Saturday, May 28, 2016


Update#2 : A wonderful comment from Judge Fernandez:

A few months ago, I had the almost pleasure of presiding over a trial where Mr. Carhart was lead counsel. Like everyone else, I was in awe of Mr. Carhart since I first came to the building almost 30 years ago. Needless to say, I was nervous as hell. All I prayed for was to not do anything too stupid in his presence. Because of Mr. Carhart's special needs in communicating, everything was taking a little longer than usual. I didn't care. I could have sat there for weeks. After every pre-trial argument I almost wanted to ask him if I'd ruled correctly, even when I ruled against him. His client plead after my portion of voir dire but Mr. Carhart paid me the two greatest compliments that I've received as a judge. They are brag-worthy but I'll keep them to myself. What an honor to have witnessed him in action. A great loss.

Joe Fernandez

Update: This comment says it all:

I met Ed while working with James McGuirk. I will not repeat 
all the great things everyone has said here but will add that as a
 lawyer he was even better than the praise above. He was hands 
down the best trial lawyer any of us have or will ever see. 
Moreover, he would never sit and tell "war stories." One had to
 pry them out of him over conversation and he always told them 
with a the goal of the listener learning something about how to 
be a better lawyer. He rarely, if ever, made it about himself.
 In our profession that alone should have made him a saint. 
He knew how to read people better than most of us read ourself. 
As great as he was as an attorney, he was as great of a person. 
If all of us could conduct ourselves in the manner Ed did our 
lives and our practices would be better for it. I for one will try 
to keep in mind in all my activities: what would Ed do? 
Great person ....great loss. Jonathan Drucker 

This one hurts. We have a lot to say about Mr. Carhart. We will let those who knew him best speak for us by reprinting their comments on FACDL, Suffice to say that there are a few generations of lawyers who never knew that Ed was the best; the best prepared, the best cross examiner, the best criminal defense attorney that there was in our profession. Period. A legend in the SAO. A legend in Miami. A real gentleman. A lawyer's lawyer. We lost the best this weekend folks, and we will start the comments with his close friend, Jim Woodard: 

We have lost one of the finest lawyers of our time.  Ed Carhart, former Chief Assistant to Richard Gerstein and long-time member of the criminal defense bar, diedFriday.  His knowledge of the law was unsurpassed and his skill with juries legendary.  More importantly, his ability to deal with adversity reminded all that knew him that regardless of how bad things may seem at the moment, he had it much worse.  He continued to practice with a smile when he could not stand, turn a page by himself or speak much above a whisper.  Through it all, his intellect was undiminished.  Those who knew Ed will miss him terribly.  Those that didn't, will never know what they missed.  No services are planned at this time.
James Woodard

From: "Shohat, Edward" 
My heart is broken at this news Jim. Not only was Ed among the best lawyers I ever knew but one of the best people too. I know how close you were to him for what seems like forever now and that there are many like you, both friends and family,  who will feel the loss of Ed with particular pain. To all of you who also happen to be our brothers and sisters at the Bar, Maria and I send our heartfelt condolences.


Rumpole, sadly we lost one of the greats last night with the passing of Ed Carhart. I think the word great is overused and, thus, reduced in these times. In referring to Ed, it's an understatement.  Those of us who knew him and worked with him in Gerstein's SAO can mitigate the loss (if possible) with the knowledge that we are better people for having known him. To those young-and not so young- lawyers who never saw him practice, you missed the greatest. May he rest in peace.

Rae Shearn 

Edward was always 10 steps ahead of everyone else. He was my friend, personal confidant, and my legal mentor. One of our last legal rock stars, Edward was a newspaper man with a broad over view based upon core fact details. A good man. A great friend. An extraordinary gifted attorney

From: C. Michael Cornely 

I worked with Ed when I was a young prosecutor, knew him as a member of the bar and I thought he was one of the Best Trial lawyers in Miami. He was a humble and gracious man who never not let his handicap hold him back. I am much better to have known him. God bless his soul.

Samuel Rabin 

Ed was a brilliant lawyer who was among the most thoroughly prepared when he entered any courtroom.  He was generous with his time when approached for help by all, but he truly enjoyed mentoring young lawyers.  He always remained upbeat even when dealing with great adversity in his personal life.  There is a special place in heaven for him.  Rest in Peace Ed.

