Wednesday, February 21, 2007


This just in: Judge Seidlin has won the prestigious "Judge Ito" award for his handling of the Anna Nicole Smith case.

The case North of the Border is a circus and the tragic fact is a young baby lost her mother. The Judge should put an end to this mess now. It's demeaning. The attorneys are acting like babies. The thought that any individual would use this tragedy to personally profit is revolting.

We don't really know what's going on, but Judge Seidlin's alleged pandering to the media in what people have said is an attempt to get a television show is a black mark on the judiciary. The legal system's ability to resolve difficult issues in a respectful manner has been compromised.

Speaking of the media, we have a piece of advice for Mr. Amsel, who appeared in the local section of today's Herald: Smile for the camera. Judge Blake, who is hearing the matter also appeared in the paper. We resist the temptation to offer Judge Blake this advice: Gillette.

Finally, a comment yesterday listed the qualities that make a good circuit judge. Included in the comment were the qualities of being polite and respectful, being prepared, and being considerate of everyone's schedules.

There is no truth to the rumour that several judges North of the Border, after reading that particular comment, laughed so hard that they needed oxygen to recover.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to list the qualities you think are important in a Judge. Obviously, it goes without saying that the very best, most intelligent and cultured of our robed readers are regular readers of this humble blog. But beyond that important trait, there are other qualities we would all like to see in a Judge.

With several new Judges now sitting in the REGJB, this is a good time to discuss just what makes a Judge good or great. We think of Judge Cowart, Judge Harold Solomon, Judge Scott, Judge Shapiro, Judge Levine, and many others, and we hope that these new Judges have a sense of the history of the seats they are filling. Some of the wisest men and women we have ever met have sat in those seats.
These new Judges would do well to learn about some of the great Judges who have sat before them.

Finally, we do note the passing of Retired County Court Judge Harvey Baxter. Judge Baxter had his admirers and his critics. He was loud and opinionated, and that is always sure to generate controversy. Judge Baxter was also dedicated to his job and we invite people to post their memories of him.

Have at it.

See You In Court.


Anonymous said...

this post will self destruct in the comments section with anonymous comments of hate in 10,9,8,7,6,5,4

Anonymous said...

Seidlin is not pandering to the media. I practiced before him as a PD in juvenile, he's the exact same judge sitting in the courtroom today that he was back then. Yes, he's eccentric and unorthodox but he's smart and fair. Don't underestimate him.

Anonymous said...

Judge Baxter gave me hemorrhoids. I always thought of him as something of a bully and a braggart who must have had a miserable childhood and felt the need to take out his frustrations on defendants and court personnel. At the same time, I came to appreciate him more over the years and felt sorry that he had to complete his cycle of life in such misery

Anonymous said...

This I Believe (about the new judges):

I do not need you to be the smartest judge; but I do need you to ask for briefs, read the submissions, and listen to the arguments fairly; without some pre-existing agenda about the litigants, the case, or your place in history.

If you are unsure about your intended ruling, please do some research, or even ask your peers. Knee-jerk responses are often wrong. We will come back in a few days for your decision. In the interim, please do the homework needed to make the wisest decision you can.

If you had a bad night or the kids were awful at breakfast, is it not my fault. If you cannot hold your temper or sarcasm (which some believe is wit), take a recess and meditate for 15 minutes. Treat the lawyers badly + we will naturally respond in kind. Remember, the day before the appointment/election, you were a mere lawyer. You were selected. You were not annointed , nor did you receive a regal crown and sceptre.

Treat your staff decently. Nobody wants to work through lunch because you are dieting. If it is 8:30 on a Friday night and the hearing is not quite done, the lawyers will not be the only ones angry. People write to the JQC if you upset them enough.

Set a time for morning calendar, and try to be prompt. I practice before judges who are early for their 8:30 calendars, and some who are late for their 9:30'ish arrivals. Help us be professional.

