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, August 26, 2015

OF TEDDY BEARS AND MEN

Before we get to our topic, a few words about the accessibility of courtrooms. 

Every few years with a new crop of judges and bailiffs, we are forced to repeat this. 

The State of Florida FORBIDS closing courtrooms to the public except under certain limited circumstances which involve, among other things, notice to the media. 

Because judges are involved, we will take extra care to explain these simple legal principles. 

A judge/bailiff CANNOT legally bar anyone from a courtroom. All those "no babies" or "no children" signs on your courtroom doors are PATENTLY ILLEGAL. 

Nor can a judge or bailiff bar anyone- any family member, any member of the public from sitting in a courtroom, no matter how busy that courtroom is. Sorry, but you bailiffs who are itching for some power, you have none, when it comes to who may go into a courtroom at any time.

This is not Cuba, or North Korea or Iran or Texas. This is Florida and the United States of America. Courtrooms are open to the public. Period. Deal with it. 

Here's a practice hint: The most enlightened of judges will send their bailiffs to get the name of a person in their courtroom with a young child or baby so they can call that case out of turn. 

Helping the public instead of throwing your weight around. Now there is a novel idea! 

OF TEDDY BEARS AND MEN. 

WARNING: The following may be unbearable:

  1. It's become a yelling match. Judge allowing photo in, with teddy bears (vic is at amusement park) cut out of the top of the photo. Nyo!
  2. Alex Michaels, in a rage about state wanting to show jury pic of murder victim. "The picture shows him surrounded by teddy bears! Really?"

Monday, August 24, 2015

BLACK MONDAY 2015

"Bears make money, Bulls make money, pigs get kicked in the head."
Rumpole, in a speech on October 12, 1987, exactly one week before Black Monday, October 19, 1987, when the stock market lost 22.6% of its value, the largest one day financial  loss in US history. 

Our email in box is flooded with panicky investors seeking our advice. 

It's complicated. 

This correction (it's far from a crash) was bound to happen. 
The market was overvalued under any rational view of stocks. And it was thin, meaning when it rose, it only a few favorite stocks brought up the averages. 

What to do? 

First. Don't panic. 
Second, if you can, be a contrarian. 

If you have stocks, and don't need the money for the next few months, hang on to them. Don't sell into the panic. 

Second, if you had money a few weeks ago and were looking for a stock who had a PE under 15, good luck. 
Now there are many very good stocks at a reasonable value. 

Third. Today was not the end of the panic selling or bad down days. There will be more to come, unless the Fed makes an announcement postponing any rate hike in September. 

There will be more days of whip-saw stock moves, short covering, and panic selling. 
But there are good companies and good values out there. 

There is no systemic risk to the economy, like there was in 2008 when banks were failing, credit dried up, and the economy teetered on an abyss. There is nothing like that out there that we can see. 

But there is danger on the horizon. 

China is worse than we know, because we cannot trust China's numbers on its economy. (For those of you who received my email on YANG-which shorts the Chinese markets, when it was 70 -it closed at 141 today- you're welcome. Take your profits and get out. It's a weird fund, and you never fight the Fed, even the Chinese Fed.) 

Small, regional oil companies will fail as Saudi Arabia refuses to stop pumping oil at record levels, driving prices even further. 

As markets roil, overseas investors seek refuge in the dollar. A strong dollar hurts US companies that do business overseas.

So there is a lot to worry about. 

But companies like Cisco, Clorox, Apple (under 100) Disney, General Mills, Pepsico, Bank of America (a cash machine),CVS, Home Depot,  and others are good companies that will retain their value and will bounce back. 

There are two things you can be certain of: 
first, the market will come back. 
Second, nobody, and we mean nobody can call the bottom of a market, or the top. We often say we can't buy at the bottom or sell at the top but we'll take the middle 80% every time. 

Don't panic. It will be ok. 

HR. 



Saturday, August 22, 2015

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?

It's that time of the year again. 

The sky takes on a deep cloudless blue. 

It's getting darker just a little bit earlier. 

Children wake up earlier and bundle up for school. 

All of the reasons you have to continue your cases because of summer vacations have ebbed away, like the slack tide at the summer shore. 

Football season is here. 

If you were in the award winning Fantasy Football league last year, you should have received an email.

