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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

SUMMER 2015

It's the official start of Summer with the Memorial Day Weekend holiday about to begin. 
Reminder: No court Monday. 

And along with summer comes the summer dress code where the need for gentlemen attorneys to clothe themselves in an overcoat and tie on a sweltering hot day……never mind. 

When is this madness going to stop???

We've had the hottest twelve month on record (source: NASA, that liberal, tax and spend Clinton/Democratic failed bureaucracy), we are going to be entering days in the 90s with 95% humidity and yet a male lawyer has to wear a long sleeve shirt, a tie, and a jacket. It is madness


The Death of The Death Penalty:
Speaking of madness, conservative columnist George Will declared the death of the death penalty in this Washington Post column here. 

The conservative case against capital punishment, which 32 states have, is threefold. First, the power to inflict death cloaks government with a majesty and pretense of infallibility discordant with conservatism. Second, when capital punishment is inflicted, it cannot later be corrected because of new evidence, so a capital punishment regime must be administered with extraordinary competence. It is, however, a government program. Since 1973, more than 140 people sentenced to death have been acquitted of their crimes (sometimes by DNA evidence), had the charges against them dismissed by prosecutors or have been pardoned based on evidence of innocence.

Several people emailed us this blog post, by an REGJB regular, about his recent and somewhat unique experience with the death penalty. 

Enjoy your long weekend. Summer's here. 


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

GREGG WENZEL HONORED


(This is an email from Gregg's very good friend Brian Tannebaum who never asks for credit for his tireless efforts in helping keep Gregg's memory alive.

On May 18, 2015 the United States Post Office in Monroe, New York was named after our fallen colleague Gregg David Wenzel. For those that didn’t know Gregg, he was born and raised in Monroe, New York, was a 1994 graduate of the University of Miami Law School, a former assistant public defender, former Florida Bar Counsel, and former CIA Agent, where he was killed in the line of duty on July 9, 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the age of 33.

Gregg was a unique individual, and anyone that had the chance to know him, has a great story about him, and will probably tell you there was no one like him
It took his family 6 years to have his identity uncovered, and his name is now in the book that sits below the wall at the CIA where stars represent the fallen agents. Gregg’s star is number 81.

It took his family another 6 years to have Congress pass a bill naming the post office in Gregg’s hometown after him. President Obama signed the bill in December of 2014.
The ceremony had a full honor guard, and all the local first responders were there, Many retired veterans attended, Gregg’s parents and three sisters were there, and there was a large crowd of family and friends.

Prior to the ceremony, there was a story about it on the local news, and the T.V. and print media were in attendance.

Gregg’s congressman spoke, as well as a local Rabbi, several New York State Assemblymen, the Mayor of Monroe, several representatives from the Postal Service, and of course, very moving statements from Gregg’s parents Mitch and Gladys. As May 18 was also the day of the annual memorial service at the CIA in Langley, Virginia (where Gregg’s parents attend each year) the Director of the CIA sent a message which was read at the ceremony. The ceremony ended with the playing of Taps.


It was mentioned at the ceremony that of over 1500 post offices named after people since 1967, this was the first named after a fallen CIA Agent.
Another interesting note that moved the crowd - the number 18 represents “Chai” in the Jewish religion, or “good luck.” Gregg’s birthday is November 18, the ceremony was on the 18th, and his star number backwards (81) is 18.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

PROPERTY RIGHTS

Our friends at the Random Pixels blog have some 1980's "Miami Vice" Miami Police Department  cheesecake recruiting videos. We think. It's not really clear. But it is interesting. 
Here. 

Can you tell a joke? Does the truth not matter a whole lot to you? Wanna carry a gun and smack some people around? Then the City of Miami Beach Police Department may have a job for you. 


Felons can sell their firearms. Property rights and all that. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 and DOM has the story on his blog here. 

"The right to life is the source of all rights — and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible"
"Man's Rights", Any Rand. 

SPORTS:
The Marlins fired their manager and promoted their general manager who has approximately zero hours managing any baseball team at any level. 

The Basketball playoffs continue and your Miami Heat….never mind. 

The Miami Dolphins gave QB Ryan Tannehill a five year 90 or so million dollar extension. 

Did You Know:
Did you know that as constitutional officers, Florida Judges do not have a set amount of vacation or sick time? They just take what they want and are responsible for getting their calendars covered. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

ROGUES GALLERY

From: Katherine Fernandez Rundle > Date: May 15, 2015 at 6:10:50 PM EDT 
Subject: List of Miami Beach Police Officers Involved in Offensive Conduct 
 Attached is the list of the Miami Beach Police Officers involved in offensive conduct referenced in my May 15, 2015 letter. Thank you. 

