Friday, August 31, 2007

Wish You Were Here

(not really)


Have a nice Labor Day Weekend. See You back in court on Tuesday.
We will check the comments and get them up as soon as possible although there is not much internet access on the Bay.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


While we rarely comment on our exact whereabouts, it is no secret we have been slow putting up posts as we travel to our summer home "on the Cape" to enjoy the Labor Day festivities.

Out of the loop at the REGJB, we nevertheless post some interesting things that arrived in our mailbox.

Anonymous wrote:

Let's have a one day post dedicated to the following:
Who is the most overrated and underrated defense attorney and prosecutor in the courthouse?

Rumpole replies: We are by far the most underrated defense attorney in the building. We labour away in obscurity, winning cases, but neither fame nor fortune.

Readership is up:

Justice Building Blog
-- Site Summary ---
Visits Total ...................... 302,420
Average per Day ................ 727
Average Visit Length .......... 4:48
This Week .................... 5,092

Rumpole says: We look at average per day and time spent reading. That means over six hundred people find five minutes a day to take a break and relax. And we are glad we can help.

A reader had an epiphany:
Anonymous wrote:

What Box means something to us? A JURY BOX
Who or what is outside the box?
Rumpole, am I thinking outside the box?
This clue was so simple, it was right in front of our noses all the time.

And we responded:

9:06. Take a bow. You, my friend, "think outside the box."
Now I'm not saying you are correct ,however I will reward you for
thinking about something no one else has.
Send me a private email, and I will send you a juicy clue, just for you.

Certain well known federal bloggers take issue with our grammar, and mock us by complaining about our usage of "I" versus "Me".

Here is part of the offending offal:

"Maybe Rumpole is A.G., as he often makes similar grammar gaffes on his blog..."

(Shouldn't that read "grammatical gaffes...? Bloggers who write in glass offices shouldn't throw stones. Or put another way, "let he who has not published a typo throw the first stone.")

"I" will not take this sitting down.
Watch "me."

It is time to show our friend from "Harvahard" the power of the people- those of us not blessed with the clientele that allow us to practice in the cathedrals ruled by the Federal College Of Cardinals.

If you have an embarrassing story, picture, or court transcript of our favourite federal blogger, and want it to be seen by 700 or so of the Miami Legal Community, email it to us in private. Your anonymity is assured.

See You in court after Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


We received this comment, which we edited for this post. The full comment is under Monday’s post by the Captain.:

Dear all:

30 years for 2 checks.

I want to call your attention to a case that recently was before Judge Patrick Cavanaugh, a Circuit Judge in Baltimore County, Maryland. Judge Cavanaugh sentenced Andrew to 30 years in prison for writing two bad checks. Yes, you read that right. Before I discuss the case, I want to say that I am asking for five minutes of your time, and very minimal action which may save a young man 30 years of his life. Andrew Maurice Fisher is a poor 24 year old young black man in Baltimore. ..

Here are the relevant facts: Andrew has absolutely NO PRIOR CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS. He is, by all accounts a good, fun-loving kid. He doesn’t touch drugs or get in trouble. He is especially close with his family and helped to raise his younger brother who is, in large part thanks to Andrew, the first member of their family to attend college. There had been a rash of burglaries in the apartment complex where Andrew and his family live. The landlord mentioned to Andrew that they needed to install a security system, and Andrew, hoping to make a few bucks, volunteered to take on the project. The two checks written to the security company for equipment were not valid. Admittedly, we are talking about a lot of money…close to $20,000.

Andrew either messed up, or made a bad decision, but that is the extent of it. No one was hurt, maimed, violated, etc. In the midst of an otherwise wonderful life, this can in no way justify a lengthy prison sentence, no less one of 30 years. Andrew, wanting to make amends for the situation pled guilty to the charge. The Judge then launched him. He gave him the maximum amount of time on both counts consecutive to one another. At sentencing our wonderfully Just Judge made a comment that if Andrew could pay the money, he would let him out of jail. In other words, if he were wealthy, he would not be in prison. This is the basis of an ongoing appeal. 30 years for 2 checks.

Here is some perspective. In Florida, where I practice, the maximum sentence one can get for rape with penetration is 15 years…and Florida is known as a State with fairly draconian sentencing laws. This injustice must be resolved.So, what can you do?First off, quick e-mails to the Governor of Maryland, who is fairly progressive, are a good start. Here is the link

I would ask everyone who receives this e-mail to at least do that. He is the only person with pardon and commutation power in Maryland, and enough e-mails may prompt him to review the case.

Rumpole says: The individual who left this as a comment appears to be a lawyer in Florida and did not leave an email address. We invite him or her to do so, so we can get more information.

However, this is an injustice that needs to be fixed.

We have constantly commented on the inhumanity of Judges and Prosecutors who toss around decades in jail as if it doesn’t mean much at all to spend time in prison. Prison should exist for violent offenders and violent repeat offenders. We cannot afford to warehouse everyone the Legislature believes should be in prison. Until the law changes we are forced to deal with these outrages on a case by case basis. This appears to be a case worthy of our time.


As the Herald reported yesterday, citizen Janet Reno, former State Attorney, former Attorney General of the United States, reported for Jury duty in our Justice Building on Monday morning. Just a guess, but how many other former presidential cabinet members ever report to jury duty as opposed to “pulling strings” to get out of it? None. But then, Janet Reno is not like most other politicians.

Once again, by her simple dignity, she has made us proud.

Thank You Janet, for being who you are.

See You In Court, where Ms. Reno could serve on our jury any time.

Monday, August 27, 2007



We are one year away from the judicial elections that will take place in 2008. The exact date is Tuesday, August 26, 2008 and tomorrow, it’s 52 weeks and counting. So for the benefit of those that are interested in the future of the robed ones in Miami-Dade County, here is a preview:


There are 37 seats up for election. Of those, 24 incumbents have filed for re-election, 8 sitting judges have NOT filed as of yet, and there are five seats where new challengers have filed to run.

The Incumbents who have filed for re-election (without any opposition) are:

002 Barzee Flores, Mary
004 Ward, Diane
005 Donner, Amy Steele
006 Esquiroz, Margarita
009 Friedman, Ronald M.
016 Firtel, Leon M.
017 Trawick, Daryl E.
023 Lopez, Peter R.
027 Dresnick, Ronald
033 Farina, Joseph P.
037 Muir, Celeste Hardee
044 Bagley, Jerald
046 Zabel, Sarah I
051 Chumbley, Douglas J.
053 Emas, Kevin
054 Wilson Jr., Thomas S.
058 Schumacher, Marc
064 Scola, Jacqueline Hogan
069 Scola Jr., Robert N.
070 Karlan, Sandy
071 Sigler, Victoria
072 Diaz, Reemberto
075 Tunis, Dava J.
076 Eig, Spencer

The eight sitting judges who have not yet filed (and we need to be asking why) are:

001 Fernandez, Ivan F.
007 Rodriguez, Jose M.
019 Silver, Roger A.
035 Prescott, Orlando A.
036 Pineiro, Roberto M.
055 Cohen, Jeri Beth
057 Shapiro, Bernard S.
077 Butchko, Beatrice A.

