JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
It is thus with great trepidation and only on rare occasions that we have strayed from our self appointed rounds as guardians and commentators on all things legal as they relate to the REGJB.
This is one of those occasions.
It was probably not DeTocqueville, (to whom we have been flatteringly compared to in the comments section) who observed that Americans can be divided into two camps. Perhaps it was someone more recent who had the flavor of the common man. In any event, we agree that Americans are two distinct peoples, into a particular camp one is easily placed, if the discerning eye knows what to look for.
Sliced tomato or gilled onions? Plain, or with a pickle spear? Ketchup (horrors!) or mustard?
We are speaking of course of whether you take your Hot Dog Chicago Style-dragged through the garden, or not.
The Chicago Style Dog starts with a Vienna beef hot dog, steamed to 170 degrees.
A slice of tomato (that will become important later) a dill pickle spear, some onions, relish, a dash of celery salt and mustard, all on a poppy seed bun, steamed soft and hot.
To those of us who have stood in line at the Bunny Hutch in Lincolnwood, it is a shrine to all that is good, and simple, and American. You can have Coney Island, with the dog and bun grilled, and ketchup-the ultimate insult. But then again, you can have New York lock stock and barrel, with their superior attitude, sour faces and sauerkraut, and burnt buns.
It was therefore with great surprise and delight that a few nights ago on our way to the cinema we happened upon Liberty Hot Dogs, proudly offering The Chicago Style dog.
A wanted sign should be hung up for the proprietors: dirty dog dealers, who are purveyors of fraud, pure and simple. Any decent Chicagoan should kick these miserable curs in their buns wherever they may be found.
Perhaps our first indication that all was not right was when the dog came out of the steamer and on to the grill.
We protested loudly: "Chicago style dogs are not grilled madam!"
only to be met with a disappointing: "Que?"
Next was a bowl of chopped tomatoes splashed on top- a sin. Followed by a sour pickle, another sin, some raw green peppers- a crunchy blasphemy, and perhaps the only three words of Americana this thief in a chef's hat knew: "Ketchup? Mayonnaise? Mustard? "
All was lost.
There outta be a law.
Certain traditions need to be upheld. The line needs to be drawn and manned with those who can both protect - and serve a tomato properly sliced.
Would you serve pastrami at Noche Buena?
Would you serve chopped liver at Thanksgiving?
So we turn to the power of the pen, and in the traditions of our forefathers whose pamphlets in Philadelphia formed the basis for our Constitution, we take to writing our complaints and posting them for all to see.
For shame Liberty Dogs!
May your mayonnaise curdle and may your time serving such swill upon Miami be short.
It's almost worth a case North of the Border just to pay a stop at Reno's where our taste buds can be rejuvenated and our faith in America restored.
Note the sliced tomato and sliced dill pickle.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Rumpole’s super bowl odds.
Colts- 3/2 to make it to the Super Bowl; 3-1 to win. Colts are the top team here until Chargers win a playoff game and show everyone they got game. Tony Dungy is all class and deserves to win one. Peyton is no Marino/Fouts. He will get a SB ring before he’s done.
Ravens. 3-1 to make it; 4-1 to win. Surprising Ravens get the second seat based on an experienced team, a great defense, and a QB who knows how to win.
Chargers and Bears: 3.5 -1 to make it; 5-1 to win. Both these teams have something to prove. Edge to Chargers with the best player in the game, but all it takes is one bad half by either QB to send these teams home in their first playoff game.
Dallas; New Orleans; Seattle: Best of the rest division winners. All have weaknesses that peg them as Playoff losers. 6-1 to make it; 8-1 to win.
Bengals 9-1 to make it; 9-1 to win it. If this team gets hot-watch out. Fundamentally a better team than those directly above them if they can get some pass defense and stop getting arrested.
Jax/Denver: 9-1 to make it; 11-1 to win. Good teams that can and will be beat.
Eagles/Jets, 20-1 to make it; 25-1 to win.
Steelers 50-1 to make it; 65-1 to win. Long odds against them getting in. If they do sneak in, then odds change dramatically, but still not the same team that won it all last year.
Bills. 75-1 to make it; 100- 1 to win.
Like the surging 49ers -3 at home over the Cardinals. One team has a great coach, one team has a lame duck coach.
Like under 47 in the Philly/Dallas game.
Like the over 36 in the Tennessee/ Buffalo game.
Fins are in a –win one/lose one cycle. This is the win cycle, and Fins are -1 at home on MNF. Jets need this one for the playoffs which makes Miami a dangerous pick. Fins would love to be the spoiler for the Jets. Take a deep breath and lay the digit.
Colts -9 at Texans. Dungy not going to rest his boys this year. It’s pedal to the metal until he gets to Miami.
CHECK OUT THE NEW POLLS
Thursday, December 21, 2006
In this day and age of “strict constructionists” and criminal court Judges who were neither prosecutors nor public defenders, Judge Young could see the forest through the trees. Cases before him were not just charges with corresponding guidelines. Cases were in fact people.
Judge Young could always see the good in almost anybody who appeared before him. That is not to say he was not a tough sentencer. He was, where the facts of the case called for it. But he was also the type of Judge who understood, because he was a former prosecutor, that there was more to any particular case then an arrest report and an allegation.
We have oft decried the devaluation of a criminal case. What we mean is that there is a qualitative difference between the burglary charge where a stranger breaks into a house, and an estranged husband who gets arrested when he returns home to pick up some items and gets into another fight. However the Husband may well plead to CTS to get out of jail rather than fight the charges. If either of those two people were to get re-arrested, Judge Young was the type of Judge who you could get to look beyond the priors, and into the facts of the case, to really see who your client was.
This is a trait sadly missing in many of our current Judges.
The “its not my job” philosophy has taken hold. Judges know that hundreds if not thousands of people plead guilty every year to charges that are not supported by the facts of the case, just to get out of jail. There isn’t a judge in the REGJB who doesn’t know that. Yet, many of them will turn a blind eye to that fact when it comes time to evaluate a defendant, for either bond, or an appropriate sentence.
What we are trying to say is that Judge Young understood the practicalities of the system; the good and the bad. He was not afraid to make the tough call either way. And in the end, whether you liked his decision or didn’t agree with it, you would have to agree that Judge Young did what he believed was the right thing to do, not the easy thing to do.
It's not an accident that Judge Young has sat in the courtroom where Judge Cowart's portrait hangs: two Judges who were known for their interest and concern in all who appeared before them.We wish Judge Young well. We just wish he wasn’t leaving. The citizens of Dade County are a little less better off the day he resigns.
See You In Court.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Sun Tzu wrote, inter alia,
When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.
Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.
Attack by Stratagem
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting. Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:
By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army. By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldier's minds. By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.
A whole army may be robbed of its spirit; a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind.
When in difficult country, do not encamp. In country where high roads intersect, join hands with your allies. Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions. In hemmed-in situations, you must resort to stratagem. In desperate position, you must fight. There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must be not attacked, towns which must be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.
There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state, his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy's forces. He overawes his opponents, and their allies are prevented from joining against him.
Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all and sundry, nor does he foster the power of other states. He carries out his own secret designs, keeping his antagonists in awe. Thus he is able to capture their cities and overthrow their kingdoms.