If you are a new prosecutor or PD and want in on the action with the big boys (no goils have as yet joined our league, but all are welcome) send us an email and we will consider letting you in. 

If you are a certain herald reporter, then once again you will tuck your San Diego tail between your legs and not publicly embarrass yourself. 

So get ready for some football. 

SURVIVOR LEAGUE. 

You know it, you love it, you can't live without it. 
Our survivor league. 
The rules are deceptively simple. Pick one team, only one team, every week, to win, no spread involved. Once you use that team you cannot pick that team again. 
Ahhh, it seems so simple. And yet, the league is legion for crushing the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of football fanatics, retired judges residing in California, south beach gourmands, angry Romanian lawyers, and general know-it-alls. 

Do you dare take the challenge? 

It's simple to play. Just send an email to fbpool12@gmail.

Then, BEFORE the kickoff (which starts as always on a Thursday this year) send an email with a pick. If you want to pick the deflators  over the Steelers, send a pick before the Thursday kickoff. If you want to pick a Sunday game, send an email before the game starts. 

Here is the complicated part. Some participants, usually those who wear a black robe for work, get confused and send their pick to the email associated with this blog and NOT to fbpool12@gmail.com. That is NOT an official pick. 

We get hundreds of important emails at day at the blog email. There are Nigerian entrepreneurs willing to fund important business projects, Nigerian widows who need help settling their large estates, lonely Nigerian women looking for love and assistance, and we need to keep the Survivor Pool emails completely separate from our important work. 

Which is why, at great personal expense we have opened a  SEPARATE email account for the survivor pool only. It is at fbpool12@gmail.com. This is the one and only acceptable email to send your pick too

Obama@whitehouse,gov will not work. Neither will Hillary@classifiedstateemails.com, or Trump@dofus.com or Ovalle305@chicken.com. 

Not to belabor the point (actually to belabor the point) the only way to successfully enter the survivor pool is to send an email to fbpool12@gmail.com. 

To start this year please include the following subject in your first email "RE: mothers against Broward Judges who drink and drive". 
This will get you registered and enrolled. 

Have fun. The  battle for second place is about to begin. 

See You In Court. 
We are back. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

YOU BLINK! NO, YOU BLINK! OK, WE BOTH LOSE.

In a prior post, I noted that you should keep your eye on the state legislative special session regarding Congressional re-districting.

Today The Sun Sentinel has reported that Florida Legislature has failed again (for the third time) to come up with a congressional redistricting plan.  This time the cause was the State Senate's refusal to adopt the gerry-mandering of the House, and insisting that the House adopt their plan.

No consensus could be met in conference, and the House, after rejecting both the Senate's plan, and refusing to extend the session, adjourned at noon.  With no agreed upon extension of the session the Senate followed suit.  It is unlikely another special session can, or will, be called before the August 25th deadline set by the court.  Thus it will fall upon the Federal court to make the decisions and impose a re-districting plan.  That is not good news for the GOP.

This is more evidence of the sizeable rift in the GOP in Florida, which is truly a microcosm of Republicans nationwide.  Our legislature is no more capable of governing than Congress is.  The problem is that it leaves Governor Scott almost unchecked and "in charge."  Well, I guess we should "get back to work".  That is all of us, except the legislature.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TRUMP - YOU ARE DISQUALIFIED AND FIRED

What is it about Republicans and the Constitution that makes them like oil and water.  We have already had four candidates who have disqualified themselves for not understanding either the Judiciary clause or the 1st Amendment.  Now The Donald has announced that the 14th Amendment can not withstand a court challenge.  A constitutional amendment is unconstitutional and it "won't hold up in court."

In particular Trump has said that those children born of undocumented aliens in the United States are not citizens.  Let's look at this logically, which, of course, Trump does not.

First of all the amendment is simple: ". . . all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States. . ."  What part of this sentence is not clear and unequivocal?

Second, if Trump is right, then a vast majority of our "citizenry", in one form or another, may not be citizens, and must voluntarily deport themselves to the their ancestors' country of origin, including Trump.  Almost no one would be eligible to be President or Vice-President.

I will not repeat the President's oath of office.  I will just say: Trump you are DISQUALIFIED AND FIRED.  You are an idiot, an imbecile and a moron.  If anyone should leave our country it is you, and let US take it back from bigots and xenophobes like you.

