JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG

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, April 19, 2024

REVENGE OF THE JEDI AND FACDL

 FACDL had this to say about the SAO and all that...

And oh yeah, we are getting reports that our friends at NBC 6 Miami just covered the below press release and asked for the SAO for a response but were told everyone was busy with seeking prison on resisting arrest without violence and NVDL trial because crime is crime and that's the fact jack. It takes a whole bunch of prosecutors to scope out witnesses on a case, get them together to get their stories straight, get them some food and arrange a conjugal visit, and then rush to cover it all up. So it's understandable they could not immediately comment. Ya. 


For Immediate Release 

April 19, 2024

            The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL) is appalled by recent and ongoing unethical conduct by the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office, along with retaliatory targeting of criminal defense lawyers.

 

            In one case, State of Florida v. Corey Smith, Judge Andrea Wolfson issued an order on March 6th, 2024, plainly identifying instances of unethical and potentially illegal conduct by Miami Dade assistant state attorneys. FACDL has been advised that the senior prosecutor subject of that order was allowed to resign with no further consequences. FACDL also has learned that a second prosecutor implicated by Judge Wolfson’s order faced no discipline whatsoever.

 

            As referenced by Judge Wolfson in her order disqualifying the two assistant state attorneys, it’s apparent that the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office has lost sight of its ethical obligations to the citizens of Miami Dade County and its duty to the rule of law.

 

            Another case, State of Florida v. Kim Clenney et. al.,the defendants are similarly subject to seemingly unethical conduct. The Defendant Courtney Clenney is charged with second degree murder in a companion case. It would appear to be a straightforward matter on its face. Courtney claims that her stabbing of an abusive boyfriend was justified. The State believes otherwise. Instead of ethically addressing a very serious matter involving a homicide, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office has allowed one of its assistant state attorneys to run amuck, targeting criminal defense lawyers acting in their function as client advocates and creating a distraction.

 

            Without a trial date in sight for the homicide, the case has featured a young prosecutor leaking attorney/client communications of the defense to the press. Going further, the same young prosecutor has engineered the arrest of the defendant’s parents. In doing so, this same prosecutor has implicated opposing counsel, respected and longtime defense attorneys, in claimed criminal conduct. The actions of this prosecutor are so far outside the norms of the criminal legal system that it is apparent he is using his State Attorney badge as a sword and not a shield. Worse yet, this conduct has been brought to the attention of his supervisors, and no discipline of any kind has been enforced. The Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office has surpassed mere acquiescence of unethical behavior and is now encouraging it.

 

            The purported criminal conduct consists of no more than reviewing, in the context of the fact-specific case, possible defense evidence. This is a standard, necessary obligation of the defense lawyer in every case where such evidence may exist. Not doing so would be malpractice.

 

            Without repercussion, the prosecutor has dug through reams of electronic attorney/client defense communications—conduct worthy of investigation by the Florida Bar and the court.

 

            Speaking to the courts in pursuit of this tangent, the young prosecutor’s affidavits contain glaring omissions of relevant fact. Specifically, omitting that there was an attorney client relationship between the targets and the attorneys and that all information was gleaned because of the State and law enforcement reading text messages between the defense team and their clients.

 

            In normal circumstances, more seasoned, managing prosecutors would step in. For reasons that remain unclear, that has not occurred. What does seem clear is that Miami Dade State Attorney has fostered conditions permissive to a toxic culture. As a result, within this culture, prosecutors act contrary to their ethical duties. Ms. Fernandez Rundle’s prosecutors seem to be encouraged to disregard the rules of court and conduct in favor of a “win at all costs” approach. More representative of that culture is the disdain with which the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office apparently views the vital Constitutional function of defense counsel.

 

            In their most recent filing, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office plainly accuses two respected criminal defense attorneys of conspiring to commit the very offense with which their clients (Ms. Clenney’s parents) are charged. Specifically, the State is alleging that the act of defense attorneys reviewing material, ignored at their client’s apartment by law enforcement, is, in and of itself, a crime. This position shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the role of a criminal defense lawyer and outright disdain for every citizen’s Sixth Amendment right to effective representation of counsel.

 

            More disconcertingly, by naming those lawyers and accusing them of a crime in conjunction with discharging their duties, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office abuses its authority.

 

            In Florida, charging a person with a crime falls entirely within the purview of the respective State Attorney’s Office. That power is almost wholly unreviewable and must be discharged ethically and with great care. While most state attorneys understand the weight of this authority and act accordingly, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office seems not to simply overlook but rather condone ongoing misuses of power.

 

            Readers of Florida legal documents are familiar with the concept that criminal offenses are charged, and potential criminal penalties sought, to protect the “peace and dignity of the State of Florida.” In the case of Ms. Clenney’s parents, charging decisions and resulting arrests have instead been improperly made to protect the ego of a young prosecutor.

 

            Worse yet, the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office has now doubled-down and is attempting to bully or target the lone check and balance on its power—criminal defense lawyers.

 

            Ms. Fernandez Rundle’s young assistant has besmirched the names of two of FACDL’s members and all but threatened them with arrest and prosecution. This arrest and prosecution would flow from defense lawyers having the temerity to zealously fulfill their Constitutional roles.

 

            The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers will not tolerate this abuse of their members. The Association, on behalf of its involved members, demands an immediate and formal apology.

 

            Addressing the citizens facing criminal prosecution: all criminal charges pursued substantially to protect the ego of a young assistant must be dismissed. Further, considering the available facts in both Clenney and Smith, FACDL is calling for the dismissal of the offending prosecutors and a full, independent ethics review within the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office.

 

For more information contact Luke Newman, FACDL President at luke@lukenewmanlaw.com.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

ELECTION CENTRAL - 2024 - COUNTY COURT RACES


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

CAMPAIGN CENTRAL - ELECTION 2024

Today, as promised, we bring you the County Court races.


