Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Judge Maxine Cohen Lando has passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Serving as a Judge and prior to that as a defense attorney, Max Lando was also one of the first female Pds to work in the office for Phil Hubbart. Judge Lando was a bright and shinning light of common sense, uncommon wisdom and you could always count on a warm smile when entering her courtroom. Her position can be filled, but she never will be replaced.

Services will be held onFriday, March 2, 2012 -- 11:00 a.m.

Temple Bet Shira
7500 S.W. 120 Street
Miami, Florida  33156
(305) 238-2601

From time to time we will post some of the comments on the front page:

Judge Lando helped me get my first "lawyer" job at the juvenile division of the Office of the Public Defender and mentored me as a young lawyer and then later as a judge. Her advice and guidance were invaluable. Throughout her diagnosis and treatment she exhibited both grace and courage. My sadness at her death is tempered by knowing that she hss been released from the fight. Her daughters can be proud of the many accomplishments of this remarkable woman. Gone but never forgotten. Victoria Sigler
Anonymous said...

One of the most caring, passionate women i ever knew, with the guts to do what she thought was right, no matter what public opinion may have been. May she rest peacefully now in the arms o Michael Gill. Godspeed, Maxine.

Anonymous said...

There are a handful of judges that consistently carry themselves and behave in a most "honorable" way and which embody what a fair and intelligent Judge should be on and off the bench. The Honorable Judge Maxine Cohen was such a judge. I had the pleasure of working and interpreting in her courtrooms at the REG. She always treated her staff and interpreters with respect and kindness, and loved to practice learning Spanish as she used to call it.

On many occasions, when some of us had questions about legal procedures or words in order to be able to interpret them to Spanish speaking defendants, Judge Cohen welcomed our inquiries and took the time to explain so that we could understand that which we had to translate. She was a "grande dame" who could tell a mean joke. May she rest in peace and my condolences to her daughters and family.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


According to the Brady Center (bradycenter dot org)  15,799 people have been shot by a firearm THIS YEAR (January and February 2012) 139 people were shot with a firearm on Tuesday February 27, 2012.

(Cue southern accent) "Ah say listen here boy...guns don kill people, people kill people. They'll hava pry my gun from my cold dead fingers."

Rumpole responds: Guns have a trigger. People (or in rare cases, Dick Cheney) are needed to pull the trigger to shoot their hunting partner, friend, wife, ex-husband, etc.  And if gun violence continues, statistically it won't be that long until someone shoots you and we'll pry that firearm from your hands because odds are that eating breakfast in a school cafeteria is the last place you will expect to be shot. But it happens with more and more frequency.

The Second Amendment vs. 300 MILLION firearms in the United States. Something has to give and until that something is the political will to take firearms off the streets, all that will be giving is the clothing that the bullets fired will be piercing.

Congrats to Judge Scott Bernstein for his award from the Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organization.  Judge Bernstein received the Judicial Outreach award. Only in America does a Jewish Judge receive an award from a Muslim organization. Because America works. 

DOM tore it up Tuesday at the PDs office on why he does what he does. If you missed it, you missed an inspirational hour. And the food was good. 

Monday, February 27, 2012


Diet sodas linked to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Diet coke anyone? 

Why so few comments? You cannot be an assistant public defender and get through a week without a client telling you s/he was forced to confess. And yet so little chatter....

If you practice criminal defense, you know innocent people confess. If you are a member of the rest of the planet, (judges and prosecutors included) you can't conceive of an innocent person confessing to a crime. 
As criminal defense practitioners, that knowledge gap is our fault and we have the responsibility to educate the rest of the world that cares. 

The NY Times helped out over the weekend with an OP ED piece by David K Shipler, from whose book "Rights At Risk: The Limits Of Liberty in Modern America." the piece was adapted. 
From the article:

If you have never been tortured, or locked up and verbally threatened, you may find it hard to believe that anyone would confess to something he had not done. Intuition holds that the innocent do not make false confessions. What on earth could be the motive? To stop the abuse? To curry favor with the interrogator? To follow some fragile thread of imaginary hope that cooperation will bring freedom?
Yes, all of the above. Psychological studies of confessions that have proved false show an overrepresentation of children, the mentally ill and mentally retarded, and suspects who are drunk or high. They are susceptible to suggestion, eager to please authority figures, disconnected from reality or unable to defer gratification. Children often think...that they will be jailed if they keep up their denials and will get to go home if they go along with interrogators. ..
Officers are taught to use all the tricks and lies that courts permit within the scope of the Fifth Amendment’s shield against self-incrimination...When a skilled questioner splices it nonchalantly into conversation, the warning’s empowering message of choice can be lost on a suspect. Many false confessors have been routinely Mirandized in this perfunctory manner.
To get people talking, the Reid training also recommends questions that imply leniency without making explicit promises, and that reduce moral responsibility by blaming peer pressure: “Was this your idea or did your buddies talk you into it?” Interrogators are advised to pretend to have evidence but not to fabricate it. A suspect can be shown a card bearing a latent fingerprint and be told: “This is your fingerprint. We found it inside that stolen car.”
This is the fact that keeps us up at nights: Considering that DNA is available in just a fraction of all crimes, a much larger universe of erroneous convictions — and false confessions — surely exists.
Rumpole says: We now know that innocent people confess to horrible crimes. The science is there to back up the accusation. But what we as criminal practitioners do with that knowledge and empirical data is up to us. We can moan about the unfairness of it all, or we can fight back. How? Create  a lecture and offer to give it to a judicial conference. Write articles and offer them to judicial and prosecutorial publications. start a dialogue. Be persuasive. Do our job. 
See You In Court. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012


