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

Monday, May 04, 2015

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

I've heard chatter on Judge Veronica Diaz, who was noticeably not herself when she took the bench Monday. Another judge soon relieved her.


Can't say what exactly was up with her and it wouldn't be fair for me, as the courts reporter, to speculate. I did ask courts spokeswoman

On Judge Diaz leaving bench, spokeswoman' response: "As in the past, when a judge is not feeling well, another judge covers the calendar."

QUERY: If A judge has a cold or a small headache and leaves the bench, that is one thing.
But what if a judge was "escorted" off the bench by her colleagues because it was determined she wasn't able to fulfill her duties?
What obligation does the chief judge have to make sure all litigants who appeared before the judge are informed the judge was escorted off the bench?

Judges make findings every day throughout the course of a calendar. Judges make findings about defendants during plea colloquies, they make decisions about bonds, motions for continuances, not to mention findings on motions to suppress.

Shouldn't a litigant who appeared before a judge who was unable- for whatever reason- to perform her duties- have a right to have their case re-heard by another judge?

And, while we are asking these questions, if the judge in question has a personal problem that intruded on their ability perform their duties, don't the judge or judges who are aware of the situation have an obligation to report that judge to the JQC?

There is lots of "chatter" that the situation involving Judge Veronica Diaz was more than a simple case of her not feeling well and seeking a judge to take over her calendar while she went home for a sick day.

Lots of questions. Not too many answers.




Friday, May 01, 2015

DR. LENNY HABER HAS PASSED AWAY

Some obituaries are hard to write. This is one of them. 

Dr. Lenny Haber, a forensic psychologist who handled cases in the REGJB for decades was more than just a professional acquaintance, he was a friend. 

As a young an inexperienced lawyer decades ago, Dr. Haber was a steadying influence. He was wise, and caring, and he had a twinkle in his eye. Did you know that Dr. Haber was often hired as an expert to assist the prosecution or defense in litigation? We hired him in a very difficult case many years ago and his knowledge of law, courtroom tactics, and people was the difference in winning the case. 

Lenny Haber was a Miami Beach councilman starting in 1971. In 1977 he was elected Mayor of Miami Beach.  Dr. Haber had a popular radio show in Miami where he dispensed psychological and life advice and as the Herald Obit here states, he was a frequent commentator on NBC during the OJ Simpson trial. 

Dr. Lenny Haber was many things to many people. A loving father and grandfather. A superb expert witness, psychologist and legal advisor. He was a mayor, and a concerned citizen who had Miami and Miami Beach's best interests at heart. And to us, he was a mentor and a friend. He will be missed. But his kindness and wisdom and the impact he had on our community and the many lives he touched will live on. 


Memorial services will be held at 11 AM Sunday at Temple Beth Shalom, 4144 Chase Ave., Miami Beach, and services will follow at Lakeside Memorial Park, 10301 NW 25th St., Miami.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SCOTUS AFFIRMS FLORIDA BAN ON DIRECT SOLICITATIONS FROM JUDICIAL CANDIDATES

UPDATE: Very nice work Professor, thank you. 
@Davidovalle305 tweeted this. We don't know his source and it is not up on the Florida Supreme Court Website yet:

BREAKING: Fla Supreme Court says Judge Jackie Schwartz should be suspended 30 days, fined $10K for telling store clerk "Go Fuck Yoursef."

Here is the order. The court did not suspend Schwartz. But essentially offered the 30 day suspension and 10K fine in addition to a reprimand and a letter of apology as a resolution the court would accept.




In an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, a sharply divided court, by plurality, affirmed a Florida Supreme Court ruling upholding Canon 7C(1) banning personal solicitation of campaign funds by judicial candidates.  Lanell Williams-Yulee solicited, by mail and online, financial contributions for her campaign for County Court in Hillsborough County.  She was unsuccessful in obtaining judicial office.

The Florida Bar filed a complaint against her for violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which is applicable to judicial candidates under Rule 4-8.2(b) of the Rules Governing the Florida Bar.  She admitted she sent the solicitations, but argued she had a First Amendment Right to do so.  The sanction recommended by the referee, upon conviction, was a public reprimand and costs.  When the Florida Supreme Court adopted the referee's recommendations, she sought cert and it was granted.

The entire premise of the Court's opinion is that "Judges are not politicians, even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot."  And even though they are elected, the State can make a decision not to treat judicial candidates like campaigners for political office.  In essence, judges do not have a constituency.  Their constituency is the law, not the people.

Justice Roberts makes it clear that the restriction on fund raising, although "free speech", meet the strict scrutiny test required for it to be upheld.  The ban on solicitation aims squarely at the conduct most likely to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary: personal requests for money by judges and judicial candidates, and serves a compelling public interest.

The CJ took the time to comment on judicial elections.  He stated that the desirability of judicial elections is a questions that has sparked disagreement for over 200 years.  Our founding fathers (with the exception of Thomas Jefferson) thought an appointed judiciary was the best method to obtain an impartial judiciary.  However CJ stated that it is not SCOTUS' place to resolve that "enduring debate."

However, there is good news for Richard Parillo and United Automobile Insurance Company.  The Court had no problem with "campaign committees" and one must surmise that includes PACs like the one Parillo created to give Rodney Smith $250,000.  So all you "robed warriors" and "would-be robed warriors" pay attention at the judicial campaign seminars the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee puts on each election cycle.

Monday, April 27, 2015

MY CITY IN RUINS




Baltimore joins the long list of American cities caught in the throes of upheaval and rioting and civil disturbance sparked by police misconduct. Our city- Miami- burned more than once in the 1980's. At some point people just won't take it anymore. 

Speaking of burning, as per @davidovalle305 's tweet, there was a small fire in the REGJB Monday morning. 
Plus someone defecated in the hallway on the second floor. 

