Friday, January 30, 2015


We all know the warnings. 
You have the right to remain silent….. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you, ….Once we are finished speaking with you and getting you to incriminate yourself, because we really don't respect or protect the constitution, we just figure out ways to work around it. 

The below video shows what happens when the right to counsel is invoked before the police finish with a suspect.  An 18 year veteran of the San Francisco Public Defenders Office refuses to back down, and gets arrested. 

Miami is different then San Fran. In Miami, the person taking the video with the I phone would have, tragically, been jumped and beaten senseless by unknown individuals as the police were looking the other way for a moment. We speak with authority on this because we once represented the owner of a video camera who filmed an arrest. They went to trial several months after leaving the hospital. We had the video as members of the crowd were able to get it away from the police. This was circa 1995. It was a quick NG. 

It's cool in South Florida now, but we sense a warming trend:

See you in court. Enjoy the beautiful winter weekend. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The cycle of CLE, trials, and Bench and Bar Mixers continues with another "come meet the judges y'all"  shing-ding at Pride and Joy, which is not a half-bad BBQ joint on Thursday, after work (or several hours after work for certain members of the judiciary)  Details below. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015



You Know it. 
You Love it. 
You can't live without it. 

The REGJB Lunch & Learn is back for 2015! 

This week's topic is especially enlightening, because no matter where we go, and regardless of with whom we speak, we are always asked about one of the topics to be covered. 

For example: 

A meeting in Tallahassee with some prominent individuals about a pending federal investigation:

Rumpole: "…so the Feds are like a big container ship. Even when they turn the wheel it takes some time before the ship responds. I know it's been three and a half years, but they still have eighteen-months on the statute of limitations and I don't expect any action until the end of the year. 

Client: "Listen, before I forget, my wife got one of those red light camera tickets in Miami. Weren't they declared unconstitutional?"

Apparently you can't park at TGK. Who knew? Who would want to? 
Apparently lawyers and doctors can't find parking, and since they moved the mentally ill to TGK,  (insert your random joke about the judiciary here) doctor/experts have been circling the parking lot in frustration, with nary a parking spot to be found. 
Can a valet service be far off? 

Here is Judge Sayfie's letter to the jail director. Note the cautious criticism, and the excessive courtesy, praising the director for having his finger on the pulse of the problem. You don't get to be a chief without knowing how to take care of the indians. 

Monday, January 26, 2015




MONA LISA VITO ...........................

More than once we have been referred to as the Mona Lisa Vito of reporters, when it comes to the reporting of judicial elections in Miami-Dade County.  And, following our reporting on the filing of Judge David Young last week, we received several emails requesting the lineup of who's up in 2016 for reelection.

Without further adieu, here is the list of Judges, both Circuit and County Court, whose terms expire in 2016.


32 Areces, Barbara

28 Bailey, Jennifer D.

10 Bernstein, Scott M.

34 Freeman, Gill Sherryl

52 Genden, Michael A.

62 Gordo, Monica

41 Hirsch, Milton

76 Eig, Spencer*** 

66 Luck, Robert

30 Rodriguez, Rosa I.

39 Rodriguez-Chomat, Jorge

45 Ruiz-Cohen, Samantha

74 Sarduy, George Alexander

59 Sayfie, Nushin Ghofrany

03 Schlesinger, John C.

12 Soto, Bertila A.

40 Thomas, William L.

20 Thornton, Jr., John W.


11 Gonzalez-Paulson, Michaelle

35 Graham, Wendell Mitchell

23 Kelly, Carroll J.

07 Newman, Edward

15 Rubenstein, Judith

05 Seraphin, Fred

There are 18 Circuit Court Judges whose terms expire at the end of 2016.  At least two of them will have hit mandatory retirement based on their age: Judge Genden and Judge Rodriguez-Chomat.