The seats that new challengers have filed to run in are:

011 Velis, Josie Perez
(The incumbent is Judge Eugene Fierro)
018 Sanchez-LLorens, Migna
(The incumbent is Judge Jon Gordon)
038 Garcia, Mario
Glick, Stacy Daryl
(The incumbent is Judge Leonard Glick)
050 Cynamon, Abby
(The incumbent is Judge Stuart Simons)
063 Millan, Stephen T.
Sampedro-Iglesia, Maria
Segarra, Manny
(The incumbent is Judge Jeffrey Rosinek)


There are 9 seats up for election. Of those, 7 incumbents have filed for re-election, one of those incumbents has a challenger, and 2 sitting judges have NOT filed as of yet.

The Incumbents who have filed for re-election (without any opposition) are:

013 Brennan, Victoria R.
017 Hendon, Eric
019 Schwartz, Jacqueline
034 Sarduy, George A.
036 Saenz, Nuria
038 Arzola, Antonio

In Group 042, we have an incumbent and a challenger:

042 Lindsey, Norma S. (Incumbent)
Lesperance, Lisa V.

And, finally, the two sitting judges who have yet to file for re-election are:

016 Figarola, Rosa C.
030 Miranda, Cristina

Many questions will be answered in the next few months:

  • Will Judge Ivan Fernandez decide not to run for re-election simply because one or two of the readers of this blog continue to confuse him with Ivan Hernandez?

  • Will Judge Jose Rodriguez decide to retire and take Madonna up on her offer to cut a duet CD whilst both are wearing their infamous dueling head-pieces?

  • Will Judge Roberto Pineiro hang up his robe and go into full-time guest blogging as a career?

  • Will Judge Jeffrey Rosinek decide to forego his retirement, and instead, challenge Judge Blake for the position of Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division?

The Captain has no doubt that there will much jockeying around during the next several months and that more challengers will decide to enter the races. We look forward to all the excitement!

CAPTAIN OUT ...............................

Saturday, August 25, 2007


A few alert readers emailed us this story, and we have combined the versions for our report:

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, courtroom personnel, defendants, and Judge Luise Krieger-Martin got a surprise Friday when during a routine hearing on a case, a defendant pulled out a Flare Gun as evidence. When the startled Judge asked if it was loaded, the Defendant showed her the shells.

When Judge Krieger-Martin regained her composure she inquired how the Defendant got the gun into the building. The Defendant stated that he was stopped at security, which required asked him to put the gun on top of the x-ray machine and remove his shoes, which obviously could have contained a nail clipper or small camera.

Nothing gets past our ace security staff.

Longtime and careful readers of the blog will remember that we have written about this topic before. ("Sir. yes, you with the shotgun. Please step aside, as that man has a nail clipper and a camera and we need to deal with this. Please take your gun and pass through the screening device.")

The sad truth is that these security screeners do not do a good job, and they will continue to do a bad job until a tragedy occurs, and then everyone will point fingers. Let it be said we were one of the first to say that things are not working and the security process needs to be revamped and tightened up.


Speaking of county court, Michael Catalano has a comment up under yesterday's post where he details a frightening incident with City Of Miami Beach Officer Macias sexually molesting a female defendant he arrested for DUI. Then the officer had the cojones (yiddish for "tortillas") to show up at the Driver's License Hearing and falsely testify that the Woman refused to to take a breath test. At this point in time, the State Attorneys Office and Internal Affiars had concluded enough of the investigation to know that the accusations were truthful. They later told this to the DMV hearing officer, who proceeded to.....SUSPEND THE WOMAN'S LICENSE FOR A YEAR ANYWAY.

We can't even begin to fathom the disturbed mental mindset of a bureaucrat so petty and indifferent to the world around them that they would believe a police officer over a prosecutor and an Internal Affairs Detective.

The real issue here is that this is the fourth South Florida Law Enforcement Officer arrested for sexually molesting a woman in their custody in the last year.

Can you say "disturbing trend."?

If four cases have been reported, how many other officers are getting away with this? Don't tell us you believe these were the only ones misbehaving.
Perhaps its time for our State Attorney to interrupt one of her vacations and return to her community and speak out against this problem.

That's what we'd do if we were the State Attorney. But then again, we could never tolerate a vacation for longer than a few days.

Macias was arrested this week after a year long investigation.
Chris Lyons of Lurvey-Lyons renown for the defense.

See You In Court WITHOUT a flare gun.

Friday, August 24, 2007


The Herald carried the 3rd DCA’s opinion in Kuvin v. Coral Gables in which our Ms. Nesmith waxed poetic over the majority opinion of Judge Schwartz and his ability to quote from rock and roll lyrics.

The interesting part of this opinion is the dissent. Written by a former denizen of our REGJB, Leslie Rothenberg shows herself to be a conservative collectivist eager to warm the government loving hearts and minds of the Roberts Supreme Court. To put it another way, Judge Rothenberg writes powerfully for the proposition that there is little the government should not be able to do to its citizens that she would not find objectionable.

The facts of the case are simple: Coral Gables had an ordinance prohibiting the overnight parking on the street of pickup trucks. One Lowell Kuvin was renting a house in Coral Gables without a garage and received a ticket. He fought the ticket and appealed a declaratory judgment upholding the constitutionality of the ordinance.
The case proceeded to the 3rd DCA where the majority found the “Orwellian” actions of the City of Coral Gables frightening.

But Orwell’s world is Rothenberg’s world:

“Florida has long recognized that local governments may legislate to protect the appearance of their communities as a legitimate exercise of their inherent police power.”

Let Rumpole interpret: A government can do what it wishes to its citizens as long as the ends justify the means, meaning so long as the means are justified as a “legitimate exercise”.

Judge Rothenberg wrote:

The ordinances do not regulate “the types of personal use vehicles its citizens drive,” they regulate where they park them at night. I also take exception to two conclusions reached in the majority opinion. The first is that because the house Kuvin was renting had no garage, he had to choose between owning and parking his truck in the City or leaving town. Kuvin was not required to make such a choice. He could have chosen to rent an abode with a garage, or could have found an alternative parking place for his truck at night.

Rumpole says: of course he could! We live in a laissez faire country don’t we?

Tra la la la la- “Muffy, cancel the lease and lease the mansion down the street please. We need a garage.”

The City’s residents may own and drive cars, buses, trucks, and campers, big and small, within the City. They just cannot park them overnight on the street in the City’s residential neighborhoods.”

Ah, but Judge Rothenberg’s reasoning misses an equally rational point (using her logic) What if the offending resident employs a Klingon Cloaking device, and parks the car on the street but cloaks the vehicle, making it invisible to the code enforcement officers enforcing “quality of life” in the Gables? (“vee have arrived at a final solution for zeese pickup diving renters living in the motherland-Gables….may vee see your papers please?”) The Klingon Cloaking device is as likely an occurrence as the ease and desirability of owning a car in the Gables and parking it in the neighborhood next door.

Can’t you just see the residents of a Rothenberg envisioned Coral Gables where they race like vampires getting in their coffin before sunrise, to drive their trucks out of the Gables before the sun sets? Don’t we have enough greenhouse gas emissions without requiring people to drive their trucks to and from their home every sunset and sunrise?

But in a Rothenberg world, this is what governments and their enforcers do:
Maintaining the aesthetics of the City is rationally related to the welfare of the City.”

Rumpole wonders: “Whose aesthetics? Who decides? Please define “welfare of a city” We would define it as whether the residents have enough to eat, whether their children have good schools and healthcare. The neo-cons would define it as whether the residents are obeying orders and living in conformity of what the intellectual governing elite decide is good and proper to keep them in line.

