Saturday, August 01, 2015




Thomas "Tam" S. Wilson, Jr. was born in Oregon in 1945. He studied at a small private college in Pennsylvania, and did a stint in the Navy, before attending UM law school graduating in 1971. He came from a long line of judges, including his father, a federal judge who decided labor cases. Another relative was the first federal judge in the Oregon Territory. And ancestor William Strong was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1870-1880, nominated by President Grant.

After "Tam" graduated from law school, he worked as an Assistant Public Defender for Phil Hubbart in the 1970s. He then became a prosecutor in the 1980s working for Janet Reno.

Judge Wilson's ambition to sit on the bench was finally realized in the summer of 1990 when Republican Gov. Bob Martinez appointed Wilson, a Democrat, as a Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge. In the 1990 election, his first, he ran against attorney Samuel Forman, beating Forman while garnering 52% of the vote. He was re-elected in 1996, 2002, and 2008, all unopposed. With his newest term beginning in January of 2009, he mysteriously resigned from the bench on October 15, 2009. County Court Judge Antonio Arzola was nominated by Governor Crist to replace him.

To give you an idea of how well respected Judge Wilson was on the bench, in his final DCBA Judicial Poll, out of 123 judges, he ranked in the top five in "exceptionally qualified" votes alongside Judges Kevin Emas, Joe Farina, Bob Scola, and Reemberto Diaz.

South Florida Lawyer did a goodbye story in 2009 and said of Judge Wilson, "I had many occasions to be in front of Judge Wilson, and have known him outside the courtroom for many years as well. While he didn’t always rule my way, he was and is smart, kind, highly professional, and by far one of the best judges on the circuit court civil bench. He will be missed."

Indeed, he will be missed.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Message to all attorneys in the other 49 states: Florida doesn't want you. 

Reciprocity, the comity that states extend to members of the bar: "you let our lawyers in your Bar and we'll let your lawyers in our Bar" doesn't exist in Florida. 

Florida has long believed that every lawyer in the union would want to retire here:

"Yeah, we bought a little place in Boca Raton and I'm going to hang out a shingle and do some closings from my house. The condo has a golf course and a clubhouse and canasta on Thursdays and Gladys's sister and her husband Hubert moved five years ago and they love it. We can't take these winters anymore." 

Meanwhile, no lawyers in Florida are saying: 

"Iris and I found a charming place in East Detroit. You can't believe how cheap houses are, and really we like the harsh winters. So we're going to retire and I'm going to pick up a few court appointments on the side." 

So the Bar waded in to this dispute and sent out a panicky email assuring us that while they are processing our renewal fees, they are otherwise DOING NOTHING. 
Yes, the Florida Bar, really really wants you to know that despite what you may heard around the water cooler (or the nespresso machine in our office which we absolutely love) the Bar is doing NOTHING about this. So don't worry, because if there is one thing the Florida Bar has shown us over the years is that they are absolutely experts at doing nothing. 

Dear Colleagues:
As your Eleventh Circuit representatives to the Board of Governors, we write to echo the email message you received yesterday from the President of The Florida Bar and to likewise assure you that we recognize the responsibility of representing you and the more than 100,000 lawyers licensed in Florida. We have not nor will we ever advance a recommendation or an initiative contrary to the interest of the lawyers we represent and the public we serve.

We emphasize three points:
           (Maybe  you thought we were exaggerating):  No Action Being Taken:  To be clear, The Florida Bar and its Board of Governors have taken no action on the issue of admission by motion/reciprocity and have no current plans to do so without input from membership. In fact, the issue has only been one part of a broader analysis – Vision 2016 – studying the evolving practice of law in Florida and throughout the country.
            Vision 2016 and the Future:   Under Vision 2016, the goal to date has been simple: to identify challenges facing the legal profession, analyze issues and make recommendations as to how best move the practice forward and remain competitive in today’s fast-changing landscape. These topics range from bar admissions and technology to legal education and access to legal services.
            An inclusive process:  The Florida Bar’s rule-making process is intended to be collaborative and inclusive by design, with all Florida Bar members strongly encouraged to share their comments, feedback and concerns on any issue brought forward for discussion. These comments can be shared via email or by going directly to The Florida Bar’s dedicated Vison 2016 site at www.floridabar.org/vision2016. Together, we can positively chart a path forward for the organization and the profession.

