Thursday, July 22, 2021


 The nominations from the Rubio committee,  the story first broken on Mr. Markus's blog, are:

For the position of US District Judge, the Commission recommends:
David Leibowitz and Detra Shaw-Wilder 

For the position of US Attorney, the Commission recommends:
Jaqueline Arango, Markenzy Lapointe, and Andres Rivero,

For the position of US Marshal, the Commission recommends:
Gadyaces Serralta

 We have yet to hear from the Warren Commission, the 9/11 Commission, the committee on Pollo la plancha; the committee on committees and the committee on multiple judicial committees. 

What does this mean? Nobody knows. Could be a long time until we get some confirmations. One would think that if someone was nominated that Rubio did not approve, he would blue-slip the nomination and that ala Will Thomas, would be that. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


 If you are on the FACDL listserv then you saw the email from the State Attorneys Office that one of their employees has tested positive for Covid and was in several courts over the last few days. 

Federal law and several international treaties including the International Treaty Governing the Privacy of FACDL Listserv E Mails do not allow us to reproduce the emails in full without violating the holdings of Pennoyer v. Neff and the Corfu Channel Case

Suffice to say the Delta Variant is upon us and it is vicious. 

A few thoughts: About 50% of the lawyers in courtrooms are not masked. Of those, about 90% of the State Attorneys are not wearing masks. We are not sure why. But really, how stupid do you have to be to not wear a mask inside a closed room without outside ventilation? 

Second- as one commentator noted on FACDL- this reinforces the reason to continue with Zoom hearings. And yet where ever you go you hear Judges complaining about Zoom hearings and quite frankly it is the same old crap- they need defendants in court to "make sure" they understand the plea offer, blah blah blah. 

There is something about putting on a black robe that makes people need an audience. They just cannot bear to be in a courtroom by themselves. If it wasn't so stupid and dangerous to require people to jam back into court it would be funny. 

 And our judges are downright desperate to ruin as many defendants' days as they can by getting them to miss work, come to the courthouse, pay for parking, use cars and expend carbon into the atmosphere that we can no longer afford to do,  all for the privilege of offering supplication to the apparition in black robes hovering a few feet above them. 

Stop it already. We no longer have a useable civil court house and the sun is still rising in the east. We spent 18 months doing arraignments and motions and even pleas via Zoom and the judicial system of the United States did not come tumbling down. 

It is not like there was a banner scrolling below the screen on CNN: "Court system collapses as Miami Judge does a virtual sounding... Chief Justice Roberts to address the nation at 9PM"



As any of our learned scholars on the bench will tell you, that means "let justice be done though the heavens may fall."


Tuesday, July 20, 2021


 The US Attorneys Office keeps lining up convictions like bowling pins...

And Mr. Markus and his wife Mona Markus keep knocking them down like bowler Don Carter did in Miami in the 1960s and 70s. 

The latest prosecution derailed is a story that first broke a few years ago when it was learned that  the US Attorneys used a cooperating defendant who had also signed a Joint Defense Agreement to infiltrate and spy on defendants and their attorneys as they prepared for trial.

We are just guessing here, but the disclosure of the use of the snitch to spy on the defense probably went something like this- a thumb drive with 15,000 pages of bank statements which were shuffled several times before being scanned and disclosed to the defense. And around page 7,890 was a typewritten paragraph "The government used one of the defendants as a cooperator during the time he was part of the joint defense agreement. But we promise he did not tell us anything we did not already know except that one defense attorney is apparently a vegan." 

 The case, an insidious sweepstakes fraud fiasco, had been awaiting sentencing for over a year when last Friday Judge Gayles threw out the convictions and ordered a new trial.  

Jay Weaver of El Herald has the story here, where he quoted Judge Gayles as saying the prosecutors "knowingly invaded the defense camp, which is improper."

Rumpole doesn't really like JDAs. We find most of the defense attorney meetings go something like this: 

"Who ordered the California roll with extra avocado?  I ordered four of the tuna sushi with brown rice, anybody see those?"

But apparently in this case, there was some real strategy discussed which the snitch told the AUSAs about and Gayles had had enough. Good for Judge Gayles, and meanwhile, in an office on top of a garage in downtown Miami, another notch was etched on the "victory  wall" of the Markus firm. Well done. Well done indeed. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021


Global warming and climate changes are falsehoods, perpetrated by left wing, pizza shop owning, child exploiting, Chinese agents who have bribed Hillary Clinton along with the Muslim Imams controlling former President Obama. 

The fact the Western United States is burning; that the hottest days on earth ever recorded have occurred this summer, and a flash flood just killed hundreds in Germany is merely....(everyone now) fake media! 

So, if you were in fact brainwashed and wanted to flee the worst effects of global warming and climate change, where would you go? The Pacific Northwest has frequent fires, is in the midst of the tenth "thousand year drought" in the last fifteen years; lake Meade which provides water for millions is rapidly becoming a puddle. Remaining in Florida is out- killer hurricanes and the prospect of Immokalee becoming Miami Beach as the ocean floods half of our state. Europe, devastated by heat waves and now flooding is no longer safe. 

Where would you go to establish a safe base in these troubling times?

When we consider such troubling issues, we repair to 11 Madison Park, our favourite US restaurant which recently re-opened in June (no 15,000 waitlist for us, courtesy of a little case-quieting work for a member of the staff). And here is what we found- there is nary a piece of animal protein on the menu! 

Ceramic pots with aging beets, dehydrated, re-hydrated, smoked and carved table side "a-jus" is the closest you will come to a sliced steak. Caviar from seeds are served like a dish of beluga, and went well with an ice cold vodka martini. Lettuce wraps, vegan bread baked without butter or any animal products, watermelon and peach salads, cheesy dips made with brewers yeast, all conjure up the thought that we are paying over four hundred dollars to eat creatively crafted veggies. 

And yet, it works and it works amazingly well. 

The second vodka also helps one forget that we are destroying our planet and that we may be forever condemned to history as the generation that destroyed the earth. 

But hey, as they say in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska to name a few places- drill baby drill. It is America's destiny to destroy earth with SUVs and Big Macs because animal farming contributes to 14.5% of all human produced greenhouse gasses. 

We will have another plate of beets please along with the watermelon salad. 

Friday, July 16, 2021


Rumpole notes- there was a picture posted here before and it should not have been posted without the express consent of the person. I removed it.  



The State Attorney’s office, County Court Division, is finally moving out of their current digs located at 1469 NW 13 Terrace.  After years of complaining about broken air conditioning, restrooms that don’t work, broken elevators, and constant flooding in the garage and basement, not to mention the lack of space, the Miami-Dade County Commission approved a 20 year lease, with offices covering 49,000 square feet, including 101 parking spaces, located at RIVER LANDING, located at 1500 NW North River Drive. The cost will be approximately $3.2 million per year and the move will take place as soon as the landlord completes the build-out which is expected to happen before the end of the year.