On Friday, January 16, 2015, former Judge David Young filed to run in Group 39, Rodriguez'-Chomat's group. Coincidentally, on the same day, attorney Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts also filed to run in that group.  You may remember that Rodriguez-Fonts ran unsuccessfully in the most recent election cycle against Judge Martin Zilber.  Zilber beat Rodriguez- Fonts by only 2,316 votes out of nearly 152,000 cast; (50.8%-49.2%).

That begs the question: why didn't one of those two candidates file in Group 52, Genden's seat?  My guess would be that Genden has decided not to complete his term and we can expect that he will resign his seat sometime in the next year or so.

BREAKING .................

In the time it took to author this post, attorney Carol "Jodie" Breece has filed to run for Circuit Court Judge, in Group 52.  I would hope that Ms. Breece had a sit down with Judge Genden before filing to learn whether Genden intends to serve out his term.  If he were to resign early, Governor Scott would appoint the replacement and Breece would be forced to find a new Group if she wants to run in 2016.

You may recall that Ms. Breece filed in 2014 to run for County Court Judge against Incumbent Judge Ana Maria Pando and challenger Diana Gonzalez.  Ultimately, Breece withdrew her candidacy before the qualifying deadline.  She told me back then that she would definitely be running in 2016.  Looks like she kept her word.  Good luck Jodie.

***Judge Spencer Eig needs a new Campaign Treasurer.  Albert Corrada currently holds that honor.  Judge Eig ran unopposed for reelection in 2014 in Group 76.  The Division of Elections though was more concerned that Eig, more than once, filed late Campaign Treasurer's Reports.  On November 19, 2013, Eig was fined $525 for a late filing.  Again, on August 11, 2014, he was fined $400, for another late filing.

Now, if that wasn't poor enough record keeping for Eig and Corrada, for some reason, on August 26, 2014, Eig and Corrada filed papers with the Division of Elections indicating that Eig planned to run for Judge in 2016, again, in Group 76. At least that is what the Division of Elections is currently reporting.  We'll keep you updated on this.  ****We received an email from Mr. Corrada.  He has indicated that the paperwork filed on August 26, 2014 was meant for Judge Eig's reelection campaign in 2020.  Because the Division of Elections has not even opened a web page for that election cycle, they are reporting it as if Judge Eig is running in 2016.****

There are also 6 incumbent judges in County Court whose terms expire in 2016.

Of course, all of this is subject to change; judges getting elevated, retiring, etc.

Qualifying for the election is 15 months away and ends on May 6, 2016.  The election itself is 19 months from now and will take place on Tuesday, August 30, 2016.

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


When a federal judge previously quotes Gandhi  and warns you that "an eye for eye will only make the whole world blind"…..BETTER CALL SAUL!

When the Federal Judge writes that the internal feud between clients "blinded its counsel Bernardo Roman from adhering to the ethical tenets of our profession.. " in a motion for sanctions….BETTER CALL SAUL!

When the federal judges summarizes a hearing by writing that there "was no evidence or patently frivolous evidence" to support the Plaintiff's contentions….BETTER CALL SAUL!

When the federal judge dismisses your alleged good faith efforts with the zinger "you cannot make A silk purse out of a sow's ear"…BETTER CALL SAUL!!

When the federal judge begins the "Conclusion" section of the order with the oft repeated phrase "a man who represents himself has a fool for a client"BETTER CALL SAUL!

And finally, when the court awards over a million dollars in fees to your adversaries and refers you to the Florida Bar, well, YOU BETTER CALL SAUL.

Thus ends(?) the sad, strange, twisting saga of the Lewis/Tein law firm's representation of the Miccosukee tribe, and their ultimate vindication by the efforts of their counsel Paul Calli and his firm of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt.

The order sanctioning their opposing counsel who brought this mess upon himself is here.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Let's see… in no particular order of importance….

Today is NFL Championship Sunday. Four teams will vie for the right to go to the Super Bowl which has become a holiday of almost religious reverence in the United States. It's just a football game. 

