Thursday, March 31, 2016


David O Markus In County Court? See Below. 

The Clerk's Office to close???
Well, not quite. But we're heading that way. Think we're "foolin?" Check the date of the post: 3/31/2016

Changes are coming to the Clerk's office, none of them good. 

You want limited government? You got it. 

Just don't arrive on the 9th floor of the Dade County Clerk's Office with a question because the clerk who sits in the booth opposite the elevators and answers questions is being re-assigned. You have a question? Google it. 

In our milieu, there used to be two clerks in the attorneys room handling file requests. 

Now there will be one. 

There will be longer lines and increased wait time. 
As a smart and resourceful lawyer you are thinking that you will just use one the clerks at the windows for the general public. Think again. Attorneys are BARRED from using those services:
"Sir. Drop your file request form on the floor, raise your hands in the air and step away from the window."

Here is what our sources are saying: 

Right now visitors to the 9th floor (attorneys and general public) are welcomed by a deputy clerk who works in a general information booth directly across from the elevators (one window).  For the uninitiated, this clerk then directs people to one of many windows which are found in the various rooms of the 9th floor.  There are general rooms and an attorney room.  The general rooms include a payment/information room (many many windows), a bonds/bondsman room (a few windows), an appeals room (one window), and a case file room (many windows).  

Then there is one attorney room and it is dedicated to defense attorneys and prosecutors where they can file orders signed in court, review files, get dispositions, get certified copies of orders and request a variety of other services.  The attorney room has two windows.  Attorneys line up and wait to be helped by two great deputy clerks, normally Leida and Mike.  The line in the attorney room is often times long, but fluctuates throughout the day and generally moves quickly because there are two clerks who only work with the attorneys and have a great deal of experience (and patience) in dealing with them and their requests.  

Here is the plan: 
  1. Close the general information booth which directs the public to the window or room that will most efficiently handle their need (so in the future they will be walking around aimlessly, waiting in line in one room before being directed to the appropriate room or a totally different floor, which the information booth clerk would have sent them to in the first place), 
  2. Close one of the attorney windows, leaving only one window and only one clerk to handle all the attorneys and their requests.
  3. Prohibit attorneys from using the various general public windows which offer the same services to the public but which are often times less busy when the attorneys need help the most (e.g. during the early mornings, as calendar calls come to an end, at the end of the day to file/certify last minute transport/modification orders).
This is happening because all the temp clerks were recently fired en masse and there are seven deputy clerk positions on the 9th floor that are not being filled.

Don't blame the clerk's office. Blame your "limited state government" officials who want to lower your state income tax (oh, wait- we don't have a state income tax) and reduce waste (like the clerk who answered the questions of befuddled citizens) and privatize services - like the new "El Chapp" Cafe which is opening, we are proud to announce- the 6th of never. 

By the way, there's a new El Chapo cafe diet craze sweeping the nation. No food. Weight loss. Amazing concept. Wish we thought of it. 


There are no small cases. 
And thus, your favourite federal blogger and federal defense attorney David Markus found himself a stranger in a strange land on Wednesday: Before Judge Ed Newman in Dade County Court representing Major League Baseball player Delmon Young, who was charged in some affray with a valet. 

It was hardly Casey At The Bat. But the mighty state attorney's office dug in, and stood by as the Ump called strike three! The complaining valet didn't show up in court and the case was nolle prossed (technically- "never mind"). 

Mr. Markus, not used to standing in court surrounded by hoi poli of defense attorneys representing the mundane DUIs, expectorating in public, disorderly intoxication and such, still managed to maintain his dignity, and left the courtroom, only to be promptly interviewed by TMZ here. 

There is no rest for the weary or  busy defense attorneys,  and you can see Mr. Markus in more familiar terrain, as he is rumored to be in trial today before Judge Moore. 

See you in court. 

Monday, March 28, 2016


He was a renowned prosecutor, handling difficult murder cases, the famous jewel thief "Murph the Surf", and the infamous Mobster Meyer Lansky. 

He was appointed to the bench- the old Criminal Court of Record, resigned amid an allegation he propositioned the wife of a defendant (although, as David Ovalle's article indicates, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute), regained the bench as first a county court judge, and then appointed a circuit court judge, only to lose it all again in the great Miami judicial scandal known as Courtbroom. 

He had, to repeat the quote local attorney and former Judge Ted Mastos gave Ovalle in the Herald "More lives than Richard Nixon. He kept coming back." 

He was a certifiable REGJB courthouse legend, the good, the bad and the ugly. 

He was Alfonso Sepe. 

As an experienced prosecutor and then a judge, Judge Sepe was a mentor to many young attorneys, your humble blogger included. 

There was a lot to like about him. He looked like a tough prosecutor when he was prowling the halls of the REGJB. When he was on the bench, he looked like he had been plucked from a Hollywood movie about a judge. He carried himself like a judge, and as the Herald article points out here , he was an innovator in sentencing. 