COUNTY COURT JUDGE:

There are a total of 19 County Court Groups up for election in 2024. With 11 days to go, we currently have three judges who are retiring. Group 4, where Incumbent Judge Robin Faber is retiring, has drawn only one candidate. Group 12, where Incumbent Judge Steve Leifman is retiring, that Group has also drawn only one candidate.  In Group 29, where Incumbent Judge Myriam Lehr is retiring, that Group has drawn three candidates including one who is a former Judge who was defeated in the last election. 

There is one Incumbent Judge, recently appointed Judge Christopher Green, who has drawn one opponent in Group 31.

The other 15 groups have Incumbent judges currently facing no opposition.


Group 04 (Judge Robin Faber retiring)

Michelle Marie Urbistondo 
Raised $54,150 Loan $100,500

Ms. Urbistondo has been a member of The Florida Bar for 12 years. She is a solo practitioner who practices in the areas of civil litigation, focusing on real estate transactions, and marital and family law matters.


Group 12 (Judge Steve Leifman retiring)

Mariano Ariel Corcilli
Raised $43,801 Loan $120,000

Mr. Corcilli has been a member of The Florida Bar for 14 years. He is a member of the Military & Veteran Affairs Committee. He devotes a substantial amount of time to our vets. He formerly served in the U.S. Marines attaining the rank of Sergeant. He runs his own law firm where he concentrates on criminal defense and personal injury cases. He is a former ASA.


Group 29 (Judge Myriam Lehr retiring)

Christopher Benjamin
Raised $32,078 ($5,745 from State Rep election account)

Christopher Benjamin has been a member of The Florida Bar for 22 years. He is Of Counsel with International Law Partners, LLP. and a panelist with the ADR firm of Salmon & Dulberg. He works in the areas of general litigation and serves as an arbitrator, mediator, and special magistrate. He has been a certified mediator and arbitrator for 15 years and in 2010 he was appointed as a Hearing Officer in the 11th Judicial Circuit’s Traffic Division where he served until 2020. In 2020 (and again in 2022), he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives to represent the people of  District 107.

Scott Janowitz 
Raised $1,250 Loan $500

Former Judge Scott Janowitz has been a member of The Florida Bar for 18 years. He began his career as an ASA in Broward. He then joined a law firm before getting appointed to the bench by Governor DeSantis in 2020. He ran for election in August of 2022 and lost to current Judge Alicia Priovolos by 60% to 40%.

Alina Salcines Restrepo 
Raised $9,510 Loan $40,000

Alina Restrepo has been a member of The Florida Bar for 24 years. She has worked in a law firm with her brother who is also a lawyer and she has been a solo practitioner as well. She concentrates her practice in the areas of real estate, probate, criminal, civil, traffic, estate planning, and bankruptcy law.


Group 31

Rita Maria Baez 
Raised $9,500 Loan $200,000

Ms. Baez has been a member of The Florida Bar for 28 years. I was unable to locate any information about her other than she may practice personal injury law.

Christopher Green (I)
Raised $48,803 Loan $58,600

Judge Green has been a member of The Florida Bar for 31 years. He was appointed to the County Court bench in December of 2022 by Governor DeSantis.  He currently presides over civil cases in the South Dade Justice Center. This is his first election. Before his appointment, Judge Green was a trial attorney for 30 years with both civil and criminal jury trial experience.  He started his career as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County.  For the next 22 years, Judge Green worked as an Assistant City Attorney with the City of Miami City Attorney’s Office litigation division. 


Group 01 Patricia Marino-Pedraza

Group 02 Kristy M. Nunez 

Group 06 Jorge Perez Santiago

Group 10 Diana Gonzalez-Whyte 

Group 14 Gloria Gonzalez-Meyer 

Group 18 Betsy Alvarez-Zane

Group 21 Jacqueline Michelle Woodward 

Group 22 Linda Singer Stein

Group 26 Maria De Fatima Ortiz 

Group 32 Lizzet Martinez 

Group 33 Eleane Sosa-Bruzon 

Group 37 Yara Lorenzo Klukas 

Group 40 Michael George Barket 

Group 41 Larry King 

Group 43 Milena Abreu


We will continue to monitor both the local election office as well as the office in Tallahassee for any group movement by the candidates as well as any new filings over the next 11 days.


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


Monday, April 15, 2024

ELECTION CENTRAL - 2024 - CIRCUIT COURT RACES


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION CENTRAL - 2024

On August 20th, voters in Miami-Dade County will head to the polls to elect several new judges in both the Circuit and County Court. As I have for the past 19 years, your Captain will be on top of all of the races, bringing you the breaking news that our readers have come to expect from your humble Blogger. You won’t get this kind of coverage in the Miami Herald, nor the Daily Business Review, the Miami News (now I’m aging myself), or any other local thread. Thanks to Rumpole and the Justice Building Blog our readers know that they will obtain their best election coverage from The Captain.

Today, we bring you the filings from the Circuit Court.

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE:

There are a total of 24 Circuit Court Groups up for election in 2024. The deadline for filing is Friday, April 26, 2024. With 11 days to go, we currently have three judges who are retiring. Group 8, where Incumbent Judge David Miller is retiring, has drawn two candidates, and one name should be very familiar to most of our readers as he has been a Judge and ran in two contested elections in the past. In Group 29, where Incumbent Judge Pedro Echarte is retiring, that Group has also drawn two candidates.  In Group 49, Incumbent Judge Terera Pooler is retiring, and only one candidate has filed so far.

The other 21 Groups have Incumbent judges currently facing no opposition.

***In the contested and open races we are providing you with information on how much money the candidates have raised as well as how much they have loaned their individual campaigns.


GROUP 8 (Judge David Miller retiring)

Jason Edward Bloch
Raised $0.00 Loan $575,025

Jason Bloch has been a member of The Florida Bar for 30 years. He spent 20 years working for Miami-Dade County as an Assistant County Attorney. He was appointed to the Circuit Court bench by Governor Rick Scott in 2014. He ran in his first election in 2016 and lost to Judge Marcia del Rey 52% to 48%. He has spent the past seven years working pro bono on legal matters. He ran again for Circuit Court Judge in 2022 against Incumbent Judge Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts. He lost by 1,851 votes out of 262,589 votes; 50.4% to 49.6%.