The oceans are collapsing at an alarming rate and ocean life is approaching a point of collapse from which there is no return. The NY Times has the article here. 

And David Young is running for Judge. 

The announcement of Mr. Young's candidacy drew a multitude of comments in the last post. But it's our blog so we get the last word. (Although actually Mr. Young would have the last word should he care to write in.). 

First as to the Airline Pilots trial several years back. The pilots were charged with attempting to take command of a commercial airline filled with passengers while they were intoxicated from a night of drinking. It is an absolute rule of flying taught on the first day of flight school: "Twenty-four hours from bottle to throttle" and the pilots charged with a violating that rule were about twenty hours short of compliance. 

It has been alleged that Mr. Young in his capacity as a Judge rejected plea offers in the case because he wanted to try the case and use the publicity and notoriety of the televised trial for his own personal aggrandizement. It is not disputed that after the conclusion of the trial that Mr. Young was offered- and accepted- a job as a "television judge" ala "The People's Court" (also headed by a former Dade County Judge- the Honorable Marilyn Milian.). 

To accuse Mr. Young of turning down the pleas because of his desire to land a job on television, is akin to accusing Barak Obama's mother of faking the place of her son's birth because she knew that someday he was destined to be President of the United States. A far-fetched accusation, but one in which small-minded people are apt to believe. The same goes with Judge Young, and the logic is just as tenuous.  

Judges accept pleas all day long to a familiar litany of crimes- possession, robbery, assault, battery, DUI. But as we enter our third decade labouring in the hallowed halls of the REGJB, this is the first case we can recall with these type of charges. At times DUI practitioners would see a private pilot charged with flying while impaired, but we have never seen commercial pilots charged with such a crime. The magnitude of a disaster that could have come about if the pilot's impairment caused error which resulted in a crash is almost unimaginable. Besides the unfortunate souls on the aircraft,  Miami is a crowded urban center. The plane could have crashed into a school, or hospital, or the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant or even the Dade State Attorneys Office!!!  

If in the course of a career a judge rejects a plea or two, this is one of those cases ripe for such action. We see no nefarious plans behind Judge Young's actions. He had the authority, indeed the duty, to accept only a plea that he deemed acceptable in light of the nature of the crime. 

In all other aspects we welcome Mr. Young's return to the bench.  The qualities we seek in a judge are foremost the courage to do the right thing. Time and time again Judge Young spoke out for defendants he saw being mistreated. Defense attorneys applauded him for this, rightfully so. Shame on us for turning on Judge Young for his courage to reject a plea in a case where he thought the crime merited a more serious punishment. We should not criticize philosophical consistency; we should applaud the courage it takes to make a decision consistent with one's belief in the face of the  criticism of the vox populi. 

Seattle over Green Bay by ten, although we are rooting for the Packers. The Colts stun the Cheaters 34-31 when Luck leads his team on a last minute drive and game winning field goal. 

Enjoy the long weekend. No court Monday. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015





JUDGE LNU: Clerk, call the next case.
CLERK: State v. James Williams
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good morning, your honor.  The Captain, appearing on behalf of Mr. Williams.
JUDGE: Mr. Captain, good to see you.  Can you please approach the bench.
CAPTAIN: Of course, your honor.
JUDGE: Mr. Captain, you know I am running for re-election, don't you?
CAPTAIN: Yes, your honor.
JUDGE: Please take this envelope, (slipping the Captain an envelope); I noticed that you had not given to my campaign yet.
CAPTAIN: No problem, your honor.  Of course I will be donating to your re-election campaign.

***This actually happened to me while appearing in Circuit Criminal many years ago.  The Judge, who has since passed away, was a well liked judge and was thought by most, on both sides of the isle, to be a very fair judge.  But, to be clear, what s/he did was not legal under any of the judicial campaign laws at the time.

***And we all know that, when running for Judge, that it's all about that bass ($$$), and lots of it, that makes a campaign go; a treble (thin) bank account is a quick ticket back into private practice.

