Saturday, November 07, 2009


Just to prove that our dear robed readers are not the only ones that can behave badly through email, we report to you today on the emerging "DUES CONTROVERSY" involving the Miami Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Earlier in the week an email was sent on the FACDL Listserv, which is a private service in which if you're a member of the FACDL you can send out emails that reach all the members. Most emails are usually something like "does the 4th amendment prohibit unreasonable searches AND seizures? It's been a while since I've read it."

At which point a few hundred lawyers' blackberrys start beeping and they leave meetings or bow out of secret assignations to answer the call of their colleague in distress.

The email that went out this week was an application for 2010 with a reminder for members to pay their dues.

One member responded that the FACDL's policy of offering discounted dues to Public Defenders should be discontinued, since, and we're not quoting exactly here "PDs have generous salaries not to mention full benefits."

Faster than you can say "Judges Diaz and Faber", hundreds of responses began flooding the FACDL listserv, causing at one point Bill Gates to exclaim "what the F is going on with those lawyers in Miami?"

You see, here's the thing: Most members of FACDL got their start as public employees in the PD or SAO office. Most remember their service as a great time, when they learned the law, made great friends who all pitched in to help make it on tight budgets. This email was, to put it mildly, asking for trouble. Kind of like going into Judge Diaz's courtroom and citing precedent written by a County Court Judge.

The responses varied from the profane (one well respected lawyer wrote that it was time to "shut the f up") to the funny. In that light, we present the famous Daniel Tibbitt. Mr. Tibitt shows he's not just an ace PD; he's not just a football savant as he has survived to the final four in our suicide pool, but he is very funny to boot (although he shouldn't get any ideas about writing a blog):

On 11/6/09, Daniel Tibbitt
As a current PD, I must wholeheartedly agree that we are simply way overpaid. The number of tens of thousands of dollars I make a year requires almost one full hand of fingers to count. My real problem is where to spend it all. After repaying my law school loan and paying the rent for my palatial one bedroom apartment, I am left with literally hundreds of dollars every month to spend on anything I damn well please. Now sure, some of that has to go towards food, and bills (for instance, my incredible salary allows me the luxury of having a non-corded "cellular" telephone) and gas (I drive a 1998 Chrysler Cirrus, it is straight pimping and represents the ultimate in decade old Detroit ingenuity, for instance it has air conditioning that works beautifully as long as its not too hot AND the seats recline, oh yes).

I had hoped that I would be able to keep riding this PD gravy train forever but I fear the discussion on this listserv indicates the rest of you may be onto us and how overpaid we are. We may have to discontinue our proud tradition of PD Friday lunches at Joes Stone Crab and renting out the Versace mansion for our PD Christmas party. And, I haven't mentioned that we do indeed get "full benefits". That's right, in addition to our overly generous salary we also are blessed with a little thing called "health care." If I get sick, there's no trekking down to the local ER to wait and
see the emergency physician for me. No, I get on the phone, call my own personal doctor, get a convenient appointment for 2 weeks from now, and presto, I'm cured (provided I haven't healed on my own in the intervening 2 weeks). You wouldn't think the State of Florida would waste money on keeping its employees healthy, but believe it or not, they do, and thats money that goes right into my pocket (well not so much my pocket as the health care industry's pocket, but who's counting).

And then, on top of all that, I get to pay 50 dollars less than you suckers in the private bar in annual dues to FACDL. If you don't think I'm chuckling to myself about my good fortune in that regard as I'm spending that 50 bucks on champagne and caviar every year, you are sadly incorrect.

In conclusion, I can only hope that Ms. Wear's email does not start a groundswell of activism that will overturn the "confiscatory" $75 in annual dues private attorneys pay to FACDL. That word was as well chosen as was the attack on the PD's, since as we all know joining FACDL is a mandatory obligation.

In seriousness, thanks to all of you at FACDL for the services you provide and I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.
Dan Tibbitt


Anonymous said...

She might have been talking about the droves of public defenders who make six figures and dont work all that much. not men like mr. tidbitt who have a keen wit with the skill to go private.

Anonymous said...

former asa here --richard hersch's shut the f up comment is only time he right and not acting like a pompous horses ass

The Devil's Advocate said...

This is all so unnecessary. One individual has ruffled the feathers of so many others all over $75.00 or $50.00 or $25.00?

GIVE ME A BREAK. Even if that individual does not have $75.00 for the annual dues for FACDL-Miami, it was totally unnecessary to create this huge disturbance and distraction that hijacked the attention of the FACDL-Miami listserve and now this blog, and insulted Public Defenders for the past few days. The aggrieved party quietly and privately - and while retaining some dignity - could have approached any member of the board of directors and asked for a FREE board-member sponsored membership for the year.

If indeed this is not a personal financial issue, but truly a matter of principle and a crusade to change the dues structure, then a request to the association president to put the matter on the agenda for the next meeting is the proper way to address the issue.

This is out of control and needs to stop. We have more important issues to address. Or do we ???

On the other hand, it sure is entertaining. I can't wait to see what happens next !!

Anonymous said...

Who gives a rats ass about this crap!

Other than the hilarious post by Rumpole, I could care less.

Wally gator said...