Bonita Jones-Peabody
Raised  $28,526 Loan $25

Ms. Jones-Peabody has been a member of The Florida Bar for 33 years. She is currently working as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County as a supervisory and training attorney. She has been with the office of Carlos Martinez for the past 20 years.


GROUP 29 (Judge Pedro Echarte retiring)

Heloiza Correa
Raised $107,313 Loan $11,000

Ms. Correa has been a member of The Florida Bar for 14 years. She is originally from Brazil. She began her legal career as an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County working there for nearly four years. She spent three years working for a law firm before opening up her own law office. She concentrates her practice in the areas of commercial litigation, complex business litigation, and construction litigation.

Cristobal David Padron
Raised $2,700 Loan $120,000

Mr. Padron has been a member of The Florida Bar for 12 years. He is a solo practitioner working in the areas of family law, dissolutions of marriage, paternity actions, domestic violence matters, as well as complex civil litigation and appeals.


GROUP 49 (Judge Teresa Pooler retiring)

Marie Elizabeth Mato
Raised $133,884 Loan $10,100

Ms. Mato has been a member of The Florida Bar for 24 years. She has dedicated her entire legal career as an Assistant Sate Attorney in Miami-Dade County where she currently handles the most serious felony cases in the office.


GROUP 2 Ariana Fajardo Orshan

GROUP 13 Jose L Fernandez

GROUP 14 Vivianne del Rio

GROUP 15 Maria Elena Verde

GROUP 24 Mindy S. Glazer

GROUP 25 Yery Marrero

GROUP 31 Carlos Lopez

GROUP 36 Lisa Sharon Walsh

GROUP 42 Miguel M. de la O

GROUP 43 Ellen Sue Venzer

GROUP 47 Maria de Jesus Santovenia

GROUP 53 Jason Emilios Dimitris

GROUP 54 Antonio "Tony" Arzola

GROUP 56 Javier A Enriquez

GROUP 58 Diana Vizcaino

GROUP 61 Christine Bandin

GROUP 66 Lourdes Simon

GROUP 68 Victoria del Pino

GROUP 71 Charlie Johnson

GROUP 78 Valerie R. Manno Schurr

GROUP 80 Marisa Tinkler Mendez


We will monitor both the local election office as well as the office in Tallahassee for any Group movement by the candidates as well as any new filings over the next 11 days.

TOMORROW, THE COUNTY COURT RACES.


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



Wednesday, April 10, 2024

DONT GO

 There is a "happy hour" sponsored by the Dade County Bar Association on April 11. 

Here are all the reasons you should not go. 

1. There will be civil lawyers present. 

2. They will probably be drinking white wine spritzers. nuff said, right? But if you're still considering....

3. Their war stories are always something like "Then during summary judgement they forgot I had an affidavit from the insurer indemnifying my client ...." as which point all the civil drones listening say something like "Are you kidding me? I would have love to seen what Judge Monica-Beth Gonzalez-Schwartz-Sanchez-Goldstein said when you dropped that on them!!!!!" 

4. They will endlessly complain about having to wait to use a Tesla supercharger. "I liked it better when I was the only one in my neighborhood who had a Tesla. Now everyone has one."

5. They will want to show you pictures from their phone of their Italy trip last summer. "Here we are getting Pizza in Rome. Isn't my youngest cute? And here we are at the famous steps and when my wife learned we had to walk up them she told us to go without her..." 

6. They will say things like "So I bought Bitcoin when it was fifty dollars and I have 20 coins. How many do you have and I'm thinking of selling my Apple stock that I bought at 30 three years ago and buying Eth. How much Eth do you have?" 

7. At which point they will say "Did I tell you about the summary judgment motion I won last week?"

8.  Did we mention this event will be populated by civil lawyers? 

9. And as you walk away from the ignoramus with the Tesla and Bitcoin you will stumble into a covenant of civil lawyers and one will be saying "So I turned down the 1.4 million offer and said see you at trial and like an hour later their insurance lawyer started blowing up my phone..." 

10. Most of the food most likely will be gluten free vegan crapola. Our whole generation was raised on gluten and we all seem to be doing just fine. 

So do not go. But if you must then....


But wait! We have another reason... 

11) Qualification season is upon us, and as the weeks dwindle down, your favourite judge up for reelection cannot resist an event with lawyers and free food, so not only will you have to endure civil lawyers, but judges hunting for donations. 

You have been warned. 

RSVP here and tell them that under no circumstances will we be attending so the bourbon is safe. 


]

Monday, April 08, 2024

715

 Because baseball matters. On 4/8/1974 Henry Aaron hit home run number 715 passing George Herman Babe Ruth as the all time home run leader. 

Aaron's life was threatened. He was called disgusting names. His family was also threatened. Because he was a black man breaking the most hallowed record in sports. 

This was in 1974- during our lifetime. Fifty years ago this Monday. In the United States of America a black man's life was threatened because he had the temerity to hit more home runs than anyone else in our national pastime. 

Something to think about. 

Here's the video. 



Saturday, April 06, 2024

JUDGE ILLANA DIAMOND ROVNER

 We came across this wonderful article on Judge Illana Diamond Rovner, the first woman on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. 



Appointed by Ronald Wilson Reagan, she is everything a great judge should be. She has an amazing life story starting with her parents fleeing the Nazis six weeks after she was born in 1938. Her father was able to immigrate from Latvia and save his family's life. This was back when the United States was a beacon of freedom to the world and immigration was not a dirty word. (And yes we are well aware of the abject failures of the Roosevelt administration to do more to allow more people fleeing Nazism into the United States, but we can celebrate the success of this immigrant Judge). 

We recommend you read the article. Particularly striking is her recollection of her and two other women sitting in the first row of law school at Georgetown and the idiot professor telling them on the first day of class that he wore a black armband when women were admitted and he would not be calling on any of them. Or her experiences being a supervisor in the Department of "Justice" and male colleagues walking out because they would not accept being supervised by a woman. 

