Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Well, Summer is over. We had a busy one. How was yours? 

So now we enter that 75 day  period when everyone is available to try case. Come the middle of November and Thanksgiving starts intruding on people's availability to try cases. Then there is the December holiday season, Christmas, New Years (heed Rumpole's warning to never ever ever try a case the first week of January), so you have about ten weeks to squeeze your trials in. Have fun. 

We have some old Judges retained (well Judge Rodney Smith was retained, so that was one) and we have some new judges. Out with the old....in with the new. 

So here is our question. You want to be a judge? Why? 
In criminal court your calendar is controlled by Assistant State Attorneys two or three years out of law school who the Florida Legislature has determined are more trustworthy, knowledgeable, and judicious than you in deciding most of the sentences in the cases that you will try. The prosecutors control the minimum mandatories, and when you control the minimum mandatories, you control the case. And when you control the cases, you control the judge's calendar. 

Every day you will do and say the same mind numbing thing over and over and over again. "Have you discussed this plea with your attorney?... Do you suffer from any mental illness?...I need to inform you that if you are not  US citizen then this plea....blah blah blah" on and on it goes. A never ending stream of wretched refuse and humanity pleading guilty to probation or prison. A parade of wrecked lives and the worst among us moving though your courtroom like toxic sludge on a conveyor belt to and from hell. 

Then there are motions, trials, and back in your chambers a never ending and growing stack of 3.850 post conviction relief motions. If you do your job conscientiously, then you will work 12-16 hours a day. The pay stinks. The Florida Legislature gave judges an effective 3.5% pay cut about five or six years ago. Your colleagues  can be petty and jealous and most are prima donnas who feel the fax machine is THEIRS and not yours, and other than people standing when you enter the room, there's not a whole lot of attention really paid to you.  Then there are the arrogant piss-ant  lawyers who have no talent and ability save their ability to bill and scam their clients. They wear more expensive suits, have nicer cars and homes and watches and vacation homes and they laugh behind your back and call you names and make up unflattering nicknames while gossiping about you and your JA or court reporter.  And for this you get to worry every six years if a 32 year old hispanic female six years out of law school is going to take your job.  

Really, who needs this crap?

Not us. 

But apparently these people do:

Welcome back from your summer vacation. 

See You In Court. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Within two years he lost one of the closest presidential elections in history and then went on to get trounced in the race for governor of California. 

No politician could come back from two consecutive crushing defeats.  A lucrative law practice awaited the former vice president who once rescued his career during his famous Checkers speech by bragging that his wife didn't have a fur coat, but a good Republican cloth coat. 

Thus on November 7, 1962, an angry, petulant, and rumored to be drink Richard Milhous Nixon gave an infamous press conference in which he said the following:

I leave you gentleman now. You will now write it; you will interpret it; that's your right. But as I leave you I want you to know.... just think how much you're going to be missing. You don't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference, and I hope that what I have said today will at least make television, radio, the press recognize that they have a right and a responsibility, if they're against a candidate give him the shaft, but also recognize if they give him the shaft, put one lonely reporter on the campaign who'll report what the candidate says now and then. Thank you, gentlemen, and good day.

It was Nixon's first, but not his last farewell speech.

Nixon would retire from politics only to stage a remarkable comeback as the "New Nixon" won the presidency in 1968, and then again in a landslide in 1972, only to lose it all - his presidency and his public life- two years later.  Nixon showed that while there are third acts in American politics, there are no fourth acts. 

Judge Elect Stephen Milan lost two elections for judge before winning yesterday. 
Conversely, Judge Fleur Lobree lost her second election in a row, despite being considered a good, hard working, and conscientious judge. 

There may not be any fourth acts in American or Miami politics,  but there is more to life and a career than a political job.  

The sun will rise and the sun will set and life goes on. 

There was a poor lawyer who after some modest success lost three close elections in a row. 
And then in 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States. 