That was the scene on Tuesday as thousands of protesters made their way onto the Palmetto Expressway showing their support for the Cuban citizens still on the Island who have been breaking out in spontaneous protests in cities all over Cuba. (NOTE - as I am writing this post on Wednesday evening, it is being reported that the protesters are out again blocking the highway).

Of course, the actions of the protesters immediately brought out strong opinions on all forms of social media, from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter on why it was that the Florida Highway Patrol chose to ignore House Bill 1 passed this year by the Senate and House and signed by Governor DeSantis in a pomp and circumstance affair.

DeSantis signed the bill, dubbed the ANTI-RIOT bill”, as his priority legislation, on April 19, 2021. The bill was fast-tracked, bypassing the accountability of numerous Senate committees, and took effect immediately. DeSantis boasted that the measure “is the strongest, anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country.”

The new laws provide that: “[a] person commits a riot if he or she willfully participates in a violent public disturbance involving an assembly of three or more persons, acting with a common intent to assist each other in violent and disorderly conduct, resulting in: (a)Injury to another person; (b) Damage to property; or (c) Imminent danger of injury to another person or damage to property. A person who commits a riot commits a felony of the third degree.”

It goes on to state that: “[a] person commits aggravated rioting if, in the course of committing a riot, he or she: (a) Participates with 25 or more other persons; (b) Causes great bodily harm to a person not participating in the riot; (c) Causes property damage in excess of $5,000; (d) Displays, uses, threatens to use, or attempts to use a deadly weapon; or (e) By force, or threat of force, endangers the safe movement of a vehicle traveling on a public street, highway, or road. “

Yet, despite the fact that every one of these protesters were potentially violating several laws, including but not limited to F.S. 316.2045 (Obstructing the Highway), none were cited with any offenses. Other new or amended statutes that were covered in HB 1 concerning Unlawful Assembly include F.S. 784.0495 and F.S. 870.02. It was pointed out, correctly so, by one of our local criminal defense attorneys on his Facebook page, that if a driver happened to strike one of the protesters on the highway they could use the new law as an affirmative defense against any civil lawsuit. See F.S. 870.07. (“In a civil action for damages for a personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage, it is an affirmative defense that such action arose from an injury or damage sustained by a participant acting in furtherance of a riot. The affirmative defenses…shall be established by evidence that the participant has been convicted of a riot or an aggravated riot.”). Under the new laws, any person arrested for unlawful assembly will now be held in custody until their first appearance in a court of law. 

It is only a matter of time before a test case makes it way through the State and/or Federal courts and the Florida Supreme Court or the SCOTUS has to address the issue of the constitutionality of many of the provisions addressed in HB 1.


Thursday, July 15, 2021


 The inevitable lawsuits over the tragedy in Surfside have been assigned to Judge Michael Hanzman. And because there is no civil blog, we sometimes have to hold our nose and do double duty. It's better than going to Broward for a case (see yesterday's post). 

After first handling a fracas over a feline, covered by ace Herald Reporter David Ovalle on his Twitter feed @DavidOvalle305  in which a woman petitioned Hanzman to stop the demolition of the tower so she could rescue her cat- only to find out the woman did not live in the building and was what we call in the law an "Amicus Feline" (literally "friend of the cat") Hanzman denied the motion, and presumably Fluffy is on her/his second life. 

In Wednesday's  Herald, here, Jay Weaver covered  a hearing in which at least fifty civil lawyers crowded into some courtroom (presumably not at 73 West Flagler - the courthouse on the verge of collapse) to hear Hanzman rule on how the cases will proceed. 

First up was the appointment of a steering committee for the class action that was filed. Second was Hanzman warning the lawyers that he would NOT be approving a contingency payment to the lawyers and that at the end of the case he would CONSIDER authorizing payments to the lawyers at an hourly rate and reimbursing them for costs.  For a Judge who came from the civil community where he was known as one of the best and most successful and experienced lawyers handling class action suits, the ruling was a bit surprising. So these lawyers now have to work and expend money on costs without knowing if they will be paid at all  for their time and reimbursed for costs which could be considerable.

Third on the list was the Judge fast-tracking the lawsuit, including approving the court appointed receiver's decision to place the property up for sale- initial asking price north of 100 million. There is another 48 million in insurance coverage, so it looks like the Court will overseeing distributions to survivors and next of kin of over 150 million dollars. It is a lot of money until you factor in that there are more than 150 victims. 

A group of crows is called "a murder". What do you call a group of civil lawyers watching a  collective 50 million contingency fee disappear in a puff of judicial smoke? 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


 Just writing the headline caused us severe nausea and the need to step outside, take a few deep breaths, pop a Tums and return to the work at hand. 

As the civil war neared conclusion in April, 1865, General Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia desperately sought to escape the encirclement of his forces by the Army of the Potomac. General Grant, head of the Army of the Potomac sent Lee a letter requesting his surrender, noting that any additional loss of life would be Lee's responsibility. Lee asked for terms of peace and Grant replied that he was only authorized to accept Lee's surrender. With his army surrounded, Lee accepted the inevitable, dressing in his best uniform for his meeting with Grant, as he expected to be taken prisoner. 

Lee was not taken prisoner. The terms of the surrender included paroling all soldiers from the Army of Northern Virginia so long as they did not again take up arms against the United States. While his army was required to surrender their arms, Lee requested that his men in the cavalry and artillery be allowed to keep their horses and mules, which they had provided from their own stock. Grant agreed, writing a separate order to that effect. 

While forced to surrender unconditionally, Lee was afforded escape from the ignominy of taking succor from his enemies. 

Not so the Court system of Miami-Dade County. In the immediate aftermath of the closing of the Civil Courthouse,  none other than the Chief Judge of the Evil Empire  known as Broward County contacted Judge Sayfie and offered her and our courtroom-less Miami Civil Judges the use of their courtrooms (but not the Death Star). 

This, dear readers is what is known as the  Ignominy of accepting charity from your enemies. 

We would rather try a case under the burning hot sun in Lot 26 than travel north of the boarder. We would rather fight locusts from the Miami River while cross-examining a flip then accepting  charity from Darth Vader.    

Will the "Broward Rules" of court  apply to Miami-Dade case?  Taken from actual events we have been subjected to or witnessed, will the following occur?

1) The courtroom door being locked at 9am and no one else let in;

2) Clients acquitted in a criminal case being taken into custody for "a records check"; 

3) Being told by BSO officers who had their hands on handcuffs that we "could not talk to our client during the trial, subject to being arrested for violating this order"; 

4) Having our 8:30 am case called last after all the 11:30 am cases were called; 

5)  Having our client's bond sua sponte revoked at arraignment because "we do things different here in Broward than in Mi-Am-Uh"; 

6) Being told by the judge that unless we could cite a specific rule or case law, we would need to ask permission to cross examine every witness called by the prosecution, AND THEN clear each issue we wished to address on cross-examination with the judge, in open court, before being allowed to conduct cross examination- we'd love to see how civil lawyers respond to that gem; 

7) Being told  (threatened) that arguing for an acquittal may result in a Bar Complaint if our client was convicted because "lawyers are not allowed to argue frivolous issues"; 

Yes, these are the joys we have experienced heading North of the Boarder to represent clients. Will these rules apply to the civil cases Broward wants to host? 

