Howdy pardner. There's a new sheriff in town and his name is Judge Roy Altman, and he sits in the SDFLA in Ft. Lauderdale which, if you didn't know, is an old native American word loosely meaning "Land of spring break".
Word spread rapidly Friday by telex, fax, and a flurry of texts and emails in which Assistant Federal Public Defenders breathlessly informed defense attorneys that Judge Altman, in a Kennedy-esque manner, stated "let the word go forth, at this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of judges, appointed in this century, tempered by trials, disciplined by a hard and bitter appointment process, and unwilling to witness or permit defendants to self-surrender."
Yes dear reader and peruser of fine legal blogs, you read that right. Judge Altman will be requiring defendants to surrender at sentencing, except in "exceptional circumstances" (or if it's Rumpole for the defense, because we know no surrender).
Is Rumpole outraged? Are you expecting a Rumpolian screed on the unfairness of it all? Sorry to disappoint mon-ami. Not hoy.
(Hai, that's a little French followed by a little Spanish). (Hai is Japanese for yes).
It's always been a dichotomy that for all it's perceived unfairness, defendants in federal court usually have been allowed to self surrender while such an event was a rarity in State Court. Lets be honest- a defendant who scores a level 12 or above on the federal sentencing guidelines (motto: "maybe they apply and m..a..y..b..e they don't" can expect a prison sentence. So the argument that defendants need time to prepare for prison is really a nullity. They knew going in to sentencing that they were going to prison, so why didn't they prepare?
Of course, a sentencing is a difficult enough procedure (so we hear). It's fraught with emotions and pathos and it represents one of the worst days in the life of your client. A few weeks to gather themselves before being swallowed into the belly of the beast is a decent and reasonable thing to allow to occur and we applaud those members of the Federal Judiciary who allow it.
But we cannot fault Judge Altman for forewarning the defense bar of his intentions. We hope he keeps an open mind and makes the decision on a case by case and defendant by defendant basis. Judge's who have a "policy" are not judges at all. They are single minded bureaucrats who have abandoned the practice of Judging. Like cattle in line for slaughter, there is no variation from the all-mighty "policy. Such are the practices that make bad judges.
It's been said that it's a right of passage for a Judge in South Florida to fall upon the laser-like inspection and wit of this humble blog. We wish Judge Altman well.
As self-appointed keeper of the legal and judicial history of Miami, we believe Judge Altman has become the second judge in recent memory with the forename of "Roy". The first Roy's foray into the judiciary didn't end too well.
We think and hope Judge Altman will do much better.
JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG
WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM. Winner of the prestigious Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award.