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

Thursday, July 09, 2020

TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION

In America 2020 there is a disconnect between science and populism. This disconnect did not always exist. In the 1960's the triumph of American ingenuity and science was celebrated as the United States landed men on the moon. To be an intellectual, a learned man or woman of science was a celebrated profession. Scientists and Engineers were admired. They promised an almost unimaginable future of a life made easier by  computers and technology. Young boys named Jobs, Allen, and Gates became obsessed with computers. They ordered kits and built them in their garage. From their  passions, indeed their obsessions, Silicon Valley was born, and another American technological revolution led the world into the digital era. 

Fast forward to 2020. A pandemic burns throughout the world. The 79 year old American doctor of epidemiology and virology who has trained his whole life for this moment- Dr. Anthony Fauci- is marginalized and ridiculed. Doctors and scientists who are the leading experts in their fields of viruses and pandemics are criticized if they make common sense suggestions like social distancing, testing,  and wearing a face mask to prevent infections. You do not need a PhD in epidemiology to understand that staying apart and wearing face mask (and ideally a face shield) stops the spread of the virus. But these days, to understand that concept you apparently need to be anyone other than an American. Well that's not entirely fair. You need to be anyone other than an American who is a Republican. 

How and when did conservatives abandon the mind? When did being smart and well trained become inconsistent with other conservative values like capitalism and rugged individualism? 

In her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, written in 1957, the philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand depicted a dystopian United States of the future where liberals attacked men of achievement (for all her genius, Rand's writings exclusively used the masculine pronoun). The philosophical concept and plot of the novel was that the liberal views on property rights and altruism that held that a person's ability and production belonged to the collective would slowly strangle innovation. Working for the good of everyone would produce the good for no one. In Atlas Shrugged men of production and achievement in various fields from engineering to finance to production to  music "go on strike" and disappear from society. They give up and thus show the world what happens when people scorned for their ability stop working. In the penultimate scene, New York City loses electricity and the experts needed to repair the problem are missing. 

In America 2020 the people of production and achievement have not (yet) gone on strike. But they labor in the shadows. Dr. Fauci works behind the scenes because at Republican presidential rallies "Fire Fauci Now" chants routinely breakout. The President trashes the CDC and withdraws from the World Health Organization. 

Let's take a look at two different states. Florida opened early. The Governor refused to require people to wear masks in public. The results has been a week of 10-11,000 new Floridians a day becoming infected. ICU beds are at 95% of capacity. And as Dr. Fauci recently pointed out, the death rate- low at this point- is about to explode because it takes Covid19 about 2 to 4 weeks to kill. Florida is teetering on the edge of chaos and destruction. And in the face of this scientific evidence, the governor says everything is fine rejects the advice of intellectuals and scientists that increased testing and masks will help stop the spread of the virus. 

In an almost unbelievable display of illogic,  the president and most conservative politicians argue that increased testing only leads to increased NUMBERS of people who are infected. If you do not test then the virus numbers are low (sadly, our own FDC has also adopted this philosophy, telling our federal judges every Friday that everything is fine because the virus numbers are very low. Meanwhile the first inmate just died of  Covid19).  The logic behind this belief is staggeringly dangerous. If accepted, it could be applied to cancer, pollution, gun murder rates, domestic violence, you name it. Stop reporting cancer deaths, and cancer is cured! Right? (Unless you die of cancer-but for everyone else, it's party time.)

In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo had a different approach from Governor DeSantis. She asked the federal government for help in testing and they told her to go pound salt. So she formed a partnership with CVS (which is headquartered in RI) for testing. 25% of Rhode Island citizens have been tested. The positive rate is under 2%. Florida's positive rate is in the teens. Governor Raimondo mandated masks in public, limited public gatherings, and cajoled the company Salesforce to develop a contact tracing app for free. Infosys was tasked with deploying a location tracking feature, and Survey Monkey was assigned to monitor symptoms. Rhode Island is only one of four states labeled "low risk level" by the CDC. Five people a day or less are dying of Covid19 in RI, 50 people a day or less are newly infected. That's less than the daily rate in Hialeah. 

