JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG
Thursday, August 31, 2006
My religion can be found in asking just the right question,
at just the right time,
Illuminating the truth which the witness did not want to be found.
Rumpole of Miami.
(It was either that, or an essay on the virtues of that third glass of wine).
TODAY. TONIGHT. (Tomorrow for the heartiest of the bunch).
BE THERE OR BE SQUARE.
As we start our Labour Day festivities, Rumpole wishes a very hearty
WELCOME to the new group of Prosecutors and Public Defenders.
It seems just yesterday that we were a fresh faced eager young lawyer, with two suits to our name, ready to change the world. In those twenty some odd years, we have met our best friends, changed some lives for the better, saved some people from themselves, and generally used our talents to the best of our ability. The REGJB is not a bad place to spend five or ten years doing some good.
To the New ASA’s, we can offer nothing more important then the words that Janet Reno used to tell all her new prosecutors: the very highest calling of a prosecutor is to protect the innocent.
To the New PD’s, you will quickly learn the feeling of being the only person in the world, not to mention the courtroom, who does not hate your client. There is a huge difference in believing your client and effectively defending your client. A good lawyer rarely does the former, but always does the latter.
Good luck to both groups, and welcome.
Who is Rumpole? We’re the one’s grumbling to ourselves in the courtroom about the new lawyers.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Monday August 28, 2006. Dade County Office of the Chief Judge (CJ).
Chief Judge (CJ)
National Weather Service.
Various Judges, as themselves.
Asst (on the phone): “But he just had a talk with him. Again? No bathroom breaks? OK. I’ll tell him.” (Hangs up phone). “Chief, a clerk just called from criminal court, seems another court reporter was not allowed to use the bathroom before the end of the arraignment calendar.
CJ: “Well how long could that take?”
Asst: “They say it was past 3:00 pm. Should I get Judge …..”
CJ: (cutting off assistant) “Not now. Call him later. He should be done with calendar by 7pm. I got other problems.”
CJ: (Looking at computer and talking to himself): “Yesterday the National Weather service had the hurricane going to New Orleans. Last Night it was Tampa, and Today its Miami. What do I do? What…do…..I do….hmmm"
(begins to pace back and forth slowly, hands clasped behind his back).
To close the courts,
That is the question!
Asst: “You said it chief!”
CJ: “shhsh. I’m on a roll."
(starts pacing again)
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Not to mention sarcastic comments from lawyers
And that stupid blog.
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.
(A Judge pokes their head into the office of the Chief Judge)
Judge: “Hey are we closing this week? My Canasta club just canceled their game tomorrow night.”
Asst. “Shhssh. The chief is thinking.”
The insolence of office….
Why did I take this job?
To grunt and sweat under a weary life
Of banging gavels during discovery’s strife,
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of wind speeds and rain
Gives me now a great big pain.
OK. Courts are closed!
Asst. "But Chief, what about “Neither rain nor sleet, nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their rounds” ?
CJ: “Hey. That was pretty good.”
Asst. “Yeah. I used to work right across from the main post office in Manhattan. Saw that every day.”
CJ. (getting serious again). “We are not the postal service! We are not a group of government bureaucrats who show up to work everyday and wear some goofy uniform just to collect a paycheck.”
Judge: ”We’re not? That’s what I do every day.”
CJ: "No. Courts will remain open. I’ll show them tough and pluck."
Asst: (on phone to chief of clerks) "Wait, No cancel that. We’re staying open."
CJ: (turning on the television to channel 7)
Reporter: BULLETIN. THIS IS OUR 3:23 EMERGENCY UPDATE. HURRICANE ERNESTO HAS BEEN RE-NAMED TO KILLER TROPICAL STORM ERNESTO!!!
ITS GOING TO RAIN IN MIAMI. PLUS WIND. IF YOU HAVE NOT PREPARED FOR THIS KILLER TROPICAL STORM BY NOW. GIVE UP. LEAVE YOUR HOME AND RACE, NOT WALK, RACE TO THE NEAREST SHELTER. BY PREPARATIONS, WE MEAN 60 GALLONS OF WATER PER PERSON PER HOUR, PLUS 260 GALLONS OF GASOLINE AND HOOKING UP ONE SMALL NUCLEAR GENERATOR RIGHT INTO THE ELECTRICAL BOX OF YOUR HOME.
WITH ALL THE DETAILS ON THE IMPENDING DEATHS, WE TAKE YOU TO THE MIAMI MEDICAL EXAMINERS OFFICE WHERE THEY ARE OPENING AIR CONDITIONED TRAILERS TO ACCOMMODATE THE EXPECTED INFLUX OF CORPSES…..
CJ: "No. Better close courts for the foreseeable future."
Hindsight is always 20-20. Our wonderful chief Judge closed the courts and saved hundreds of lawyers from getting rained on while walking from their cars to court. The CJ forever earned the love and respect of the lawyers who remained warm and dry.
The Dane, from whom the CJ drew his introspection and indecision, had a much different fate.
See You In Court Thursday.
BLOG PARTY AT TOBACCO ROAD THURSDAY AFTER WORK IS ON.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
WHAT TO DO ON YOUR ERNESTO DAYS OFF? Rumpole has the solution: CLE!!
That pesky Bar requires we keep current on CLE:
(despite a popular myth, CLE does not stand for Come. Leave Early).
Today we have a quick refresher course on DISCOVERY IN FLORIDA:
Q: What is discovery in a criminal case in Florida?
A: Discovery is the bedrock principle that all citizens accused of a crime are entitled to view all of the evidence against them, speak to all of the witnesses before trial, and receive all evidence that tends to show they may be innocent.
Q: How does it really work?
A: At arraignment you ask for discovery. The prosecution responds that they gave to the PD who sneezed at the bond hearing, triggering discovery. The PD in court tells you to call their secretary to arrange to copy it. The secretary will be available on December 29 at 4:15 PM.
Q: But it’s August now.
Q: Can’t the PD’s secretary make you a copy sooner?
A: No, their handwriting is not that good.
Q: No, I mean with a copy machine?
Q: What else can I do?
A: Log on to Amazon.com and purchase several large Russian novels and when they are delivered, go to the clerk’s office to request a copy of the file
Q: Then what?
A: Pick up your copy of the file on December 29.
Q: Let’s say you got a copy of discovery, what do you then do?
A: Nothing. The prosecution will revoke all plea offers, including CTS, seek life in prison plus court costs, sue you and your client in civil court, and order that you be stripped searched at the door of the court room if you actually attempt to use the rights guaranteed to your client and take a deposition before pleading guilty.
Q: That’s outrageous! Shouldn’t the FACDL do something about that?
A: Yes. As we speak, your Miami FACDL representative is busy scheduling a banquet and selling ads on the menu to court reporters and bondsmen.
Q: Well, thank goodness for them.
Q: Lets say we decide to subpoena witnesses. What do we do?
A: First, decide where you want to take the deposition. At the PD’s office or the SAO.
Q: What’s the difference?
A: Not much. However, an ever expanding list of attorneys are banned at the PD’s office, and will be forced to use the SAO. At the SAO you will be forced to wait in a long line to speak to a highly trained “deposition specialist” at the window on the SAO’s first floor.
Generally, the exchange will go something like this:
Attorney:” I’m here for a deposition”.
Highly Trained Specialist (HTS): “A what?”
Attorney: A deposition. “We sent you a notice. It’s in that book you have.”
HTS: “A what?”
Attorney: “Can you call the prosecutor?”
Attorney: ” I need a deposition room.”
HTS: “A what?”
Attorney: “My court reporter is here.”
You get the idea.
