Saturday, April 10, 2021


"I was reading case law...lots and lots of case law". 

That was the defense of Miami Judge Martin Zilber to the JQC complaint that he was not in his chambers or courtroom when he was supposed to be. That...(prepare to be shocked, and please send small children out of the room) the Judge took MORE TIME OFF then he was allowed to take. (cue ominous music).

Now we have two questions- first, what case law was he reading and, 2- where was he reading it. 

(foggy dream sequence chambers of Judge Zilber. Dramatis Personae- Judge Zilber; JA (more on her tomorrow). )

JZ: What's on the calendar tomorrow Moneypenny?

JA: 35 criminal cases set for report, plus arraignments. 

JZ: Any of those cases need PD appointments?

JA: Yes sir.

JZ: Then get me Giddeon v. Wainwright.  Any of those cases involve confessions? 

JA: Yes sir. 

JZ. Then get me the Miranda decision. Also, throw in Marbury v. Madison to review.

Now, with the understanding of great legal study taking place, where was the studying occurring? 

The Miami Dade Court law library? (stop laughing, we once saw a judge in there in 1979).  UM Law Campus? Harvard Law? No, no and no. 

The studious judge was some place more studious, more synonymous with intense legal study, meditation, contemplation, not to mention swimming pools and movie stars (obscure reference to Beverly Hillbillies  for those of you under 50) ....MALIBU!. 

Yes Malibu, that land of beaches and California  where significant legal issues are endlessly debated. Walk by any Vegan Cafe in Malibu and you're likely to hear "The Oklahoma Supreme Court is taking a hard look at the exclusionary rule. Meanwhile have you seen what that appellate court in Maine wrote about police stops?' It was in this bastion of legal study that Judge Zilber repaired to for repast and reflection that has the JQC up in arms. 


You never know what is going to come out of a JQC investigation. It's like an IRS audit, but more painful. It turns out our legal scholar is also a patron of the arts. Judge Zilber admitted to using his staff for personal errands like on-line shopping ("Should I click the set up monthly delivery button on Amazon Ms. Moneypenny?" "No sir. No one needs that much fiber and shoe polish. One batch should be enough for the rest of the year."), registering his car (in retrospect better to have a JQC complaint about an expired tag then this mess), and sending his overworked and underpaid bailiff to Miami Beach to get him Art Basel tickets. On this we give the judge a pass. Call it "Rumpole's Patron of the Arts exception". We all need a little more culture in our lives. 

Unfortunately the Judge also asked his JA to "Keep a personal scrapbook of his achievements"  (wonder if this will make it?) and wheel his chair up several floors and put it on the bench while his JA was pregnant. Hey- women wanted to be treated like equals right? The bailiff was unavailable and how would it look for a judge, robes flapping, hauling furniture around the courthouse? A pregnant woman was sure to engender some sympathy and a nice stranger would surely step in and help the pregnant woman. Not. 

Zilber's defense: "I only asked the staff to do this. I did not tell them." (He really said this). This is nice to know.  Judge: "I hereby sentence you to five years in prison."  Defendant: "Are you asking me or telling me?" 


Every former PD and ASA will tell you the surest way to get caught in a crime is to bring in a partner. Do it yourself, and there is no one to flip on you. Zilber, who does not have a background in criminal law learned this lesson the hard way. He asked his JA to falsify his documents that he has to file that account for his time. Now there is a co-conspirator and witness and this was his downfall. 

Did you know our Miami Circuit has an administrative order that judges can only take off 30 days a year? (really). The JQC found that between January 21, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the Judge took off 51 days without authorization. The operative part of the finding is that this is when he was assigned to civil. Because once you hear he was in civil, the response is "Oh...he was in civil. Big deal." 

Here is the show stopper, directly from the report: 

Zilber during the same period. Judge Zilber testified that on some of the days he was absent without authorization in 2019, he was working remotely from home reading case law or preparing for hearings.

Rumpole says, a judges work is never done. From sun up to sun down, its case law case law case law. And trial prep-don't forget that. Just how does a judge prep for trial? They don't make openings or closings or question witnesses. Wait! We know. They prepare voir dire! That must be it. He was writing out individual voir dire questions for every case set for trial, based on his extensive review of the facts of the case. Of course. 

From the report: 

 The Commission also found that during the week of August 3, 2020, Judge Zilber took a week-long vacation to Malibu, California without making the proper leave notifications or requests. In fact, the Commission found that he instructed his JA to not submit a leave request or ask for coverage for that absence because he was going to be working remotely anyway. Judge Zilber testified that he planned to, and did, sign orders, and continued to participate remotely in legal community events, read case law, and prepare for hearings set for the following week. However, instead of remotely attending to his regularly scheduled hearings and dockets, Judge Zilber instructed his JA to cancel and reschedule the hearings and dockets from the week of August 3 to another time.

