Tuesday, December 29, 2020


 This is a blast from the past. The Miami Dade State Attorneys class of 1982. There were some young lawyers in this class who would go on to be legal legends. Send in who you recognize and a war story or two and we will post it. The easy one is the chap front and center with an electric smile. Hint- he finished his career like others in this class with the Feds. 

Photo Courtesy of an alert reader who got it from someone else we are told 

Miami in 1982 was emerging from being a sleepy southern town and drugs were the reason. Take a look at any of the buildings on Brickell and rest assured they were funded with drug money because the banks in Miami were awash in cash. They had billons more in deposits, made in cash, to loan. And up went Brickell. 

Miami had a new State Attorney- Janet Reno, four years into the job in 1982  and finding her feet. Miami and the Miami Dade SAO were facing a blizzard of drug cases and drug related murders, many courtesy of Griselda  Blanco, whose story is marvelously told by Miami Producer (and cohort with Mr. Markus on his podcast) Billy Corbin.  

Miami had the most murders. Miami had the most drugs. Miami had the most cash, and into this breach stepped this young crew of eager prosecutors. Their starting salary was NOT above $20,000. 00 a year and they were facing off against experienced trial lawyers who were charging $50,000.00 and $100,000 a case and had more cases than they could handle.  

In those days it was not unusual for a new prosecutor to be trying drug cases and drug murders within the first year, or shortly thereafter. The turnover in the office was huge- the money the dark side of the force would provide was irresistible to some:  one case was a house for a young lawyer and his family. A second case would pay off school loans. A third case would be savings for college for children. 

But many of these young guns resisted the lure. They stuck to their guns and their own morals. They had a leader who backed them and whom they idolized. And they fought the good fight. 

Did you know that back then the Miami SAO had no personnel office?  Janet's  secretary seemed to handle a lot of the issues, or a prosecutor might be sent to speak with ASA Shay Bilchik. No human resources office hanging over a prosecutor's head ready to fire them for an intemperate sexist remark in an email. There was no email. There were no word processors. The SAO had a typist section and prosecutors could call in and dictate motions on a recording that were then transcribed. You got your document in a gray or yellow "inter-office memo" envelope. Above your name on that envelope might be the names of Abe Laeser, George Yoss, Ed O' Donnell senior, Janet Reno, head of appeals Richard Shiffrin, Hank Adorno, and a host of other prosecutors who were or became legends.  

At the time there may have been three or four  minimum mandatory sentences. One for drugs and drug trafficking. One for guns, one for sexual battery on a minor,  and of course a 25 year min man for first degree murder. There were guidelines that actually were enforced. We seem to remember that a GL sentence for second degree murder was 12-17. Of course now, if your client thinks  about a murder, there is a mandatory life sentence. Now there is no legal distinction for punishment for a second degree murder bar fight.  Now twenty-five year old prosecutors are more entrusted to make correct legal sentencing decisions than fifty-five year old judges. 

And of course, on the other side was a new generation of PDS, the office having been injected a decade earlier with the energy and enthusiasm to try cases by young PDs Roy Black, H.T. Smith, and Jack Denaro.  Did you know the SAO and the PDS and a law library were all in the REGJB?  (As the Captain correctly points out, the courthouse was called the Metro Justice Building. The REG stands for Richard E Gerstein, the State Attorney before Janet Reno. It was not unusual if you were in the courthouse to see a tall, imposing man walking the hallways with some other lawyers and a client who had paid a lot of money, That was Mr. Gerstein. And political power being what it was, it was entirely possible his mere presence would cause a judge to find an issue previously unseen and dismiss the case, sometimes without being asked!) 

County Court was in the front of the courthouse on the first floor, where courts with numbers beginning with "1" now are. The SAO Main office was on six. As you got off the up escalator, there was a "fishbowl" to your left with a receptionist. Behind her was an area for the public to sit while the ASA was called. The courtrooms and hallways behind them  now there were non-existent.  Narcotics, appeals, and public corruption were on nine. The PDs were on eight (or was it seven?) .  You didn't have email or cell phones, but you could take the stairs and have a sit-down with your counterpart and work some cases out. And you just might see Janet Reno in the stairwell. That is how she got her exercise. Sometimes she took a sleeping bag to her office and slept over night to work on the weekends reviewing dispositions and charging decisions and whether to ok an appeal. 

There wasn't homicide duty- there was "beeper duty". And the beeper at first was some marvel that transmitted a radio call from the police dispatcher telling a prosecutor, complete with static, to call a number. A prosecutor would  carry a roll of dimes and find a payphone if they were out and about and received a message to call a detective. (For more about what a "payphone" was, younger judges can click here). 