Discovery in summary:
Once you get a copy of the discovery (average time 6 months); decide to take depositions ( Plea offer becomes life at best) ;
get a deposition room (average wait: 2 hours);
you will sit in that room for the length of the time your depositions were set. Once the time expires, and no witnesses have appeared, get up, and leave.
NEXT TIME: RULES TO SHOW CAUSE. Fun with JA’s and getting a case on calendar.
CLE Rules: Carefully read and study the above re-fresher course. Print out the course and write your bar number at the bottom. Hand the form to one of the cashiers at Au Bon Pain (they have great soup lately) and in six or seven years your 2 hours for Discovery Re-fresher course will be applied.
Thanks for reading.
LATE BREAKING ERNESTO UPDATE: Its going to rain. And there will be some wind. Channel 7 (motto: "give us a rain drop, and we'll give you panic") reports, the end is near.
Monday, August 28, 2006
From our magnificent Clerks and Court Administrator’s Office comes this:
Due to Tropical Storm Ernesto, Clerk of Courts will be closed Tuesday, August 29 & Wednesday, August 30!
Look how this storm track changed from yesterday. Like a plea offer from the state after they realize your client is a PERP. There is a joke just waiting to be told here about meterologists and Judges.
Will NOT be seeing you in court until at least Thursday.
BREAKING NEWS: While court may be closed, Judge McWhorter's campaign remains up and running as she prevailed today in the hearing in West Palm Beach (motto:" We're better than you, and we know it.").
Ms. Marino-Pedrazza is going to have to face the citizens of Dade County. In the final analysis, wouldn't she always have a cloud over her if she became a Judge through a lawsuit?
Sunday, August 27, 2006
 7 Bottles of Chateau Miami River
 2 Large bags of pretzels
 1 can of Tuna Fish
 1 Bottle of water.
In case of power loss, we have several emergency bloggers around the country to perform our duties. You see, several legal communities have had their own "Rumpole" befall them lately.
We also recommend obtaining a copy of "The collected decisions of Judge Juan Ramirez" of the 3rd DCA. In case of loss of power you may need something to assist you in falling asleep quickly.
See You In Court Monday with a wary eye on Ernesto.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Judge Martin Shapiro is retiring and Joel Jacobi runs against Vicki Del Pino. Memo to Judge Shapiro: That large sign you have in your courtroom informing pro se litigants that a withhold of an adjudication is not a conviction is wrong. It induces people to accept resolutions by giving them false information. You should take it down.
Rumpole endorses Vicki Del Pino. She has demonstrated her considerable ability by her patience and demeanor as a traffic magistrate. We have much less knowledge about Mr. Jacobi. If, as he told the Herald, that 20% of his practice is indeed pro bono, then we know what that feels like.
This is not an endorsement criticizing Mr. Jacobi's ability to be a Judge, but praising what we know about Ms. Del Pino. We think she is a great choice for voters on September 5.
No one even noticed we were gone, did they?
Update: We really thought we used to see Ms. Del Pino in the REGJB as an ASA but several alert readers told us we were wrong. We still are endorsing her.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Someone wanted to throw a blog party next Thursday night August 31-right before the start of the long weekend.
A few people mentioned Tobacco Road. We have drunk our share of Chateau Miami River at the Road, and our bar tab is such that we are still welcomed.
Come one. Come all-even our dear robed readers.
Maybe, just maybe, Rumpole will buy you a drink.
We're the one in the Rumpole mask.
Ms. Nesmith has already promised an appearance.
Judge Samuels and Gloria Gonzalez-Meyer.
Judge Michael Samuels is challenge by attorney Gloria Gonzalez-Meyer. We must admit that we know so little of the participants that we even forgot to post a poll on this race. Recently we received some emails and missives to the effect that when Judge Samuels ran against Judge Emas, he used commercials attacking Judge Emas for previously representing Defendants when he was in private practice. If that allegation is true, and we have no idea that it is, Samuels did not deserve to win that election and does not deserve to be a Judge.
Neither candidate saw fit to email us anything about themselves, and we just don’t feel comfortable making an endorsement about two candidates we honestly know nothing about.
Judge Rippingille and Don Cohen.
We have a more difficult decision in this race, because we know Don Cohn, and believe he would make an excellent county court judge. He has the personality and temperament to be a Judge in a court that brings the Judiciary in close contact with the general public. When we watch a County Court Judge snap at an un-represented defendant and refuse to listen to their question and help them, we can’t help but wonder why they ever wanted to be a Judge. We have no difficulty in believing that if elected, Mr. Cohn will exhibit the kindness and patience that he is well known for in the REGJB.
Unfortunately, we have no experience with Judge Rippingille. We have asked around and gotten mixed reviews. We greatly value the opinion of attorney Ed Carhart, who saw fit to write to the blog in defense of Judge Rippingille. We also have heard many people echo the recommendation in the Herald, which cited to Judge Rippingille’s devotion to families and children in trouble. Some attorneys have a completely different and markedly negative view of Judge Rippingille. While we think the criticism we have heard is valid, because we just don’t know enough about Judge Rippingille, we hesitate to endorse Don Cohn, although we have no trouble admitting we probably will be voting for him.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
JUDGE PANDO AND SARI ADDICOTT. NO ENDORSEMENT.
Judge Pando is challenged by attorney Sari Addicott. Ms. Addicott is not known to us, but that is not a qualification or disqualification for our endorsement. Ms. Addicott was strongly endorsed by the Herald, which cited Justice Lewis’s concurring opinion that because of Pando’s conduct in not disclosing a $25,000.00 loan to her campaign, she should be removed from the bench. The Herald also noted that Ms.Addicott has practiced law for 26 years and has the experience and qualifications to be a Judge.
We did not follow the story surrounding Judge Pando’s loan, but in reviewing the public documents, we agree her conduct merits strong consideration for her opponent.
We did have the occasion to see and appear before Judge Pando when she was in the REGJB. We found her to be a good judge, although we had strong negative opinions about her inability to appear in court on time.
We strongly objected to the possibility that Judge Pando was asked to leave the Justice Building because of complaints from the State Attorneys Office. We cannot imagine any more chilling effect on an independent Judiciary than the ability of some pretentious prosecutor pontificating about a Judge’s ruling being able to get the Judge re-assigned. Therefore, for those reasons alone, our sympathies lie with Judge Pando. Indeed we may even vote for her. But there is considerable strong negative language in the opinion from the Florida Supreme Court about Judge Pando’s conduct during the previous election. Combined with her inability to promptly arrive for court on a regular basis, we feel we are prevented from endorsing her.
MARISA TINKLER MENDEZ, CATHERINE PARKS, MARIO GARICA, Jr.,
Three attorneys vie for an open circuit court seat.