During the pandemic the judges were supposed to keep a diary of their activities (Ok  a log but we like the dairy image better). Zilber committed a boo-boo: 

There is also a blank space for "notes". For the week of his August 3 vacation, Judge Zilber instructed his JA to list two motion hearings on the pandemic log, and four "special set" hearings. While the Commission was able to determine that Judge Zilber did remotely conduct two emergency motion hearings on Friday August 7, 2020, the Commission also determined that the four "special set hearings" listed on the pandemic log were, in fact, social and/or educational Zoom meetings including a Cuban American Bar Association luncheon, a Florida Bar town hall meeting, and a swearing in ceremony. In response to the Commission's Notice ofInvestigation, Judge Zilber stated that, when he told his JA to list the other functions, he misunderstood the purpose of the log, and believed it was designed to give the Administrative Judge a general perspective of the activities that judges were engaged in during the pandemic while working remotely.

Rumpole notes we have a circuit court judge given the power of life and death who must interpret difficult statutes and case law, and he cannot figure out how to keep a diary? Puhleeze.  On the other hand, now that we know "special set hearings=CABA Luncheons" we can ask for more continuances: 

"I'm sorry Judge, I cannot try the case the week of May 3, I have a special set hearing on Wednesday." Judge: "What is that hearing counsel?" Rumpole: "The National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys Spa Day. It's at the Fontainebleau and I never miss it. The massages are great"

Here is something sure to strike fear in the hearts of Judges everywhere: 

the Commission also believes that it is not unreasonable to expect that a judge serving in a trial-level court, especially one as busy as the 11th Judicial Circuit, be generally present at the courthouse during normal court hours.  Cue Dolly Parton Video: "Working 9 to 5 what a way to make a living. Granting Summary judgment motions, and reading case law by the ocean." (Pacific Ocean).


Think this is the end of the Judge Z story? It is just the beginning. There is a story behind the story, one filled with intrigued, revenge, and of course mortgage foreclosure litigation. Coming Sunday. 

zilber fidings by HR on Scribd


the trialmaster said...

He did nothing to distinguish himself as an attorney except running through Café Abaci looking for votes. He and his family ran a taxi cab company for years so why is anyone surprised that he is looking for a paycheck from the taxpayers and does very little to earn it. But he is not the worst we have as long as ElAponte garners a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

Zilber’s biggest mistake?

He posted smiling pictures on FACEBOOK of his weekly vacations to trendy and expensive restaurants and cities. Pictures of him in New York City, Beverly Hills, Europe, etc while everyone else was working. This pissed off people by showing off.

Also having a FACEBOOK page entitled “JUDGE MARTIN ZILBER”. Why not Martin Zilber without the narcissistic “Judge” part added.

Further - were the “Zilber Selfies” on FACEBOOK with him at the center of every picture in his robes with every other Judge. A bit silly and certainly NOT judicial.

A lovely guy. Very “Postmanesque!” Probably a good friend. Possibly a good Judge. But leave the popularity seeking antics to other professions snd be academic, neutral, low profile and smart.

Being a Judge is not being a circus clown. I predict a contrite and strong return for Judge Zilber. A kind and good man. A loving family man. Everyone gets to make one mistake and to learn from it.

Hold your head up high Judge. Get back in the courtroom and do justice for others.

Anonymous said...

I liked him in criminal court. Truth is that most judge do the same shit and don’t work very hard.

SSA said...

Zilber insisted the State & PDs be in court by 9am to exchange pleas,ect. Court supposedly started at 9:30am. ZILBER would walk out the stairs about 9:30 and take the bench late, at 9:45, repeatedly. Being a smart politicians he called Privates first because they were busy, making Corrections , inmates and PCs wait to-do arraignments.
He would excuse clients of Private Attorneys if they filed a Notice of Appearance at arraignment, but expected PD clients present, even when the PD gad filed a Notice of Appearance and waiver of presence.
I saw a PD once read the Rule of Procedure to him in court, right from the Rule book once.
The PD Supervisor was so scared of Zilber he practically ignored Zilber by staying out of the courtroom

Anonymous said...

Martin Zilber is a clown, always trying to get the spotlight and pictures everywhere. He’s only a judge because he cant garner the same
salary in private practice.
Also I wonder what is going on with that foreclosure litigation?? Details??

Anonymous said...

Judicial indolence is as old as the court themselves. Judge Zilber could have done worse...


Anonymous said...

Former Fla. Sup. Ct. Chief Justice Lewis:

"I continue to hold the view that if conduct is so egregious as to require enormous monetary fines, the judicial office itself has been soiled and damaged. If we continue down this path, in my view, we undermine trust and confidence in the judicial system."

