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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BREAKDOWN!

(In a resigned voice as if he says this 100's of times a day):
"Hi. Welcome to the department of corrections. Please sign in and take a seat. We will be with your shortly."

"Yes, but you see I have to be back at work by 1:30 pm. Lots of people will be waiting for me."

"We all have to be back at work lady. Look around. See all those people ahead of you? They all want to be somewhere else too."

(Leaning over to whisper) "Yes, but you see, I'm a judge. I have a court calendar at 1:30."

Probation Intake Officer sitting behind the counter- leans back in his cheap, state issued swivel chair and loudly calls out to colleague "HEY GEORGE WE GOT SOME LADY HERE WHO SAYS  SHE'S A JUDGE!!" 
He swivels back to the woman: "Look lady, take a seat, right there, next to the governor and behind the senator."
 Probation Intake officer laughs to himself "A judge. Now I've seen it all." 

(Woman walks away, head hanging.)

Probation Intake Officer: "Hey lady, you need to sign in. Tell me your name. Your name."

"Lynn Rosenthal. Judge Lynn Rosenthal."

Item: 
Broweird Judge Lynn Rosenthal entered a plea of no contest to the reduced charge of reckless driving (what the DUI mavens call in their unique vernacular and nomenclature a "breakdown".)
She was sentenced to three months probation and twenty five community service hours. 

The Sun Sentinel article is here. 

So go put your client on probation in Broweird. You never know who she'll meet. 

See you in court. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

JUSTICE OR VENGEANCE ?

There was a time, before legislators reacted to Hollywood movies and began enacting sentencing guidelines and minimum mandatory laws, when Judges could be Judges instead of calculators. 
There was a time when Judges like Ed Cowart, Tom Scott, Tom Carney, Herb Klein, David Tobin, were trusted with deciding a sentence. They presided over a case, or listened to the facts of a plea, and based on their legal experience, sentenced a defendant. 

Then a few sentences got headlines, a few movies began to show criminals being released from prison and running amok in society, and everyone over-reacted and the legislature placed most of the sentencing power in the hands of a 25-30 year old prosecutor a few years removed from law school. Judges, many of who were  practicing law for as long as many of the prosectors appearing before them were alive, were regulated to moderately paid calculators - sorting through the alphabet soup of minimum mandatory sentencing laws (HVO, HO, PERP, WTF, etc) the prosecution refused to waive, totaling points, and imposing sentences without regard to the particular facts of the case. 

Rare is the case where a judge has any real discretion. 

Rarer is the jurist with the guts to exercise that discretion. 

It's easy to sentence a defendant to the maximum prison sentence. It doesn't make headlines in the Herald. Dog bites man. 
It's hard to temper justice with mercy. To ignore the bloodlust of prosecutors after a hard fought trial and sentence a defendant to what he or she deserves (in that Judge's opinion) without the fear or the Herald or the dreaded "victim".  Man bites dog. 

When did "victims", most of whom are not lawyers, take over sentencing? 
When politicians took over criminal law. 
This is not to disparage the victim of a crime. 
But victims are emotionally attached to what happened to them. They mostly cannot see justice, and just want vengeance. And criminal law is supposed to be about justice and not vengeance. 
But walk through any criminal court these days and you frequently hear the refrain "The victim wants the MAX" as the prosecutor's explanation as to why they cannot offer a reasonable plea that everyone but the emotionally affected victim knows is correct.

Nobody (successfully) runs for office on the slogan "fair on crime." 

Enter Judge Milt Hirsch. Faced with sentencing a 76 year old lawyer with prison, he instead issued a sentence that he thought fair or just. 
Judge Hirsch's sentence might be right. 
Or it might be wrong. 

But on this point there can be no doubt- it's the sentence of a JUDGE. Not a coward. Not a prosecution lackey who's afraid of the Herald and kowtows to victims who are understandably and rightfully upset. 
Tough decisions aren't always popular. But this is why we pay Judges those mediocre salaries: to do justice in the face of cries for vengeance. 

Sometimes, as Winston Spencer Churchill observed, you need to fight even though you may not win:

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

Better to do justice as a Judge, then perish a slave and lackey to prosecutors and negative media. 




Saturday, July 19, 2014

AN ETHICAL LOOPHOLE

Miami Dade Judicial races bring out the......best? nah.  Brightest? Hardly. 

But a lawyer with an ethics probe or two? 
Take a number, get in line, pay your entrance fee and jump in the race. 

You wanna dance, you gotta pay the band. 
You wanna run for judge, you gotta pay the man. 
(taken from Rocky Balboa, Rocky.)



Benefited from a loophole.

