Coming next week: The real story on the Alvarez v. Newman election. What you know; what you thought you knew; and what you never imagined!
The title of the post links to the report by the JQC (motto: "proudly doing very little for a long time now." ) to the Florida Supreme Court recommending a public reprimand and a $5,000.00 fine for Judge Colodny for not properly reporting a loan she received from her parents during her campaign to be elected a circuit court judge.
From the report:
Judge Colodny has admitted that her condUct in failing to disclose the loans on her initial Form 6 was incorrect. She accepts full responsibility, and acknowledges that such conduct should not have occurred. Judge Colodny now recognizes that this conduct was incorrect and has undertaken steps to correct the oversight.
In regard to the propriety of receiving a loan in excess of the $500 per person limitation imposed by Section 106.08(1), Florida Statutes, the Investigative Panel concludes that, as in In re Rodriguez, 829 SO.2d 857 (Fla. 2002) and In re Pando, 903 SO.2d 902 (Fla. 2005) receiving a non-commercialloan that was made specifically for the purpose of providing campaign funds in excess of $500 violates the letter and spirit of the law. The Investigative Panel concludes that the lack of proper initial collateralization, the lack of normal periodic repayment schedule, the satisfaction of the mortgage upon a promise of a contingent partial repayment, and its lack of disclosure on the July 2009 Form 6, all clearly indicate that the transaction was a loan made with the purpose of influencing the results of an election.
Rumpole says: blah blah blah.
Let's get a few things straight: as our colleague David Sisselman states, Judge Colodny is a fine judge. Sisselman is right. Colodny hit the bench running. She works hard. Is fair to both sides; knows the law; and has handled in a very competent manner a series of very serious cases in the relatively short time she has been a judge.
Now she has to go to Tallahassee and let the Florida Supreme Court Justices yell at her. That's what a public reprimand is. They call the court into session and yell at her.
Let's put Judge Colodny's case aside for a second.
The punishment for violation of elections laws needs to be more severe. The message this case sends is that you can borrow large sums of money to influence an election and if you win you can expect to keep your job and get yelled at in a court session 99.9999% of the public in Miami will not see nor be aware of.
Our recommendation- and again this has nothing to do with Judge Colodny- is that in the future violations of election laws should have minimum mandatories. Let the judges suffer the same fate as our clients. Let them deal with the fact that mitigating circumstances of the particular facts of any case cannot be considered because the law is the law and the legislature passed a minimum mandatory sentence: 180 day unpaid suspension; public reprimand by the chief Judge of the appellate court of the nearest district in the main courtroom of the building the judge who is being reprimanded serves in; 250 hours community service; $25,000.00 fine.
That would stop these "unintentional" election law violations and would sufficiently punish those who believe that once they get on the bench they are untouchable.
The punishment in Judge Colodny's case appears to fit her malfeasance. But as our legislators and judges well know- punishment is about deterrence and not about the particular mitigating facts of any particular case right?
What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. "Get tough on Judges" That's our new motto.
See You in Court.
A couple of observations on your latest post:
1. You realize, I hope, that the judiciary has nothing to do with the fact that there are min/mans. That is your legislature's doing. So, why the venom on the judges for that?
2. I am a Colodny fan; however, if you take the time to sit down and read the precedent on this issue - all of it from statute to opinion letter to judicial campaign rules - it is confusing to say the VERY least. To break it down very simply - one item will say that you may take a loan as long as it is reported properly, with interest and a note. Another will say you cannot take a loan unless it is from a financial institution because that is the only way to assure arms length transcations. Yet a third will say that even a loan from a commercial lender may be violative of the rules.
3. I would think that this issue would be one that is important enough - and would come up enough -to warrant a CLEAR rule stating succinctly exactly what is allowed and the manner in which it must be re-paid, reported, etc....
4. On a side note, Milan should have declined comment...
I do realize that the legislature enacts laws. Indeed I just passed my civics class with a solid B-.
