WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM. Winner of the prestigious Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award.

Friday, July 30, 2021

HELLO HYBRID MY OLD FRIEND

Hello Hybrid , my old friend
I've come to  Zoom with you again

Because a vision of a judge softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping and my client was pleading 
And the vision that was planted in my brain (by the chip in the vaccine)
Still remains
Within the sound of silence (counsel you are on mute!)
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow courtrooms  of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and empty  courthouse 
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a black-robbed knight 
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence (counsel you are still on mute!)

WE ARE BACK TO HYBRID AS THE FOLLOWING EMAIL FROM JUDGE WOLFSON PROCLAIMS: 

Good afternoon,

 

I hope this email finds you safe and healthy. Effective immediately, in an effort to keep the volume of people at a minimum in the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building as well as to accommodate lawyers who practice in multiple divisions and courthouses, the Circuit Criminal Division will provide access to court both in person and via Zoom in a hybrid fashion for all daily calendars.

 

The following must take place in person unless the parties and the judge agree to proceed on Zoom and the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Florida Supreme Court’s Administrative Order allow: (1) evidentiary hearings; (2) bench and jury trials; and (3) most pleas. At the discretion of the division judge, all other matters may be conducted via Zoom at the preference of the parties.

 

Anyone who wishes to be in the courtroom on a laptop or device to see Zoom MUST have their device’s microphone and the Zoom audio muted at all times regardless of whether or not they are speaking. The courtroom microphones which are connected to Zoom will pick up the audio. If the device and/or Zoom audio on an individual device is on, this will result in echo and feedback.

 

Judges must be diligent about requiring people to speak into the courtroom microphones. In addition, judges must frequently check in with their court reporters to make sure the record is being captured at all times.

 

All operating courtrooms will continue to be staffed with at least one Assistant State Attorney and one Assistant Public Defender, in addition to the judge, clerks, bailiffs, probation officers and correctional officers. Inmates will be brought to court only for hearings, pleas, and trials. If an inmate was not transported to court but wishes to accept a plea that will result in them getting out of custody, Corrections will bring them on Zoom on a staggered basis. If there is a surplus of inmate Zoom hearings on any one particular day, Judges Wolfson, de la O, and Tinkler Mendez will make themselves available to handle them.

 

In closing, please stay safe and keep the lines of communication open. Thank you so very much for all you do for this community.

 

Best regards,

 

Andrea Ricker Wolfson,

Administrative Judge, Circuit Criminal Division

Thursday, July 29, 2021

MASKS REQUIRED IN COURT

UPDATES: reports flowing in on the changing circumstances and shifting ground because of Covid. Judge Scott Bernstein was heard to "ponder" whether a return to full zoom was in the works. Meanwhile MASSIVE PROPS TO JUDGE REBULL who is running a FULL ZOOM HYBRID calendar without a hitch. Want to walk in? No problem. Want to Zoom with the Judge? You got it. Way to go Judge R!

Meanwhile the opposite is happening in DV Court where every day Judge Bandin flames out on lawyers appearing by zoom, screams at her staff, loudly and repeatedly pontificates on her hatred for Zoom (although by all accounts County Court is entirely Zoom) and continually bemoans the fact that she has childcare issues and cannot start on time- as if most defendants appearing before her do not have even more compelling childcare issues. Talk about a Judge being tone deaf... 

It took a while. First the Courts needed to process that Truman beat Dewey. Then there was the celebration of Armstrong and Aldrin landing on the moon. Nixon resigning was a big deal, as was Iraq invading Kuwait. But eventually, after the Miami Dade Mayor issued an edict Wednesday  that masks needed to be worn in all government buildings, the Miami-Dade Court system followed with an administrative order that all persons entering courthouses must wear masks in all public places and courtrooms. 

You know what comes now don't you?  The morons who wear the mask below their nose. As if that will protect them or us. They are wearing a mask. It is around their mouth, but because they are too stupid to understand what a mask does and how it protects the person wearing it and the people around those who are wearing masks, the mask will be below their nose, which is as good as not wearing a mask at all. 

So here is what we are saying to our Judges. Good job getting to the point where you can order everyone to wear a mask. Now enforce the rule. Kick prosecutors and people out of your courtroom who wear the mask below their noses. Hold people in contempt of court. 