Katherine Fernandez Rundle State Attorney Office of the State Attorney 1350 NW 12 Avenue Miami, FL 33136 (305) 547-0535



What we have here is a systemic failure. 

This department is diseased. 
Fatally. 

How does one laugh at racist jokes in their spare time, and then act fairly and decently and investigate crimes accurately during their work?

Would  any lawyer accept a juror who in their spare time attended Klu Klux Klan meetings? "I'm a racist in my spare time; it's kind of a hobby. But I can be fair…." 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 
― Martin Luther King Jr.









Friday, May 15, 2015

WEEKLY ROUNDUP

It was another week full of ups and downs and in-betweens in the REGJB.

First the good news:

Ringing the bell.













Judge Stan Blake finished his course of radiation and chemotherapy for oral cancer. He celebrated by wearing a Tux and ringing the bell signifying the end of his treatment. 

Hyman Roth: Good health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power. 

The bad news:
Miami Beach Cop Alex  Carulo was fired for sending racist emails from his official account. 

The Miami Beach Police Department  has a serious problem. 
"Q: How many Beach cops does it take to throw a defendant down a flight of stairs?
A: None. He fell." 

The In-Between:
Judge Veronica Diaz was MIA again this week on Thursday. She didn't show up for court and she didn't arrange for coverage.  Blog commentators wrote and sent us emails describing the scene as the bailiff struggled to maintain order in a courtroom with no judge. Judge Sayfie had to pitch in and do the calendar with court starting an hour later than usual. 

Enjoy your weekend. Long weekend next week. 

See you in court. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

HOW FAR SOME WILL GO, WILL ONLY AMAZE AND DISGUST YOU!

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths some lawyers will go to gain any kind of advantage in a trial, no matter what the ethical implications may be.  Take for instance the actions of Stephen Diaco, his partner Robert D. Adams and one of their associates Adam Fithaut, all on trial (being live streamed on ABC Action Newsin Tampa) together before a bar referee as this is being written.

Diaco and Adams were representing the defendant in the trial of  the infamous "Shock Jock Case" (one shock jock suing the other for defamation) in Tampa.  The lawyer representing the plaintiff was Phil Campbell, who's office was in the same building as Diaco and Adams, PA, and was well known as one who imbibes frequently, if not daily.  Mr. Campbell, actually lived directly across the street from his favorite watering hole.

Diaco and Adams were not doing particularly well in the trial.  It was conceded at the time that Campbell was kicking them around the courtroom.  Diaco hatched a plan with Adams' knowledge and consent, to have Adams' paralegal, a very attractive, married women, go to Campbell's favorite bar, cozy up to him, and when it was time to go, claim she was too drunk to drive home and ask him to place her car in his community's parking lot for her.

Diaco had a friend on the Tampa Police Department, who was made aware of the plan and when Campbell took control of the young lady's car, was to arrest him and charge him with DUI, which the officer did.  This arrest was immediately tweeted to all news media, and the trial was disrupted for a time while Campbell dealt with the immediate aftermath of the arrest.  Eventually the plan unraveled, and it became public what Diaco and Adams had done.

(Oh did I mention that when the paralegal got home, and drunkenly made a phone call to tell a girlfriend what she had done, her (now ex) husband overheard the conversation, and was so incensed at her conduct he videoed the call with his cell phone.)

After an investigation the Bar filed charges.  (StephenAdams, Fithaut)  A plea agreement was reached for Diaco to be disbarred with leave to re-apply, and the other two to be suspended for 90 days.  The referee rejected the plea agreement, signalling to Diaco that permanent disbarment was on its way, and at least 91 day suspensions for the others.  

At 8:30 the morning the trial was to start (Monday) Diaco petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to surrender his license to practice with leave to apply for re-admission after five years.  This was done with the intent of delaying the trial pending his petition, which did not happen.

Throughout the entire pre-trial procedure (including depositions), all the defendants, as well as the paralegal asserted their 5th Amendment right to remain silent.  Adams then waived his rights and testified at the trial attempting minimize his involvement in way that a good prosecutor will argue conscious denial or fabrication.  The police officer has admitted to his complicity in the scheme, been dismissed from TPD and has testified to the conspiracy.