Frank Quintero 

Dido Sam. I had the honor and privilege of working one of my first cases with Ed as one of several co-counsel. He always had time to mentor me and always had words of encouragement when as a young lawyer i was learning and making mistakes and trying to learn the profession. His leadership and professionalism as well as his legal intellect and integrity will be sorely missed. A true lawyer's lawyer.
RIP old friend.

Jose Quiñon 

Ed was a brilliant lawyer. Blessed with uncommon intelligence, he efficiently and consistently destroyed the government's case. His cross-examinations were a thing of beauty.

And to boot, Ed was a wonderful, tender, and honorable individual. May he rest in peace.

Friday, May 27, 2016


It's a three day weekend, and change is on our mind. 

There used to be no security checks at the courthouse. You could walk right in. 
But that changed. 

There used to be separate bathrooms and water fountains at the courthouses for "Coloreds and Jews", but that that changed. 

People used to smoke in the courtrooms, but that changed. 

There used to be no women or Hispanic or Asian or African-American or Haitian Judges, but that changed. 

The Champion Golfer and amazing person Gary Player has ten commandments  for life. "Change is the price of survival" is number one.  Check out his website here.  Every one of the commandments is a life lesson. 

All of these things, and many more have changed since the REGJB opened its doors circa 1962. 

There is climate change, and the first African-American president. The Soviet Union rose and fell. So did the Fourth Amendment. 
We may have our first woman president. Or our first lunatic as president (but not our first megalomaniac.) 

There's been flight, and space-flight, and landings on the Moon and Mars, and the re-paving of some streets in Hialeah. 

In the REGJB there's been Cozzoli's, The Pickle Barrel, Au Bon Pain, and now El Chapo Cafe.

And we even have Wi-Fi at our courthouse! Which means you sit staring at your device as the power bar flickers between zero and one, and nothing loads. We used to stare at Newspapers and Magazines while sipping bad black coffee and waiting for our next case. Now we stare at websites unloaded and dream of streaming Netflix while sipping bad black coffee while waiting for our next case. 

Change is everywhere. 

Except when it comes to summer and the outmoded, ridiculous, ancient, antiquated, superannuated, if not antediluvian   requirement that gentlemen lawyers wear a coat and a tie to court during the summer.  
That hasn't changed. 

Are you listening Judges Soto and Sayfie? Female lawyers used to rightfully complain that male judges had no regard or consideration for them

The more things change....

Enjoy your long weekend. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


A Las Vegas Judge ordered an assistant Public Defender handcuffed and placed in the box. The story is here. 

Zohra Bakhtary, a deputy public defender for three years, has spent at least one day a week for the past year inside Hafen’s courtroom on the sixth floor of the Regional Justice Center.
On Monday, she was arguing to keep a man who had violated probation on petit larceny charges out of jail when the judge told her to “be quiet.”
Bakhtary tried to interject.
“Zohra,” the judge said.
She spoke up again: “You’re making —”
“Do you want to be found in contempt?”
“Judge, you’re asking —”
The judge once more asked her to be quiet. “Now. Not another word.”
Bakhtary then said, “Judge, you’re,” before being cut off.
Hafen turned to his marshal. “Travis, right now. I’m tired of it. Right now.”
And Bakhtary was cuffed. She sat in the jury box, alongside inmates wearing jail clothing, while the judge finished hearing the case at hand.
Bakhtary’s client, a man who was arrested on theft charges about five months after he was ordered to pay a fine and perform community service in a similar case, was ordered to spend the next six months in jail.
“And then, Travis, go ahead and un-cuff Zohra,” Hafen said. “I think she’s learned a lesson.”
The judge later said in a phone interview that he’s had difficulty with Bakhtary for the past six months.

Somewhere, Alex Michaels is saying "you gotta be f'ing kidding me." 
Long weekend coming up. And we need it. 