Our advice to our civil brethren: avoid Broward. It has bad Juju. Nothing good ever happens there in court. Ever. Settle. Take the money or offer the money and wait for another case on another day in another place in the Universe. 

Anywhere but Broward. That's our motto. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021





Will be chosen by Governor DeSantis from a list of names sent to him by our local JNC today.

Two Circuit Court judges recently resigned - Judge Martin Zilber and Judge Rosa Figarola.  One County Court judge also resigned - Judge Miquel Mirabal.  The JNC today interviewed 32 individuals  for all three seats. They forwarded 12 names to the Gov to replace Judges Zilber & Figarola and they sent 6 more names to the Gov to replace Judge Mirabal.

The Nominees:

CIRCUIT COURT: (Talk about heavy on the County Court/former Judge nominees)

Judge Christine Bandin
GM Karl Brown
Judge Miesha Darrough
Javier Enriquez
Former Judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan
Judge Scott Janowitz
Judge Jeffrey Kolokoff
Judge Natalie Moore
Judge Luis Perez-Medina
Christopher Pracitto
Judge Stephanie Silver
Judge Diana Vizcaino

Anyone want to lay odds on whether one of the two Circuit Court judges chosen will be former Circuit Court Judge and former United States Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan?


Heloiza Correa
Javier Enriquez
Laura Gonzalez
Christopher Green
Marcia Giordano Hansen
Kevin Hellman

The Governor has 60 days to choose the three replacements.


No surprises here as today Gov DeSantis appointed three new judges; two of them are former ASAs.  The 1st Circuit gets Judge David Oberliesen, a former ASA. The 18th Circuit gets Judge Christopher Sprysenski. Finally, the Lee County Court gets Judge Nicole Mirra, a former ASA.

To date, Gov DeSantis has been in office for 29 months; he has appointed 128 judges to the bench; 83 of the 128 (a whopping 65%) are former ASA/AUSA/AAGs (with 51 of the 83 that were engaged by the State/Feds when they were appointed). Compare that with the fact that only 5 of the 128 were formerly with the PD’s office; (two others were current APD/AFPDs).


Sunday, July 11, 2021


 We end the weekend with a lot more questions than answers regarding the emergency closure of the civil courthouse. 

Can judges and staff- who just recently were told to wind down remote Zoom hearings and return to their chambers and courtrooms safely go to 73 West Flagler street and get their laptops and files and belongings?

Where will the vultures go if the courthouse collapses? 

The denizens of the REGJB are wondering: What about us? Is our building safe? 

No engineer we, we posit that the old gray lady is a strong as can be. But for a slight sway in the foundations we noticed in June 2004 when we were a recipient of an unlikely guilty verdict (later reversed on appeal) the building has withstood hurricanes and Santeria spells stoutly. 

An Open Letter to Chief Judge Altonaga:

Dear Judge Altonaga:

    You preside over a district that has a multi-courthouse complex just down the road from the now condemned civil courthouse. Many of your former state colleagues are in need of a courtroom to try their cases. The federal system is opening slowly. Surely within the confines of the King or Atkins building there must be a courtroom or two you can spare. 

    And yes, we are aware that there probably is a bureau in Washington whose entire mandate is to make sure federal properties are not appropriated by the states. Several CFRs need to be consulted, with reams of red tape needing to be cut. 

    But we are a "United" states. We help each other when we need it. When a pandemic hit our country, the federal government stepped up and ....Ok...bad example. But when a Hurricane devastated Louisiana President Bush flew over the storm devastated areas on the way to a vacation and ....alright...another unfortunate example.  When the South rebelled against the North Lincoln saved the Union. Let's start with that. It's just a few courtrooms. The lights are already on. The AC is being used and paid for with our tax dollars. 

    How about it? A little Federal/ State comity and before you know it Bernie Sanders will be having lox and bagels with Mitch McConnell as they agree on a tax and spending bill. Maybe your small act of kindness will go a long way towards healing bitter divides.  (Of course many of those civil lawsuits might be forced to seek removal to federal court. But why go there when a simple courtroom and some coffee and water will go a long way to helping everyone?)

    Best of luck in your new endeavors as CJ of the SDFL. 

                    Your obt. svt., 

                        H. Rumpole, Esq., Blog Proprietor. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021


(see update below including the famous email closing the courthouse) 

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to court....(cue Jaws music) 




We broke this story Friday night on Twitter @justicebuilding before ANY media outlet had it. 

They're gonna need a bigger courthouse (Jaws reference). 

Judge Soto is relaxing and sipping a pina colada. This is all Sayfie's headache/nightmare now. 

THE CIVIL COURTHOUSE IS UNSAFE- that bastion of summary judgment motions and debentured bonds lawsuits where answers to interrogatories generate tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and motions for production are hotly debated with string cites going back centuries- all of that fun and frivolity is on pause. 

What to do? What to do? 

If only the Judges had some way of working remote...but of course that has been abandoned as quick as you can say Pfizer vaccine. 

It's a civil ZOOM PARTY and all the civil judges are invited. They will have to work remote until space can be found. 

Quite the conundrum. 

Stay tuned. The blog was made for this. 


HERE IS THE EMAIL that went out last night:

Good evening, 

As many of you know we have been monitoring the status of the DCC closely. The most recent inspection was in November 2020.  In the wake of the Surfside collapse there was a thorough inspection done last Thursday. We expected the report the following day. After demanding and finally receiving the structural report late this afternoon, they are requesting that the 16th floor and above be evacuated pending further inspection.

In an abundance of caution we are going to evacuate ALL court personnel from DCC until we are satisfied that the building is safe. 

Please arrange to conduct all DCC court business remotely beginning Monday, July 12th. We will start making arrangements for jury trials and/or other in person hearings to be conducted in the other courthouses as soon as we can. If you need to go to DCC to get your computer or other supplies please do so as soon as you can. 

I know that this is surprising and unsettling. I promise that you will get information as soon as we have it. In the meantime if you have any questions please feel free to call me, Judge Soto or Judge Bailey. 

Nushin G. Sayfie, Chief Judge
11th Judicial Circuit of Florida
(305) 349-5720

First, kudos to Judge Sayfie for moving quickly and shutting the courthouse down. The engineers report recommended vacating floors 16 and above. So if your fav civil judge happened to be working on 7 or 12 and the top floors collapsed what do you think would have occurred? Judge Sayfie moved swiftly to keep everyone out of danger.

Second, luckily we have experience in working remotely for the last 18 months. The biggest issue will be all of the cases that have been waiting to be tried. Just at the time when criminal court is getting back to trying cases as well. 

