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Friday, May 14, 2021

WHAT DO FEDERAL COURT AND COUNTY COURT HAVE IN COMMON?

UPDATE: It has been reported that the 11th Circuit has ruled that going forward, all oral arguments will be in person. A hearing. An argument. In court. With three people wearing black robes staring down at you. Imagine that!  

DOM's blog has the news of the new federal magistrate: Melissa Visconti. The appointment has been met with enthusiasm and support. Magistrate Visconti is a former AUSA and clerk for Judge Ungaro. She replaces the retiring Magistrate Judge John O'Sullivan. David posts the quote from Judge Ungaro "No one can be another John O'Sullivan" and truer words were never spoken. A tough but fair AUSA, Judge O'Sullivan, with his plain talking,  streets of Boston accent (not the upper crust Brahmin accent) and cut to the chase handling of even the most complex issues, was a pleasure to practice before. If you argued a case and he was going to rule against you, he told. And he told you why. And he didn't sugarcoat it.  But it wasn't personal. He never demeaned a lawyer, although he might very well eviscerate your argument.  And that was fine with us. You knew where you stood with him. Magistrate Visconti has big shoes to fill. We wish her well. 

Magistrate Judges are many times the unsung heroes of federal court. They do some of the toughest work, slogging through the dense motions to get to the heart of the case. In the EDNY and SDNY we have seen Magistrates elevated to District Court Judges. We haven't seen that in the SDFL. Any reason why? Would anyone say that Magistrate Torres or Magistrate Matthewman would not make great district court judges? 

We have often said that there should be more use of the traffic magistrates in state court. Give them the jurisdiction to handle the cases that clog county court. Do we really need County Court Judges handling NVDL (no valid driver license ) cases? Boating infractions? Snook out of season? The thousands of disorderly conduct, disorderly intox and shoplifting cases should be moved out of county court and sent to traffic magistrates. There are plenty of experienced attorneys who can sit in court and tell a 20 year old why she cannot get drunk and order at Dennys and then run out without paying the bill and sentence her to ten hours of picking up trash or washing floors. Our County Judges don't need their days filled with that. 

Of course once you start that process then in for a penny in for a pound. Take all the possession of cocaine cases and send them to county court, along with the criminal mischief cases and the resisting arrest with violence cases- the county court judges already handle resisting without violence  (which is what? "You're under arrest." "Ha what a joke") 

Anyway we started in federal court and ended up in county court. Which if you think about it, was often a regular day in the life of a criminal defense attorney in Miami (except for DOM. He might start in the 11th circuit and then end up in trial in District Court but there is only so much room in the stratosphere).  Handle an arraignment in Mag court, and then run to the REGJB for that pesky DUI.

 Oh those were the days. 

Anyway, take off your mask if you're vaccinated and enjoy your weekend. 

 



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Despite your wishes, traffic magistrates will never be used to handle what you describe as those silly little county court cases. They are crimes, not civil citations. The consequences of a criminal conviction on people's lives is enormous. I have no doubt if you were charged with one of those petty offenses you would want a judge to handle the case, not some magistrate, and I wouldn't blame you. And I won't for the many number of defendants who are unrepresented and wouldn't know the difference. But I do.

Judge Robin Faber
Administrative Judge, County Court

Anonymous said...

Bravo to Judge Faber for responding and signing your name. I don't agree with you, judge, but I applaud your engagement with the public.

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! for Judge Matthewman for district court. He would be a GREAT choice ...

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of people with financial interest in status quo and they contribute. Not going to happen.

Tattoodtiger1 said...

Well you have a few Mags vying for USDC spots right now... should be interesting to see who has that political pull in SDFL! I'd be tired of doing all that research and writing too that gets dumped on them. Overwhelmed one of them so bad they changed the whole 2255 system! Now she wants to move up??��