See You In Court. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014




With a turnout of just over 14%, Miami-Dade voters elected six new Judges to the bench on Tuesday.  There were a total of eight contested elections, with Incumbent judges facing opposition in four of those contests.
The only sitting Judge who was returned to the bench is Circuit Court Judge Rodney Smith.  Smith had no problem defeating challenger Christian Carrazana, a personal injury and insurance lawyer.  The race was controversial because, for the first time in a judicial campaign, an outside corporation, United Auto Insurance Company, set up an ECO and funded it with nearly $346,000, (spending in excess of $313,000), in order to sway the vote in Smith's direction.  It worked.

Incumbent County Court Judge Jacqueline Schwartz, who has been on the bench for twelve years, failed in her bid to win outright in a three way race and must now face challenger Frank Bocanegra in a November runoff.  Bocanegra, a lawyer for the past six years, is a former law enforcement officer with the MDPD and former Miami Lakes Town Manager.
Circuit Judge Fleur Lobree lost, again.  She also lost a County Court race in 2012.  Lobree was defeated by criminal defense lawyer Mavel Ruiz.  After eight years on the County Court bench, Judge Nuria Saenz will join Lobree in the private sector as she was defeated by personal injury & PIP attorney Victoria Ferrer.
There will be at least six new Judges on the bench come January of 2015.  Stephen Millan, an attorney with experience in the areas of criminal defense, immigration and bankruptcy handily beat Traffic Magistrate and criminal defense lawyer Thomas Cobitz.  Millan had previously lost two judicial contests: in  2006 (County Court) and 2008 (Circuit Court).
Alberto Milian, a criminal defense practitioner, who had previously lost two campaigns to State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, (2000 and 2004), easily defeated marital and family practice attorney Mary Gomez.
Attorney Martin Zilber battled Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts all night for an open Circuit Court seat.  At seven pm, Fonts, who specializes in criminal defense and immigration matters, held a commanding 12% lead; by eight pm, the lead was down to 4 points.  It dropped to two points by nine pm.  And by ten pm, Zilber had grabbed the lead by a mere 423 votes.  Zilber, a mediator and insurance defense lawyer, held on and defeated Rodriguez Fonts by just over 2,400 votes.
In one of the nastiest races in recent memory, Assistant Miami City Attorney Veronica Diaz, better known for getting free Ultra tickets, sending business to her boyfriend's law firm, and having an Ethics complaint filed against her, easily defeated former School Board member and State Legislator Renier Diaz de la Portilla.  Diaz de la Portilla, not to be outdone by Veronica Diaz, had an election complaint filed against him, by Veronica Diaz' campaign.  He has been a member of The Florida Bar for only seven years, and had barely practiced any law during that time, but he has been a mediator for roughly three years.
For all of the election results, please take a look at the final numbers below.


Only two races really worth watching:

With 100% of the precincts counted, Zilber defeats Rodriguez-Fonts by 2,314 votes.  No recount.

Zilber                     76,973  50.8%
Rodriguez Fonts  74,659   49.2%

Judge Schwartz fails in her bid to win outright and must now face attorney Frank Bocanegra in a November runoff.  She fell 893 votes short of the 50% plus one number.

Two incumbent Judges, Lobree and Saenz, getting trounced.  Lobree losing 54%-46%; Saenz losing 64%; - 36%

We can safely call (before the Miami Herald) the other six races.  Come January 2015 you can welcome five new judges (along with Judge Rodney Smith) to the bench:

Stephen Millan
Alberto Milian
Mavel Ruiz
Veronica Diaz
Victoria Ferrer



Thomas Cobitz - 35%    52,006
Stephen Millan - 65%    98,422


Judge Rodney Smith  - 63%    96,172
Christian Carrazana  - 37%    56,909


Mary Gomez         -      42%     66,199
Alberto Milian      -      58%     90,858


Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts   -  49.2%    74,659
Martin Zilber                   -  50.8%    76,973