Want to win a DV case in 1982? Just tell the judge that the woman in the court with the black eye is married to the defendant. And the white, male  judge dismissed it 98% of the time. 

The Fourth Amendment mattered. Motions to suppress were granted. Judges didn't fear the Herald on a case.  Sentences were reasonable, unless you went before Morphonious and lost a case. Then your client couldn't count that high, but even so, they were out maybe in twenty, maybe in less. 

The name of the institution serving food on the first floor- Cozzoli's  (not Casolas) and yes, you could smoke inside the restaurant. 

There are so many more memories we are missing but we know our readers will fill in the blanks. And send us your SAO or PD class pictures and lets have some fun. 



Front & Center - Gerardo Simms. One of the nicest people you could ever know. Soft spoken, polite, respectful to everyone, always smiling. I was a CLI before Judge Thomas Scott in January of 1983 when I was assigned to handle an armed burglary of a jewelry store case. My client was accused of taking a crow bar to the front window case of a jewelry store on Flagler Street. I tried the case with one of my training PDs (Gary Nunes, Edith Georgi, or Maxine Cohen l/k/a Landau).

Gerardo was the ASA. He put on his case and I did the best I could for my first ever jury trial. Nervous - yeah, just a bit ;)

At the close of the Gerardo's case, I got up to move for the standard JOA (I had just learned what that was maybe two weeks earlier). During my argument, it was either my training attorney or possibly Judge Scott himself who asked me whether the State had called any witnesses that had identified my client as the one who committed the crime. This was my prompt, of course, to wake up and add that into my JOA argument. What the heck did I know. I was so nervous over my Voir Dire, Opening Statement, and my Cross, it never even crossed my mind that Gerardo had not elicited testimony from any witnesses that ID'd my client.

JOA Granted.

Gerardo moved on to become an AUSA and had a great career there before retiring a few years ago I believe.

Also, Rumpole. when you mentioned that all of our offices were in the REGJB, I am sure you meant to say the "Metro Justice Building" AKA "MJB" which is what it was called from 1962 - 1992 before be renamed the REGJB.

Rick Freedman

Anonymous said...

"Want to win a DV case in 1982? Just tell the judge that the woman in the court with the black eye is married to the defendant. And the white, male judge dismissed it 98% of the time."

You and the ole defense boys long for the good old days?

"The Fourth Amendment mattered. Motions to suppress were granted. Judges didn't fear the Herald on a case."

Sure, and because they "didn't fear the Herald on a case," they didn't fear saying spouting an n-word or so on the record when they sentenced the black defendants.

Rumpole said...

You’re an idiot if for one second you take from this blog post that we long for the good old days when a defense attorney could get a case dismissed by merely telling a judge that a victim was married. That is the way it was back then and we are telling it like it is. How could you possibly take from that statement that we approve of such actions you moron ?

As to any judge using a racial epithet when sentencing a defendant we never saw or heard it in court. Of course as a reader of the blog you remember we helped bring to light within the last two years a judge who used a racial epithet in chambers and was forced to resign right ? Right - you remember that don’t you ? You don’t have selective memory do you ?

You have a transcript of a judge calling a person the n word in. 1982 during a sentencing in Miami ? Send it. I’ll post it in a second.

Otherwise may I suggest you log on to Qanon or some other site where you can peddle your crap amongst those who will enjoy rolling around in the shit you peddle ? I’m not talking about judges being racist. I’m talking about the Insipid insinuation we approve of women being beaten without legal consequences.

Anonymous said...

Not sure your critic is reading Qanon. This seems more like dog eat dog. He’s watching cnn just like you. Either that or hers trolling you. Relax bruh.

Anonymous said...

PDs were on 8, SAO on 6. Anytime there was a big trial or closing arguments announcements on each floor would trumpet the news and attorneys would flock up/down the escalators. The obscenity cases in County Court were particularly popular. The Alibi Lounge at the Holiday Inn was a popular Friday night spot to pick up court reporters. And the Marine Bar was popular for the lunch crowd. At Christmas, the PD Party was an annual Bachanalian Bash and the Corrections Party on Dodge Island was legendary.

David E. Troyer said...