Maybe the powers that be in DC should be reading more Sun Tzu and less Jim Baker.
PS. Has any ASA done more in the last two months to protect this community than Laura Adams? With two victories in high profile serial rapist cases (which we are sure took years of investigation and work to obtain) she deserves our thanks.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
On some level, those of us who devote our careers to work in the REGJB are some kind of extended family. This is a nice way of showing you care and remembering a wonderful person.
As you know, Ana Delgado, Judge David Miller’s J.A. passed away last month after an incredible 6 year battle with cancer. She was 44 years old and left behind 3 beautiful girls. We are taking donations to help the family get back on their feet. Her husband, Jose has just returned to work after 6 months of helping care for Ana, and I don’t need to tell you that the bills keep coming in. We are trying to help them as best we can. We were like family. Over the past 20 years Ana has worked in the SAO, P.D. office also for several Criminal Defense Lawyers, the AOC, and many County and Circuit Court Judges. Any donation will be greatly appreciated. I would like to get this email and photo to the Criminal Defense Lawyers that knew and worked with Ana. She was a very special person.
All checks should be made out to Jose Delgado and they can be dropped off in my office, (AOC) room 7100 of the Justice Building. I can be reached at (305) 548-5634.
Remember, the family needs help now and nothing is too small.
Jeff Herris (AOC)
Rumpole says: Please help if you can.
but never in doubt.
Long and careful readers of the blog know that is one of our mottos. Thus it came as no surprise when we arrived at work yesterday morning after court to read that our plea on pleas was dismissed with prejudice by the Honorable Kevin Emas.
(The entire post is in yesterday's comments section. We have edited it for space only.)
Judge Kevin Emas said...
Rumpole: Before you get your DNA in a twist (no pun intended), you ought to know that the lengthening colloquy echoing throughout the halls of the REGJB was not some mysterious conspiratorial plot by trial court judges; it was mandated by a recently-enacted law and a corresponding change to Rule 3.710. ..
The statute, effective July 1, 2006, provides in pertinent part:925.12. DNA testing; defendants entering pleas(2) For defendants seeking to enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a felony on or after July 1, 2006, the court shall inquire of the defendant and of counsel for the defendant and the state as to physical evidence containing DNA known to exist that could exonerate the defendant prior to accepting a plea of guilty or nolo contendere...
As a result of this newly-enacted law, the Supreme Court adopted an emergency amendment to Rule 3.710: In re Amendments to Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.170, 938 So.2d 978 (Fla. 2006):"The Florida Legislature recently enacted chapter 2006-292, Laws of Florida (the Act), which among other things requires courts to inquire into the existence of physical evidence containing DNA that could exonerate a defendant prior to accepting a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a felony. The Act applies to pleas entered after July 1, 2006. ..
So you see, Rumpole, there is no reason (at least from this example) to be "suspicious of our robed readers." No vast conspiracy here, just constitutional officers doing their constitutional duty. While people can certainly disagree on the reason for this legislative enactment, and whether it will, as a practical matter, accomplish its intended goal, no one can reasonably dispute the fact that the trial court judges are duty-bound to include this language in their plea colloquy.
And frequent blog contributor Abe Laeser, who apparently is never beyond kicking a poor blogger when he is down, piled on with this missive last night:
abe laeser said...
Rumpole, nice win on the Colts - but only a 'push' at 50.I actually recall trying a case against Weed. Of course, that was when Hubbart was the PD; and the Earth had not yet fully cooled. Better trial lawyer than his new duties would ever suggest.Surprised you were so off base on the 3.172 plea issue. Perhaps you need a proof reader who spends more time in the books than in the bars. However, for whatever meaning it may have, I trust a person who can handle their alcohol. It is one of the few traits that can exist in every class, race, religion, or gender + tells one something about thier breeding.
Rumpole responds: OK. We give up. Far be it from us to engage in a discourse on laws we don't read and never intend to. However, it is nice to know that even during this holiday season, there are constitutional officers ready to discharge their duty and set us straight.
Our Favourite Herald Scribe, Oh Sussanna Nesmith, hits a home run today with a front page feature on Sy Gaer.
And finally, Rumpole sends his femme fatale football challenger back to the kitchen with his pick of the Colts over the Bengals last night. A lot is going on for a slow holiday season.
See you in court, NOT reading the rules of criminal procedure.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Rumpole aims to be the Lysol spray.
The objectionable portion of the colloquy is where the Judge asks the defendant if he/she is aware of any physical evidence that should have been DNA tested; whether the defendant is aware of any additional exculpatory evidence and whether the Defendant believes his/her attorney should have done more to have evidence tested.
Now why are they asking that?
We view it as the thin edge of a larger wedge designed to shatter the Great Writ. We are speaking of the Writ of habeus corpus incorporated in Florida’s Criminal Procedure rule 3.850.
Lets face it: Judges and prosecutors hate those Rule 3.850 motions. Yet, as even the most cynical among them would admit, 3.850/post conviction relief litigation has resulted in the exoneration of over a hundred individuals on death row nationwide, and hundreds if not thousands of Florida inmates convicted of various crimes over the years.
Do Judges really believe that by asking the Defendant to essentially waive any additional testing of evidence that if a real question of innocence was raised at a later stage that it would be fair and proper to use the plea colloquy to prohibit the testing of the evidence?
If the answer is “No” then can we assume that the motives behind these questions are as pure and innocent as the driven Florida snow?
Is a Judge who just denied the motion for continuance which precipitated the plea to begin with now going to stop everything and reset the case for a few months because a defendant says during the plea that- since you're asking- he really would like an independent lab to retest the wine glass?
Which is it?
Because if the plea colloquy is not a setup for use against the defendant at a later date, why stop with asking about DNA testing? Why not inquire about whether the defendant is satisifed with the questions asked at deposition, and whether the attorney has shared with the client the cross examination questions taken from the depo question and answers; is the defendant satisified with the the voire dire questions the attorney has prepared, the opening and closing statements the attorneys was ready to give, and has the defendant reviewed the possible JOA motion?
We recognize the court’s legitimate obligation to inquire whether a plea is knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. Should the colloquy go into a complete discussion of defense strategy, and attorney competence as well?
Why is it that we are so suspicious of our robed readers?
See You In Court reading our Sun Tzu, who wrote: Beware Judges who smile and bear gifts (or words to that effect).
Sunday, December 17, 2006
WE PICK THE TOUGHS ONES
That’s why we say take INDY at home -3, no problem over the Bengals. Over 50 is a bit of a problem. We are leaning under, but stay away.
Take the Giants at home -6 over the Eagles; take the under 44 as well.
Love the over 35 in the Fins/Bills game; while you’re at it take the dog/ Fins + 1.5.
Kinda like the defending/fading champs- Take the road Steelers +3 over the disappointing Carolina Panthers.
Toots: Email me your work address and voila, a Starbucks card will arrive.
Anybody really trying cases the next two weeks?
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I don't know the lawyer who is runing the blog, but -get this- he has used his real name!!
My understanding is that he is expected to be out on bond by Monday.
Courageous? Or in need of a psych eval?
