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. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Saturday, May 26, 2018

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

It's a wet and rainy Memorial Day Weekend. 
South Florida's beaches and golf courses and outdoor malls will have to wait for another day. 

Court's are closed Monday so don't show up looking for a trial. 

Here's a couple of things to ponder:

When someone dies and we post an obituary on the blog, why do some people feel compelled to write awful things?

Ditto when someone retires. 
We would respect a negative comment if it wasn't anonymous. 
Ditto when someone runs for judge or is elected judge. 

The internet seems to be a great anonymous equalizer. It has become some sort of therapists couch where people feel free to open up and say the most awful things without fear. 

When someone gets a big case why do other lawyers snipe behind their backs? 
Why do lawyers resent the success of others? 

You know what we all need? 

More poetry in our lives. 
The writer Ray Bradbury wrote about his success as a writer and one of the things he said a successful writer needs to do is read poetry every day. 

So here is a poem. The Fisherman by W.B Yeats.  It's a bit deeper than the "there once was a man from Nantucket..." that many of our learned Judiciary's tastes run to: 


Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It's long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I'd looked in the face
What I had hoped it would be
To write for my own race
And the reality:
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved—
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer—
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelve-month since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face
And gray Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark with froth,
And the down turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream—
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, “Before I am old
I shall have written him one
Poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.”

Coming Tuesday: The Bar Associations are lining up.  Letters are being sent to the Supreme Court in Tallahassee. Ask not for whom the bell tolls....it tolls for thee. 



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DICK GREGORIE IS RETIRING

Famed South Florida Prosecutor Dick Gregorie is retiring from the US Attorneys Office this week after a career in prosecuting that began in the early 1970's. 
While Mr. Gregorie spent most of his career with the Feds, he did a two year stint at the Dade State Attorneys Office where Janet Reno hired him because the Republican fed administration  didn't want him. As we recall Mr. Gregorie's exposure to the sharp elbows of REGJB trials was a bit of an eye opener, and he didn't do as well as he was used to in the federal trials in  the cultured courtrooms where the ceilings are twice as high. But then Bill Clinton was elected POTUS and Gregorie was no longer persona non grata at the US Attorneys and he was back where he belonged. 

As this Herald article points out, Gregorie prosecuted Pablo Escobar, Manuel Noriega, and a score of other drug and money laundering cases (including an unfortunate couple of cases against Miami Defense attorneys gone bad). As Jose Quinon points out in the article, while Dick Gregorie was a formidable opponent, he never forgot his obligations as a prosecutor. He was honest and a man of his word. 

We congratulate Dick Gregorie on a career that made a difference in Miami,  (having made the pages of this blog his career is now complete) and we wish him well on the next chapter of his life. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

A DARK DAY

Lots of breaking news. Check the prior post of the Captain to see your two new county court judges- Elijah Levitt and Ramiro Areces. Congrats to both. 

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality." 
Dr. Martin Luther King

It is 2018. There is no place for racists in our midst, much less on the bench. And yet....


A Miami judge faces suspension for using the word "moolie" to describe an African-American defendant and referring to another man's supporters in court as "thugs."
An investigative panel for Florida's Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stephen Millan be suspended for 30 days, fined $5,000 and be issued a public reprimand. Millan agreed to the punishment, which must be approved by the Florida Supreme Court.
Millan, 52, who is of Italian and Puerto Rican descent and grew up in New York City, "readily admitted to his misconduct" and paid to attend racial sensitivity training. Still, the JQC said, suspension was "warranted to demonstrate to the public, and to remind the judiciary, that racial bias has no place in our judicial system."
Millan sat on a bench in the courthouse of the great Judge Ed Cowart. Of Judge Henry Oppenborn who fought as a paratrooper for his country. This is the courthouse where Attorney General Janet Reno had her office as State Attorney. Ms. Reno sent her prosecutors to court every day telling them to do justice and go where the evidence leads them. 
It is a dark day when we learn that in this courthouse  where we all work  and strive to do justice, that a person with repugnant ideas and ideals sat wearing robes in judgment of others. 
Stephan Millian very simply should not be a judge. His ideas darken the doors of our courthouse. He casts a shadow of hate and ignorance that reaches back to a time when courthouses in Miami were built with two water-fountains side by side and multiple rest- rooms to accommodate segregation. 
Millan has the right to his beliefs. He just does not have the right to sit in judgment of any one at any time for any reason on any case. 
It's probably true that Millan feels bad that this has come to light. The question is whether he feels bad about what he said and did? Is there any remedy for  a person who looks at people of color as thugs and demeans them with a dirty racial epithet? 
This is shocking. This is sad. It's a sad day for justice in Miami. 