"I continue to believe as I voiced in Kinsey:

In my view, the imposition of this fine, the amount of which is clearly designed and intended to represent the enormity of the reprehensible behavior, sends the message to future candidates that they may violate the Code and commit ethical breaches, if they are prepared to pay a monetary fine following the election... I conclude that if the actions are so reprehensible that the majority believes the imposition of a $ 50,000 fine is justified, those actions must certainly justify removal from the office so tainted. Selecting an enormous fine as discipline only sends the message that 'anything goes'..."

Anonymous said...

He’s a big gossip too. Big mouth. Probably a snitch if pressured, I would guess. What goes around comes around.

Anonymous said...

There are parents in the 11th Judicial Circuit that haven't visited with their children in 18 months. Yet they can't get a hearing. What was revealed in the Zilber case, regarding time spent working, is an epidemic in the 11th Judicial Circuit.

Anonymous said...

New York federal judge killed by hit-and-run driver in Boca Raton.


Anonymous said...

From the report, it seems this "rent-seeking" judge is more suited to working as a glad-handed greeter at a casino, rather sitting as a Circuit Court judge, the highest trial court in Florida. A judge is a pillar of our justice system and the public expects highest and irreproachable conduct from anyone performing a judicial function. Judges must endeavor for the utmost standards of integrity in both their professional and personal lives. They should be knowledgeable about the law, willing to undertake in-depth legal research, and be able to write decisions that are clear, logical and cogent. Their personal and professional judgement should be sound and they should make informed choices and decisions that will stand up to close scrutiny. Judges should be fair and open-minded and devoid of of political favoritism and self-aggrandizing.

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" is a Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal. It is literally translated as "Who will guard the guards themselves?" Why of course, here, other judges will. And thus, this judge will get a minor public slap on the wrist, then he will publicly give the requisite appearance being contrite, claim that he has ‘learned his lesson’ and we will move on. They look after each other.

Anonymous said...

Much about character is revealed when one achieves a position of power. I was part of a committee that held a judicial reception for federal judges Smith, Ruiz, and Altman. RSVP's were due the day before the event and everyone who met the deadline received a printed name tag. If you were a judge, the tag ID'd you as such. Zilber did not RSVP but appeared at the reception. He was upset because he did not receive a printed name tag identifying him as a judge and berated the volunteer staff who were issuing the tags. This told me all I needed to know about Zilber as a person. I believe the legal term for someone like him is "douchebag."

Anonymous said...

Read between the lines here: spiteful JA and vindictive attorney vs. qualified judge. Okay so he posts too much on his social media and missed a few days of work. The findings are clear: he is prepared, fair, efficient, and moves his cases along (far more smoothly than other judges, if I may add). That is what we want from our judiciary. Who cares about social media.

Anonymous said...

So what if Judge Zilber worked remotely? We live in a new world where justice can be served on zoom or in the courtroom. Judge Zilber is one of the few judges who has actually adjusted well to working remotely. Does it really matter where he's doing the work from? As long as the work is getting done.... And from both my personal experience and the JQC's findings, it's clear that he gets the work done. The rest is small potatoes.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I have appeared in front of zilber many times and he has ruled for and against me. I will tell you that he moves cases. You get hearings and he rules. He is certainly knowledgeable and is number 4 in terms of all judges in moving cases. I've had judges take months to just get a hearing and then several months for a ruling. As a trial lawyer, I want judges to move cases, rule and be prepared. He is all of those. I'll take that all day. Seeing that Bruce jacobs is behind this makes this whole thing suspicious. He is an lunatic who has been sanctioned by the third district court of appeals numerous times and send to the Florida bar but he seems to be Teflon. I bet you jacobs next move is a case against zilber and the circuit for wrongful termination. The fact Zilber has ruled against Jacobs and jacobs openly stated he did this because zilber ruled against his clients is truly remarkable.

Anonymous said...

I have heard Jacob’s argue on more than one occasion. He’s definitely not being mistaken for a Boy Scout. He talks back to judges, interrupts opposing counsel and is generally unpleasant. If someone of his character is behind this, it just shows you that Judge Zilber is getting railroaded. I had many cases before him when he was in civil. He was always prepared and ruled quickly. I think some of you who haven’t practiced with the typical slowness that a civil division judge exhibits may be having a hard time understanding why we need more judges like Zilber.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a conspiracy hatched by a rogue foreclosure lawyer. Judge Zilber STIPULATED to the misconduct described in the JQC findings. These findings were based, in large part, on Judge Zilber's own sworn testimony.

Anonymous said...

This is some minor bs.. move on

Anonymous said...

minor bs?? A Judge lying and misleading on paper records is minor bs? Sure Marty. Being a judge should be the most honorable thing in a lawyer's life. Unfortunately, Zilber just stained our judicial system. He is an embarrassment to our profession and should be handled accordingly by the FL Supreme Court.