But Al Sepe was all too human as well. 

In the end, Judge Sepe will answer to a higher court. Judge Sepe is the proof that while there are second acts in public life, there are  rarely third acts. 

His legacy is what you want to make of it. For many, it is one of wonderful heights, and the depths of hurt and betrayal. It is a constant reminder that even those who appear to be the best of us can be all too human. There is a lesson in that, somewhere. 

As a friend, we hope that he rests in peace. 

See you in court. 

Friday, March 25, 2016


UPDATE:  Check out David Ovalle's article on Red, the homeless man who was an REGJB regular who died a few weeks ago. 

Couple of big verdicts Thursday: 

Alex Michaels WON his case before Judge Johnson with the jury returning a not guilty verdict Thursday afternoon. Couple of hard fighting ASAs took the loss. 

ASA Gail Levine and company WON their before Judge Tinkler-Mendez case of the defendant who murdered retired Police Captain Bobby Yee. PDs for the defense.

Courtesy of @Davidovalle305 twitter: a Picture from the past. 

Can you name the players? We can. 

Hint: Woman behind the desk went on to be US ATTY General. 

From L to R: Sonny Meyers (the tough one to ID), David Waksman, Michael Cornelly, Abe Laeser, Sharpie)

For you young ASAs and PDs wondering, just before the picture was taken everyone put away their cell phones and laptops. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Lance Stelzer, a well known Miami Criminal Defense Attorney who handled many cases in the REGJB as both a well respected prosecutor and criminal defense attorney has passed away. 

Many of you have asked about the service for Lance. The best information that I have is as follows:
The service will be at Riverside Gordon-Mt. Nebo Cemetery, 5900 SW 77 Ave., on Friday, March 25, at 11:30 a.m. The reception will follow at a location to be announced at the service. The Cemetery is located just south of Miller Drive on the west side of the Palmetto. Those that want to contribute to the reception food, can contact Roasters and Toasters, 9465 S. Dixie Hwy., 305.251.4848.

If you have any question, you can contact Lance's secretary, Pilar, at 305.457.1351 or by email at pjimenezlaw@yahoo.com. She is very loaded down and may take some time to respond.
James Woodard

Sometimes your path just doesn't cross with someone, even though they are well known and work in the same field as you. That occurred with us and Mr. Stelzer. We just never had the opportunity to work on a case with him or get to know him. 
But we have read some of the emails about him, and what stands out is that his colleagues and friends are uniformly writing that he was a hardworking, dedicated attorney who was known for meticulous preparation. We have also read that he was the loving, and dedicated father to a thirteen year old son, which makes his untimely death that much more tragic. 

We will endeavor to post some of the comments in this post. 

Below are some comments from readers who knew Lance:

Lance's passing is very sad news.  I tried one on my first homicide cases with Lance.  He was a talented prosecutor and lawyer.  One trait for which he was well known was his endless pretrial preparation.  He believed that one could never be too prepared.

He was generous with his time and always willing to assist young lawyers.  He never took himself too seriously and he had an infectious personality.

Lance was a good man and he died way too young.

Samuel J. Rabin Jr., P. A

Robert Godwin:
Robert Godwin was a long time prosecutor and then PD in Dade, and then in Broward, before retiring. We have heard he may have passed away. We are trying to get confirmation of this. Any info would be appreciated.
CONFIRMED- We do a separate post for him later this week. 

See You In Court. 

Monday, March 21, 2016


President Obama is the first President to travel to Cubs since Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge's trip to Cuba was his only trip overseas. 

Count us as a staunch anti-communist. We have recently turned down the opportunity to travel to Cuba several times. We will not set foot on the island until it is free. 

But we do not condemn the President's trip. He has correctly sensed that Cuba is at a tipping point. His trip will result in more freedoms in Cuba, not less. His trip and the normalization of relations between Cuba and the US will result in the end of communism quicker. It will not prop up that criminal regime. 


Trial continues today and probably tomorrow before Judge Charles Johnson, wherein the major question is not what will happen to the defendant, but the defense attorney?

There is a fine line defense attorneys must continually walk. We want to win. We must do our best for our client. We must respect the court and all that the court stands for. 

As defense attorneys we often decry when prosecutors abandon their most important job- to do justice. When a prosecutor becomes merely an advocate for the state and tries to win at all costs, we and most of our readers are the first to decry such actions. Rightfully so. 

The rules apply to both sides. Defense attorneys are officers of the court. Who amongst us has not received a terrible ruling in trial? A ruling where we know the judge is wrong (gasp!) and will hurt the defense. If you try cases, this happens. An experienced defense attorney likes a little of this. They object. They protect the record. They move for a mistrial. They file motions for re-consideration. They try and make it the focus of the trial. In a respectful manner they will address the ruling multiple times and make sure the record clearly shows the prejudice to their client.  It creates a great appeal. A great defense attorney hates a trial where all the rulings go their way and the judge is solicitous. It becomes a clean trial where only the verdict can save the client.  