As we move forward, we will continue to be staunch advocates for all of the lawyers we represent and the public we serve.

Thank you.
The Florida Bar, Eleventh Circuit Board of Governors
Steven Davis
Dori Foster Morales
John H. (Jack) Hickey
Michael Higer
Dennis Kainen
Leslie Lott
Roland Sanchez-Medina

Monday, July 27, 2015


We thought that the DOC had caved. We thought that the problems with attorneys not being allowed to see clients except through a solid plate of cloudy plexiglass through which you cannot give a client a card or see an a-form was over. 
You thought so too. 

We thought wrong. 

Black is white. 
Hot is cold. 
In is out. 
Yes is no.
All Animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. *

And the DOC agreed to allow attorneys see clients in person, except it didn't. 
And the problem was resolved, except it wasn't. 

Enjoy today's email and kudos to Rick Freedman for fighting the good fight. Buy him a beer the next time you see him at a Dolphin's game.  (the highlights in red are ours, not Mr. Freedman's. Judges sometimes read the blog and need a little assistance.) 

Assistant Director Junior:
Thank you for taking the time today to speak with me about the issue of the attorney visits at your MDC&R facilities and the ability of the attorney to see an inmate in a "barrier free environment" and not under glass, pursuant to Directive D11-003 issued February 15, 2011 by your Department.
I called you as a representative of FACDL, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  You currently have two designated representatives from our organization that you meet with regularly, Michelle Estlund and Marcos Beaton.   You did indicate that you meet with them Quarterly and that Ms. Estlund and Mr. Beaton have done a great job representing the interests of FACDL and the criminal defense bar.
The only reason I felt the need to get involved in this matter was because, in 2010, I was the FACDL representative that negotiated with Director Ryan, and the Legal team of Ty Williams and Pat Jones the Directive that is currently in place.  We worked on this Directive for a full year and, by all accounts, it has been working nearly flawlessly for the past five years.
Recently, we received a few emails from attorneys who were being denied the ability to visit with inmates in a barrier free environment.  These attorneys were NOT the attorney of record for the inmate.  They were told that they could only see the inmates in a glass environment.  More importantly, the officers were all confronted with the matter of that not being in accordance with the Directive - and all of the officers responded uniformly - this is the way we have always done it.
After receiving these emails from these attorneys I took it upon myself to speak with Pat Jones and her staff in your Legal Unit.  I was assured that the matter was addressed at the Command Staff Meeting that took place on Monday, July 20, 2015.  I sent an email out to all 750 members of FACDL and informed them as such.  I did ask the attorneys to please email myself, Ms. Estlund or Mr. Beaton with any issues they had subsequent to last Monday's meeting and we asked the attorney to be specific as to date, time, location, officer's names, etc. when they encountered any problems with the enforcement of the Directive.
Last Friday, July 24th, we got another email.  The incident took place at TGK that day.  It happened at 11:01 AM and the Officer was Officer West.  An attorney, not of record, wanted to visit an inmate.  The man had been arrested on July 23rd and the PD was appointed.  The attorney said that Officer West was extremely polite and very professional.  But she told the attorney that, because he was not the attorney of record, he had to see the inmate "under glass".  The attorney, knowing about the Directive, and our emails of the past two weeks, pointed this out to Officer West.  He asked her to go to her Supervisor.  Officer West eventually agreed to let the attorney see the inmate in a barrier free environment but the attorney was told that "this was an exception to the rules".
So, today, I spoke with Captain Richardson at TGK.  She was aware of the incident of last Friday because Pat Jones had discussed it with her.  (I had spoken with Pat Jones about the incident that same Friday afternoon).  Captain Richardson told me things that were very different from what Pat Jones was telling me.  I discussed those issues with you directly.  Without naming names in this email, (we already discussed it on the phone today), Captain Richardson's superior was telling her that there is no Directive in place; that only DSOPs matter; that there is no DSOP on attorney visits; and that the policy is that attorneys who are not attorneys of record can only see inmates "under glass".
Captain Richardson explained to me that she told her superior that, "how can an attorney speak with an inmate under glass when they can't hear each other".  As you may know, family members were slipping contraband through straws and through the little holes in the glass.  So they replaced the glass with no holes.  That makes it near impossible for an attorney to hear an inmate when the attorney is forced to meet an inmate "under glass".  Captain Richardson took it upon herself to tell her day staff Officers to let attorneys, who are not the attorney of record, have a short 30 minute visit with the inmate in a barrier free environment.  But she told me that this was in contradiction to what she was being told by her Supervisor.
Please note that this problem is not one limited to TGK - we have been getting emails about the same thing happening at Metro West.
You agreed that the Directive was in place, that the Directive is still the controlling practice of MDC&R, and that you would make sure that all Commanders, Captains, Sergeants, Lieutenants, and Officers, etc. became aware of and/or were re-introduced to the Directive.  You did ask us to be patient as you have a large amount of employees and it would take some time to get the message out to everyone and have them reacquaint themselves with the Directive.
I appreciate your taking the time to speak with me and I understand that it make take a few days to get the word out to all your employees.  Please feel free to call or email me with any updates on the issue.
Thanks again.
Rick Freedman