Because if the residents express too much individuality, here is what Judge Rothenberg believes could happen vis a vis pickup trucks: “On the other hand, if Kuvin only used his pickup truck for personal use, the majority would find it unconstitutional to restrict his ability to park his truck in front of his house at night with a surfboard, smelly fishing nets, or a number of other items in the open bed of his truck.”

See what can happen in Judge Rothenberg’s world where citizens can run amok without the guiding hand of big brother? “Smell fishing nets or surfboards or other items” similarly offensive. Let them carry a surfboard and the next thing you know these ruffians will be playing (gasp!) Beach Boys rock and roll from their truck's "eight- track" stereo!

Understand that the dissenting opinion is a powerful argument for collectivism and the power of Government over people. To achieve all of this Judge Rothenberg has to engage in some tricky reasoning, foremost that Pickup trucks are and always will be “ designed as commercial vehicles” and a City always has the right to regulate commercial vehicles regardless of whether some cretin uses a commercial vehicle for a private purpose.

“These ordinances make perfect sense and are rationally related to maintaining and enhancing the residential character of the City’s neighborhoods and the aesthetics of the City because any vehicle that was designed for commercial use, regardless of whether it is used for commercial purposes, looks the same and is likely to be used to store and carry bulk material exposed to public view. “

In Judge Rothenberg’s world, only a tasteless clod would subject his neighbors to the tasteless insensitivity of driving a Ford 150- “let them drive Mercedes or Porsches!” she scoffs Antoinette like.

“Judge Corti├▒as in his concurring opinion refers to Kuvin’s Ford F-150 open bed pickup truck as a “mainstream” vehicle and as a “light truck.” It is unclear where the label “mainstream vehicle” originates… There is, however, no citing authority for this “mainstream” classification… The justification(s) for referring to Kuvin’s pickup truck in this manner appear(s) to come from “Edmunds,” a source of information not contained in the record, and touted as a “well-known resource for information on personal use vehicles,” a source perhaps well-known to some, but which is completely unknown to me.”

Memo to Judge Rothenberg: on the way from your gated estate ( we really have no idea about this-just a guess) to the secure confines of the 3rd DCA, take a gander outside your car window and count the pickup trucks you see, then let us know if they are “mainstream” enough for you.

As to “Edmunds”, one word Google". How in the world does a lawyer get on the 3rd DCA unable to research and locate an Edmunds car guide?

We See this opinion as a golden goose of an opportunity for the Judge to demonstrate to the world (and those who make appointments to higher courts) her neo-con credentials and beliefs in an all powerful Government so long as that Government shares the same ideals, belief, and definitions of aesthetics and welfare.

"Individuality is fine, so long as we approve it. "

Thank goodness for Judge Schwartz. Keep fighting the good fight, but be careful of what music you listen to, as others may not approve. It might offend their notion of aesthetics.

See You In The Gables, where apparently we can park anywhere at any time, as our chosen vehicle doesn’t offend anyone. Maybe its time to get a pickup truck and offend the high society among us.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Rick FreedmanFACDL-Miami

On Wednesday, August 22, 2007, the 11th Circuit ISC met for the final time. As the result of SB 1088, the ISC as we know it will sunset on September 30th. At the meeting today, the JAC was present, by telephone, and General Counsel Stephen Presnell provided the ISC with several important facts which all CAC attorneys need to know.1. F.S. 27.5304 (4) provides that all CAC attorneys must submit their bills within 90 days of disposition of the case or they will be subject to a 15% penalty. The effective date of that clause was supposed to begin 90 days after the Governor signed SB 1088 into law. The bill was signed on May 24th and the 90th day was today.

Fortunately, the JAC has agreed to extend the deadline until this coming Monday, August 27, 2007. If you have a closed case that was closed on or before May 24, 2007, you must therefore have your bill submitted no later than Monday.

What does that mean? In Dade County, if your bill is a “short form” bill, it must be into the offices at JAC and stamped no later than Monday. If you have a “long form” bill, it must be date stamped by the AOC no later than Monday.

For our brethren “North of The Border”, and other Circuits that do not have a Fee Review Committee and submit all their bills directly to the JAC, you must have your bills into the offices at JAC and stamped no later than on Monday. Failure to do so will result in the JAC imposing a 15% penalty to your final bill.

2. Beginning on Tuesday, August 28, 2007, contrary to previous practice in Dade County, all original bills should be submitted directly to the JAC in Tallahassee. In the past, if you had a “long form” bill, you submitted the original to the Fee Review Committee. Now, you will submit copies to the FRC, with the original going to the JAC. Once again, the bill must arrive at the JAC within 90 days of disposition of the case, or you will be subject to a 15% penalty. All other jurisdictions will continue to submit their original bills directly to the JAC.

3. In all counties, please remember that you are still eligible for payment pursuant to the ISC rates established in your Circuit before July 1, 2007; (for cases where you were appointed before July 1, 2007). For any cases that you have accepted as of July 1, you are now subject to the new “flat fee” amounts established pursuant to SB 1088 and the language contained in the General Appropriations Act. Flat fee forms are available at the JAC website.

4. This next matter should be read very carefully. Prior to July 1, when a CAC attorney was appointed to multiple cases on the same defendant, the attorney was permitted to file only one bill and was required to combine all of their work time into that one bill. That procedure has changed!!! On all appointed cases as of July 1, 2007, you may now bill each case separately. Therefore, for example, if a defendant has four (4) second degree felonies, you are entitled to submit four flat fee bills, each for $1,000, and you will be paid a total of $4,000.

5. While our ISC will officially cease to exist as of October 1, it is the intention of Chief Judge Farina to continue with an ISC in some name and some form in the future. The make-up of that future committee is yet to be determined. Judge Farina is convinced that the model that has been in place in Miami Dade County has been extremely effective in helping to deliver quality legal services to the indigent defendants in our community for the past 15 years. That model includes a master body, like the ISC, and subcommittees that operate within that body, such as the Screening Committees and the Fee Review Committees that work in the Criminal, Juvenile Dependency and Probate/Civil systems. All of those committees are run 100% by volunteer attorneys who participate in the CAC system. They are the peers that review applications for new Registry attorneys and review “long form” Makemson bills for their reasonableness before submission to a judge for payment. Due Process Providers, such as court reporters, process servers, investigators, and expert witnesses rely on a functioning advisory board like the ISC when their issues need to be addressed. That will continue in Miami-Dade County.

6. As you should all know by now, the five Directors of the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel have been selected by Governor Crist. They will be moving swiftly in communicating with county administrators in order to find the space to set up their “law offices”. They will begin the process of interviewing and hiring attorneys and support staff. Depending on where you work in this State, the offices should be functional sometime between October 1 and December 31, 2007. Once that happens, private attorneys will see a drastic reduction in the amount of conflict cases that they are appointed to. Estimates are that the private registry will receive approximately 20% of all criminal conflicts in the future.

7. In Dade County, if you have not signed the “new” contract that became effective on July 1, 2007, your name has been removed from the Registry. In order to be placed back on the Registry, you must sign a new contract. As of August 17th, a total of 88 attorneys had signed the new contract in Dade County.

More information will be made available to all CAC attorneys in the near future.

Stay tuned and please feel free to contact me should you have any additional questions.
Rick Freedman, Esq.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


THIS IS A JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG SCOOP: We're out in front of the media on this story.