A smart judge gives the defense a clean trial. But when that doesn't happen, there is a way for the defense to turn it to their advantage and losing one's temper is NOT the way to go. 

We like the defense in this case. He is a great and talented attorney who wins very tough cases that most other lawyers don't have the guts to even try. He needs to dial it back just a bit. For his own sake. 

See You In Court. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Longtime and careful readers of the blog know that we are Anglophiles. From our days on the pitch at Eton, to our love of anything British, our admiration for our British cousins, separated from us by a common language, knows no bounds. 

Except now. 

Britain's National Environmental Research Council has asked the British Public to help name the new 100 million polar research ship which will set sail in 2019. 

1600 names have been nominated and voted on. 
In third place is famous British naturalist David Attenborough. In second place is Antarctic explorer Henry Worsely. 

But if voting were to close today, the British Public has picked 

RRS Boaty McBoatface as the winner for the name of the ship for this serious mission. 

We are not amused.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016


UPDATE: The trial is continuing through next week. The trial has gone smoothly witnesses report, since the contretemps earlier in the week. 

Indeed, after court concluded Friday, the judge and both sides all went out for happy hour and laughed over the week's events over a few cold ones. Okay- that last part is not true. But things are proceeding smoothly and there should be a verdict next week. 

Let's stop the rumor mongering (We know, the whole pot calling the kettle black thing) and tell you what we know. 

Alex Michaels is in trial before Judge Charlie Johnson. 
On Wednesday Alex did an amazing job taking apart the prosecution's eye witness  on cross-examination. 

Alex was also held in contempt on Wednesday. The reasons have not been made public. There are rumors that the judge will issue a written order. 
The trial is on-going. 
Alex is NOT in jail, as we write this. 

Standby for more news as we get it. That's a figure of speech. You don't need to stand and you certainly don't need to be near us. You get our point. 

In other news. Donald Trump announced that Alex has his full support. Are we seeing a possible appointment as Attorney General in the Trump administration? How about US District Judge, or even a Court Of Appeals spot? You never know. 



The portal will be unavailable starting at 4 PM EDT on Sunday, March 20th, 2016. The estimated downtime is 1-2 hours.
We apologize for this inconvenience. We strive to maintain our services with excellent security and system processes and this requires maintenance..

In Dade, the portal will make the following changes: The following  labels for documents filed will be removed: Notice Of Appearance, plea of not guilty, demand for discovery, motion to suppress evidence, motion to suppress statement, notice of deposition, rule to show cause, motion for continuance, motion to dismiss. 

The following labels for documents filed will be added
Notice of insanity; amended notice of insanity; withdrawal of notice of insanity; motion for change of venue; amended motion for change of venue; withdrawal of motion for change of venue; motion to strike withdrawal of motion to change notice of venue. 


The best federal judge on the bench, Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York retired from the federal bench. 
We've written about judge Gleeson before, here on his project mercy   about his sojourns into federal prisons, and his orders setting aside harsh sentences.

Gleeson went out with style. 

"Jane Doe" was a single working mother raising two children when she got caught up  in a insurance scam. Gleeson sentenced her to fifteen month several years ago. Since then, Doe was unable to get a job and moved Gleeson to expunge her record, which he denied. However, he signed this amazing order here.

Accordingly, I have weighed the equities in this case, which are grounded in my understanding of Doe’s criminal conviction and sentence; I was the judge who presided over her jury trial and imposed punishment. I conclude that while Doe has struggled considerably as a result of her conviction, her situation does not amount to the “extreme circumstances” that merit expungement. See id. at 539. That said, I had no intention to sentence her to the unending hardship she has endured in the job market. I have reviewed her case in painstaking detail, and I can certify that Doe has been rehabilitated. Her conviction makes her no different than any other nursing applicant. In the 12 years since she reentered society after serving her prison sentence, she has not been convicted of any other wrongdoing. She has worked diligently to obtain stable employment, albeit with only intermittent success. Accordingly, I am issuing Doe a federal certificate of rehabilitation. As explained below, this court-issued relief aligns with efforts the Justice Case Department, the President, and Congress are already undertaking to help people in Doe’s position shed the burden imposed by a record of conviction and move forward with their lives. 


In the meantime, the judicial certificate I am awarding Doe will convey to others that the same court that held Doe accountable for her criminal acts has now concluded after careful scrutiny that she is rehabilitated. In other words, the Court is recommending that she be welcomed to participate in society in the ways the rest of us do. The purpose of the certificate is to remove barriers to employment, but I hope Doe will also find it useful to present to landlords, benefits providers, and any others to whom her conviction is significant. If her attorney decides to make an application for a pardon from the President,  I believe the certificate will help her make a strong case

For the foregoing reasons, I deny Doe’s application for expungement relief. This denial is without prejudice to a future application if Doe’s circumstances change materially. I have determined that Doe’s good conduct following the completion of her sentence merits a certificate of rehabilitation, which I have mailed to her. A copy of the certificate with the Case appropriate redaction is attached to this opinion

If you do nothing else, click on the link to the opinion and scroll to the end and see the actual certificate prepared by Judge Gleeson. The day after he signed the order was Judge Gleeson's last day on the bench. 

