Friday, May 08, 2020


Imagine you are a judge (we know it is hard, but try. You can always take a hot shower afterwards). And in Miami, most of our State Court Chief or Administrative Judges are Female. (We won't get to the fact that 92% of all Miami judges have titles like Chief Judge, Chief Administrative Judge, Associate Chief Administrative Judge, Assistant Associate Chief Administrative Judge, Assistant Associate Administrative Judge, Associate Assistant Administrative Judge... because ego wise, once a judge, the title matters.)

The President and Governor of Florida, despite knowing that we are on the front side of the infection curve (more people getting sick, more people dying) are pushing to open society because they want to look strong while caving into the lowest, dumbest, least educated parts of society who are...wait for it....virus deniers.  (Coming soon- their video of Barrack Obama's mother meeting with Hillary Clinton, Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong in Nigeria in 1966 to plot the future destruction of America). 

At some point, the opening of bowling alleys, and tattoo and mahjong parlors, and Jai Alai and hair salons, not to mention Starbucks and Sergios (where you can catch us some mornings sipping a coffee and eating a pastellito), will put pressure on our Chief Judges to open courts. 

We do not envy these judges. These are the times that try Women's souls. The summer solider and sunshine patriot and virus deniers will, in this time of crisis, shrink from the service of their courts and country. Tyranny, like hell (or Hialeah) is not easily conquered. But the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  (H/T Thomas Paine- who is a fascinating character in his own right and we may discuss at length some day soon). 

Chief Judges Soto (head honcho) Sayfie (Criminal) Bailey (Civil) Colodny (Probate), Prescott (Unified Children's Division) Bernstein (Family) Walsh and De la O (Appeals??) have a very tough decision to make. Open courts too soon, and people will get sick and some will die.  Keep courts closed too long, and the institution that is the backbone of our democracy withers and starts to die. People need to know there is a functioning court system. The police need to continue to make arrests, and defendants need  to have their cases reviewed and bonds set. People need the ability to go to court to redress problems. Courts matter. (ugh, but we will recover from saying that). 

At some point jury trials need to start again. Will there be testing of venires before admittance to the jury room?  What happens when a potential juror who is also a republican virus denier refuses to be tested or to even have their temperature taken? Does that create  challenges to the venire?

Here is what Rumpole says: 
1) We do not envy our judges who have to make decisions about opening courts. But that is why they get the big moderate bucks. 

2) Once courts are open, the simple solution is you put one foot in front of another. You open courts. You set trials. You bring in jurors and learned judges will rule on motions made by (obdurate) attorneys on whatever issues they see fit to challenge. The motions will be decided. Some decisions  will be reviewed by appellate courts and some decisions will be affirmed and some reversed. The point here is that the PROCESS is more important than the particulars. We need courts opened in a safe manner. We need trials to begin again in a safe manner. Everything else will fall into place. 

Being serious for a moment we want to let our judges know we are with them. We know they are working hard and have very hard decisions to make. Decisions over the health of the public that they never envisioned having to make. But the wand chooses the wizard and the times pick our leaders.  We know our judges will do their level best and that is all we can ask. *

Godspeed Judge Soto. 


*We are also fairly certain this post will forever be the high water mark in our praise of those who wear black robes to work. The words did not come easy and our finger shook when pressing the "publish" button.


the trialmaster said...

The so called "chiefs" are many rungs belong the legends of the great ED COWART , GERALD WETHERINGTON AND EVEN jOE fARIANA.

Anonymous said...

This is why now - more than ever - we need Mike Hanzman to follow B. Soto as the Chief Judge for the 11th Circuit.


Anonymous said...

Your covid position (keep shut down) is shared by lots of rich people with $ in the bank. The opposite position is held by a few virus deniers. But it is really driven by people without large amounts of savings. They need to pay mortgages, and they need to put food on the table for their kids. When you describe the people who share the "open up" view as idiots, you betray your own lack of empathy. Some dont have the luxury like you do of sheltering in place forever. For many, the calculus is, id rather die of covid than die of hunger, or watch my kids suffer.

I was watching that judge send the hairdresser to jail. I kept thinking, its so easy for him to express his outrage that she would dare work without the permission of the politicians. Easy for him because he still has a paycheck. I hope we all keep our paychecks. And i hope the rich people in this country could care more about how they are crushing so many.

I pray the cases dont spike, but lets give it a try.

Anonymous said...

If you are opening the courts and any aspect is 100% the same as the day before the shutdown, then you are just being foolish. It's 2020 and the new normal should be closer to 2020 than 1920. Other than jury trials and evidentiary motions, hearings should be done virtual.

Ive done motion calendars and evidentiary hearings via zoom in family. No big deal. I can say that the judges are not happy about it because they have to organize these meetings.

But you could visualize a virtual courtroom where lawyers pop in and out and have their cases heard. Judge opens the room. ASA, corrections and APD log in. The private attorneys log in and out as needed.




In Duval County today, Gov DeSantis made a new County Court appointment choosing GM Robin Lanigan over five other candidates for the open seat.

NOTE - four of the six names on DeSantis' desk had the words Assistant PD and/or Office of Regional Counsel on their resume. Of course DeSantis bypassed all four attorneys with criminal defense experience in choosing Lanigan.

Captain Out .......

Rumpole said...

250 pm. I hear you. I really do. And I want something done to help the people who cannot pay rent and feed their family. It’s heartbreaking. But the “let’s give it a try” ignores science. This isn’t a coin flip. There is no chance here. Open up and watch the virus take off mad then what do you so with those people when doctors tell us we need to shut down until January? There is no easy choice here. But only one correct one and you know what it is.