This all happened in our lifetime. This is not 100 years ago.  It  was a time before Starbucks and IG and Door Dash so we get that the 30 something DeSantis judges cannot relate to her experience- especially being a dirty foreign female immigrant and all.* But like it or not we are all sitting in the shade of an oak tree from acorns that Judge Illana Diamond Rovner planted. And we are all better off for it. 


 We do not condone this language. We use it to show how the presidential candidate of the same party as Ronald Reagan who at least 40%-45% of the American Public plan on supporting speaks about immigrants and immigration. Because in their world the next Judge Diamond Rovner cannot come from Mexico or Nicaragua or Honduras. In fact, just spit balling here, but if they had a chance to vote on banning any person not born in the United States from being a judge, is there any doubt in your mind they would do so and the DeSantis- Maga-Federalist Society idiots would all jump on board? 

And yes we call the federalist society a bunch of idiots because we were there when it was formed and we know that the foundation of the group was based on certain philosophical and epistemological principles like what is a right and where does it come from that these fed-soc puppies with their tongues hanging out have never read or even heard about. They just want to be told to sit up, give their paw, be patted on the head and made a judge. It makes us sick.   

Thursday, April 04, 2024

SAO DIVISION ASSIGNMENTS

 The start of baseball season reminds us that you can't tell the players without a programme. 

Springtime turns a young ASAs thoughts to promotion or that job at the insurance company defense firm paying 125K to start. 

Herewith we (no altruists us) provide you our readers the latest update of the SAO division assignments. 

For some reason we cannot find Michael Von Zamft's new assignment. Hmm...may have to check further on that. 

MISDEMEANOR DIVISION (Motto: "Wrecking the future of poor people one misdemeanor conviction at a time."  


Misd Division Assignments 2-19-24 by Anonymous PbHV4H on Scribd

 

 FELONY DIVISION (Motto "Nothing better than offering five years prison for resisting with violence")
 

Felony Division Lawyers March 24 by Anonymous PbHV4H on Scribd

Monday, April 01, 2024

COURTHOUSE UPDATES

 As we start the new month of April, we have some updates on courthouses. 

As the new civil courthouse rises, so does the anticipation of what it will be, including the amenities. Today we learned some inside information about the new civil courthouse, including ....

There will be a food court and besides Chick-fil-A and a Cuban Cafe, such high-end eateries like Prime 112 (they have a great kobe beef hot dog)  and a high-end lunch restaurant run by famed chef Thomas Keller, he of French Laundry fame, who runs an "impossible to get into" restaurant at the Surf Club- tentatively to be called "The Verdict".  Also in the works is a "judges only" Nobu sushi restaurant on one of the tops floors, along with what is being called a "luxury" gym and spa requiring paid memberships.  Now your favourite judge can deny your motion for summary judgment,  bounce upstairs and hop on a Peloton before eating a half a sushi roll at Nobu because they are all on Ozempic like everyone else. 

Not to be out done, the REGJB downstairs will be getting a ...brace yourself...Whole Foods!!!! Including a juice bar and soup and salad bar. Healthy eating is apparently in these days. Tentative opening date is one year from today 4/1/2025. 

LEGAL BETTING ON THE LAW 

And finally, word comes that the Hard Rock sports betting app- which is the only legal sports betting in Florida,  is now expanding to cover bets on the upcoming judicial races as well as trials. You like the defense in an upcoming DUI trial? Check the app and see if you can get a not guilty at +140 (bet 100 to win 140). Word is some enterprising lawyers approached the Hard Rock and got them to book the bets with the lawyers setting the odds and splitting the wins and losses. 

The big bets will naturally be on the upcoming Trump trials. Right now the only odds are for the case in NYC and the odds against a full acquittal (the defendant is charged in over 30 counts) are over 50-1 meaning the bookmakers are calling a total not guilty a big long shot. To bet on a conviction on any count is -680 meaning you have to bet 680 to win 100, which means the prosecution is a serious favorite in this case. 

Those are your courthouse updates for today, enjoy.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

BURT YOUNG HAS PASSED AWAY


 

Burton Young, a true legend in law, passed away Saturday night at the age of 96. 

Burt Young was a past president of the Florida Bar. Under his leadership the nomination process for Judges in Florida became non-political and non-partisan for many years. 

Burton Young practiced family law well into his 90s and for decades he was the go-to lawyer in a family case and was recognized as the dean of that area of the law. His practiced included trial, appellate and cases before the Florida Supreme Court.  

Burton Young was known as both a gentleman in and out of court, coming from a time when a lawyer's word was his/her bond, and he trained generations of lawyers to practice what he preached. While he was born in Philadelphia, he was a true Miamian and we as a community are much better off for the life he lived here. 

As many of you know, Burton Young was the father of Judge David Young, and our condolences go out to Judge Young and his family including Judge Scott Bernstein.

Here is the obituary with funeral information and information on the endowment at U of M Law School.  

Friday, March 29, 2024

SBF

 The sentencing of Sam Bankman-Fried this week was a disgrace. For everyone who thinks our legal system is superior to China's or Russia's, think again. The system digested a young man who is on the autism scale, chewed him up, and sentenced him to a third of his life in a prison where any talent and ability he has will go to waste. 

The lawyers who practice criminal law know how difficult prison is. Explain to us how a sentence of ten years, or 3, 650 days, about 15% of a person's life expectancy, is not a deterrent? 

First of all, the biggest lie/fraud in the criminal justice system is the concept of deterrence: Do people look at sentences and say to their co-conspirators "hey that guy only got ten years so let's keep committing our fraud?"  Of course not. 

If deterrence worked, the murder rate in Florida would be close to zero. So let's dispense with that fraud and move on to punishment. 

People who think a year or five years in prison is a light sentence have never spent a day in prison. They do not know what it is like to lose your privacy, your ability to make decisions for yourself, and this doesn't even begin to address the absolute disgrace of sexual violence against female inmates by guards. Imagine being sick in prison- perhaps your appendix has burst, and you tell a guard you don't feel good and have a stomach ache and they think you're faking. 

