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

Friday, October 24, 2014

LAST CALL TOBACCO ROAD

Tobacco Road, Miami's oldest bar, closes its doors for the last time this Saturday. It's had a good great run.

In simpler times, lawyers and judges met after court and had a few cold ones, and maybe ate a cheeseburger before heading home.  It was a place of good food, good drinks, good live music, and after tomorrow it will be gone. More than a few criminal and civil cases were settled there, and more than a few assignations were consummated. 

Goodbye old friend. 


Here's the thing about winning a trial. It's a great feeling (we should know). But most of the time, despite what we as attorneys think, the case was ripe to be won.  The frustrating thing about trials is that  usually your best work goes unrecognized. As you are crossing the cop and s/he is crumbling on the witness stand,  a bored judge, an overworked prosecutor, and an unappreciative client are the only spectators. But that comes with the territory. And we find it unseemly when a lawyer touts their own victories, much less sending out emails with summaries of supposedly amazing cross. War stories years later are one thing, the "look how great I am" emails are something else. 

Back in our high school glory days, an errant football was thrown and landed in our hands  for an interception, and we galloped into the end zone before a few thousand cheering fans during a championship game. Days later we were still recounting the event for bored teammates when our crusty old coach who in fact did wear a houndstooth hat pulled us aside and growled: "Act like you've been there before son". 

It's good advice. 

EBOLA IN NYC
It's not a new play on Broadway. A doctor who went to Africa to treat patients has tested positive for Ebola. And here's the problem: he was riding the subways for three days before his fever hit. 

That's one of many reasons why we aren't sleeping well these days. 

The weekend is almost here. 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

BLINK 182

Ben Bradlee, the charming yet gruff editor of theWashington Post, who found his paper alone reporting arguably the biggest domestic story in US politics, died today at 93. Bradlee's support of his reporters was legendary. He turned the Washington Post from a sleepy third place newspaper, into the premier journalistic enterprise of its time. 

Our favorite story: The twice divorced Bradlee started dating a post reporter who had been sending him anonymous love notes. When he finally learned the name of the reporter and they started dating and the relationship became public, he was asked if would get married for a third time. "When they elect a Polish Pope" was a flippant reply. A year later the improbable happened, and four days after Pope John Paul II was elected, he was married four days later. 


COURT COSTS WILL NOT BE RAISED

FACDL issued a call-to-arms for Tuesday's  Miami Commission meeting, and the commission blinked. The proposed hike in court costs of $75.00 will not be going into effect. 


WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS AD?
The Judge was (past tense) endorsed by the Herald. 
But such endorsements are ephemeral and once the Herald revoked their endorsement (much like a PVH revocation, but more messy) was the Judge obligated to not send the ad? Or is she within her rights to send the ad, because the Herald did endorse her?


Sorry for the delay in posting this week. A busy travel schedule and a lousy weather in DC has really upended our travel-work schedule. 

See You In Court. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

NFL WEEK 7 2014


With the resurgent Cowboys beating the struggling Seahawks, our survivor pool was considerably thinned, with the loses including both members of the judiciary: Jon Colby (retired) and Miguel De la O (quite active). 

Of more pressing concern is those of you who wish to find some value in todays match-ups. 

It's a tough week. 

We are officially on the Browns bandwagon, although we told you before the season began that the Brownies were the team to watch. Take them (-3) against America's team- the Jacksonville Jaguars and also take the under 45. 

We like the Fish on the road against da Bears +3 and we like the under 48. 

And we like the Giants getting 5 in Dallas because the Cowboys are due to return to mediocrity. 

We will post the survivor pool when everyone's picks are in. But see below about Mr. Tischler's zombie like return from the defeated:




ERRATA:
MR. Tischler was not eliminated last week, as he took the Chargers, and not the Seahawks:

Dustin Tischler

Oct 12 (7 days ago)
to me
Chargers

Friday, October 17, 2014

A CALL TO ARMS

We normally don't do two blog posts in a day.

But this email from FACDL chieftains was forwarded to us, and we took the initiative of posting it.*

On Tuesday, October 21, the Board of County Commissioners will hear and decide on the attached resolution prepared by Commissioner/former Senator Javier Souto.  This resolution aims to impose an additional $75 of court costs on state clients who take a plea for or are convicted at trial of a felony, misdemeanor, or criminal traffic offense.
 
This simply cannot pass.
 
And, of course, we're not talking about $75.  We're talking about an amount added to the hundreds of dollars already imposed on the largely indigent population that are drawn into the court system.
 
We (and our clients) know that racial and social inequality is embedded in our criminal justice system.  We know that minorities are much more likely to be drawn into the despair of the justice system than whites.  African-American males are six times more likely to be sentenced to prison than white males; Latino males, 2 ½ times more likely. We know that although 95% of cases end in pleas, it's not possible that 95% of defendants are guilty.  We know that many clients would often rather take a plea to CTS than stay in jail. 
 