Monday, August 17, 2015

WORKING NINE TO FIVE ...............



THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

A Reminder that the tribute to Judge Tam Wilson is tonight:

A TRIBUTE TO JUDGE THOMAS "TAM" WILSON ..........................

There is a Tribute to Judge Wilson scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 19, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the History Miami Museum, 101 West Flagler Street, Miami, 33130. Parking is available across the street in the Cultural Center Parking Garage, at 50 NW 2nd Avenue.  The Museum will validate your parking ticket, for a discounted rate.  Hope to see you there.  Call with any questions.  Bruce Alter, 786-497-7078.

AS THE SONG GOES, "WORKING NINE TO FIVE ......."



Well, not anymore, if you are working for the Clerk of Court, in Broweird County.

According to a story that appeared in the DBR last week, don't expect to get any service from any of the employees at Howard Forman's office after 3:30 PM.   Clerk's offices are terminating employees, placing a hiring freeze on current staff, and going to the shorter hours, all to compensate for the decrease in funding from the Florida Legislature and their 2015-16 budget.  Those moves, along with requiring all employees in Broward taking one unpaid furlough day every month through October, are some of the ways Clerk's offices throughout the State are using in an attempt to balance the budget.

According to Forman's office, Broward needed to slash $2 million from its $40 million budget by Oct. 1.   To do so, they cut daily operating hours beginning on July 20 to close their offices to the public at 3:30 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. in a move likely to affect court filings across all divisions in the long run.

The Florida Bar News covers the story in their August 1, 2015 edition under the headline: "Clerks struggle with $22-million shortfall".  In the article, it starts off with quotes from officials in Palm Beach and Leon County. 

We are well aware that these drastic measures will cause disruption to our court operations, including substantial delays in docketing times and issuance of defaults and summonses.” ­— Palm Beach County Clerk Sharon Bock, in a memo to Chief Judge Jeffrey Colbath.
We have no options but to change the way we do business and deliver services. . . .We would anticipate that there will be delays in the delivery of services, reductions in the hours we are open, and, to some extent, the quality of work we do.” — Leon County Clerk Bob Inzer, in a memo to Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom and other court managers. 

No word from our Clerk of Courts, Harvey Ruvin on what affect the budget cuts will have on our court system locally.

ALSO NORTH OF THE BORDER, JUDGE ROSENTHAL WORKS OUT A PLEA DEAL WITH THE JQC .....

What is the penalty for getting popped for a DUI, later pled to a Reckless Driving, and then appearing before the JQC and providing them with misleading and incomplete statements during her testimony on an ethics investigation based on the DUI case?

If the Florida Supreme Court accepts Judge Lynn Rosenthal's plea deal worked out with the JQC, (and there is no guarantee they will, having rejected two other recent plea deals on other state court judges), the penalties would include: a 90 day unpaid suspension, a public reprimand, 12 hours of continuing legal education in ethics, family counseling, and repayment of fees and costs related to the JQC investigation.

ELECTION CENTRAL .......

Here in Miami-Dade County, Judge Gill Freeman has announced that she will not be seeking re-election in 2016.  Judge Freeman, who worked for the firm Ruden, McCloskey from 1981-1997, was appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles to the Circuit Court bench in 1997.  She ran unopposed in Group 34 in 1998, 2004, and 2010, serving on the Circuit Court bench for the past 18 years.

As a result, Group 34 has seen two attorneys file for that open seat.

Attorney T. Renee Gordon,  the T stands for Thejuana, has been a member of The Florida bar since 1995.  She is currently working in the Juvenile Division of the PD's office.

Attorney Denise Martinez-Scanziani, has been a member of The Florida Bar since 2000.  She runs her law practice in South Miami with her husband Paul.  They handle a wide variety of cases ranging from family law, to foreclosure defense, immigration, etc.

Many of my loyal readers may remember the name Scanziani.  I blasted candidate Scanziani in a February 2008 post that you can read here concerning what I perceived as the candidate appealing to the lowest common denominator in our community - her ethnicity.  I accused Scanziani of changing her name within five days of filing in two different seats, filing first as Scanziani and then as Martinez-Scanziani.