But beyond that, in a discussion about punishment for a non-violent offense, there is little to no justification for a sentence above ten years. First, post sentencing, the government takes nearly all the property of the accused. Did you know that the government can and does seek forfeiture AND restitution for the same amount of loss? When they take a bank account or home as a forfeiture, they do NOT have to credit what is taken for restitution. Don't believe us? Fight a post sentencing forfeiture where your client has paid a substantial amount of restitution, and we promise you the federal-drone-AUSA will parrot the same damn thing to you and the court in filings and during argument: "forfeiture is different from restitution" blah blah blah- they double dip. 

And BTW- if you think there is ANYTHING a client can do to protect assets, you are wrong. Florida Homestead protects a home from the feds in a forfeiture? Think again- the 11th Circuit has ruled again and again that the government can take a home otherwise protected by Homestead. 

So now, a year post sentencing, the government has stripped SBF's assets like a vulture picking at the bones of a jackrabbit lying dead in the desert. He will be barred from participating in the financial industry. He will not be able to get credit. He won't be able to get a job at McDonalds. Sitting ten years is more than enough of a punishment. 

SBF is not Bernie Madoff. He did not steal from families, retirees, and widows. He diverted money that people invested in crypto-currency into other accounts that he- and his compatriots who all cooperated  against him- used for improper purposes like personal goods, and political and charitable donations. Much of the diversion of funds was done, and suggested by those SBF trusted. And somehow all of those financial criminals got less than 10 years. 

The judge was worried about future dangerousness. So that means being bankrupt, incarcerated for ten years, and subject upon release to supervised release would not stop SBF from somehow committing more crimes?  We think the reason was specious. Any person has the potential to do good or bad. And what about the ability to mature and reflect upon one's crimes over ten freaking years? If SBF was sentenced when Obama was president and got out today would we all be lamenting the failure of the justice system to punish him? There are hundreds of people who commit financial frauds more sophisticated and devious than what SBF did who have received sentences in the 5-to-10 year range and somehow our financial system manages to survive with them out of prison. 

The Judge's denial of the possibility of any rehabilitation and reflection was breathtakingly cruel. 

What the federal system did to SBF is cruel and unusual and a dark stain on the concept of justice. 

Shame on them all.   We are no better than any country we scoff at. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

OMINIOUS PARALLELS

 We have a little historical quiz for you. No Googling! See how you do. 

1) Who said "Immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country?"

A) Donald Trump B) Adolph Hitler C) 

2) Having won an election, who said "There has never been anything like this in our history?" 

A) Donald Trump B) Adolph Hitler C) Thomas Dewey 

3)  Upon assuming power, who said "We will never surrender power. They will have to drag our corpses out of here" ? 

A) Donald Trump B) Adolph Hitler C) Stephen Miller D) Joseph Goebbels 

4)  Having lost an election, who went to court to have the election results nullified? 

A) Donald Trump B) Adolph Hitler C) Both Trump and Hitler D) Harold Stassen 

5) Having lost an election, who said "This feat has never been equaled and I have done this despite the unconstitutional ban placed on my broadcasting election appeals." 

A) Donald Trump B) Adolph Hitler  C) Al Gore 

6) Having been indicted and charged with a crime, who vowed revenge on politicians who "stabbed me in the back" and called them "traitors"? 

A) Donald Trump B) Adolph Hitler C) Joseph McCarthy 

7) Running for office, who promised to "dismantle the multi-party political system that fractured the nation and pitted individual against individual, farmer against farmer and labor against workers?"

A) Donald Trump B) Adolph Hitler C) Karl Marx

8) When briefed on _____'s behavior and after meeting him,  a political power broker was heard to say "What am I to do with that psychopath?" Who was the speaker talking about? 

A) Donald Trump B) Adolph Hitler C) Mao 

______________

Answers 

NB: Our source for the Hitler comments is the wonderful new book Takeover, Hitler's Rise to Power by Timothy W. Ryback. 

1)  Trump was quoted by saying this in recent political rallies and told that Hitler used the same words. 

2)  On July 31, 1932, Hitler said this about the results of his National Socialist Party winning 230 seats in the 600 member Reichstag. The National Socialists won the largest block of votes, although not a majority that Hitler was hoping for, it allowed him to form a coalition and be offered the Chancellorship. We find it remarkable that Hitler used the "No one has seen anything like this" type of rhetoric  that the former president often includes in his comments about nearly everything.  

3) Joseph Goebbels said this after Hitler was offered the Chancellorship. It is ominous that Trump has his own Goebbels in Miller. 

4) Both Hitler and Trump went to court after they lost an election. In April 1932, before the July election, Hitler lost the Reich presidency to  Hindenburg by 5,941,582 votes.  The Court upheld the election results, ruling that the margin of victory was "so significant that it made no sense for a national recount of the ballots."  Hitler nevertheless declared victory and claimed the election was stolen. Sound familiar? 

5) This was Hitler after the loss in April 1932. His words sound strangely familiar though, don't they? Be honest, many of you thought Trump said this. And that should bother you as much as it does us. 

6) This was Hiter after being arrested in 1919 after the failed Beer Hall Putsch. He also vowed "heads will roll". 

7) Hitler said this. 

8) Kurt Von Schleicher, the German defense minister who was known as the ultimate Berlin Power broker said this after meeting with Hitler to discuss the results of the July 1932 election. 

The point of this little exercise is how closely the words of two evil men mirror each other. We have no idea if Trump chooses his words to mirror Hitler. We doubt he is that smart. But what Trump is doing is using the same playbook that Hitler used. Both men gained power by appealing  to an uneducated and depressed lower middle class for his power, blaming the troubles of their respective countries on immigrants. 


Tuesday, March 26, 2024

YOU'RE LATE

 The comments section is rife with complaints about Judges (one in particular) demanding that lawyers go to their courtroom first and judges giving a lawyer who shows up at 9:15 or 9:30 for a case set at      9 am a hard time. 

We agree with the commentators who have expressed both dismay and outrage at the judge(s) who act that way. It is petty, tyrannical and wrong.  This is not federal court where one case is set at 9 am. That is a horse of a different color. 