Rhode Island was uniquely situated to be severely damaged by the virus- it has the nation's second densest population and the ninth oldest population. The virus struck quick and hard at the beginning. But testing, contract tracing, masks in public, a public/private partnership, and listening to the health experts resulted in the virus being beaten down. Rhode Island did not invent this playbook. New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, all have done the same thing. 

But here is the problem. Governor Raimondo is not a right wing conservative. She listens to experts and deployed companies with expertise to work with her and devise a strategy to succeed. She employed a NASA 1960's "lets listen to the experts" philosophy with the resulting success that makes right wing anti-intellectuals furious. 

We have some of the smartest, well trained experts in the world to help us defeat this virus. Rhode Island has given us a roadmap. And mark our words, what they did will be rejected by almost every Republican politician in the country. 

We know where we are at- Intellectuals are dangerous. Scientists who speak the truth are bad. Scientific testing leads to bad news so just stop testing. Experts are idiots and must be ignored. The Constitution enshrines the right not to wear a mask in public and drink at a bar (The murky third amendment we believe). 

What we do not know for the life of us is how we got here and how Ayn Rand, more than 63 years ago, got it right. 


Tuesday, July 07, 2020

KATHY RUNDLE'S PHOTO ID EVIDENCE

Not sure how we missed this the first time around, but State Attorney Candidate Melba Pearson tweeted this over the holiday weekend past and it is downright shocking 

@MelbaforMiami:
This isn’t photoshopped. It’s a real sketch that Miami-Dade State Attorney Rundle used to justify falsely arresting 15-year-old DeAndre Charles for murder and locking him up for 333 days. Nobody received justice, Rundle chose optics over accountability.

And drum roll please...this is the sketch used to wreck this poor young man's life. Did he even get an apology?

Here is the link to the NBC6 story.


So let's recap the blog stories for the past few days. 
Det Archer of Miami Beach punches and kicks a woman who he has wrongfully arrested and has her hands cuffed behind her back. Prior to that attack, he punched and arrested a man who came to her rescue when he saw Archer beating her on the street. False police reports were filed. NO PROSECUTION WHATSOEVER. 
If Our State Attorney is not a late comer to the movement against police brutality- if she has led an office inspired to stop the police from beating and killing people and making false arrests, then what is her explanation for not prosecuting Det Archer for any of the THREE DIFFERENT  TIMES he beat citizens of Miami-Beach? So far, the only sound we hear are crickets coming from the SAO.  Cop Cat got your tongue? 

Now we see a sketch worth of a Seinfeld episode which would be funny except that it led to the year long incarceration of a fourteen year old boy for a murder he did not commit. Any apology? Any explanation? Conscience Cat got your tongue? 

Silence from the State Attorney, but at least she didn't forget Marco Rubio's birthday recently. 




Monday, July 06, 2020

MIAMI BEACH NEEDS TO FIRE OFFICER PHILIPPE ARCHER


  • This Miami Dade officer was rightfully fired for hitting a woman.






  • This Miami Beach Officer- Detective Philippe Archer-  is still on the force although he punched and kicked a woman with her hands cuffed behind her back. Archer was suspended for a month and allowed to serve the suspension a few days at time so he could keep working most of every month. 

     Any difference other than time?


    THE RESULTS OF BEING ARRESTED BY DET ARCHER 
    The woman above was ARRESTED FOR...(wait for it....you got it) BATTERY ON A POLICE OFFICER.

    FYI: Kathy Rundle's office saw fit to NOT prosecute Archer 
    for either the battery or the false police reports he filed when he arrested the woman AND the man who came to her rescue. 

    FYI- This was NOT the first time Detective Archer struck a citizen whose hands were cuffed behind their back. 