What is impt is that Percy Harvin is currently the rookie of the year and the Gators are still number one. And the canes aren't.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that the very serious issue of PD (and prosecutor) salaries and quality is being obscured by a ridiculous comment on FACDL dues.

We all benefit from strong PDO's and SAO's. A strong PDO provides an anchor for the system that no private firm can (simply because PDO's handle the vast majority of cases). A strong SAO, with low turnover, not only provides better protection for us and our families, but makes criminal defense easier (yes, that's right. It does. Prosecutors with perspective close cases far faster than those without). I was a prosecutor for over a decade. I didn't gain real perspective until somewhere around the 10 year mark. Until that point, many considered me to be over zealous (of course, reputations die very slowly ;-)

When I started handling homicide cases (well before the 10 year mark, obviously), it amazed me then that the homicide prosecutors/defense lawyers got along much better than the misdemeanor prosecutors/defense lawyers. I gave it a lot of thought and think I know why.

I'm convinced that as we get older and learn more (through training and experience), we develop the skills necessary to separate the important issues from the nonsense. We also learn the value of working together and the folly of attempting to persuade through intimidation.

Low turnover at the PDO and SAO is good for us all. Those who stay long term must take care of their reputations in ways the short timers don't care about. They also know how to handle cases, what cases are worth, and the importance of getting along. We should ALL support higher salaries and better training for the PDOs and SAOs. We all derive a benefit when the assistants' are competent and have high morale (as members of the community and as lawyers).

This stuff doesn't need to get personal between and among lawyers and judges (I assure you that it's personal to the victims, witnesses and defendants). All of the name calling and at least 75% of the fighting is a total waste of time. We'd get much further, much faster and in a much more enjoyable/lower stress way if we worked together.


Anonymous said...

809 dont be so tough on richard, after all he is not as bad as eiglarsh in terms of talking down to asa's and being pompous

fake JR the Bailiff said...

Rump, you down with OPP?

Anonymous said...

BTDT, perhaps all prosecutors should do a 6 month internship in major crimes before getting hired. That will give them a lot of perspective, because once you see people shot, bludgeoned, slashed or chopped in pieces, you'll never look at a misdemeanor or third degree felony quite the same again.

Anonymous said...

All I can say, is everytime I read the next the thread, I was sure that that would be it. But she kept coming, and coming. . . AND COMING. Just digging a ginormous hole. I actually feel kind of guilty for even commenting.

Anonymous said...

For every Tibbett barely cracking
50k a year there is a Melinek making 120k a year.

Issue is not so simple really.

Anonymous said...

"Droves" of PD's making 100K+????

Don't Bogart that joint, I want a hit.

Anonymous said...

Nancy is stupid. Her comments are stupid and she is way out of line.

Richard should not have said that strong response but, he sure was right.

RIchard apologized for the strong words but, not for what he was saying.

Nancy, if you really think the PDs are rich and paid so well, get a job there.

Nancy, were you not a FDLE agent and later an AG? I bet they paid top dollar!

Anonymous said...

It aint true , few of us APDs make $100K a year. There are 2 dozen APDs making lots less for every one making $100K. I know Attorneys here 27 years who are not making that. If I even , ever got COLAs it would take me another dozen years to see that milestone. For the talented 'younger' Lawyers like Dan, nada last year nor the year before nor the year before that nor this year nor next...!

Anonymous said...

As a current PD of only a few years, I don't know how much Melinek or the other lifers make. But I will tell you that if you give your entire career to public service and put in 20-30 years, you should be compensated with a six figure salary. I don't think it is unfair for Melinek to be at a 100K after all the time he has put in to the PDO. What people forget about the older PDs and their "inflated" salaries is that they were compensated with raises and cost of living increases along with the fact they have children of college age and worked at the PDO their whole careers. Is that really unfair? Closious and Slimack still make more than any PD I know.

As a younger PD, I would love to do nothing else than be a PD for life, but financial realities will prevent that. Even a 100K salary will not be enough to provide a home for my wife and children, send them to good schools, pay off my student loans and make sure my kids don't have to take out a 150K to get a professional degree. Especially when you have incompetent privates making twice that to just plea people out to traffic offenses.

Anonymous said...

2:46-----while I agree with your point that PDs (and prosecutors I'd submit) are grossly underpaid, the comparison to Closius and Slimack is silly. Those guys have to work far longer hours than attorneys do to make the kind of money they are. And, don't forget, their job is a hell of a lot more dangerous than any of ours.


Anonymous said...

I like the suggestion of having future prosecutors spend time with the Major Crimes lawyers (Senior Trial Counsel). I don't believe that's possible, given the numbers, but I can certainly see starting them off in felonies. Of course, if you do that, be prepared for what you ask for............anyone who spends time in felony court is going to want to transfer every juvenile case they can to adult court after gaining the perspective you speak of.

It's a shame that the juvenile system is so bad (it's not just the lack of resources either.........historically, the judges have been soft as butter. Even the juvies think it's a joke).


Anonymous said...

Not all of us private attorneys are makings the $150-200K you think we are.
Many of us are also struggling to get by, fees are uncollected, we pay a secretary, rent, phone bills. All of those expenses have gone up while clients have less to pay.
Being private's not all it's cracked up to be.

Anonymous said...

Rather than speculating about what various PDs (and prosecutors for that matter) earn why not just look it up right here:

This is going to be good =)