* George Orwell, Animal Farm. 


A Judge in Washington County, PA., was sentenced to 1 to 23 months for stealing cocaine that was in evidence in a case before him.  Judge Pozonsky not only broke the evidence seal on the drugs and  replaced the cocaine with baking soda, but he left his DNA in the process.  When the Judge realized that the police were investigating, he ordered the drugs in that case, along with evidence in sixteen other cases destroyed. 

But all is not lost for the former robe wearer. A day after arriving in prison he was approved for work release. The entire sordid details are here. 

We can't help but be reminded of a former Dade Judge, Phil Davis, who was also caught up in a drug and bribery scandal. The case in Miami was known as "Courtbroom" and it's sort of sad that there are judges on the bench, and lawyers in our courtrooms who know nothing about the earthshaking events in the REGJB that broke in the summer of 1991 if memory serves us. 

The scorecard in Courtbroom was:
Judge Harvey Shenberg - who was memorably videotaped stuffing $50,000.00 in his pants in  while remarking it was hard to send a kid to college on a judge's salary, was sentenced to 15 years and that was later reduced to 12 after appeal. 
Judge Alfonso Sepe, was acquitted of 27 counts at trial, while the jury hung on five. Sepe eventually pleaded to one count and did a year. 
Former Judge David Goodhart, aka "the bag man" was convicted and received we think about five years, but that is a guess. 
Judge Roy Gelber flipped and got about seven years. 

A gaggle of lawyers also went to trial and lost. Part of the scheme was that Gelber and Sepe and Davis were receiving kickbacks for court appointments. Sepe got partially paid in pasta, with lawyers picking up his bill at fancy italian restaurants around town. 
Say what you want, but our bad judges had flair. 

And then there was Phil Davis. Represented at trial part of the time by flamboyant defense attorney (and former federal judge in Miami who was impeached) Alcee Hastings (you can't make this stuff up), Davis was acquitted of all charges, based mostly on the best closing of Hasting's life. Hastings, BTW, is now a congressman in Florida. 

Given a second chance, Davis couldn't keep out of trouble, with a bar complaint in California from a case he handled there, to a grand theft case in Miami where Davis was charged with running a scheme to steal from a charity. Davis got veinte anos  on the theft case after losing at trial.  We covered the case here. 

All of this goes to show that when it comes to bad judges, Pennsylvania can't hold a candle to Miami. 

Have a good week. 

Friday, July 24, 2015


It should be simple; subtle yet distinguishable with virtue, taste, sauce and texture. 