Knowing all these things, and knowing that imposition of expensive and overwhelming court costs for indigent clients does nothing more than perpetuate the inequality by continually thrusting them back into the system, suspending their drivers' licenses, and re-incarcerating many -- we cannot remain silent.
 
The County Commissioners are holding a meeting next Tuesday, October 21 at 9:00 a.m.  If you know one of them, please call, email, or write them to speak against this resolution.  A list of the commissioners is attached.  Or please join me at the meeting.
 
Thank you.
 
 
*Apparently there was a real barn-burner of an FACDL meeting a few weeks ago when this blog and this blogger, we have heard, were personally disparaged (as much as an anonymous blogger can be personally attacked) for posting FACDL list-serv emails which are as secure and sensitive as all NSA emails currently on Wikipedia.
"Loyalty-oaths" were called for. All FACDL members would have to solemnly swear under penalty of perjury that they were loyal Americans, were not now, nor ever have been members of ISIS, have not traveled within the past two months to West Africa, currently do not have a high fever, do not read this blog, are not Rumpole, and in fact despise Rumpole and everything Rumpole stands for, and would not, under penalties yet to be determined, ever forward Rumpole an FACDL list-serv email.
 
There has not, as of yet, been a final determination on this loyalty oath. But we admit to being scared, shaken, chagrined...but not enough to stop posting emails that FACDL members gleefully send us.
 
Have a good weekend.

ON SECOND THOUGHT....

"Sometimes wrong, but never in doubt" was the funny, dismissive comment our wonderful law school property professor would quip when he zeroed in on a first year law student and didn't get the correct answer. 

Perhaps that should be the motto of the Miami Herald as this week they WITHDREW their previous endorsement of embattled County Court Judge Jacqueline Schwartz ("take down that stinkin sign") and endorsed her opponent Frank Bocanegra. 


The Miami Herald withdraws an election recommendation rarely, sometimes reluctantly, when new information leads to reconsideration. And this is the case in the runoff between incumbent Miami-Dade County Judge Jacqueline Schwartz and attorney Frank Bocanegra. In August, the Herald recommended Ms. Schwartz’s re-election because of her experience on the bench. The incumbent drew two opponents for the primary. She and Mr. Bocanegra ended up in a runoff.
Since the primary, the Miami Herald reported an incident at a Coconut Grove convenience store in which the owner said that Ms. Schwartz demanded that he remove an opponent’s oversized campaign sign from the parking lot outside or display hers, too, then cursed at him when he said he could not because he was not the property owner. The story continues that the judge called Miami code enforcement, which made the store owner remove the too-large sign.
This raises sufficient questions about the judge’s demeanor. The individuals interviewed at the convenience store — a cashier corroborated the story in a sworn statement — said they did not know she was a judge when she came in.

Mao said "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."
But Mao never had Miami Code Enforcement as a weapon. 
See you in court. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article2835897.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ESPIONAGE AND TRAITORS

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: The Japanese stock market was hit hard over night, down more than 2%. The German DAX is down 1.5%, the French CAC is down 2.3%, the FTSE 100 is down 1.5% and Greece is down 1.5%. 

The US response to Ebola has been less than sterling, but of course we should keep the Federal Government out of it, close the CDC and let the states handle it (cue cheering for Sarah Palin)  right? Maybe Texas can take the lead. They've been storing Ebola tainted linens in garbage bags bought at Home Depot (new motto: "we help with medical waste too!")

Here's what we know folks: There are two health care workers in Texas who were infected despite the precautions taken. President Obama has canceled two trips this week to stay at the White House to work on this problem. Do we know for sure exactly how this virus is and isn't transmitted? Assume for a moment that Ebola can be transmitted like the flu.  And you think the markets are shaky now? Say good bye to most of the airline and transportation stocks for a while. And the economy as a whole will be hit hard, as travel restrictions and fears hits tourism and business travel and people stop going to Malls and restaurants and movie theaters, and interstate food transportation, and then ......? It gets bad fast.  The CDC announced yesterday that the current rate of new cases in Africa - 1000 a week, will reach 10,000 a week before the end of the year. 

The Russell 2000 is off 11% for the year. The NASDAQ is off 8.6 of it's highs-  any drop of 10% off a yearly high is considered a market heading into a correction, which means the bottom falling out for a while.  Seems like quite an opportune time for the Russians to cause some problem in the Ukraine and the Chinese to stake out some more disputed territory in Asia, and ISIS to renew attacks and then one person slips though our porous borders and drives a car with some toxins and explosives to a crowded hotel or a Mall in DC or Chicago or Boston or NYC and leaves it with the valet and then.....

Meanwhile the Saudis are taking aim at US oil and gas producers by flooding the market with oil. Storage capacity is almost maxed out, the price for oil has been crushed and why does that matter to us? Because the rebound in the economy has been driven by energy and if oil and gas prices keep falling, many of these new US companies who have invested billions in oil recovery technology with the belief that oil at $100 gives them a nice profit close their doors when oil remains under $80, which is now where it is at.  