Let us extrapolate. 

It took us well more than two decades of taking most cases that walked through the door and being in the REGJB every day before we could build a reputation that allowed us to charge more and be more discriminating in the cases we accepted. During that time period Mondays brought us calendars with 15 or 20 different courtrooms to be at- albeit this was a time before BOT when there was a thriving DUI criminal defense business along with our felonies and the odd federal case. 

The judges in the REGJB knew us and many of our compatriots who worked the same way. The judges  understood that if were not in their courtroom when the case was called we would be there shortly. The best of them told our clients that they knew us and were sure we would be there shortly. The worst of them berated us in absentia.

If anything, the practice of criminal law has gotten more difficult. There are more lawyers competing for the same clients and the price of representation that a young lawyer can charge is going down. Which mean those young lawyers within the first ten years of their practice have to run a volume business as they seek to build their reputation. We've all be there (except maybe for DOM) and when we say "we" that includes many of judges who ran small practices before assuming the bench. 

There should be a level of understanding that a good lawyer, who is always in court, might be stuck before a judge moving slow, or taking an early plea and that within reason, a lawyer who shows up at 9:10 or 9:20 for a 9 AM case that is not special set should not be berated by the judge. 

We all know the lawyers who are in the REGJB every day, working hard, trying cases and defending their clients. This is about them and not the troublesome lawyer who has a reputation of always being late. 

And speaking of that, there are a coterie of Judges who do not start on time.  And they are part of the calculus that the everyday REGJB lawyer has to deal with. Sometimes lawyers are late because the y are waiting for the judge who set the case at 8:30 to start.  

So this is for them- the good, hardworking, young and busy lawyers who may show up to a courtroom a few minutes late. Most likely they have been in the REGJB since 8 or 8:30, running around, doing their work as best they can. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and not be told by a Judge that they have to come to his/her courtroom first.  Such an attitude exhibits a stunning ignorance of the difficulty of running a small legal criminal defense practice. It's the type of belittling selfishness that the Broward Judiciary circa 1980s'1990's was infamous for.  

Monday, March 25, 2024

JAIL DIVISION BACKLOG

 Good Monday morning. How are your brackets? We've never filled out a bracket, but we love watching the tournament. 

There's a lot of big news in Court these days. A former president has two legal issues in the Big Apple today. The scheduling of his criminal trial, and the expiration of the grace period to post a half a billion-dollar bond for lying about his worth when obtaining loans. Remember when ex-presidents made news for flying to Hati to help the rebuilding process after a hurricane like Clinton and GHW Bush did? Those were the days. 

But the big national news is not in NYC. It is here in our humble REGJB when the leaders of county court (Motto "Waiting for that next circuit vacancy") issued their long awaited, much anticipated plan to ease the backlog in the jail division. Up next for the County Court intelligentsia:  Reversing Global Warming In Three Easy Steps. *

Good morning.  As most of you are aware, the Jail Division (Courtroom 6-5) is currently overwhelmed with a large number of cases.  At the request of all parties that work in the jail division, we have devised a plan that we believe will alleviate this backlog.  As such, effective Monday, April 8, 2024, the following plan will take effect:

On Mondays and Tuesdays, Judge Faber will handle the jail division reports from Courtroom 6-7. Calendars will begin at 9:00 a.m. (Zoom ID is 999-2126-3843).  We chose Mondays and Tuesdays because these are the heavy trials days in Courtroom 6-5.  This will allow Judge Correa (Courtroom 6-5) to focus on the trials, without the added responsibility of also having to call the jail report calendars. Any jail reports that need to be set on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday will continue to be heard by Judge Correa in Courtroom 6-5. 

We are confident that this plan will be beneficial to all parties.  Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information.  

Rumpole says:  So the misdemeanor jail division is "overwhelmed" with a backlog of cases. Hmm... what else can be done? The are assigning new judges, shuffling work load to process the defendants like cattle in the line at the abattoir.  What else could be done? Hmmm, that's a tough one. What else could be done to process misdemeanor defendants WHO ARE IN JAIL ON SOME STUPID MISDEMEANOR....  Wow, this is a tough one. How to handle people in jail on misdemeanors. We are stumped. Maybe some readers smarter than us could suggest something. 

 So in the late 1980s the circuit court instituted a back-up division of judges that tried two separate cases a day- one from 9-12 and a different case from 1-5. This is kind of like that with a back up judge not having to do calendar. 

When Judge Robert Scola was in Circuit Court he thought outside the box. He set almost all his calendar detritus on Fridays (other than emergency motions for bond and release and such) and started his trial at 9 am every day. That system seemed to work, and yet no one has tried to duplicate it. 


 Wait. As DeSantis appointee wannabees, they cannot even acknowledge that global warming exists or risk spending the next thirty years saying "withhold and court costs...next case...." 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

BOND STATUTE DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

UPDATE : WE HAVE   POSTED  THE ORDER  

UNCONSTITUTIONAL was the ruling of an REGJB  judge about the new bond statute.  Whilst we settle some tech issues preventing us from posting the order, take a guess about which judge issued the ruling and cited that noted legal authority Rudyard Kipling. 


Devon Te Fry Pt d Constitutionality Order PDF by Anonymous PbHV4H on Scribd

Monday, March 18, 2024

HAPPY GIDEON DAY

 In the summer of 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon faced a criminal trial in a state court in  Florida, on charges that he broke into a poolroom and stole coins from a cigarette machine. He asserted his innocence and requested a lawyer. That request was denied because, at the time, there was no right to a court-appointed lawyer barring certain special circumstances. Gideon cross- examined the state’s witnesses himself, without knowing the complexities of the criminal procedure law. He was basically a lifelong drifter at the age of 51, with an eighth-grade education. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.

Writing from his prison cell in Florida, he sent a handwritten petition to the United States Supreme Court arguing that the Constitution does not allow poor people to be convicted and sent to prison without legal representation. The time was finally right for this argument.


On March 18, 1963, Justice Hugo Black, writing for a unanimous Court, stated: “….reason and reflection require us to recognize that in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him. This seems to us an obvious truth….” and this right “may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.”