Catherine Parks saw fit to write to us about her qualifications:
I am a candidate for Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge in Group 80. I have over 20 years' experience in the practice of Law, having graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1983. My areas of expertise are primarily in medical malpractice defense, general insurance defense, product liability, mass tort liability, and administrative law. However, I have some experience in other areas as well. I have a great deal of trial experience and some appellate experience.Prior to attending law school, I was a Registered Nurse (RN). I received a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I first worked at Duke University Medical Center in the trauma unit and, later, as an instructor of nursing at Jackson Memorial Hospital. I am also a certified guardian ad litem. I ran unsuccessfully for circuit court judge in 2004, having lost in a run-off to the Honorable William Thomas. I received numerous endorsements in that campaign, including those from The Miami Herald, the NorthEast Dade Coalition, the African-American Grassroots Committee, the League of Women Voters, the Women's Political Caucus, the Florida Nurses Association, and many many more. The Herald stated in its October 6, 2004 endorsement as follows: "Her experience in caring for people has given her insights and perspectives that have helped to shape her judicial temperament and keen sense of justice." I have given many lectures and seminars over the years and am the author of a number of articles, including "The Medical Malpractice Reform Act of 1985" (The Florida Bar Journal, Jul/Aug, 1985), "The Neurological Injury Compensation Plan (The Advocate, 1987) and more recently, "Alzheimer's Disease--Risks and Rewards" (The Journal of Long-Term Care, Nov 2004). I am very involved in my community and serve on the Florida Local Advocacy Council, a group whose mission is to provide guidance and assistance to the less fortunate. I am also active with the American Association of University Women and other organizations. I am on the board of directors of Hammock Oaks homeowners assocation.I am currently divorced, and I have 2 wonderful children, Michelle (15 y.o. student at Ransom Everglades) and Dan (19 y.o. student at Yale). Given my qualifications and background, I feel that I am imminently qualified to serve my community as a circuit court judge. I would very much appreciate your support and your vote.
Ms. Parks appears to be an excellent choice for the voters.
The next candidate in this race is Mario Garica, Jr., who as the Herald noted, has been a member of the bar since 1999.
The final candidate is Marisa Tinkler Mendez. Ms. Mendez, a former employee in Mr. Roy Black’s law firm, is a well known practitioner of criminal law defense. While she is our personal choice here, and would hit the ground running as a Judge, we are equally impressed with Ms. Park’s qualifications. We cannot in good conscience endorse either of these fine candidates over the other, but we do think both of them merit endorsement over Mr. Garcia.
THE SCREAM- explained?
On August 22, 2004 The Scream by Edvard Munch was stolen at gunpoint.
We've often had this thought about the painting:
"My case just got re-assigned to Judge_______????!!!!"
See You In Court.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Mr. Markus's blog has all the inside scoop on the legal reasons and ramifications of the decision. The post on the blog has all the case law and statutory authority that we deem thoroughly unnecessary to consider in our practice. However, it' s nice to see a Judge, albeit a member of the Federal College of Cardinals, make a courageous ruling.
The decision is sure to be reviewed under the “if the government wants to do it, it must be legal doctrine” espoused by the Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Has anything happened during the election that influenced you to change your mind about a particular candidate? For us the answer is that while we initially supported Judge Ivan Hernandez, his conduct in responding to the Dade County Bar regarding a possible election violation was sufficient for us to believe that his qualified challenger was the one we would vote for.
Put down that spoon of Phish Food and type a comment.
Anyone who has worked in the REGJB for the last 20 years knows Tony Marin. He is an experienced and respected defense attorney and we are confident that if elected he will hit the ground running.
We were somewhat surprised to read that Ms. Davidson told the Herald words to the effect that her candidacy was something of a lark. This is an important position. A Circuit Judge can and does decided life and death. We don’t know much about Ms. Davidson but we think that if she was not really going to try, why qualify for the seat and possibly scare away a more qualified candidate? You want to play around? Go become a traffic magistrate.
In any event, Tony Marin is the solid pick for this seat. He is qualified and experienced and really wants to be a Judge.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES TONY MARIN FOR ELECTION.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Judge Sheldon “Shelly” Schwartz is well known to any and all practitioners of criminal law in Miami. A successful and well respected attorney for decades in Miami, Shelly Schwartz was elected to the County Court Bench where he has exhibited “Manny Crespo” like enthusiasm for his job. That is a compliment in the highest terms, as we all fondly remember that Judge Crespo was never happier then when he was in court working.
We have seen the same Joie de Vivre in Judge Schwartz.
Judge Schwartz frequently arrives early for court to handle routine motions so that by the time the attorneys arrive the work is done. Judge Schwartz has had his detractors and one infamously bad day when there was a long wait in court. But who among us hasn’t had a bad day? And Judge Schwartz stepped up to the plate on this blog and discussed the incident and handled it like the professional that he is.
His opponent, Migna Sanchez Llorens is a “Wellesley Woman” and for those who follow such things, its an important accomplishment. She has worked as a public defender for in the State and Federal system, which means that she has a wealth of criminal law experience. We worry that this is again an instance of someone choosing an opponent because they are vulnerable rather than because they merit replacement. However, unlike other races, Ms. Llorens does have the experience to be a County Court Judge, and in the final analysis, who are we to say why someone is running?
We do view races where an incumbent is being challenged with the question of whether the Judge deserves to be replaced? In this case the answer is clear: Judge Shelly Schwartz has done a fine job and should not be replaced.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE SHELDON SCHWARTZ FOR RE-ELECTION.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE KAREN MILLS FRANCIS
Challenger Steve Millan was already roasted by the Herald for running a mean spirited campaign and he showed his inexperience if not ignorance in not being able to answer why Judge Mills Francis should be replaced. We choose to concentrate on Judge Mills Francis in this endorsement.
Only in Miami could you walk into a courtroom and witness a tall African American Female Judge, sometimes with brightly coloured hair, engaging in a raucous and intellectual conversation with attorneys arguing a case. There is no doubt that the courtroom belongs to Judge Mills-Francis. We have watched Judge Mills Francis on several occasions and what we always see is a no nonsense judge who can quickly and easily get right to the heart of the matter. Yet, behind what sometimes appears to be a loud blustery demeanor, is a caring and concerned individual. She knows what’s it like to be a defense attorney. She gives great care and concern to any person walking into her courtroom as a victim in a case. And she handles unrepresented defendants as well as any Judge we have ever seen. Judge Mills Francis doesn’t just deserve to be re-elected. She is a true REGJB original and a real treasure. It would be a terrible loss to both the bench, bar and the community if she is defeated at the polls.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE KAREN MILLS FRANCIS FOR REELECTION.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
QUICK RECAP OF THE WINNERS AND LOSERS
Biggest winner: Judge Steve Leifman with a whopping 73% finding him EXCEPTIONALLY QUALIFIED.
Biggest Loser: Judge Leifman’s opponent, Juan F. Gonzalez with a whopping 70% finding of UNQUALIFIED.
Judge Dennis Murphy follows right behind Judge Leifman with 63% finding him EXCEPTIONALLY QUALIFIED
While his challenger Josie Perez-Velis limps in with 64% finding her UNQUALIFIED.
Cecilia Armenteros-Chavez had a 61% finding of UNQUALIFIED
And Judge Ivan Hernandez is licking his wounds tonight with 59% finding him UNQUALIFIED.
Patricia Marino-Pedraza had a finding of 50% UNQUALIFIED
While Jorge Alvarez ( 57%) Rima Bardwell (57%) and Marie Davidson (56%) (all percentages reflecting the UNQUALIFIED vote ), also did poorly.
What does this all mean? Who knows?
See the entire results here:
We have been one of the biggest defenders of Judge Hernandez. A Vietnam war veteran, and a Judge who did a fine job handling a DUI calendar when he was in the REGJB. But then Hernandez had a JA start to run crazy and threaten other Judges unless they hired him to assist in their campaign.
Judge Hernandez did nothing to stop the conduct of his JA, which even if legal, was not proper conduct for an employee of a Judge. Most shockingly, Judge Hernandez remained silent in the face of serious accusations by other Judges that his Judicial Assistant made anti-semitic remarks. At the very least, Judge Hernandez should have suspended his JA and requested the SAO investigate the matter. If his JA was innocent, the matter would have been put to rest.
Once the campaign was underway, Hernandez had a run in with the election laws, and responded to the Dade Bar investigation in what the Bar said was a cavalier manner. Hernandez blamed an improper campaign ad on his treasurer and neglected to tell the bar his treasurer was his wife!