Gerardo Simms sent me that photo, which is about 4/5 of our class of 50 (missing some notables, like Andy Hague). I posted it on Facebook, where someone must have downloaded it and sent it to you. Great group of people. Some lifelong friends, including Gerardo Simms and Peter Restani, who were in my wedding. With our class, the SAO increased from about 100 to 150 ASAs. The office veterans called us the "Marielitos." There was no room for all of us, so they gave us little desks in the offices of our mentors (mine was Jonathan Blecher, who had been there about 6 months). Turnover was so high that they had to take some 24-year-old idiots like me and put us directly into the felony "pits" right after training. The salary was $17K until you passed the bar, when it went up to a whopping $20K. Andy, Jacki Scola, and Ilona Holmes went on to be judges. Gerardo, Ilona, Joe Vaughn, Anne Marie Farrar, Caroline Kurtzack, Arlene Reidy, and I went to the feds after 8 years. Vaughn, David Ranck and I were the first three Temple Law grads Janet hired, starting a Philly pipeline that would last for years. Cozzoli's was on the first floor, behind County Court, and the food sucked. There was no Felony Screening Unit; you screened your own cases and weeded out the dogs, or you heard about it from your judge and your DC. Oh, and those "typists" in Word Processing you mentioned? One was especially stunning and, 37 years and four kids later, we're still married.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole: Please post class of 1987 photo.

Phil Maniatty said...

When I began my career as an ASA in 1977, domestic violence cases were not treated nearly as seriously as they are now. The fact that a case was a, "domestic," was considered to be a mitigating factor. The entire east end of the second floor was magistrate court. We had adversary preliminary hearings on every felony case. It was a great training ground for interns and new lawyers. Even if you lost the hearing, you could still direct file an Information. Many cases were pled out at this level. The west side of the second floor was traffic court. There were some real characters in the defense bar. Carling Stedman, Paul Pollock, Norman Haft, Donald Frost, Tom Duff and, of course, Sy Gaer.

Carmen Vizcaino said...

Geraldo Simmms came from Cuba via operation Pedro Pan. He and my father were room mates at the boys home run by Monsignor Walsh for all the unaccompanied minors who came through Pedro Pan. They were teens back then. Geraldo became a lawyer My dad a CPA but they remain dear friends to this day. I have known him since I was a child. As adults, we dig on each other for being on opposite sides. He is such a great guy.

Carmen M. Vizcaino

Anonymous said...

"That is the way it was back then and we are telling it like it is. How could you possibly take from that statement that we approve of such actions you moron?"

Sure, just telling it like it is, with fawning, slobbering nostalgia. Don't try to masquerade as some enlightened soul about domestic violence and sexism. All your hand wringing and pearl clutching over the conviction of Harvey Weinstein revealed enough about your concerns.

You're a defense attorney, and defense attorneys approve of any and all methods of getting clients off. Your buddy Markus goes on about how even if jurors hear magic voices from the Holy Spirit telling them "not guilty," that should be respected. If getting a client off means playing to the judge's or jury's ignorance, prejudice, bigotry, sexism, etc., all in the day's work, and certainly easier in 1982.

Unless you're saying you never once represented a domestic abuser during that benighted era? You never once played the marriage card and high-fived your client after the judge agreed the wife just needed a good slap? Or you did do all those things and took the retainer, but it was all in the name of "due process" even though it ate you up inside?

"Of course as a reader of the blog you remember we helped bring to light within the last two years a judge who used a racial epithet in chambers and was forced to resign right?"

You joined the bandwagon when it became trendy. You and your chums disapprove of racism if it may get clients convicted or punished harder. If racism is in a defendant's favor (like those rare cases when cops are defendants) and means he may get off lightly or completely, well, no defense outrage there.

Oh, and careful about using the term "moron" because it's now considered ableist hate speech.



Anonymous said...

Starting salary of $20k in 1982 dollars is better than the current starting salary of $50k in 2020 dollars.

Anonymous said...

I was in the class of 1983. We started at $18,500.00 and $20,000.00 once sworn in. Corrected for inflation: 48,000.00 per year today. Do the math.

Anonymous said...

Ha you do the math type 20k into any inflation calculator convert from 82 or 83 to 2020 it’s in the mid 50s, more than they make now. If you’re using the 18.5k number then you need to compare to what they make now pre bar passage, which is in the 30s. Accept it or not the last 40 years of economic policy clearly leave entry level people worse off than they used to be.

Rumpole said...

7pm what do you possibly know about me and when I joined the bandwagon about racism? Or for that matter my race? You think I helped reveal the racism of a sitting circuit judge because I came late to the party on race? You have no proof whatsoever your fantasy has one percent of reality in it.

I have represented people far worse than you could ever imagine. It is my job. I defend people. If I am successful defending someone who I know beat his wife, or her husband, or shot and killed someone, or trafficked in drugs, or committed white collar fraud, I do not "high-five" my client. I do praise myself. To the extent my client would ask my advice, which it is not my job to give as I am not a priest or rabbi, I would advise them not to commit crimes. But I certainly have hugged my clients in the last two murder cases they were acquitted of because of the defenses of mistake and self defense which was the truth of the matter. I kept innocent people out of prison for life.