Judge Fleur Lobree       -    46%    67,573
Mavel Ruiz                     -    54%    80,752


Veronica Diaz                         -   57%    87,629
Renier Diaz de la Portilla      -   43%    66,973



Judge Jacqueline Schwartz   -   49.42%    75,615
Frank Bocanegra                    -   31.08%    47,559
Rachel Dooley                         -   19.50%    29,840


Judge Nuria Saenz                 -   36%     54,050
Victoria Ferrer                       -   64%     94,789





For the past two weeks, many of you have participated in our democracy by mailing in your Absentee Ballots or by going to the polls during Early Voting.  Today is your last chance to exercise your right to VOTE.


There are 1,286,905 registered voters in Miami-Dade County.  Voter turnout is expected to be under 20%.

The latest reported numbers of people that have already cast their vote: 83,787 absentee ballots have been returned to the Elections Department of the 213,202 absentee ballots that were mailed. 

Over a period of 14 days of Early Voting: 29,194 additional voters pulled the lever at the polls. 

That means a total of 112,981 people have already voted.

Compared to 2012's primary election, the absentee ballots and early voting numbers are about the same.  In 2012, the totals were about 105,000.  In 2012, on election day, only 93,000 additional voters showed up to vote. 

By seven pm tonight, or shortly thereafter, we could have eight new Judges in Miami-Dade County.  Seven elections will be decided today; only the County Court race between Incumbent Judge Jacqueline Schwartz and her opponents, Rachel Dooley and Frank Bocanegra, could result in a runoff.  A runoff would take place if none of the three candidates garners a majority of the vote; and the runoff would happen on the November general election ballot.

Stay tuned for our live-blogging of the election results.  We'll leave it to Rumpole to decide whether he wants to take down the screening on the Comments section for the night.

Good luck to all the candidates.


GROUP 16 (Leon Firtel retiring)

Thomas Cobitz v. Stephen Millan


Judge Rodney Smith v. Christian Carrazana

GROUP 27 (Ron Dresnick retiring)

Mary Gomez v. Alberto Milian

GROUP 58 (Marc Schumacher retiring)

Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts v. Martin Zilber


Judge Fleur Lobree v. Mavel Ruiz

GROUP 70 (Sandy Karlan retiring)

Veronica Diaz v. Renier Diaz de la Portilla



Judge Jacqueline Schwartz v. Rachel Dooley v. Frank Bocanegra


Judge Nuria Saenz v. Victoria Ferrer


Update: Thank you El Capitan for a great post. Coming soon (after the election results, breakdowns and analysis: "FACDL LISTSERV: A Right to Privacy? Anyone see a penumbra?"

Monday, August 25, 2014


Scene: Modern day Miami. 

Dramatis Personae: Maritza Alvarez-Shapiro, Nancy Wear, Michael Catalano. 

FACDL LISTSERV, Saturday, August 23, 2014. 

The story you are about to read is true. The names have not been changed, because it's just too damn fun and juicy. 

Like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, an unlikely event that started the first world war, the War between Michael Catalano and Nancy Wear started with an innocent comment, by Maritza Alvarez-Shapiro, politely asking people to vote for Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts. Oscar is a good guy, an REGJB regular. For what's it worth, we're going to vote for him.  He will make a foin foin judge (It's an Irish sort of day for us.) 

Enter Nancy Wear. Bon Vivant. Raconteur.  FACDL LISTSERVE gadfly. Scourge of condo boards. Enemy, apparently, of one Michael Catalano- DUI maven, defender of disgraced judges, no fan of Ms Wear. 

Wear fired the first shot. In response to Ms. Alvarez-Shapiro's endorsement of ORF, gladly seconded by Jackie Woodward,  Nancy Wear wrote this:

Nancy Wear

to Jackiefacdl-miamiMaritza
What?  Michael Catalano has not landed on both of you for expressing your thoughtful opinions?  Wow! I guess it is only me he publicly attacks!!

