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Wednesday, July 25, 2018


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

BROWARD = BROWEIRD ....
ANOTHER JUDGE BITES THE DUST .......

You just can’t make this stuff up folks. Broward Judge John Contini resigned on July 6, 2018. Contini became an attorney in 1983 and he joined the Broward State Attorney’s Office where he spent four years. For the next 27 years he ran a criminal defense practice in Broward. He was elected to a six year term and took the bench in January of 2015. Ten months after he took the bench, Contini was already facing his first JQC investigation.

In November of 2015, the JQC filed charges alleging that Contini provided one-sided assistance to defense lawyers by emailing an assistant public defender with tips on writing motions for reduced sentences. They additionally charged that he acted unprofessionally when prosecutors complained about it.

Contini admitted to the allegations and apologized for his actions toward several attorneys, defendants, investigators and victims. In November of 2016, the Florida Supreme Court decided that Contini should receive a public reprimand and they also required him to deliver in person a written apology to the assistant attorney general whose court filing Contini called a "lie from the pit of hell".

Fast forward to 2018, and without warning, Contini resigned two weeks ago. This week, the JQC filed their newest charges against the now former judge. In their 157 page filing, they charge Judge Contini with, among other things:

1. On numerous occasions, you have instructed your JA to create dockets of fictitious cases or hearings on particular days of the week on which you planned to be absent from the courthouse. Your fabrication of these dockets was designed to create the impression that you were present in the Courthouse, when in fact, you were not.

3. On some days when you were absent from the Courthouse during regular business hours, you instructed your JA to email court business to you ... you also instructed her to lie and say you were in trial or unavailable to conduct hearings.

6. You inappropriately require your JA to perform personal tasks for you before, during, and after regular business hours ... including to: pay your personal bills and manage your personal finances; make personal travel arrangements; proofread and edit a manuscript for you; ....

The list goes on for a total of 11 counts. You can read all 157 pages by clicking on the link here:

Take the time to read some of the fascinating emails between the judge and his JA contained in the exhibits.

Best of luck to our colleague David Rothman who is representing the former judge.

FURTHER NORTH OF THE BORDER .....

So, you’re pregnant, and you are scheduled to give birth during the next trial setting. Your previous pregnancy resulted in you delivering a preemie six weeks early. You file a Motion for Continuance of the Trial Date and opposing counsel objects. That hearing played out in the courtroom of civil court Judge Cymonie Rowe, 15th Judicial Circuit, in Palm Beach County last month.

The contestants: Plaintiff’s attorney Paul Reid of the law firm Shook, Hardy, and Bacon. He apparently represents an injured worker. Defense attorney Christen Luikart of the law firm Murphy Anderson represents defendant Genie Industries.

It was recently in the news that the Florida Supreme Court was considering a proposed rule that, if passed, would require judges to grant motions for continuance for parental leave, barring exceptional circumstances. This hearing may accelerate those plans to decide whether a formal rule is actually needed.

The entire transcript is attached and can be read by going here:

The relevant portion of the arguments for and against the MTC are contained on pages 58-70 of the transcript.

NOTE: After Reid repeatedly objected and argued the same point over and over again, the judge had had enough, and she Granted the Motion.

Have any of our readers experienced a similar situation where opposing counsel was objecting on similar grounds?  Anyone have an experience where a judge they were before was maybe reluctant to grant a continuance on similar grounds?

CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

He is hot water with his firm too https://www.law.com/dailybusinessreview/2018/07/25/shook-hardy-suspends-attorney-caught-up-in-row-over-continuance-for-pregnant-lawyer/

Anonymous said...