    See:
    MAYEUL MOULIN AND GUY MOULINE v. CITY OF MIAMI BEACH  So. Dist. Of Florida case number  12-23390 - Mayeul Moulin was 13 years old at the time Archer attacked him. Then Archer attacked his father Guy Mouline who went to defend his son. 
                                                                                                   Prior to  Archer striking  the woman with her hands cuffed behind her back,  he beat up (and of course then arrested) a good Samaritan who  tried to come to her rescue. So what we have is a Miami Beach Police Officer who beats up people so badly that other citizens routinely come to their aid because the violence is so shockingly bad.                                                 AND HE IS STILL WORKING AS A POLICE OFFICER.                                                                                                     And see:
     DUQUESNE v.  CITY OF MIAMI BEACH  So. Dist of Florida Case Number  12-20575 BEFORE JUDGE HUCK in which Archer  struck Andres Duquesne. 

    So as one of our alert readers who sent us this information has asked, why is the City of Miami Beach still employing an Officer who regularly beats up the citizens of Miami Beach?
    Three brutal incidents. One caught on video. One silent State Attorney, and the City of Miami Beach who we guess just raises taxes on their businesses to pay for this officer's brutality. It will only be a matter of time before something worse happens and someone else suffers at the hands of this thug. Because that is what he is. A coward, a bully, and a thug who only hits women when their hands are safely cuffed behind their back. 

Friday, July 03, 2020

JUDGE SHELDON "SHELLY" SCHWARTZ HAS PASSED AWAY .......


We are going to add our thoughts about the passing of Shelly, First, to us he was always "Shelly".  He always had a smile, and he always had an amusing story to share. But above all else, no remembrance of Shelly is complete without mentioning his sartorial splendor. 
The Ties. 
Chartreuse and lime green, with a splash of yellow and purple against an orange or perhaps light pink background. And that would be on a day he was toning it down. He reveled in his ties and it was an insight to the unique, friendly, happy man he was. He was truly a Justice Building original, one of the legends of our profession as an attorney and Judge who spent his time on the bench mentoring young lawyers. He has been missed for sometime in his well deserved retirement. 
Au revoir old friend. We are better for knowing you. 

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

SAD NEWS TODAY AS JUDGE SHELDON "SHELLY" SCHWARTZ HAS PASSED AWAY

Judge Schwartz was first elected to the County Court bench in 1996 when he defeated Larry King. He was last elected in 2006 defeating Migna Sanchez Llorens. He retired from the bench in 2012. He became a member of the Florida Bar in 1969 and celebrated 50 years as a bar member this past November. He previously was a law partner with Alvin Entin for more than 20 years.

Judge Schwartz was a real mensch and he never felt more comfortable than when he spent those six years on the bench serving in the "peoples court"; County Court. He was sometimes criticized for taking too much time explaining to un-represented defendants how the law worked and how it would affect them in their decision in court that day. He was proud of the fact that he took the extra time to treat each citizen who came before him with respect and compassion.

He famously apologized on this Blog when he once had a particularly bad day on the bench and he felt bad about it. Here is the link to that Blog post:

http://justicebuilding.blogspot.com/2006/01/honorable-judge-sheldon-schwartz.html

We will miss you Shelly.

Captain Out .......

Captain4Justice@gmail.com


Wednesday, July 01, 2020

CASTING THE FIRST STONE

Item: Princeton University to remove President Woodrow Wilson's name from their school of International Relations and Affairs because of his racist views. 

Rumpole has had enough. 
If you have not sinned, lets start casting some stones. 

Washington DC. The Washington Monument. All named after our first President who owned slaves. Remove the name and take down the monument, and while you're at it, call PM Boris Johnson and let him know that after further review we beat the British with a racist at the head of the army and we'd in fact like to surrender than be seen as honoring a racist slaveowner. 

Dwight D Eisenhower. Supreme Allied Commander, WWII. Head of an army of millions from 1941-1944. Arguably the most powerful man in the world. While married, and much older, took advantage of a younger woman who was not equal in power to him (Kay Somersby). Call Prime Minister Merkle, we cannot live with the results of WWII when the armies of the allies were led by a man who took advantage of a young woman. #Metoo USA #SurrendertoGermany. 

While you're at it, the second most powerful man in the world at that time- President Roosevelt, also slept with a younger woman in a relationship in which the power was not equal. Time to surrender to Japan and Germany. We won the war with  men  who took advantage of younger women in relationships where the power was not equal. #METOO= #LoseWWII. 