WE HAVE A SUGGESTION: In the late 1980's 1990's the late Circuit Judge Tom Carney  as well as Judge Lenny Glick and a few others ran a back-up trial division in which trials ran half days. 9-12 for one case, 1-5 for the second. Judge Sayfie should consider that for the REGJB, where the civil judges could come in and try their cases for half a day. 

ALSO there are some traffic magistrate courts on 1 in the REGJB that should be given to the civil judges to allow them to try cases. 

AND FINALLY, because we are who we are, if we keep this story quiet, perhaps we can arrange a trade with Broward, where the Broward judges come down and use the Miami Civil Courthouse and our judges use their new courthouse. Because even if the civil courthouse collapsed full of....nah...even we aren't that mean towards those robe wearing tyrants north of the boarder.  

Thursday, July 08, 2021


 It is rumored that every  new judge received a speech from the prior chief judge and in that speech this humble blog was referenced more than once, often in ominous tones. Of course no judge wants to be in the blog denying new mothers a chance to breastfeed, or issuing bench warrants for people who are a few minutes late, or dancing drunk on bar-tops in South Beach. But not every mention in the blog is a bad one. The blog is not something good judges need to fear. "Seasons don't fear the reaper, nor do the wind or the sun or the rain. We can be like they are...." A little Blue Oyster Cult to end the week is not a bad thing. 

Enter County Court Judge Jeffrey Kolokoff, an individual we could not pick out of a photo line up, having never seen him and having no familiarity with his pre-judicial career. It appears to be true that the older you get, the more judges you do not know. 

Judge Kolokoff is assigned to jail division, county court. There are no small roles, only small actors. There are no bad court assignments, only bad judges. While Misdemeanor Jail division has a lot of poor and troubled clients, they are perhaps in need of the very best of judges, prosecutors, and PDs to help the downtrodden and incarcerated. 

There has been a disappointing pushback from the judiciary about the continued use of Zoom. "The Supreme Court hasn't authorized it"; "It's too complicated to do calendars with Zoom and in person hearings";  "I never liked Zoom". The excuses are as long as a line for an open bar at a judicial conference. 

Enter Judge Kolokoff, who apparently has the Beatles Philosophy of issues: There are no problems, only solutions. As the below email indicates, Judge K will be open for business in person next week AND will allow attorneys to appear by Zoom. Imagine that. 

Well done Judge K. Well done indeed. 

Good Afternoon Everyone:


The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that many things can be done in ways we previously thought were impossible.  Zoom is an incredible useful tool that allows us to work from anywhere.  The pandemic also taught us that virtual court is not a substitute for in person proceedings, especially for in custody individuals.


Accordingly, I’m pleased to announce that the misdemeanor jail division will reopen for in person proceedings on July 12, 2021.


We will continue to use the Zoom virtual courtroom as a convenience for out of custody individuals, family members, and out of division/private attorneys. Unfortunately, a true hybrid system is not available at this time.   


I'm going to open the virtual courtroom at 900 and will call out of division and private attorneys on zoom starting at 930.  In early September it will be 830 and 900.  I only ask that your members put their client's name and case number in the chat to everyone so that the files can be pulled.  


I look forward to seeing you in Courtroom 6-7 soon.




Jeffrey M. Kolokoff

Miami-Dade County Court Judge

Wednesday, July 07, 2021


 We've been wandering the hallways of the REGJB lately as is our wont. The old lady has held up just fine through the pandemic. This has been the longest time the courthouse was closed. But even when closed, people showed up and cleaned the floors and bathrooms and Judges zoomed from the chambers. 

A quick and un-official survey when we sat in courtrooms is that four out of five lawyers are not wearing masks. This is a mistake. A recent report out of Israel is that the Pfizer vaccine is 64% effective against the transmission of the Delta variant, although it is very (90 percent) effective against serious complications if infected. 

Here is why you should wear a mask: more than half of Americans are vaccinated. The virus is searching for hosts, which causes mutations. Eventually there will be a mutation that will be infectious, deadly, and against which vaccines will be ineffective. Do you want to be part of the news story that starts with Mr. Ovalle writing "A new and deadly variant of the Covid19 virus swept though the Miami courthouses last week, causing dozens of lawyers, judges and employees to become sick and hospitalized and an emergency closure of the courthouses. The CDC is warning that there appears to be a new variant that vaccinations do not protect against...." 

Don't be reckless. Wear a mask in court. 

Proof that the courthouse is springing back to life: 

We saw a traffic enforcement officer issuing tickets in lot 26. Police cars cannot be far behind. 

And while perambulating the REGJB we spotted in the distance a gaggle of a rare species of humans, identifiable by their unique white tags hanging from their clothing, huddled together in a group. We opened our weathered and well thumbed  "Guide to Occupants Of the Gerstein Justice Building"  (Winton, Third Edition, 1998) and identified the species as ...JURORS!

Emptiness. This is how the old lady looked during the pandemic. 


        The re-done elevators, a project started in the mid-1980s and completed last year in record time (there are three elevators after all) have in the interior a mysterious "code blue" button.  It is the button on the far-right above the no-smoking sign- which is, as we said, proof the project was begun in the 1980s when people smoked in the courthouse. 

   So what does the code-blue button mean? A heart attack? Why not label it a medical emergency button and put on a caduceus insignia?  Or a Red Cross?  This shall require further investigation. 

To summarize. The courthouse is slowly emerging from hibernation, like an old Grizzly in spring. Lawyers are not being smart and are not wearing masks. Cops are again giving people tickets for parking where they should not. No signs of the hotdog stands yet, but they are expected. Jurors have been sighted and there is a mysterious code blue button in the elevators that we need to get to the bottom of. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2021


 No Zoom? No worries. The REGJB courtesy of your Public Defenders (we think) now has  Zoom Kiosks on the second floor for attorneys to use if they are in court in person and need to zoom in elsewhere. 

When this courthouse was built in 1960, or maybe in 2000 when people were pondering the future what do you think they discussed? Maybe in 1960 the use of computers (which at the time took up a full room) or that some day women would be judges. In 2000 it was probably just building another courthouse and better parking. 

But a Zoom Kiosk? It's the old/ Donald Rumsfeld saying (which he did not invent): There are things you know; there are things you do not know; and there are things you do not know you do not know. Zoom Kiosks fall into that third category. 

Courtesy of Top PD Kevin Hellmann, whose email we reprint without any authorization, subjecting us to scorn and potential lawsuits, etc., etc. 