Say what you want about ol'Rumpole, but our years of mingling with the criminal element has done nothing if not teach us the ins and outs of avoding a consipracy rap.
" Never tell anyone. Never trust anyone. Never reach for the check. "
That's our motto.
Best of luck to the Broward Blogger.
And if necessary we will establish a defense fund for you.
PS. Folk- tis the season to be jolly. Stop posting mean things about each other in the comments section or Santa will make you the last person on a 100 page sounding calendar before Judge Adrien or Areces.
Friday, December 15, 2006
The editorial in question appeared on Friday December 8, 2006.
Herald (just click on the link and then type in "Brummer" in the search box to get to the editorial.)
The editorial praised two decisions of the Third District: the first requiring DCF to remove 30 mentally ill defendants from DCJ; and the second requiring judges to hold a detention hearing within 24 hours of the arrest of a juvenile.
To the extent the Dade PD’s office litigated those cases, we say WELL DONE. But we have always praised the work of the assistant PD’s. We have not always been so kind to the head PD.
The third part of the editorial praised Governor Bush’s decision to release 15.7 million dollars to pay conflict lawyers.
None of the topics in the editorial praised Mr. Brummer. His personal work in any of those decisions, if he did any, was not mentioned. Sorry Mr. S, but we don’t see anything here requiring excessive praise of Mr. B. He hires good lawyers who do good work. We wouldn’t expect anything less.
OUT OF THE POOL
We were sauntering down the second floor the other day when we espied Judge Schlessinger’s pre-trial order. To summarize, Judge Schlessinger has hopped out of the sounding date pool, and returned to those thrilling days of yesteryear when cases set for trial did not appear in court until the trial date. The Judge has left it to the sound discretion of lawyers to decide if they are ready, and to file a motion to continue if they are not.
If we recall, it was Judge Farina, as a lowly circuit court Judge (not as Chief Kahuna) who introduced the sounding calendar when he was sitting in criminal court. The virus spread until every Judge in every division had a version of soundings. Now Judge Schlessinger goes old school, and has tubed the sounding calendar.
Clearly this may well be a case of:
“be careful what you ask for, because you may get it.”
One can reasonably expect that continuances on the day of trial will be handed out as frequently as a Judge picking up the bar tab. Certainly the pressure is on the prosecution to prepare more cases for trial on Monday.
However, the real problem as we see it, is the potential for some twenty odd Judges (no offense intended with that particular phrase) having twenty different rules about soundings, trials, and continuances. Inevitably, some poor confused defense attorney will file a “Tunis Motion” for a “Schlessinger case", and drop the ball.
We have bandied around the idea of some sort of “master calendar” many times before . Perhaps its time to think about implementing such a system?
From the standpoint of a Judge ( a view we rarely care to advance) a sounding calendar must eat up some very valuable court time that could otherwise be spent trying cases, or making dinner reservations.
What if some retired Judge like Judge Salmon had daily sounding calendars for ten or so divisions?
Lets say Monday afternoons it was for an upcoming Judge Scola trial week; Tuesday mornings it was for Judge Shuminer; Tuesday Afternoons for Judge Perez. You get the idea. The calendar would be staffed by prosecutor and a PD. If an attorney wanted to move for a continuance, or file a motion, or bring a matter to the court’s attention, they would show up at that time. The files would be in court, and the Judge could resolve the issue. Otherwise it’s “see you at trial.”
The “master calendar” solves the problem of soundings eating up court time for the judge, and yet gives the prosecution a heads up as to what cases are really headed for trial. Why, the Judge at sounding could even plea cases out if the defense attorney brought their client to court. What a novel idea!
Lets try and address the naysayers now. 1) Lack of courtrooms: Oh please. We see a dozen empty courtrooms every afternoon. 2) Lack of staff. Use the electronic recording system for these hearings, and we are sure a few clerks can use a little overtime now and then.
So we say “everybody out of the pool!.”
Deep-six the sounding calendars and think outside the box and lets come up with a new way of doing things.
Just how hard can it be to get some twenty odd judges to agree to something?
Ahh….on second thought maybe we’ll solve the Palestinian/Israeli problems first.
It should be easier.
See you in court. And on some days, see you at soundings. Just not before Judge Schlessinger.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
OK -Rumpole. Why is the 8:44 post still up? Bet it would be down if the comment was directed at a race or national/ethnic group (such as the dominant nationality in Miami-Dade). This blog need not be clean or pleasant, but you should remove the really nasty stuff.
As shocking as this may seem, we do not sit and stare at the comments section 24 hours a day. There are times a truly mean or dumb post stays up a while until we see it. The offending post last night was about Jewish people.
Stop looking for some hidden agenda. We do not have one.
We support anyone's right to write the most the vile crap imaginable.
Just not on our blog.
Our desire is to have a fun, witty, informative discussion about our work world.
Most readers agree and participate. When Roy Black and Abe Laeser go at it, this is a great place to spend ten minutes.
When the mentally damaged among us choose to write about a Judge's sexual orientation, an attorney's physical appearance, or the private life of one of our colleagues, we will remove it as soon as we see it.
The alternative is moderation. We've been down that road before, and most people do not like it.
Rest assured, I will remove almost any offending post, usually as soon as I sober up, like I did this morning.
See You In Court.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
SAD BREAKING NEWS. ELLIS RUBIN HAS PASSED AWAY
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 6:16:55 PM
Rest in peace Ellis Rubin...
Mr. Rubin was a throwback to the days when the solitary defense attorney rode into town to defend the person no one else would defend.
Did Mr. Rubin like a case in the news? Sure. But don't let his cases in the press mask the underlying talent of an excellent trial lawyer. He should not be remembered for that one case everyone mentions (TV intoxication). He should be remembered for being a fighter, an innovator, a man who cared about his clients, and man who went to jail for his beliefs.
We proudly admit we bought and read his book "Get Me Ellis Rubin". One comment always stuck with us, and only a real trial lawyer would be able to write about it. Mr. Rubin wrote that he always enjoyed trying cases against a prosecutor who had a reputation for never losing. Because when he managed to cause them enough problems in trial, he knew they were in unfamiliar territory and he had the advantage. Only a lawyer who tries a lot of cases knows that feeling.From the outside looking in, we think his was a life well lived.
We celebrate his memory.
Nicloe Richie was arrested for DUI last night. Is B. Reiff on his way.
It is amazing what happens in the dark alleys of the city
The Dade County State Attorneys Office has a new procedure to schedule depositions at their office. In our continuing request to be of public service, we gladly assist in explaining the new procedures:
Here is an outline of their memo:
SO YOU WANT TO SCHEDULE A DEPO, HUH?
1) Please sign the enclosed waiver in which you consent to the prosecution seeking the statutory maximum in this and every other case you have or will ever handle.
2) You must reserve a room. Please feel free to use the State’s efficient staff by calling our office:
“Hello State attorneys Office”
[ten minutes elapse]
“If you’d like to make a call please hang up and dial the number.”
“Hello state attorneys office please hold.” (Click).
“If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and check the number and dial again.”
“Hello state attorneys office how can I help you?”
“I’d like to schedule a deposition room.”
“Sure I can help you. What division is the case in?”
“Please hold….. Judge Diaz’s division How can I help you?”