Anonymous said...

Rump--250 here.

2 minor points.

1. Sweden never locked down. Their cases have plateaued. They test less than we do.

2. If you say stay shut, when exactly do we reopen?

Anonymous said...

At least fir the last 2 months we haven't heard a word about Rudi Giuliani

Anonymous said...

Judge Hanzman would save the 11th Judicial Circuit. He knows how to make a decision and they are almost always right.

When he is our next Chief Judge, the entire Circuit will run smooth and the jurists will be well served and represented. Much like some of the past greats.

Be smart. It’s our court. Let’s have a true leader as the Chief. Read his multitude of law review level orders in the most complex cases. After all, he scored the highest grade on the Florida Bar exam EVER.

Anonymous said...

Agreed that courts should open as soon as possible. Limited access, staggered schedules, and every other previously mentioned idea that helps with courthouse overflow in most jurisdictions and is forward thinking will help this year and for many years to come.

However, jury trials can not take place for a few reasons. First, the response rate for juror attendance is low enough pre-Covid. I can only imagine the numbers that come to any jury assembly room around the state until there is testing or vaccines. Second, is everyone wearing masks and gloves in the courtroom or is anyone? I assume motions in liminie will be filed regarding this and there should be arguments pre-trial on this issue. Third, as much as I want to try a case and either push the ASA or civil defense attorney to get a good result for my client, I can’t allow a panel to be sworn without proper inquiry. You will not be able to sit a panel that is not tainted and if so, appellate review for everything. Deny my motion, accept while preserving and renewed at every recess. How can we not ask jurors about being there among strangers and at such a close distance and if they will be thinking about anything other than our case.

Ms. Jones, thank you for coming today. How do you feel about being here today? Why do you feel that way. Thank you.
By a show of hands, how many of you agree with Ms. Jones?
Mr. Smith, will you be able to give all of your attention to my client’s case while you are here? Why or why not?
Does anyone agree/disagree?

Our clients deserve fair and impartial juries that are not worried about being in a strange place with a bunch of strangers. I will continue to prepare all of my cases for trial but will do my best to ask similar questions, and when we get the answers we know we will get, move to strike the panel. Hopefully the Florida Supreme Court will stop stringing this out month by month and just just cancel jury trials until Labor Day. The notion of placing random people in harms way on jury panel disturbs me to no end.

Rumpole said...

Sweden is sui generis. They are have what I would call social immunity. While they didn't lock down they have a very isolated and singular society where many people live alone or with another person. They have a superior health care system and they have a population that trusts competent leaders and they practiced social distancing unlike idiot American they don't congregate on beaches the second restrictions get relaxed. That being said, the book is not closed on Sweden. So far so good. But it ain't over till it's over.

Anonymous said...

The population density of Stockholm is almost identical to Miami. Over there, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs are open. The millenials are living life as usual. Masks are on some, but not many. They are congregating. And with all that, their cases reached a natural plateau and have even fell.

You say its science. But you have no science based explanation for sweden. You have no legitimate reason to dismiss sweden. You simply disregard it because it doesn't fit you previously formed view.

Rumpole said...

No that is simply not true. There are assumptions in your poorly worded argument that undermine your conclusion-1) that people are congregating en masse without masks or spread.
and 2 that you dismiss my arguments that the Swedish people by the way they live- (alone) and obey their government has no affect. Well you are wrong-
check this article
which shows that the Swedish immigrant community is being hit harder than the rest of Sweden. Why is that? Because the immigrant density at home is higher than the Swedish people and the immigrant population does not follow the requests of the Swedish government like the Swedish people because of their natural distrust of leaders.

Sweden takes a nuanced examination to understand what is going on. You need to think at different levels In other words you need to play 3D chess while all you can think on is the tic-tac-toe or checkers level of thought. But at least you are trying which is more than I can say for the other Fox yahoos.

Anonymous said...

How about we cut all salaries being paid to any government or judicial officials who are implementing or ruling on the enforceability of closure orders? That way we would know that we are all on an equal footing. It is easy to wax eloquent about how much a human life is worth if you do not have to feed, clothe, or house other human beings.

Anonymous said...

4:47pm....Yes! thank you for saying it.

Sad to see Rumpole embrace such a fascist police state approach, but not surprising. Are we a free people or not? Can I decide what risk I'm willing to embrace or is that my Mayor's job? This almost solely kills the old and the sick/obese (so let them isolate and stay safe). We know this but yet CNN idiots like Rumpole want to pretend it affects everyone and we're all gonna die. The hospitals are empty all over the nation. Folks missing chemo treatments, missing dialysis appts, not getting biopsies done, I could go on and on. Does Rumpole have any idea about the suicide and addiction rates per each increase in poverty, in unmeployment? Does he or any of the other lockdown lunatics care? Hell No. This is all about one thing: Get Trump out and get braindead Biden in.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, and then 9:52 goes and ruins it for all of us.

I, like many many others, am of the opinion that it is time to get on with living. Life isn't without risk. We locked down for about 2 months, did the best we could, and now its time to go back out there and suck it up. Its not that I need a haircut, its that my barber needs me to get a haircut. And my barber's landlord needs me to get a haircut. And the owner of my barber's favorite restaurant needs me to get a haircut. And cleaning crew that cleans the barber shop needs me to get a haircut. And the beauty supplies salesman that sells to my barber needs to me to get a haircut. And on and on and on. Almost 15% unemployment!

But the notion that this is some conspiracy that is in any way related to Trump is so absurd that when it is spoken it splashes back on the rest of us and makes us all look like lunatics.

9:52, please shut up, leave your paranoid conspiracies at home, and let the sane adults discuss.