To Scanziani's credit, she responded to my post.  In her unedited response that can be found here, Martinez-Scanziani explained the reasoning behind her name-changing decision.  As a footnote to that 2008 filing against Judge Hendon, Martinez-Scanziani eventually withdrew from the race and Judge Hendon went on to win, unopposed.

YOUR NEXT CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE IS .....

TBD (to be determined) by Governor Scott, sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Gov. Scott has six names on his desk:  Judge Wendell Graham, Judge Lourdes Simon, Judge Jason Dimitris, Judge Charles Johnson, and attorneys Ayana Harris and John Wylie.

Enjoy the next seven days of our not so bad traffic, because, beginning next Monday, August 24th, school is back in session, and with that comes the oh so fun one hour plus commutes to and from the courthouse.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LICENSE SUSPENDED ??? - YOU ARE NOT ALONE


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

MY DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED YOU SAY ..... TIME FOR A CHANGE, WE SAY .....

There are approximately 1,800,000 drivers that are licensed to operate a motor vehicle in Miami-Dade County.  Of that number, 550,000 have a SUSPENDED LICENSE.  You did not read that incorrectly.  Nearly 3 out of every 10 drivers on the road are breaking the law everyday in our "Magic City".

The Miami Herald wrote a story and you can read all about it here.

What can we do about this problem?  Change the law. What is causing all of these suspensions?  Is it because of unsafe driving?  NO.  Amazingly, 77% of all those persons that have a suspended license, have it because they failed to pay a ticket or a fine on time.  Traffic tickets, court costs, and child support payments are the main culprit of this disease.  The remaining 23% of the suspended drivers' licenses' are because of actual bad driving issues.

Judge Leifman said it well: “We’re putting an additional tax burden on a group of individuals that can’t afford it,” Leifman said. It’s “criminalizing their behavior when all they did was commit a civil infraction and didn’t have the money to pay it.”

The cycle begins when someone gets a traffic citation and then does not pay that ticket within the thirty days as required by law.  They get pulled over at some later point, (usually for something as minor as a burnt out tail light) and the result is that they can be arrested for Driving With a Suspended License (DWLS).  Now the arresting officer is going to spend the next several hours of their shift booking someone who essentially is being jailed because they couldn't afford the original citation.  So, now the person has a new court date for that DWLS, (there license is still suspended), and now the Judge piles on by adding fines and court costs to the no contest plea of the defendant for their DWLS.  And the cycle continues. 

What to do?

According to the Herald story, other states have moved away from suspending licenses for not paying traffic tickets.  Why not Florida, why not in Miami - because it's all about the Benjamins, of course.  In 2014, four collection agencies contracted by the Clerk have the job of attempting to collect the outstanding fees and costs due to the Clerk.  These four companies get a 40% vig on top of what was originally owed.  Last year the four collection agencies collected a whopping $19 million dollars for the Clerk's office, providing these four companies with $7.5 million in fees.

Because of the large amount of money coming in like it does, the State Legislature funds the Clerk's office with less money.  So there is no way that the Clerks' offices want to change the system and forego having a license suspended when someone fails to simply pay a traffic citation.  It is a vicious cycle.

It seems like FACDL's statewide lobbying group should get together with an elected legislator, say maybe State House Rep Katie Edwards, and get a bill through the legislature that can effect positive change.  It is simply insane to keep doing the same thing over and over and not try something new and different when there are more than a half-million drivers in Miami-Dade County alone who have a suspended license.

RED LIGHT CAMERA UPDATE ......

Judge Leifman informs us that he hopes to have an ORDER prepared by the end of the month - I assume he meant August - of 2015.
.......
JUDGE LEIFMAN WINS ANOTHER AWARD .....

And, speaking of Judge Leifman, according to crack reporter Julie Kay at the DBR, Leifman is moving on up in the world.  You can read the entire story here.  Congrats to Judge Leifman - well deserved.

"Steven Leifman, associate administrative judge of the Miami-Dade County Court criminal division, has been named the National Center for State Courts' recipient of the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence.  U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. will present the award to Leifman during a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Nov. 19."

"Leifman is being recognized for his groundbreaking work helping mentally ill people in the criminal justice system."


Congrats to Judge Leifman - well deserved.


 It's just way too hot outside - time for a dip in the:





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