“Umm… I was holding to set a deposition in Judge Murphy’s division.”
“Well you called Judge Diaz’s division.”
“No I was transferred.”
“OK. Please hold.”
“If you’d like to make a call please hang up and check the number. If the number is 305-547-0100, you have better chance of winning the lottery than getting through to a person who can help you.”
3. In the unlikely event you are actually able to reach the correct person and schedule the deposition, please be advised that:
i) it is against our policy for any witness to show for the first three times the deposition is set;
ii) (If that is not enough to get you to give up) all officers and detectives will not bring any reports to the deposition;
iii) Most addresses for civilian witnesses that we provide are not correct. We will not be able to locate any civilian witness until the day of trial.
4.) You can elect to take the pages per month plea offer- the length of the deposition will determine the plea offer. Otherwise the deposition room will be set for 5 minutes per witness. Our motto is that if you can’t figure out your case in the first five minutes you’re screwed anyway, so why bother?
Rumpole cannot tell you how happy we are that the State is getting serious and scheduling deposition rooms.
In all seriousness the memo does state that the length of time for each room is dependent upon the number of witnesses scheduled. That leads us to this question:
Isn’t there a difference between the lead detective on a three defendant murder case, and a police office who just put up crime scene tape?
Shouldn’t the defense have some say in how long the deposition is for?
See You In Court.
Rumpole eats some crow:
Within the last week we actually had this conversation with a JA for a Judge in Broward:
Us: “We’d like to get a court date for a motion for continuance.”
JA: “No need. Just send a motion, waive speedy trial, and state in the motion if the state agrees. The Judge has no problem doing this without making attorneys come to court.”
US: “Is this Judge “x” in BROWARD county?”
Hmm. Handling continuances by motion with no court appearance? They may be on to something up there.
A few pieces of mail we need to answer:
RumpoleWhy not even a mwention of Friday's Herald Editorial Praising Bennent Brummeer & the Dade PDs? If Bennet is responsible for all the bad things in the office, AS THE Gabites Say, Isn't He Responsible for ALL THE GOOD THINGS , ALSO.
Mr. S: Well said, and a fair point. Our defense: We did not read the Herald on Friday. However, we intend to pull the editorial and comment on it by tomorrow.
I am starting to think Rumpole is batting for the other team. Not that it matters.
Rumpole responds: Why do you think that? Are you asking us out on a date?
rumpole: interesting that you don't delete homophobic posts or denigrating the homeless but say something true about a judge and as o.j. would say "Lookout".
Rumpole responds: We did remove the post. Not when it went up last night, but this morning. We plead guilty to crashing a christmas party for the free food and liquor last night, and not checking the blog until this morning. Our responsibility to the blog weighs heavy upon us. But we shall not let it interfere with our number one priority: freeloading.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Perhaps this serves as a good a warning as any to our new Judges, and some of the older Judges. We have never seen such egregious conduct in Dade County, although from time to time we have seen Judges refuse to set aside BW’s for people who were clearly confused by the sounding/trial dates.
TALLAHASSEE - (AP) --
A judge who jailed 11 people because they were late for traffic court after being directed to the wrong courtroom lost his job Thursday. The Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled he was unfit to remain on the bench.
The justices said the jailing and strip searching of the 11 misdirected motorists capped a series of complaints of intemperate conduct against Seminole County Judge John Sloop, 57, of Sanford.
''Judge Sloop's indifference to the anxiety, humiliation and hardship imposed upon these 11 citizens reflects a callous disregard for others that is among the most egregious examples we have seen of judicial authority and lack of proper judicial temperament,'' the high court wrote in an unsigned opinion.
The justices also offered an apology on behalf of the judicial system to the citizens of Florida, Seminole County and the 11 jailed defendants. They came to court on traffic citations ranging from driving with a suspended license to having an illegal tag.
As part of the same investigation, Sloop had been accused of ignoring court rules by refusing to release one defendant on a minor charge and acting more like a prosecutor than a judge through rude and abusive treatment of another.
Sloop admitted he violated judicial canons in all three cases. At a Judicial Qualifications Commission hearing, Sloop blamed his behavior on undiagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and said he had since received treatment for his condition.
Sloop expressed no bitterness over the decision, saying he joined the justices in hoping his removal will help restore public confidence in the judicial system.
''I spent my life helping people understand they are responsible for their actions,'' Sloop said.
``I am responsible for the grievous things that I did.''
Sloop said to believe otherwise would be hypocritical.
Rumpole says: Good riddance
PS: Our favourite federal blogger, David O Markus with a K has some real good stuff on his blog lately. From the Supreme Court's dwindling docket, to coverage on the Padilla torture allegations, and a link to a poignant Miami Herald article we missed on Miami Attorney Ellis Rubin's farewell to friends and colleagues as he remains hospitalized with advanced cancer.
Click on the link to the left and check it out.
President of the Miami chapter of the FACDL; running his blog and a busy practice. Hardly leaves any time for drinking and gambling. Not for us.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The Broncos go the San Diego where the Chargers are laying 7.5. Give the points, take the cannoli.
Bills go to Jersey to play the Jets. Take the over 37. The Jets look like the pick to lay the 3.5 but something keeps telling me to stay away from this line. So take the over but watch the line.
Giants at Carolina on many books is off the board. If you can get it, I like the Giants with their backs against the wall getting 4, and under 40.
2 quick flyers- Take Tennessee -4 at Houston, and the 49ers -5 at home against the Pack.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Whatever happened to:
Our friend and colleague Owen Chin?
Bailiff “Buckle” Bill?
Mechanic and Goldstein?
See you in court, reminiscing.
Here are some additions:
What ever happened to Peter Baraban and Steve Mechanic?
What ever happened to Ed Frank?
What ever happened to Edwin Saar?
How about Alex Curry? The Weinbaums?
MORE FROM THE COMMENTS SECTION:
Surprised none of you have asked "whatever happened to Judy Alves"? She was the driving force behind the end of the old fashioned Public Defender dinners. No more sexist jokes and skits and songs, etc.Bar says she is practicing in Fort Myers
josh gradinger?chris scleppi?josh weintraub (hasnt it been 30 days since he left - time to come back)
What ever happened to Frank Joyce?Tom Darby?Rick Katz?Ric Margolis?
Gene Ciprano is well and practicing on the West Coast of Florida. He still drives in for Dolphins games.
abe laeser said...
Frank Joyce: Never went to law school, probably an evangelist.
Darby: Went to Talahassee, some desk job for an agency (non-stress).
Koch: Retired or was retired, depending on who you believe. Heard that he is actually selling carpets.
Rick Katz: Represented me this morning on a traffic ticket + won. Paid him with his usual fee, dinner tonight. He has a limited practice, due to family business matters that are time consuming. One hell of a fighter if you really need someone to battle for any cause.
(Rumpole wonders why Mr. Laeser is getting so many traffic citations?)
Jason Grey said...
I call on Judge Glick to speak on the past. He has been here the longest and can tell us much about that which has passed.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
NY Supreme Court, Queens, Special Term, Part 49. Food-Court. June, 2010.
Clerk: "The People vs. Donald Haynes."
