The Scene: Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman’s courtroom, North of the Border.
Dramatis Personae: Judge Cheryl Aleman; Attorney Sean Conway; “anonymous sources” the Florida Rules Of Criminal Procedure; The Florida Bar.
Sometime in October 2006, embattled Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Aleman, ever concerned for the rights of the accused, came up with a neat experiment: setting cases for trial within two weeks of the arraignment. The plan forced defendants to either waive their right to speedy trial or proceed to trial without proper time to prepare. In some twisted way, this was seen as a fair and just way of presiding over cases in criminal circuit court.
(We are working very hard at this point to refrain from expressing our views on this misguided policy and the individual who imposed it on defendants appearing in circuit court. Suffice to say, we expected nothing less from this “Judge”, and fervently hope she gets the same type of Justice at her JQC hearing that she so faithfully dispensed while on the criminal bench.)
Enter Attorney Sean Conway who posted this ARTICLE on the Broward Blog.
In documenting the exchange that had previously occurred between the Judge and the attorney in court over the new policy, the attorney saw fit to identify Judge Aleman in his transcript as “Evil Unfair Witch. Hereinafter EUW”
The Blog post found its way “anonymously” to the Florida Bar which opened an investigation and required the lawyer to respond to the complaint.
At issue is the following Rule from the Rules Of Professional Conduct:
RULE 4-8.2 JUDICIAL AND LEGAL OFFICIALS
(a) Impugning Qualifications and Integrity of Judges or Other Officers. A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, mediator, arbitrator, adjudicatory officer, public legal officer, juror or member of the venire, or candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office
Assessments by lawyers are relied on in evaluating the professional or personal fitness of persons being considered for election or appointment to judicial office and to public legal offices, such as attorney general, prosecuting attorney, and public defender. Expressing honest and candid opinions on such matters contributes to improving the administration of justice. Conversely, false statements by a lawyer can unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice. . .
To maintain the fair and independent administration of justice, lawyers are encouraged to continue traditional efforts to defend judges and courts unjustly criticized.
Having appeared before Judge Aleman on numerous occasions, calling her “Unfair” appears to be nothing more than an astute observation given her brazen attempt to eviscerate the rules of criminal procedure and the Constitution. “Evil” is a personal opinion that the lawyer had, and one of the more mild perjorative labels one could have bestowed upon Aleman given her conduct. While it never occurred in any of our cases, we personally saw her take what could fairly be called “evil delight” in the problems of defendants and lawyers who appeared before her. And “Witch” quite frankly in our opinion does a disservice to those who practice the religion of Wicken.
So we’re back to calling the Judge a Witch. This is not something that we would have counseled a lawyer to say. However, enter the opinion of the wise and learned Judge Arthur Tarnow of the District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan in Feiger and Steinberg v. The Michigan Supreme Court. We don’t have the cite, but the opinion is HERE
Judge Tarnow held a provision of the Michigan’s bar, similar to Florida’s rule of professional conduct cited above, unconstitutional.
From the opinion:
Limiting an attorney’s extrajudicial criticism of a branch of government in the name of preserving the judiciary’s integrity is likely to have an unintended, deleterious effect upon the public’s perception, since attorneys are often best suited to assess the performance of judges.
As Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote for the majority in Bridges v. California:
The assumption that respect for the judiciary can be won by shielding judges from published criticism wrongly appraises the character of American public opinion. For it is a prized American privilege to speak one's mind, although not always with perfect good taste, on all public institutions. And an enforced silence, however limited, solely in the name of preserving the dignity of the bench, would probably
engender resentment, suspicion, and contempt much more than it would enhance respect.
The Broward Blog is reporting that as Judge Aleman’s day of judgment approaches, the Florida Bar is moving quickly to wrap up the Bar’s inquiry into the blog post calling her a witch.
Writing in a blog read by contemporaries in the legal field is wrought with problems. Lord knows that we have struggled with moderating our blog and walking a line between allowing fair commentary and criticism, and not allowing unsupported slurs designed to do nothing more than embarrass the subject of the comment.
While we side squarely with the attorney in this issue, the decision is not all black and white. As we often tell our clients “be careful what you ask for, as you may get it.” A “wild west” of the Internet where people savage each other on line is not exactly our idea of a free exchange of ideas.
While we don’t like being the self appointed arbiter of good taste, the potential for abuse on an un-moderated blog is large. Just the other day we counseled a lawyer who had a bad experience before a circuit court judge. The lawyer was so incensed that s/he was ranting about knowing the judge when s/he was in private practice and allegedly violating the seventh commandment on a regular basis. To allow anyone to anonymously make a scandalous if not life changing allegation on a widely read blog is not something we wish to be a part of. Therefore, we have taken the step of moderating comments.
