(spin the judicial wheel of fortune below and find out where your favourite robed reader will be in 2012.)
The story you about to read is true.
The names have been withheld because most of the players are pretty nice guys.
We saw the following on the FACDL Listserv:
I just had the displeasure of arguing what appears to be Judge X's first Makemson hearing in which I was seeking to recover more than the $2,000 cap for a felony appeal. I had 153 hours in this first degree murder (life sentence)/armed robbery case, in which the trial took a month and the record was 5,500 pages. At the statutory rate of $75 per hour, I was asking for $11,475, which compares to a fee of $76,500 from a client paying full freight. (Rumpole can't help but wonder, who is getting $500 simoleons an hour to do an appeal outside of the southern district of NYC?)
Judge X (who apparently just came over to criminal from family court), was swayed by (the ASA)'s shrill arguments that I should not have taken a case with a statutory cap and expected to get much more, and her representation (which was news to me) that the other co-defendants’ appellate attorneys accepted the $2,000 cap for their fees.
Long story short, Judge X awarded $6,000, or $39.22 per hour.
Post script: The trial Judge, who is one of the most respected Judges we have and who otherwise has a reputation for treating all attorneys fairly and with respect issued a sua sponte (Latin meaning literally "woops, I think I can fix that before anyone does anything like appeal me") order reconsidering his prior decision. We think this will turn out just fine for the appellate attorney.
The more important question was what in the name of Sam Hill was the State Attorney's Office doing sticking their nose into a private attorney's fee? This is a dangerous precedent. When a prosecutor starts having some say in how much a court appointed attorney gets paid, it's Katie bar the door for the zealous advocacy on behalf of a client. (nb- two more catch phrases and we will tie the record for one paragraph). We are not aware of any statutory authority that gives an ASA the right to be heard at a fee hearing. If this matter is NOT resolved to the attorney's satisfaction we urge the FACDL to file an amicus brief on the appeal on the issue of whether Ms. Pinocchio ASA gets to put her beak into the middle of a fee hearing.
Speaking of the FACDL, there was an FACDL/PD party today at the PDs office. Don't get too upset, we didn't get invited either. Plus the opportunity to socialize with Brian Tannebaum, Barry Wax, Scott Fingerhut and other former FACDL Miami presidents WITHOUT the benefit of alcohol was just something we found very easy to pass up. And for those of you worried that Joe George might swoop in and become the next Public Defender after firing the entire PDs office, as best we can determine, NO alcohol was present on state property.
What was announced at the Party was the coming Judicial Assignments for the new year. Yes, it's that time of year again when Judges Brown and Soto spin the Judicial Wheel of fortune and click clack click clack lets see where your favourite judge landed.
OUT OF CRIMINAL: Judges Trawick, Cuerto, Zabel. Fair thee well.
IN TO CRIMINAL: Jon Schlessinger (for Trawick) Vickie Sigler (for Cuerto) Will Thomas (for Zabel). Welcome to the party.
Other moves: Firtel leaves division for backup and Manno-Schurr comes to criminal and takes over his division. Tinkler-Mendez leaves division for backup and Samantha Ruiz-Cohen takes over her division.
Judge Rosa Rodriguez leaves backup (Firtel takes over) and goes to ROC around the clock court taking over for Judge Ward. Judge Jackie Scola leaves backup and Tinkler Mendez takes over her spot.
You just know that once the music stops some poor judge will be left standing without a chair and be sent to probate.
See You In Court where you can't tell the players without a program and there's no better place to get your program than right here on your favourite blog.