I hold judges accountable for two reasons:
1) They have sat by and done NOTHING as the legislature continues to pass their moronic min man laws- and before you start yapping about separation of powers Judges can and do speak with legislators about new laws, and write and testify for or against proposed laws. Chief Judge Slom has been doing it for years now and engaged in a public defense of his actions on this blog.
So I blame the judges for not doing a damn thing as their power to do their job was taken from them and given to prosecutors who now have the only discretion on min man cases.
2- Most Judges have a lasse fair attitude about the min man sentences. They refuse to see- or turn a blind eye to the injustices. So to give them a dose of their medicine, they should be subject to min mans. I bet after a few of their golf partner friends were suspended for 6 months they might get off their duffs and address the issue of min mans in general.
On big exception is the best federal judge in the nation- Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of NY. We have documented his outspokenness on min mans for child pornography possession and you can find articles about him by googling his name.
Did you realize, that in one of the cases they cited, In Re Rodriguez, that this was the punishment against Judge Rosa I. Rodriguez:
The JQC recommends that Judge Rodriguez be disciplined by: (1) a public reprimand to be delivered personally before this Court; (2) four months' unpaid suspension; (3) a $40,000 fine payable upon Judge Rodriguez's return to the bench in equal monthly payments until the end of her present term; and (4) payment of all court reporter's fees incurred by the JQC.
So according to your analysis, Judge Rodriguez, got a 4 month min man coupled with a $40,000 fine? (The community service component is lacking however.) If that's so, why are we rehashing this?
If this was a 2002 case which proposed 3 out of the 4 things you suggested, but never stopped subsequent judges like Colodny, did it really send much of a message?
I wonder, please tell us what YOU PERSONALLY have done along the lines of what you blame others for not doing. Specifics please, not generalities.
I am a former PD who has basically sold out for civil practice. So before you start "yapping" that I am just a defensive prosecutor or judge, I can assure you that I am neither.
The most interesting part of the dialogue - you do not address the ACTUAL issue which is the vagueness of the campaign fundraising rules. My guess is because you failed to take the time to read them or the full material on the Colodny case.
I done "yapping" now - I have billables to make.
Listen. Yvonne Colodny is an upstanding jurist of integrity. She is a fine judge who I hope remains on the bench for many years to come.
I'd add one more comment Rump.......the sanctimonious judges on the appellate courts (Judge Schwartz in particular) regularly take attorneys to the woodshed for so-called mistakes when those attorneys aren't even present to defend themselves (the AGO doesn't defend prosecutors, just as appellate defense counsel doesn't defend trial counsel). And, they almost never criticize their brethren in robes. As a result, attorneys are often abused in error. Yet, their is no remedy. At least Colodny had notice and an opportunity to be heard (ie. a chance to defend herself). That's far more than we are given.
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
So you want to be a Circuit Court Judge ....? Judge Colodny & Lebron .... & It's almost time to vote ...
A reminder to all that we will have a new Circuit Court Judge in Miami-Dade County no later than Tuesday, August 3, 2010.
Judge Kreeger will be replaced by one of the four remaining finalists:
Robert Galt, III
A betting man would think that either Gayles or White-Labora would get the nod, as they were on the short list recently. But that logic means nothing when it comes to Crist and appointments.
We also know that, unless he picks Galt, the Gov will get a 2fer - meaning the JNC will begin the application process to fill a new opened County Court seat.
A reminder that, if you still want to be a Circuit Court Judge, Judge Esquiroz has resigned and the deadline to get your application in to the JNC is Monday, August 9, 2010.
On a final note, Judge Colodny is in HEAT heaven right now and nothing could possibly be bothering her. There is no bigger Heat fan in the building and I am sure that on Heat home games for the upcoming season, there will be no jury trials running past 5:30 pm. in her courtroom.
Final, final note. Early voting for the August primary begins on Monday, August 9th. See you at the polls.
Have a nice hot, sunny, South Florida weekend.
