was raised on gluten and we all seem to be doing just fine. 

So do not go. But if you must then....


But wait! We have another reason... 

11) Qualification season is upon us, and as the weeks dwindle down, your favourite judge up for reelection cannot resist an event with lawyers and free food, so not only will you have to endure civil lawyers, but judges hunting for donations. 

You have been warned. 

RSVP here and tell them that under no circumstances will we be attending so the bourbon is safe. 


]

Monday, April 08, 2024

715

 Because baseball matters. On 4/8/1974 Henry Aaron hit home run number 715 passing George Herman Babe Ruth as the all time home run leader. 

Aaron's life was threatened. He was called disgusting names. His family was also threatened. Because he was a black man breaking the most hallowed record in sports. 

This was in 1974- during our lifetime. Fifty years ago this Monday. In the United States of America a black man's life was threatened because he had the temerity to hit more home runs than anyone else in our national pastime. 

Something to think about. 

Here's the video. 



Saturday, April 06, 2024

JUDGE ILLANA DIAMOND ROVNER

 We came across this wonderful article on Judge Illana Diamond Rovner, the first woman on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. 



Appointed by Ronald Wilson Reagan, she is everything a great judge should be. She has an amazing life story starting with her parents fleeing the Nazis six weeks after she was born in 1938. Her father was able to immigrate from Latvia and save his family's life. This was back when the United States was a beacon of freedom to the world and immigration was not a dirty word. (And yes we are well aware of the abject failures of the Roosevelt administration to do more to allow more people fleeing Nazism into the United States, but we can celebrate the success of this immigrant Judge). 

We recommend you read the article. Particularly striking is her recollection of her and two other women sitting in the first row of law school at Georgetown and the idiot professor telling them on the first day of class that he wore a black armband when women were admitted and he would not be calling on any of them. Or her experiences being a supervisor in the Department of "Justice" and male colleagues walking out because they would not accept being supervised by a woman. 

This all happened in our lifetime. This is not 100 years ago.  It  was a time before Starbucks and IG and Door Dash so we get that the 30 something DeSantis judges cannot relate to her experience- especially being a dirty foreign female immigrant and all.* But like it or not we are all sitting in the shade of an oak tree from acorns that Judge Illana Diamond Rovner planted. And we are all better off for it. 


 We do not condone this language. We use it to show how the presidential candidate of the same party as Ronald Reagan who at least 40%-45% of the American Public plan on supporting speaks about immigrants and immigration. Because in their world the next Judge Diamond Rovner cannot come from Mexico or Nicaragua or Honduras. In fact, just spit balling here, but if they had a chance to vote on banning any person not born in the United States from being a judge, is there any doubt in your mind they would do so and the DeSantis- Maga-Federalist Society idiots would all jump on board? 

And yes we call the federalist society a bunch of idiots because we were there when it was formed and we know that the foundation of the group was based on certain philosophical and epistemological principles like what is a right and where does it come from that these fed-soc puppies with their tongues hanging out have never read or even heard about. They just want to be told to sit up, give their paw, be patted on the head and made a judge. It makes us sick.   

Thursday, April 04, 2024

SAO DIVISION ASSIGNMENTS

 The start of baseball season reminds us that you can't tell the players without a programme. 

Springtime turns a young ASAs thoughts to promotion or that job at the insurance company defense firm paying 125K to start. 

Herewith we (no altruists us) provide you our readers the latest update of the SAO division assignments. 

For some reason we cannot find Michael Von Zamft's new assignment. Hmm...may have to check further on that. 

MISDEMEANOR DIVISION (Motto: "Wrecking the future of poor people one misdemeanor conviction at a time."  


Misd Division Assignments 2-19-24 by Anonymous PbHV4H on Scribd

 

 FELONY DIVISION (Motto "Nothing better than offering five years prison for resisting with violence")
 

Felony Division Lawyers March 24 by Anonymous PbHV4H on Scribd