And that brings us to Veronica Diaz, age 36,  Assistant City Attorney, legal experience about ten years, life experience less than four score.  Clerked for which Justice of the Supreme Court? Circuit Court? District Court? Dunno. 




Authored which winning appellate  briefs before the 3rd DCA? 11th Circuit? Can't find any. 
Tried how many jury trials?  Not really sure. 

But she's newsworthy all right. 

Hustles cases from the City Attorneys Office and The City of Miami (Motto: "we're shocked! Shocked! to find fraud in our city") 
to her BF's law firm: "Dewey, Cheatdecity, & Howe". At least that's the allegations. And as even an experienced and wise litigator like Ms. Diaz can tell you: innocent until proven.....hmmm..oh, yeah, guilty. Or as we say in Miami: Cupable. 

The sordid mess is reported in the Herald here. 


What the city didn't know at the time — and which nobody appears to have disclosed — [Horvat] was required to transfer its entire fee to the law firm run by Diaz's live-in boyfriend, Alvarez, under the terms of Horvat's employment arrangement with Alvarez Carbonell,” investigator Lawrence Lebowitz wrote.
The requirement was triggered, according to the investigator, because Alvarez brought the work to Horvat.
The no-bid contracts with Horvat didn’t violate any purchasing laws, because unlike other city departments the Miami City Attorney’s Office contracts with attorneys without a bidding requirement or any kind of rotating contract system. But Lebowitz wrote that “the appearance of impropriety is strong.”
“The only reason a complaint is not being filed under the anti-Nepotism provisions of the county code is because ‘fiancĂ©’ or ‘long-term, live-in boyfriend’ are not included in the definitions of what constitutes an ‘immediate family’ member,” he wrote. (Rumpole notes: this is what you call a classic legal loophole.)

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/18/4243400/ethics-probe-assistant-miami-city.html#storylink=cpy



Ms. Diaz might not have all the credentials one would hope for in a potential jurist given the power of life or death over a defendant, but she's got life experience. That's what being under investigation does to you. It gives you experience and perspective. 

See You Monday. 

Oh yeah, there's another investigation- she likes to rock out to electronic dance music at Ultra for free, which is otro problema for the candidate, since she accepted two free weekend VIP passes valued at $1,500.00 while negotiating with the Ultra producers on behalf of the City. 

Leaked copies of a separate, ongoing audit show that Diaz is also currently under scrutiny for her receipt of two free VIP tickets from the Ultra music festival — a practice that isn’t uncommon among public Miami-Dade officials.


Ok, that's all for now because it's almost dinner time and we have to go buy dinner for the prosecutors handling our client's case Monday. No problem with that, right Ms. Diaz?

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/18/4243400/ethics-probe-assistant-miami-city.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, July 18, 2014

YOU SAY LAGOA, WE SAY LOGUA...LETS CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF

THE DADE COUNTY BAR POLL IS HERE!
THE DADE COUNTY BAR POLL IS HERE!!







Dade County Bar Association
2014 Judicial Poll 

The 2014 DCBA Judicial Poll will be conducted electronically and e-mailed to all members of The Florida Bar in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida* on July 16, 2014.  The deadline to complete the Judicial Poll is July 30, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. 

Poll results will be released on July 31, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in the Association's Executive Offices and will be posted on the DCBA's website.  We hope that everyone will take the time to vote.

To insure receipt, please set your spam filter to accept mail from:
Dade County Bar Online Voting [DadeCountyBar@BallotBoxOnline.com]
If you do not receive a Judicial Poll please check your junk file before contacting the DCBA.

Please note,  the last name of Third District Court of Appeal Judge Barbara Lagoa was misspelled as Barbara Logua.  We apologize for this error.  The security protocols do not permit us to edit any portion of the poll once it has been broadcast. 

Vote early. 
Vote often. 
Vote Lagoa....or Logua....

Hot summer weekend is here. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED

UPDATE: SCOTT SAUL IS A GREAT TRIAL LAWYER. ETHICAL. HONEST AND ALL AROUND GOOD GUY.
In the comments section of the last post, someone mentioned a disbarred lawyer with a first name of "saul". Other people began commenting about "Saul" being unethical and dishonest. In this day of Google, those comments could unfairly reflect on Scott Saul. We have fixed the issue as follows: 1- we removed the comments about "Saul", but not the comment with his full name. 2- With this update, it should- Google wise- knock the other comments out in any search, especially since we have deleted them.

We do our best to make sure innocent people don't get caught in the google shrapnel of dishonest comments (unlike the JAA blog which does not moderate comments). So hopefully this helps Scott Saul, who, as any judge or lawyer in Dade-Broward-West Palm, wherever, will tell you is an excellent, thorough, honest, talented, and all around great lawyer.


