Sunday, April 18, 2010



Despite the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in Iceland and a constant downpour as we write this Sunday night, court will be open for business Monday morning.


Very quietly Judge John Thornton has been elevated to an Associate Administrative Judge for the criminal division under the Judge Soto Administration. While Judge Thornton lacks judicial seniority, he has been a lawyer labouring in the Justice Building probably from the time Carter was President. That is to say that his has the courthouse and courtroom experience of decades, and the gravitas to handle the job. We think Judge Soto has chosen wisely.

What exactly does an associate administrative judge do anyway? Is s/he the one responsible for putting up the shutters when a hurricane approaches? Is s/he the one responsible for the donuts and coffee at the weekly judges meeting (and do they even have those?).


We're 11 days and counting from the close of the filing period for those of you who want to wear a black robe and all of the sudden become funnier, smarter, and more popular (at least in your own mind.)

UPDATE:- Rumpole backs down)

So far three judges in Dade have opposition; Judges Adrian (135 and counting) Newman (Dade PD Manny Alvarez) and Seff (some lawyer from South Dade with 5.000001 years of experience, or something like that.)

Rumpole says: I realized due to complaints in the comments section that the term I used to characterize Judge Seff's opponent was offensive to women, and that was not what I intended, so I have removed it and I apologize. I still think she should go to Judge Adrien's race, where I would support her.

Meanwhile North of the Border every judge has opposition, even those not up for re-election. Seriously, a record of at least 17 Judges have opposition, the latest being Circuit Judge Elijah Williams. We have been in front of Judge Williams in the past and we cannot think of a Judge more worthy not to have opposition. Besides being outspoken against the prior administration of Judge Ross - who can forget his memorable quote of not wanting to be seen "carrying the white man's water" ?- Judge Williams is just a good judge. Sensible, fair, wise; everything Judges in his community are not known for. And we haven't even gotten to the part where he donates a portion of his salary to certain organizations in the community.

It's total madness in Broward, which is to say SNAFU (which is a GI acronym from WWII which starts- Situation Normal. All F'd Up.)

And it's strangely quiet in Dade. The question is, will it last?

See You In Court, closing our Mac.


Anonymous said...

Rumpole, what's your need to belittle and denigrate Judge Seff's opponent? Have you met her or talked to her? Just because Flora has a bunch of years as a prosecutor doesn't make her any more qualified. As a matter of fact, it is those judges who never had to run a law practice in their lives the one who make life miserable for us who do.

Anonymous said...

The Herald has the story of Assistant Public Defender Ivonne Cuesta whose name is one of the six sent up to the governor by the JNC for the county court vacancy.

She came to the U.S. as a 7 year old in the Mariel Boatlift where she climbed up the rope ladder from a sinking boat to a Coast Guard helicopter, losing her beloved doll in the process.

The story with photos and video is here:


Anonymous said...

Yes Rumpole, please stop criticizing a candidate for a trial court seat for her lack of trial experience.

Are you trying to say Flora Seff is more qualified to a be a criminal trial Judge just because she handled thousands of cases, and actually litigated hundreds of the most challenging cases in criminal law? This is an outrage.

April 18, 10:12 is right, we need more Judges with less experience to appreciate the challenges of being incompetent.

the trialmaster said...

What was the name and postion of Roy Blacks first wife. Any old timers know?

Anonymous said...

Some of the worst people I have ever represented came over during the mariel boat lift. After 911, it was the worst military attack since the start of World War II.

DS said...

Ivonne Cuesta's story is a must read

Anonymous said...

10:12..........are you kidding? Tell me how many jury trials Flora's opponent has done? How many big cases has she handled? How many major motions has she argued?

Regardless, before someone starts making difficult to appeal decisions on people's lives they should live a little and know something about the law.

No way an attorney with 5 years experience is ready to be judge.


Rumpole said...