It's spring time, and a young lawyer's thoughts turn to the beach, and bathing suits and that means, after literally years of email requests, we finally address the issue of .......(drum roll please)

D...I...E...T..S..!  What is the best diet for you? The simple answer is everyone  is different. But the more we (not us, but the medical profession)  learn about insulin resistance, hormones, and genetics, the more we know that everyone is different. No one diet works. Every wonder about that beautiful woman with a set of abs who eats pizza and chocolate milk shakes? Credit her DNA. She has a high level of insulin resistance. 

Akins is no longer the player. It's guys like the amazing researcher Gary Taubes, whose ground breaking book "Why We Get Fat"  took off where Dr. Atkins left off. No less an authority than  Dr. Andrew Weil supported the amazing research in the book. Watch the smack down of higher-carb veggie Dr.  Oz (Oprah's "Guru" and have you seen her lately?) here on Tim Ferris's Blog.

Enter Tim Ferris (4 Hour Body) and  David Asprey  (Bullet Proof Executive) who are "bio-hackers"- they hack their body with diet and supplements and promise that you can 1) do more on less sleep (both) 2) Have super-human sex (Ferris); 3) raise your IQ (Asprey) ; 4) work less and earn more (Ferris and where else have we heard that before?) 4) and reverse type II diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune diseases and dramatically improve your blood-lipid profile (both) if you follow their diet/lifestyles.  For the lucky ones (like us) we need improvement in almost none of those areas, although working less seems like a nice idea. 

Aspey lives on bacon, grass-fed butter (he mixes it in his special mold-free coffee)  and all grass fed-organic meats, while Ferris adds beans at every meal to slow the absorption of carbs. 

Then there is the Paleo_Diet that is sweeping the nation which is a combination of lower carbs, seasonal fruits (very little bananas and grapes) green leafy veggies, and nothing white (flour, sugar) and nothing refined. "Eat like a Caveman" is their cry.  Sort of retro- South Beach. 

And still plugging away as vegetarians are Dr. Oz,  and Dr. Dean Ornish who converted President Clinton and had him put down that big mac and pick  up broccoli and brussel sprouts after his second "cardiac incident." 

After corresponding for  two  months  with a loyal reader who started an Asprey/Taubes very low carb diet (which we are still quiet concerned about) here is the last email we received: "Rump- first blood tests back- Cholesterol DOWN from 211(high)  to 175 (good) NO MEDS. Triglycerides down from 210 (very high) to 135 NORMAL!!! As per fasting blood test I am NO LONGER pre-diabetic. Per your suggestion I began a slow progression of cardiac interval training (30 sec all out runs, 60 sec recovery, slowly transitioning to 60 sec runs, 30 sec recoveries along with a kettle bell routine) and my blood pressure is now 120-85 down from 150-200 NO MEDS!!!!.  Rump, this diet literally saved my life. My cardiologist is both amazed and thrilled. The supplements you recommended also greatly helped and in her words "Can I meet this lawyer who thinks he is a doctor?" she said that without exception you were right on the money with every supplement.  And of course the weight loss..." (by request the total weight is not included here, but our subject, who is a middle aged male lost 28 pounds in 72 days.)

SO...is the Elephant in the room or in the special set of clothes you keep for the affects of  all those  holiday parties? 

What diets have you tried? What works for you and what do you think about the latest diets? Are they fads? 

See (hopefully and literally) LESS of YOU in court. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012


An era ends Friday as both Warren Schwartz and his lovely wife Marlene retire from the Dade PDs office. 

It wasn't quite as far back as Teddy Roosevelt taking the oath of office for President, but it might seem that long to REGJB denizens, most of whom cannot remember  a time when Warren was not a PD. 

It's been a long and distinguished career and when the whistle sounds at 5:00 p.m. Friday, PDs and ASAs and Judges and friends will gather at Finnegans On the River to hoist a few and say goodbye. Gentle readers of this blog should come by and do the same. 

Every February 22nd (within a day or so, trial schedule permitting) for the last five years,  we go to Jerry's Deli and order two tongue sandwiches. The waitress always gives us a strange look because we are dining alone. Yet we insist on two separate sandwiches on separate plates. We eat one, down a cream soda, munch a pickle and leave, ignoring the strange looks and/or comments the waitress gives us as she eyes the untouched sandwich. 

Why have we done this every year since 2007? 
Because the last time Justice Clarence Thomas asked a question or made a comment from the bench during oral argument was February 22nd, 2006. 

Happy anniversary Justice Thomas. Shhhhssshh.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Supreme Court Roundup:
Filing a false tax return (a/k/a the great american hobby) was held to be a deportable offense. Kawashima v. Holder.