The best judge on the federal bench, hands down. Perhaps the best district court judge in the last two decades. He will be sorely missed. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016



President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden this morning and announced his choice ..... Kansas .... as the winner of his NCAA BB tournament bracket.  In other news, he also introduced Judge Merrick Garland, Chief of the DC Circuit, as his nominee to the Supreme Court.  Garland won confirmation from the Senate in 1997 to his current seat by a vote of 99-0 (with Marco Rubio the lone missing vote).*



In the new movie Batman v Superman, Bruce Wayne - better known under his nom de guerre, Batman, embarks on a personal vendetta against Superman.

In civil court last week, it was two heavyweight criminal defense attorneys battling it out in front of Judge Peter Lopez over a civil complaint filed in 2012.

The two combatants in this case were attorneys Nathan Diamond and Stephen Rosen and their dispute goes back 11 years. The jury spoke last week when they awarded at least $800,000 to Diamond for fraud, breach of contract and conspiracy. With punitive damages and interest, the award could reach $2 million dollars.

Intrepid reporter Julie Kay covers it all in a DBR article that can be found here. According to Kay, "The complex complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in 2012 alleged Rosen hatched a scheme to get his legal fees paid through the sale of a multimillion-dollar piece of Florida Keys real estate owned by his client. However, Diamond alleged he was left out of the deal and got cheated out of most of the money."

The criminal case began when Rosen was hired by criminal defendant Liens Abreu, who was charged with first degree murder in 2005. Abreu had hatched a plot to have her children’s father and two other men killed in a $200,000 home invasion robbery. Among those also arrested and charged with murder was criminal defendant Ruben Gonzalez. Rosen asked Diamond to come into the case as Gonzalez’s attorney. Both attorneys were contracted to receive $1 million each.

The source of the money to pay the legal fees was a five acre property owned by Abreu, located in the Florida Keys, that was worth an estimated $5-7 million dollars. According to the civil complaint, to induce Diamond to represent Gonzalez, Rosen had a real estate attorney prepare mortgages for both of them, with Diamond receiving an enforceable first mortgage on the property.

Well, Diamond never received the promised first mortgage and never was paid the promised $1 million fee. Instead, he was paid $200,000 from Rosen's trust account toward his fee. Rosen advised Diamond "that a little issue had arisen on the property" based on the recording of the deed.

In the criminal case, Ruben Gonzalez, the shooter, pleaded guilty in 2010 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Liens Abreu pled guilty and received a five-year sentence.

In the civil case, jurors return on April 11th to consider punitive damages.

*(Actually the vote was 76-23).


Tuesday, March 15, 2016


You would think that the powers that be that run the REGJB might, just might, want to alert the Richard E Gerstein Justice Building Blog that they were having an unveiling of a bust of Richard E Gerstein in the courthouse on Monday. You know, to help publicize the event on a blog read in the halls of power and in the halls of the SAO and PDs office as well. 

But then, the powers that be, didn't get to be a power that be, without being....well, you get our point. 

So anyway, on Monday they unveiled a bust of Richard E Gerstein in the lobby of the courthouse. Considering this comes some twenty years or so after the courthouse was named the Richard E Gerstein Justice Building, our response is : WELL DONE- you're three years ahead of schedule.

Note: El Chapo cafe opening has been pushed back to February, 2022. Apparently there's an ice maker not working correctly and the tables and chairs came wrapped in plastic, causing workers and managers alike to wonder "what on earth do we do now?"

Anyway, back to the REG Bust. It naturally was unveiled by....Burt Young, legendary....divorce lawyer. Why Burt Young legendary Miami divorce lawyer you may ask? Because Melvin Belli, king of torts was unavailable. (Actually Belli passed away in 1996, but that didn't stop the powers that be from inquiring as to his availability. Remember- these are the powers that be.) 

Anyway, we now have a bust of Richard E Gerstein in the Richard E Gerstein courthouse. 

Bust of Legendary Prosecutor Richard E Gerstein with legendary divorce lawyer Burt Young 

We don't have a cafeteria. But we have a bust. 

See you in court. 

COMING TOMORROW: Two criminal defense attorneys battle it out in civil court; otherwise known as "strangers in a strange land", by the Captain. 

Monday, March 14, 2016


Gene Zenobi was re-appointed by Governor Scott over the weekend for a second four year term as head of the Regional Counsel's office for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. 