But the issue is not our blog policy, but the words of the blogger who does not hide their identity and criticizes a Judge. Is that conduct actionable under by the Bar, or did Justice Black get It right?
For it is a prized American privilege to
speak one's mind, although not always with perfect good taste, on all
public institutions. And an enforced silence, however limited, solely
in the name of preserving the dignity of the bench, would probably
engender resentment, suspicion, and contempt much more than it
would enhance respect.
Wise words indeed.
See you in court, openly rooting against Cheryl Aleman.
When you see something that is not right, not fair, find a way to get in the way and cause trouble. Congressman John Lewis
JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG
WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM. Winner of the prestigious Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
ALEMAN, BLOGGING, AND THE BAR
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Cheaters win AGAIN! WOOOOOOOOH!!
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
TRIAL OF THE CENTURY....
Florida JQC vs. Her Honor C. Aleman, d/b/a The Constitutional anti-Crist (see below)
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
To put this entire case into perspective, none other than APD Bruce Raticoff sums it up best:
"Judge Aleman is supposed to maintain courtroom decorum and professionalism and fairness and openness, and instead she engaged in gamesmanship when she had a guy’s life in her hands,” Raticoff said. “She should be excised from ever holding that kind of authority again. She’s a constitutional anti-Christ.”
Aleman is charged by the JQC with formal charges for incidents when she:
• Threatened to hold two assistant public defenders in contempt in a first-degree murder case for not filing a motion quickly enough.
• Held a contempt hearing for a defense attorney when she knew he was out of town, and then sentenced him to 60 days in jail for missing two hearings.
• Refused to release a man allegedly dying of AIDS from jail and then issued an order releasing him once a negative article was published about the incident.
• Served on cases involving a defense attorney with whom she had conflicts.
Should be a very interesting trial - we look forward to the outcome!!!
CAPTAIN OUT ......
Reposted from Monday, December 03, 2007 11:08:00 PM
This Aleman thing is a joke. Everyone knows her deal. There is not a single lawyer I've spoken to that has anything good to say about her. Including prosecutors.
As a defense lawyer, if she walked into my office for representation, I'd turn her down. No need to protect the rights of someone in our system that doesn't believe in them herself.
Look who defends her - priests who are anti gay (publically) and anti AIDS.
We all know what's going on in this case.
Black was right.
And so is that Broward Blogger.
Well said Rump!
The key is the "extrajudicial" nature of the blog post. It's one thing to have a rule like that regulating speech in briefs and before the court. That makes sense given that we are a profession.
But at your computer, in your pajamas?
Hey Captain why dont you give credit to the webste you stole your information from.
Rump, the issue is not that he called her a witch but that she had mental health issues. Why dont you give us you opinion of whether claiming a Judge is mentally ill violates the rule?
On the other hand, the reason why your blog is condiered more credible then JAAB is because you moderate. Its a tough job but you do it well. Sadly the Broward Blog is run by those with political agendas and vendettas against certain Judges while propping up other Judges.
How did you know I blog in my pajamas?
I am aware of the issue of moderation and liability and I choose moderation and civility at the expense of liability. But I don't like to talk about it. It gives too many nuts ideas.
Any word on how the trial of Judge Aleman is going? It was supposed to start this morning.
I am a Broward defense lawyer who practices almost exclusively in Broward and I can tell you first hand that the trio of Aleamn, Gardiner, and O'Connor need to go. They singlehandedly give Broward judges a bad name. It's a conspiracy among the three. In fact, Gardiner and O'Connor are testifying on behalf of Aleman in this hearing.
for running Aleman commentary go to jaabblog under the rodstrom v moore stream
I've read the commentary and I am disappointed. It seems things are going well for Aleman. I am reminded of a quote from The Prince: "When you strike at the King you must kill him."
Aleman could emerge from this, heavens forbid, stronger and with more courage to carry on her religous crusades.
Rump, remember what people said about the difference between those who heard Nixon on the radio and watched him on TV during the Kennedy debate.
I doubt the JQC is buying into her "new" demeanor
Things seem to be going well for Aleman because she is the only one to testify thus far. Lets see how they go when others testify tommorow.
let me tell you something I know one Judicial candidate who will end up in front of the JQC if elected...Mario Garcia....why you ask? have you seen his most honorable endorsement...Mayor Manny "Marana" Marono of Sweetwater, FL (rememeber him the leader of the munchkin nation)..what kind of an idiot would accept this endorsement...answer certainly one that won't be sitting on the bench in 2008....
Aleman is a disgrace to anyone who ever defended a single person in court. She could care less about anyone's constitutional rights , she is incompetent and clearly mean spirited. I like many others are openly rooting against her.
any chance we can get rothenberg on the 4th dca to rubber stamp all alemans rulings?