Miranda update: Who doesn't believe that a prisoner serving a sentence is NOT in custody for purposes of Miranda? (Hint: six of them work in Washington, DC). 
Why it's our old friend  Justice Alito and his gang of Roberts, Thomas, Kennedy, Scalia and Kagan who comprise  perhaps the only six people on earth who don't believe that being in prison is being in custody. All the fun is  here in Howes v. Fields. 

When Republicans gleefully talk about slashing the budget and shutting the government down, here is a real life and death practical consequence of that kind of nonsensical rhetoric: children dying because of a shortage of a cancer drug according to the NY Times:

Dire shortages of two critical cancer drugs — shortfalls that have threatened the lives and care of thousands of patients — should be resolved within weeks, federal drug officials said....

There is a years-long backlog of applications for new generic drugs at the F.D.A. because the government does not have the money to hire enough reviewers to analyze the applications or inspectors to visit the facilities, many of them abroad. The generic drug industry tired of waiting for Congress to fully finance the F.D.A.’s generic drug office and this year proposed providing the agency with $299 million in annual fees to finance the review process...

[T]he pharmaceutical company Hospira is rushing 31,000 vials — enough to last the entire nation a month — of preservative-free methotrexate from its plant in Australia to the United States. Hospitals began receiving the drug, which is vital in the treatment of a common form of childhood leukemia, on Tuesday. The F.D.A. has also hastened the approval of an application by APP Pharmaceuticals to manufacture methotrexate, an application that has languished since 2010.

“Children are at such risk from drugs in short supply that it doesn’t give me a whole lot of comfort that we’ve moved past one or two of these shortages,” Dr. Adamson said. “What about the next one? And the one after that?”

But here's the thing, and maybe Justice Scalia can assist us, but we have checked the Constitution and do not see any mention of the FDA anywhere. What gives? Shut it down; defund it (cue large applause of tea party morons sitting in the audience; check that-cue large applause of  "healthy" Tea Party morons, because it's amazing how quickly you understand how the FDA works when you have cancer).
So the next time you see a bunch of yahoos clapping like mad while one of the Republican lunatics  candidates talks about not funding government agencies, scan the crowd to see if any them look sick or are wearing a hat because they've lost all their hair to chemotherapy. Odds are the crowd cheering are a healthy bunch of sons of guns. 

See You In Court. 


This was the distressing scene outside the rear of the REGJB Tuesday morning as crowds jammed and overwhelmed the aging facility we who labor there call home. 
(Thanks to the alert reader/attorney who snapped this picture before heading into the building. If more readers would email us pictures of problems, we be able to spend less time thinking about what to write.)

The problem with courthouse lines is that it lessens the public's confidence in the court system. For a country that prides itself on giving everyone "access" to the courts, in Miami criminal courts, no one really has "access" when it takes 75-90 minutes to get into the damn building. 

What can Brown do for you? 

See you in the building no one can get in to. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


(Thank you to Rumpole for permitting this to be reposted this afternoon. My apologies to our readers for posting two posts on the same feature - but there is a slightly different slant to my post. I also have posted some new information on Elections & JNC appointments below).


..... Astronaut John Glenn climbed into his Friendship 7 space capsule atop an Atlas rocket at Cape Canaveral, blasted off, and became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Sometimes I think we forget about these monumental accomplishments in American history. Our children attending elementary, middle school and high school get little in the areas of history and civics. I would guess that if they were asked, "Who is John Glenn", less than 10% would have a clue. Sad state of our educational system, here in Florida, and all around the country. But our Republican presidential hopefuls will surely make the inability to obtain birth control a much higher priority than teaching about history or civics, if any of them are elected President this November.

And while we are talking politics, did you happen to read your local newspaper this weekend? The Herald invited former justice of the Florida Supreme Court Raoul Cantero and Mark Schlakman, a senior program director for the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at FSU to write an OP ED about the Death Penalty.

The piece is entitled "Unanimous Jury Verdict A Must For Florida's Justice System". It is well written and it is speaking to deaf ears if it was meant to reach most of our elected legislators in Tallahassee. While they spend their time this session giving tax breaks to businesses that hire only non-union workers and redraw the geographic lines for the next decade of voting districts to make them "fairer", they ignore the two simple facts that speak loud and clear on this issue:

1. Of the 33 death penalty states, Florida is the only one that does not require unanimous verdicts. Even Georgia and Texas demand a 12-0 vote.

2. Since 1973, Florida leads the country in reversing more death sentences than any other state.

You can read the entire Op Ed here:


We hope everyone enjoyed their President's Day Weekends. For those of you youngins', we used to celebrate our 16th President's birthday, Abe Lincoln, on February 12th, and our 1st President's birthday, George Washington, on February 22nd. Congress finally changed that in 1971 when they decided to move most federal holidays to Mondays. They chose the third Monday in February to honour our first President, but rejected the part of the legislation that would name the holiday President's Day. Instead, today we actually honor President George Washington's Birthday. Of course, our retailers didn't see it that way, and over the years, they continually called it President's Day, until the name stuck.