I'm going to say this again- I agree with you that the lawyer you mention in your putative comment sleeps with bondsmen. But I feel uncomfortable publishing his name unless a bondsman wants to come forward and testify against him.

Rumpole said...

Politics is a tough business. If miss south dade branch court can't stand the heat, tell her to go back to the kitchen.

However, if she switches to Judge Adrien's race, I will vote for her.

Anonymous said...

I think the word "broad" should be removed.

That will be on this blog forever and I do not know her but, if I were her, my feelings would be hurt.

Anonymous said...

I will take a “rookie” or neophyte who treats me right over a seasoned scholar who treats me like dirt. Flora Seff has no idea what it is like to run a practice, not that some others on the bench who do have forgotten what it is like, but they are more a tune. Some judges forget that continuance are often driven by us working with clients finances, and these days that has become an ever increasing side of our private practice. (Wonder how the system would fair if all these defendants went pro-se or with the PD) I was ambivalent about the Flora Seff race until recently when Seff cost me a fee by denying a simple continuance.

The point is simple, treat lawyers with deference and respect, be sensitive to our having to juggle the professional and business/financial aspects of the practice, or get off the bench.

Thus, while I recognize Michaelle Gonzalez-Paulson, Seff’s opponent, has barely eight years of experience, I suspect she is more attune to reality than is Seff. And, by the way, if you look back you will find a number of others who have ascended to the bench with similar years of experience, and have and are doing a wonderful job.

I will await the final drop of the handkerchief in Tally to decide, but if it remains Seff vs Gonzalez-Paulson, I will support the latter not the former.

Anonymous said...

Judge thorton has forgotten more law that Soto has ever learned. I would venture that she has never tried a case to a jury or defended anyone. John has tried hundreds of cases and comes from a first rate law firm/ John gave up a lucrative private practice to assume the bench, while Soto never made a nickle and owes her robe to her father. John should be chief judge not her/

Anonymous said...

"some broad" - c'mon Rumpole....you could've come up with a better noun. the "broads" who read this blog are a little put off

The Straw Buyer said...

"Have you met her or talked to her?"

Yes I have. Pass.

Batman said...

You all miss the point on Flora Seff. Was she an experienced prosecutor? Yes. Did that and does that make her qualified to be a County Court judge? No. Especially where Judge Seff believes that County Court is beneath her and that this is a waste of her invaluable talents.

Being a judge in County Court is more than just knowing the law, little of which Judge Seff knows below murder or Sexual Battery level, it is about compassion and placing the proper perspective on what is in front of you. Don't get me wrong persepective does not mean you feel sympathy for the defendant, make light of the harm that may have been done or the danger that the defendant's actions may have placed others (DUI). It does require an understanding that many of those crimes are, as we are fond of saying, victimless and the consequences to the defendant may be far more devastating than the crime deserves. As Rumpole was so fond of saying in the early days, it is about "doing the right thing."

I have known Flora Seff for more years than I care to admit. She lacks that perspective or compassion. She is humorless and unbending. Her basic personalty is one of self-righteousness, intorlerance and vindictiveness. She actually could not care less about the effects of what she does on the people in front of her.

I don't discount the value of experience. But given the choice between experience and the ablity to stand up for what is right, no matter what the personal cost, I take my shot on the latter.

Rumpole said...

I agree. Having researched the etymological underpinnings of the word "broad" I have learned that the connotation is more negative, at least in the written definition than I intended. I have removed it. Thank you readers for voicing your concerns.

word of the day guyz said...

Rumpole, you old devil. When you need us, just call:

Broad: Noun. slang-
a.Usually Offensive. a woman.
b. a promiscuous woman.

When looking for a synonym for a woman, may we suggest: Henhussy, dowager, frau, nymph. suffragist, grisette, suffragette, matron, etc.

The issue you ran into is that in the conversation context, the term Broad is less offensive then the formal written definition. It seems to us that you meant it as "some woman" instead of an offensive term or calling her promiscuous.

fake ted mastos said...