It is time for Gideon to be overruled. The words of Justice Black clearly indicate that the court applied "reason and reflection" and not the original text of the constitution. In re-reading the constitution we can find NO MENTION of public defenders, much less regional counsel and court appointed lawyers. If states want criminal defendants to have free counsel that should be left to state legislatures to enact such laws if their citizens want them. And we are sure the public will rally around paying taxes for free lawyers for criminals. Gideon is nothing more than activist judges imposing their will on what they think is good for society and that is an anathema to the right. 

So let's hear all of our DeSantis judges make a speech today against Gideon v. Wainwright and decry the public defender system. Show your true colors. In for a penny in for a pound.  As much as Roe was poorly written, the same analysis can be applied to Gideon- so DeSantis judges, time to stand up and show your true Federalist colors. Don't make any PD or RC3 appointments today. Write an order, and the next seat on the Supreme Court may be yours, as will a prime spot on Fox TV. 

Friday, March 15, 2024

REVENGE OF THE JEDI ii

 FACDL entered the MVZ/ SAO/ KFR/ LSMFT affray. 

Do you think ...

1) The SAO has a culture that not just tolerated the underhanded actions of MVZ and his minions, but encouraged and applauded them? 

2) That the State Attorney wants real change or just to sweep this under the rug. 

3) Do you think ALL of the cases that MVZ and his gang prosecuted and obtained convictions on should be reviewed? And if so, by whom? 

4) Who do you think the Dolphins should draft in the first round? We like the center from Oregon Jackson Powers-Johnson (JPJ) but he might be available in the second round. 



FACDL-Miami's Demand for Reform by Anonymous PbHV4H on Scribd

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

LYING LIARS

UPDATE: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (SORT OF)

In certain cultures they call this a mea culpa



UPDATE   MVZ RESIGNED TODAY Color us as : TOO LITTLE TOO LATE  

 A BOMBSHELL order rocked the REGJB Wednesday as Judge Wolfson found that the Dade County State Attorney's Office and ASA's Michael Von Zamft and Stephen Mitchell engaged in what we are calling a perversion of justice, witness tampering, disingenuous arguments to the Court, and general skullduggery that may warrant significant Bar sanctions in a death penalty case. 

What outraged Judge Wolfson- rightfully so- was the attempted coverup as the prosecutors continually argued that the defense was NOT entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the allegations- allegations that were proven well beyond a reasonable doubt. For example Mr. Von Zamft, recorded on a jail call, telling a witness that if another witness did not want to testify as he wanted, he would "arrange" for her to be unavailable and just read her prior testimony. This stuff may well be criminal. 

Word to our robed readers- when will you stop agreeing with prosecutors that defense motions do not need an evidentiary hearing? When will you start wondering what they are hiding? 

Add to the wrongdoing detailed in the order, add to the obstruction of justice as to witnesses testifying additional evidence of prosecutors getting witnesses to meet at the City of Miami Police Department to review their discovery and coordinate their testimony- along with certain "favors" the police provided (use your imagination- it's worse than you can conjure up) and what we have is a bombshell of an order and conduct that shocks the conscience of the blog. And we are not easily shocked  

And after you read it, think about this- If Mssrs. Mitchell and Von Zamft did this in this case- in which they were caught red handed-  what have they done in OTHER CASES in which they got away with their perversion of the criminal justice system? 

Maybe just maybe this will open some judges' minds if not their eyes. 

Bombshell Order by Anonymous PbHV4H on Scribd

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

ORIGINAL INTENT

 A thought occurred to us worthy of discussion. 

The authors of the Fourteenth Amendment, those holy men whose intent must be devised and divined from the historical clues they left us, wrote Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to make ineligible from holding office anyone who engaged in insurrection against the United States. 

The current group of five of six conservative justices on the Supreme Court [hereinafter Gang of 5 to 6] wrote that article three cannot be applied until Congress enacts laws to explain how section three should be applied. In other words, section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment was meaningless when written, and will continue to be meaningless until Congress enacts additional legislation. The section is not self-executing and cannot be used until Congress does more. 

Is there any other part of the Constitution that was meaningless upon ratification without more from Congress? 

The Gang of 5-6 decide nothing that is not consistent with original intent. Thus, the Gang of 5-6 are saying that those who wrote section 3, and the States that ratified it as an amendment to the Constitution, all agreed that they were enacting a meaningless section without further action. 

Interesting that for the first and only time, the Supreme Court has devised and divined that the framers of a part of the Constitution wrote something that they did not intend to be effective without more. 

Hmmmm......

Monday, March 04, 2024

SUPREME COURT TO COLORADO " DROP DEAD"

 The US Supreme Court (Motto "Wait, there are two political parties???" ) reversed the Colorado Supreme Court today and held that only that bastion of efficiency and decency and political moderation admired by the rest of the world - The US Congress - can remove President Trump from the ballot for being an insurrectionist and trying to overthrow the Presidential election results that were jiggered by Venezuelan Hackers in 2020. 

So much for "States rights" and returning the power to the States. That's all well and good unless your Republican rearend is gored by a Democratic Ox- then it's "well just hoooold on a second there cowboy...the states don't have any idea how to run things. Y'all need Congressional oversight on these matters." 

Here's the opinion and the (not) funny part is how a Trump judge tries to tell everyone that all nine members of the Court agreed, and the three judges with a brain huddled in a corner for comfort replied that the decision was not as unanimous as it might first appear. 



Trump by Anonymous PbHV4H on Scribd

Saturday, March 02, 2024

THE STORY OF RAY DAVIS

 If you want an inspiring and uplifting story then click the link and read about Ray Davis, a remarkable young man who is about to get drafted into the NFL. 

Both parents in prison, he missed school to care for his younger siblings.  He never stopped believing in himself and eventually, with a little help from some angels in his life, he's on the verge of being drafted into the NFL.  If it was up to us- based on character- he would be selected number one. 

Even someone as grouchy as we are teared up at the court hearing that is reported in the story. We are not going to spoil it- it's a small part of a remarkable story. 