Well, you knew Michael Catalano was not going to take that shot across his bow lying down. He fired back. And what we love the most is that after he warned Nancy Wear to keep the email private, she immediately forwarded it to the FACDL, claiming she did so without reading the email. 

Bravo! It's a move that would make Benjamin Netanyahu proud. Never negotiate a threat. Call the large bet. Be Doyle Brunson, move your chips all in.  

Nancy Wear

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael A Catalano <mcatalanolaw@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Aug 23, 2014 at 4:34 PM
Subject: FW: FACDL-Miami Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts for Circuit Court Judge
To: Nancy Wear <ncwear@gmail.com>

Nancy, this is JUST FOR YOU. Do not forward it. If you do, you do so at your own peril.

Everyone is sick of your crap. If you slander me one more time, I am going to do something about it.

I put up with your posts about Public Defenders being over paid and underwored. Boy was everyone wondering what planet you came from when you did that one....

I put up with your stupid insults to me during the Trauth/Llamas litigation when you told me I should have hired you to handle it and you would have gotten attorney's fees on the first round at the 3rd DCA. Nancy, I made that decision NOT to seek fees to make sure we won.... and we did. I ran that by some real appellate lawyers who agreed with my decision.  I did that for the sake of everyone's clients. Thousands of clients got their DL's back as a  result of my litigation.  I made the decision on purpose and you told me I was stupid for not knowing that I had to ask for fees separately at the DCA. I was really pissed about that dumb and rude comment but, I said nothing.

I put up with you demanding to be a speaker on seminars where you are don't even practice that kind of law.  You demanded to be on an ethics panel for the Masters of DUI seminar and you said your expertise was having handled ONE ethics complaint.  We pick speakers who are experts. You don't even do DUI cases and you still demanded and complained when we did not take you up on your offer to be a speaker.

I put up with you bitching and complaining that CLE's don't have enough women speakers and causing the volunteer organizers all kinds of aggravation.  You did that on the Federal Criminal Law seminar.  You even wrote to the Bar newspaper complaining. Do you have any idea how rude that was to the people involved?

I put up with you telling everyone how smart you are because you beat your condo association... as if we care.

Now, I am not putting up with your crap anymore.

Your recent stupid attempt to impress FACDL with your opinion on the candidates could have resulted in Rachel getting an ethics and JQC complaint if anyone thought she endorsed or approved of YOU sending out her campaign stuff with your discussion about other candidates. I sent my note to FACDL before I spoke with Rachel so that she can show that she didn't have anything to do with what you sent. Do you have any idea how many candidates and their friends get ethics complaints during elections?  Thanks to you, she may have had to spend lots of money defending your stupid mistake.  Thanks to me, she has a defense. It's called the Nancy Wear is stupid defense.

So, do us all a favor and stop posting on FACDL.

As for me, shut up and stop talking about me. I am really sick of it.

This is your only warning.

Mike Catalano

There you have it. A hot, boring Saturday afternoon turned on its head. Arch Duke Ferdinand was killed on a warm Sunday in Saraevjo, June 28, 1914. 

See You In Court. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014


It's that time of year again, when a Cleveland Brown's fan turns to thoughts of playoffs and that elusive Super Bowl. Why are we picking on the Browns? Because they are our sleeper this year. Forget the Manzel mania. Brian Hoyer is the QB to lead them to the promised land. The Browns have talent, a tough defense and a very very underrated QB in Hoyer. 

It's also that time of year that REGJB regulars put their money where their mouth is about their Football prowess in winning the coveted SURVIVOR  Pool title and the Fantasy Football title, two services that we provide, much against our philosophy, free of charge as an altruistic service to our fellow man and woman. 

SURVIVOR POOL: Hop in, the water is cool. The rules are simply, but devious.  Just pick one winner outright every week. Once you pick that team, you cannot pick that team again for the rest of the year. Sounds easy.....