At some point in time, Judge Hernandez has burned away all the good will and respect he earned. And in our opinion he has no one to blame but himself. He could have been strong and wise enough to tell his JA to stop threatening Judge Leifman, who was Judge Hernandez’s supervisor. Judge Hernandez could have dealt squarely and directly with the Bar inquiry, but according to the Dade Bar, he did not. There comes a point in time when a person begins to wonder “what in world was he thinking?” when examining the actions of Judge Hernandez. We have reached that point.
Robin Faber is a 20 year member of the Public Defenders Office. You don’t work 20 years in that office without gaining the experience and perspective necessary for being a Judge, especially a County Court Judge. Mr. Faber has had a distinguished career as a PD as evidenced by being the recipient of the John Falikes Professionalism Award, which recognizes lawyers for integrity, demeanor and ethical behavior.
While Mr. Faber would be a fine choice in most circumstances, he is THE choice in this circumstance where we believe his opponent had acted in a manner that merits his removal from the bench.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES ROBIN FABER FOR JUDGE.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
While we rarely comment on where we are or where we will be, we feel on safe ground (actually not ground as you will sea) saying this about the next week or so:
Much to our shock and horror, "she who must" has surprised us with a booking on the high seas. Tis true we are a bit of a yachtsman, in the bay or intercoastal, where we can dock along side the necessary fueling station when the alcohol content in our blood falls to dangerously low levels.
But to be crammed on some modern day barge with the hoi polloi from Iowa or such other hinterlands; to be forced to interact with crowds of the large, pale, and unwashed, seeking to eat every 5 minutes, is not our idea of holiday.
Fear not however, as we have employed the services of an enterprising young person, who will monitor the blog and post comments as quick as ever. Plus, we have a store of posts ready to go, and have been assured by those in power on the high seas that we will have internet access.
See You On the Lido deck.
Candidate Gina Mendez emailed us in response to our request for candidates to email us anything they want us to consider:
I am sole practitioner with extensive trial experience on both sides of the courtroom. As a former prosecutor, I have over 75 jury trials in Circuit Court. Currently, I specialize in criminal defense and family litigation. As a defense attorney, I have had 13 jury trials and numerous bench, family trials, all in Circuit Court. I have chosen to practice law in two areas that provide me with daily, in-court experience. I have been an advocate for the victims of crime and I have been an advocate for the accused, always seeking to protect the rights afforded to each. I have been an advocate for husbands, wives, and children in family disputes, always seeking to protect the rights afforded to each. Because of these experiences, I know that there are two sides to every story. As a sole practitioner, I know the hardships of running an office and being in trial. I know firsthand the need for a judge who understands that. I know what it is to spend a morning watching a judge who cannot effectively run a calendar. I won’t be that type of judge. I will apply the law fairly, respectfully, and courteously, with the goal being the administration of justice. I will be prepared, knowledgeable about the issues, and fair. The lawyers and litigants who come before me will know that they were heard and respected. I have a strong work ethic and will be a judge you can respect.
Ms. Mendez’s short statement is clear, concise, and puts her in the category of experienced attorneys who will do a good job if they win.
Early on we decried that Judge Schwartz had opposition. We intimated that it appeared to us that Jewish males were being targeted by Hispanic females. But in response to our post, there were dozens of comments about Judge Schwartz’s courtroom demeanor. We wrote at the time something to the effect that Judge Schwartz was a former prosecutor with the values of a Greenpeace activist. What we meant by that is when you know Judge Schwartz, you learn that he practices in his personal life the values he preaches.
Does Judge Schwartz have a demeanor problem? Well, the answer lies in the question. Since so many lawyers who have appeared before him have raised the issue, the answer is undeniably yes.
Is that sufficient for him to be replaced?
From our point of view, what Judge Schwartz does when he rules on the bench is explain in blunt and no holds barred detail why he is ruling the way he is.
Maybe he would just be better off saying “denied” with a fake smile and moving on. (He can travel North of the Border and sit in any courtroom and see what we mean.) But because we believe he cares about what he does, he takes the time to explain why he is doing what he is doing. And many times the "why" is not very pretty. But we believe Judge Schwartz has the experience and ability to stay in his job.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE LARRY SCHWARTZ FOR REELECTION.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE MURPHY FOR REELECTION.
Attorney Josie Perez Velis challenges Judge Dennis Murphy. Why?
Once again, the sad answer is because she can win.
Judge Murphy has made quite an impression in six years. We practitioners of criminal law are a close knit group. We talk and compare notes incessantly on Judges. In six years we have personally not heard one person say one negative thing about Judge Murphy.
Both the prosecutors in his division AND the public defenders got together to jointly host a fundraiser. What does that tell you?
Judge Murphy hit the ground running as a Judge and has never looked back. What he lacked in the beginning in intricate knowledge of the criminal justice system he more than made up for with his knowledge and understanding of the practice of law.
When you appear before Judge Murphy, you get the feeling that he understands where you are, because he has been there. Maybe not necessarily defending a criminal client, but as a lawyer, handling a case. When you try a case before him, he stays out of your way. You do your job, stay within the rules, and you do not have to look over your shoulder worrying that the Judge will interfere.
Judge Murphy is fair, hard working, has a good sense of humor on the bench, and is widely respected. There just is no good reason for Ms. Velis to have challenged him.
How good could Ms. Velis feel about herself if she wins?
Will she really think the bench will be better off with the loss of Judge Murphy?
Does she truly believe the community will be better served by the loss of Judge Murphy?
Ms. Velis should have thought about those questions before running.
We have overheard people close to Ms. Velis say that this is not about Judge Murphy, but about her desire to be a Judge. Those people are wrong. Ms. Velis was wrong to run in this race.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE MURPHY FOR REELECTION.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
NOTE THAT THE QUESTION IS NOT WHO WILL WIN,
BUT WHO SHOULD WIN.
BECAUSE THIS IS DADE COUNTY, FEEL FREE TO VOTE EARLY AND OFTEN.
WE TOOK DOWN THE "WHO SHOULD RUN FOR PD POLL"
FINAL RESULTS WITH 743 TOTAL VOTES:
% / total Number of votes:
Stan Blake: 13%; 96
Rod Vereen: 31%: 232: THE WINNER
Norman Gerstein: 3% ; 24
Clinton Pitts: 2%; 16
Abe Laeser: 18%; 134
Larry Hanfield: 2%;17
Jack Denaro: 4%;27
Joel Denaro: 9%; 65
Warren Schwartz: 12%; 90
Alex Ferrer: 6%; 42
THIS PICTURE WAS EMAILED TO USE BY A CAREFUL AND ALERT READER.
THE CANDIDATE IN THIS CAMPAIGN POSTER APPEARS TO BE WEARING A BLACK ROBE ACCORDING TO SEVERAL ALERT READERS WHO HAVE SENT US AN EMAIL.
IS THIS POSTER KOSHER?
Monday, August 14, 2006
Ms. Marino-Pedraza has taken a lot of criticism on the comments section of this blog for adding a hyphenated last name. The criticism is misplaced, as she is not doing anything dozens of other candidates have done. Unlike Mr. Alvarez, Ms. Marino-Pedraza has an answer to the question of why her opponent needs to be replaced: the comments section of this blog have been populated with comments criticizing the courtroom demeanor of Judge McWhorter. That is a legitimate reason to run against a Judge.