If we have cases in five courts, accept the possibility that we cannot be in yours at every moment. This is also true of trials and vacations. If we tell you that the date you chose is not possible, we are not making it up. Personally, I cannot prepare three capital cases for the same trial week. I will pick one and work hardest on it -- please understand that when we suggest that it would be a bad week to set another major case.

Learn quickly to separate the wheat from the chaff. A huge percentage of the cases for arraignment each day deserve a quick and kind resolution. Offer pleas to defendants that they would be unwise to refuse. Your caseload will drop and the ASA/PD will be forever grateful. Most of the ASA's will have limited discretion to offer pleas, even if they believe that a plea might be proper. Take the heat for them with the police/victims.

However, for the truly evil defendant, please understand that you have a duty to be fair both to the defendant and society. If a harsh sentence is needed to protect the community, do not shirk from that duty -- this is why you are a judge.

Develop friendships on both sides of the battlefield. We can be civil, pleasant, and courteous, which will help you with numerous day-to-day issues. Just do not be obvious in which side you might favor. We give each of you a chance to be impartial. Only a few never grasp that concept.

If we act badly, cause a problem in court, or do anything that is upsetting, please tell us. Please do so privately and gently. We will understand that we are being dressed down. Do not let us act wrongly without letting us know (preferably in chambers) that our conduct was unacceptable.

Find senior lawyers on both sides of the aisle who you respect, and bounce parochial problems off of them. They will try to help out, or explain why they could not. This perspective will help you while you are in the criminal division.

Enough pontificating. I get called a dork enough in this blog. No reason to go any further.

Anonymous said...

Abe hit the nail on the head about limited discretion of young ASA's.

So many times a judge might seem inclined to think that a young ASA is the one responsible for not giving a good plea. True sometimes it might be inexperience about picking battles and separating the wheat from the chaff, but most of the time it either involves a minimum mandatory or a career criminal enhancement.

While I've often heard it said on this blog that the solution is to drag the supervisors who have the authority into court, that sometimes results in reprisals against the young ASA's because then the supervisors think the young ASA's are inept since the supervisor was ripped from the comfort of his or her office to come into court.

An experienced judge, ought to know, why he or she can deviate from the sentencing guidelines, give a sentence that's appropriate and put the reasons on the record, i.e. accomplice whose role was minor, defendant could not appreciate conduct due to impairment or youth, victim was initiator or willing participant, defendant cooperated with state, crime committed in unsophisticated manner and defendant remorseful, etc.

A good judge should know they have discretion with HO's and HVO's (as opposed to the lack of discretion with respect to a PRRP) and not be afraid to step in and make a decision, rather than always depending on the young ASA to get Career Criminal to come down to earth.

In other words, the power of a court plea can do wonders if exercised with say, the knowledge of what cannot be reversed on appeal and wisdom of King Solomon.

Anonymous said...

After reading your recent post, Abe Laeser's comments last night and the post at 6:05am this morning, it seems it's worth repeating from last night. This discourse might actually raise the level of professionalism at REG and give greater, accurate importance to this blog.

* * * * * * * * *


Since I think you want your blog to remain relevant and meaningful, I am responding to the post from yesterday about the 'top ten circuit judges'. It seems to me that it needs a definitition. Here are my thoughts:

A good circuit judge is: 1) one that is polite and respectful: when a prosecutor says they need to call their DC/office/supervisor/witness-coordinator, that request is granted; when a defense attorney says they need to call their office/witnesses/training attorney (for pds)/client, that request is granted; when clerks/court reporters/anyone needs a court comfort break, that request is granted; 2)one that is prepared and conscientious; 3)one that reads submitted motions and caselaw BEFORE the hearing, [this becomes interesting for those among us that file unsupported/simple motions listing no caselaw or facts, versus those among us (often federal practicioners) that file motions and attach caselaw we expect a judge to read. Does it qualify on this blog to make a judge 'mean and/or bad', when they require more? Or is the judge lifting the level of our practice by requiring more, thus thought of to be demanding?]; 4)one that has a JA and staff that treats attorneys and litigants respectfully, and sets our emergency motions on an already over-booked calendar; 5)one that is considerate/accomodating of others' schedules, [think afternoon hearings: Wednesday, Thursday and yes, Virginia, even Friday special sets]; 6) one whose office might call after you said you would be late/unavailable for court, to inform you the judge granted your unopposed motion or granted your continuance, to alleviate the need for you to come to court; 7) one who listens to the prosecution when they explian difficulties with the victim's schedule/life/travel; 8) one who denies/grants continuances based on the case, number of previous continuances, amount of preperation necessary and fairness to all parties. If this blog is to remain relevant, then we all (prosecutors/pds/privates) need to admit that a 'good' judge is not merely one who rules in our favor, and can be branded State or Defense oriented. How about a judge that actually says: 'good morning' to lawyers, witnesses in court, and defendants at the podium or in the box? Rump, don't you think all this matters? Don't we want judges to 'see' a case for what it is worth by refusing to undercut a plea offer, or to offer a YO sentence or to undercut a plea when appropriate? We should be honest with ourselves: in a case where the State can't 'locate' a victim on the third/fourth reset, do we think a 'good' judge should grant that continuance without good cause? On a case where a defendant has missed or been late or failed to appear one, two or more times, does it make a judge 'bad', to take them into custody (especially after warning)? There are extremes at both ends of the spectrum. Shouldn't we really judge our judges by their ability to straddle those extremes fairly?

So here is my list, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Kevin Emas
Rosa Rodriquez
Stan Blake
Bob Scola
Dava Tunis
John Schlesinger
Mary Barzee
Orlando Prescott
Dennis Murphy
Izzy Reyes

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 8:02:00 PM

* * * * * * * * *

Anonymous said...
poster 8:02 did an outstanding job of listing some criteria for good circuit court judges. while we have an adversary system, we can all achieve success by being advocates for our clients (whether it be the citizens of our state or our individual client); while at the same time being honest, ethical, fair, and reasonable.

Most of the judges listed meet that criteria and I have great respect for them.

Advocate well, be honest, be prepared, be professional, and lets set an example to the world that in the crazy business of dade criminal court, we are professional.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 9:37:00 PM

Anonymous said...

As an attorney that has been practicing for more than 10 years in this very courthouse, I agree with virtually all the comments thus far - particularly Mr. Laeser's. There are a few judges sitting in that building who appear to believe that it is their right / duty to humiliate and chastise attorneys for their inexperience and / or job description. If a lawyer is a newbie, it only makes you look like a bully if you berate them for making an objection - even if YOU believe that objection to be frivilous. Everyone has to learn. If you don't like criminal defendants then you should know that you don't have a novel opinion. The difference is that you are supposed to be able to have a fair and open mind, analyze the law surrounding the admissible facts, and make a ruling on those factors only. Not jumping to a conclusion and making a snide comment simply because you don't like defendants and / or the lawyers who represent them.

I can honestly only think of about 2 judges that currently fit that description AT THE MOMENT in our building. Most of those who I have had the pleasure of practicing in front of are good people trying to do the right thing.

As for that guy in Broward on the Anna Nicole case, he is a disgrace to our profession and the bench. I have heard from others who would know that he is a miserable, arrogant human being. And it shows. If you are reading sir, I hope that the JQC takes note of your behavior. The country as a certainly is as is evident from Putney and all of the morning shows' coverage.

Tom said...

I guess you are moderating, but, your parochialism is showing. I’ve been watching on the internet. I see a sharp judge, in control.

“You don’t have a jury here, in my courtroom, I just want to hear the facts here, do it outside if you want to inflame people.”

“I’m not here to answer questions, you’re here to ask questions.”

New York Lawyer: “One New Yorker to another. . . .”

“I’m not a New Yorker. I’m a Floridian, I spend half my life here, I raise my kids here.”

Anonymous said...

Seidlin may be doing a poor job, but nobody compares to Ito. Ito must be the worst judge I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

not worse than postman

Anonymous said...

Hey, wait a minute.

Kevin Emas and Orlando Prescott can be downright rude and have their noses in the air.

It is not fair to put them in a list with Harold Solomon.