Monday, May 23, 2016



The relentless march of time and loss of legal talent continued this past week as PDs young and old, new and grizzled, gathered somewhere downtown to bid adieu to Stephen Kramer, Jay Kolsky and Bob Aaron. Along with the pending retirement of Edith Georgi, well more than a hundred years of  legal and life experience is walking out the door. 

Mr. Kramer was the consummate professional, handling some of the offices biggest cases while supervising and mentoring the next generation of lawyers. 

Mr. Kolsky goes back even farther than Mr. Kramer- a prosecutor in the 1970's, then a PD, then in private practice, and then a final stint at the PDs office, Mr. Kolsky practiced before judges and with lawyers whose names are a whispered, fading  memory in the halls of our courthouse. Losing a lawyer of Mr. Kolsky's experience is like a boat losing it's anchor. 

And Mr. Aaron, a craggy, Chicago lawyer, who trained a whole generation of young lawyers the fine art of when to speak, when to remain quiet, when to fight, and when discretion was the better part of valor. 


You have once again omitted any mention of Rory Stein in a post which purports to recognize and highlight the accomplishments public defenders/defense attorneys. For reference, see your post on the FACDL awards dinner. Mr. Stein, along with others who you have left out, is departing from the PDs office as well.

When will you finally give up your petty animosity towards a man who is beloved and respected by those who work with him? 

Rumpole responds:

No animosity. The good-bye party was presented to us as a party for Kramer, Kolsky and Aaron. As we were not invited (and were dining at Per Se in NYC at the time, or near the time in preparation for our attendance at Hamilton, The Musical,  which shouldn't be missed) we had to rely on emails and reports sent to us. 
Anytime anyone wants to write a piece about Mr Stein or any other PD who is retiring, please email it to us and we will post it without edits. 

In a way these retirements represent the end of an era. These lawyers represented the true second generation of  Miami public defenders. Lawyers who joined the office after it was formed and shaped by legendary lawyers like Roy Black and Jack Denaro, these lawyers stayed the course and defended indigent clients across an astounding five decades, starting in the 1970's. 

Their absence will not go unnoticed. Clients and young lawyers will not have their talent- honed on the crucible of hundreds of trials, and their experience to rely upon. 
 But the fight must continue. And it will. 

See You In Court. 

PS- don't flood us with comments attacking our history of the PDs office. Yes, we know Mr. Black and Mr. Denaro and others at that time were not the first lawyers in the office. But they were among the first significant recruits that changed that office into an effective legal team. 

Friday, May 20, 2016


Judge Gil Freeman had a retirement party this week. There was food, fun, frivolity, friendship and a good time had by all. 

Judge Freeman made a brief appearance in the REGJB as a "newish" judge and then repaired to Civil and Family  and other areas where she spent her career adjudicating summary judgment motions on debentured bond defaults and splitting the precious family lamp, table, couch and cat. 

She enjoyed a very fine reputation, and although we really didn't know her and appear before her, we wish her well in retirement. 

Au Revoir Judge Freeman. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


In what seems like a no-brainer, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a defendant's pre-miranda, pre-arrest silence CANNOT be used as evidence of guilt because it would violate the right against self-incrimination. 

State v. Horrowitz here. 

In what is also no surprise, the case came out of Broward where the prosecution repeatedly, in closing argument, emphasized the defendant's pre-arrest silence in the death of her husband. 


As can be seen...

Sunday, May 15, 2016



Sorry we missed this obit last week. I appeared before Judge Newman often and he was always polite, professional, courteous to all the lawyers and parties, and fair in his rulings. He had a soft voice but always a command of the courtroom. Here is the obit from the Miami Herald:

ROBERT H. NEWMAN | Visit Guest Book

NEWMAN, ROBERT H. JD., Dade County Circuit Court Judge passed away on May 7, 2016. Born In Brooklyn, New York but moved to Miami Beach in his teens, and dearly loved his new found community. He graduated from the University of Miami, became a State Attorney and then went into private practice for many years. He served the Judiciary in many divisions ending his stellar career as Chief Judge in Probate. He was a Hearing Officer for the city of Miami Beach and Aventura. He also did Mediations in the legal profession. He loved his community and served it well. He was the National Secretary of the Leukemia Society. He taught Paralegals at Miami Dade Community College, he served as President of the Health Systems Agency, he was one of the first presidents of Temple Beth Am in Miami, active with the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and Temple Judea in Coral Gables. He wil be sorely missed. He is survived by his wife Gail of nearly 33 years. He cherished time spent with his children, Lorie Newman, Mark Newman (Una), & step-children Scot Jaffe, Jodi Jaffe (Andy Glenn). He also enjoyed his many grandchildren Danielle Katzeff (Lawrence), Carly Newman (Chip Waters), Craig Newman (Emma), Michelle Cascone (Pete), Rachel Haney (Jon), Jessica Goldberg (Evan), Marcus Levine, Chase Jaffe and Sarah Glenn. He was blessed with 5 great-granchildren, Hutton Waters, Jacob and James Cascone, Julia Haney and Neima Katzeff. Funeral Services will be held Wednesday May, 11, 2016 11 AM. Beth Israel Memorial Chapel. 11115 Jog Road Boynton Beach, Fl 33437.

Cap Out ....

We were notified of his passing and were corresponding with a few people to write something. We didn't know Judge Newman and to the best of our recollection, we never appeared before him, so we were waiting for someone to write in. 


Sunday NY Times: 

Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women In Private:

Donald Trump and women: The words evoke a familiar cascade of casual insults, hurled from the safe distance of a Twitter account, a radio show or a campaign podium. This is the public treatment of some women by Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president: degrading, impersonal, performed. “That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees,” he told a female contestant on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Rosie O’Donnell, he said, had a “fat, ugly face.” A lawyer who needed to pump milk for a newborn? “Disgusting,” he said.

Friday, May 13, 2016


The LOP conducted a Judicial Forum this week and spent several hours questioning the candidates. The only candidate that did not show up, and did not call with a reason, was candidate Elena Tauler.

Here are the Endorsements from the LOP:


Group 9 Judge Jason Bloch
Group 34 Mark Blumstein
Group 52 Carol "Jodie" Breece
Group 66 Judge Robert Luck
Group 74 Judge George Sarduy


Group 5 Judge Fred Seraphin
Group 7 Judge Edward Newman
Group 15 Linda Luce
Group 35 Judge Wendell Graham

We understand that Rosy Aponte and Oscar Rodriguez Fonts also did not appear at the Forum. Ms. Aponte called in sick with a stomach virus and I do not recall what the reason was for Rodriguez Fonts not appearing, but he did call.


Thursday, May 12, 2016


Some weeks are busy, some are slow. Let's recap the last week or so. 

El Chapo Cafe: Open. Food? Bad. 

Judge Sayfie has opposition....doesn't have opposition. 

Judge Rosa Rodriguez has opposition....doesn't have opposition. 

Rumpole....somehow threatened because Judge Rosa Rodriguez doesn't have opposition. 

Florida has a death penalty....except in one courtroom of sanity on the second floor of the REGJB.


"The blog stinks"; "It's run by a racist" (not true); "It's run by a sexist" (not true);   "It's run by someone who is anti-judge" (well....); "It's vapid"; "It's insipid";  "Why does Rumpole write all those mean things in the comments?" (we don't, figure it out...the readers write the comments, the readers write the comments...).

BUT every now and then, just a couple of lawyers with NO journalistic training whatsoever, does something noteworthy. 

Congrats to our Captain, who this week broke a story, scooped the Herald, the DBR, the Wall Street Journal AND the London Times

The scoop was acknowledged by ace Herald Reporter David Ovalle. here-

The gaffe was first reported by the blogger known as “The Captain,” who writes for Miami’sJustice Blog. Rodriguez, a circuit judge in the civil division, has been on the bench since 1998.

Thanks David. 

See you in court. 

PS: It's "Justice Building Blog" but we understand you may have had a size restriction for the article. 


The reason why the 45th President of the United States' initials will be DJT. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article76487432.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Judge Milton Hirsch, fresh off a well deserved re-election, declared Florida's Death Penalty Statute (Motto: "Send em all to death row  and let the fed courts sort it out on Habeas") unconstitutional.