Cap Out .....
The Captain Reports:
Other News you need to know (from the DBR):
Congrats go out to NACDL and all those persons that spent so much time turning ears up in Washington. The US House finally passed the long awaited changes in the US Sentencing Guidelines changing the obscene disparity that existed between powder and crack cocaine.
Up until now, 5 grams of crack got you a 5 year MM; it took 500 grams of powder cocaine to get the same 5year MM sentence.
Under the new law, it will now take 28 grams of crack to get the MM; so the ratio has been reduced from 100-1 down to 18-1.
The bill was already passed in the Senate and nows goes to the desk of B. Obama,
Our good friend and colleague Ben Kuehne is in the news. He was just hired on a Scott Rothstein related matter. It seems that Lew Freeman is not the only Trustee in trouble these days.
Marika Tolz, has been a court appointed Trustee and receiver in the courts of South Florida for 23 years. She was appointed to receive $1,000,000 from Holy Cross hospital. The hospital had gotten that money as a donation from Rothstein. All charities that Rothstein gave to during his heyday were contacted and asked to return the money. Holy Cross wrote the check to Tolz' Trust Account. Tolz never turned it over to the courts.
Now Tolz is under federal investigation and she has hired Kuehne.
Cap Out ....
You want the legislature to pass laws regarding how a judge should be punished for professional misconduct? Obviously you want to throw away what little is left of the separation of powers.
The Courts have to be left to discipline themselves. Tread lightly here, because the next step would be turning over attorney discipline to the Department of Professional Regulation and Administrative Judges.
There is something inconsistent in your arguments, Rump. On one hand you rail on min-mans, and then turn around and advocate one. Judges don't establish min-mans the legislature does. Judges are only placed in a position of having to enforce them. I have heard more than one judge speak out against what they are forced to do.
Now, with that said, do I believe that the JQC and the Supreme Court have been too lenient on judges who are guilty of campagin funding violations? Yes. The two judges, whose cases are specficlly noted in the Court's order, should have been removed. Their violations were egrigous and in one case the judge's acts were more than unethical, they were clearly criminal, despite the fact that the prosecutors were inept.
Pando should have been removed and Colodny, who attended a judicial ethics campagin forum (seminar) on campaign conduct and had this all explained to her, should have been suspended without pay and publicly reprimanded.
The sad part is, despite their discipline and the overwhelming evidence of their guilt, Ana Pando and Rosa Rodriguez still sit and have since been re-elected without opposition. Whose fault is that? Certianly not the JQC, the Florida Supreme Court or the Legislature.
The fault, my dear Rumpole, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
Wait a minute, her parents aren't allowed to help her out? You are suggesting a six months suspension and a 25 thousand dollar fine to candidates who recieve financial backing from their family? Judge Colodny should not even be reprimanded, in fact, if a candidate doesn't recieve the support of their family, they should be disqualified.
12:51- you ask me what I've done?? ME?? Why I run an award winning - highly influential blog that is read by the movers and shakers in the Florida Legall community. And I have railed against minimum mandatories with every ounce of breath in my somewhat toned middle aged body.
and beyond that...week in and week out I trudge into the REGJB and do battle with prosecutors who weren't even born when I won my first case who dare to lecture me on the perils of going to trial.
And as to you Caped Cupcake- the only reason I advocated for a min man was for what was clear to everyone who doesn't have a ridiculous winged rat mask on their head- the irony of having a clearly unfair penalty imposed upon the very people who through their silence and complicity have allowed their traditional job of being a wise and independent sentencer taken away. (That's about the worst run on sentence I have ever written).
Anyway It's hot, i'm irritated and in a foul mood so don't mess with me.
Hi Rumpole - 12:51 here:
The attempts you cite as your efforts at changing the legislature is running this (albeit entertaining) blog? Are you serious? And trudging into the REG every morning doesn't count for rallying against change either.