While we are at it, could someone tell Jackie Scola to lighten up.

Anonymous said...

Judge Seidlin compared to Judge Ito GIVE ME A FICKIN BREAK!!

First Judge Ito was presiding over a murder trial and made a mockery of that court on the trial of the murder of two people!

Second Judge Seidlin is presiding over a probate case that is usally held informally and casual. In this case he sees the Howard Stern guy for what he is but wants to give the jerk a chance to prove he is not the jerk the Judge and the world knowns he is.

Look this case could have been simply for the Judge had Howard Stern just said here is the baby lets do paternity and then for the benefit of the child lets hear what the real father would like for the body of the childs mother. That cannot happen because the loser Howard Stern is NOT the father and he knowns he is NOT the father so to be able to maintain stealing money from this poor woman in death as he did in her life he puts on this circus. he was offered one million dollars for the exclusive video rights of the funeral and wants that body for that money.

He kept her on drugs and forged Anna's checks for untold moneys siging her name on her bank account etc etc etc.

Judge Seidlin is a great man and will do he right thing and give the body to the MOM.

we hope.

Anonymous said...

Anna Nicole case - The mom is in it for the money. The lawyers are in it for money and (bad) press. The judge is enjoying his 15 minutes. The rest of us will live with the badge of dishonor this veritable disgrace has cast upon the Florida judicial system for much, much longer. Don't they have a Chief Judge up there who can rein in this flea circus? And by the way, whether Seidlin is a great man is hardly the issue; whoever said that the "right thing" will be done because somebody has a good heart and wants to "make a child" (wow) misses the disastrous point. Make a child....still getting over that comment. But it is entertaining!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really think that "mom" gave a damn about her daughter when she was living? Just like being a "father," more is required than the biological act to make someone a worthy parent. That she couldn't answer simple questions about whether she expects to get any money out of the deal says it all. She could have come into court with the word Liar branded on her forehead and not fared any worse on the stand. The trailer park egg donor should go back to Texas and just be sad about her lot in life, rather than play the Joker in an effort to win back her soul from the horned villain who resides in the center of the earth

Anonymous said...

In case anyone doesn't think that the Florida judiciary isn't the laughing stock of the US based upon this pompous asshole's display...


If he wasn't in it for his own ego, there would be no cameras in the court and it would have taken 3 hours to determine the ruling.

Anonymous said...

Who gives a shit about any of this. The whole thing is a freak show, top to bottom.

Anonymous said...

And you point Jason?

Anonymous said...

Seidlin should finish this case as quckly as he usually does his docket...in a New York minute.

Anonymous said...

Judge Sandy Karlan is an intelligent, respectful, prepared, and kind jurist. She exemplifies what a Circuit Judge should be.

Anonymous said...

The Chief Judge for Life Dale Ross "up there" was recently in the Sun-Sentinel for his own improv act during bond hearings. Hopefully his recently appointed daughter Judge Stacy will show more restraint.

This was after Judge Feiner made racist comments about the cleaning crews, Judge O'Connor held a prospective juror in contempt for being confused, Judge Aleman refused to let a terminally ill prisoner out of custody and Judge Holmes took a defendant into custody for speaking with his attorney in the hall.

These are simply the most recent items to make it into the news. This is endemic of a judiciary that believes it to be above teh rules. Judge Seidlin is simply the latest in a long line of out of touch Broward judges to have his 15 minutes.

Welcome to Broward County where we appoint our judges for life!!!

Anonymous said...

Danielynn gets the body, Judge Seidlin just ruled.

Anonymous said...

I was weeping right along with Judge Seidlin today [sniffle sniffle] as he read his courageous order from the bench. He is a blessed man.

PS. The "T" stands for Tiberius.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Laeser's suggestions to new judges are excellent ideas. He could always offer to teach at Judicial College or one of the judicial conferences. It would not hurt for us to hear a distinguished prosecutor's comments.
As a judge, it is always a pleasure to have him in my courtroom. The only criticism that I have of Mr. Laeser is that sometimes he whispers to the lawyers and they all laugh, giving the impression that they are laughing about the judge. Of course, they could be laughing about anything else but the judge doesn't know that.