General Patton? Saved the allied army by repelling the Germans in the battle of the bulge. In an unmatched display of generalship, On December 19, 1944, as the Germans were breaking through all Allied lines, Patton disengaged from a major battle, marched three divisions over three hundred miles  in 48 hours in a snow storm and attacked and smashed the Germans. Patton was an avowed anti-Semite, consistently railing against Jewish conspiracies. Can't accept what he did, saving the Allies in 1944 from a German attack that could have led to a peace with Hitler. #Surrendernow. 

And while we are busy surrendering to Germany and Japan, lets tear up the US Constitution. It was written by slave owners. And do we need to even broach the 3/5 of a person clause (Art I, Sect.2)? 

While racism is rearing it's ugly head, perhaps we need to remove all the streets named after Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as end the national holiday. As a powerful leader of a worldwide movement, Dr. King unfortunately entered into a number of sexual relationships, while married, with younger women who may well not have felt comfortable saying no to such a powerful and important man. #METOO= No More Dream. 

And looking forward, before we all race to get the Covid-19 vaccine, lets make sure we approve of the personal, sexual, and racial views of the inventor of the vaccine, lest we save the world with someone who does not adhere to all the correct views. 

Too bad we did not have a mediocre man leading all the allied armies in WWII who didn't  sleep around. Maybe we would have lost. Maybe the war would have taken two more years and 500,000 more lives. But at least we would not be glorifying men who took advantage of younger women. 

Lets roll it all back. No Washington DC. No USA. No Constitution. No Civil rights act of 1964. Call Buzz Aldrin and tell him to fly back to the moon and remove the plaque he and Armstrong placed. President Kennedy, a man known to cheat with younger women outside of his marriage challenged the country to land on the moon. We are all cheapened by responding to a challenge by a man of such low moral character. 


Here is the point. We are human beings. We are at our best when we learn from our mistakes, and the mistakes of those who came before us. But we have no right to expect that every single person of achievement also adhere to all the right views. We can strive for that. There is no rational, reasonable, or moral defense of racism. Men who use their power to take advantage of younger women are of low moral character. But make no mistake, if the surgeon who saves our life cheats on his wife, then we will take the trade off. If the scientist who invents the Covid-19 vaccine does not like Jews or Asians, we are getting the vaccine. 

We will not knowingly eat at a restaurant of a racist. Silence does equal acceptance and we should not support anyone who is a racist. But President Wilson does not need to be erased from history. It's okay to have a statute and honor the man who conceived of the league of nations, as long as his story is fully and fairly told. 

But in looking backward, not forward, the fact is that in different times different behaviors were unfortunately acceptable. That does not mean that the person who engaged in unacceptable behavior or views, but also contributed to the well being of human kind should be erased from history. A full discussion of the good and bad is appropriate.  We can admire the genius of the Constitution, and recognize and praise the contributions of Thomas Jefferson, while still teaching about the full man, and the fact that he owned slaves and slept with female slaves. And even though that behavior is reprehensible, we do not support removing a statute of Thomas Jefferson. 

This is absolutely "in for a penny, in for a pound." Remove Wilson's name for racism; then remove Dr. King's name for sexism. It is as simple as that.  Or accept that each man had both a genius, and like most humans, many flaws. 

And finally this- none of this applies to Confederate Statutes, names, flags, or honors. The Confederacy was run by traitors to the Nation who supported slavery. Every one of them was a traitor. Most were war criminals. Not one should be honored. 

Happy Fourth of July. 




SOME MORE HELPFUL NUMBERS

Courtesy of FACDL Head honcho Matthew Meyers

All…..

I know there has been some confusion regarding the Clerk of Court Operations.  As of now, the 9th floor is open for attorneys to review files and pull documents.  Supervisors have advised me they are implementing a system to better field email requests, which will include someone following up via phone to take your credit card information for payment.  I am still waiting on a response as to when this will be finalized, but it is in progress.