On the Election & Appointment news of the day:

Circuit Court - Group 49

As a result of Richard Hersch's appointment last week by Governor Scott, Group 49 found itself with only one candidate: Victor De Yurre. That was until County Court Group 28 candidate Teresa Pooler, (sister of Katie Pooler), withdrew from that race and filed in the Group 49 race. So, for now, County Court Group 28 is left with lone candidate Tanya Brinkley.

JNC: Circuit Court .....

The JNC has received applications from 16 attorneys and three County Court Judges for the open seat of Judge Julio Jimenez. The shock is from who is NOT on the list. After applying for what must have been a dozen or more times, and being nominated by the JNC to the Governor's office a dozen or more times, Judge Deborah White-Labora has not applied for this seat. Judge White-Labora told me last month that she was done, for now, applying, if she did not get the appointment that recently went to Richard Hersch. Can you blame her?!

Also missing from the applicants: Miguel de la O, who was another one of the six finalists in the Hersch group from last month. De la O is currently a candidate for Circuit Court Judge running against Greer Elaine Wallace in Group 42.

Those on the list include:

Paul Aiello, Steven P. Befera, Manuel L. Casabielle, Judson L. Cohen, Michelle Ashby Delancy, Ariana Fajardo, Alan S. Fine, Andrew S. Hague, Victor J. Hayes, Lisa Lehner, Christine Lopez-Acevedo, Louis V. Martinez, Cristina Miranda, Jonathan Parker, Bonnie Riley, Vivian Rosado, Alan D. Sackrin, Rodney Smith, Veronica A. Xiques

JNC: County Court .....

Interviewing this Friday, February 24th, for the open County Court seat of Norma Lindsey:

Veronica Adriana Xiques, Rodolfo A. Ruiz, Vivian Rosado, Yadira Pedraza, Jonathan Parker, Gordon Charles Murray, Sr., Jonathan Meltz, Steven Lieberman, Carlos Guzman, Vincent Peter Farina, Ivonne Cuesta, Judson L. Cohen, Manuel Casabielle, Tanya Brinkley, Christopher Andrew Angell, David Alschuler .

CAPTAIN OUT ...........

Monday, February 20, 2012


IT'S FAT TUESDAY and we will be having pancakes for dinner (but lunch at Irene's) The Captain's take on John Glenn is coming and w are happy to report Maya Angelou is out of the hospital. 

"Godspeed John Glenn". With those words, said fifty years ago Monday, the United States entered the space race for real as Glenn became the first American in orbit.  For further reading on the first seven American astronauts (The Mercury Seven), you can do no better than Thomas Wolfe's  "The Right Stuff." 

We've been thinking a lot lately about "American Exceptionalism" and the fact that there is no such thing. If you think there is, try flying in a plane built by people who brag about American Execptionalism instead of by qualified engineers. Americans have done exceptional things. Indeed we have saved the world from tyranny. Multiple times. But you can't spend money already spent. Each challenge must be met by that generation and merely prattling about how good you were last week or last century gets you nothing. We personally like nothing more than kicking the butt of the lawyer who tells us they've never lost a case, because their record means nothing in the current case. 

As we think about John Glenn's remarkable achievement, we wonder where all the criticism is? Glenn was launched into space by NASA- a taxpayer funded agency. We don't see anything in the Constitution about space or NASA.  NASA created the rockets that launched the space capsules through partnerships with hundreds of small companies and several large contractors. And it wasn't the idea of American Execptionalism that created the rockets and capsules. It was exceptional Americans that got us into space and to the moon and safely back, except for the brave men of Apollo One. 

An individual company on their own or even in concert with others could not have afforded the billions of dollars it cost to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade and bring him safely home. And what profit was there in creating the lunar lander or the Friendship Seven or the Gemini and Apollo series of space crafts? Without a partnership between the Government and private industry we all would have been going to sleep-in the words of Lyndon Johnson- by the light of a communist moon. 

Yet in the current environment such promotion  of governmental partnerships gets you called a "socialist" or worse by the Republicans. Yet strangely we don't hear anyone criticizing Eisenhower or Kennedy or  Johnson or  Nixon (that's two Republicans and two Democrats for those of you counting at home) for creating NASA and spending billions of tax payer money landing men on the moon. Why the silence? It's deafening- and there's nothing exceptional about that. 

Coming soon: "Pando and the Faber Effect. "

Thursday, February 16, 2012


UPDATE- The PDs report they're closed. The SAO is open. The courts are closed. RC is just thankful they have Gene Zenobi. 
Broweird? Do you even need to ask? (open). 

Lots of things to do this long weekend, as long as you're not an ASA, PD or full-time Assistant Regional Counsel (see, we remembered you guys for once) as courts are closed Monday, but state offices are open. 

But if you're an ASA or PD and  per chance get the Washington/Lincoln flu, here's what you can do:

The Boat  Show is in town at Miami Beach. Go catch Rumpole looking to trade up. 

The 49th Coconut Grove Art Festival is this weekend in....Coconut Grove of course. Go sneak a peak at Rumpole perusing the art exhibits and snacking on a pita stuffed with greek salad. 