We believe that while the criticism has its place, it is not enough to over look the fact that Judge McWhorter is a fine judge who merits retention. Judge McWhorter has a compelling life story. Hailing from a very small “one stop-light town” in Florida, she worked her way from probation officer, to attorney, to prosecutor, to Judge. Along the way, Judge McWhorter worked as legal counsel for the PBA and sought work in a civil firm when the JNC told her that she needed civil experience before they would pass her name to the Governor for consideration . Judge McWhorter joined a civil firm, got the experience needed, and was appointed by Governor Bush three years ago. When Judge McWhorter speaks about her passion to be a Judge we think that her passion is genuine. We also believe the criticism of Judge McWhorter is misplaced. We do not think that those who criticize her are disingenuous. Rather we think that those lawyers may not have spent the time necessary to see that Judge McWhorter is a good judge who works every day at her job to be the very best Judge she can be.
Unlike Messrs. Alvarez and Gonzalez, This is not an endorsement against Ms. Marino-Pedraza. Rather, this is an endorsement in support of the belief that Judger McWhorter deserves another term. We wish them both well.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE SHIRLYON MCWHORTER.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JOE FERNANDEZ FOR JUDGE.
Joe Fernandez is running for County Court Judge. He took the time to write us and we forgive him for using wordperfect. However, his literature states he has tried 45 jury trials and many more before a Judge. Joe is known to most of us as a former prosecutor and defense attorney who concentrated in DUI defense.
We do not know the other attorneys running in this group. They are Cecilia Armenteros-Chavez,
and Michael Aaron Bienstock.
Ms. Armenteros-Chavez got off on the wrong foot for many of us by employing everyone’s favorite ex-JA Juan D”Arce who in furtherance of his apparent campaign of vengeance was able to convince Ms. Armenteros-Chavez to initially file against County Court Chief Administrative Judge Slom. Judge Slom is widely admired and respected and Ms. Armenteros-Chavez’s initial move was quite a blunder. She followed up that blunder by being quoted in the Herald that she needed to speak with her husband before giving out her number. However, we have since learned that Ms. Armenteros-Chavez is married to a law enforcement officer, and thus her concerns about her home phone number are legitimate ones. A quick search of Google did not reveal a website for her campaign, so we’re not able to say much more about her other than she currently resides North of the Border, and we wonder why she is not running up there? However, we do need to emphasize that any attorney who lacks the common sense necessary to avoid association with Mr. D’Arce , starts out with two and a half strikes against them. Ms. Armenteros-Chavez has done nothing to make up for that colossal blunder.
Mr. Bienstock is equally unknown to us. Having worked almost every day in the REGJB for neigh well longer than we like to admit (but less than Sy Gaer) we know most attorneys who have an even passing acquaintance with criminal law in Miami. We have learned that Mr. Bienstock works in the child support division of the SAO. A worthy job. But we cannot otherwise comment on Mr. Bienstock’s experience.
We are (happily) left to endorse Mr. Joe Fernandez. We know that he is well respected in our little corner of the world. We know he has the experience, ability, temperament, and desire to be an excellent Judge. We have no hesitation endorsing JOE FERNANDEZ for County Court.
Every lawyer handles a closing argument differently. Some lawyers methodically take the jury through the case, witness by witness, highlighting the strong pieces of evidence, ignoring the holes in their case.
Other lawyers opt for the dramatic plea.
Mr. Markus doesn’t need our advice. His client has chosen her lawyer wisely.
We just wish them both well today.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE STEVE LEIFMAN
The term vengeance is synonymous with revenge.
The candidacy Of Juan F. Gonzalez is a candidacy vengeance, racism, and hate.
Fired by Judge Leifman after a string of complaints and bizarre behavior, Gonzalez found solace in the arms of Juan D’Arce, who having been rebuffed in his attempt to shake down Judge Leifman for money, was looking for someone, anyone (with a hispanic last name) , to challenge Judge Leifman. He found his warm body in Gonzalez.
The sad fact is that in a sense D’Arce has already won. His search for a candidate was not a search for a qualified jurist; it was not a search for a lawyer who, by virtue of experience and qualifications would add to the county court bench and this community; it was a search for a warm body to make Judge Leifman miserable.
By any stretch of the imagination, Juan F. Gonzalez is not qualified to be a Judge.
He has done nothing of note in an undistinguishable legal career. This would not even be a contest (Think Ali over Quarry) were it not for one lamentable fact; Gonzalez has a name that makes him immediately viable. He could be a cantaloupe named Gonzalez, and he would still mount a viable challenge. His candidacy is a walking, breathing advertisement for merit retention of Judges (which we do not favour, but this is a wakeup call to strongly consider it.)
The sad fact is that those who vote for Gonzalez without knowing him, may someday walk into a courtroom and need a jurist with the intelligence, experience, and dedication of Judge Steve Leifman. We have represented enough people to know that when they walk into a courtroom for a trial, they don’t ask the ethnicity of the Judge, they ask us “is he fair?” and “will he do the right thing?”
Knowing the bizzare behavior of Gonzalez, his penchant for screaming at un-represented defendants, his delusional references to his part in the holy trinity, the answer with him is a resounding, unconditional NO.
That question is easily answered with Judge Leifman. Beyond his qualities as a Judge, is the extra dedication to our community that he has shown in addressing the problem of mental illness in criminal law.
In the words of Ted Kennedy eulogizing his late brother Bobby,
Judge Leifman is “a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it…”
Folks, this contest is a no-brainer. If our community cannot step up here and do the right thing, then we are in serious trouble.
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE LEIFMAN FOR RETENTION/RE-ELECTION.
See You In Court.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Saturday, August 12, 2006
1) We thought the E mail from Mr.Carhart about Judge Rippingale was legit, but the ever vigilant Captain noted that her name was spelled wrong. It was one letter and could have easily been a typo.
2) An alert reader posted a nice article on immunity of bloggers from lawsuits, for those of you who care about such trivial matters.
3) A person who claims to be an employee of the South Dade Branch Court wrote in with a criticism of Judge Miller. It’s an opposing view to our endorsement and deserves to be considered.
4) At least one person does not like the Alan/Chris dialogue. We’re not sure what it’s all about but we won’t block it.
Thanks for reading. Post when you want and it will usually go up pretty quick.
More endorsements next week.
(OK. Because you demanded it- two endorsements to ponder over the weekend):
RUMPOLE ENDORSES JUDGE ISRAEL REYES…
RUMPOLE ENDORSES SAM SLOM...
You get the picture.
See You In Court Monday!
Friday, August 11, 2006
Mr. George Alvarez is running against Judge Miller for a spot on the County Court bench. Mr. Alvarez appears to be a nice man. He is said to be even tempered and his friends say he has the perfect disposition for a county court judge. Mr. Alvarez also has experience outside of the law, serving on the Westchester Community Council.
Bronwyn Miller was appointed to the bench in March of 2005 by the current Governor. Judge Miller came to the bench with exceptional experience from her time as a prosecutor in the Dade County State Attorneys Office. She was a training attorney at the time of her appointment, and prior to that she was one of the more active prosecutors in trial, handling complex capital prosecutions as well as other cases. Her reputation among the judges and lawyers in the REGJB could not have been better.
We believe a lawyer should assume the bench with the type of legal experience necessary to do the job. As a trial lawyer ourselves, we believe the very best experience comes from trying cases.
The normal litigant appears in court seeking justice, which on the county court level, is most often delivered by the Judge. We believe that a lawyer who has been through the fire of jury trials obtains the necessary experience and prospective that can only be gained when you have stood in front of a jury on behalf of a client or the State of Florida.
The effects of trying 50 or a 100 cases molds the character of a lawyer in a way like no other. Much like the metal of character being pounded on anvils in the fire of trial, what you thought you knew gradually is replaced by what you learn, until you emerge, many years later, different, wiser, with more prospective on life.