As for Traffic/Misdemeanor….the 8th floor is closed
Please find the below contact information and instructions:

All requests can go through the email inbox’s I provided below, unless it is a TRAFFIC petition to seal/expunge which can be mailed or dropped off in the drop box right inside exit door of the REG building

The office address is 1351 NW 12 street, Miami, FL 33137. I would also include if it’s Traffic or Misdemeanor on the envelope. 

Records Requests
Traffic:                                          Traffic2@miamidade.gov
Misdemeanor (Non-DV):            cocmisdemeanor@miamidade.gov

Inquiries Only
Attorney Traffic Phone line:                                     (305) 548-5636
Attorney Misdemeanor (Non-Domestic Violence)    (305) 548-5549

For the other divisions, the following email inbox’s are available for anyone to request records from our offices. 

Domestic Violence:                     Family@miamidade.gov
Felony:                                         Criminal@miamidade.gov



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

WHO WAS GEORGE BRAUTIGAM?

Now we are going deep. Way back into the recesses of history when Miami was a sleepy southern town and hotels in Miami Beach had signs that said "No Blacks or Jews"

The State Attorney history goes Richard Gerstein to Janet Reno to Kathy Rundle. There are still many lawyers around who worked for "the boss" Gerstein, and even more who worked for Janet. But what about before Gerstein? Things get murky. One old time prosecutor posted this: 

Richard Gerstein was not the first State Attorney. The Eleventh Judicial Circuit was established in 1911. The office of State Attorney has existed ever since then. It was during Gerstein's tenure that the office of county Solicitor was merged into the State Attorney's Office. The State Attorney before Gerstein was George Brautigam. Gerstein defeated Brautigam in his 1956 reelection bid due largely to unfavorable media coverage regarding Brautigam's attempt to suppress a grand jury report and his refusal to seek an indictment against a suspect in the murder of a little girl.

Then El Capitan weighed in: 

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

I REFER YOU TO A REPORT OF THE GRAND JURY, NOVEMBER 8, 1955

https://www.miamisao.com/publications/grand_jury/1950s/gj1955s4.pdf

[Rumpole notes: Listed as one of the ASAs is William Meadows who we knew -we think- as Bill Meadows- a wonderful man and older-timer when we first met him.]

FILED BY: State Attorney George A. Brautigam. Listed within the Report are the names of his eight ASAs including one named Adele Faske.

Dick Gerstein ran against the incumbent Brautigam in 1956 at the age of 33 and defeated him. He was reelected six times before moving into private practice. (Brautigam passed away in 1957)


So who was George Brautigam? And does anybody have a personal memory of him?  And who was before himHere is a short obit.  A Google search reveals he was a bit of crusading anti-communist, not unusual for the era. 

One brief thought about our covid-crisis: If only we had listened to the President and opened up earlier, like around Easter. Because the one thing we are learning is that the more you close your eyes really tight and ignore a serious medical issue, the more likely it is to just go away. 

REGJB TRIVIA 
Which former Chief Judge voluntarily resigned from the bench, left town for a bit, returned, was reappointed, and then became Chief Judge Of our circuit? Bonus question- what murder case did he preside over that garnered nationwide attention? 

Monday, June 29, 2020

JUDGE MATTE BELLE DAVIS

Judge Matte Belle Davis was the first woman to preside in the REGJB, but very little is remembered about her by our Starbucks swilling millennial readers. 



We asked former Judge Ted Mastos to write something, and this is what he remembered: 

I believe Mattie Bell Davis was a lawyer, Ruth Sutton was the woman who succeeded her husband who was a Justice of the Peace. When he died she replaced him. When the Florida Constitution did away with the Justice of the Peace system all those who had been Justices of the Peace were grandfathered in as County Court judges. That is how Ruth Sutton became a County Court Judge. She had the best Mango tree in South Florida.

Mattie Bell Davis was a champion for the County Court judiciary. She somehow had the ear of Governor Ruben Askew and worked tirelessly for improved salaries for the judges. County judges were making $32,000 back in the 70's. She was a great lady and an early pioneer for women in the law. Back in that era there were only a few woman lawyers working in the State Attorney's Office. One of them was the mother of David Markus who looked at me as some green kid from Wisconsin who needed a Jewish mother. She was my mentor in those early years.