Zenobi took an oft-ridiculed and mostly irrelevant State agency 
(see our posts here and here  and especially here for a Gene Zenobi quote that his predecessor ran the office like "a police state." )
and turned it into a quality organization providing superb representation for criminal defendants at trial, on appeal, and on post conviction relief motions for which we recently learned RC3 has original jurisdiction for indigent defendants.  The office also fills many loopholes in legal representation, providing attorneys in dependency and delinquency courts, and for elderly clients in probate court. 

Zenobi, the Jedi-Knight of Jury Selection, has provided stability to an agency that was previously rocked by instability at the top. Experienced lawyers like Jack Blumenfeld, Alan Greenstein, Kellie Peterson, Phil Reizenstein,  and Silvia Gonzalez compliment a bevy of top-notch ex-pds and ASAs. 

Congratulations to Mr. Zenobi on a well earned chance to finish what he started. And unlike his counterparts at the SAO and PDs office, you might well have a chance to tell Mr. Zenobi in person, as he makes it a regular habit to appear in court in support of his attorneys. 

Here is what former Attorney General had to say when Gene Zenobi was applying for the job at the time time the agency was riddled with dysfunction:

According to Ovalle, JNC member Bob Butterworth had to this to say about the employee Mr. George fired:
As the interview concluded, committee member Bob Butterworth, former Florida Attorney General, praised Zenobi.
“If governor selects you, I believe you can change the agency,” Butterworth said. “You are able to attract people of the very highest quality who would like to get back into public service.”

The above quote came from our "police state" post, a link to which is posted in this post. Go see it post-haste. 

Give Bobby B credit for his prognostication abilities as Gene Zenobi has done just what the former AG said he would do. 

See you in court. 

Friday, March 11, 2016


Nature has a genius. 

Take for instance Cicadas. They are a bug that emerges from a life underground in regular cycles. Some are on a seventeen year cycle and others are on a thirteen year cycle. 

Similar to Florida's proclivity to disrupt a national presidential election every fifteen years or so, the Cicadas emerge to disrupt life in the north east for a few months every thirteen or seventeen years. 

In 1968 the Republican part held its national convention in Miami Beach. Richard Nixon, after fending off challenges from Ronald Reagan and George Romney, who had a son who...never mind....anyway Nixon secured the nomination. He became president. He bombed Cambodia illegally and he tapped his opponents in the 1972 election  before being caught and resigning. Years later he had late night phone chats with a young democratic president who was impeached. 
It all began in Florida. 

1968 to 1987 is nineteen years. 

In 1987 Gary Hart was the democratic front runner for  his party's presidential nomination. In February, 1987, New York Governor Mario Cuomo withdrew his name from speculation that he would be a candidate. Hart had a clear path to the nomination. Addressing and dismissing rumors of marital infidelity, he challenged the press to follow him. Be careful what you ask for in life, you may get it.  

Enter Florida. 
A few months later in April, 1987,  the story broke that Hart was having an affair with a Palm Beach woman named Donna Rice. An aptly named yacht "Monkey Business" was involved. The Florida effect struck and Hart was out of the race by May. 

In November 2000, it was Palm Beach again, and hanging chads, and an election that hung in the balance for months as county court judges across the state struggled to certify their county's elections and Florida's secretary of state, who's never been heard from before or since, gained national prominence. 

Yes, if it wasn't for Palm Beach voters, mostly elderly Jewish people who turned out in droves to vote for...Pat Buchanan?!!!... a Nixonian hit man who often fed Nixon lines about a "jewish cabal" in this country, Gore would have carried Palm Beach, and then Florida, and he wouldn't be rich, and fat, and divorced and with a big beard today. And George W Bush would probably be commissioner of Major League Baseball. 

The Florida effect. 

1987 to 2000 is thirteen years. 

Next week Donald Trump and his traveling circus arrives in Florida for a primary that has the ability to just about lock up the nomination for Trump. Should Trump lose, the republican party will be thrown into chaos greater than what we are seeing now. 

Let's recap the election. We have a candidate that is a dead ringer for a local lawyer. 
One of these guys is an expert in ethics. 

We have a candidate who was raised in Miami who is mocked for being "little".

And we have a candidate that pitches water and wine and steaks in his news conferences. 

2000 to 2016? Even we know that is sixteen years. 

Hmmm. Anyone want to bet something weird is NOT going to happen next week?   

Enjoy your spring weekend. 

See you in court. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016


There's a "Bench and Bar mixer" tonight at some BBQ joint called Pride and Joy. 

The event promises to be well attended by the judiciary. 

Why? Look below. Key phrase "complimentary appetizers."
Need we say more?

We don't mingle. NFL coaches like to tell players that nothing good happens after midnight. We believe nothing good happens after 5 p.m, especially amongst members of the bench and prosecutors.

"So then I got up on cross and picked up my pen and threw it up in the air and it was in one of those small courtroom, and honest to god it got stuck in the ceiling. The attorney objected but the judge and jury were so busy laughing that..."

Who needs to stand around watching judges with plates piled high with complementary appetizers listening to stories about trials that probably never occurred? Not us. *

There's a paint-drying experimental art festival nearby, and we'll probably be at that. 