Just when you think it may be safe to go back into the courtroom…Broward Lawyer Hilliard Moldof will be getting a rude awakening Wednesday morning, as Rumpole and the Blog scoop the media and report that the two prosecutors in the murder case in question: Mr. Sheinberg and Mr. Chuck Morton have written the Florida Bar (motto: disbarring lawyers every day and in every way…is fun!!! ) to say that they are “extremely concerned that testimony that was never given (by us) could apparently be the crux of the final report. " The prosecutors respectfully ask the Bar to issue a “Corrected Report” and ask the committee to reevaluate the whole mess.

To remind the less alert readers and robed readers among us, Mr. Moldof was arrested and prosecuted by the Dade State Attorneys Office for allegedly paying a witness in a murder case North of the Border a hundred bucks to change his story.

The Dade SAO gave Moldof PTI in the belief that the Bar matter would be vigorously prosecuted and that Moldof would be suspended. Then the Dade SAO was blindsided by a Bar investigation that resulted in a finding of only minor misconduct resulting in a public reprimand. Most of the voices in support of the result cited the position of the Broward Prosecutors in the Murder case.

Rumpole has learned that the prosecutors ordered transcripts to support their contentions and the basic gist of their letter is that they feel that their comments in the matter have been misinterpreted and they do not want that misinterpretation to be the linchpin of the Bar’s decision to slap Mr. Moldof on his lawyerly wrist.

Rumpole says: Can the Bar reverse itself and issue new sanctions? When the Bar issue was resolve we certainly were impressed by references to Chuck Morton’s “testimony” in support of Mr. Moldof. However, if that is not the case then we certainly reserve the right to change our opinion in the matter. But has “jeopardy attached” as far as Mr. Moldof’s case?

We shall see. This is a breaking story and we may well know more by the end of Wednesday than in the beginning of the day.


You know, the “other” PDs office.

A Mr. Joseph P. George, Jr was picked from a large pool of…..uhhh…one.

It seems Mr. George was the only applicant who didn’t withdraw, and thus he wins the “prize”- 80 K a year to run a second PD’s office. Good luck Mr. George, you’re going to need it.

Mr. George assumes the post with a well rounded area of expertise in…ahh...welll..Trusts and Estates.

Yes, you read that correct. Mr. George, who will be responsible for representing defendants in everything from possession of cocaine to first degree death penalty murder prosecutions has spent a decade or so litigating Estates. Mr. George will find that not many of his clients have wills, nor –by virtue of the fact that they qualify to be his client- any property to dispose of after they leave this earth.

We admit to a bit of rancor in our feelings in this matter. We are sure Mr. George is a nice guy. And lord knows this half assed system of funding conflict counsel was not his idea. But he assumes the figure head position of the person who is taking money and work away from very qualified and talented lawyers, some of whom have spent their entire careers in criminal defense. I guess you could say that we would not be so inclined to email Mr. George and his merry band of lawyers any of our motions. But, best of luck.


In fair Miami, where we lay our scene.
From ancient grudge
break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.

It’s not exactly like that, but we did receive an email from a “Romeo” who later admitted his Juliet works on the other side of the aisle. Love blooms between the Prosecution and Defense. Romeo has asked our advice and we agreed to help.

This is a well worn route traveled by many other ships passing in the aisles of court. Beware the rocky shoals that lie in your path. However, plug in your Garmin and let Rumpole lead the way.

1) Keep it quiet. There is nothing the REGJB loves more than a good love affair except for….a better break up. The courthouse has ears and rumors fly (witness the birth of this humble blog).

2) You may think you and your honey are the first to consider carnal knowledge inside a courtroom, but as several posts confirmed a while ago, you would be treading (not to mention huffing and puffing) where many other lawyers and Judges have gone before. And to be caught
in flagrante delicto would mean instant ruination. There are several motels nearby that serve the purpose of true love.

3) But we are jumping the gun.
You asked our advice on a first date.
Avoid the Lincoln Road stroll. You will definitely be seen, probably by us.
Try Ft. Lauderdale. There is the car ride up and back to chat, and several nice restaurants and places to stroll afterwards. Plus you are less likely to be noticed.

If you are the more active type, things are tough this time of year because of the heat, but a snorkeling or dive boat trip out of Pennekamp Park in Key Largo one Saturday morning is a great way to start. Then go to the Fish House on the Ocean side of the highway for lunch and sip one Pina Colada before the long drive home. It’s a nice way to spend a day and its always important to see how your intended looks in a wetsuit before committing too much to a relationship.

We wish you the best. Please keep our blog readers updated on the status of this budding romance. We cannot yet claim responsibility for a marriage, so there is always a first time. And if your Juliet has any qualms about dating a lawyer from the other side, just remind her of this:


'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

See You In Court trying to figure out who is Romeo and who is Juliet.

Monday, August 20, 2007



Misery loves company and nobody loves being all by their lonesome at a defense table, so Falcon’s Ex-QB Michael Vick has pled guilty.

The allegations in the case are disturbing. Co-defendants have agreed to facts in which not only did Vick fund the dog fighting enterprise, but that Vick actively participated in killing dogs who did not perform well. Dogs were killed by gunshot, strangulation, immersion in water with electric shock, and in one case, by merely slamming the dog on the ground.

Vick will miss the 2007 season and the 2008 season at least if he is sentence to a year. If he is sentenced to 18 months, it is likely Vick will miss the 2009 season as well. Then there is the issue of whether the NFL adds an additional year or years suspension for the criminal conviction. And finally, when Vick is 30 or 31, what team would take a chance on the public relations nightmare that hiring Vick would create?

The NY Times article is HERE


An issue has emerged in the comments section as to whether Judges should blog? Outside of the obvious restrictions regarding current cases, we see no reason why a Judge should not post a comment on the blog section. Just the other day Judge Pinero congratulated David Gilbert on the award he received from the Governor. What would be the difference if Pinero sent him an email congratulating him, or went over and shook his hand in Au Bon Pain and offered words of congratulations. We don’t think this is really an issue.
Indeed, the mere fact our robed readers have shown the technical ability to find the blog and post a comment requires that they receive acknowledgement for their digital skills. We remember a time when Judges didn’t have computers on their desks.

Anonymous said...

the reason why judges feel it is ok to blog is because none other than chief judge blake is one of the multiple organizers to this blog in on the gossip- how do you think rumpole gets all his info- ever heard of email.

Rumpole responds: We have never, ever received an email from Judge Blake. And it is our distinct opinion that relations between Rumpole and our chief administrative Judge have become downright chilly after Rumpole spent several days criticizing the firing of Judge Klein. Or maybe we’re just too sensitive.

See You In Court. Doesn’t the new traffic mess make Mondays worse than ever?

Sunday, August 19, 2007



Yes we are jumping the gun a bit early. For those of you new to the blog, you can review old posts proving our amazing run last year at picking the winner of football games. There are at least two new boats named after us by grateful blog readers.

This year, beyond our normal Sunday picks we are thinking of something a bit more interactive. We are actively negotiating with some web sites to allow us to run a football pool of some sort, in which you, the loyal reader could participate.

In order to keep things legal, the prize money would have to come from Rumpole himself. "No purchase necessary" to keep the State Attorneys Office from investigating us.

The question is what kind of pool should we run? Our first thought is an elimination or suicide pool, where the participants would have to just pick one winner from one game a week, no point spread needed. Sounds easy huh? Here's the rub: the first time you pick the Colts over the Lions, you can no longer use the Colts for the rest of the year. So you must not only pick your game carefully, but look at the schedule for weeks to come to plan your picks accordingly. Otherwise before you know it, you're left with choosing the Texans/Cardinals match up.