Some folks have said I view things differently. Having been a police officer in Dade County for 8 1/2 years while putting myself through undergrad and law school prior to becoming an ASA in Broward in 1983 I subscribe to family first. I've been a homicide prosecutor since 1989 having transferred to NCF in 2002 where I continue to try to persuade 12 citizens to recommend death for those who legally deserve it for their actions. Whenever defense counsel has made a reasonable request especially for health or family reasons I have NEVER opposed it, even if my victim's families were not initially in agreement. After discussions most if not all have understood and agreed to a reasonable delay. Unless I missed something in the transcript it's apparent that some lawyer's don't understand the big picture. Granted I don't have office overhead, etc, etc; like those in private practice but I do look at myself in the mirror every morning without a problem. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I had a judge refuse to delay a trial in progress when my father-in-law lay dying in a New York hospital. I had advised the court before the trial had started that he had taken ill and had been hospitalized (he had cancer). When he took a turn for the worse and was given last rites, I asked that the trial be continued for a few days so that I could join my wife and family in New York. The judge said “no.” Only after his J.A. had pity on my poor wife, who had called chambers, not understanding why the judge would not let me leave to join her while her father lay dying, did the judge finally adjourn the trial a e hours early on Friday, telling me that I had better be in court on Monday at 9 a.m. “no matter what, even if he dies”, or I would be held in contempt. I made it to the hospital room that evening. He died about an hour after I arrived. The memorial was on that Sunday. I was back in trial on Monday, at 9 a.m.

It has been almost 30 years since that happened and I still cannot forget (or forgive) that judge’s cruelty.

Anonymous said...

I was a circuit judge for nearly 20 years. During those years I never had a single issue or instance of a woman’s pregnancy not being accommodated. I was extremely disturbed on several occasions to see that the pregnant woman used the pregnancy issue to gain an advantage. Sad and shocking, but true. One hid her pregnancy, begged for a continuance on other grounds, promising she could be ready to try to case in 3 months. Well, her due date was in 3 months, so of course, she had to have a continuance for that. She knew it when she misrepresented to the Court that would be able to try the case in 3 months. Others try to get excused from their own obligations because of pregnancy, yet continue to litigate the issues they want to litigate, while being excused from those matters that are not convenient for them or their client.

The pregnancy issue must be addressed, but it must be done in a way that is fair to all and that does not result in one side being penalized and the other gaining an advantage. It’s not so simple. Lawyers, males or female, often try to gain every advantage possible. Pregnancy is no different. But we can’t even have an honest conversation about it. Look at Shook Hardy. Suspending a lawyer for arguing against a continuance?? I read the transcript. He did nothing wrong! Political correctness gone crazy. BTW, I’m a “liberal.”

Anonymous said...

I think the criminal defense bar misses the big picture on civil actions. Very often civil plaintiffs are in "a bet the farm" scenario against defendants who have put them in a position of dire need. The money at issue is often the money that will pay the rent, children's tuition, health care expenses, keep the business open, etc. If your business runs out of money and closes because someone breached a contract, it is virtually impossible to be made genuinely whole again. If you couldn't go to work because you're injured and you end up evicted, there is no undoing the pain that your children feel at being put on the street. So, for there to be any justice, judgments and payment has to be made BEFORE irreparable financial harm occurs. Anything else is a pyrrhric victory.

For the most part, civil defense lawyers (I do commercial lit on both plaintiff and defense side, and so I play the game from both sides) tend to live by the ethos that "every day you don't lose is a day you win." Prolonging the time it takes to get to judgment and collection has a very real chilling effect on the plaintiff and creates pressure for a plaintiff to accept less in settlement than they might technically be entitled to. Many civil defense lawyers will stymie and slow the progress of litigation at each and every single step of the process. And they will do it expertly - always working to appear "reasonable." Its enough to make a plaintiff's lawyer go full "What About Bob" as this plaintiff's lawyer seems to have gone.

And really, plaintiff's position here doesn't seem totally unreasonable. Are there other lawyers at the defense firm who are familiar with the case? Yes - the named partner took depositions. There would have been nothing wrong with the judge in this case saying "Good luck with your pregnancy. I hope you enjoy maternity leave and that your baby is healthy. Your motion is noted, and you will not be trying this case. I expect to see [Named Partner] here for trial and not to see you. Continuance denied."

And this is not sexist. The judge correctly said on the record that he would treat a man and a woman the same in this circumstance, and I agree. "Dad-to-be, good luck to you and your wife. I hope your baby is healthy. [Other law firm lawyer] will be trying the case and you will not. So Ordered."

Anonymous said...