But, communication and respectful relations between the bench and bar is important, so we gladly assist in publicizing this event. Every judge needs to have good relations with at least one bartender. 

See you in court Friday, not hung over. 

Dade County Bar Association
Criminal Courts Committee
 presents another
 for all Judges, Prosecutors, Public Defenders, RC3
Counsel, Criminal Defense Attorneys and Staff
Thursday, March 10, 2016
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Pride and Joy BBQ2800 N. Miami Avenue
Miami, Florida 33127
Complimentary Appetizers!!    
A Special Thanks to Our Sponsors
William Aaron
Adelstein & Matters
David Alschuler
Thomas Cobitz
Mark Eiglarsh
Nayib Hassan
Lody Jean
Ratzan & Faccidomo
David Rothman

Warren Schwartz

There's a scene from King Of Comedy where De Niro asks Lewis if he wants to see pictures of his pride and joy and then he pulls out two cards showing pictures of the dish washing liquids Pride and Joy. We couldn't find it on you tube. 

* Careful readers have caught our little pun on complimentary/complementary appetizers. Yes a complementary appetizer is one that tells a judge how great they are and what an amazing trial lawyer they were before, and how, at great personal sacrifice, they reluctantly agreed to be a judge because quite frankly, the legal system would collapse without their wise counsel.  

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


UPDATED: Bert Jordan is the second person in as many days to tell Obama thanks but no thanks for the offer to be considered for the US Supreme Court.  Yesterday Obama's AG delivered the same message to the Prez. 

Here's why Jordan made the smart move:  There is almost no chance an Obama nominee will get a hearing. The republicans have said as much. Obama will make a nomination to put the republicans on the spot and allow democratic candidates to make hay in November over the republicans's intransigence and truculence. 

Bert Jordan is eminently qualified for a spot on the top court. Being nominated by Obama will end his chances forever. But a new democratic president, facing a republican senate could easily turn to Jordan in the fall. Likewise a republican president facing a democratic senate could tap Jordan as a consensus pick. Better to live and fight another day then be served up as a sacrificial lamb. 

Jordan didn't get on the 11th circuit by not being savvy. 

Our courthouse is made up of many people who collectively form the environment we call the Justice Building. Not everyone wears a robe or lugs files or works for corrections or is a JA. The locals lend flavor as well. Those who wander in the courthouse or hang outside have their own place in our world. 

Many years ago, before young ASAs and PDs  tramped to court holding cafe lattes and snapchatting on their cell phones (because there were no Starbucks and cell phones back then [*gasp!*])  there was Delores, a courthouse regular who knew every judge and lawyer by their first name and greeted them with language fit for a sailor.  In a legendary prank, some defense attorneys paid for a ticket and transportation to the FACDL dinner for Delores. 

We now bring you sad news about the death of Red, A/K/A Bret Heinzinger, who was a local regular outside the courthouse. 

Herald snoop David Ovalle is looking for information and stories about Red for an article. You can find Mr. Ovalle sipping a black coffee any morning in Au Bon Pain   El Chapo Cafe ,  somewhere in the hallways of our hallowed, but aging courthouse. 

Red a/k/a Bret Heinzinger

In other news, Donald Trump won more primaries, ridiculed his opponents as short, or fat, or ugly or stupid, and in a bizarre press conference Tuesday night hawked bottled water, steaks, wine and a magazine all as proof that he would make a good president. 

See You In Court. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2016



ELECTION CENTRAL 2016 ...................


A lot of movement has taken place over the past few days in both the County Court and Circuit Court judicial races.



Let's start with the "People's Court" where Incumbent Judge Fred Seraphin has finally filed his papers seeking reelection.  He already has opposition in the name of Milena Abreu as we have previously reported on this Blog.  Ms. Abreu filed back in November of 2015 and while Judge Seraphin emailed us many months ago announcing that he would be seeking reelection, it took him until February 23rd to file his paperwork.


Judge Judith "Judy" Rubinstein has decided to hang up her robe after 16 years on the bench.  She began her career with the Miami-Dade Police Department and worked as their Legal Advisor for 12 years.  If you are as old some of us are, then you remember going up against her in forfeiture hearings when she represented the County Police Department.  Judge Rubenstein has spent most of her recent judicial career in the Domestic Violence Division.

Judge Rubenstein had filed papers in January announcing her intention to run for one last term; (she even deposited a cool $100k into her reelection account).  Last week she changed her mind.  As soon as Judge Rubinstein announced her intention to retire, two attorneys who had filed to run in Circuit Court jumped at the opportunity for a less crowded field and filed in her County Court Group.

Attorney Antonio G. Jimenez, who had previously filed to run in Circuit Group 34 against four other challengers, (Mark Blumstein, Renee Gordon, Denis Martinez-Scanziani, and Luis Perez-Medina) has now officially moved his candidacy to Group 15.