Sometimes, the good-guys win.  The story is in the Athletic, which is what took over for the NY Times when they disbanded their sports department. We didn't think it would work, but actually the Athletic does a fine job. 

Click on the link and enjoy: Ray Davis. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

JUDGE HENDON HAS PASSED AWAY

 This is breaking news that we learned of this morning (Tuesday). We will update as we receive more information. This is both unexpected and terribly sad. Judge Hendon was amongst the best we in Miami-Dade had for the bench. His most recent appointment was the Third DCA. 


From: Judge Thomas Logue, Chief
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2024 9:45 AM
Subject: Passing of the Honorable Eric William Hendon

 

Dear Court Family:

 

With a great sense of loss, I share with you that our colleague and brother, the Honorable Eric William Hendon, died last night at Baptist Hospital. He passed in comfort and love surrounded by his wife, Diane Kennedy Hendon, his son, Lt. Col. James Hendon, and his brother, Dr. Marvin Hendon.

 

Judge Hendon brought to this court decades of experience as a trial lawyer, appellate advocate, and trial judge, as well as kindness, humor, and good fellowship. He relished his work as an appellate judge and spoke with pride and appreciation of the talent and effort of all the members of the court family.

 

Judge Hendon lived a great life, overcoming much and achieving much. He was something of a child prodigy in music and education. He loved classical music, expensive cars, and traveling to virtually every corner of the world with his wife, Diane. His presence will be sorely missed. Please join me in keeping him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

 

Sincerely,

 

Thomas Logue,

Chief Judge, Third District Court of Appeal of Florida,

Monday, February 26, 2024

FLACO AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

 

Flaco The Owl. 
Two topics to start off the week. The first is that Falco, a Eurasian Owl that had escaped the Central Park Zoo (as a law student we signed on to work on the case circa late 1970s to shut the old zoo down) died in NYC last week. 

Like many New Yorkers, we were captivated by Flaco, who was born in captivity. He was freed last year by what the Zoo called an "act of vandalism" but about which we cheered. There were concerns that Flaco would starve but he soon proved to be an adept hunter of rats in Central Park. The Twitter (now X) feeds documenting Flaco are worth a look. 

Like all New Yorkers, Flaco had  wanderlust. He decamped to the Lower East Side last spring. The speculation was that he, like many of his fellow New Yorkers, was looking for love in the Village. He then returned to his favourite tree in Central Park, where he occasionally ventured into the Upper West Side, but like us, he apparently found it boring, and always returned home. 

We are going to say this one time: Animals belong in the wild and not in Zoos. Period. End of discussion. You disagree? Go live in a cage for a year and let us know how you like it. 

The second issue for the day is the handwringing by Constitutional Law Professors over the teaching of Con Law now that the Court is populated by second level intellects of a certain political persuasion. Oh what to do

The NY Times article is here. 

When did you lose faith in the Court? 

For us we could say it was the opinion in Wickard v. Filburn, holding that a farmer could not consume the wheat he grew because of the greater good (altruistic collectivism in its most basic form).  Or maybe it was Buck v. Bell upholding the forced sterilization of people with diminished mental capacity, which caused Justice Homes to write in 1927 that  "Three generations of idiots are enough."  Who said only the Nazis had a monopoly on eugenics?

By the time the Court decided Bush v. Gore and stopped the counting of votes for President we were done, at least in the belief that the reasons behind the decisions were purely legal. 

And we predict it will even get worse. Our Governor selects Judges recommended by a conservative society who has lost its roots. Our wanna be judges fall all over themselves to ignore morality, common sense, and reason, and only employ a careful parsing of what idiot lawmakers in Tallahassee wrote (Unless its a pesky death penalty precedent, and then it's "Out with the old and in with the Right" ). 

Sorry but the death of Flaco just has us totally bummed. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

NEW JUDGES

Fresh off the campaign trail where he couldn't beat a rapist and accused felon, Governor DeSantis reluctantly turned his attention to Florida business and appointed four judges for Miami. In a surprising development only two of four were prosecutors. In a development that surprised nobody, none of them had any experience representing people accused of a crime. 

So more Desantis judges. More books being banned. More motions seeking to enforce  rights under the constitution denied. Yawn...another day and more judges who have faithfully sworn to do nothing more than call balls and strikes. 

County Court Judge Carlos Gamez was appointed to the circuit court. He takes over the prestigious "Aponte Division".  Things are looking "Rosy" for Judge Gomez. 

Christine Hernandez was a state attorney and US Attorney and now she is a circuit judge. 

 Jennifer Hochstadt was appointed to the County Bench. She was an Assistant County Attorney. 

 Jason Reding QuiƱones was appointed to the County Court. He is a former Fed... and so it goes. 

As you can see, we are just soooo excited by all of this. 


Friday, February 16, 2024

MYSTERY SOLVED

 Ever wonder what that person wearing a robe sitting a few feet above everyone else is doing during court or during a trial?  They stare intently at a CRT screen, frown a bit, and are fully engrossed in their endeavors. Surely they are putting the finishing touches on a groundbreaking law review article on the Fourth Amendment and Inevitable Discovery ("How To Deny Every Motion To Dismiss With Confidence And Get That Appointment To The Appellate Court") ; or maybe they are examining the dissent to an Alaskan Supreme Court case on an obscure point of law a lawyer just raised- legal scholars they. 

True Story; During a rather admittedly boring and long pre-trial detention motion, the magistrate called us up side bar and we got there quicker than they were expecting and glimpsed their computer screen. After the government earnestly argued their objection and we responded and were royally dismissed with a wave, we stopped, turned and said "Black ten on red jack" and then kept walking. 

Well, we know what Oklahoma Judge (now former judge) Traci Soderstram was doing during a murder trial- texting her bailiff and making snarky and sexually suggestive comments about various participants in the trial.   Here is one news report.

Traci is our first nominee for Judge of the year, 2024 edition. We are sure there will be others. 

Lesson: during a boring trial or pre-trial detention hearing, play solitaire like the rest of the judges and don't text while on camera. DUH.