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.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

JUDGE K AND THE JUROR

Update: We have our finger on the pulse of the South Florida legal community. Rarely does an issue escape our view and review. But we candidly missed this one. 
But your favourite federal blogger who cannot resist slumming in state courts from time to time did not miss it. 
Here is his post at The Hill: We Are Addicted to Jail. Click here. Scintillating writing but no Robert Palmer girls (obscure 80's reference). 
Our country has a serious addiction to jail time.
We issue jail sentences like candy, to address every known problem that we have. Drug problem — jail.  Using your family member’s address to get your child into a better school — jail. Paying college athletes — jail. The United States jails more people than any other country in the world. We have higher incarceration rates than Russia, Iran, and Iraq — by a lot. We tolerate innocent people sitting in jail when we only suspect that they might have done something wrong, as one man did for 82 days when he brought honey into the United States. 82 days.
A contretemps emerged in West Palm Beach last week (Motto: "Not just Mar-a-Lago, we have shopping too!") when Judge John Kastrenakes, who started his career as a top prosecutor in Miami-Dade,  held a juror in contempt for showing up late and sentenced the young man to ten days in jail. 
We stayed out of it, but a reader called us out. And we are very customer friendly, so see below:


I read the Blog ALL the time, love it, but very very seldom comment. I am posting now because I am appalled at the lack of condemnation and outrage expressed by our readers of Judge Kastrenakes; recent reprehensible conduct in jailing a 21 year old for missing jury duty. Even the few comments which were made omitted the important facts - the kid overslept, he had NEVER been in trouble with the law, he lives with, and helps care for his disabled grandfather, the trial was delayed for a total of 45 minutes, and oh, did I mention what I, and everyone else who is honest knew before I checked it out, the kid is African American? This judicial act is an intolerable example of the most insidious form of racism, and without question merited far more than a few random comments on a post related to Judge Slom retiring. Shame on Rumps for not making a separate post, shame on all of us for not calling it for what it unquestionably was, and shame on the JQC if they do not remove Kastranakes. 

Well done loyal reader. We report. You decide. (couldn't write that with a straight face).

UPDATE: Here is Judge K rescinding the sentence, which the reader above does not mention. However, this occurred AFTER the young man did his ten days. Give some credit to the Judge in keeping the gentleman's record clean and vacating the order of contempt. However, the more we learn about this, the more we believe the judge overreacted initially. The young man made a mistake- that's it. 

18 comments:

theodore mastos said...

I, too, read the story and was very disappointed in Judge Kastrenakes. I knew him as a prosecutor here in Miami and, in fact, he tried cases in front of me when I was a circuit court judge. He could be hard and rigid in his positions, but he was always honest in his dealings. However, this looks like an overreach of judicial power.

My reading of the article or watching it on U Tube suggested that the kid actually did the 10 days without benefit of counsel to intervene or wait until cooler heads prevailed. It seems that less harsh remedies could have been applied. I didn't notice a hearing to ask the young man whether he had a reason why he should or should not be held in contempt.

Maybe a vacating of the contempt citation might be in order. At least the kid would be saved from having a black mark on his record.

I remember learning in judicial college many years ago that contempt should be used sparingly. In fact, many of the reported decisions resulted in reversals because the judge got pissed and reacted without reflection.

Anonymous said...

There is a post-it on many judge's benches that says " Take a breath, think about it, follow the benchbook, keep your cool". Unfortunately, this judge, like many former prosecutors, is unable to see very far ahead. He seems to lack a world view and probably comes from a somewhat privileged background. Wisdom is elusive or delayed because there is a lack of real adversity and culture in his past. Instead, he relies on his unimaginative and overused solutions to try and solve complex problems. His idea of general deterrence is outdated, outmoded and ineffectual.

I do not mean every former prosecutor, just most; especially the newer judges. So don't get your panties in a bunch.

Anonymous said...

Institutional Racism right there! Be creative and sentence the kid to speak at schools about the importance of jury duty. Make him go on a jail and/or prison tour. Make him write an essay every month about the Constitution. No - instead just send another black man to jail like that's the fucking answer to everything!

ScottAfrica

Anonymous said...

That order and sentence was an absolute, unequivocal outrage!