The federal guys are rightfully excited about the confirmation of Judge Jordan to the 11th Circuit Court of appeals. This was a no brainer nomination and confirmation and it was a appointment that was more than well deserved. There wasn't a more professional, courteous and downright intelligent Judge in the Southern District and that reputation began well before Judge Jordan took the bench.  The only downside to the confirmation is we lose a great trial judge. Meanwhile, with Jordan confirmed, Atlanta super attorney Jill Pryor was nominated for a seat on the eleventh circuit Thursday. DOM has all the details. Click above. 

In Maples v. Thomas the U.S. Supreme Court gave an Alabama death row inmate another legal chance when his big shot Sullivan and Cromwell attorneys abandoned him.  Here is the amicus brief by a group of Legal Ethics Professors and a group of law students at the Yale Ethics Bureau.
 S&C is hung out to dry. 

The DOW closed at its highest level in four years Thursday. Unemployment claims for January were the lowest in four years. The economy is coming back just in the nick of time and the Republicans are so baffled at what to do now that they are flinging condoms at each other. 

It should be an interesting spring and summer until the GOP convenes in Tampa. Set aside our usual table at Berns for the week.

See You Tuesday. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Before we get to the fundraiser details, the great man has spoken and we need to pay attention.

Albert Krieger in court was a magical thing to observe. His voice boomed from the podium, filling the courtroom. Its  rumbling bass made prosecutors tremble and witnesses crumble. Jurors nodded in agreement and vexatious judges were lost in the roar .  So when Albert Krieger speaks, even by email,you had better listen. And here is what he wrote on the FACDL listserv about the appointment of Richard Hersch:

"How wonderful for all of us, the bar and the public. Richard is everything a judge should be and we will all benefit from his service."
High praise for Mr. Hersch indeed. 

There is a fundraiser for the late David Paulus, an Assistant State Attorney who recently passed away after a courageous and lengthy battle with brain cancer. Mr. Paulus is survived by his wife and three children. If you know anything about health care circa 2012, you know that no matter how comprehensive the coverage, the portion of the bills not covered can be crippling, especially for a  public servant. This is a worthy cause, please attend or donate. 

Domino Effect - David Paulus 2012

Our final story is a crime drama. The perp wielded a machete. The victims kept their cool and handed over  $1,000.00 in cash. Luckily no one was hurt. The victim? United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, on vacation at his  Nevis vacation home. 
Maybe now he knows why eyewitness identification is so unreliable. One can hope. 
See You In Court. 

Monday, February 13, 2012


As most of you now know by now,  Richard Hersch was appointed to the circuit court by Governor Scott today. The Governor continues to exceed expectations on judicial appointments and this is another home run. 

Just like in years gone by when we had a gaggle of Judge Klein's (Gerry, Murray, and Herbert) we now have a duo of Judge Hirsch/Hersch's.  And as Judge Hersch would be quick to quip, "What is in a name? That which we call a  rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  And that which we call a Hirsch/Hersch by any other name would judge as well. 

Not to be petty, but now that he is appointed, when will we be getting our $500.00 bucks back that we donated to his campaign? Or did we not send a donation, secure in the belief he would be appointed? We'll have to check the books and get back to you on that.  

Oh...and of course Richard Dreyfus plays Judge Hersch in the movie. 

(not Judge Hersch) 

OK. A little blog experiment. 
Close your eyes. Inhale slowly...1..2...3...4..5..6..7..8..9..10 (you too, President Clinton)
Now hold hold it.....
And exhale slowly.....P...A....N...D...O..
...and let it go.....P...A...N...D...O....
Let it go and move on dot org. 
Lots of responses and comments over the weekend to Judge Pando's peculiar letting writing habits. Now it's time to move on. 
See You In Court. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Judge Pando: "The Rest of the Story"

BREAKING NEWS ..... Governor Rick Scott appoints Richard Hersch to the Circuit Court. Congratulations to Richard.



First things first. Horace, you should know by now, that if you want an investigation done right, you should not be turning to Carmel Cafiero, when you have your top notch investigative reporter right here on staff. And with that, I add to your post:

Judge Ana Maria Pando:

A graduate of UM law, she became an attorney in 1988. She joined the Miami City Attorney's office in 1991 and spent most of her legal career there. She was first elected County Court Judge in 2000 and took office in January of 2001. She was re-elected in 2006 and is again running for re-election in 2012.

Florida Wellness & Rehabilitation Center, Inc.

Florida Wellness & Rehabilitation Center, Inc. is owned by Dr. Mark Cereceda. Dr. Cereceda actually owns numerous clinics under the Florida Wellness name. Florida Wellness of Little Havana, Florida Wellness of FIU, Florida Wellness of South Miami, and Florida Wellness of Hialeah are just a few of his locations where his clinics generally treat people injured in auto accidents. They offer physical therapy to their patients along with chiropractic adjustments. They are paid, overwhelmingly, by auto insurance companies, whereby Florida Wellness files claims under the PIP coverage of the injured person's auto insurance policy.