It is the quintessential American food, so of course its roots are from immigrants and it was popularized by American GIs returning from WWII  who served in Italy. 

We are talking about Pizza and it's time to reveal the best in Miami. 

First, if you want to mention the chains, go to another blog. Such swill will not be given the time of day here. 

Second, we start with the reigning champ- Steve's Pizza in North Miami. It has been there forever, and its pizza is great. So we will make this post on where to get a great pizza south of 79th Street. 

A word about Anthony's Coal Fired. The pizza is great. The Paul and Ron is our favorite. All the pizza comes out of a coal fired oven, with a distinctive coal-fired taste. Anthonys is a South Florida original, and has franchised to many locations in the eastern sea board and even successfully invaded the Pizza capital: NYC (don't even start Chicago).

Anthonys is sui generis.  It is unique and has great food and great pizza, but it is not what we are after. 

What we are after is the neighborhood joint. The small place, with the pizza craftsman, who makes a superb slice, pie after pie. 

Henrys. In Midtown and soon to be in Coconut Grove, Henrys does a good job with pizza, and now offers any pizza on the menu gluten free (which is really a very healthy way to eat.). Henrys has wings and some fancy side dishes. Its pizza is good and tasty, but it is not great. 

Casolas. Ensconced on 17th avenue just off US1, Casolas is a neighborhood joint, started by a couple of brothers in the late 1970s who came to Miami via Argentina and Boston. Casolas has been around forever, and walk in late any night and see the truce between the city of Miami cops chowing down, and the bad guys they are chasing who are carbo loading before or after a night of clubbing. 
But the pizza is bad. Doughy, and chewy and lacking flavor. But what the pizza lacks  in taste, it makes up with in price and size. Each slice is the equivalent of two slices, and a pie is an enormous acre of dough and sauce and cheese and can easily feed a dozen people. The chicken wings are enormous and the best in the city and the subs can range from the good (steak and cheese) to great (the italian). But as a pizza joint it cannot hold a candle to Steves. 

The Queen.  Many years ago, trying a case before the great Jack Weinstein in the EDNY we asked our local counsel for a dinner recommendation. "Youse like pizza?" "Sure" "The Queen on Court Street is the best around." And it was. A sauce that was tomato-y, yet a hint of sweet. Fresh mozzarella. A cook that made the pizza slightly burnt and of course burned the roof of your mouth. We've been searching for the South Florida equivalent ever since. 

Pomodoros. Coral Gables. We may have found the Miami Queen tucked on a side street in Coral Gables, a half a block in from Miracle Mile. It's a small joint, with a few tables squeezed in with some seats by a railing. It does a brisk take out business, but our first hint that we may have stumbled on to something was that during lunch this week people were waiting outside to order and be served.  

The pizza came out piping hot. The crust made a crunching sound at the back as we gave it the old "NY fold" and the tip sagged under the weight of sauce and cheese. A great crust should be thin, but not too thin, with the slightest hint of pizza dough taste, and the dark marks of the pizza oven on the bottom, each pie and slice containing the marks of a thousands slices before it. 

The sauce was just right. Strong tomato flavor, and a subtle sweetness that means just the right amount of sugar was added to counter balance the vinegar in the sauce.  This my friends, is a great slice of pizza.  Check out the reviews on line. They all say the same thing- a great slice of NY style Pizza. 

We can quibble with the cheese- standard mozzarella, nothing special like you may get with the pizza restaurants in NYC that cater to demanding millennials- "the cheese is locally sourced from a family farm outside of buffalo that has grass fed cows and is 100% organic and pesticide free…"  But all in all, this is what a pizza slice should be. 

Pomodoros. *
 2413 Galiano Street, Coral Gables, Florida. 
Delivery: Yes. Reservations: No. 