Let us know your thoughts and if you would be so inclined to participate.


Here are our thoughts on our local heroes:

1) In view of the Brady Quinn negotiations and lengthy holdout, and the performance of John Beck, the front office doesn't look so bad in passing on the Notre Dame pretty boy. The Dolphins saved a ton of money, and had their QB of the future in training camp from the get go.

2) Give Ted Ginn time. He is spending his pre-season learning routes and check offs and blitz pickups and special teams. The flashy catches will come.

3) For all of the Dolphins smarts in passing on Quinn, they look positively stupid in blowing all that money on Culpepper, who by the way now looks fine in Oakland. Plus they just guaranteed twenty million to Joey Porter, who they signed not knowing he needed knee surgery. When will Porter contribute? Who knows. And Trent Green is showing that he may never recover emotionally to that devastating hit last year which knocked him out for several games. Can anyone envision him being the starting QB next year?

No team wins by dumping loads of money on aging veterans. The Steelers won a Super Bowl with Porter anchoring the defense. Don't you think they knew what he was worth? The Dolphins have spent close to forty million dollars on Culpepper, Green, and Porter. This is money poorly spent in our opinion. The season is shaping up as a 8-8 or 7-9. But if Beck and Ginn progress to the point of making contributions, then next year the Fins can spend some money on defensive draft picks and OL linemen in free agency, and then we may be talking playoffs.

Until then, we will just have to get our enjoyment out of this season by rooting against the Jets and picking football winners purely for fun and not for profit.

See You Tomorrow, we're the one's reading the sports page in Au Bon Pain.


PS: An alert reader emailed us to inform us that we missed this 3rd DCA reversal of a murder case: HERE. The case is noteworthy because it was the second time the 3rd DCA saw fit to reverse the conviction for introduction of the same type of evidence that caused the case to be reversed the first time.

We know the State Attorney's office has an appellate division. The trick however, is to actually READ the opinion, so you can figure out what the 3rd DCA doesn't want you to do again. We know that of all people we should not be chastising anyone for NOT reading appellate opinions, but then again, we have been known to read an FLW or two, but only when it is absolutely necessary.

David Molansky, Esq., on the winning briefs for the appellant, and Judge Murphy stuck with the third trial of the case.

Friday, August 17, 2007




Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney David I. Gilbert was honored this week in Tallahassee by Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet for receiving the 2007 Gene Berry Award. The award is given annually by the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association in memory of a prosecutor who was killed in 1982 by the wife of a man he prosecuted.

Gilbert, a 34-year veteran of the state attorney's office, is considered an expert in traffic-homicide cases and also helps his office train new attorneys and prosecute major crimes.

judge rob pineiro said...
Congratulations on a well deserved award, David. Rumpole, you're absolutely right when you say David Gilbert is an expert on traffic homicide. I presided over some of his cases. A true professional and a good guy as well.


PS Rumpole re you comment: "So I guess your comment means that overall I am a pretty fair guy, as I am catching flak from both sides." Such undiscriminating "flak magnetism" is a definite judicial symptom. I guess you must be feeling a mite "judgely". If you start looking for a black robe, see your doctor immediately.

Rumpole says: Good for you David. You are one of the best.

Good lord! "Feeling 'judgely"? We sincerely hope there is a vaccination for such a terrible affliction.


As many of you are appellate practitioners you are well aware that besides opinions, our posts are also not final until the time for filing a motion for re-hearing expires.

In that light we revisit our post of two days hence, and submit this post and withdraw our earlier portion of that post:

However, all was not lost for the appellate team from the PD’s office. The defendant was convicted of a triple murder before the late Judge Henry Leyte-Vidal, and the 3rd DCA found problems with the murder instructions for two of the three counts of murder. So Mr. Brown goes to state prison for life with only one murder on his rap sheet. Happy day. We guess the thought that an improperly instructed jury on TWO murder counts might not have been the fairest panel to decide the entire case never crossed the minds of the Judges.

(It seems that although the 3rd DCA’s opinion lists Judge Scott Silverman as the Judge, the case was tried by Henry Leyte-Vidal. We apologize to Judge Silverman, who we are sure will have future opportunities to be reversed by our favourite district court of appeal.)


The dog days of August seemed to have heated up the tenor of the comments. Please comment all you want. Try and refrain from personal attacks which are so crude and really beneath the dignity of criminal practitioners. Save the personal attacks for the civil practitioners.

We also suggest refraining from endless speculation about our identity. No one knows, and it just causes us to receive emails from individuals who are upset with being accused of running the blog. Give it a rest already.


Hurricane Dean has turned into a very large and dangerous storm and Florida and Miami’s apparent good fortune is another country’s misfortune. Our prayers and hope for the best are for those in the storm’s path.


For those of you who really have nothing to do and read the federal blog and our blog, then you are well aware that David O Markus quickly accepted our proposition that the Padilla jury would be out past Monday. The alacrity with which Mr. Markus accepted our modest wager leads us to believe he may have been chatting with the Marshals. Be that as it may, we owe him a couple of sawbucks, and he should watch his mail this week for its delivery.

See You In Court On Monday.

Thursday, August 16, 2007



Our exclusive correspondent David O Markus, who we have placed in the courtroom at great personal expense, (based on his hourly rates) reports a clean sweep for the government.

This has got to be a bit of a surprise as many observers reported a weak prosecution case and powerful closing arguments for the Defendants.

However one should not discount the spectre of terrorism and 9/11 which cast a large shadow on this trial.

Was justice done?

For full coverage and comments about this case, go to the Federal Blog. The Link is on the left. Leave a comment and tell Markus Rumpole sent you.



more information to follow.



And we owe him 20 bucks because we bet him there would not be a verdict until Monday.


It was an interesting day yesterday perusing the appellate decisions from the 3rd DCA (Motto: "Give us a really tough case, and we'll give you a per curiam Affirmed." )

In Brown v. State,
HERE the Judges applied some legal yoga to arrive at the conclusion that a new indictment obtained AFTER THE EXPIRATION OF THE SPEEDY TRIAL TIME PERIOD, did not bar the prosecution of the Defendant.

As a professor from our law school up North used to say, “That dog won’t hunt.”

Candid shot of how the 3rd DCA sometimes works.

However, all was not lost for the appellate team from the PD’s office. The defendant was convicted of a triple murder before Judge Scott Silverman, and the 3rd DCA found problems with the murder instructions for two of the three counts of murder. So Mr. Brown goes to state prison for life with only one murder on his rap sheet. Happy day. We guess the thought that an improperly instructed jury on TWO murder counts might not have been the fairest panel to decide the entire case never crossed the minds of the Judges.

In Barnes v. State, Andy Stanton of the PD’s appellate division notches a reversal
HERE and Judge Trawick takes the fall for instructing the jury on the “forcible felony” portion of the justifiable use of deadly force instruction when the “forcible felony” provision was not applicable to the case.

Barnes and the State get to do it all again. "This case was so nice, we decided to try it twice!"
Actually this was a tough one. The point of law was a technical issue not often encountered unless you try a lot of self defense cases. No real fault should be ascribed here to the prosecution or Judge Trawick, who we think is a very good judge who does a good job all the time.

And while you’re on the 3rd DCA’s web site, check out Silvia Gonzalez’s nice win HERE
in Labrador v. State. No Silvia was not defending a cute puppy.