Make Masks Great Again. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

STATE ATTORNEYS OFFICE COVID CRISIS

 The Dade County State Attorneys Office is in Covid19- Delta Variant freefall. 

How many employees are sick?  Like the Florida weather, wait a minute, and it will change. The count is above the number of fingers you have. 

8,9,10- the emails from a State Attorney Human Resources official come flooding in, minute by minute, announcing the positive test of another employee and listing  the courtrooms the employee was at:

"We are announcing the positive result of four employees, who went to courtrooms 4-1 (hugged two PDS), 3-4- (high fived a clerk), 2-3 (kissed a court reporter hello on the cheek). Three employees in the family court building attended a "what delta variant party?" without masks and played Twister. All are now sick."  And on and on the emails come. 

On Monday Herald Super Reporter @DavidOvalle305  tweeted about an SAO email announcing more positive employees and then a minute later updated the tweet with another email from the SAO announcing that another employee is sick. 

We take a moment to pause and reflect on the fact  that the State Attorneys Office has a "human resources division". Back in the day, when an ASA was in trouble they got called into Janet Reno's office. And depending on the nature of the issue, either chief investigator Ray Havens was sitting next to her (BIG TROUBLE), or one of her chief assistants like George Yoss, Lenny Glick, Kathy Rundle, or Shay Blichick.  The ASA got yelled at, and if Chief Havens did not read the ASA his/her rights,  they slunk out  of Reno's office and back to their  desk at a cubicle on the sixth floor and resumed their  duties and took out their  anger by raising all their plea offers to the PDS for the rest of the week. 

Ovalle wrote an article in the Herald here, detailing how covid is ripping through the legal system including a harrowing tale of former REGJB lawyer Todd Michaels-fully vaccinated-  trying a civil case without a mask and getting sick. Very sick.  An anonymous judge was quoted as saying potential jurors not wearing masks, who are coughing, decline a mask when the judge offers them one. The Judge said he/she is powerless to force them to wear a mask or ask if they are vaccinated. 

Not wait just a cotton picking moment. 

A judge can start their calendar at nine or ten, A judge can require male lawyers in the middle of 95 degree weather in August with 5555% humidity to wear a jacket and a tie; a judge can require gentlemen to remove their hats when in the courtroom, a judge can require that everyone stand for goodness sakes when they glide on to the bench, majestically clad in black, but a judge cannot require someone in their courtroom to wear a freaking mask? 

You  have got to be kidding us. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

A COVID UPDATE FROM THE CHIEF

 As the Delta Variant (motto: "Killing only the incredibly stupid") rips through our world, our nation, our city, and our own REGJB courtesy of ignorant Assistant State Attorneys who do not believe in vaccinations, many are wondering if there will be any changes in the opening of courthouses. 

We have the email from CJ Sayfie (posted below) , but the short answer is NO, there will not be any changes because COVID-DV only kills imbeciles and those who watch and believe Newsmax, ONAN, Fox News, and the 45th president of the United States. 

For a short term solution trust Rumpole to come up with a unique answer that solves all of our problems. 

Fact: Covid-DV infects and kills those who are unvaccinated, and thus those who do not have Bill Gates Microchips implanted in them.

Fact: Most but not all of the legal community and the judiciary are now vaccinated. 

Fact: We have two courthouses, one of which is about to collapse. 

SO.... reopen the Civil Court and rename it as Un-vaccinated Court. 

Those lawyers who believe the vaccine is a method to line the pockets of Dr. Fauci, or that the vaccine implants trackers monitored by Barrack Obama's Muslim controllers stationed in China and Africa, can go to 73 West Flagler street and practice all the law they want there. And if the freaking building collapses on them and kills them all, well at least they were headed for death anyway, either through Covid-DV, or something else,  because the life-span of the incredibly stupid cannot be that long. 

Meanwhile, those lawyers and judges who are vaccinated can practice law at the REGJB. By moving the 25-40% of morons in the REGJB who are not vaccinated to 73 West Flagler Street- let's call it "Covid-ain't-real Way"- the criminal courthouse will have plenty of room for Judge Hanzman and his legal hearings on the Surfside collapse. 

Judge Sayfie's email released on Sunday Evening:

Good evening, All. 