In the milieu of the machinery of death, there are various legal reasons why Florida's death penalty statute, to use a technical legal term, sucks. See, for example, Justice Breyer's courageous dissent in Glossip v. Gross, which raises fundamental Eighth Amendment issues.

But Judge Hirsch, no legislator on the bench he, stuck to the narrow issue of the lack of the requirement of unanimity in the death penalty statute. Where only North Korea, Mars, and some counties in Alabama allow for the execution of its citizens by a non-unanimous jury verdict, Florida proudly embraces its heritage of allowing a minority of its citizens to kill a majority of defendants, as long as they are mostly minorities.

So with no further ado, and with no quotes from Guy De Maupassant, Alan Alda, Buzz Aldrin, or Disraeli, we present the Honorable Judge Milton Hirsch's strike for the humanity and dignity of our troubled state:

Monday, May 09, 2016


Mark Twain wrote: "You should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel"

And we will update those wise words by adding "or someone who writes a widely-read, not to mention exceptionally well written blog." 

But not everyone reads Twain, or follows his wise words. 

And thus we received a comment by the suddenly popular Daniel Espinsoa, who can't leave well enough - or in his case-a monumental screw-up, alone. 

Danny  left us this comment which can be found in the preceding (the one below this one, Danny) post:

Anonymous Danny Espinosa said...
Hi, Rumpole. It would be great if you were to report the truth, including the entire email you sent me, instead of omitting certain things and adding language in your response that you did not send to me. Also, it's interesting how you write posts (and comments) as if I wrote them. In the end, it says a lot about who you are when you celebrate the mistakes of others. I wish you the best. But I hope going forward you wish the best for everyone, not just me.

Monday, May 09, 2016 5:14:00 PM

 To set the record straight, we posted the entire email you sent us, and below, is the entire response we sent you. Why you feel this is significant, is beyond us. But the mere fact we do not deign to correspond to our legion of fans personally, does not mean we have forsaken our desire, nay, our right to respond in public when someone sends a smug, somewhat threatening email. 

Furthermore, the blog post in which we responded to the email from Danny Espinosa does not in any way portend (appear to be, Danny) to be a reprint of an email from us to you. Rather, as we said in our email to you, we don't correspond privately with fans, readers, or disgruntled, putative judicial candidates. Thus we replied more fully, publicly. Capiche? ( See below Danny, because we're gonna make ya an offer ya can't refuse).

But in the interest of making sure the full story is out (although why you want this to have legs, is beyond us. The DBR just ran a story today, and quite frankly one would think a lawyer who cannot read the rules and regulations properly wouldn't want that sort of thing to be publicly discussed ad infinitim  (again, and again, forever). 

Now, finally, to address your comment that we write "posts and comments" as if you wrote them. Let us explain to you how a blog works. We write the posts. Each post here identifies the individual who wrote it. There is nothing we wrote in any manner in which the post on the front of the blog appears in any way, shape or form, to have been words written by you. 

In the comments section WE DO NOT WRITE THE COMMENTS. We will admit, Danny, that wiser men (and women) than you have also somehow misapprehended what is in the comments section and from time to time someone emails us asking why we wrote something in the comments section. 
The comments are written by readers. 
The comments are written by readers. 
The comments are written by readers. 
Rinse. Repeat. 

Now, because you appear to be new to this whole blogging thing, (BTW- there's this really cool thing called "you-tube"  which has videos you can view on-line, and something fascinating called twitter, but you cannot be as verbose as we tend to be on it) let us clue you in on some rules we have. We don't allow ad hominem attacks (....never mind).  We don't allow personal information to be posted in the comments section. But when a public figure (and Danny, when you tried your best to run for judge, you became a public figure) does something noteworthy (and sadly, here in South Florida the noteworthy stuff tends to be more "Danny Espinosa stuff"  than "Barak Obama stuff") we comment on it and allow our readers to comment on it. So to the extent you are upset with the comments, you have to live with it.  Or as we say in criminal court "don't apply for judge and screw it up twice, if you can't do the time", or something like that.