These guys exhibit what is truly wrong with our profession (if you can call it that anymore).  Is it ego?  Is it money?  Is it getting so caught up in our client's vitriol that we lose sight of who and what we are?  When did attacking the other lawyer become part of a relevant trial strategy?  Is winning one case worth a lifetime of cases, not to mention the years of work put in to get you here?  This may be extreme, but is it not so uncommon, that it is common-place?  Have we seen it, or been the victim of personal attacks, and only responded in kind?  Do we justify our behavior as somehow taking the high ground?  When did we lose sight of the adage: At the end of a case our best friend is the lawyer on the other side and our worst enemy can be our client?

We will let you know how it all ends.  (Like it is in any "reasonable" doubt.)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

VOX POPULI II

The court house was closed-vacated today at 4:30 PM in expectation of a demonstration. 

Talk about the voice of the people. 


Chief Judge,



On behalf of Major Jeanniton and as it relates to the Demonstration scheduled for 5pm this afternoon at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, I would like to inform you that we are working on an operational plan to secure the safety and security of the Judicial Staff along with all of the employees and visitors at the court house. Respectfully, we would request that you advise all personnel at the REGJB of this pending demonstration and order that they vacate the complex by 4:30 pm today. The Court Services Bureau Law Enforcement personnel would respectfully be requesting to utilize the underground parking of the complex to secure the vehicles along with other law enforcement gear. We will be working in coordination with the City of Miami Police Department in this endeavor and based on previous demonstrations the event is expected to end by 10pm this evening. Any and all assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.



Respectfully



Carlos M. Vazquez, Captain

Miami-Dade Police Department

Court Services Bureau

Of course real leaders (like perhaps the State Attorney) would stay and speak to the people. 


 

Bobby's finest moment. This is what a real leader does. 

"He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of g-d"
Aeschylus


 

VOX POPULI

First, Tom Brady and the NE Cheaters are cheaters, they always have been cheaters, and always will be cheaters. There. We feel better. 

SEXISM. 

The issue of sexism has been raised on this blog, with the accusations hurled at your faithful blogger that we are complicit in promoting the sexist views of at least one, and perhaps more commentators who refer to certain judges as "little girls" and the like. 

The criticism, which we have received in the form of comments and private emails from distinguished individuals whom we respect, basically goes something like this: you wouldn't print a comment calling an African American judge a racist word, or a Jewish or Latin judge a racist word, but why do you print comments demeaning females? 

Fair point. 

We will respond, but we first aver that our position is subject to being changed by the comments we receive in this post. 

First, lets review the blog rules. We will not publish comments personally demeaning an individual or talking about their private life, unless their actions directly relate to their job. If a comment says so and so looks ugly or fat or doesn't bathe, we don't print those comments.  If a comment  says so and so is cheating on their spouse, we won't print that comment. If a Judge  is arrested for DUI, or any crime, we would print that. If a  Judge is accused of misconduct of any sort with a member of their staff or a lawyer that appears before them, or with a litigant (and believe us, the stories of judges sleeping with defendants in the 1970's and 1980's are numerous and legendary) we will print that. 

Racism. 
Racism, like sexism, is repugnant. If someone commented that an African American Judge couldn't perform their job because of their heritage and race, we would probably print it, confident that the response would show the idiocy of the comment. Indeed, Judge Marcia Cooke recently published on her Facebook page an incident where she was mistaken for a servant or cleaning woman in the parking lot of her condo. The result was a discussion about stereotypes which we think helped address an age old problem.  Nobody criticized Cooke for raising the issue, as was her right to do. 

When we print a comment from someone about young female judges,  in which the comment calls them "little girls", lots of people get upset. 

Our view is: fight back. Respond to the neanderthal-thinking comment and let those types of ideas be discussed in the market place.  We think that if we impose our morality on this blog, then we don't serve the community. We disagree with comments that call judges "little girls". And therefore those that criticize us have no problem with our censorship, confident that our views are their views. 

 But what if our views are not your views? What if we were racist or sexist?
You probably would stop reading. The market place would work. 

We see the other side. The people who frequent this blog want to read and comment about issues and not have their sensibilities offended by stupid and sexist comments which take away from the pleasure of contributing to a discussion. 

We hear you. We just want you to consider that you are setting a dangerous precedent by putting such power of censorship in our hands. What if we decide we don't like your particular ideas and won't print those? 

Now we want to hear from you. For the purposes of this post, we will not publish comments seeking to inflame readers. Meaning we won't publish more "little girl" comments. You can address the "little girl" issue, but for this post at least, you can't engage in that type of name calling. 

See You In Court.