Florida law requires you to carry only two types of coverage as part of your automobile insurance: Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability. Your PIP coverage provides you with up to $10,000 to pay for "reasonable and necessary" medical expenses as a result of injuries sustained in an auto accident.

Dr. Cereceda's clinics submit thousands and thousands of HICF's (Health Insurance Claim Forms) to auto insurance companies on a monthly basis. Sometimes they are paid; many times they are not paid. When they are not paid, it is usually because the auto insurance company has made a determination, rightly or wrongly, that the medical care received was not medically necessary. When Florida Wellness is not paid, they will sometimes get an assignment from the injured patient, and they then file a PIP SUIT against the auto insurance company for not paying them within the statutory time required by law. These cases are filed in County Court, and many of these cases end up in Branch Court in South Dade, Coral Gables, North Dade, and in HIALEAH - before Judge Ana Maria Pando. If they are successful, the Plaintiff clinic is paid the money they are owed, interest on that money, court costs and attorney fees. There are many law firms that work almost exclusively on PIP suits and they make a very good living doing it.


1. On May 4, 2011, Articles of Dissolution were filed by Fastkit Corp. on behalf of Florida Wellness & Rehabilitation Centers, Inc. Fastkit is one of these companies that handle all of the paperwork with the Florida Department of Corporations on behalf of a corporation.

First problem with these Articles is that they were signed by someone who is NOT a Director of the corporation, according to the Florida Department of State. The signature line prints the name Luana Alonso. The signature above it does not appear to be that of a Luana Alonso. It represents that she is a Director of the Corporation. Based on the available research we could locate online, she is not.

2. On October 12, 2011, an accountant by the name of Lestor Barreras signs an Affidavit. Barreras is the CPA for Dr. Cereceda and his clinics. In the Affidavit, Mr. Barreras states that his office inadvertently dissolved the corporation by filing the papers with the Florida Dept. of Corp.

Problem with that is, they did not file the papers. Fastkit did. In all fairness, they may have prepared the papers and forwarded them to Fastkit, who then filed the papers.

3. On October 14, 2011, Judge Ana Maria Pando prepares a letter on her official Judicial stationary. The letter is faxed to Mr. Jay Kassees, Division Director, Division of Corporations. Attached to the letter is the Affidavit from Barreras. In the letter, she refers to Florida Wellness owner Mark Cereceda. She tells the department, "I see no reason not to reinstate the above-mentioned corporation. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Sincerely, Judge Ana Maria Pando. "

Well, what was she thinking.?! Mr. Cereceda, through his many clinics, appears as a Plaintiff in dozens of cases, all before Judge Pando. The Judge has to rule in each case and her decision will determine whether Mr. Cereceda's clinics get paid their money - his money. What in the world was she thinking?

4. On October 24, 2011, the Florida Department of Corporations acts on the letter sent by Judge Pando. They decide, based on the "Court Order" they received, that they are "re-activating corp. status". They also decide to charge Florida Wellness NO FEE for the reinstatement.

I am attaching to this post the Affidavit from Barreras, the letter from Pando, and the action taken by FDOC. http://www.sunbiz.org/pdf/80709709.pdf

And with that, Florida Wellness and Rehabilitation Center, Inc., is again a registered Florida Corporation. Kind of important because there are hundreds, (currently approximately 200) cases filed in the County Courts of Miami-Dade County where the Plaintiff is listed as Florida Wellness.

5. Judge Pando has opened a campaign account and she has raised $69,685 through the reporting cycle December 31, 2011. Here are some notable contributors:

*Florida Wellness Little Havana, 11/11/11, donated $500.
*Florida Wellness FIU, 11/11/11, donated $500.
*Florida Wellness South Miami, 11/11/11, donated $500.
*Florida Wellness Hialeah, 11/11/11, donated $500.

Performance Orthopaedics, 11/11/11, donated $500. (This writer believes that Dr. Cereceda has an ownership interest in this medical provider).

*One minor problem with the checks that were written by these four corporations in November of 2011. The four corporations did not exist in November of 2011. That's because, in September of 2011, Dr. Cereceda changed the name of all four of the corporations to Ceda Health of Little Havana, Ceda Health of FIU, Ceda Health of Hialeah, and Ceda Health of South Miami. I have no idea whether there is a problem with a Judge accepting checks from a corporation that does not legally exist; or whether Dr. Cereceda violated any campaign donation laws by issuing checks on corporations that no longer existed.*

6. Dr. Cereceda has retained numerous law firms over the past four years to file these PIP suits on behalf of himself and his clinics. As stated above, there are at least 200 such cases currently listed on the Clerk's website. In the past twelve months, there have been at least 34 cases filed in the Hialeah branch court that are now before Judge Pando. All of those cases were filed by either attorney John Llarena of Hess & Llarena or by attorney Todd Landau.

7. The 34 cases filed by Llarena or Landau are all PIP suits filed against automobile insurance companies. Those companies include:

Progressive - 7 cases; State Farm - 11 cases; Allstate - 6 cases; Kingsway Amigo - 4 cases; GEICO - 3 cases; and Responsive, Safeco, and Infinity, with one case each where they appear as a named defendant in these PIP suits. These cases have all been filed between March and December of 2011.