If you scroll below you will see the email I sent about COVID almost 3 weeks ago. Notwithstanding the daily reports of positive tests in our courthouses, and Miami’s positivity rate increasing back over 10%, the information in that email remains largely the same. 

Last week I had a meeting with all of the Chief Judges across the state. I also attended the biweekly meeting of our local task force which includes 3 infectious disease specialists from 3 different Miami hospitals. On Saturday I had a consultation with one of the doctors as well as with Chief Justice Canady.  

The good news continues to be that the vaccine is working, and working well. It is “highly protective” against the delta variant particularly against severe disease and death.  While there are breakthrough infections, they continue to be mild and the risk of transmission from a vaccinated person is believed to be low because the “viral load” is very low. I know that the breakthrough infections are disconcerting. But we must continue to listen to the experts. I will point out that the doctors have been accurate on everything covid related thus far.

Currently in Miami 95% of those hospitalized with covid are unvaccinated. The remaining 5% are transplant recipients or elderly who have compromised immune systems. 

Our doctors in Miami as well doctors world-wide are clear that this current covid wave is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. I urge those of you who work in our court system to please get vaccinated if you have not already. That is clearly the only path to an end of this pandemic. 

In the meantime, I urge you all to wear masks. Our doctors in Miami have been recommending this consistently but now it is crucial. Whether you are vaccinated or not, please wear a mask when you are inside are court facilities. We cannot tell who is vaccinated and who isn’t. So please, everyone wear a mask

All of our divisions have remote practices built into their daily procedures. Judges will each continue to have the discretion to conduct certain hearings remotely. Jury trials will remain live unless all of the parties agree otherwise. Please urge all jurors and trial participants to wear masks at all times. 

I cannot issue an Administrative Order requiring vaccinations and/or masks at this time. This latest spike in cases is entirely the result of people’s choices. As such the Florida Supreme Court is currently not approving any “roll backs” in our procedures. I have been assured that this will be revisited in the event the CDC or Florida Dept of Health changes its advisories. 

Thank you all for your continued patience and cooperation, as well as your hard work under difficult circumstances as we fulfill our duty to the people of Miami-Dade County. It is my greatest honor to serve with you all.  Thank you, Nushin

Nushin G. Sayfie, Chief Judge


Well said Judge Sayfie. Just one comment.  You write that procedures cannot be changed until the Fla Dept of Health changes its advisories. Here is the tiny problem with that. The Fla Dept of Health recently and reluctantly agreed that condoms might, just might help control the spread of AIDS. So considering that the Fla Dept of Health (motto: "All the data is not yet in on smoking")  is a bit behind the times, waiting for them to act is like expecting certain judges to actually start on time. (And in that regard, please see the email we have sent you about a certain county court judge who is angry because, and to quote her rant we saw the other day "I have a daughter and I cannot start my calendars until ten o'clock, okay?  Like I have to provide like child care...." It was embarrassing. And she knows who she is when she reads this. Enough said...for now.)

Sunday, July 25, 2021

A NEW HERALD

 Our job as reporter and recorder, historian and gadfly of the REGJB, Miami's criminal courthouse, has morphed and expanded over the years, mostly because of the lack of intelligent insight and commentary on Miami events and world events. We report about culinary trends, books to read, vaccines to take, politicians to hate, and of course, judges to mock. Along the way you might learn a bit about cosmology and epistemology and be the better off for it. 

During this time the country has seen the collapse of the print media, not unlike the collapse of the honey bee population. Both events place our country and our world in a precarious position. 

Nothing keeps politicians and government on track and accountable to the populi like a vigorous and skeptical media, buzzing around potential corruption like bees pollinating  crops.  While Watergate is the most commonly cited example, local newspapers across the country have broken countless government scandals with reporters, wearing trench coats and pencils stuck behind their ears,  digging in the trash of county commissioners and finding motel receipts expensed to the county. 

Digital platforms of all sorts have been the death knell of the print media. If people get their news on line, they do not buy newspapers. When people do not buy newspapers, circulation goes down, ad revenue plunges, and @Davidovalle305 cannot get that well deserved raise. More importantly, when the Miami Herald and other newspapers cannot afford to pay reporters to cover politicians, judges, cops and government, then stories go unreported and accountability fades into the nebula of on-line news, the real and fake kind alike. 