What the stars mean:
* Good food. Worth a trip. 
** This is chef capable of turning out an amazing meal. One out of a hundred joints gets two stars. 
*** This is a meal you won't ever forget. Not just a meal, but a memory. 
**** Noma in Copenhagen, Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy, (tell Massimo you read our blog and he will hand you a glass of home made italian wine on the house) and no other places get four stars. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Okay, here it is.  We all knew he was a lost cause, but last night Rick Santorum joined the club of  those who have disqualified themselves from the Presidency, because he does not understand his oath of office, the Constitution, the separation of powers, the role of the Supreme Court and his belief that Congress has the right to pass laws that overrule constitutional decisions of the Supreme Court.  Guess he never heard of US v. Dickerson (2000) which ruled 18 USC 3501 (congress' attempt to overrule Miranda) as unconstitutional.  Amazingly written by Miranda hater Chief Justice William Rehnquist, it stands almost equal in its defense of the Court with Marbury v. Madison.

Santorum believes the framers never intended for the Supreme Court to be an equal branch of government or the final arbiter of what is, or is not, constitutional.  So he does not feel slighted:  he is a moron, an imbecile and an idiot.

Last night on Rachael Madow's show he showed his total ignorance.   You have to watch this, and if you are not screaming at the screen after about a minute and half, you are a better man/woman that I.  And this guy was (I am so grateful to be speaking in the past tense.) a US Senator.

God, wherever she may be, help us from those who love America, but hate the government that makes us America.  Thank God for Donald Trump.  In the words of Neil Young:  "Long may you run", whether as a Republican or an Independent.  He may manage to sweep the Democrats not only into the White House, but the Senate and, at least much closer, in the House of Representatives.

Speaking of the House of Representatives, keep your eye on Tallahassee and the redistricting of those 8 congressional districts ordered by the court.  Expect another suit and another order, and possibly contempt requests, if they don't do it right his time.


The Texas Department of Public Safety has released a 51-minute video of Sandra Bland's traffic stop and arrest, after showing it privately to several local and state officials in a Tuesday meeting. Bland was arrested earlier this month and found dead in her jail cell three days later. She was on her way to Texas from Illinois to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. 

Rumpole, surprisingly, is leaning towards the State Trooper here, although not initiating any contact and calling for backup would have been the better practice. However, there is a significant difference between blogging about something and being boots on the ground (it's the difference between being a trial lawyer, and being elected to the bench never having tried a case, but we digress). 

NPR's Martin Kaste reviewed the video and gave interviews to various media outlets including his favourite legal blogger:  "On the video, Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulls Bland over for failing to signal a lane-change," Kaste said. "Bland is terse with the trooper, and after a few minutes, the tension between them flares up."
Kaste continues, "They argue over whether he has the right to make her get out, things escalate into a shouting match, and then he pulls his taser."
At one point, state trooper Encinia yells at Bland, "I will light you up." State trooper leadership has said Encinia did not follow proper procedure; he's now on desk duty. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said after viewing the video that Bland was "not compliant" with the officer's orders.
During the interaction, Bland refused to get out of her car and put out a cigarette. Encinia claims Bland kicked him. At the point where he says that happened, their interaction is off-camera.
Video taken by a bystander, released earlier this month, showed Bland on the ground after being detained, telling the officer she could not feel her arm and that her head had been slammed into the ground.
Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer. Three days after her arrest, Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell. Officials have said evidence indicates that Bland's death was a suicide, a hanging with a plastic bag. Bland's family disagrees and says she was trying to get out of jail.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


There was a very public showdown recently. It played out in public. On one side, a renegade, flouting the rules, whipping the public into a frenzy. On the other side, an autocratic "rules must be obeyed" mentality.

People took sides.  The old line "rules" people wanted the status quo. The renegades wanted change; the rules were oppressive and unfair to the people. 
Interested parties tried to mediate, with limited success. 

Germany vs. Greece.  France and Italy tried to mediate the standoff.

Justice Building Blog vs. TGK.  
FACDL tried to mediate. 
Greece blinked. 
We did not. 