8. Here is a list of some of the attorney/law firm contributors to Judge Pando's campaign that have held themselves out as Plaintiff's counsel for Florida Wellness in the past four years:

***John Llarena, 11/8/11, donated $500.
***Hess & Llarena PA, 11/8/11, donated $500.
***Todd Landau PA, 11/8/11, donated $500.
Buchalter, Hoffman & Dorchak PA, 11/9/11, donated $500.
Paul Schrier, 11/8/11, donated $500.
Paul Schrier PA, 11/8/11, donated $500.
Armando Brana, 11/8/11, donated $500.
Armando Brana PA, 11/8/11, donated $500.
John Friedland PA, 11/8/11, donated $250.
Kevin Whitehead, 11/8/11, donated $500.
Kevin Whitehead PA, 11/8/11, donated $500.
Bernard Butts PA, 11/14/11, donated $500.

Please note that according to our research of the Clerk' s office records, it appears that only Llarena and Landau have cases filed before Judge Pando at the Hialeah branch court. The other attorneys listed above have open cases in other branch courts throughout the County on behalf of Florida Wellness; these cases are not before Judge Pando. In fairness, all of these donations appear to be legal and within the laws of the State of Florida as they relate to donations to a judicial campaign.

So now you have heard "the rest of the story". Care to comment?


Friday, February 10, 2012


Carmel Cafiero of WSVN  channel seven wields a rather sharp hatchet, which she does not hesitate to use on the subjects of her stories on the nightly newscast; the pieces are  edited with quick cuts, and dramatic music and graphics, all done in a manner designed to inflame the viewer against the subject of her story. 

Enter Judge Pando of the County Court in Hialeah  and this story. 

The Facts:
Florida Wellness and Rehabilitation Center is a corporation being sued in several cases before Judge Pando. 

In 2011 the company filed papers with the secretary of state to dissolve the corporation.  An accountant for the company later said the papers were filed in error. 
Query: How does one mistakenly produce the necessary paper work to dissolve a corporation, then mistakenly put it in an envelope addressed to the secretary of state, then mistakenly put a stamp on it and then mistakenly put the envelope in the mail?
Answer: The account is Rosemary Woods reincarnate. (You young PDs and ASAs go ask your parents who Rosemary Woods was.) 

Enter Judge Pando, who inexplicably (at the moment-perhaps the Judge will explain)   then wrote the secretary of state asking them to reinstate the corporation. The secretary of state did so and notated on the file "re-instated by court order." The secretary of state then went out and had a drink, having worked harder on this case in a few days then he/she has for the year so far. 
Item: a month after the letter was sent, four separate Florida Wellness clinics contributed the maximum of $500.00 to Judge Pando's re-election campaign (the Judge is on the ballot with Barak Obama this fall). 

The piece ends on a high note with clips from a 2005 video from the Florida Supreme Court issuing Judge Pando a public reprimand for some transgression during her prior campaign. 

As always, we invite the Judge to respond by email with the assurance her response will be posted on the front page unedited and without snarky comments. 

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Two Judges both alike in dignity, in fair Miami where we lay our scene...

We received two emails this morning from two judges who asked us to post something, and because Chief Judge Federico Moreno is a gentleman, the email from the Honorable Yvonne Colodny will go first:

Dear Rumpole,

As a result of a recent blog discussion regarding my extended leave my wonderful judicial assistant, Nikki, has been inundated with calls and visitors concerned about my absence.

While I am sincerely grateful for these expressions of concern, they are truly unnecessary.  The reason for my not so mysterious absence is this.........his name is Charlie, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces, born on February 2nd.  I suppose the judicial robes were more forgiving than I ever thought!

I will be on maternity leave until May 2, 2012.  Until then, senior judges will be covering the division.

And, as always, LET'S GO HEAT!

Yvonne Colodny

And now the honorable Chief Judge of the Southern District of Florida, Federico Moreno, who started his judicial career as a humble county court judge back when our courthouse was known simply as The Justice Building:

Rumpole, I must confess that from time to time I read your blog as well as other blogs. However, I have never written to a blog, but I do so now because in the past I have seen how you remember "the old guys" on the bench. You probably missed the obituary on the death of Judge Richard Hickey. I went to his funeral mass  yesterday where his son-in-law David Rothman, as well as his sons Dickie and Joey( Judge Hickey had 8 children)  reminded us of Judge Hickey's service in the Navy. He was part of the Normandy invasion, and served in Italy and the Pacific too during WW II. I have always admired the Greatest Generation , including the President who appointed me, Bush I, and know from your prior reports that you share that admiration. Judge Hickey was an Irish mench on the bench. An honorable, hard working, fair, compassionate and always polite to all at the MJB from the time when he did preliminary hearings until after he was appointed by Governor Askew (another great man) to the Circuit Court in 1978. I know that so much time has passed since Judge Hickey's retirement in 1989, only the older readers of your blog will remember him. But it may be worthwhile to recognize the good guys on the bench, even long after they have left the bench. FAM

Well said by a Judge who obviously exhibits excellent taste in his reading habits, and more importantly, about Judge Hickey who indeed exemplified the Greatest Generation. He went to war to defend liberty and freedom and his nation and then returned to raise a family of eight children and finally dedicate his talents to serving his fellow citizens on the bench. "An Irish Mench" sums it up. Thank you, your honor, for helping us remember. 