Anonymous said...


As usual, you hit the nail on the head. Can you please forward your email to every ASA in your office as well as all the judges in the MJB? It would greatly help as most of them "can't see the forest for the trees".

One Who Has Been There & Done That .. And Is Now A Forest Ranger

Anonymous said...

Sorry judge(s). I have been told that I am secretly funny, but try not to let people know.

I am usually laughing about my favorite targets: the defendants, the defense 'theory' of the case, the funny defense argument that I just heard, some intereting historical tidbit that the defense just reminded me about, listening to some poignant plea for a Writ of Rachmones (something akin to pity/sympathy in Yiddish) -- in essence, while I may like and even respect my loyal opposition, I find their clients to often be humorous, while some are also evil.

I may think that members of the judiciary are funny, but not while I am in their courtrooms. Over a late evening Cointreau I may express myself more casually, but I really do avoid adding more reasons for a Judge to be upset at me. I find that my strident personality often does the trick.

So if I whisper something to my peers that causes them to chuckle -- fear not, you are not the brunt of the joke.

Arthur Spiegel said...

I just thought I would offer my 2 cents worth.

As many of you already know, a trip "North of the Border" will often earn you a bit of acid indigestion. There are a few judges in Broward county who will treat Miami-Dade lawyers in the same way they will treat the local barristers. Mark Gold, Susan Lebow, Zebedee Wright, and Alfred Horowitz come to mind. Most of the rest. . .

We now have now and have had some terrific judges here in Miami. I have had the privilege to practice before most of the bench over the last 23 years. After trying close to 100 jury trials and litigating many 1000s of hearings in this town, I have some perspective.

Some of the great judges in Miami-Dade we have, in no particular order:

Robert Scola
David Young
Mary Jo Francis
Stan Blake
Rob Pineiro
Marc Schumacher
Richard Feder
Michael Genden
Jose Rodriguez
Andy Hague
Scott Silverman
Vicky Sigler
Tam Wilson
Gil Freeman
Gerald Bagley
Ronald Dresnick
Arthur Rothenberg
Spencer Eig
Dennis Murphy
Mark Leban
Wendell Graham
Catherine Pooler
Louise Krieger-Martin
Fred Seraphin
Gerry Kogan

I am sure I have left out a few terrific judges. Please forgive me.

What makes a good judge?

1. Maintain a sense of humility. The black robe and a gavel do not make you God. You are not the only judge in the building.

2. Maintain a sense of humor. A smile and a friendly word go a long way.

3. Maintain a sense of respect for the people who are standing in front of you, lawyers, litigants and witnesses.

4. Listen to the lawyers' arguments. Read the briefs and case law submitted to you. Nobody knows everything. We all can learn something from each other. When all is said and done, do the right thing. Politics has no place in the courtroom. You are supposed to be an umpire. Call balls and strikes. Don't twist the game to favor one side or the other. When you do the right thing, you're unlikely to be reversed by the 3rd or the Supremes.

5. Abe Laeser made some terrific points. Take his insight into serious consideration.

6. Allow appearances by telephone. Not every thing requires a lawyer's presence in your courtroom or chambers.

7. If you need to correct someone, do it in chambers.

8. Realize that you are going to be teaching the young lawyers. Remember, when you came out of law school, you did not know anything either.

9. Be gracious to the people in front of you. Remember, you are the peoples' servant. Mean-spiritedness won't make your calendar move any faster. Before you say something you really don't want to say, take a recess and come back with a better attitude. It does not take much to justify a complaint to the JQC.

10. Don't be afraid to make an offer from the bench.

11. Don't rush the private lawyers; they're trying to earn a living. Most of the cases work out with a sufficient amount of time.

12. What is written in an a-form was not penned by Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, John or Ringo.

13. The speedy trial rule is not going to cost the State very many cases. You don't have to set every case within 45 days of arraignment.