Attorney Raul Perez-Ceballos, who previously filed to run in Circuit Group 52, is now challenging Jimenez.  Group 52 still has three candidates remaining including: Jodie Breece, Elena Ortega-Tauler, and Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts.

There remains four contested Circuit Court contests along with David Young who is running for an open seat and remains with no opposition.  And there are now three contested County Court races.

Only one incumbent, Judge Wendell Graham, has yet for file to run for reelection in his Group 35 of the County Court.  When we spoke with Judge Graham this past October, he indicated to us that he intended to run again.  Judge Graham has been on the bench since 1994.

No doubt there will be much more strategery involved among these candidates for Judge between now and the filing deadline, which is Friday, May 6, 2016.


Monday, March 07, 2016




The Florida Legislature wrangled over several drafts of the rewrite of Florida's Death Penalty law before finally coming to agreement last month.  The House voted 93-20 and the Senate's vote was 35-5.  Today, without much fanfare, Governor Scott signed the bill into law.

And so now the real battles begin.  It will be fought by the Public Defender Offices and Regional Counsel Offices throughout the State of Florida as new death penalty cases are filed.  It will be fought on an appellate level - as of March 7, 2016, there are currently 389 inmates on Florida's Death Row. (For a list of those - go here ).

HB-7101 takes effect immediately.  The law requires that juries in capital cases agree unanimously on the aggravating factors that Florida law requires to justify imposition of a death sentence.  The law also requires at least 10 of 12 jurors to agree on a recommendation of death.  Only one other state, Alabama, has that system.

Here are the highlights of HOUSE BILL 7101:

782.04 Murder (1)(b):

(b) In all cases under this section, the procedure set forth in s. 921.141 shall be followed in order to determine sentence of death or life imprisonment. If the prosecutor intends to seek the death penalty, the prosecutor must give notice to the defendant and file the notice with the court within 45 days after arraignment. The notice must contain a list of the aggravating factors the state intends to prove and has reason to believe it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The court may allow the prosecutor to amend the notice upon a showing of good cause.

Sentence of death or life imprisonment for capital felonies; further proceedings to determine sentence


(b) The jury shall return findings identifying each aggravating factor found to exist. A finding that an aggravating factor exists must be unanimous. If the jury

1. Does not unanimously find at least one aggravating factor, the defendant is ineligible for a sentence of death

2. Unanimously finds at least one aggravating factor, the defendant is eligible for a sentence of death and the jury shall make a recommendation to the court as to whether the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or to death.

(c) If at least 10 jurors determine that the defendant should be sentenced to death, the jury's recommendation to the court shall be a sentence of death. If fewer than 10 jurors determine that the defendant should be sentenced to death, the jury's recommendation to the court shall be a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The Tampa Bay Times covers the story here.


Saturday, March 05, 2016


(Note- we've updated this several times since it was originally posted.)

Nothing lasts forever (except Twinkies and successive rule 3's). The Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of a failed political philosophy. The Republican party is about to collapse for the same reason. 

Donald Trump is going to tear the party apart. The party elite will not let him win the nomination. And when they give the nomination to someone else, Donald Trump is going to take his forty percent of the party that is voting for him, along with the millions of new and disaffected voters, and he is going to form a new party: TRUMP (what else were you expecting him to call his new party?).  

The Republican party was sick and ready to die. The party has always been a party of moderates. TR who created the modern National Park system, Eisenhower's farewell speech warning about the military-industrial complex, and Richard Nixon, who ushered in the EPA, wage and price controls, and went to China. 

Ronald Wilson Reagan raised taxes as president six of his eight years. As Governor of California Reagan also raised taxes his first two years (and then refunded the money when the state got back on its feet) and he signed one of the most liberal abortion bills in the nation at the time because he was unwilling to let Californian women die in back alleys. GHWB was straight out of the eastern Republican elite. He cared about education and minorities, and he courageously raised taxes, costing him a second term, but setting the country on a course of fiscal sanity that eventually ended up with budget surpluses a few years later.  One need only watch Reagan and Bush try to outdo each other in the 1980 Republican primary in a debate before the League of  Women Voters as to which candidate cared more about HELPING Mexican immigrant workers, to understand that both Reagan and Bush were bleeding-heart  social moderates. 

But then came the 1990's, the rise of the religious right, and the anti-tax movement which requires all  Republican candidates to sign a pledge that they never ever ever will vote to raise taxes. Flint, Michigan can poison its citizens, Louisiana might need disaster relief help from hurricanes, and two wars costing a trillion dollars can empty out treasury so that bridges and roads collapse. But woe be any Republican who raises taxes so that the government can respond.

Watch as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan all rush to heap praise on Nancy Reagan who passed away on Sunday. But none of them will mention that the former first lady was a passionate advocate for stem cell research because the Republican Party is anti-science and pro-prayer. Mrs. Reagan knew that only stem cell research could provide the breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimers disease- which is what killed her beloved Ronnie.  