Most of you know that appellate law gives us a rash.

See You In Court. We're the one's scratching as we read the FLW's.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Things look bleak for Vick.

The last two remaining co-defendants in the Michael Vick dog fighting case who have not yet pled guilty have now indicated that they will plead guilty, leaving Vick and his counsel to contemplate a very lonely counsel table when trial begins on November 26, 2007. Sources are whispering that Vick and his attorneys are trying to negotiate a deal that would call for less than a year in prison.

Query: Is a year in jail sufficient punishment for a person who abuses animals on the scale Vick is accused of doing? Would you support your football team in employing Vick if he pleads guilty and does time in jail?


The Federal Blog has coverage of the closing arguments in the Padilla case. Markus reports second hand that the word is that Padilla’s counsel did a fantastic job. Go check out the Blog for coverage. Rumpole says the over/under is Monday for a verdict. We bet over.


This Sun Sentinel article touches on what we have all known about the Broward Jail: That it takes forever to be released even after a bond is posted. The article is

What is it about North of The Border that just makes them so difficult? They send more people to prison than any other circuit, and even when you should be released from jail, they hang on to you like a Judge clutching a free chicken wing at a fund raiser. We smell a class action lawsuit brewing here. Anyone know Hank Adorno’s number in Atlanta?


In an effort to fulfill our public service requirements we will be posting the National Weather Service’s Advisory’s along with the Channel 7/Miami Herald interpretation of the advisory:

Tropical Storm DEAN Public Advisory
WTNT34 KNHC 142045
500 PM AST TUE AUG 14 2007

(Miami is going to be hit. Bet on it.)

DEAN. (People in Miami should start panicking now.)

HOURS. (This sucker is racing to destroy our way of life.)


FROM THE CENTER. (No way this misses us. Buy lots of Heralds and watch channel 7 obsessively for the next month.)

See You In Court after we put up our shutters.



Our New ASAs got a rude welcome to the REGJB yesterday as the unexpected shutdown of the 17th street Bridge turned the morning commute into an exercise in frustration.

The City Of Miami ( motto: “professional planning night and day for the next earthquake” ) shut down the 17th street bridge while the 12th street bridge, while open, is under construction and the access roadways are limited. As it stands now, the only major access road into our area is the 12th street exit off of 836 which is one exit off of I-95. That has turned 12th street/12th avenue, with 12th avenue also feeding into the crippled 12th Avenue bridge into one big traffic nightmare.

Now under certain circumstances, this might be a good thing. We overheard several rumours about Judges who were so frustrated that they didn’t want to come to court. Less Judges can never really be a bad thing can it? For someone of them it was an actual opportunity to get through a Monday without making a reversible error.

So this traffic problem might well result in a lesser workload for the 3rd DCA.

Sort of like the unforeseen consequences of global warming.

Here are some alternate routes:

Coming from the South. You can stay on US1 instead of turning on 17th and take it to I-95. Then to 836. The problem is that you will get funneled into the traffic nightmare of 12th street.

Try turning on 27th Avenue and heading North to North River Drive which is also NW 20th Street. Turn right on 20th and this will essentially take you behind the Justice Building. Turn right on NW14th Street and you will then be able to access the parking lots on 14th and 12th avenue.

Coming from the North. If you usually take 1-95 to 836 to 12th Street, try the little exit NW 14th Street before 12th while on 836. You will have to act quickly, as the time on 836 is equivalent to a federal voire dire, eg., about 30 seconds, but it will take you north of the 12th street/12th avenue morass.

The Hialeah option. Not for the faint hearted. You basically have to take a bunch of roads labeled NW14th avenue/3rd street/SE99th court/Calle Generalissimo Rodriguez.

No matter which way you head they all funnel you to a street corner where you can purchase bags of limes and pastelitos while waiting for the light to change. I would venture to say that during the decades we have lived in Miami, we have actually spent more time in Europe then in Hialeah. And that was intentional.


Meanwhile, for those of you who got to work yesterday:

Satan was being prosecuted before Judge Adrien. He is representing himself pro se.

Outside of the fact that the lights kept turning on and off and the courtroom was shaken by occasional thunder, nothing unusual happened. Our own Tom Cobitz gets the call as stand-by counsel for the lord of darkness.

Not exactly Daniel Webster and the Devil, but if you have some spare time stop by the Third Floor and watch the proceedings.

Our favourite local scribe, Ms. Nesmith, reports that over the weekend the defendant had a change of heart if not a change in Deity. The Defendant is charged with murder, and the prosecution intends to argue that after the killing, the Defendant intended to cannibalize his victim. The Defendant has forsaken his desire to have the satanic bible at his table, and now intends to rely on the more pedestrian defense (no, not "the devil made me do it") that the police beat him until he confessed.

Yes, this trial promises to be full of astounding allegations.

You can read the article in the Herald HERE

And the Herald is having conniptions because there is a tropical storm in the Atlantic. It has been a slow news summer, and in the words of the Herald: “Nothing sells newspapers like our home town being devastated by a hurricane.”

Since the start of hurricane season we have the impression that the Herald seems to be begging for a disaster to hit us. As the late Miami Radio Personality Mike Renari used to sing

"I don’t want no hurricanes coming round here…”

Monday, August 13, 2007


Ever sensitive to the lightest breeze, we have sniffed out that the new prosecutors have arrived!


You are about to begin a journey from law student to lawyer. You are being given great responsibility, for you are not just a lawyer; you are a prosecutor. Let us give you the worst case scenario. You will lose a case because some Judge granted a motion he or she should have denied. Then because it took so long, those witnesses you needed on your next case got bored and left, so when the Judge called that case you were forced to dismiss it because you were no longer ready. You now have a defense attorney who nobody likes trying to bamboozle you into waiving a mandatory jail sentence, and cop belittling you because he has been up all night, is tired, and can’t wait for you to get to his case. It is 3:30, you haven’t had time for lunch. It is the end of the month and your measly salary is down to a few bucks. At some point, hungry, broke, angry at being yelled at, frustrated in your attempts to prosecute, someone, maybe a pro se defendant, will tell you they are innocent. You will need will power, self control, and ability to compartmentalize your frustrations and anger, to treat that statement with all the seriousness that your job empowers you to do.

You are being entrusted with great power, and you are being given a great opportunity. The Dade State Attorneys Office has produced some of the great lawyers in Miami, Florida, and the Country. You have accepted a job that requires a sacrifice of salary and personal time. And yet, you competed against hundreds of other lawyers to get this spot. The best advice we can give you is that the best part is now starting. Squeeze every available drop of experience out of this opportunity.

While more than most people you prosecute are guilty, don’t forget that some are not. More importantly, you will need to learn the lesson of perspective. What do we mean by that? We mean that just because someone is guilty, and you can seek the most severe punishment for them, doesn’t mean you should. People lie, cheat, hit, hurt, and steal for more reasons than you can ever imagine. Perspective means working hard to get a conviction, and then seeking justice, not vengeance because some obnoxious defense attorney like us has made you work hard for that conviction. Understand the Constitution works only when we both do our job. Rolling over and pleading guilty just because you have a good case is not the way our justice system was meant to be. If we make you work for it, understand that you were chosen for this job because someone believed you had the ability to fight hard and win.