Because he is a long time and careful Blog Reader, David S Markus* responded: 
Anonymous David S. Markus said...
Ted's mention of my mom brought a smile to my face. She was an ASA in 1973. There were only 3 women in the office at that time-mom, Barbara Schwartz (who became an AUSA for many years) and one other who I cannot recall. Janet Reno was my mother's intern.
I was in high school, but I already wanted to be a prosecutor. I thought it was the coolest job on earth. She taught me how a prosecutor could make a difference in someone's life (both victim and defendant) and how important it was to exercise that power wisely. Mom would bring the files home and I would look through them and we would discuss the cases and argue about them. Mom would talk about the lawyers she interacted with and it was interesting to meet them years later when I became a prosecutor, and to see if my view of them matched hers. She always talked about "Ted" with a big smile on her face.
I also learned how difficult it was for women in the legal profession not so long ago. Mom graduated UM law school in 1955 at the top of her class and was on law review, but could not find a job because she was a woman. She pursued other interests and returned to the law in 1973 to work in the State Attorney's Office. Life had gotten better for women in the law, but they were not treated as equals. Male lawyers would ask her why she was working at all since she had a husband. Judges and lawyers who did not know her personally assumed she was a secretary. She was once held in contempt for wearing pants to court. But mom loved the job, and she passed on that love to me. Mom was so proud that I chose to follow in her footsteps. I have been on the defense side for 39 years, but I still think of myself as a ex-prosecutor more than a defense attorney.
Well said David. Thank you for that. 

Judge Davis was born in 1910 and died in 2004. According to her Wikipedia page, she was admitted to the Bar in 1939, although at the time women could not sit on juries in Florida. She was instrumental in the formation of FAWL- the Florida Association of Women Lawyers which has an award named after her.  which, if they were smart, would name an award after her to be presented to a female member of the bench for outstanding work of some sort or another. She was president of FAWL from 1957-1958. 

Judge Davis was the first woman to sit on the Metropolitan Court of Dade County,  in which old timers like former Judges Lenny Glick and Ted Mastos actually practiced in. Judge Davis started on the bench in 1959. It is not clear how long she served.  

Prior to becoming a Judge, Matte Belle Davis was in practice with her husband Troy Davis. After he died in 1948, she became a single parent to two step-daughters. During her time in private practice she successfully argued two cases before the Florida Supreme Court.  We have researched the issue  and found those two cases: 

Abercrombie v. Eidschun, 66 So. 2d 875, 876 (Fla. 1953):
Petition for writ of certiorari be and the same is hereby granted, and the order dated the 7th day of May, 1953, denying petitioners' motion for a summary final decree be and the same is hereby quashed, with directions to proceed further in accordance within this opinion.

Spark v. Canny, 88 So. 2d 307, 311–12 (Fla. 1956):
We hold, therefore, that where a joint bank account with right of survivorship is established with funds of one person, as here, a gift of the funds remaining in the account at the death of the creator of the joint account is presumed; but such presumption is rebuttable and may be overcome by clear and convincing evidence to  the contrary. 

In 1987 Miami Dade County designated March 3 as Judge Matte Belle Davis day. 

There are a lot of female judges serving in Miami-Dade County. Two new ones were just appointed. They enjoy the shade of Oak Trees, whose acorns were planted by those who came before them. Every now and then, it is appropriate to remember who blazed the path we trod on. 

* Miami is blessed with TWO superstar attorneys named David Markus. David O runs the federal blog and can be found downtown tying federal prosecutors up in knots. He also works on top of a garage across from the courthouse. 
David S, who spent decades sharing space with the great Sy Gaer, can be found in the REGJB, walking clients out the door and leaving state prosecutors in his dust. He currently concentrates on Death Penalty cases. 

While David O has won cases in state court, and David S has kicked some federal butt from time to time, each is known primarily for his sphere of battle- State for S, Feds for O. 
What would have been nice is if, a long time ago, in a court far far away, Judge Stanley Marcus (with a C)  presided over a trial in which co-defendants were represented by Mr. Markus and Mr. Markus.