Not every strong arm robbery deserves 20 years in prison, and not every person convicted of DUI deserves to go to jail.
A wise lawyer is one who learns from their jury trials. You celebrate the victories, but more importantly, you learn from your defeats.
As a citizen of this state, do we really want an attorney like Mr. Alvarez to learn about jury trials while sitting on the bench? Yes, it does happen. But in our view, the effects are disastrous.
We have walked away from too many jury trials conducted by Judges who tried few or no cases in their career and seen the look of sadness, anger, or disgust in a police officer’s eyes, or seen the look of horror in a family member’s eyes as a Judge with no experience issued a sentence beyond all reason.
The bench is not a place to learn. It is a place to teach.
Those of us with more than a few years experience remember fondly the late Judge C. P. Rubiera, who went out of his way to teach young prosecutors and public defenders how to be lawyers. What can Mr. Alvarez teach a DUI prosecutor who already has tried 6 or 8 cases, when Mr. Alvarez to our knowledge has not had any jury trials?
Judge Miller has the experience necessary to do the job, and George Alvarez does not. It is as simple as that, and that is why we are endorsing Judge Bronwyn Miller.
We choose this race as our first endorsement for one other important reason.
The bar requires attorneys to work for the betterment of the Judiciary. We believe this means that an attorney should not run against a qualified Judge merely because the attorney thinks he or she can win the election. We do not know if that is the case here. However, we suspect it is.
In this current age of politics in Dade County, we all know that there is a distinct advantage to running with a Hispanic sur name. Just ask defeated candidate Fritz Mann how well he did when he ran.
Judge Miller has been a fine Judge during the short time she has been on the bench. As a prosecutor she tried many cases, authored a scholarly article on an issue of evidence, and served on the boards of various legal organizations.
Mr. Alvarez should answer this question to the lawyers of Miami and the voters of Dade County: without mentioning any specific rulings which is prohibited by the rules of ethics, why should Judge Miller be replaced?
There are several candidates running against sitting Judges who could respond to that question by pointing out that the Judge has a reputation for being rude, or was sanctioned by the JQC. None of those factors seem to apply here, and unless Mr. Alvarez can answer that question, we are left with the conclusion that he is running against Judge Miller because he thinks he can win.
The judiciary is supposed to be better than that.
Lawyers are supposed to act with more dignity than that.
We all lose when a qualified judge with the experience that Judge Miller has is replaced for no reason other than her opponent had a more popular name.
Rumpole endorses Judge Bronwyn Miller for retention.
Kudos to the several alert readers who emailed us that Judge Miller has not been elected, she was appointed, so we endorse her retention not re-election.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
While we hardly expect him to stop and answer these questions in the middle of his trial, we wonder….
1) How does it feel to be given more than 2 minutes and 11 seconds for voire dire?
2) How does it feel to be able to take a sworn statement from a witness before they testify?
3) How does it feel not to have 404(b) material bandied about like it's cotton candy in the wind?
4) How does it feel to have a shot at getting the last word before the jury?
5) In summary, how does it feel to be playing on a level playing field?
We invite our wonderful readers to discuss the wonderful and varied differences between trying cases in Federal Court and State Court,
CREDIT: Did careful readers wonder who was able, at a moments notice the other day, to dig down deep in the dusty archives of Florida Bar Ethics opinions and come up with the only opinion on point, and then email it to us? Why none other than Brian Tannebaum. And for his rapid research and response , we give him a hearty thank you.
BENNETT BRUMMER BANS LAWYERS AND REMAINS SILENT: DAY 8.
See You In Court. Actually we can even see you at the PD's office, because we're not banned from there either.
But since we have underlings who handle the riff raff and that end of the practice for us, we have time to give you this update:
1) Judge McWhorter, accused on these blog pages of some accounting errors, was endorsed by the Herald today. The endorsement was a strong one, essentially dismissing the idea that the Judge is one of those Judges that merits opposition.
You can read the endorsement here
2. The Herald also has the video of the Attorney being shot with rubber bullets while protesting the FTAA. You can also see those defenders of the constitution, Broward's finest Sheriffs laughing on video about "shooting the fat guy."
See You In Court. Just not doing soundings.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Our Captain has some serious and shocking news.
Readers of the blog know that Ms. Patricia Marino has not fared well among the blogs readers. Marino's alleged last minute addition to her name has caused a minor riot if not an affray. While Ms. Marino may believe that old Rumpole has it out for her, (as we have heard through the grapevine) we note that we have remained silent on her name change, which is no different than what dozens of other candidates have done over the years.
Now, with our post of the Captain’s report on (in a light most favorable to Judge McWhorter) “accounting errors”, we have some shocking news to report:
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
CAMPAIGN UPDATE -
OR SHOULD I SAY -CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS ?????
IS THE MCWHORTER CAMPAIGN IN HOT WATER?
GROUP 1 - COUNTY COURT This race pits the incumbent Judge McWhorter against the oft maligned, for amending her name at the last minute, Patricia Marino-Pedraza. Ms. Marino has not done too well on the fund-raising circuit. She has only raised $22,558 and has had to add another $45k to the kitty for a total of $67,558.
She needs it, because she has spread her money around to several consulting firms. She has paid Jordan Leonard $5,500; Stanley Shapiro $500; Hipolito Leon $2,500; Miguel Amador $2,000; Ramon Alonso $2,500, for a total of $13,000 so far.
Judge McWhorter, on the other hand, seems to be the master fundraiser, "can you say incumbent judge". She has amassed $99,373 and only kicked in $100 of her own money. She also has only given $750 in consulting fees to one Daisy Castellanos.
But the more important news is this: As our educated readers of the BLOG know, the maximum contribution is $500.
Well, here is the problem:
On April 23, 2005, Gonzalo Dorta gave $500. On June 18, 2005, Dorta gave another $250. McWhorter accepted the second donation.
On April 22, 2005, Burnadette Norris-Weeks gave $500. On July 28, 2005 she gave another $100. McWhorter accepted the second donation.
On May 17, 2005, the law firm of Weiss, Serota gave $500.
On March 17, 2006 they contributed another $250. McWhorter accepted the second donation.
Each time she accepted the second donation, she violated the law which clearly states that a campaign may not accept more than $500 from one particular person or organization.
Now her campaign did finally refund the money to each of the three contributors.
But she waited until April 5, 2006 to do so.
That means she held the illegal contributions for 10 months on Dorta, 9 months on Weeks and three weeks on Weiss, Serota.
Now the really bad news: according to FS 106.08 (7)(a) and (7)(b): a candidate that accepts donations in excess of the maximum $500 allowed by law commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if they accept one donation in excess of the limit (7)(a) and it becomes a Felony of the Third Degree when the candidate accept two or more illegal contributions (7)(b).
So readers, what do you have to say now.......
AND THE CAPTAIN HAS SPOKEN .....
Rumpole wonders: 1- what is the effect of returning the money? 2- Is there scienter involved in the crime, meaning that intent to violate the law needs to be proved?
3- At any campaign fundraiser we have been at, we have seen nothing by any judge or candidate to check and make sure people are not giving too much. Usually the problem is that people like us show up, drop a carefully folded check for $50.00 in the jar, and eat $100.00 worth of shrimp and cheese. We feel we are on safe ground by saying that most candidates rely on the contributor to make sure they have not given over $500.00.
That being said, the buck stops at the top and Judge McWhorter is responsible for her campaign.
For those of you ready to howl because we started the post by stating that we viewed the facts at the moment in the light most favourable to Judge McWhorter, this is something we would do with any candidate in the closing weeks of the race, PENDING A FINDING OF WRONGDOING (which is what happened to Judge Hernandez.)