ADA: "Your honor, the Defendant was seen at a known TF den with a French Fry in his hand. The under cover officer infiltrated the kitchen, clearly identified himself as a member of the Food Police. He ordered everyone to drop the fries, and step away from the ketchup.
The Defendant was seen running out the backdoor and dropping French fries from his hand by members of the support team that had set up a perimeter outside the fry den."
Legal Aid Lawyer: "Judge, this is another of those fry-dropsy cases. How many people would drop a French fry in this day and age in front of a uniformed member of the food police? Clearly, the foodies raided the home, where my client was an invited guest, and without probable cause to believe their was a high-fat content dangerous food item (HFCDFI) conducted a stop and frisk. Also, may I remind the court about the recent sugar decision by Chief Justice Roberts, where he court affirmed that the government’s interest in food was limited by…"
Judge: " Counselor. I do not need to be reminded about the sugar case. I have heard the same argument twenty times a day for the last week since the case was decided. [To the Prosecutor] What are the People looking for here?"
ADA: "Judge, the defendant is clearly twenty pounds overweight. His HDL is below 100 while his LDL is a shocking 180. His total cholesterol level is 268, 3 points below habitual fat offender status. Also he may have an alias and might be on probation for eating at McDonalds with a suspended license. I recommend he remain in custody on an all fruit diet for the next twenty days during which the People will check his identity and his cholesterol will be lowered 10 points. "
Defendant: "I ain’t taking no more Lipitor, it gives me the runs. "
Judge: "Mr. Hayes, you might want to remain silent and let your attorney speak for you. She has a cholesterol level of 145 and her LDL is below 40, so you’re in very good hands."
Defendant: "She look too skinny for me, plus she tried to make me eat an apple before court."
Judge: "Keep it up Mr. Haynes and I’m going to start considering some brown rice sanctions. [To the Prosecutor] Priors?"
ADA: "Possession of a Pizza with whole cheese in 2009 and again in February of this year. A few fried fish charges which were mostly dropped, and uhho….a dealing in Velveeta for which he did some time."
Defendant: "They never caught that cheese on me man, it was with some dude I met."
ADA: " And he just happened to have some crackers with trans-fat on him at the time. Your honor, the People see this as an escalating pattern of eating and stand by their request."
Judge: "Ok everyone, enough. Mr. Haynes, If I let you out, will you promise to be here in twenty days?"
Defendant: " Yes your honor."
Judge: " And will you get that cholesterol down ten points by then?"
Defendant: "Yes Judge."
Judge: "He just might be a candidate for Judge Rosen’s French Fry Court. He has never been caught with fries before, and we might be able to nip this thing in the bud. But Mr Haynes, if I give you this chance, you better apply yourself. Judge Rosen will have you tested every day, plus therapy, and fruit salad twice a day. This is your last chance, so don’t blow it on some golden arches fry den, you hear me?"
Defendant: " Yes your honor. "
Judge: "Transfer to Fry Court. Next case."
Clerk: "People versus Sanchez, trafficking in Dairy Products, possession with intent to sell chicken McNuggetts, and running a fried food lab. "
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
A Bonita Springs attorney was recently charged with Contempt of Court after she failed to show up for her client's trial. Diane Gonzalez agreed to enter a PTI program and the Judge required her to take a professionalism course, write a letter of apology to the court, make a $250 donation to charity and do 40 hours of community service.
On October 10th, Gonzalez should have been in court for the trial of her client. Her client had been charged with driving while his license was suspended, he was an HTO. Instead, the attorney was in South America on vacation. She had spoken to her client and thought that he had agreed to a plea agreement. So she had someone "cover" the trial for her. On the day of trial, the plea agreement fell through and the "coverage" attorney told the judge that they knew nothing about the case and that they were not prepared to take the case to trial. The Judge was outraged and stated that it would be considered malpractice for an attorney to try and rely on another lawyer to represent a client at trial.
If Gonzalez fulfills the terms of PTI, all charges will be dismissed against her. As a footnote to this story, Dade lawyers should note that the defendant eventually pled guilty to the charge and was sentenced to serve four months in jail followed by one year of probation.
CAPTAIN OUT .....................
Monday, December 04, 2006
It feeds on the corpus of a profession that was once populated by individual lawyers who defended those who were scorned by society. The rugged individualist who appeared to defend the accused was once a common sight in our profession. However, like the mom and pop hardware store, individual criminal defense lawyers are being driven out of business by the Home Depot equivalent of defense firms.
We are talking about the practice of COVERAGE.
COVERAGE means this: Take your average ticket defense law firm. With cases is almost every courthouse in Dade and Broward there is no way any single lawyer can appear everywhere at once. Nor is it economically possible for the Ticket Law Firm to employ the army of lawyers necessary to cover all their cases. So a system of coverage arose, where independent contractor-lawyers staked out their own territory like a pitbull guarding a bone. The Law Firm then gave the coverage lawyer the tickets for the week, and they were charged a small per/ticket fee.
There is nothing wrong with this system for tickets.
However, the system has spread to the point where we are told that it is now common for there to be several “coverage lawyers” for most misdemeanor calendars.
The principle is the same.
The Misdemeanor Law Firm floods the market with advertising and direct mailing to people who were arrested. The clients are charged a nominal fee for their case.
The Firm soon gets dozens of clients for every Monday trial calendar. Rather than defending the case in the normal manner, the Firm hires lawyers who will cover the misdemeanor cases for a per/case fee.
This system does a disservice to the client because the coverage lawyer does not have a file, does not have discovery, has not filed motions, and is generally unprepared to do anything other than seek a dismissal if the witnesses do not show, or enter a plea of guilty if the prosecution is ready for trial.
COSTCO COMES TO CRIMINAL LAW.
Nothing good can come of this. It demeans the practice of law, and it does not provide good low cost legal services to individuals who cannot otherwise afford it.
There is a marked difference between a prepared attorney and a warm body in a suit standing next to a client. For the most part, the coverage law firms and coverage attorneys only provide the latter.
The question is why are judges, mostly County Court Judges, allowing attorneys who have not filed a notice of appearance to appear in a case?
Now of course it is one thing to have a friend cover a case when a lawyer is ill or in trial. It is however, quite another matter to have a lawyer who is running a firm, and signing the pleadings to NEVER appear in court, and send lawyers that are not members of the firm and are not familiar with the cases.
Certain Bar Rules may apply here, including:
RULE 4-1.1 COMPETENCE: A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
We know that several lawyers make their living from coverage.
We are not out to get them or cost them a job.
There should be some sort of resolution here.
Perhaps the Bar should set some guidelines, including the requirement that all clients sign a retainer agreement that clearly specifies that the attorney they are hiring will not be the attorney who appears in court.
But as it now stands, lawyers who engage in mass mailing, and offer cheap legal services and hire coverage lawyers, are turning the practice of criminal law into COTSCO. Our profession is demeaned by this, and the clients are not getting decent legal services.
See You In Court, ducking curses from coverage attorneys.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Because the SAO does not believe their attorneys (outside of Division Chiefs and Major Crimes) are mature and responsible enough to manage internet access at work, which is strangely similar to communist China and North Korea believing their citizens are not able to have unrestricted access to the web, we have waited to post this memo until the weekend, when the minions can peruse the pages of this blog.