Zoom Kiosks


There are 2 kiosks on which you can sign onto Zoom links on the 2nd floor of REG.  They are located inside Room 231 which is in the hallway on the left just past courtroom 2-10.  It’s what used to be the Traffic Clerk’s Office. To enter the hallway near Courtroom 2-10, you need to get buzzed in from the intercom.  Another way to reach Room 231 is by walking across from the elevators (in the direction of Courtroom 2-11) and then turning right (instead of going left to court 2-11).  Then go through the door and walk all the way down the hallway to room 231. Use the door next to the hallway phone (not the one actually marked as Room 231).  To be clear: the door marked Room 231 is locked.  So, use the door immediately next to Judge Ruiz's chambers to enter Room 231.

I feel like I’m steering you to a speakeasy.


At the kiosks, DO NOT SIGN IN TO YOUR ZOOM ACCOUNT (like I did).  Just enter the Zoom Meeting ID Number and you will enter that courtroom.  I’ve posted the Zoom Directory for County Courtrooms, since I think that will be most helpful. 


WiFi Access


On your phone’s Settings, click to the network AOCGuestWifi. Then enter Password [email Rumpole or Hellmann for the password. Dumb, we are not].   That will give you access to wifi inside the REG Justice Building.  Only problem is that this network will not show up in your Settings unless you’re on the 6th floor or higher. 


Hope that helps. 



Sunday, July 04, 2021




When in Due Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Friday, July 02, 2021


 Having come through the pandemic and emerged on the other side, vaccinated, rested, and ready to try some cases, we naturally have some thoughts on the lessons of the last year and a half. 

SOUNDINGS: The judicial system of the United States did not collapse, justice was not subverted, the court was not disparaged simply because a defendant did not appear in court for a sounding. The system survived and to paraphrase Dan Akroyd in Ghostbusters all life as we know it did not suddenly end with every molecule in our bodies exploding at the speed of light because a client was not at a sounding. In other words, defendants should not have to appear at every sounding. Now there are reasons judges want defendants in court. They want the defendant to hear the offer, and many cases close at soundings. But there should be a middle ground.

 As we have seen with the closure of the court houses, there are sound benefits for allowing people to not attend every court hearing. Less cars on the road; less congestion in the REGJB (a/k/a social distancing- how would you like to go through the next few years without getting a cold or the flu?); more efficient use of time. 

PRE-TRIAL INCARCERATION: Once again the world did not end and there was not an unprecedented spike in crime when the jail population was reduced. We worked pro bono on several cases (all non-violent) where defendants were released- some over the strenuous objections of the prosecution. No one we know of has fled to North Korea, all the people we assisted in getting released have been appearing for every zoom hearing. Life went on and society did not collapse. As our colleague David Markus continues to remind judges and the media in the Maxwell case, pre-trial detention is a serious determination that should not be made lightly. Multiple forms of release are available and should be used. Lower the jail population. The days of "lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key" need to end. And that starts with prosecutors.  

SENTENCES AND GUIDELINES: In federal court we saw judges who were often downright eager to release defendants they had sentenced to prison for decades because of the guidelines. In many cases, defendants who entered prisons at 20, were vastly different people at ages 40 and 50 and our federal judges recognized that and ordered compassionate release. Perhaps our favourite order was issued by Judge Middlebrooks. Having sentenced a defendant to something like 5 or 6 or 7 years in prison for a fraud case, the man had significant health issues and was designated for a prison in California that had a large outbreak of Covid. In response to a motion, Middlebrooks initially asked the BOP to fashion a remedy of allowing the defendant to remain on home confinement until the situation stabilized. When the BOP thumbed their nose at the Judge, he responded with an order that stated in part "I sentenced the defendant to prison, not to death..." and vacated his sentence and ordered home confinement. The Judge recognized what is all too often ignored- prison is an awful place in which many defendants do not survive. Not everyone charged with  crime needs to go to prison and if prison is called for, a long sentence is rarely justice. We will have more to say about this another time looking at the sentences of former federal Judge John Gleeson and Judge Ned Rakoff in the SDNY. 

LESS TRIALS NOT MORE TRIALS: Although we heartily agree with Mr. Markus that "you cannot win a plea" less trials in less serious state cases may not be a bad thing.  Most cases are over-charged by the prosecution. They go to trial and the PDS end up with an acquittal or a simple battery on a crime charged as attempted second degree murder. True story- we once defended a professional man charged with aggravated battery with the use of a plastic dustbin. A neighbor thumped another neighbor with a plastic dustbin, and then hit him with a piece of watermelon for good measure. The case should have never been in felony court.  The great Richard Sharpstein once defended a newly married man, whose wife tasked him with returning a wedding gift. In the bridal registry of Burdines, he was confused and charged with grand theft. In the brilliant words of Sharpstein in closing argument-  "he was a stranger in a strange land." Not Guilty. 

Kathy Rundle and Don Horn need to stop the practice of their office (not always, but frequently) overcharging cases. They need to review those cases where the PDs get lessers or acquittals- which every judge will tell you happens frequently- for evidence of the systemic problems their office has. Less trials on these cases leaves more time for trials on the serious felonies. 

And finally, Zoom should be here to stay. We know it's not easy. We know some judges do not like it. Those same judges probably did not like it when their offices went from typewriters to word processors to computers. 

Change comes in waves. It is not gradual, and it is usually met with resistance and reasons why it will not work.   Computers won't work. Too complicated. No one needs a camera in a phone. Electric cars won't work- no way to charge them when you're on a road trip. Cryptocurrency is a scam. Don't buy that bitcoin for $100. You will lose your money. TV will never replace radio. No one will pay for cable TV.  You cannot build buildings over five stories. Too dangerous. Planes are too dangerous. It will never replace train travel. Cars are too expensive and unreliable. We are a society that travels by horse. People cannot rule themselves- democracy is an idea that cannot work. 

Judge Sayfie's biggest challenge, after getting all of the court divisions open (even probate, once someone determines where the probate judges sit), is the integration of new technology into a creaking and old court system resistant to change. 

Perhaps our greatest danger and challenge is not the new variants of COVID, but acceptance of the new variants of technology that can change the way we work and live. 

Have a great Fourth of July weekend.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

JULY 1 2021

 It's morning in Miami again. The courts are open, the hotels are full, the beaches littered with pale northeasterners turning bright red as they sip pina coladas or chug beers. 

Before we begin in earnest, check out Mr. Markus in Newsweek  and on twitter arguing why the Cosby case should result in his client Ghislaine Maxwell being released on bond. 

Our calendar has random historical events that have appealed to us over the years as something we want to remember. So on any given day we might receive a remainder that Ali beat Forman, or Dimaggio began his 56 game hitting streak or that Nixon resigned, Brown vs Board of Ed was decided, or that Corporal Klinger from MASH began wearing dresses ( April 22 - which is also the same day Nixon died and one day after Hitler's birthday). 

July 1 is a particularly busy day in history. Dwight Eisenhower married Maime in 1916. It is the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and if you are looking for some great weekend beach reading while ogling the tourists, Killer Angels- the historical fiction account of the battle is a wonderful book.  The Battle of Cachy Woods in WWI -often called "The Great War" and now becoming "the forgotten world war"- began in France in 1916. 