To register to play, write your name and email address on the back of a hundred dollar bill and mail it to..... (that's an old joke from the Car Talk guys)

To register to play, send an email to FBpool12@gmail.com  and in the subject line write: LABJD&D  - which means- and you don't have to write this: "lawyers against broward judges drinking & driving."

We have confirmed players so far, David O Markus with a K, Judge De La O(ver), Rumpole, Mike "The Commish" Greico,  and Rumpole. We are sure Richard Baron will confirm shortly. David Ovalle is ducking us like the San Diego Chicken. 

David Ovalle? 

If you got an invite/email from the league, RESPOND. If you want to play, or played last year and changed your email, send us an email (any of our emails) and we will add you.
We have plenty of room, so join up and play against your favourite judge, lawyer, but unfortunately, not your favourite media star. 


Thursday, August 21, 2014


UPDATE: We have the video of Ferguson Officer Go F Yourself, which is how the fine, upstanding, well trained peace officer identified himself while pointing a semi-automatic rifle at an unarmed protestor while telling him- in a clear attempt to defuse the situation- that he would "fucking kill you."

No folks, this isn't the Ukraine, China, or Gaza. This is America 2014. 

PAC=Political Action Committee. 

PACs came into existence in the 1980's in response to changes in campaign finance laws. PACs are able to campaign for candidates they endorse, and spend almost unlimited amounts of money to promote a candidate. It is what is known as a "loophole."

Politicians like Senators, candidates for congress, Presidents, and Mayors, benefit from the activities of PACs who promote issues the politician is aligned with. So some yahoo Billy-Bob-For Congress campaign in Texas can be endorsed by the NRA and run for congress under a platform requiring all school age children to wear firearms while attending school. Yee-haw!

But what happens when say MAAD not only endorses a judicial candidate, but it's PAC spends $100,000.00 on billboard and direct mail for a judge in a judicial campaign? What happens when a DUI or DUI Manslaughter comes before this judge after s/he wins the election?  Do we want that in our judicial campaigns and do we want judges who feel beholden to industries based on PAC support?

PAC donations have become an issue in our current judicial campaigns, as an insurance company that litigates and defends a lot of PIP suits has formed a PAC and spent money on behalf of sitting judges running for re-election. And make no mistake about it: PIP litigation is a multi-millon dollar legal industry in Florida. For decades the plaintiffs bar has donated generously to support judges and judicial candidates. Now the insurance industry is fighting back. 

Is the only solution to remove elections from the judiciary? 

We're not willing to go that far, the memory of some truly awful judges being defeated for re-election too fresh in our mind to endorse a system that makes our robe wearers even more arrogant than most of them already are. 

What say you? 

See You In Court. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Before we begin, Monroe County State Attorney Cathy Vogel says we were mistaken and she wasn't the ASA in the murder case we referenced in the prior post.  To that end, we have edited the post to remove any reference to her. 

Long time and careful blog readers know we average about a mistake a year. If our memory was faulty, and we have no reason to not believe Ms. Vogel, we apologize. 

And there's our mistake for 2014. 


We are going to endorse only one candidate in one race this year: Judge Rodney Smith. 
He is a self made man.
He is a Miami native who came from a poor family and made his way through college and law school with scholarships and hard work. 
Upon becoming a lawyer, he immediately gave back to his community by becoming a prosecutor.  From the prosecutor's office, he applied for and became a judge. For a talented lawyer, that means removing at least one digit from the monthly paycheck. 

For our community to not just survive but thrive, we need more people like Rodney Smith becoming lawyers, and we need more lawyers like Rodney Smith becoming judges. 

We are lucky to have Judge Smith as a judge, and there is NO GOOD reason for any lawyer to have targeted Judge Smith. 

Vote for Judge Smith. He has earned your vote. He certainly has earned ours. 

See you in court.