It should also be noted that taking $600.00 improperly when you have raised almost $100,000.00 is not an earthshaking accusation.
However, we reiterate: The Buck Stops with the Judge and she should address this issue.
See You In Court with our checkbook firmly tucked away.
OPINION 70-20August 26, 1970
While an attorney has both the right and duty to oppose election or reelection of a judge believed by him to be unqualified, he should not act in such a way as to lessen public confidence in our legal system.Canons: 2 and 27
CPR: Canon 8 and EC 8-6
Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:
An inquiring attorney asks if he may properly make public statements, using any and all mass media available to him, concerning a judge who is seeking re-election, such statements being to the effect that the judge is unqualified and incompetent and is unable to provide a fair trial, giving examples from the attorney's personal experience.
An attorney has both the right and the duty to oppose election or re-election of a judge believed by him to be unqualified. See present Canon of Professional Ethics and Code of Professional Responsibility Canon 8. The Ethical Consideration 8-6 (CPR) is directly in point.
The committee is concerned, however, with the allusion to using mass media and the citing of personal examples to illustrate the attorney's position relating to the judge.
EC 8-6 cautions that:...While a lawyer as a citizen has a right to criticize such officials publicly, he should be certain of the merit of his complaint, use appropriate language, and avoid petty criticisms, for unrestrained and intemperate statements tend to lessen public confidence in our legal system. Criticisms motivated by reasons other than a desire to improve the legal system are not justified.
"Unrestrained and intemperate statements...." now who does that sound like?
An annoyed reader writes:
If your clients get the same attention you give this blog, you have to be F. Lee Bailey.
Rumpole notes, that we are not F Lee. We in fact are licensed to practice law in this State.
As to our attention to the blog, the heat of the summer has apparently dampened our clients desire to drink and act disorderly. Careful readers of the blog know that our practice is devoted almost exclusively to the drunk and disorderly, with an occasional murder thrown in for fun. Our knowledge of blood spatter and stains is almost legendary. Almost.
Good news to report: Several alert readers are working feverishly on an opinion as to whether or not we can make wry comments on the members of our beloved judiciary.
Condemning us to a career of pounding Bennett “the Banner’ Brummer is our idea of literary hell.
While we are on the subject:
BRUMMER BANS LAWYERS AND WILL NOT SPEAK ABOUT IT.
WHEN WILL BRUMMER ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF BANNING LAWYERS?
IF YOU WANT TO BE BANNED BY BRUMMER, SEND AN EMAIL TO RUMPOLE AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM AND WE WILL ADD YOU TO THE LIST.
Lawyers banned by Brummer get a 10% discount at participating Barnes and Noble bookstores, and are entitled to one free CAFÉ BANACHINO (like a Frappuccino except the whip cream is banned) at all Starbucks. Simply present your “Banned By Brummer” ID card, say something nice about Gabe Martin, and the drink is yours to enjoy compliments of this blog.
QUERY: WHAT WILL HAPPEN FIRST: CASTRO’S DEATH, OR BRUMMER SPEAKS?
We finish on a disquieting note: the tenor of the posts today seems to indicate a certain joy, or schedenfraude (rapidly becoming our favourite word) in the possibility that we are not allowed to post funny comments that do not give the Judiciary the respect they have earned by their hard work on and off the bench.
(It hurt so much to write that last sentence that we may need to take a break and go drink a BANACHINO)
Why so much joy in Rumpole’s disquiet and concern?
Do we not serve the public with our comments and providing a forum for disgruntled lawyers to anonymously vent their feelings and frustrations?
OK. We admit we once said that Shelly Schwartz dresses in a manner that he is always ready if a gin rummy game breaks out. But he knows that when he wears the purple tie with the yellow shirt and green slacks that a certain amount of commentary occurs.
Are we by virtue of our lofty position in the Florida Bar (member, grudgingly admitted around 1985 or so) estopped from writing what everyone else thinks?
When Judge Thomas bravely follows the law and issues a motion to suppress, we can certainly express out admiration. But some Judge denies a motion for continuance on a case that is up for the first time and the lawyer has vacation plans with his children, can we not comment on the rudeness of that ruling?
And when a Judge in the middle of a heated election is “shocked” to find out that “someone” placed an ad in a newspaper that violated the rules of Ethics, are we gagged and otherwise silenced from making any comments about the fact that the offending party turned out not just to be his campaign treasurer, but his own wife?
Stay tuned as these and other equally important questions are answered.
See You In Court.
PS: A DeLuna Dilemma, as we remember it, is a situation in a multi-defendant case, where one defendant testifies, and another defendant does not, and the attorney for the defendant who testifies wants to comment on the fact that the other defendant did not testify. Had it happen in a case once. Cy Gaer was one of the attorneys.
We opened our bar poll the other day, and read the instructions and the Rules of Ethics that were attached, and were given pause to ponder. Perhaps our dear readers who actually open a rule book and read case law (we proudly admit we don't do such foolish things) can answer this legal conundrum.
Here is the rule in question:
RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT4-8 MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE PROFESSION
RULE 4-8.2 JUDICIAL AND LEGAL OFFICIALS
(a) Impugning Qualifications and Integrity of Judges or Other Officers.
A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, mediator, arbitrator, adjudicatory officer, public legal officer, juror or member of the venire, or candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.
Assessments by lawyers are relied on in evaluating the professional or personal fitness of persons being considered for election or appointment to judicial office and to public legal offices, such as attorney general, prosecuting attorney, and public defender. Expressing honest and candid opinions on such matters contributes to improving the administration of justice.
Conversely, false statements by a lawyer can unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.
To maintain the fair and independent administration of justice, lawyers are encouraged to continue traditional efforts to defend judges and courts unjustly criticized.
Here is our question:
Can we write and publish a parody that makes fun of Judge Ivan Hernandez and his inability to recognize his wife who is also his campaign treasurer?
The last line of the comment encourages lawyers to defend judges who are unjustly criticized.
Careful readers know we leap to the defense of judges as often as President Bush reads a book. But that is because we usually believe the criticism to be valid.
We think we are on safe ground posting our little parody. However, since we admit to actually reading case law as often as the president cracks a novel, we will take all the advice our learned and dear readers care to offer.
See You In Court NOT reading the FLW’S.
Monday, August 07, 2006
A concerned reader asks:
RUMPOLE:WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO "JUDGE HERNANDEZ THE MOVIE"DID IT GO STRAIGHT TO DVD?
A PUZZLED READER QUERIES US:
Rumpole what does that name: Howardroark mean which is part of your e-mail ?
Howard Roark is indeed a fictional architect in the book The Fountainhead, which if you click on the Amazon.com logo on the left, you can order at a very reasonable price. You can also order the complete works of John Mortimer who wrote the Rumpole Of the Bailey novels, upon whom we have based our persona. For practitioners of the art and craft of trying cases, they are an excellent summer read.
Back to The Fountainhead. The book was written by Ayn Rand, who fled the Soviet gulag in the 1920's and came to The United States, where she developed a philosophy she called "Objectivism" based on certain principles of responsibility, truth, Aristotle’s A=A, with unrestratined capitalism as the political ideal. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was one of her students. To illustrate the ideas of her philosophy, Rand created characters in novels that acted in a manner reflecting their philosophy, to show how philosophy affects everyday actions, and illustrate the ideals of her philosophy contrasted against what she saw as the
shortcomings of other philosophies. Rand believed in the greatness of the American ideal, but worried that the imposition of what she called "altruistic collectivist ethics" would destroy the promise of freedom and enterprise found in the ideas of the founding fathers.