TR - Teddy Roosevelt- one of our favourite presidents- stormed Kettle and San Juan hills in Santiago de Cuba in 1898.  For you trivia buffs, TR's horse was called "Texas" and he called the two battles "my crowded hour"  as he led his Rough Riders up two hills and into two successful battles that gave TR the gravitas he was looking for to help his political career. 

Added to our calendar will be "The day Judge Sayfie became Chief Judge-Miami, Florida." 

We'd like to imagine a historical tinged changing of the guard ceremony where bailiffs dressed in their best march in and oversee a ceremonial handing off of the gavel, or something like that. More than likely Judge Soto tossed Sayfie the keys and chuckled something like "they're your problem now" as Judge Sayfie assumed the leadership of two hundred plus black-clad prima donnas who envision the arc of their career as something like county court, circuit court, 11th circuit, supreme court, secretary of state, vice president..." 

In any event we should pause a moment and reflect on the leadership of Judge Soto, the first Hispanic and Female Judge to lead the 11th judicial circuit of Florida. She joins the pantheon of great chief judges like Weatherington and Farina. She oversaw the completion of the new juvenile court house, and tried her level best to get a new civil court house built. And of course her leadership in keeping courts running during the pandemic- with no playbook to follow- and critics like us shouting from the rooftops to close the courts- was spectacular. She was the steady hand needed at the tiller in the great storm of 2020. 

Judge Sayfie is entitled to some time to get things running. So we will be quiet this weekend and lets see all the great new changes she institutes on Tuesday July 6, 2021. Until then, enjoy the honeymoon. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021


 The Juice is loose and now Cos is free. It's Jello Pudding Pops for everyone tonight!

Here is the problem for the rest of the criminal defense bar and criminal defendants: Lawmakers react to these types of cases- the .001% reversals on appeals in notorious cases or when a judge has the temerity to exercise her discretion and not sentence someone to a maximum sentence. That is why we have minimum mandatories. 

A judge sets a reasonable bond on a DUI manslaughter case? The Florida Legislature sets a minimum bond requirement. Ditto for DUI and DUI manslaughter sentences.  

A person gets convicted of second degree murder under the old Florida Guidelines and gets 17 years (the GLs were 17-22- remember when?) and soon there is no difference between first and second degree murder- life with no parole. 

Dr King said the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice. 

The arc of the justice system bends towards the maximum and away from fairness. 

Guidelines exceed the statutory maximum? Guidelines control. 

When was the last time a politician successfully ran on a platform of lowering prison sentences? Other than what POTUS45 did with the First Step Act, there has been no meaningful criminal justice reform that LOWERED penalties and guidelines for the last 100 years. And the First Step act affected how prison sentences are served, not the outrageous drug and fraud -loss guidelines. 

While 99% of criminal defendants (other than those who hire Mr. Markus and his firm) lose their appeal, its the outlier like the Cosby case that gets the media attention. There will be cries for vengeance and outrage over how a "guilty man" won an appeal and cannot be re-tried, with no discussion that he was tricked into confessing by one prosecutor who gave him immunity, and a subsequent prosecutor who did not honor that deal- which was the basis for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision in the Cosby case. 

Talking heads are already on Fox and MSNBC calling for a revamping of the appellate process to prevent guilty defendants from being freed by an appellate court. There will be laws proposed guaranteeing every criminal defendant  the right to appeal, but requiring that their appeals be denied- sort of like North Korea or how the 11th Circuit approaches the fourth amendment. 

Mark our words- this is a dark day for criminal defense. No good will come from the Cos's victory. It will be cited ad nauseam as proof that there are two systems of justice- one for wealthy people and one for everyone else.  Appeals are about to become even harder for the rest of us mere mortals to win (you know who excepted). Scant attention will be paid to the reason Cosby won his appeal - an important ruling on immunity and prosecutors promises. And all of the discussion will be on the women he raped and how bad they feel and how rich people can buy justice. 

This is a dark day for criminal justice- but not for the reasons being discussed on TV. 


 As the Delta variant gains a foothold in the United States and begins to capture the attention of the media and public, many lawyers are concerned about the re-opening of court right as the D Variant begins to take hold. Many of those lawyers are emailing your favourite blogger for advice. Which is the correct thing to do. Who do you think gave Fauci advice on how to outlast POTUS45? 

First, if you want to be safe- wear a mask. And get vaccinated. Those two measures will protect you from the D Variant. 

Second, we call upon our new CJ Sayfie (starting July 1- mark your calendars- there may be small fireworks display the following weekend-about three days later- to commemorate her ascension to the CJ spot) to strongly suggest if not require that people wear masks in court. It is the "Safe(ie)" thing to do. 

Third- Judges should allow Zoom appearances for arraignments and reports. Duh. 

Fourth- no sidebars without masks. Do you know where that judge has been? 

Fifth- Stay home and read the blog. You can't start a fire without a spark. You can't get wet if you don't jump into the pool. You can't eat dinner unless you order Uber eats. You get the idea. Limit your public exposure to be safe. And read the blog. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021


 As fans of the show Mad Men, it has occurred to us that all that County Court needs to open is a good slogan, announcing that the Court, its judges, support staff who make it hum, and the eager -wet-behind-the-ears PDS and ASAs, are all back and raring to go. Thus, as any good writer or trial lawyer is wont to do, we have "borrowed" some slogans (or in the vernacular of Mad Men "tags")  to help Judge Faber's "County-Crew" to get crackin. 

County Court- it's not just on five any more. 

County Court- it's not just a job, it's an adventure. 

County Court- the cure for the common court case. 

County Court- a great place to start your career and your day. 

County Court is open! Plea one DUI, get one free. 

Hey Hey..ho ho...County Court is ready to go!

Misdemeanors and more...come see the NEW County Court. 

County Court...it's morning in Miami again. 

County Court...where the rubber meets the road. 

Take a break from felonies and come to the real "People's Court". 

County Court- serving misdemeanors daily starting at 9 am. 

Once upon a morning dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
oh where to park and where to stay
whilst I start my county court day
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten cases law—
While I waited in security lines, nearly napping, 
suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my shoulder near 
I turned and was startled with some fear 
to see a figure dark in black 
robes a flutter, no lawyer hack
saying this and nothing more 
"County Court is ever more"....

Monday, June 28, 2021


UPDATE: From Judges having a party in their chambers (Rebull, which makes perfect sense for a "re"opening) to a bailiff (Vic who works with Judge Milian) who made lasagna for the occasion,  (re)opening day was a great success for Circuit Court, while County Court Judges still zoomed ("it's complicated" is the answer we get most often about County Court).  Judges had big smiles on their faces as lawyers, some with masks and some without strolled into court and handled business for their clients. 

As Rumpole always says- quoting an ancient Native American shaman, "the longest journey begins with the first step.

THE REGJB IS OPEN (mostly, sans County Court) for business. 