All of this is a prelude to the announcement by the new executive editor of the Miami Herald here that the Herald is being ....wait for it...."reimagined!" 

Imagine that. No, wait. Reimagine that. 

Here is part of what she wrote: 

Success at the Miami Herald requires a newsroom with strong community connections. It is consistent journalism excellence through accountability and public service reporting. It is the recognition and awareness of our rich local diversity and culture, and it is acknowledging that we are community and collaborative partners in diversity, equity and inclusion. It is meeting readers where they are with the content that they need. And, it is us being here to inspire and entertain.

These are not just words I cobbled together on the back of a napkin. These are the markers and expectations that I believe the Miami Herald must build its success on.

That is all well and good and we wish her and her staff luck. But maybe the Miami Herald needs just a bit more. Some person with their finger on the pulse of the city. A polymath able to expound on the federalist papers, a new restaurant in south beach, the Biden infrastructure bill, and the Delta variant - and do it all in one intriguing  post. 

Hmm...where would the Herald find such a sui generis character of upstanding character? Where would they find a writer of such extraordinary talent that their blog has been cited by local federal courts*, and credited in their own newspaper multiple times for breaking stories? Where would they find someone who would work for the pure joy of writing, and ask that his payments be donated to full time journalists? Maybe they can put an investigative reporter on the matter and see what she digs up.


* See e.g.,  Ranck v. Rundle, 08-22235-CIV, 2009 WL 1684645, at *2 (S.D. Fla. June 16, 2009) ("On May 5, 2008, Plaintiff made public the Memo by posting it on a blog he created and sending a link to his posting to the Justice Building blog, a well known public forum used by lawyers practicing criminal law in Dade County. [DE 1, ¶ 44].). 



Thursday, July 22, 2021

FED NOMINATIONS RUBIO COMMITTEE

 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

FIAT JUSTITIA RUAT CAELUM

 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"

SO LET US BE CLEAR. RUMPOLE WILL NO LONGER ATTEND IN PERSON COURT HEARINGS UNTIL THE DELTA VARIANT IS CONTROLLED OR ALL IDIOTS WHO HAVE NOT GOTTEN VACCINATED ARE IN HOSPITALS, DYING ON RESPIRATORS AND WISHING THEY HAD GOTTEN THE VACCINE. 

FIAT JUSTITIA RUAT  CAELUM

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

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

 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

BEETS BEAT BEEF

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

HOUSE BILL ONE - THE "ANTI-RIOT" LAW

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 CAPTAIN REPORTS:


MOVING, MOVING, MOVING .......

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.

NOT MOVING, MOVING, MOVING .......

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.

CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com

Thursday, July 15, 2021

HANZMAN TAKES CONTROL

 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

BROWARD TO THE RESCUE

 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

THREE NEW JUDGES COMING TO MIAMI-DADE COUNTY .......

 

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

AND YOUR THREE NEWEST JUDGES IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY .....

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?

COUNTY COURT:

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

The Governor has 60 days to choose the three replacements.

NEW JUDGES

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).


CAPTAIN OUT .......
Captain4Justice@gmail.com



Sunday, July 11, 2021

CIVIL CLOSED. MOVING FORWARD. A REQUEST TO JUDGE ALTONAGA

 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

DADE COUNTY COURTHOUSE CLOSED FOR BEING UNSAFE!

(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) 

THE DADE COUNTY COURT HOUSE HAS BEEN ORDERED CLOSED 

AN ENGINEERS REPORT "RECOMMENDED" VACATING  ALL FLOORS FROM 16 AND ABOVE

IN AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION NEW CHIEF JUDGE SAYFIE ORDERED THE COURTHOUSE EVACUATED 

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. 

UPDATE: 

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

KOLOKOFF LEADS THE WAY

 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.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jeffrey M. Kolokoff

Miami-Dade County Court Judge

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

REGJB STATUS REPORT : CODE BLUE

 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. 


CODE BLUE:

        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

WE HAVE KIOSKS!

 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. 

 

Kevin


Sunday, July 04, 2021

A DAY OF INDEPENDENCE

 IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF THE THIRTEEN COLONIES OF THE UNITED STATES:

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

SUGGESTED CHANGES IN CRIMINAL COURT

 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.