And finally, we say this. We don't know you. Your bar profile lists that you have been a member of the Bar for a whopping six years. We have cases older than that. We litigate for a living. Which means we deal all the time with judges who were lawyers for five or six years, couldn't make it, and then all of the sudden think they are the lord's gift to jurisprudence when they don a black robe. Meanwhile, our client's life is on the line,  and they've never done or heard of a "Franks hearing" or a "Garcia hearing" and are looking at the prosecutor for help. So you will have to understand if we have a pre-disposed bias against someone who has been a lawyer less than the average career of a NFL running back, who somehow wants to be a judge. 

Okay. Here are the emails in their full glory. Enjoy. 

Daniel A. Espinosa, Esq. despinosa@espinosalawgroup.com

7:54 AM (9 hours ago)
to me
We’ll be in touch soon, Howard.

Very Truly Yours,


Daniel Alberto Espinosa, Esq.
10625 N. Kendall Drive
Miami, FL 33176-1510
Direct Line: 305.655.1501


11:24 AM (6 hours ago)
to Daniel
sorry. We don't correspond with fans

BTW, your email called us "The National Enquirer of blogs" which we find some what offensive, but Donald Trump does not. The NE should only be as well written as this humble blog is. 

If you want to be a judge, you can do it. There is precedent for this. Judge Newman ran for judge before he was qualified to do so. He was knocked out of the race, and came back a few years later and won. So, Danny, there are second acts in American Politics and in the Miami Judiciary. We would also refer you to the case of Judge Al Sepe,  but you probably weren't born when all that went down. Google it. He resigned the bench under a cloud of suspicion, ran again a few years later for county court, and then was appointed to the circuit court. All is not lost. Perseverance has its rewards.

Danny, should you wish to continue this, or explain anything, including the errors that led to you not being able to qualify, we make you this offer: THE BLOG. Send us an email, and as long as it follows certain rules (see above) it will be posted UNEDITED. 

See you in court, but just not on the bench for a few years. 



We received this email today:

Daniel A. Espinosa, Esq. despinosa@espinosalawgroup.com

7:54 AM (3 hours ago)
to me
We’ll be in touch soon, Howard.

Very Truly Yours,


Daniel Alberto Espinosa, Esq.
10625 N. Kendall Drive
Miami, FL 33176-1510
Direct Line: 305.655.1501

Dear "Danny"

(We didn't know we were on a first name basis)
We are in receipt of your email of 9 May, Monday, 2016. 
We do not correspond with fans or readers on a personal level. We are much too busy to engage in such chit-chat. And there is the whole anonymous thing to overcome. However, readers are important to a blog. Nay, one could say they are the lifeblood of a blog. Therefore, let us thank you for reading, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors. 

Yours, etc.

H. Rumpole, Blog Proprietor. 

"Brother, can you spare a dime?" perhaps the best comment we received,  that summarized the failed attempt of Daniel Espinosa, Esq., to qualify to run against Judge Rosa Rodriguez. As detailed in these blog pages,  Mr. Espinosa tried twice to qualify against Judge Rodriguez. 

The first attempt was when Espinosa sent a check from his office account to pay for the filing fee. Filing fees can only be paid from campaign accounts. 
Swing and a miss. Strike one. 

Mr. Espinosa was then apparently able to find his way to the bank and fill out the documents in a successful manner that enabled to him to open a campaign account. Congratulations! We're very proud of you. 

Mr. Espinosa then sent the clerk a new check from his campaign account. He was on his way to fulfilling his dream job as a Judge.  But there was one, insy, binsy, teeny, weeny problem. He wasn't a day late, but he was twenty cents short. 
The check was for the wrong amount. And there was no more time to get a new check to the clerk's office in Tallahassee. 

Swing and a miss, strikes two and three. You're out. Do not pass Go. Do not run for Judge. Do not collect over three quarters of a million dollars in salary and benefits for the next six years. 

"Of all the words of song and pen, the saddest are these....It Might Have Been."

Rumpole's Choice for Judges: 
In the upcoming election, we are endorsing the following candidates. 

Milena Abreu over Fred "Trump" Seraphin.

Judge Wendell Graham. 

Judge Ed Newman. 

Judge George Sarduy. 

Judge Robert Luck.

We haven't made up our minds in the other races. In most of them, we aren't familiar with any of the candidates. 

See You In Court.