On January 20, 2015, SCOTUS will hear the case of LANELL WILLIAMS-YULEE, PETITIONER, V. THE FLORIDA BAR, RESPONDENT.  The Daily Business Review covers the story here.

The case comes directly from the Florida Supreme Court and you can read that court's opinion here.

The Florida Supreme Court's opinion starts out this way:

"We have for review a referee’s report recommending that the Respondent, Lanell Williams-Yulee, be found guilty of professional misconduct. The referee recommended that the Respondent receive a public reprimand as a sanction. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 15, Fla. Const.

For the reasons explained below, we approve the referee’s findings of fact and recommendation that the Respondent be found guilty of violating Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-8.2(b) (Judicial and Legal Officials, Candidates for Judicial Office; Code of Judicial Conduct Applies) for personally soliciting campaign contributions in violation of Canon 7C(1) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. We therefore reject the Respondent’s constitutional challenge to the ban imposed by Canon 7C(1) on a judicial candidate’s personal solicitation of campaign contributions, and hold that the Canon is constitutional because it promotes the State’s compelling interests in preserving the integrity of the judiciary and maintaining the public’s confidence in an impartial judiciary, and that it is narrowly tailored to effectuate those interests.


We approve the referee’s recommended sanction of a public reprimand."

In September of 2009, attorney Lanell Williams-Yulee decided she would become a candidate for County Court Judge in Tampa.  One of her first acts as a candidate was to sign a campaign fundraising letter where she personally solicited campaign contributions.

The Campaign:

Judge Dick Greco, Jr was elected to the County Court bench in 1990 and reelected in 1996,  He left the bench and returned to private practice in 2002.  In 2009, Governor Charlie Crist appointed Greco to an open seat on the County Court bench.  He ran for "reelection" in 2010.  Ms. Williams-Yulee filed to challenge incumbent Judge Greco.  In the primary, Judge Greco garnered 80% of the vote, defeating Williams-Yulee.

The Bar:

The Florida Bar investigated the charges against Williams-Yulee, which included misconduct and minor misconduct, violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and violations of supervisory responsibilities.

The relevant part of the referee's findings, as they relate to the case before SCOTUS, is the finding of guilt by Williams-Yulee of directly soliciting for campaign contributions.


The Bar has retained heavy hitter Greenberg Traurig partner Barry Richard (he of Bush v Gore) to represent the interests of The Respondent.

The Petitioner, Williams-Yulee, is challenging on First Amendment grounds, Canon 7C(1) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, which bars judicial candidates from soliciting campaign contributions.

Amicus briefs were filed this week by some of the most respected attorneys in the State, on behalf of the Bar, including Major B. Harding, Harry Lee Anstead and Stephen Grimes, all former chief justices of the Florida Supreme Court; along with four others who are past presidents of the Florida Bar.

The Bar's amicus supporters believe that Canon 7C(1) "strikes a proper balance between a judicial candidate's right to free speech and the right of future litigants to due process, while placing a minimal burden on the former." (At least 33 other states have a judicial Canon similar to Florida's).

Let's face it, even though judges are not supposed to ask us directly for money, who's kidding who here.  Every candidate, and Judge, running for reelection, knows who gave to their campaign and who gave to their opponent.  It's online, it's public record.  So, what's the big deal if we eliminate the middle man and just let the candidate/judge do the asking? 

What do you think?


JUDGE DAVID YOUNG, is running for Judge, again:

Judge David Young, who served on the County and Circuit Court bench from 1993-2007, and then became a TV Judge (2007-2009), has most recently been mediating and serving our community on several boards.  He announced today that he has entered the race for Circuit Court Judge in Group 39.  That seat is currently held by Judge Rodriguez Chomat.  Chomat is retiring (aged out) and therefore cannot seek reelection.  Qualifying for the seat ends on May 6th of 2016 and the election will take place on August 30th.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Welcome to the REGJB Justice Building Blog- Banned in both North Korea and The Dade County State Attorneys Office. Quite a perfecta. 