Hmm...ahhh...(chomp) ahhh ummmm (smack smack) ahmmm ....harrumph...ummm. Well, not the best (chomp) choice of (smack) words old feller. Hmmm...arrgh hrump (smack, chomp).

Anonymous said...

I want to make a few points, Batman offers a good chance for me to finally post something.

Batman- do you really think anyone takes you or this blog seriously- its a fantastic example of a snapshot in the day of a lawyer who can't get work, why? -

1. you write under a comic pseudonym which is slightly more absurd then some of the other fantastic choice names in this blog, I mean really? How old are you-

2. either you are a 12 year old stuck home, sick and bored (in which case you can do better, I'd suggest taking things up an intellectual notch and watching QVC), or you are a gutless defense attorney with way too much time on your hands, either way you should
3. -NOT- be focused on making judicial recommendations-

My conclusion
This blog is written by 5 or 6 people who circle jerk and have nothing better to do- GET A LIFE - or at least some real work, those of us in the defense bar who actually make more then min wage, go to trial and work, don't have time to read this crap, so what does it say about people who spend all day WRITING IT!

Anonymous said...

To 11:11 a.m.:

I have to vehemently disagree with you commments. I have practiced for many years and appeared in front of every judge in the building - good, bad, or indifferent. I agree with you that Judge Thornton is one of our best. I disagree with you - incredibly so - regarding your opinion of Judge Soto. I have tried MANY cases before her and appeared in her courtroom countless times. She is very respectful, fair, intelligent, and even tempered. She is, in my opinion, the only choice for the chief judge role. I recall not too long ago that someone included her, along with Judge Thornton, among a small handful of judges to be revered. I greatly agree.

Anonymous said...

I love henhussies!

Anonymous said...

Rumpole -
If you (and your collegues) find it appropriate to refer to the female members of the Bar as "Broads"... It should be equally acceptable for us to refer to you and your brethren as "Pigs".


Anonymous said...

Ivonne Cuesta is a rock star and I hope she is appointed. And she is quite the hottie too.

Anonymous said...

10:30 a.m. and Batman 12:35 p.m., I agree with you.

Fake Ted Mastos 1:53 p.m., I'm surprised to see that this is the first time that you haven't asked for a continuance.

Rumpole said...

3:31 - I think using "broads" was wrong, and I was a pig for doing it. However, I have attempted to raise the level of discourse by removing the term, because it was offensive and wrong. I have apologized for using the term. So in the scheme of things, I think I have admitted the error and done all that I could do to rectify it.

Rumpole said...

2:31...umm you are spending time reading it. And I can assure you that despite the use of the royal "we" I am singular in nature, authorship, and indeed, as I have said before, and others have said it better- "I am that I am."

Anonymous said...

Please name a GOOD judge who came to the bench with five to eight years of nominal experience. Until then I will always pick a seasoned veteran. Otherwise, I suspect we will end up with another lazy judge who is using her latin name to get a salary increase, will not be available for hearings AND will expect everyone to kiss her ring. Thanks but no thanks.

Batman said...

To 2:31 (most likely Judge Seff herself):

I rest my case!!

Anonymous said...

Please take a look at the definition of "broad" in http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=broad

fake teddy mastos said...

3:58 PM. I was ready (chomp smack) for trial. (Chomp). No continuance was necessary. (smack smack).

Anonymous said...

What the hell are all of you talking about? Soto is the chief administrative judge in criminal. She is not the chief judge. Her power is a lot less than you think. So shut the hell up. Continue on with your life.

Anonymous said...

LOL. Batman, that's ridiculous to suggest that the person supporting Seff is Seff herself. I also have known her for many years and disagree with your assessment. Regardless, we don't need some novice lawyer with no perspective or real experience (yes, I consider a lawyer with 5 years experience a novice) making the decisions judges need to make. Anyone who thinks that they're capable of being a judge with as little experience as Seff's opponent doesn't have a clue about the job's importance.