MEMO TO THE COUNTY COURT PROSECUTORS
FROM: YOUR PAL RUMPOLE
Put down your SAO manual (pages 2-220: “I’ll have to ask my supervisor…I cannot do that without my supervisor’s approval….hey judge-only a supervisor can do that….bathroom break? I’ll check with a supervisor”) and read the following, because you young lawyers are really starting to get on our nerves.
Are we upset that you have been trained to be intransigent blocks of “no…no…no way..and no” ? No.
Is your limited ability to see the big picture getting on our nerves? Nope- we were once young and full of …umm…bright ideas to change the world.
What is really bothering us is the way you walk to court.
Every morning you troupe out of your confines on 14th street in little cabals of 3 or 4 and, pulling your boxes full of disorderly conducts, selling flowers without a license and possession of undersize Snook (“Put your hands in the air and step away from the Snook”) you traipse through some easement appurtenant, cross the street, and walk through the attorneys' parking lot on your way to floors 1,2,4,5, or 6.
Now we realize that the collection of Porches, Benzes, gleaming Corvettes, or tricked out Escalades may make your eyes glaze over as you struggle by on your once a month miniscule salary, but for those of us trying to get to Judge Murphy’s 8:30 soundings or Judge Pinero’s 8:00 am (!!) calendar,
YOU ARE IN OUR WAY.
THAT CAR BEHIND YOU WITH THE ANGRY ATTORNEY GLARING AT YOU AND MUTTERING THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH SENSE TO GET OUT OF THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD IS BEING DRIVEN BY US, OR ONE OF OUR COHORTS.
Hyped up on Starbucks, the adrenaline of your first court appearances (“the state is providing discovery”) flowing through your as yet unclogged arteries (just wait) you don’t seem to notice that there is a line of cars crawling behind you because your crew is spread out three or four across blocking the entire lane of traffic in the parking lot.
Granted some of the more lascivious members of the defense bar may be enjoying the view and plotting ways to lure you into conspiring combing and confederating in flagrante delicto, but for those of us married or just too old to care anymore, please strut your aerobically toned bodies somewhere else.
We just want to park our rusted heap and schlump into court.
Now, back to your SAO manuals: ("I’ll have to check with a supervisor before I can get out of the middle of the road your honor, its our policy.")
See You In Court, and hopefully safely off to the side of the road in the parking lot.
PS. Sometimes we do sneak a peek.
Sunday is Funday.
The Chargers travel to Buffalo as LD meets WM (willis mcghee). Take the under 43 as the bad weather holds down scoring.
The cowboys venture into Jersey to play the Gints. Still don’t think those boys are fer real. Take the Giants, give three, and have some xtra xmas money by Sunday night.
Jax at Fins-: Fins -1 and under 38.
Jets at Green Bay under 42 all the way.
Seattle at Denver under 43 as the Jay Cutler era arrives in Mile High, via an extended running game.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Rumpole: You worked so hard on the Brandeis post??? How do you explain the fact that much, if not all, of your post appeared in a New York Times article several weeks earlier??
Plea of not guilty, demand discovery, 15 days for motions.
Typical hot head suspicious prosecutor.
1) Look at the top of this blog. See where it says: "Search this blog"? Type in "Brandeis" and see when our post about Brandeis first appeared.
Now Mr. Ashcroft, who posted first about the good Jutstice?
2) We readily admit to reading the NY Times. The Times reported on Brandeis' birthday, and we credited the Times in our post:
The New York Times recently remembered that as a young lawyer, Brandeis co-wrote an article for the Harvard Law Review, The Right to Privacy, that Roscoe Pound, dean of the law school, would later say did nothing less than add a chapter to our law.
The Defense rests.
See You In Court.
Ps: If we weren't so jet lagged and beat from flying home this week, we would have had something better to post than this cheap shot from some unimaginative knucklehead who has nothing better to do than cast unwarranted aspersions.
Of course, we are in the business of defending against those who cast such aspersions, so in retrospect, thank goodness for knuckleheads like our fair, suspicious, reader.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Brandeis was the first Jewish Justice to serve on the court. But his real contribution to law came from his devotion to the interjecting the facts of a case into the legal analysis. In 1908 Brandeis as a lawyer won an astounding victory during the Supreme Court’s Pro-Business era, when worker’s rights were routinely struck down by the Court.
Brandeis was defending an Oregon law that limited women’s workdays to 10 hours. It seemed likely the court would rule, as it just had in a similar case, that maximum-hours laws violated employers’ “right of free contract.” In his brief, Brandeis devoted two pages to legal analysis. Over 100 pages were devoted to citing statistical and sociological data, to defend the law by showing the real life harm that long workdays did to women. The court upheld Oregon’s law, 9 to 0.
We remember the Brown vs. Board of Ed., for the Court’s reliance on the sociological impact of separate but equal. But Brandeis was one of, if not the first lawyer to bring such an argument before the court 50 years before Brown was argued.
President Woodrow Wilson nominated Brandeis to the Supreme Court in 1916. Brandeis promptly shook up the court with his practical legal analysis- basing decisions on their actual impact on people. The Brandeis court overturned the court’s 75 year hostility to minimum wage laws, with Brandeis leading the way.
The Olmstead opinion didn’t just happen.
Brandeis was fated to be the Justice that brought privacy to American Jurisprudence. The New York Times recently remembered that as a young lawyer, Brandeis co-wrote an article for the Harvard Law Review, “The Right to Privacy,” that Roscoe Pound, dean of the law school, would later say “did nothing less than add a chapter to our law.”
We now revisit our post on Olmstead. Search this blog for Olmstead for the full post. If you read nothing else, scroll down to the final quote in bold and see if his words are not even more applicable today than the day he wrote them.
In OLMSTEAD v. UNITED STATES, 277 U.S. 438 (1928) the US Supreme Court first dealt with the issue of the Fourth Amendment and wiretapping.
Justice Holmes first dissented and called wiretapping a “dirty business”. Holmes framed the issue as a problem between allowing the government to break the law to catch criminals. Once framed, Holmes decision was easy.
But Justice Brandeis had bigger game in mind.
Brandeis was writing for the ages, and his topic was liberty and the defense of the individual.
Brandeis wrote that when the 4th Amendment was adopted, “force and violence” were the only means used by the government that the amendment was designed to protect against. But Brandeis recognized that over the course of time, threats to liberty change and evolve:
“Subtler and more far-reaching means of invading privacy have become available to the Government. Discovery and invention have made it possible for the Government, by means far more effective than stretching upon the rack, to obtain disclosure in court of what is whispered in the closet.” Id. 474. .. Moreover, in the application of a constitution, our contemplation cannot be only of what has been but of what maybe. The progress of science in furnishing the Government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wire-tapping. Ways may some day be developed by which the Government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court,and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home. Advances in the psychic and related sciences may bring means of exploring unexpressed beliefs, thoughts and emotions. 'That places the liberty of everyman in the hands of every petty officer" was said by James Otisof much lesser intrusions than these.'While we are sure President Geo. Bush was not the “petty officer” referred to, the prescience of this opinion is amazing. With the framework properly laid, now Brandeis turned to his great theme: protection of liberty for as long as this republic stands: "The protection guaranteed by the Amendments is much broader in scope. The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment. And the use, as evidence in a criminal proceeding, of facts ascertained by such intrusion must be deemed a violation of the Fifth.Id. 479.