Jus Sui Charlie.

The following email has been edited for blog space requirements:

Dear Colleague:
A number of us have been sharing recollections of our appearances before Judge Hoeveler and our encounters with him over the years. It became clear to us that such stories from the members of our legal community "could fill a book," and so, with the cooperation of Judge Hoeveler's staff, that is precisely what we would like to do...
... St. Thomas University School of Law will be hosting an event to honor Judge Hoeveler and to announce that its Law Library has been selected as the repository for his trial notebooks, correspondence, and other judicial memorabilia. We are pleased to announce that St. Thomas has agreed to publish this book and to present it to Judge Hoeveler at that ceremony.  (It is intended to be a surprise to the Judge.)...
We hope to include in this book stories about Judge Hoeveler, both from the time when he was practicing as a lawyer and during his 37 years of service on the bench. We are not looking for tributes or general praise, but rather anecdotes and "war stories" which by their narratives, and not by their adjectives, will say something about the kind of lawyer, jurist and person he is. These stories may be serious or funny, they may relate to personal encounters or things which took place in the courtroom during routine or more significant matters. Whether submissions emphasize his grace, patience, diligence, kindness or sense of humor, we believe that the collection as a whole will say something important about him and we hope that it will be a fitting tribute to his legendary career as a lawyer and trial judge.
Your submission should be double-spaced in Word, in Courier New, 12 point, and preferably no longer than a single page. Please identify yourself by name and affiliation, and give context for your submission. Please send it to: HOEVELERSTORIES AT GMAIL. COM 

Please send your submission no later than January 202015. Unlike Judge Hoeveler, we will not be liberal in granting extensions, although for a good excuse and a good submission exceptions will be made... 

William C. Turnoff
United States Magistrate Judge

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Greg Prebish, a former Miami Criminal Defense attorney who relocated his family to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he worked as a lawyer and a host for the mountain ski resort, passed away suddenly over the weekend from septic shock as a complication from a minor knee surgery. 

Greg is the son of famed Miami Criminal Defense Attorney Harry Prebish, who co-founded the Miami Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. 

Greg was a great lawyer. Beloved and respected by his colleagues from both sides of the courtroom and the Judges who presided over his cases. 

Greg was a fixture on the FACDL ski trips, and at some point he decided the mountain life was for him, so he very bravely gave up his practice here and went to Wyoming, where he was able to live the life he always wanted to live. So many of us dream of doing something like this, but so few of us actually do it. Greg passed away way way too early, but at least he was living life on his own terms. Good for him. 

There is a GoFundMe page to help Kim-Greg's wife, with the unexpected funeral and travel expenses. It would be really a great gesture if Greg and Kim's Miami friends pitched in. 

Here is the local paper's obituary. 

From the obituary: 

In the wake of his death multiple organizations and people in the valley remembered him as a dedicated volunteer, a caring man, a conscientious professional and a good friend.
“He was very involved in this community, and he cared a lot about his clients and his friends,” lawyer and Jackson Municipal Judge Melissa Owens said. “I think that’s the word you’re going to hear again and again, is how caring he was.”
Owens, also one of the leaders in the Teton County chapter of the Wyoming Bar Association, knew Prebish both as a fellow lawyer and as one of the men she could count on when she needed volunteers for bar association events.
“It’s not always easy to find people who can or will make time to be a part of those things,” she said, “but he was involved with things like the bar holiday party every year since I became involved myself. He was always willing to help.”
Nonprofits such as the Teton Access to Justice Center and the Community Safety Network remember Prebish as a man who was dedicated to getting justice for the people the organizations served and always willing to help.
Prebish spent at least one evening each week serving as the on-call attorney for the Access to Justice Center, where he offered his services free of charge to the center’s clients, both in representing them when necessary and in providing guidance in filling out legal forms. The center serves Teton County residents who are in need of legal assistance but who cannot afford the help they need...