The Fountainhead was Ayn Rand's first great success (but not her first novel) and probably her most well known book. She followed the Fountainhead by what she considered to be her Masterpiece: Atlas Shrugged. The Fountainhead has sold over 25 million copies and is (in my humble opinion) one of the most influential novels ever written.
As to “Judge Hernandez the Movie”, I applaud you for being one of the careful readers of the blog. Indeed we have written a treatment as it were. However, upon re- reading the Rules Of Professional Conduct, we were given to pause and consider whether, as a member of the bar, we can poke fun of a Judge in that manner. We have a post which will probably be up Tuesday in which we explain out dilemma (anyone ever hear of a DeLuna Dilemma in trial law? Bonus trivia question) and we seek the help of our dear and dedicated readers.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to choose among a group of individuals one person who shall have the right and power to exercise decisions of life, death, and driver’s licenses (to which the Laws of Nature and Chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes entitle them), a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that those who make endorsements should declare the causes which impel them to chose one candidate over another.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that not all lawyers are created equal. That while some lawyers are endowed by their Creator with certain degrees of common sense, compassion, respect for the law and human rights, other lawyers who seek the position of Judge are nothing more than failed hacks who see in the current political climate the ability to take advantage of their last name to secure a job for which they are neither prepared to do nor have the ability to do well.
Our system of Government was formed so that to secure the rights which we hold to be inalienable, Governments are instituted among Men and Women, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Our system of electing Judges was formed so that whenever any Judge becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to remove that Judge from Office and to elect a new Judge who is more and better prepared to perform the duties upon which that office they are empowered to embark.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Judges with long experience should not be changed for light and transient causes. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is the right and duty of the people to throw off the bench such Judges , and to provide new Guards for the future security of the society that Judges are empowered to protect.
With these wise words to guide us, we begin the process of endorsing one person over another for a job unlike any other.
(The thoughts and ideas of 230 years ago play just as well today, even in the stiff hands of an old legal hack typing at the keyboard.).
Saturday, August 05, 2006
A TRIAL LAWYER SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT
1) TO BE FREE FROM BEING EMBARRASSED AND CHEWED OUT IN FRONT OF OUR CLIENT.
We know we as attorneys say and do stupid things from time to time.
But Judges have chambers- and there’s sidebar. We have enough troubles with our clients (and Prosecutors have enough trouble with the 231 supervisors watching their every move, cops wanting the "max" and victims wanting restitution) without having to deal with them after a Judge has just dressed us down for something in court.
[ Half the time the judge is upset because we’re late. Well, usually we’re late because we just spent 45 minutes doing an arraignment in front of the Governor's latest new nominee to the bench. ] Does Judicial demeanor matter? Ask many of the Judges with opposition.
2) TO AT LEAST ONE WEEK AFTER RETURNING FROM VACATION BEFORE STARTING TRIAL.
This one really frosts our ass a little bit.
We have an important trial. And when the Judge suggests a date, we tell the Judge we have an FACDL Ski trip for that week. So the Judge gives us a big smile and tells us that sure, she’ll accommodate our vacation, “after all , lawyers are entitled to a vacation as well.”
And then she sets the trial for the Monday after we return that Sunday.
Hey- wake up!
Don’t you know what’s involved in a trial?
Don’t you realize that no matter how well an attorney plans and prepares that there are literally dozens of last minute problems that spring up, from subpoeaning witnesses and preparing them to testify, to viewing evidence and getting exhibits ready? No, we can’t fly across the country Sunday night, stagger home at 1:00 am and be fresh as a daisy and ready to go to trial Monday morning.
If Judges don’t want us to believe that the reason the majority of them became Judges is because they couldn’t try a case, then show some common sense and give us at least a week from retuning from a trip before trial.
This may surprise some of you future Supreme Court nominees, but other than the really successful or truly awful lawyers, the rest of us have more cases than the one clogging up your precious docket. We have clients that want to see us, employees that need guidance and your equally impatient colleagues who want us to try a case in their division on the day we return from vacation.
3) THE RIGHT TO AS MUCH TIME AS WE NEED IN VOIRE DIRE.
First of all, many lawyers who get stuck in a trial don’t try a lot of cases and couldn’t conduct a good voire dire with Perry Mason sitting with them as second chair. So you needn’t worry about them taking too much time. They ask a few moronic questions about which section of the Herald the jurror’s husband reads, and then they stagger back to their table sweating bullets and grab their law school text on opening statements to see what to do next.
For the rest of us, the ones who devote time and energy to our craft, a good voire dire is crucial. It is the most important part of the trial. We are not asking you to give us a long leash. Keep the leash short. But as long as we’re asking the right types of questions, then our clients (be it a defendant or the people of the state of Florida) are getting their moneys worth from the advocate they hired. Just leave us alone and let us do our job. Surprisingly, when that happens, the Jury system works just fine.
You want a short voire dire? Get an appointment to the Federal Bench.
4) THE RIGHT TO BEGIN AND END THE TRIAL AT A DECENT HOUR:
We see this with a lot of new Judges, especially in County Court.
Trying to establish some sort of macho reputation, they work until 11 PM and then send the jury out at midnight.
What are you people thinking?
Would you want the most important day of your life in the hands of someone who has been in the Justice Building since 8 AM making a decision about your life some 16 hours later?
What’s so difficult about coming back the next day?
WE ORIGINALLY POSTED THIS ON JANUARY 2 OF THIS YEAR. AS WE GET READY TO PUBLISH OUR MUCH ANTICIPATED ENDORSEMENTS, WE WOULD REALLY LIKE TO HEAR FROM JUDGES AND CANDIDIATES ABOUT THEIR VIEWS OF THESE ISSUES. IT BEATS THE CRYING ABOUT SIGNS BEING TORN DOWN.
Friday, August 04, 2006
2) Joyce Cohen- ASA's John Kastrenakis and Kevin DiGregory and Alan Ross for the defense.
3) Dieter Reichman- ASA Kevin DiGregory and Ed Carhart for the defense.
True or False:
1) The Investigator for the Dade County State Attorneys Office played a role in the Watergate Investigation.-TRUE: MARTIN DARDIS was instrumental in the investigation of the Miami connection of the Watergate Burglars. He is portrayed in the Movie All The President’s Men. Woodward travels to Miami to meet with him.
2) Chief ASA George Yoss was once accused in a National Magazine of being Deep Throat. FALSE- NOT TO OUR KNOWLEDGE ANYWAY.
3) All Offices of the SAO and PDO used to be in one building. FALSE- TRICK QUESTION- “ALL” OFFICES, covers Juvenile, child support, etc.
4) The Former Chief of the ASA Legal Division Richard Shiffrin was in the Pentagon when it was attacked on 9/11. TRUE.
5) Our Old Friend Bennett Brummer used to be lead counsel in all Death Penalty cases handled by the PD's office in the 1970's. FALSE- NOT TO OUR KNOWLEDGE.
6) There are more Ex-PD's as Judges then Ex- ASA's. NO IDEA- ROUGH GUESS IS ABOUT EVEN.
7) There was a Judge in the REGJB who did not go to law school. TRUE.
8) Judges stopped sending drugs as evidence to the Jury room when in a "highly" publicized incident, not all the drugs that went in, came out of the Jury room? TRUE.
9) A Judge once sent a Jury out to deliberate, went to lunch, went home, and forgot about the Jury? TRUE- JUDGE SEPE.
10) Jurors once got into an argument in the Jury room and one used a knife in evidence to stab the other one. FALSE. But one lawyer did stab another in a jury room with a pen as they dissolved their partnership and were fighting over a client.