Wednesday, February 08, 2012


The following is courtesy of the JAA Broward Blog. We do not know any of the individuals involved in this matter. Warning: for practitioners of criminal law, the following may be disturbing. Reader discretion is advised. 

Dramatis Personae: Judge Matthew Destry, Broward County; Ira Still, Esq, defense attorney; Rossaine Baker, client; JAC and the Broward State Attorneys Office-bureaucracies extraordinaire. 

Background: Rossaine Baker was by all appearances a client in need. Sitting in jail for five months, charged with interrelated life felonies in two separate cases, her case was going no where fast and her future was bleak. Enter attorney Ira Still who was appointed to represent Ms. Baker. The title of the post links to the JAA blog's transcript of the fee hearing in which Mr. Still lays out the remarkable job he did. Some highlights: he took over the case and prepared for trial in less than a year which included depositions of over 80 witnesses. To do this he basically shut his office down regarding working on other cases.  In the first case,  Rossaine Baker was acquitted of armed burglary and aggravated battery after a four day trial. 

In the second case the prosecution charged Rossaine Baker with attempted murder and armed kidnapping, the theory of the case being that Rossaine Baker tried to have the victim in the first case killed so as to avoid prosecution. Central to the theory of the first case was the prosecution's William's rule motion to introduce the facts of the second case. Motion denied after the defense filed a 20 page memorandum. 

After the acquittal in the first case. Mr. Still obtained bond for his client in the second case. Then, based on how apparently flimsily the evidence was in the first case, Mr. Still attempted to save the State of Florida money by trying over and over to convince a series of prosecutors to not try the second case which was a sure acquittal. But lets remember this is Broward where Mr. Satz lives by the credo "try em all, let the jury sort it out." 

The second case proceeded to trial but not before the witness tampering charge was dismissed by defense motion based on double jeopardy because of the acquittal in the first case.  The second case also apparently involved the use of cell phone experts to show that the prosecution's allegations about the defendant making phone calls which would show her guilt were completely false. To make a long story short, the Defendant was acquitted in the second case. 

After a spectacular job, Mr. Still submitted a bill for $95,872.50 based on billing at $75.00. That's 1,278.3 hours for those of you scoring at home.  After auditing his bill, JAC did not find anything objectionable as to the hours billed or the form of the bill. But they did not want to pay. 

Judge Destry remarked that "the State of Florida is not made of money" and then issued the following ruling:

A) Granted the attorneys fees request in full. 
B) Cut the bill in half. 
C) Cut the bill to the statutory cap of $2,500 per case.
D) Cut the bill to $20,000.00 for both cases. 
Go to the comments section for the answer. 
Click on the title of the post and read the transcript of the hearing. It's well worth a read. 
See You In Court. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Did you ever wonder why.......

Why we do what we do as Criminal Defense Attorneys
Presented by Attorney

David Oscar Markus

David Oscar Markus will provide a motivational lecture on the moral, legal and ethical obligations of our noble responsibilities as criminal defense attorneys.  David will share some of his insights and strategies in preparing and defending criminal cases.

Tuesday February 28th, 2012
12pm to 2pm at the Public Defender’s office in Room 110

RVSP to Maria PH at 305-545-1902 or  mprovostheron  at pdmiami.com  by February 24th 2012.

There is absolutely no truth to the rumor we will be heckling Mr. Markus...

Monday, February 06, 2012


Here is the real headline from the Miami Herald- we are not making this up:
"Drunk, Incoherent Man Mysteriously Dropped Off At Courthouse". Click the link and see it for yourself. 
Our first thoughts revolved around the too many glasses of champagne we consumed Sunday celebrating our good fortune. When we remembered we weren't in Miami, our next gleeful thought was "which judge is it?
From the article: "The drunk man could only mumble when asked why his friends deposited him at the courthouse." The plot thickens as it could be any number of robed readers we know. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/06/2628079/drunk-incoherent-man-mysteriously.html#storylink=cpy"
What's the worst possible thing you could imagine happening to you (outside of being deposited by your so called friends drunk and incoherent at the courthouse? Which by the way got us thinking: "weren't there any strip clubs around?") 
Whatever your worst personal nightmare is, having a fully loaded port-a-potty truck overturn on your lawn must be at the top of anyone's list. The Herald has the messy details here. 

What's worse than losing the super bowl? Having your QB's super-model wife blame you for it:  Here is the Patriots new wide receivers coach on the fundamentals of the game:  You have to catch the ball when you're supposed to catch the ball," Bundchen is heard saying. "My husband cannot [expletive] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time."

Super Bowl wrap up: Here are the numbers that count: since being exposed as a cheater, the Bill Belichick coached Patriots are 12-13 in playoff games and 0-2 in Super Bowls. Heck of a genius of a coach. 

See you in court.