You will confront crossroads. Some colleagues and some police officers may someday to ask you to look the other way. A judge may put you on the spot and ask you a difficult question, where the truthful answer may damage a case, or deprive a victim of what you are sure is justice. Learn to recognize those moments for what they are: crossroads at which the fabric of what you are made of is revealed. Make the easy choices and you may end up regretting them for the rest of your life. A reputation earned over decades can be erased by one bad choice. Janet Reno always told her prosecutors to do the right thing. By that she meant always be honest and ethical and damn the consequences of what those honest and ethical choices may mean. Just look at the tough choices she made as Attorney General. No one could ever accuse her of playing politics.

So, welcome to our little world. In each class of new ASAs and PDs there are one or two people who find out that they have found the place where they want to make a life. It’s not a bad choice. But you don’t have to stay 20 years. Three good years of hard work and experience can set you on a path to legal success in whatever career you end up seeking.

And just remember that at some point, some inconspicuous humble lawyer may be watching what you say and do. Being on the blog can be a good thing or a difficult experience. It’s your choice.

Welcome. (And if you’re not from Miami, watch the Cuban coffee. Too much caffeine and sugar may seem like a good thing at the moment, but it will catch up with you. And watch out for those mojitos and models on South Beach. Too much of that can also lead to unintended consequences.)

See You In Court. Watching.

Friday, August 10, 2007


OK, back to business.
The Third DCA slammed, and we mean slammed the Law Firm Of Adorno and Yoss in their lawsuit settlement of a case in which citizens sued the City to recover fees for emergency services.

To sum it up, and we have great difficulty with civil cases, (they give us a rash when we get too close) what appears to have happened is that Adorno's firm sniffed out a class action case with the promise of large fees.
BEFORE the class was certified, they negotiated a settlement for seven plaintiffs for 7 million dollars in which their firm would keep a measly 2 million dollars. Oh, and along the way, the rest of the tax payers the law firm was going to represent could be dammed, as the settlement was reached before the class was certified. Since Adorno and his firm had the settlement, they had no reason to care that the statute of limitations for the rest of us was about to expire.

Quicker than you can say “honey call the Mercedes dealership and order me that new SL500” Adorno stuck it to the rest of his possible clients and struck a deal. When the deal became public the City howled and moved to set aside the settlement and have the funds returned. The Circuit Judge agreed, and Adorno and his firm appealed.

Legal tip for Yoss and Adorno: Chutzpah is not a city in Wisconsin.

The Third DCA affirmed and a portion of the concurring opinion of new Judge Cortinas is below (he speaking about Adorno and his firm):

Unchecked avarice????

Plainly and simply, this was a scheme to defraud. It was a case of unchecked avarice coupled with a total absence of shame on the part of the original lawyers. The attorneys manipulated the legal system for their own pecuniary gain and acted against their clients’ interests by attempting to deprive them of monies to which they might otherwise be entitled. More unethical and reprehensible behavior by attorneys against their own clients is difficult to imagine.
Under these unique circumstances, the trial court properly set aside the $7 million settlement agreement based on breach of fiduciary duties to the class.

Here is the OPINION

And people wonder why we don't do civil work. Simple. We don't have the ethics required to screw a whole city of clients for 2 million bucks.

See You in criminal court.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Here I am sitting in the corner of a dark bar and raising a glass or two to the memory of Sy. This is how Sy would have wanted to be remembered. I sent several private emails and asked readers to report on Sy's funeral, and here is the first one I received. So through the miracle of "mobile blogging" I post this email:

Rumpole: Here are the details from Sy's funeral. There was as expected a large turnout of lawyers, Judges, and at least one client in shorts and a tee shirt. The Reverend(???) who ran the ceremony did not know Sy and he invited anyone to speak on their memories of Sy.

Stan Blake started off on behalf of the Judges of the 11th Judicial Circuit. He remembered how when Sy would say that he was almost too choked up to talk about his case, Stan would invite Sy to have a seat and let the rest of the lawyers go and Sy could call the case when he regained his composure. Almost immediately Sy would recover and talk about the case. When Sy would close with his famous of line of "just once wanting to hear the word 'granted' in this courtroom" Stan would inquire if Sy had anywhere else to be. Upon being informed by Sy that he had several more courtrooms to go to, Stan would say "your motion to leave is granted."

A man whose name I did not get, but who knew Sy for 70 of his 75 years spoke. He and Sy grew up together in the Bronx, NY. He and Sy liked to joke that they were the oldest living former Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. He recalled that Sy was drafted into the Marine Corps and sent "beyond the front lines in Korea." Sy saw terrible action and combat in Korea and was haunted by the horrors of war for the rest of his life.

Retired Judge Robert Dehl spoke that when he first became a Judge in 1964 Sy was already a courthouse regular. He remarked that he was one of the many people who were surprised at Sy's ability when he presided over a jury trial with Sy, which Sy won.

David Markus gave the best speech of the night. He and Sy shared office space together for many years. David told us that Sy was a published author who wrote and published short stories under a pen name. David spoke of the lessons he learned from Sy about law and life. David was poignant in remarking that while Sy may have rarely heard the word "granted" in court, he often heard the words "not guilty" after trial. David spoke about Sy's caring and concern for his clients and that Sy often represented people who could not pay. David also spoke about how modest Sy was. Sy wouldn't even save the wonderful article Susannah Nesmith wrote about him in the Herald, so David had it framed for him. And David recounted how genuinely touched Sy was to learn that he was included with 10 other giants in the Miami legal community when he was awarded the Miami Legal Legend award with such others like Janet Reno and Chesterfield Smith.

Judge Julio Jiminez who was partner with Sy for five years spoke. Judge Jiminez spoke about how one day he had a conversation with Sy about the need to raise their legal fees. A few days later Sy gave him 25.00 and told him to cover a case the following day. Julio asked what the $25.00 was for and Sy said "it's half the legal fee." Julio responded "Didn't I just have a conversation with you about raising our rates?"

Rumpole, Sy went out with love and laughter and it is all he could have asked for, and just what he deserved.

Rumpole says: Well done indeed.
You need not worry as I have secured a safe ride home.


Today we say goodbye to a friend.

You will not soon be forgotten. Your kindness, humor and humanity have touched each one of us in a special way. We laughed at your jokes, marveled at your ability, celebrated your wins, and commiserated with you on your losses. Now we have lost you, and we must rely on each other to ease our pain. If we listen closely we can almost hear that familiar voice: "Hang in there kid. It will get better."

In the coming days and months and years ahead we will stand where you stood and will say "As Sy might have said Judge....." There will be smiles in court and knowing nods of the head.

Time will pass and those who follow us will hear about you. Stories will be told and re-told. Eventually time will move on and all of us who knew you will be in different places. Our names and yours will fade into the fast moving waters of history and time. Such is the nature of life.

But for now, we will gather tonight and laugh and cry and remember.

And for many years to come, it will often be said that in this place and time there was a man who was unique. He made us laugh and earned our friendship and respect. He did his job which was really his calling to the very best of his remarkable ability. And along the way he touched more lives than he could ever know.

Rest in peace Sy Gaer. You have earned a special place in our hearts.

The memorial service for Sy is this evening at the Mahi Shrine Temple at 7:00 PM. Viewing begins at 3:00 PM.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Herald Article on Sy last year.

It was great that the Herald and our own little legal community banded together last December and honored Sy on his 75th Birthday, with a wonderful article written by Susannah Nesmith and a party at Tobacco Road, where Judge Stan Blake made a presentation to Sy on behalf of the 11th Judicial Circuit. This was all about the best of our legal world honoring one of our own who truly deserved it.