14. If a defendant is represented by a lawyer, who has an authority to represent, don't force the client to be present at every hearing. If a lawyer has contact with his client, an AC is not going to get the case moving faster. If you really want to see a specific client in court issue an order for the specific purpose. Temporary ACs won't do any more for your division than a defense continuance will do.

15. A report re: plea 10 days after arraignment is a waste of time and judicial resources. Often the State has not delivered discovery and no one has had a chance to depose a witness. Too many quick pleas has created too many red files.

Anonymous said...



Arthur Spiegel said...

To Anonymous:

I am a kiss-ass? Please. What happened to you? You got a bad ruling? I feel so sorry for you. You must be a newbie. Everyone gets ruled against from time to time. Andy has spent a career, both as an ASA and as a judge doing the right thing. Spencer has been one of this town's finest lawyers in a generation. Does he have to grow in the job? Who doesn't?

I love all of you anonys. You have no stones. I am not afraid to put my name to what I write.

Anonymous said...

you have always been a blow hard ass kisser. keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I would like to initiate a discussion regarding a topic to see what people think:
How about if on first time DUI's w/o injuries or property damage, we let the defendant waive his right to a trial by jury and do a bench trial w/o the possibility of a jail sentence. In some other jurisdictions, the state does not have a right to a trial by jury in some cases, only the defendant does. That way the defendant can waive jury and do a bench trial. Everybody learns in those bench trials. Defendants see and regret how they got into this mess in the first place. The cops pick up some pointers. Lawyers get to practice their skills in a trial which is usually short. Judges also learn to be more impartial and demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Arthur Spiegel said...

Still more BS from the anonys. If you're not afraid to stand up and be counted for your opinion, why not put your name on it?

How many times have you won a jury trial as lead counsel? I am sure I have won more jury trials than you'll ever be in.

Anyway, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. You have your style; I have mine. For over 22 years,my style has worked just fine for my clients, thank you very much. When your percentage of victories starts approaching mine, I might consider your criticsm.

As far as the comment regarding bench trials. The right to a jury trial is the defendant's right. The right only attaches to the State after the defendant invokes it. If you have invoked the right, then, the case law says, the State must go along with the waiver.

If you want to test the waters, when you arraign your client, don't ask for a jury trial. The people in the system are so used to the invocation of the right to a trial by jury, it is often assumed that you asked for it. However, if you file written pleas for your clients, just ask for a trial by the Court. You can always invoke the right later, if you want to. It's your client's right, afterall.

I have found that telling a judge you want a bench trial shows you have confidence in his/her ability to do the right thing. This then opens up their eyes to the responsibility of forcing the State to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if your client loses, the court tends to be more lenient in sentencing, because you did not waste 1/2 a day in voire dire. Also, the State frequently tries to rely on smoke and mirrors with juries. Judges usually can see through the trash. Inappropriate arguments are much less influential on judges than they are on laymen.

Anonymous said...

keep up the bench trial work!

Anonymous said...

Every Judge hates Art Speigel... I used to hear that he had balls...I always thought he lacked brains, tact and ethics. I also heard a Judge held him in contempt years back after a trial and sentenced him to jail after sentencing his client to prison.

Art, people with NO credibility like yourself should post anonynously. That's not to say all those who do post anon have no credibility but when you have a crappy rep like you do, you just add fuel to the fire that is your burning career. I know you are trying to put youself in Mr. Laeser's league by using your name but you are probably one of the Def attorneys he laughs about in court.

Abe, Cointreau? Straight up or rocks? Always in a margarita, right?

Anonymous said...

my whole issue here is why be such an ass kisser? he spits out the names of twenty judges and tells the world how great they are. dude-you are a pussy ass kisser. and as for your skills as a lawyer-i house you. deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Usually, rocks. Sometimes, snifter. Always in a sidecar, with Hennesey. Not really a margarita man (too cutesy).

My doctor actually insisted on it. Something about being good for my arterial flow -- and to make the world more pleasant when the stressors get too real.

Anonymous said...


You left out Judges Lopez, Glick and Diaz.