PS---as for the ridiculous comment about continuances, the judge's job is not to help any of us collect paychecks. Get over yourself. Last I checked judges are supposed to handle cases not drag them out so you can get paid (which, by the way, is unethical for both the judge and you to do).

Anonymous said...

Cuesta a hottie?? A rock star?? Gimme a break. A way for Charlie to steal a few votes in Hialeah? You betcha.

Kissimmee Kid said...

Man driving down road.
Woman driving up same road.
They pass each other.
The woman yells out the window, PIG!
Man yells out the window, BITCH!
Man rounds next curve.
Man crashes into a HUGE PIG in middle of road and dies.

Thought For the Day:

If men would just listen

The Straw Buyer said...


"She lacks that perspective or compassion. She is humorless and unbending. Her basic personalty is one of self-righteousness, intorlerance and vindictiveness. She actually could not care less about the effects of what she does on the people in front of her."

would you really expect any different from a former prosecutor?

Anonymous said...

For all you defense attorneys criticizing Judge Seff: She's JOA'ed more DUI bench trials than any other county court judge in recent memory.


The Captain Reports:

So Rump, you finally figured it out ....

I gave you several hints over the last month on who was chosen as AAJ but you never guessed. I was sworn to secrecy on it anyway.

And how bout a little credit for posting the piece the other day about Judge E. Williams and the 17 races in Browierd.

I think we will see a couple of late entries next week in Dade.

Cap Out ......

Anonymous said...

i hope milton gets a a challenger. that would be funny.

Social Network for the Win said...

Those of you wanting to win come election day better follow the social network rules. The link sends you to the article on Candidates using of all places blogs to win.

Batman said...

Actually Straw Buyer yes I do. There have been many former prosecutors who have taken the bench with at least the intent and desire to do the right thing. Most recently I would point to John Schlesinger and before him his wife Marilyn Milian.

One does not have to lack perspective or compassion, be humorless and unbending or have the basic personalty of one who is self-righteous, intorlerant and vindictive or actually could not care less about the effects of what he or she does on the people in front of him or her and give up being conservative or even a
little prosecution oriented.

BTDT - although on this point, in general I would agree with you, in this case I can not. I would rather have someone who has to learn the importance than someone who carries the agenda and baggage Seff does. In County Court that attitude can do far more harm than the learning curve.

Besides I don't see you attacking Beth Bloom and Victoria Platzer, who took the bench with barely 5 years experience. Look how that turned out. Nor did I hear you cry out in outrage when Ada Pozo (6 years) took out Jeff Swartz. Where was your voice when Barabara Areses who had no experience beat Bruce Levy. Or let me guess, they were all women and those men that lost, they just deserved it.

Toy Story said...

Ah to olden days of yesteryear.

When broads were broads with a nice chassis on 'em, dames were dames even if one or two might be a Dumb Dora and two bit greenhorns were well... wet behind the ears!

If you were the Bee's Knees, then you were bomb. You mess with me bub, then *pow* right in the kisser. If you got taken for a ride, you might not be seen again.

You call me killer, cause I slay you. And I'm calling Bellevue cause you're nuts!

Anonymous said...

didnt beth bloom have about 5 yrs in when she got county spot?????????????????????????????

Anonymous said...

The article that 8:35 links to mentions HWMNBN. Maybe it's the same person trying to get some publicity.

Phil R said...

I would like to say that I think Judge Seff is a fine Judge. I think the criticisms of her are over blown, and I appreciate the fact that since she handled such serious cases as a prosecutor, she has the ability to put a DUI in perspective- it's only a misdemeanor and as I often remind clients- president George Bush had 1 and VP Cheeney had 2 and look where they got.