Friday, January 09, 2015


Rumors are rampant that Fidel Castro has assumed room temperature. 
Dead or alive?

You know this is a big story when the Mega-Miami-Media-superstar-reporters like David Ovalle and Brian Andrews are being hustled to La Caretta and Versailles to closely monitor the situation. 

Here's what we know:

Lines are forming outside Home Depot to buy plywood. Ditto Publix for water. 
There's been a run on tres leches and  picadillo and maduros. The situation is fluid and it is unknown at this time if we will be having dinner and dessert. 

Mitt Romney is running for President in 2016. Really. It has nothing to do with Castro, but it's cool. Our generation's Harold Stassen. 

So here's what we suggest. Have a glass of rum and then a shot from a collada and watch Godfather II. Whatever will be will be. 


Thursday, January 08, 2015



Judge Morton Perry May 15, 1924-Janaury 5, 2015. 

Back when the County Court Criminal Bench was almost exclusively white (Calvin Mapp being the only exception we can recall during this time period) and male and non-latin and there were separate divisions for crimes and traffic (lets see, Gerry Klein, Alfred Nesbit, Arthur Winton, Morton Perry in the crimes division)  Judge Morton Perry was the epitome of what one would expect a judge to look like and be. He had a distinguished look about him. He was kind and calm and when we first walked into his courtroom as a young lawyer, he just looked like what Hollywood would cast as a Judge. 

But he was also a fair judge, patient with the multitudes of unrepresented defendants who appeared before him along with the brand new prosecutors and PDs, many of whom knew less about the law than some of the "regulars" who appeared often in county court. 

We once saw Judge Perry handle a solicitation of prostitution case and he recognized the defendant: "Sir, weren't you in my courtroom last week on the same charge?"
Defendant: "Yes Judge, that was me."
Judge Perry: "What do you have to say for yourself?"
Defendant: "I don't know judge, I guess I fall in love quickly." 

It took several minutes for Judge Perry and the rest of the courtroom to stop laughing. 

We remember Judge Morton Perry as a good and kind man and a fair judge who tried his best. He was a credit to the bench in Dade County and he served this community well. 


We received this comment and removed the attorney's name and decided to post this on the blog as a post. 
Of course it's unethical. Attorneys cannot solicit business in this matter.  Plus it violates the code of the shark to work for reduced rates.  Of course, as thousands of defendants serving lengthy prison sentences can attest to, you get what you pay for. 

Dear Rumpole,

I am curious as to whether you will post this question and, more importantly, your opinion on the practice.

I have had several clients over the past year or so tell me that XYZ ESQ has been sending his associates unsolicited to visit clients in the jails to get hired. Most of these inmates are represented by the PD's office and are handed a stack of  XYZ ESQ business cards to pass around to other inmates. The clients tell me that  XYZ ESQ offers to represent inmates for very reduced rates if they recruit other clients for his firm. He asks them for a list of all PD clients in their cell and then they go and visit them to do the same thing. Many of my clients (more than five) have independently told me this over the past year and have been recruited by these inmates. And one of my clients was actually visited by one of his associates recently and asked to switch firms.

Do you think it is legal/ethical to send associates unsolicited to the jails to attempt to get PD clients to hire him?
Wednesday, January 07, 2015 4:19:00 PM

Don't attempt to leave a comment with the attorney's name. We believe the comment to be true, but we won't print the name without attribution from clients and then giving the attorney a chance to respond.  If you leave a comment with an attorney's name, it will NOT be published, so don't waste your time and ours. 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015




As a result of the resignation of Judge Gladys Perez, there is a vacancy on the County Court.  The following 26 attorneys have applied to the 11th Circuit's Judicial Nominating Commission for consideration:

Julio M. Gomez
 *Laura Ann Stuzin
Adriana Collado-Hudak
Elijah A. Levitt
Thomas Aquinas Cobitz
Erik M. Vieira
Bruce S. Reich
Gina Beovides
Christopher A. Green
Carlos L. Fernandez
Ansley B. Peacock
Steven Lieberman
*Diana Vizcaino
Scott M. Janowitz
Gordon Charles Murray
David Alschuler
Karl S.H. Brown
Griska Mena Rodriguez
Luis Perez Medina
Sandra J. Millor
Jonathan Meltz
Peter S. Heller
Julie Harris Terry
Isadora Velazquez-Rivas
Lody Jean
Leonard Leigh Elias

The JNC will now review their applications and decide how many of the 26 to interview in person.

*Ms. Stuzin and Ms. Vizcaino were both recently nominated by the 11th JNC to the two open Circuit Court seats (Gayles & Bloom); those seats were eventually filled by Jason Bloch & Rodolfo "Rudy" Ruiz.

If you would like to provide your input to any of the JNC members about any of these attorneys, you can find the JNC members' names and contact information here.

I LOVE MY LAW LICENSE .................

And in case you missed yesterday's post by Rumpole, read it again. "Protect Yourself".  And if you need further support for this mantra, just take a look at the latest Florida Supreme Court's disciplinary opinions published on December 31, 2014.  The Court disciplined no less than 22 attorneys in their latest Orders of Discipline and at least eight of those lawyers suffered the harshest of penalties; disbarment or revocation of their license.  You can read all about it here.

Happy New Year to all our loyal blog readers.  Looking forward to another great year of blogging in 2015.


Monday, January 05, 2015


We can think of no better way to start off the 2015 blogging season than to refer you post-haste, to Roy Black's blog and his coda to F. Lee Bailey. 

Go here, now, and read, and learn. 

Lee Bailey's life reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, with a sad ending of disbarment, the roots of which were planted in one of his greatest achievements- the cross of detective Mark Furman in the OJ Simpson trial.  Roy Black wrote that at the time he didn't think Bailey had done much damage during the cross. But in a rare instance of your humble blogger seeing more than the Jedi-Master of Cross-examination, we immediately  saw what Bailey had done. The greatness of the cross was that Furman was finished, only he and the prosecution didn't know it yet. Like a ninja, Bailey had slipped in the knife without anyone knowing it.  And the lesson there was, as Roy Black wrote: "A great cross reverberates across the entire scope of the evidence and takes on a life of its own." Indeed. 

For us, constant worriers about the fate of the world, the ending of Bailey's career re-enforces a belief (nee fear)  we have had for sometime- the legal careers of old criminal defense attorneys often end badly.  Maybe it's because the vast sums lawyers occasionally collect cause them to forget the hard times, and they fail to save. 
As equally as likely is the superman complex- we walk into the belly of beast and save the damned. The rules don't apply to us. 

Or so we think. 

Until we make that one fatal mistake. We ignore that nagging pain until a health care disaster strikes us down.  We spend like the cases and clients will never stop. 
Or as Roy Black wrote about Bailey's downfall : "The man who protected everyone didn't protect himself."

Stop. You. Reading this. Stop. The texts and emails will wait. 
Read that again. "The man who protected everyone didn't protect himself." 

If it can happen to one of the greatest criminal defense attorneys of  the last sixty years, it can happen to you. 

Protect yourself. 
Rumpole's first admonition for 2015. 

See You In Court. 

Sunday, January 04, 2015


Why we blog:

On November 9, 2011 we did a blog post on the passing in May, 2011, of REGJB Legend Judge Phil Knight here. 

Early Saturday morning, more than four years later, we received this comment:

CHESSMAN said...
I was once a neighbor of the honorable Judge Knight back in 1991-1993. He was a remarkable man. His wife, Mrs. Knight was a sweetheart. He obviously left an impression on me as a youngster since I randomly decided to google him and found this blog. Rest in peace Judge Knight. Peace and blessings to your surviving love ones.
This is why we blog.