Brandeis then set to warn future generations of the real threat to liberty. These are the words that need to be read and re-read today:
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion oftheir liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal,well-meaning but without understanding.
Brandeis concluded with his famous peroration that is as much or more applicable today then it was in 1928:
"Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct tha tare commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.
Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.
To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face.
Wow. It doesn't get any better than that.
How does the Government's actions against the people rotting at Guantanamo Bay fit within that reasoning?
Of course, as we have previously quoted our learned and wise president, regarding the Constitution: “it don’t apply if you ain’t read it.”
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Anonymous said... (in part)
HERE IS YOUR CHANCE AT TRUE GREATNESS FOR RUMPOLE AND HIS BLOG. The State of Florida has many priorities above and beyond abiding by the 6th Amendment to the U.S.Constitution. Why don't you step up to the plate and have all your blogger friends come up with all the waste in the state and county government which the State feels supersedes the representation of the poor and payment of the people in the system. I believe the Justice system in Florida, 1/3 of the three branches of government accounts for less than 5% of the State Budget. ...
Expose the fact that we are grossly underpaid and now the poor will suffer with experienced attorneys no longer willing to work for peanuts and having to wait months AFTER THE CASE IS FINISHED to be PAID. ..
Judges get 12000 a month, KFR and BB the same. Do a murder case for the state, get death threats, stress, criticism etc. and don't get paid and have to live off savings and credit. .. THE BUDGET FOR THE COURT SYSTEM SHOULD BE TRIPLED and spending 75 million a year on a bullet train study is an example of why SAPDS, COURT REPORTERS ETC. are told to f themselves. ..
By the way, aren't we the attorneys who keep chaos from happening- there aren't many super rich clients with super rich attorneys and that is usually federal court.
WE ARE THE SYSTEM. PERHAPS WE SHOULD STRIKE?
Rumpole responds: Now before you pull the signs and paint out of the garage, just settle down a minute.
To quote one of our favourite movies, “This is the business we have chosen.”
What we mean is that by practicing criminal law, we have traded a certain amount of financial security that large civil firms offer, for the enjoyment and satisfaction of practicing the type of law that we enjoy.
No one owes you a living. Nor is it your business what a Judge or another attorney earns. That is their private business.
However, you touch on certain valid points.
Entry level prosecutors are under paid. If we want a safer community, prosecutors should be paid a living wage. We remember one former ASA who wrote that at the end of the month he had to call in sick because it was a choice between feeding his child, or paying for gas. That is wrong.
If the government wants to warehouse humans convicted of crimes for decades if not life, then the government owes all of us the ability to insure that those people accused of crimes are being provided the best damn defense possible. We agree that as citizens we are entitled to the best damn prosecutors and well trained police officers. But for the system to work, the playing field must be level.
We have got to stop putting innocent people in jail.
I know certain distinguished prosecutors with the initials AL may disagree with us on the percentages. But we again postulate that if you extrapolate the number of INNOCENT people sentenced to death to the hundreds of thousands of inmates convicted of non-death penalty crimes, (where the level of post conviction scrutiny is not as high) there must be thousands, perhaps 10,000 innocent people in our prison system today. (Nationwide, not just Florida.)
No decent government can condone that sort of treatment of its citizens.
The system is broke, monetarily and systemically.
Here are some possible solutions.
1) This “conflict” business of the PDs has to stop. You mean to tell us that a top PD trial lawyer cannot represent a defendant because one of their PDs in county court represented a witness on a DUI? That dog won’t hunt.
2) If you did away with the court appointed attorney system, many criminal practitioners would have to move to a different area of the law. That is not a bad thing. That is economics at work. As many have pointed out, the court appointed system was designed as a way for successful practitioners to give something back, not as a primary way for attorneys to earn a living. (If you have ever wondered about our need for anonymity wait to you read the posts from our colleagues in response to this. )
4) If you set up a separate “conflict section” of the PDs office, you have your solution.
This is what the case law calls a “Chinese Wall” : when prosecutors in one part of their office are prosecuting a defendant who is a witness for the prosecution in another case. The PDs could do the same thing. Duh.
Give the PDs another $1,000,000.00 a year. Hire four or five attorneys plus support staff, and you are up and running with a new "conflict unit." Ok-make it two million and hire ten attorneys. Any way you slice it, it's cheaper than what we're spending now.
6) OR- because we don’t like death threats, you can just raise taxes and give private criminal defense attorneys another 50 million a year to divvy up.
Here is the real problem. When children are going hungry; when our kids are being shot at in the streets and are attending schools that have weapon screening at the doors; when the poor have no health care other than the Jackson ER room; when teachers can’t afford to buy a nice home; when the City of Miami and Metro Dade CANCELS our recycling service (boy are we peeved about that); do we really think that criminal defense is the number one priority?
Teachers, police officers, social workers, hospitals, libraries, schools, all play as important a part in our society and well being as we do; probably more.
And each one of those professions or institutions is in need of money.
Since we think the chance of adequate funding is about the same as Judge (insert name of your favourite judge here) being named to the 3rd DCA, then we as criminal defense attorneys have to accept that the system is broke and will not be fixed by throwing money at it.
There has to be another way. We can lead the way on this. We can make the system better. Stronger. More efficient. (Is anyone else having a flash back to the opening scenes of the 6 million dollar man TV show?)
See You In Court, not taking appointments.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Lay the 4 and take the Jets and under 40 as Houston visits the up n down Jets. (Get it? Jets go up and down?)
Chicago gets 3 while visiting the Patriots. Readers of these picks know our disdain for the Bears. They haven’t done nuttin yet. They don’t do nuttin Sunday. Pats roll.
Carolina giving the Redskins 4 on the road. Skins having a worse year than the republicans. Go Cats. They cover.
Bengals giving Browns 1 at the mistake on the lake. Browns mistake was fielding team this season. Cleveland cures what ails the Bengals. Go Cats. They cover.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The odds makers are making it tough today. All three games have an over/under of 39.5.
Going to keep riding our home town Fins. Give the three on the road with a short week, because our heroes are hitting their stride, while the Lions are just hitting the bottle. Matt Millen is the worst GM in the league.
Denver is getting 3 on the road at KC. Give the three, take the over 39.5, enjoy your turkey.
Tampa Bay is getting 9.5 visiting the Cowboys, who are riding high after nipping the unbeaten Colts. Take the under 39.5. I don’t have a strong opinion on the line, but two thoughts: Dallas is overrated, and Dallas is do for a let down. I see this as a 10-3, or 17-10 snoozer.
Also, take Rumpole and Not Guilty. It’s a lock.
NORTH OF THE BORDER
A rising young Broward assistant public defender lost his job last week after he was accused of smashing a colleague in the head with a beer bottle during a quarrel over a woman. Edward "Eddie" Lopez, hit Faisal Afzal during a party at Tarpon Bend for a Broward prosecutor moving into private practice.
Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said he was stunned to learn of the incident. Lopez had been with the office since April 2005. He had recently been promoted to major crimes attorney. Finkelstein said he does not interfere in his employees' private lives, but Lopez's behavior had crossed the line. "As an employer, I have an obligation to guarantee that all of my employees can work in a safe and secure environment," Finkelstein said. "It would have been unreasonable for me, in light of what happened, to ask Faisal to feel that he was safe and secure...I have no room for violence either in the work place or in my personal life."
And REALLY NORTH OF THE BORDER
For those of you that enjoyed the Bennett Brummer vs. Gabriel Martin election and soap opera that followed, this fiasco in Jacksonville really takes the cake. It appears that longtime State Attorney Harry Shorstein is about to draw opposition from an ASA in his own office. Here is what happened last week:
Days after marking a quarter-century of service in the State Attorney's Office prosecuting criminals, Assistant State Attorney Angela Corey got a memorable anniversary gift from boss Harry Shorstein on Tuesday. He fired her. Corey said she worked her last day Wednesday, after the state attorney met with her the day before and gave her an ultimatum.
Shorstein told her she could write a few letters of apology and keep her job until year's end, or not write the letters and face an immediate firing, Corey said. The 52-year-old lawyer has been blunt about her intentions to challenge Shorstein for his job in the 2008 election, but said she couldn't speculate if that figured into his decision to fire her.
Shorstein's statement said there were "long-term issues" related to Corey's supervisory performance and "irreconcilable differences" between Corey and himself on issues concerning how the State Attorney's Office should be run.
In her years as a prosecutor, Corey said she brought 54 homicide cases to trial, a number of them high-profile. About a year ago, however, Shorstein transferred her from her job as director of the gun crime unit to director of the county court where she was tasked with training new lawyers to prosecute misdemeanor cases. Now she is out of a job.
AND LOCALLY, there will be many new faces donning judicial robes come January 1, 2007. Here is some of what is happening:
Victoria Brennan can be found at County Civil, 4th floor; Cristina Miranda has joined us at the REGJB, 5th floor, and Douglas Chumbley is over at Juvy.
Juvenile will lose at least two jurists as Beatrice ‘Betty’ Butchko and Ellen Sue Venzer will be packing their FLW’s and heading over to REGJB. We will be saying sianara to Gill Freeman as she has been tapped by our Chief Judge Farina to head the new “Commercial Division” handling complex business disputes.
In Civil, two former criminal judges have been handling the duties of back-up judges. They are responsible for taking any jury trial that lasts more than one week. Judge Kevin Emas continues to get rave reviews as one of those two judges; Victoria Platzer is the other.
We say goodbye to Ivan Hernandez, Shirylon McWhorter, Martin Shapiro, Bonnie Rippingille, and Michael Samuels and we say hello to Robin Faber, Patricia Marino, Victoria del Pino, Gloria Gonzalez-Meyer, Don Cohn, Valerie Manno Schurr, Antonio Marin and Marisa Mendez.
AND FINALLY, to all my loyal readers, here’s wishing you a big fat turkey dinner on Thursday …. Happy Thanksgiving …..
CAPTAIN OUT …………………
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The so-called Piltdown Man was fragments of a skull and jaw bone collected in the early years of the twentieth century from a gravel pit at Piltdown, a village near Uckfield, in the English county of Sussex. The fragments were claimed by experts of the day to be the fossilised remains of a hitherto unknown form of early human. The significance of the specimen remained the subject of controversy until it was exposed on November 21, 1953 as a forgery, consisting of the lower jaw bone of an ape combined with the skull of a fully developed, modern man.
Fast-forward 53 years and we are faced with our own Piltdown Man scandal as the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office has decided to attempt to pull one over on all of us. Only today’s version of Piltdown Man is the falsification and forgery of official court records and documents all for the greater good.
In the words of Jose Arrojo, a top assistant to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, said judges' altering public records in informant cases at prosecutors' request has been ''an established practice in this circuit'' for two decades.
Florida law makes it a crime for anyone -- including judges, clerks or ''other public officers'' -- to alter or falsify court records or proceedings. Offenders can be sent to prison for a year.
F.S. 839.13 Falsifying records
… if any judge, justice, mayor, alderman, clerk, sheriff, coroner, or other public officer, … or any person whatsoever, shall …, alter, corruptly withdraw, falsify or avoid any record, …, or any paper filed in any judicial proceeding in any court of this state, or shall knowingly and willfully take off, discharge or conceal any issue, … or shall forge, deface, or falsify any document or instrument recorded, or filed in any court, …; or if any person shall cause or procure any of the offenses aforesaid to be committed, or be in anywise concerned therein, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree …
Court Clerk Harvey Ruvin said he learned from Arrojo only this week that court records were being altered. ''He called and assured me it was totally proper,'' Ruvin said. Arrojo, chief assistant state attorney for special prosecutions, said his office believes state laws that exempt some sensitive records from public disclosure also allow judges to authorize what was done with the docket … ''This is an established practice in this circuit for many, many years and we are comfortable that the rules of judicial administration allows for this,'' he said … If you expect your government to engage in proactive investigations while protecting the lives of cooperating witnesses . . . certain materials are going to have to be kept from public view.''
Our readers have their own opinions:
This whole thing in the herald is a non-story. Funny they beat up on SAO for not doing enough re corruption and then when SAO does some creative things to further investigations, they squawk. Funny, I didnt hear them squawking too loud when these same tactics were used to catch Judge Shenberg who was willing to give up the name of an informant for 20 grand.
creative things to help investigations? this is the SAO falsifying ct. records so that their informants can't be impeached with their priors. thats clearly unconstitutional and shows a complete disdain and disregard for the right of a defendant to fully and fairly cross examine all witnesses against him. and the fact that sitting judges are willing to go along with it should be disturbing to anyone with the slightest idea how the criminal justice system is supposed to work in our country. its a story. if you think it isn't you've been too jaded by working in the system.
.that's BS. Secret files/false dockets weren't created to allow witnesses to avoid impeachment. They were created to keep witnesses alive and investigations going. When people enter sealed pleas or a judge seals a file, the Clerk's Office notes that in the public docked. This, of course, vitiates the purpose of the sealed plea and, in fact, creates added risk since anyone with half a brain knows files generally are sealed for only one reason (yeah, I know some first timers who are not convicted get their cases sealed/expunged, but we all know that's rare as hell).
And two strong opinions on Jose Arrojo, one from a distinguished jurist:
Jose Arrojo should be ashamed of himself. Hey Jose! One day when you can no longer ride Kathy's coattails, the things you had to say about this illegal -- that's right -- the law applies to you too -- practice will rise up and bite you in your ass
Judge Roberto M. Pineiro said...
It is truly unfair to anonymously castigate Jose Arrojo and denigrate his trial skills simply because you disagree with his position on sealed cases. Mr. Arrojo tried a public corruption case in my division a few years ago and was very effective. He was also very honorable and is the type of person who will stand up for his people especially if he has authority over them.
... By the way, also on this day in history, November 21, in 1980, the famous ‘Dallas” episode, “Who Shot JR?” aired and received a whopping 53.3 rating. Maybe that’s what we should all be talking about instead ……
CAPTAIN OUT .................