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, you're a rock star, in addition to long providing a valuable forum for exchange of ideas and making us all better, whether as lawyers, Judges, or just plain human beings. But "Give some credit to the Judge in keeping the gentleman's record clean and vacating the order of contempt"??? Did he vacate the 10 days in jail that this remarkable young man first had to endure, or the permanent scars that will undoubtedly result from his racist tantrum? Did he do it before he was resoundingly criticized on social media? I give no credit to after-the-fact half-*** attempts at covering your *** when you've been exposed. And, Rumpole, you're better than that too … "Vacate" your "give some credit" line, lest you send a clear message that this type of harmful racism is OK from the bench (or anywhere else in the CJS) as long as we apologize afterwards.

Rumpole said...

Here is my view. Judge's have difficult jobs. (Yes I really wrote that). They have to keep the trains on time, whole dealing with lawyers who range from the professional to the unruly. When any lawyer or witness or court personnel or juror shows up late it derails the process. What I THINK happened is that the kid showed up late and didn't explain himself so Judge K thought he had to get his attention. When the kid then apologized, Judge K realized he was wrong and vacated the judgement.
Should all of this occurred before the juror served ten days? Yes. But I do not back down from giving Judge K credit for realizing his error. It's hard to admit a mistake. And the Judge was wrong.

Anonymous said...

One day this Judge will himself oversleep. It will cause delay. But no one will know, beacause he will pretend he was attending to some other pressing matter. The Judge is a total faker. I read about fakers like him in Catcher in the Rye.

Anonymous said...

All you need to know is whether or not he would have done the same to a nice white condo lady. If the answer is no, then he should be disciplined in some form. That being said, can't let the jurors conduct slide, but this seems excessive.

Anonymous said...

Why are you kissing the judge's ass? He only realized his error after he starting receiving bad press. Pathetic. Someone need to run against him. Rump I'm sure you worked with him at the SAO.

Rumpole said...

Ok now you're going way overboard here. Attach a judge? Have at it.
Call me a former prosecutor? YOU SIR HAVE NO DECENCY.
Really, Like we could stand before a jury and ask to convict some schlub for possessing an undersized grouper, expectorating on the sidewalk, resisting arrest without violence and the like. Hardly.

Real Fake Former Judge said...

Ted watches U Tube? That's the real story here.

Anonymous said...

May be the funniest comment of the year.

Anonymous said...

He didn’t show up 45 minutes late. He showed up never. He failed to call the judicial assistant, didn’t answer when the judicial assistant called, ignored voicemails, didn’t call back, then purposefully turned off his phone. He only returned weeks later after being served with a subpoena, then testified that he didn’t show up ON PURPOSE because he didn’t think it was important. You can argue that the law should be changed to allow sworn jurors to purposefully disobey direct orders with no repercussions, but there is zero evidence whatsoever that this judge is “racist.”

Anonymous said...

The 10-day jail sentence was an overreaction that did not fit the crime. It seems like a sudden exacerbation of a latent case of robosis that peaked into an acute robitis episode. Jail should be reserved for violent or predatory criminals whose conduct actually hurt others.

Anonymous said...

9:59 pm, your comment "zero evidence whatsoever that this judge is 'racist'" is part of the reason why such intolerable racism still exists in this country. There is a saying that lawyers learn their first year of law school, "res ipsa loquitur", which is Latin for "the thing speaks for itself", without the need for direct "evidence". Most racists don't admit they are, and many don't even know they are, but Judge K's unforgiveable act "speaks for itself". To use another reader's language, "nice white condo lady" would not have gone to jail for this. Period. End of story. Admit it and make it better next time.

Anonymous said...

Someone should tell that obnoxious loaf with the lime green Maybach and yellow leather seats with flaming red metallic rims that he should not just park in the street in front of the Miami Beach Chabad like he owns the joint and saunter in. On the high holy day he should dial it down a little bit. Like maybe take the Panamera and park it in a spot and wait in line like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

A little secret for you. Rich people who don't want to do jury duty just don't respond to the summons. I'm interested to see how Kastrenakes has dealt with other similar situations. Whether he even issued a rule or just blew it off? It's real now. Politicians are filing JQC complaints and public opinion is rising against him. The post proceedings are even more disturbing than the contempt. He admits that he didn't care about the kids character or history before throwing him in jail and then reduces the probation to 3 months only to vacate the whole thing when he gets into chambers.

Anonymous said...

843

Totally agree!

We ***know*** the the Judge gave the 10 day sentence out of racism. The proof is that the Judge is white. Period. And all whites are racist against blacks! 100%!

I also agree that if white people would acknowledge that **all white people are racist***, and not ask for more proof (other than their white skin which is definite proof), we would finally achieve the dream of a colorblind society.