I don't know who is challenging Judge Seff so I cannot opine on her abilities, but I do think that Judge Seff is qualified, and I personally feel comfortable with her experience level on the bench. I think the trend towards attorneys with less experience becoming Judges is not a good one.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I tell the same thing to my clients when they ask me how a DUI will affect their future chances of employment. I tell them that they can become president or vice-president of the U.S.

Anonymous said...


Sorry, but I won't respond to your questions re my support of judges who aren't up for office. I don't criticize people gratuitously; Flora's opponent put herself in this position when she decided to run for office. Suffice it to say that I was consistent in my support of candidates in prior elections (with one exception for reasons that I need not mention).


PS---You're wrong about Platzer having 5 years experience. She was a 13th year lawyer in her 40's when she took the bench. I'll reserve comment on Bloom other than to say that she has developed into a good judge (but would be much better if she came to the bench with more experience........she could've been great).

Batman said...


One last point. Beth Bloom is "great" at what she does. Her failure to become "great" in your eyes was not based on her youth, her lackof growth, inability or even her desire to get to other places. She put her family first. We need not discuss the difficutlies she has had to overcome here, but I think your minimization of her accomplishments is unjustified.

Anonymous said...

Batman, I am not minimizing what Beth has done and am not basing my opinions on her outside influences (which I am sure have impacted her). Like I said, I think she is a good judge. I reserve the word "great" for those few who epitomize EVERYTHING a judge should be.

Regardless, you're missing my point.......I wasn't being critical of her current performance. Put simply, IF she had more experience before she took the bench, she could have become a good judge much faster and would be a significantly better judge than she is now (I don't believe that experience on the bench can fully make up for experience working with people off of it).

Again,I think she's a good judge. I just don't think she's in quite the same class as the all-time great County Court Judges like, for example, Schumacher, Piniero, or Lando (all of came to the bench with significant legal experience, read like crazy, knew the law cold, understood the issues, knew how to balance punishment/rehabilitation, read people well, managed their caseloads, etc.). She's close and may yet get there (I believe she would be there already if she came to the bench with more experience.......she's got the ability).

I don't see how any of that is an insult or "unjustified" minimization of her abilities, although in today's climate of hyperbole and grade inflation I can see how some might see it that way.


Batman said...


As to Beth, I think we will just have to agree to disagree on this occassion. As I said, I am in general agreement with you on the experience issue and my prior posts will evidence that. However, I have to be intellectually honest enough to take the knowledge I have of County Court and the judges who are and have served there and say that there are exceptions to that general rule.

We disagree on Judge Seff. I believe her experience is not her downfall nor her saving grace. People like Piniero, Cohen, Millian, Larry Schwartz, Hague, Jeff Swartz, Eric Hendon, David Young and Wendall Graham, all of whom served at one time or the other in the SAO, came on the bench and were able to do the job by recognizing and dealing with what was before them with balance and perspective. Flora has not. She cannot put down that "mean streak" which is an element of her personality, so often exhibited and which drove her in her role as a major crimes ASA. That just has no place in County Court.

Because of that, I would go with inexperience and hope, like others, her opponent can grow into the job and have that necessary perspective.

This has been a healthy and respectful discourse. Always enjoy a difference of opinion discussed with dignity.

Anonymous said...


Thanks. This has been a good discussion. I would disagree with you on some of the others you named, just as I'm sure you'd disagree with my choices of who the best judges are. We all have our faves.............and I happen to like Flora a great deal.

You're right, of course, that every rule has it's exceptions. Can't argue there. Regardless, I've repeatedly asked about Flora's opponent and what she's done. Nobody ever posts anything. That says volumes. A nice judge who doesn't know anything is of no value. Learning the law, how to handle trials, what to do at sentencing, etc. shouldn't start on the bench, but end there. That's all I'm saying.

Batman said...


Private email. More discussion

Anonymous said...

For all her experience Flora Seff is not exactly a Legal Eagle. Have you sat in her courtroom?