Miami- see it like a native. 

Those were the days. 

We don't practice civil law. 
We are admittedly  not experts in pleadings, motions for summary judgement and other civil stuff. But we're pretty sure this pleading is not a winning one. We've admittedly wanted to end a pleading with the words "You control nothing. You are nothing. And you can do nothingF*ck you. Die", as this pleading ends. And there is a certain stylistic rhythmic theme to the coda of this document. But we've never done it. 

Yet. 



Friday, April 24, 2015

NEW COURTHOUSE OPENS

Sitting in the shadows of Miami's dilapidated civil courthouse, the new Gelber-Gladstone Children's courthouse  opened on Friday, with a bevy of local politicians and former Governor Bob Graham in attendance. 


Gelber-Gladstone courthouse
The Herald article is here. 

The new courthouse replaces perhaps the worst courthouse facility in the United States: the juvenile facility off of 27th avenue. 

But one wonders what chief Judge Soto must have thought, when glancing at the civil courthouse just a few blocks away, standing in asbestos-ladden, mold-ridden splendor. With vultures appropriately circling the higher floors, the civil courthouse is demode, and  stands as a constant, mocking and derisive reminder to Soto's failure last year to obtain funding for a new courthouse. The civil courthouse is her Israeli-Palestine conflict- an inscrutable  problem seemingly incapable of a solution. 

We wish those who will use the new children's courthouse well. We can't  count the number of juvenile cases we have handled, because the next one will be our first one.

We just have one question: will the new courthouse spawn a blog? 

Enjoy your weekend. 


Thursday, April 23, 2015

CLIENT NEEDS COUNSEL

Running the most widely read, most popular, and if we may so humbly say, most well written legal blog in South Florida, we are often approached (via e-mail) with requests from attorneys to advertise or otherwise associate themselves with this blog. We refuse all requests. 

But this client approached us for representation after a traffic stop, and county court not being our preferred milieu, we are soliciting counsel for this client. 

He is a good client, appears well mannered, mostly uses the potty, and cannot attend meetings or court between 2pm and 4pm (nap time). Shoot us an email if you can assist this young fellow.



Pursuant the recent Supreme Court case we discussed in our blog in the last post, we are reliably informed that the stop lasted only as long as was necessary to check license, registration,  sing the ABC song, and then the officer was on his way. 


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

THE RETURN OF THE 4TH AMENDMENT

In Rodriguez v. United States,  the redoubtable Ruth Bader Ginsberg, writing for an unusual  6-3 majority, held that a delay of seven to eight minutes after a traffic stop was concluded for the purposes of holding the driver until a dog could arrive to do a K-9 sniff for drugs, was an unreasonable seizure within the meaning of the fourth amendment.  Thomas, Alito (no surprise) and Kennedy! (surprise) dissented. Scalia joined his fellow opera lover RBG in the majority. 

We granted certiorari to resolve a division among lower courts on the question whether police routinely may extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct a dog sniff. 
...
We hold that a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle thematter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures. A seizure justified only by a police-observed traffic violation, therefore, becomes unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete the mission of issuing a ticket for the violation. 
Because addressing the infraction is the purpose of the stop, it may “last no longer than is necessary to effectuate th[at] purpose.” Ibid. See also Caballes, 543 U. S., at 407. Authority for the seizure thus ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are—or reasonably should have been—completed. See Sharpe, 470 U. S., at 686 (in determining the reasonable durationof a stop, “it [is] appropriate to examine whether the policediligently pursued [the] investigation”).
Beyond determining whether to issue a traffic ticket, anofficer’s mission includes “ordinary inquiries incident to[the traffic] stop.” Caballes, 543 U. S., at 408. Typicallysuch inquiries involve checking the driver’s license, determining whether there are outstanding warrants against the driver, and inspecting the automobile’s registration and proof of insurance 

A dog sniff, by contrast, is a measure aimed at “detect[ing] evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U. S. 32, 40–41 (2000). 
If an officer can complete traffic-basedinquiries expeditiously, then that is the amount of “time reasonably required to complete [the stop’s] mission.” Caballes, 543 U. S., at 407. As we said in Caballes and reiterate today, a traffic stop “prolonged beyond” thatpoint is “unlawful.” Ibid. The critical question, then, is not whether the dog sniff occurs before or after the officer issues a ticket, as JUSTICE ALITO supposes, post, at 2–4, but whether conducting the sniff “prolongs”—i.e., adds time to—“the stop,” supra, at 6. 

Query:  does this sentence read right: 
JUSTICE KENNEDY, dissenting. 
My join in JUSTICE THOMAS’ dissenting opinion does not extend to Part III. 

Thomas wrote this in dissent: 
Because the stop was reasonably executed, no Fourth Amendment violation occurred. The Court’s holding to the contrary cannot be reconciled with our decision in Caballes or a number of common police practices.

Query: Should the Supreme Court decide fourth amendment cases based on "a number of common police practices" ?
Should what the police do be a yardstick in determining reasonableness under the fourth amendment? 

Thomas seems to think so, and yet, in part II of the opinion he writes this: 
We have spurned theories that would make the Fourth Amendment “change with local law enforcement practices.”  

Thomas cites Terry v. Ohio with approval: 
This Court created an exception to that rule [requiring probable cause] in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968), permitting “police officers who suspect criminal activity to make limitedintrusions on an individual’s personal security based onless than probable cause,” 

Query: Since a Terry Stop is a judicially created exception, reading into the constitution words for an exception that the founders never wrote nor contemplated, what in the world is Thomas, of all the justices, doing citing Terry with approval? 
Just wondering. 

Anyway, the fourth amendment struggles on, doing just a bit better today because of the Notorious RBG. 
See you in court.