There was another former Broward judge named Sheldon Schapiro who had JQC proceedings in 2001. Paragraph 9 of his notice of formal charges says:

In violation of Canon 1, Canon 2A, and Canon 3B(4), in another incident
involving Ms. Tate when she was eight months pregnant, she was hospitalized because
of pregnancy complications on the third day of a trial over which you presided. As a
result of her hospitalization, Ms. Tate requested a continuance of the trial. You denied
the continuance and further advised Ms. Tate that she should get another prosecutor
from her office to complete the trial. When Ms. Tate advised your chambers that
“substituting” counsel was not feasible in that no other assistant state attorney was
familiar enough with the case to step in her place, you, or your chambers, advised Ms.
Tate that if she were not in court the following morning, you would dismiss the case. As
a result, Ms. Tate left the hospital against her doctor’s orders in order to complete the
trial before you.

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/summaries/briefs/01/01-2419/Filed_11-06-2001_NoticeFormalCharges.pdf

Anonymous said...

I was scheduled for major life or death surgery on a Monday. Even Kathy Rundle sent a note wishing good luck. ASA objected to defense continuance for a DUI at sounding the week before. Judge granted it but, did not say shit to asshole ASA, who I will never forgive.

Anonymous said...

I was a young ASA before Judge Harold Solomon.My dad had a major problem in surgery up north. He was expected to not make it out of a coma, The judge said...”go, I know its your trial week but, I’m the judge and we’ll get by,”. I sat front row at the judge’s funeral many years later.

BTW, dad, pulled out of it and lived 15 more years.

Not all judges are Jeri Beth Cohen... who once denied a continuance to go to a friend’s funeral and them gave in and gave me 15 minutes at the funeral and told the jury it was my fault trial had a delay. Thanks Jeri!

Anonymous said...

I was a young ASA before Judge Harold Solomon.My dad had a major problem in surgery up north. He was expected to not make it out of a coma, The judge said...”go, I know its your trial week but, I’m the judge and we’ll get by,”. I sat front row at the judge’s funeral many years later.

BTW, dad, pulled out of it and lived 15 more years.

Not all judges are Jeri Beth Cohen... who once denied a continuance to go to a friend’s funeral and them gave in and gave me 15 minutes at the funeral and told the jury it was my fault trial had a delay. Thanks Jeri!

Anonymous said...

Where do they get these people. Unbelieveable. And when I applied for a county court position in Miami I did not even get an interview, with 15 years felony trial experience. The JQC will not even consider anyone who has lived and made mistakes, just a bunch of people who have never been arrested, divorced, sued, and connected to the sitting governor. and this is what you end up, 20% of the judges statewide are unfit. I once boarded the elevator and a judge was groping an assistant public defender. what a country.

the trialmaster said...

TRIAL LITIGATION 101, Never, ever try a jury trial when your opposing counsel is pregnant or even looks pregnant. You will never win the case.....

Phil R said...

I was an ASA trying my first case before Judge Morphonios. It was a murder case and having not been in her division, she gave me a pretty hard time. Imposed 20 minutes for voire dire and didn't tell me until I have five left; had to have all my witnesses outside ready to go Monday 9 Am. In short, it was a lot of pressure. We did closings and I learned my grandmother who I was very close to had a heart attack and was in the hospital in NYC. I came to court the next morning as the jury was deliberating and got her permission to have another prosecutor take the verdict. Then I hopped a plane to NY and went to the hospital in Brooklyn, Around 5pm the phone in the room rang and it was the Judge calling to tell me I had won and wanting to know how my grandmother was. To this day I do not know how she got that number. She didn't even know the hospital, much less my grandmother's name. But I never forgot her act of kindness and we became friends after that.
There are plenty of judges who are kind and decent people.


Anonymous said...

11:13:00 - One of the worst examples of judicial abuse I'e ever heard. Unbelievable.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

Thank you former judge McWhorter for setting a DUI for trail between Christmas and NewYwars and fighting me for a continuance for a paid Aspen ski trip. No, there was no speedy trial issue. Just a flaming jerk judge.

Anonymous said...

Lay people don't trust politicians and lawyers. Yet, they trust judges. If they only knew that a judge is a lawyer/politician wearing a robe.