Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Caesar Cantu plead guilty to marijuana trafficking and was sentenced to 11.5 years in federal court. Due solely to a scribbners error an additional 42 months was added to his sentence on the judgment and conviction. However, the district court judge was forced to deny his motion to correct his sentence because he filed it untimely. The Judge opined that Cantu's only option was to seek clemency from the President. 

What kind of legal system does this to its citizens? Where was Eric Holder's Justice Department? Why didn't the DOJ just agree to the reduction in sentence? 

As reported by The Hill here, the President did grant Cantu clemency and reduced his sentence to the original and correct time ordered by the Judge. 

But why don't we have a legal system that allows Judges to correct egregious errors? We are so wedded to form over substance and the great writ of Habeas Corpus has been so gutted by Congress that when it was truly needed, it was not available to Mr. Cantu. 

This is a warning sign. A persistent cough in a system that is broken and sick. We ignore it at our own individual peril. 

See you in court, and yes, in Florida, a Rule 3.800 motion to correct a sentence has no time limit. 

PS. Don't- under any circumstances- hire Imer Perez to represent you. Just don't. Herald article here. 

Monday, April 14, 2014


UPDATE: It's a familiar refrain, but Heat lose again, this time to the Washington Wizards, and now they are knocked out of the top spot in the East and may not have home court advantage in the conference finals,  if they make it that far. 

"Why is this night different from all other nights?"

For those of you who observe Passover in this season of miracles, Happy Pesach.  Good Friday and Easter Sunday and ABC's airing 
of the Ten Commandments coming up this weekend. 

Here is the dream scenario: three weeks ago your client is arrested and unreasonably denied bond by the evil (pharaoh) Judge. 

So you take a writ of habeas corpus to the 3rd DCA and late Friday the decision is handed down reversing the judge. 

You get to go into court and say "Thus sayeth the 3rd DCA...LET MY CLIENT GO."

Anyway, one can dream. 

See you in court. 


Courtesy of the second best blog in Miami, Random Pixels, we are reminded of a riot at the Dade County Jail 50 years ago in April. The Sheriff blamed it on "black muslims." It's not entirely clear about what caused the riot, but we took note of the first of two breakfasts served that infamous day: "sliced peaches, dry cereal with milk, coffee, two biscuits with apple butter." Pretty much what we eat today. 
The other day a client complained that the breakfast frittata's onions were not certified organic, but other than that he enjoyed it. 

A Tough Day At Work:
Last week Jorge Durand passed away. A longtime courthouse fixture as a corrections office and later Judge Joe Fernandez's bailiff, Mr. Durand's daughter Michelle works at MDPD Liason at the REGJB. It has been suggested to us that next week will be a tough one for her and even if you know her and knew her dad, it might be appropriate to refrain from expressing condolences while she works. Work can be a refuge and she might just need some time to do her job without constantly dealing with well wishers reminding her of her loss. 
Just a thought. 

What's the toughest part of a trial? Easy: the verdict. 
How do you deal with verdict stress? 

See You In Court. 

Friday, April 11, 2014


Miami Dade's Drug Court (Motto: "First in the nation") celebrated twenty five years today with a graduation ceremony attended by dignitaries and retired  Judges  Jeffrey Rosinek and Herb Klein, and former drug court judge Deborah White-Labora. 

Miami Dade did indeed launch the first drug court in the nation and that is something we all should be justly proud of. 

Treating the disease instead of criminalizing the addiction has saved literally tens of thousands of lives. 
Judges like Jeff Rosinek, the late Stanley Goldstein and Deborah White-Labora created and carried on a tradition of caring, concern, and successful treatment of drug addiction. The savings of costs to our community in lives saved, families restored, not to mention the return of productive citizens to our community is immeasurable. 

It's popular these days to say government doesn't work. 
Drug court proves that government works. 
Drug court works. 

Congratulations to all the clerks, bailiffs, prosecutors, PDs, support staff and judges who dedicated their  time and effort to make Miami's Drug court  an indispensable and life saving program. You are doing the work of saints.  Godspeed. 

Enjoy your wonderful Masters spring weekend. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Jorge Durand, Judge Joe Fernandez's bailiff, passed away suddenly over the weekend. 