You are a moron because you are incapable of reading what I wrote and understanding the implicit criticism when a Judge dismissed a case merely because a defense attorney told him the victim was married to the defendant. It was subtle and went way way way over your head. You need to be spoon-fed facts. You needed me to write after the sentence causing so much trouble "and just in case you are too stupid to understand it, that last sentence was NOT an endorsement of what occurred in those days."
I choose not to dumb down my writing to your level.

I have nostalgia for the days when the fourth amendment (and the fifth and sixth) had some teeth into it. I do not have nostalgia for the days when all the judges were exclusively white men.
I have nostalgia for the days when every single crime did not carry a minimum mandatory. I do not have nostalgia for the days when there was overt racism (as opposed to today when there is still covert racism).
I have nostalgia for the days when there was a significant difference legally in the punishment of first and second degree murder. I do not have nostalgia for the days when female lawyers were belittled in court and sexism was openly rampant.

You see, it is the intellectual ability to mention both the good and the bad of the past that separates a person of intelligence, from a slug like you. Truly, you have no place here in a discussion well beyond your ability to comprehend and participate in.
I post your rants, and hold my nose doing so, for only the light of exposure will reveal the fallacy of your thoughts. Be gone with you.

Anonymous said...

SAO Class of 1986 here.
17,500 before passing the bar. $20,500 after passing the bar.
So one thing is for sure. I was paid less than the class of 1982.
(I am pretty sure of my numbers. It could be 18,500 and 21,500, but I think I am right)

Rumpole said...

Wonderful comment Mr. Troyer, especially about how you met your wife. You were always the best chief of narcotics the SAO ever had (you could have waived a few more min mans, but they're out now anyway). Hope all is well.

The Gracious Gourmet Today said...

Class of 1982 - never have I ever since - had Santeria spells cast in my direction, gotten to know grenade dealers, litigated complex issues before Jusge Gerald Kogan, had defendants granted bail after opening and skipped town before Judge Gross, been to horrific murder scenes in the middle of the night - often frustrating but never boring - like it so much I went back for 30 more years with the Feds in DC

Anonymous said...

Every New Years eve I remember one about 2010. I had a client who showed up to a house with 1.5 million in cash. No drugs inside, but a lot of stolen IDs. I mean a lot. The cops were just finishing a warrant when my client pulls up. Making him for someone coming to buy stolen IDs they approach the car and order him out. He refuses and get arrested for resisting. They seize the cash and move for forfeiture. I do not waive speedies and file a Notice of Expiration. The judge does the math and says be here December 30. The prosecutor boldly says they will be ready. I show up on 12/30 and not only no cops, no prosecutor. Some ASA is called in and nolle prosses the case. Two weeks later I show up at the adversarial preliminary hearing and the court suppresses a laugh when the County attorney lays out their case.

My cross- where did he get the money? Cop - no idea.
what was he going to do with the money? Cop- no idea.
NO PC cash returned and I take my third thank you very much and that's why I named my Hatteras "Speedy Eve".

Rumpole said...

Gee. I never said I don’t know how to ban people from posting. I do. In fact you’re reading this without seeing your latest ridiculous rant. So. now what ?

Anonymous said...

Can you post then names of the people by row?

I cut and pasted the photo and tried expanding it but, still cannot read the names.

Anonymous said...


Why won’t you list and detail your 2021 projection for the stock market and let us know whether APPLE AMAZON FACEBOOK TESLA ZOOM and ALIBABA are a buy or a sell??

Please. What will the S&P end 2021 at? Will the value stocks outpace growth? Bitcoin still worth buying with a declining dollar?

It’s great to see old pictures of ASA Gary Rosenberg and Abe Laeser, but SHOW US THE MONEY!

Rumpole said...

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
You keep sending nonsense. I keep not posting it.
I just deleted the last one. The ball is in your court Bjorn Borg.
I crack myself up.

Anonymous said...

8:51 AM

Rumpole may be an ANTI-DETITE but you sir are a MORON.

Any idiot knows you can’t time the market. Ever heard of dollar cost averaging. Investing on certain securities depends on your age and your risk tolerance and a host of other things. Maybe you should send a comment to the ORACLE OF OMAHA on his Blog and you will get an answer.

carolyn kolben said...

So much for my
Cooking alias

Rumpole said...

Hey idiot that I blocked- over 7 million page views on this blog. And trust me, they did not log on to read your racist nonsense.

Good day sir.