The elevators have been revamped. The escalators replaced. The Courtrooms freshly painted with new carpet and furniture. The building is, as we say in sea-faring England, in Bristol fashion. 

This is what is known as literary license. What we do know is the doors were unlocked, weapons screening people were at their station, judges were in courtrooms and the business of criminal law in person began anew. Some people were wearing masks, Some were not. Hint- Rumpole will be wearing a mask. 

As we walk through the valley of post pandemic court, the big question is "wither zoom'? 

We advise to be patient. Some judges love Zoom, some do not. Just like some judges read case law, most do not. But mark our words, zoom, like Ethereum, and some STDS, is here to stay.  

We of course remain the repository for anti-zoom judge stories. "Rumpole, judge XYZ in Broward made me drive up from Key West for a PTI acceptance. She would not let us appear by Zoom." 

Meanwhile, send your opening day pictures, and enjoy life returning back to nornal-ish. 

And once again, See You In Court. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021



Monday is opening day (for circuit court. See below for county court)! Field of Dreams it is not...but how long has it been since you have sat in what we used to call "Cozzolis/The Pickle Barrel/ Au Bon Pain/....El Gordo Cafe..." and had a cup of coffee and pastelito with your favourite judge? 

Monday is the day. June 28, 2021, a date which will live in REGJB history. 

Concerned? Wear a mask. You can. Avoid the elevators, which we always have anyway...ditto black robe wearers at side bar. 

There is a bunch of hoo-ha about each judge having two zoom calendars a week, and the possibility of showing up for an arraignment or doing it by zoom. 

Ignore it for now. Our advice is put on a suit, shine your shoes, and get into court. If you have a continuing and compelling health reason not to go to court, call the Judge's JA. It's been almost sixteen months since JAs have been able to put defense attorneys on interminable hold; they are back and raring for action. When you get though and explain your problem they should be able to help you set up a zoom hearing. And if the judge won't comply....there is always a snappy email to us which will will post and get things moving. 

Lets make this a soft opening. We do not expect a room full of potential jurors, prosecutors making outrageous offers which in turn cause Rumpole to sigh "OK, lets pick six." 

It is going to take some time until things return to normal-normal. But walking in the door. Seeing lawyers lugging files and prosecutors balancing boxes on the escalators will be a sight we have longed to see. 

Send in your pics of opening day to our email and we will post them and cover the festivities. 


We won. We persevered and we out -thought and outlasted our common enemy (covid, not judges). 

We haven't said this in a long long time. But it is worthy of saying now. 


County Court: In a prior post we speculated that the reason the courthouse was not opening was someone had lost the keys when the REGJB was closed last March. Apparently the keys were found in an old gym bag in the back of a 68 Ford Mustang so the courthouse is now accessible. County Court is NOT opening Monday for in person cases. Do not show up for your Disorderly Intox case; do not pass El Gordo Cafe; Do not collect 200 community service hours.

 Everyone knows county court is more technologically sophisticated than circuit court, with multiple overlapping computer systems using dial up modems where the password used to be "FastGerryKlein"  and the user ID was "FredNesbitt1351". 

The Clerk's office is working diligently to send out notices for county court cases which apparently have a lead time of 6-8 months, so they just cannot open the doors because people with undersize snook cases will not know where to go or what to do and the entire criminal justice system is balancing on the ability of Florida Fish and Game to prosecute those cases. 

Check this site often for county court updates and screeds of the county court chief judge who does not like our mocking of misdemeanor cases. He reacted the last time we did it, and clearly did not understand that when we wrote that a county court judge's time should not be spent on disorderly conduct cases, it was in conjunction with us writing that many felonies should be reduced to misdemeanors so those same judges could handle more serious cases which they are more than capable of doing. But we are often misunderstood, which is a cross we bear lightly. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021



 What is 

Hard to get into for some people (lawyers)

Easy to get into for other people (defendants)

For the people that it is easy to get into

It is hard to get out of (defendants)

For the people that it is hard to get into

It is easy to get out of (lawyers)

And is 61 years old....????



Monday, June 21, 2021


 The supreme court in a 9-0 opinion Monday ruled against the NCAA and it's no-pay to play business model, holding that athletes can receive "modest" education related benefits. Justice Gorsuch authored the opinion. But the real meat is in Justice Kavanaugh's concurrence in which he wrote that the NCAA was "not above the law" and that its business model "would be flatly illegal in any other industry in America". In other words, surprisingly, it is illegal in a business monopoly (college athletics) to require employees to work for free. 

Get ready for pay-to-play college athletics. 

In other news, it's real hot out. Like really really hot. But there is no global warming. Drill baby drill. And while you're drilling, don't wear a mask, because like global warming, Covid is a scam. 

That is pretty much the intellectual arguments from approximately one half of the American public, which is why we are receiving EU citizenship. 

COURT reopens Tuesday. Well, reopens in the sense of Zoom. But a real opening is real zoom soon. Like, right around the corner according to some judges. "When exactly?" Rumpole asks. "Like real real soon, we just, uh, need to do some things first." 

Rumpole is beginning to suspect no one has the keys to the REGJB. 

Judge Sayfie: "Who has the damn keys?? Who was the last out of the building in March and locked up?"

( A bunch of judges shuffle around, staring at their feet peaking out from under their robes.)

Stay tuned. Someone might need to call a locksmith, but we are opening up. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021


 What Juneteenth means to Rumpole. 

Before this week....nothing. Or almost nothing. Memorial Day holiday would come, and then we would plunge into June, the summer vacation beckoning, the thought perhaps we could squeeze in a trial in June and a motion to suppress in early July before repairing to the Continent or a cool river out West to spend the end of July and August in some place other than the South Florida heat. 

"Juneteenth" would pop up in some internet articles in the last few years. Ask Rumpole in 2010 about Juneteenth or any time before that year and you would be met with a blank stare. 

We will spare you the self congratulatory details on our race based accomplishments. Those are meaningless in light of the cultural blindness one polymath blogger exhibited. 

So what does it mean that we can tell you with excruciating details the actions of the Fourth Infantry division in the Marne in July, 1918, or in Normandy in June 1944, but did not know that it took two years after the Emancipation Proclamation  for slaves in Texas to be free? We can tell you the actions of soldiers of the North and South at the Battle of Antietam, but we did not know until last week that Union General Gordon Granger and his men arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1885 to tell the population that the war was over and the slaves had been freed. 

In a Country that celebrates freedom and independence from the British,  the celebration of freedom and independence of one set of Americans from another was a complete unknown. 

We are strong because of our ideals. We are stronger and better because we put our mistakes on the front page. From the Pentagon papers to the impeachment of presidents, self introspection and correction makes a democracy stronger. 

What Juneteenth means to one part of America is the celebration of the freedom of their ancestors from the monstrosity of slavery, a concept completely antithetical to a democracy- and yet something that to our great national shame existed and thrived. 