Following up on Brian Kirlew's email of last week, as well as my emails about the same subject, we wanted to bring all of the members up to speed on what is happening. 
A meeting took place today at the MDC&R Headquarters.  This was their weekly Command Staff meeting and all of the Captains' that run each facility were present at the meeting.  Legal Advisor Patricia Jones was also present and advised all those present at the meeting of the issue concerning attorneys' visits to inmates' in a barrier free environment.  All of the Command Staff were reminded of the Directive and policy in place and all were asked to communicate the policy to their sergeants and officers.  We were assured that the issue has been addressed and they hope it will now resolve the problem that has been happening for the past 2-3 weeks.
They again asked me to ask each of you, if any of you run into the problem again, please email: myself or Marcos Beaton atmbeaton@royblack.com and Michelle Estlund at mestlund@estlundlaw.com with specific details of the incident.
Some of you have expressed a concern if your name is used when we speak with MDC&R about any specific incidents.  If you feel this way, you can email us anonymously if you so desire - we will not use your name even if you email us directly.  What Corrections really needs is the date, time, location, and officer's name that told you that you could not see an inmate in a barrier free environment.  If you are ok with us using your name, and/or the inmate's name, please let us know.
Once again, we hope this solves the problem.  This Procedural Directive concerning Attorney and Professional Visits has been in place for nearly five years and it has worked nearly flawlessly during that time. We hope it continues to work as it was written and that you have no further issues. 
Thank you all for your emails and feedback.
Rick Freedman

Monday, July 20, 2015


Nothing much occurred this weekend in the standoff between corrections, Miami Criminal Defense lawyers and FACDL (the Bermuda Triangle) except that we received more emails that corrections officers are giving lawyers a hard time about seeing their clients and are making snarky comments about this blog, and that FACDL has scheduled a meeting with two corrections officials pictured below who have promised to get to the bottom of this problem. Stand by. 

These jailers will solve the problem, You can trust them. 


A writer's drafts are private. Period. They should not be published without the express consent of the writer. 

Go Set A Watchman is a draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee submitted Go Set A Watchman (GSAW) in the 1950's. It was rejected but an editor told Lee that she was interested in the back stories of Scout and her father when Scout was a child. 

Lee re-worked the book and from that To Kill A Mockingbird emerged. GSAW, while a novel, ended up as a draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. 

Lee had more than 50 years to re-submit GSAW for publication for all the reasons people now want to read it. It's a good (not great) novel; it gives a fascinating insight to the construction of Mockingbird and an insight into the creative process of an author. All of these are wonderful reasons to want to read GSAW. But GSAW belongs to Harper Lee and she had more than fifty years to consider those reasons, and all the objective evidence is that she firmly and completely decided NOT to publish GSAW. 

Now Lee is 89, a stroke in 2007 left her mostly deaf and blind, confined to a wheelchair and nursing home, with (an unscrupulous) attorney acting as her guardian, a lawsuit against her former literary agent over the copyright to Mockingbird and a fight with Lee's family over who will manage her finances. And against this backdrop some  shyster claims to have stumbled upon the manuscript of GSAW? 

This is not some great literary find of a lost novel from a great author. This is a novel rejected for publication that served as a draft for Mockingbird. Those close to Lee knew the story and the existence of GSAW as, obviously, did Lee, and the novel was not submitted for publication. 

Oprah Winfrey wanted Lee on her show several years ago. Lee refused but eventually agreed to meet Winfrey for lunch. Lee explained that for most of her life when people met her they thought and wanted her to be Scout- the charming and precocious tomboy who narrates Mockingbird. But, as Lee explained, she really was Boo Radley, the mysterious and shy recluse who was mocked by the neighborhood children and misunderstood by most of the town (and played by a very young Robert Duvall in the movie). 

The publication of GSAW amounts to nothing more than the exploitation of an elderly and incompetent author who, when she was at the height of her powers, and through her whole life, made a conscious decision to leave her first draft/rejected novel in the locker she stored it. 

The rest of the world is going along with this horrendous exploitation of an elderly artist, but that doesn't mean you have to. 

Leave Lee alone the way Boo Radley wanted to be left alone. 

Don't buy the book. 

See You In Court.