Of course Ebola could burn out, the market will rally, the Russians and Chinese  will behave and we will all have a Merry Christmas. 

And you wonder why we are up at 4am? 


What is the most (in)famous espionage case prosecuted in the United States?  
Before there was Jonathan Pollard and Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames there were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. 


To understand the Rosenberg case, you need to understand the times. At the end of World War Two the United States was the unquestioned super power as the only nation that had the atomic bomb. The Soviet Union probably had the most powerful army at the end of WWII, but the US had the bomb. That changed by 1950 when the FBI learned that the nuclear facilities at Los Alamos had been compromised. 

This is from the FBI.gov website:


This contact was subsequently identified through FBI investigation as Harry Gold, a Philadelphia chemist. On May 22, 1950, Gold confessed his espionage activity to the FBI.
Investigation of Harry Gold’s admissions led to the identification of David Greenglass, a U.S. Army enlisted man and Soviet agent, who had been assigned by the Army to Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1944 and 1945. Gold stated that he had picked up espionage material from Greenglass during June 1945 on instructions of “John,” his Soviet principal. “John” was subsequently identified as Anatoli Yakovlev, former Soviet vice-consul in New York City, who left the United States in December 1946. Interrogation of Greenglass and his wife, Ruth, resulted in admissions of espionage activity under the instructions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, brother-in -law and sister, respectively, of David Greenglass. 

To summarize, David Greenglass was the brother of Ethel Rosenberg. His cooperation and testimony was crucial to the prosecution of his sister and her husband, especially that his sister Ethel had typed the notes he received about the atomic bomb. 

The Rosenbergs were convicted, and despite the public outcry, especially against the execution of Ethel Rosenberg, both were executed on June 19, 1953. 
And that was that. 
Except David Greenglass, who died this past July at the age of 92, lied.  It was Greenglass's wife Ruth who typed the notes, but Greenglass lied to spare his wife and the mother of his two young children. Here is the NY Times Obit. 
Ruth Greenglass


From the Times Obit: 
Mr. Greenglass was under intense pressure. He had not yet been sentenced, and his wife, the mother of his two small children, faced possible prosecution, though her role had been minimal. In federal court in Manhattan in 1951, Mr. Greenglass’s testimony — corroborated by his wife’s — clinched the case against Mr. Rosenberg and implicated Mrs. Rosenberg.
Sam Roberts, a Times editor and reporter, later found Mr. Greenglass and, after a 13-year effort, obtained 50 hours of interviews that led to a book, “The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case.” In the book, Mr. Greenglass admitted that, to spare his wife from prosecution, he had testified that his sister typed his notes. 
He said he had no regrets. “My wife is more important to me than my sister. Or my mother or my father, O.K.? And she was the mother of my children.”

So who apologizes to Ethel Rosenberg and her children? 

Just wondering. 

See You In Court. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

LAST IN LINE

Pity our civil brethren.  When not billing $500/hour to file the same summary judgment motion or response to summary judgment they have filed a hundred times before, they are cooling their heels in the Starbucks next to the courthouse, or at any number of expense-account supported restaurants within walking distance.

We remember back in the 1980's when Burger King sent a food truck outside of our humble courthouse for a few months. It was a big deal.

But the civil courthouse is in dis-repair. There are poles in the middle of courtrooms, creating sight-obstructed views for jurors and participants alike. Termites eat files, and water damage creates mold. Even the vultures are unhappy. Plus the birds that hang out on the courthouse. 

The depressing part of all of this is that before WE get a new courthouse for lowly criminal life and death matters, the mortgage-defense-personal injury-corporate default -crowd will have to get their own courthouse next. Family has a new courthouse, and Juvenile-dependency-delinquincy has a much needed new courthouse right across from the City of Miami Police Department.

Which leaves our own humble courthouse last in line. "Please sir, may we have some more?"




Photo journal v8. 9 16-14 from Justicebuilding


We don't begrudge the civil guys and gals a new courthouse. 

It just galls us to be in line right behind them while they check their I-Phone 6's to make sure their BMW or Porsche Cayenne has been  washed and waxed and is ready to be picked up. 

See You In Court. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

DESPICABLE YOU

Last week Judge Miranda held attorney Herb Walker III in contempt during a closing argument. Here is the order, typos and all ("and is sentences to....) . And FYI, the defendant was found guilty, making it all in all, not a great week for Mr. Walker.





And while we're being critical, should the caption read "State v Walker"? The State isn't bringing charges against Walker, the judge, presumably after a hearing, found Walker in contempt of court. The prosecution is not a party to the proceedings. Correct? 

Not the best way to start the week, but court is closed today so enjoy the holiday. Perhaps we should do a poll on what charity the check should be made out to? 

See You In Court.