What Juneteenth means to us is the knowledge that we know nothing about the struggles of our fellow Americans.  We do not understand what it means to be the great...(as as many as needed) grandchild of a slave. It is not in our DNA or our cultural awareness. We can write powerfully against racism. We know nothing of what it feels like to be a child of a slave. 

Given the choice of knowledge without an understanding of what we do not know - which may be another way of saying "ignorance" we choose awareness of the  vast array of things we do not know anything about.  

Like Juneteenth. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021


Court's are closed in  Miami Dade County Monday in the first observance of the new federal Juneteenth holiday.  Congress passed the bill Thursday afternoon and President Biden signed it and Judge Soto closed courts...exactly in that order. 

Now that courts are closed, lets talk about courts opening. Lots of Amin  rumors flying around, and we have posted the new 21-1 admin order. Lets take a look. 

THE REGJB OPENS JUNE 28, 2021. Lets gather on the steps and pop champagne! 

TO ZOOM OR NOT TO ZOOM? That is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous judicial orders or to take arms against a sea of zoom litigants and by opposing them end zoom. To die- to Zoom no more and by Zoom we say to end the heartache and hassle of driving hours for a five minute hearing ...  

Now it gets tricky. If you have a zoom notice after June 28 you must appear by Zoom even if courts are open. Unless...there are less than two outs and there is a pop fly in the infield that in the judgment of the umpire can be caught and there are runners on first and second or first and second and third. Then the runner is automatically out and you do NOT have to appear by zoom. 

MASKS? You do NOT have to wear a mask. But you should. Variants....

HEARINGS....This is simple. If you have a hearing that is 20 minutes or less but can be done in ten, or you have a hearing that is one hour or less but will probably take longer, or you have indicated that you have a hearing less than 20 minutes but it takes an hour, or you have a civil case on any odd numbered floor...then you should notice the hearing for zoom and you may also appear in person and use zoom on your phone while standing in the hallway, but you cannot show up in court, unless there are less than two outs and two runners on base. See the appendix to the orders for more simple illustrations of this sort. 

Here is what appears to be the guiding principle, taken from the Broward Handbook on how to treat lawyers: "If it would be more convenient and practical to hold a hearing on zoom...the hearing will be live, especially if lawyers are inconvenienced. If it makes a lot of sense to do a hearing in person then the court MAY consider holding the hearing either in zoom or in person with a preference for the Judge ordering the least logical and most inconvenient option so the judge can remember why they worked so hard to become a judge and thus stop having to deal with judges who make everyone else's lives miserable."

Monday, June 14, 2021


 FIP...rarer letters you will not see. 
Intervention for a gun,
Priors, you better not have even one. 
And even then its no guarantee, 
your client will be accepted into PTD.
You must apply,
then wait and see,
if your client gets...FIP 

From: Don L. Horn <DonLHorn@MiamiSAO.com> 

Subject: Firearm Intervention Program Update, Policies, Criteria and Procedures for Referrals. All Felony Division ASAs Must Read this Email.
Importance: High
Good Day!
We periodically review our diversion programs to ensure that they are effective tools for rehabilitation and to support our duty to protect our community.   To that end, as a result of the large increase in the number of CCF and gun violence cases in our community, we have reviewed the Firearm Intervention Program (hereinafter FIP) and will revert to the initial eligibility criteria for participation in the Program.

As indicated by the increasing number of “Breaking News Alerts” flooding your cell phones and TV screens and the all too frequent headlines from newspapers and other media, the level of gun violence in our communities is sky rocketing.  This result is probably compounded by the staggering increase we are seeing in the number of persons who are walking, driving, cycling, dining, drinking and celebrating while carrying firearms (legally and illegally).  As indicated by the following data, the number of arrests for the charge of Carrying a Concealed Firearm have been climbing: 657 arrests in 2018; 613 arrests in 2019; 738 arrests in 2020 and already 573 arrests for the first 5 months of 2021!  We believe the ready availability and accessibility, and the current proliferation of firearms being possessed (legally and illegally), have contributed to the explosion of gun violence we are witnessing.  Also, our review has revealed that improper cases were being referred to FIP by inexperienced and over-worked ASAs.  As a result of all the above, we are pivoting on our FIP policy and until things change, we will no longer be referring any defendants to the Firearm Diversion Program unless they meet the strict guidelines below.

Although in recent years we expanded the FIP criteria regarding “prior records”, the fact pattern analysis for FIP was never expanded.  We will be reverting to the original policy and rationale for the creation of the Firearm Intervention Program, namely Providing pre-trial diversion for persons who inadvertently are found to be in possession of firearms (usually in their briefcases or luggage going through magnetometers in courthouses or the airport).  Those defendants will also have to meet the stringent requirements below and you will have to follow the procedures below to secure their referral to FIP.  We will NOT be referring defendants to ANY other diversion program for CCF charges.  DCs can no longer offer probation and a gun course and then a vacation of the plea and nolle prosse after 6 months to get around the FIP policy that previously existed.  The fact that you may have difficult caseloads cannot be a reason to use FIP as a case management tool.

No defendant will be referred to FIP unless the ASA handling the case follows these procedures and the defendant meets all of the following criteria:
 Before an ASA attempts to have a defendant considered for FIP, the ASA must first determine that:
  1. The defendant has no prior record, which we interpret to mean the defendant has no prior arrests (regardless of the disposition of the prior arrest(s)).
  2. The CCF must be a stand-alone charge and the gun cannot be stolen.  The defendant can have no accompanying arrest charges, whether filed or no-actioned.
  3. Based on the facts of your case, the carrying of the firearm should/must be unintentional/inadvertent.
  4. If, and only if, you have a defendant who meets all of the above criteria, you must submit a PTI referral form directly to Deputy Chief Assistant Marie Jo Toussaint to have your defendant “considered” for FIP.
  5. An offer to be considered for FIP diversion will be made only after 1) the ASA has submitted to Deputy Chief Toussaint the PTI Referral form, a copy of the defendant’s prior record and the facts of the case ( “A” form);  2) those documents have been reviewed by Deputy Chief Toussaint; and 3) she advises you by email that your case will be submitted to an SAO Investigator.  
  6. The email from Deputy Chief Toussaint will include information for you to provide to the defense attorney (and through him to his client the defendant) advising what is required to be approved. The approval will be contingent upon the investigation and evaluation of the facts by our SAO Investigator, confirmation of the defendant’s lack of a prior record and the result of the interview of the defendant by the SAO Investigator

 For all pending cases, whether still on your pending caseload or presently in the pipeline with Pretrial Services and/or under review by our Investigations Unit, the defendant will be rejected and not accepted into FIP, if the defendant does not meet the above criteria, the defendant does not respond to the Investigator’s call, refuses to provide a sworn statement or if you did not follow the above process.  If you have any questions with regards to the above, please speak to your Chief Assistant or Deputy Chief Assistant or Deputy Chief Toussaint.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.  Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you believe should have this information.