If you know what a "1201 alarm" and "1202 alarm" are then you, like us, think that 45 years ago on July 16, 1969, we as the human race neared the pinnacle of achievement when we blasted off from earth on an adventure that would end  four days later (July 20, 1969) with us landing two men on the moon.  What we did as the human race, and what the United States did, is truly remarkable, especially when considering 1969 technology. One man of vision, President Kennedy, challenged our country, and we responded with the greatest achievement in this history of this nation and the world. 

Watch the video. At about 30 seconds, the first of three 1201 and 1202 alarms occur. The alarm, which was the computer saying that it had too much to do and was going to start disregarding less important tasks and reboot, could have resulted in an abort. Despite the tens of thousands of hours of training, Armstrong and Aldrin  had a 1201 and 1202 alarm thrown at them only once  during any of the hundreds of simulated moon landings in the simulator- on the last day of training. 





Consider that the average age of the men in mission control was 26. 
And one of those 26 year olds was a man named Steve Bales. Bales recalled the alarms from the final SIM, and because the mission control team had trained so superbly, Bales who otherwise was not in the "go/no-go loop" stepped in, and knew immediately that in the parlance of NASA that they were still "go on that alarm." Bales communicated the "go" to Charlie Duke, the Capcom guy- the guy at NASA speaking to Aldrin and Armstrong, and Armstrong took manual control of the LEM while the computer rebooted. 

Then comes the real drama. At 3:45 of the video you quickly hear Duke say "30 seconds" which is the amount of fuel left. 30 seconds. A world away. Armstrong flying the LEM vertically by the seat of his pants over a big crater, burning fuel, the computer furiously re-booting, and as Duke famously an laconically  drawled once the Eagle had landed: "You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue down here" because they were all holding their breath. 

Amazing drama. A way too cool former Naval Aviator bringing his craft down with a few seconds of fuel left before disaster,  on ....the MOON! 

Humans were on the moon. Just stop and think how remarkable that was and is. And  if we can do that, what can't we do? We can cure any disease, fix any problem, reverse global warming, stop losing rain forests, and have world peace. We can do anything (except quicken the lines into the REGJB) because we put men on the moon. This was the world we grew up in. 

What a day. What an achievement. The best we are as a country and as a race of humans on this small blue and green planet. 

See You in Court. 

BLAST OFF



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

JUST A NORMAL TRAFFIC STOP....

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

between a cop on patrol and an IA Louie. Of course it ends up in a fight. It's Miami. As David Ovalle likes to say "arroz con mango".

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE TO THE BIG HOUSE:
Can a former (GWB) deputy white house counsel beat his wife senseless with a flashlight and get away with it? 
Not if you're John Farren. The former Xerox counsel and deputy white house counsel in the last Bush administration was convicted Friday (Rumpole's rule of trials- avoid Friday verdicts at all costs) of attempted murder and was taken into custody. Farren smacked his wife when she served him with divorce papers. 



Monday, July 14, 2014

WELCOME TO HELL

Prosecutors and Judges often wonder why clients facing ten years in prison balk at a reduced offer of five or three? 

One reason is that they are not entering a "correctional facility" designed to modify their behavior and return them to society better adjusted and ready to live a law-abiding life. 

They are entering hell. 

Here is the Herald's report: 

For weeks, the Miami Herald has reported on claims of abusive treatment by corrections officers, as related by inmates, nurses and a psychotherapist, primarily at Dade Correctional Institution, where an inmate was herded into a scorching hot shower and left until he collapsed and died. Now claims of abuse are coming from DOC investigators, the persons charged with rooting out such abuses...


“We got inmates down there that are getting their throats slashed on a regular basis,’’ Land said, according to a transcript of the Miguel interview filed with the lawsuit. “Their faces slashed, beat down with locks and socks; tremendous amount of contraband … allegations that staff is ordering this and bringing in contraband and being paid … and everybody we’re talking to is saying, ‘You know they killed that kid.’ ”

And the NY Times reports that a popular sport at Rikers Island - the second largest jail in the US- is beating up mentally ill inmates. What fun!


After being arrested on a misdemeanor charge following a family dispute last year, Jose Bautista was unable to post $250 bail and ended up in a jail cell on Rikers Island.
A few days later, he tore his underwear, looped it around his neck and tried to hang himself from the cell’s highest bar. Four correction officers rushed in and cut him down. But instead of notifying medical personnel, they handcuffed Mr. Bautista, forced him to lie face down on the cell floor and began punching him with such force, according to New York City investigators, that he suffered a perforated bowel and needed emergency surgery.

So why aren't clients jumping at those deals? 


See You In Court. 



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/07/4223414/prison-system-mired-in-corruption.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/07/4223414/prison-system-mired-in-corruption.html#storylink=cpy