Since that time, Sy was named one of the original eleven Legal Legends of Dade County by the 11th Circuit Historical Society. The award will be presented in November, but according to David Markus, Sy did receive the letter and was very proud.

It is all together fitting that we re-run the wonderful article written by Ms. Nesmith:


Attorney: I'm here on a mission of mercy for this poor innocent child, your honor.
Judge: How old is this 'poor child'?
Attorney: He's 23 years old, your honor . . . a babe in the woods.
Judge: If I recall, once you reach 18, you're not a child anymore.
Attorney: I have suits that are older, your honor.
Judge: You have speeches that are older. I've heard them all Mr. Gaer. Motion denied.

Ladies and gentleman, Sy Gaer, a little old man who is something of a giant in courthouse circles. Here is a lawyer who turns routine hearings into comedy theater, but also regularly wins trials, even though he refuses to prepare.

His lines are legendary in the Justice Building.
To Gaer, every case is a potential "miscarriage of justice, " all prosecutors are "persecutors" and every client a "poor innocent child" no matter how old, or how heinous the alleged crime.

He's been known to comment that a certain prosecutor had "his diaper wrapped too tightly." Gaer, 75, even has a favorite line for judges: "Just once before I die, I'd like to hear the word 'granted' in this courtroom."

"He's a throwback, almost a caricature. He practices law as it was practiced four decades ago, " said Circuit Judge Stanford Blake.

All humor aside, young prosecutors quickly learn not to underestimate the Korean War veteran from Queens.

"They see this bumbling Barney Fife type guy, and then he does a brilliant cross examination and they're shocked because they thought he was just a court jester, " said Circuit Judge Diane Ward.

For all his bombast in the courtroom, Gaer is humble in the hallway.
"I'm just a crippled, bent-over old man who can barely catch his breath, " Gaer said on a recent day.

He has the breathlessness of emphysema, the slow shuffle of a herniated disk and the paper-thin, liver-spotted skin of a man who has lived a long time. His suits hang crookedly on his thin, stooped frame.

Last year, he fought off colon cancer. But while he may be slowing down, Gaer shows no signs of giving up.

He'll do 15 hearings in a morning - a dozen more than most lawyers handling major crimes would ever schedule in one day. Gaer calls it "volume business." He charges less than most and handles more cases.
Gaer says he can do it because he doesn't prepare for trial like other lawyers do.

"I don't take depositions. I don't visit them in the jails. I don't take collect calls."
Instead, he goes to court armed only with a little black book, where he scribbles his case information in tiny, left-handed script.
"If he takes depositions, he has to tell us his angle, " explained veteran prosecutor Susan Dannelly. "What better way to spring a witness on us. Of course, not everybody can pull that off."

"Trial by ambush, " says Circuit Judge Leonard Glick. "He will find a little hole and expand it a little larger, then find another one and expand that one and before you know it, the entire thread of the case has come unraveled."

Prosecutors Tama Koss and Carolina Corona were ambushed by Sy this month. The charge was attempted murder of an 83-year-old man. Gaer's client was arrested driving the man's car hours after the beating.
Gaer entangled the lead detective in his own department policies, asking him why he didn't tape the victim picking his client out of a photo lineup.
The cop said that's not normal procedure. Gaer had him get the police department policy. It says photo lineups should be recorded.

"Here we are in the year 2006 when things are so technologically advanced and you don't have a tape recorder or a video recorder?" Gaer asked.
"No sir, " Det. Magdiel Armenteros responded.
"Wouldn't it be fair to document those sorts of things?" Gaer continued.
"It is documented in my supplemental report, " the officer responded.
"But isn't it true that a police officer can put anything he wants in a report, that he can get cute with the facts if he wants and no one will know?" Gaer asked.
"No sir, there's nothing cute about my job, " the officer replied petulantly.
After questioning why there was no DNA or fingerprint evidence, Gaer had given the jury reasonable doubt.
His client was acquitted of attempted murder and convicted only of auto theft. He was facing 30 years in prison but got just 10.

"What can I say? Sy's a hero, " Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez said after trial. "I thought this case was a slam dunk."
Jimenez worked in Gaer's office in the early 1980s, a time he recalls as exhausting.

"Sy's like a professional gambler, " he said. "He knows all the possible combinations that might come up. He's seen it all before."

So why keep doing it?
"I find it mildly amusing, " Gaer said one day, sitting in his office a few blocks from the courthouse. He's been there for years. He redecorated in 1977 and hasn't seen a need to change the orange-and-cream shag carpeting on the wall.
Though he's had several high profile cases over the years, he tends to shun the media. He adamantly refuses to discuss any but the barest details of his personal life.

Born and raised in Queens, where his father was a taxi driver, he went to school on the GI Bill - first Queens College, then the University of Miami Law School.
He's been married but won't say how many times. Circuit Judge Scott Silverman was briefly his stepson, back when Silverman was 4.
"Every judge who's in that building now, the day they walked in, Sy Gaer had already been there 10 years, " Silverman said. "He came with the building."

Gaer was overwhelmed and a bit embarrassed by all the attention he got on his birthday. Three different judges interrupted court to sing Happy Birthday.
The Miami-Dade criminal defense bar put on a party that night at Tobacco Road that drew a few hundred Justice Building regulars.
"I can't believe this turnout, " Gaer said. "It's not like I'm Mother Teresa or something. I just made a good living."

Lawyers and judges traded Sy stories. Like the one about the young prosecutor who carts a box of files into the courtroom, ready for trial. Gaer walks in without even a briefcase. He asks the prosecutor if he can borrow a couple of pieces of paper.
Gaer won.
"After that I used to bring in extra pads for Sy, " Assistant State Attorney Philip Maniatty recalled.

State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle arrived with a big bear hug for Gaer: "He was one of my first teachers. I used to watch him talk to jurors. It was impressive what he could do with them."

Circuit Judge Reemberto Diaz said Gaer "understands the psychology of a jury."
"People think he wings it. He doesn't. He knows the law better than anyone in the building probably, " said defense attorney Phil Reizenstein.

Gaer is the first to point out he doesn't win anywhere near all of his cases. Asked why he didn't seem to have any enemies in a building built on confrontation, he said: "I had one once, but he's dead now. I guess I've outlived all my enemies."

WHAT COLLEAGUES SAY ABOUT SY GAER * Assistant State Attorney Philip Maniatty: "He will go through an entire trial and refer to his client by the wrong name and the jury will acquit anyway." * Defense Attorney Richard Sharpstein: "He kicked my a- as a young prosecutor a couple of times. I thought, 'this guy hasn't taken a single deposition.' " * Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez, who once worked with Gaer : "There are people who can't afford Roy Black, but they want to hire their own attorney. He's told me before, 'People are proud. There's no better feeling for some of these guys than to be able to pay for their own lawyer.' " * Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski: "There's so many curmudgeons out there that are real curmudgeons and nasty people, but Sy's a really nice guy." * Circuit Judge Diane Ward: "He represents people who no one has ever fought for before. When Sy is fighting for somebody, the whole courtroom is listening. That's a nice thing for somebody who's scared." * Assistant State Attorney Kionne McGhee: "I saw him beat down a colleague of mine. I mean, beat down into the ground." * Circuit Judge Norman Gerstein: "We used to joke at one time that he had as many cases as the Public Defender's Office."