The Republican mythology of Ronald Wilson Reagan doesn't match Reagan's ideology.  Ronald Reagan took down the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union and conservatives idolize him. Right up to the point of gun control. And then they won't mention the president who was nearly assassinated by a hand gun purchased by a mentally ill man. A hand gun that every current Republican believes should be MORE available not less available. Reagan's ideas defeated communism, but not the NRA. 

How can such a party survive with such philosophical inconsistencies? They can't. To quote  the first and greatest Republican President, Abraham Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." 

Somewhere after Bush 41 and before Bush 43  the party lost its mind. Literally. Science was ridiculed. Faith was worshiped.  Every leader of every civilized country in the world knows that fossil fuels are causing the planet to rapidly and dangerously warm. In the face of science the Republicans selected a woman candidate for vice president who drew huge crowds and applause with the line "drill baby, drill" even as her home state Alaska experienced the warmest decade on record. Icebergs melted. Polar Bears starved. And in response people screamed in delirium when Sarah Palin chanted. 

Enter Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and the lasting effects of disastrous trade policies of the Clinton years. Bernie Sanders is going around the country yelling that over the last decade 60,000 factories in the US have closed. Yes, you read that right: 60,000.  Factories. The number boggles the mind. 

Obama and the political coalition he created of women, people of color, and smart, educated white collar workers,  heralded in the newest minority in American politics:  angry, white, uneducated, evangelical, unemployed (or under-employed), blue collar workers (AWUEUBCW)

AWUEUBCWs no longer have the political  power to win a national election, and more than likely they have lost their job to a factory that has moved overseas and they are competing  with Hispanic immigrants for the lowest paying jobs in the service industry. To quote the movie Network, "They're mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore."

Enter Donald Trump. He is rude and crude. He debates by ridiculing the way people look. He appeals to that segment of the republican establishment which long ago abandoned the mind as a means of American success. Since prayer doesn't have immediate demonstrable effects, the only thing left for AWUEUBCWs is  crudeness and anger. Trump treats other politicians the way these people want to treat their Hispanic boss at McDonalds. He makes fun of a handicapped reporter, and a female rival who doesn't have the beauty of his third model wife. He belittles Marco Rubio for his height, and calls Mitt Romney a loser. In short, he acts like the guys in the locker room act.

For years Romney and other Republicans pandered to AWUEUBCWs. They were to be courted and endured, but once in power (wink wink) President Romney was not going to make fun of President Xi Jinping of China, because he is shorter and has slanty eyes. Trump will. And because Romney and George W Bush before him courted the AWUEUBCWs  who rejected intelligence and education and science in favor or prayer and slogans (drill baby, drill) they cannot now be heard to bemoan that a savior has appeared for these people and that their numbers have multiplied. You reap what you sow (or drill) and the universe enacts a heavy toll for those who deny reality. 

Trump is poised to win  the nomination because the AWUEUBCWs  don't care about diplomacy, the Geneva Convention, or the science behind global warming. They've never read the Federalist Papers and they don't even know what they are. They want the Constitution to be strictly followed, although they've never read it.  "Congress Shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion..."  That cannot be part of the Constitution that must be literally interpreted. This is, after all, a Christian nation. Just ask the AWUEUBCWs. Less than one percent of them could identify the above quote as the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. 

The AWUEUBCWs are Christian right up to the point of "do unto others...unless they cross the border. Then build a wall and let them all die." 

Building a wall and making Mexico pay is a direct descendant of "drill baby, drill." It is wrong, impractical, illegal, will have disastrous consequences, and sounds so simple. A one word sentence to resolve an age old problem. This is what the AWUEUBCWs understand.  Mitt and George W wanted these people to vote for them. So they encouraged them. Until someone better came along. 

Let us put this in simple terms we can all understand. They created Frankenstein, and they now have no right to curse the monster that is destroying  their party. 

So Trump takes the AWUEUBCWs  and forms TRUMP.

Marco Rubio is no TR, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan or Bush, so he cannot inherit the mantel of the intelligent Republican-the ones outside the belt-way of DC who almost gave him the Virginia primary. Eventually someone like John Kasic will rally them around a new moderate Republican party. 

And Ted Cruz, head bowed in prayer, will mop up the rest of evangelists who didn't leave with Trump. Cruz will pray at Falwell's University. He will scream about never compromising about anything (except the establishment clause of the First Amendment) and he will be the new head of the Prayer-Party".

And there you have what ignorance has wrought. The destruction of the Republican party.

George W and Romney  created the monster by looking the other way and not denouncing the rise of AWUEUBCWs. And now Franken-Trump has broken the party of Lincoln. 

As the bible they so love and worship says: You  reap what you Sow.  

Is this screed elitist and intellectual? Does it denigrate the stupid and anti-intellectuals who believe in slogans and prayer above education, intelligence and science? 

You're goddamned right it does.