BREAKING NEWS! The real fireworks are in the bar trial of Jack Thompson before Hon. Judge Tunis.
In todays gossip Judge Tunis told Jack Thompson to sit down and shut up!
Tickets for the trial are available at tobacco Road.
Rumpole, will you marry me?
After several failed attempts, I have a strict rule of not marrying on the first date, and we haven't even had that yet. I should warn you that my interests lie mostly in the shallow and vapid concerns of the average american male (translated- I want to marry pam anderson).
Of course, he won't marry you sweetheart. As his name indicates, Rumpole is more into having poles up his rump.
Can anyone confirm the Jack Thompson/ Dava Tunis Bar hearings mess?
Take Aleman down now!!!
Rumpole, sorry about that pole/rump comment. I just couldn't resist. You don't have to post it if you don't want to. In reality, I know you're a real man's man.
So if I look like Pam Anderson just with slightly smaller breasts can I get you to go on that first date???
I am shallow and vapid, but I must say you are talking the talk. Can you walk the walk?
Oh I sure can... however it's more like a stride.
I was in court today in Broward and watched the opening statements in the Aleman trial.
All charges were dismissed except two:
1. That she was IMPATIENT when she gave the PD's 15 minutes to go to their office and do a motion to recuse.
2. That she was legally wrong to grant a motion to recuse a lawyer on one case and then deny it for the same lawyer on two others.
As much as I do not agree with anything that judge does, it does not look like she will be found guilty of either charge.
If we convicted judges of being "impatient" then, 80% have to go.
Aleman has a valid defense to the reason she denied the motion to recuse. She granted the first one only because she commented on the facts by saying that she thought the lawyer was real good and real professional even though they had a spat when she was a prosecutor and he was defending a witness with her subpoena from the statewide prosecutors office.
She then denied the motion later by the same lawyer on different cases because it was facially insufficient and was untimley. The way it was explained, the motions were clearly late and most likely facially insufficient.
No one ever sent a transcript to the 4th DCA so, the DCA opinion in based on a mistake. The mistake is that she granted her own motion to disqualify herself as a result of commenting on the motion the first time but, kept quiet on the second motions. Also, we all know you can not wait 4 months to move to disqualify a judge so she is right about that.
I do not know how they will get her with these remaining two very weak counts.
It's a lie!
Report from the power broker meeting rooms of Dade County:
Several hush hush meetings across Dade today as the power brokers that be discussed the concern that a Barzee/Martinez race would fracture the office and the legal community.
A compromise "transition from Bennett" Candidate was sought and one name emerged:
John Hobart Lipinsky.
Glide/stride/walk, whatever. My eyes are usually focused a bit higher.
The live blogger reports from the JQC hearing are very discouraging. Another guilty defendant getting off using a high priced mouth piece.
Maybe Aleman will have a little more respect for criminal defense attorneys after this.
And if I was gliding past you believe me your eyes would not be focused as high. Pam has nothing back there next to me...
The passionate and hard-working ex-marine Steve Bustamante is the ideal Republican candidate for PD.
who really gives a shit about this stuff with aleman. this is more fixed than a trial in iran. the judges are as bad as cops when it comes to backing each other. call it the black robe of silence.
nothing will happen to this judge
So do this trial have to do with the legality of her rulings or, according to the newspaper articles I read, how she treats people in her courtroom?
Because if she's accused of being "arrogant, discourteous and impatient," then there are many more who should be sitting there right next to her in the box.
And if that's the case, then why are all of these other judges being called in her defense? When was the last time you saw a judge actually watching over proceedings in another judge's courtroom?
Perhaps if we made some of the clustef*ck judges watch those who knew what they were doing, the system would be a lot better.
You haven't responded to the fact that you provided only PARTIAL information as to the nature of the bar complaint against the attorney who criticized Judge Aleman in a blog entry (using his own name).
The basis for the bar complaint is not that she called Judge Aleman "evil" (a statement of opinion, and accurate in my opinion), or that he called Judge Aleman a witch (I heard she once turned an APD into a newt, but he got better).
The basis for the complaint appears to be that the lawyer made the public statement that he found her to be "mentally unstable."
Please enlighten us, oh wise Rumpole, whether you believe that the rule could cover such a statement regarding the alleged "mental instability" of a judge?
I think the rule is stupid personally, but them's the rules we got at the moment.
I hope you will give us your opinion on this specific point, although you may be otherwise preoccupied with the self-described Flat Pam Anderson Wannabe with the Big Tush.
Thats my soon to be girlfriend you are slandering there buddy. Ease up Francis.
I think an attorney should think long and hard before calling a judge mentally ill in public. In this case my personal opinion is that the Judge has "issues"- whether those issues appear in DSMIV is beyond my limited expertise.
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