Believe me, I am nearing middle age as well and I HATE the snot nosed kids almost as much as I HATE the incompetent "experienced" lawyers telling me what to do. And I am the first to admit that I have done nothing at all to try and make changes in the legislature's lawmaking.
However, you missed the boat on this one. I too have heard many judges complain about the restrictiveness of the guidelines -and they do it on the record.
Maybe in your world view, they should charter a bus and have a black-robed sit in on the capitol steps??? We are lucky to have the good judges we do. The ones who aren't so good just come along as part of the equation. I challenge you to break away from your soapbox at REG and try a case in the Panhandle or the middle of the state like we have. Then you'll see the good ole boy mentality at it's very best!
Sorry, Rumpole, you lost credibility points today.
P.S. You STILL miss the point of the whole issue here...
First of all - its no my yob man to deal with the legislature.
second- I have never ever heard any state court judge complain about a min man. You know why? It makes their life easy. Less to think about.
In all seriousness I have written serious critiques of the current system that I know have been read in Tallahassee. Because I am anonymous, I obviously can't point to what I have done in my real life, but I can assure you it has been more than this blog.
The Florida Supreme Court is sick and tired of judges breaking election rules and the JQC has gone after Broward with all torpedo tubes open.
Look at the other JQC cases and you will see that many have been thrown out of office for bad campaign violations. This case was different.
It seems as if Judge Colody had an arguable defense that she was not violating state elections laws. She cut a deal and that is probably why there was a small fine.
I too am a Colodny fan. She is great. I wish her well.
I have heard jduges complain about min mans on the record. Both judges I like and respect as well as judges I do not. It may not happen every day - or from every judge - but it has happened.
We will just have to agree to disagree. But I do hope you have a good afternoon.
Hey Grumpy Rumpy:
"Caped Cupcake" ?
Don't work yourself into such a tempest now.
I told you- it' hot. This tie is annoying me, and i'm in a bad mood.
Sweet cakes- come over and take your tie off and put up your feet and watch some TV and I'll bring you some cold beers and then later we can make our own heat.
Are you insane?
"Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of NY. We have documented his outspokenness on min mans for child pornography possession and you can find articles about him by googling his name."
Any person who advocates for any reduction in any case for perverts who target children, is a crazy person, and does not deserve to be a Judge or member of any State bar, PERIOD!
Really, Rumpole, could not come up with a better example, huh?
Hey Soul shumie
ain't that mister mister
in the courtroom , jury room
the way you try cases makes the civil defense gloom
hey soul Shumie
I don't want to miss a single thing you do
Colodny rocks!!!! Now as far as some of the others...well all I can say is that Colodny is real on and off the bench! Her colleagues I can't say the same.
They way I see it Colodny's violation was the lack of accurate reporting of the loan. Yes is is similar to the situation where Rosa Rodriguez borrowed money from her (biological) brother.
BUT the point of these laws are to shine a lite on the special interests and big money supporting campaigns so we the public can know who the candidate MAY be beholden to.
Neither Colodny nor Rodriguez would sit in a case w/ their parents or sibling.
REMEmBER, if she had taken out an equity loan on her home , or a year prior to running, her PARENTS "GAVE" her the Money THAT WOULD HAVE BEIN LEGIT. Or her dad could have set up one of those 'Seperate" committees > Trial Lawyers for Colodny < ,and spent a million on TV and that is legal. Welcome to politics in Miami, FLA .
ps Thanx BTDT
this is stupid. So her parents lend her money, she neglects to itemize it and the Florida Supreme Court gets to yell at her. Bad Yvonne, don't you know the rules by now? You can't borrow money from your parents and run a campaign in a legitimate way. Judges in Miami are supposed to get their campaign cash from the Cuban Cartel, make side deals with the Mayor of Hialeah and have their campaign manager pay off their opponent.
NP DS. Every one I said is true. You're on my short list of lawyers I trust and respect. Good luck to you.
You have given very important points when a citizen tries to attend a meting about the proposed new courthouse.
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