The law, for better or worse, has now been our occupation, vocation, and avocation for half our life (plus or minus a year or two). And we have practiced law mostly in the REGJB (plus or minus a trip to Broweird or the federal courts around the country- one of our favourite cases being a three week trial in DC several years ago.)

The REGJB has been a building that has held the judges and juries and lawyers that have decided the fates of Miamians for over a half a century. The people who have worked in our building have defined Miami (Richard E Gerstein) and shaped this country (Janet Reno). From clerks and bailiffs and corrections officers to brilliant Judges (Phil Knight, Ed Cowart), to uniquely Miami characters- Sy Gaer, Ellen Morphonios, their stories needed to be told, their work needed to be remembered, their lives needed- in some small way-to be honored. 

That's what we try to do here. 

Time marches on, and the next generation replaces the last. We have new judges and lawyers marching (confidently or trepidatiously) into the REGJB in 2015, and they will affect the lives of  Miamians who come to the courthouse as defendants and victims and witnesses.  Some will do great things; some will fail miserably. 

All are working under the shade of trees, grown from acorns planted by those who came before them.  Some of those were giants in their fields. Many were mediocre, most tried to do their best; all sought that most amorphous and shadowy of highest ideals: JUSTICE.  It was, after all, first called the "Justice Building" 

For better or worse, here comes 2015. It all starts Monday. 

*See You In Court.

*Figuratively speaking. Our first rule of trials is to never ever let a case be set for trial the first week of January. Too many judges and prosectors return with new year's resolutions of trying more cases and getting tougher at sentencing dancing in their egg-nog -hung-over-minds.  Some of the worst injustices that we have ever seen have occurred during this first week or two.  Long time, and careful readers know our inviolate rule by now. 

Thursday, January 01, 2015


For reasons we cannot explain here, we found ourselves on New Years Day, in, of all establishments, a McDonalds, in a bland mid-western state.

A woman with a shock of white hair who was in her mid-sixties greeted us. Behind her, a stooped, old man ran the French-fryer. When we sat down (we didn't eat any food- pure poison) an old woman, bent over with gnarled hands was running a mop on the floor in desolate strokes.

What happened to high-school students getting their first job at McDonalds? Now it seems that seniors are turning to McDonalds to survive, and not just for meals.

Their parents were the greatest generation, and their children are the baby-boomers and gen-X and Gen-Y'ers. .
The greatest generation fought and won two world wars and twice saved Europe.
Their grandchildren- the Baby Boomers, were born into a world that would soon see men on the moon. Boomers grew up watching the world explode in civil rights marches, the deaths of John and Martin and Bobby. Their parents might have caught the Korean war or the Vietnam war, and neither resulted in a victory.  Baby-Boomers went to college in droves and became doctors and lawyers and financiers, and their children and grandchildren ushered in the communication and tech age-financed by the Boomers. Sandwiched in-between the success of two world wars and the micro-chips and digital technology, the lost generation struggled to what now seems an inglorious end.

Does greatness skip a generation?

It's not fair to disparage a generation, and in fact we aren't disparaging our parents generation. What we are doing is recognizing that they are they people left standing without a chair when the music stopped. Their generation killed two Kennedys and MLK. They elected Nixon and re-elected him, although his hands were caught in the Watergate till, and then they dumped Ford for Carter, and that's where it stood until the majority of Baby-Boomers came of age and dumped Carter for Reagan.

They smoked and drank and ushered in fast food, diet soda, and became the sickest generation, as their health care costs are partly responsible for sinking them into poverty.

You can start the emails with their accomplishments- and we won't deny them. But overall, and maybe it's just the start of the New Year blues in a cold, desolate environment- but this generation seems lost and sad.
The saddest generation?

Court starts anew Monday, and if you have listened to our warnings over the years, you will remain safely ensconced in your office. Trials on the first week are a no-no.