Mr. Durand, a former corrections officer and then Bailiff, and proud father of two daughters who both became police officers, was a fixture at the courthouse ever since the late 1970's. Mr. Durand was one of the correction officers who transported Ted Bundy to the Justice Building (as it was simply known then) for trial. 

Besides his two daughters, Mr. Durand is also survived by his wife, who is also a bailiff. 
The well written Herald obit is here. 


Who polices the police who police the police? Apparently the FBI. 

David Ovalle and the Herald broke the story of Internal Affairs LT Ralph Mata getting arrested for acting as muscle for a drug gang running drugs and money through Miami and New York and New Jersey Some of the allegations include helping move money through a NY airport and helping to plot the murder of rival drug traffickers. 

The Herald article is here. 
Whenever we read something like this we always think that beyond the money that the prosecutors will say motivated the officer, there was the thrill of the crime. For a small segment of the population, the thrill of being the bad cop, the excitement of a  CIA agent turned double agent and leading a double life is what motivates the person.  There's just something wrong with people who do something like this (assuming the feds are correct) and it goes beyond the money. 

That's our thought anyway. 

Your Miami Heat lost to the Brooklyn Nets last night for the fourth time this year. This loss- at home- was punctuated by LeBaby being rejected as he attempted a game winning dunk with one second left.  The Nets swept your Heat for the season while you know who wailed at the refs. 

See you in court. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


As WWII was coming to a close, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during a meeting with Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin, cautioned Stalin about considering the views of the Vatican during the post war division of Eastern Europe. 
"How many divisions does the Pope have?" Stalin sneered in reply. 

If trials are wars, then the events and time leading up to the trial are filled with the same angst, posturing, intelligence gathering, and diplomatic entreaties that nation-states engage in right up to the moment the guns begin to fire (or the jury walks into the room). 

In both instances fear plays a role in the outcome. Nations capitulate in the face of armies massed on a boarder. Defendants plea rather than face the enhanced consequences of a guilty verdict. 

The trial lawyer must manage his/her own fear as well as the fears of the client, much like the general before battle or the President/Prime Minister must mange both their personal fears and the fears of those they lead. 

It's a lonely position when a person or a nation places their lives in your hands. Success is partly achieved by facing your fears. Preparation is the key to success. Sun Tzu famously wrote that every battle is won before it begins.  So are most trials. 

The jury trial is under assault. Prosectors over charge cases, invoke decades of minimum mandatory penalties and then make generous plea offers. The consequences of going to trial, they solemnly warn you, are great. Judges punish defendants who lose. It starts in misdemeanor court with simple trials and escalates in felony courts where the penalties can be as high as life in prison. 

There is one and only one way to fight this attack. You must manage your fears, and you must ceaselessly and relentlessly prepare your case for trial.  The more cases we try, the more times we stand up to the threats of the prosecution, the more times we file appeals and cite judicial and prosecutorial vindictiveness in unconscionable sentences, the more we preserve our precious right to trial. 

Fight the good fight. And never never never surrender. 

See you in court. 

Monday, April 07, 2014


"There are only two things that are infinite: The Universe and human stupidity. And I'm not too sure about the Universe."
Albert Einstein. 

Well, we learned one thing from this weekend's caption contest, some of us have a sense of humor. And some of us don't. 

"Some cause happiness wherever they go. Some, whenever they go."
Oscar Wilde.  

Walter Ferguson, a true Miami original and legendary "River Rat" and father in law of ASA Chet Zerlin has passed away. Here is the Herald obit. 

The Volokh Conspiracy: A legal blog you should be reading. 

(H/T: the other legal blog you should be reading: Hercules and the Umpire.)

Enjoy this spring week. 

Coming next week: Who said "Let my people go!" ?

Friday, April 04, 2014


Submit your best caption and much like the New Yorker Magazine, we will pick a winner:

From @Davidovalle305"s twitter account, Ted Mastos with client Sara Zamora, arrested for creating sexual fetish videos of torturing chickens. A crime most fowl indeed. 

Ovalle's article in the Herald is here. 

Our submission:

"Tell me this again....You did what?"