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article211618154.html#storylink=cpy

TWO NEW COUNTY COURT JUDGES NAMED .......


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

AND YOUR TWO NEW COUNTY COURT JUDGES ARE .......

As I reported last week, the Governor was scheduled this week to name two new County Court Judges, to replace Judges Multack and Kravitz. Today, the Governor chose:

Ramiro C. Areces, age 35, a nine year member of The Florida Bar to replace Judge Shelley Kravitz. Arces worked for the firm of Jorden Burt before becoming a solo practitioner.

Elijah A. Levitt, age 39, a 14 year member of The Florida Bar to replace Judge Spencer Multack. He served both as an ASA in Miami-Dade County and an AUSA for the Southern District of Florida before becoming a solo practitioner.


Following up on Rumpole’s post from earlier today:

1:34 PM asks a great theoretical question:

Captain, what would happen if the candidates in one group had also applied through the JNC process and the governor appointed them to fill vacancies after qualifying day but before the election? Would qualifying be reopened to get candidates for the election? Or would the seat be considered vacant and the governor would get to appoint someone to fill it? 1:34 PM, Comments section.

The Captain Responds:

So, using a current race as an example, what if Milena Abreu and Mike Mirabal had both gone through the JNC process, both names had been sent to the Governor for two open seats, and the Governor picked both Abreu and Mirabal for the open seats (after May 4th, the last day to qualify, and before August 28th, the date of the election?)

Well, first, of course, Abreu and Mirabal would both become judges. Now, the problem is that both are currently running against each other in County Court Group 43, where the winner is scheduled to be decided in the August primary election.

So, with the Governor's two picks, nobody would be a candidate in Group 43.

But, what the questioner forgets is that, the seat, Group 43, is anything but vacant. In fact, Judge Joe Davis, (the current occupant of the Group 43 seat), is very much alive and well and serving out his final term which will end on January 2, 2019. Therefore, the seat is by no means open and the Governor has no power under Florida law to throw the seat to the JNC, for him to then choose the eventual replacement.

Instead, similar to when there is a death or resignation of a state house or state senate member, the Governor is authorized to call for a SPECIAL ELECTION pursuant to F.S. 100.101. The Dept. of State, pursuant to F.S. 100.111, would set the dates for the special qualifying period where new candidates can declare their intention to run for the seat. Once that qualifying period is closed, those that qualified would be the new candidates to be chosen by the voters.

Now, here is the kicker to all of that. If you follow the letter of the law, the Special Election could not occur until after August 28, 2018. Why is that? Because, F.S. 100.101 states that, the Governor cannot call for a Special Election until such time as:

(1) If no person has been elected at a general election to fill an office which was required to be filled by election at such general election.

So, after August 28th, when no candidate would have been chosen by the voters to take over the seat in January, (because there were no candidates remaining on the ballot), only then could he call the Special Election. And if you read further into the statutes, the Dept of State would likely set qualifying dates very soon after the Governor calls for the Special Election, likely in early September. And the date of the Election would undoubtedly take place on the same date as the General Election on November 6th, 2018.

Thanks for that very interesting question. We are always here to provide our readers with the answers to those burning questions, and always at Horace's disposal to handle the affairs of judicial elections, the JNC, and the like.

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



A GREAT QUESTION

An alert reader asked a question which we will paraphrase: 

Assume two candidates are vying for a seat on the bench. 

Both candidates apply for multiple open seats and the governor appoints both of them. 

What happens to the election? Does the seat open up for special qualifying and a special election, or does the governor get to make an appointment to that seat as well?

Truth is stranger than fiction. 
Just look at our president. 

E FILING JUST GOT EASIER 
When e-filing a document through the State of Florida portal you no longer need to list how many pages the document is. This makes life easier. 
Of course you still can't go on there and obtain copies of documents previously filed in PDF format. But then, that's asking a lot- asking the State to provide the same services as every other e-filing entity. This is Florida after all. 




Sunday, May 20, 2018

TIPPING

How much should we tip? 
Here's what's on our mind. 
Last year according to our credit cards we used Uber over 150 times for transportation for work in Miami and in many other cities. This year will be close to 200 trips. The difference between tipping $2.00 and $5.00 per trip is a savings of (or expenditure of) $600.00. 

We use Instacart and food delivery services several times a week. Again, the difference between tipping 10% and 20% is over a thousand dollars a year. 


We live in a service economy. We use Instacart and Uber Eats because we can make more on a hourly basis working, then shopping or eating lunch or dinner out. So should it matter if we tip an extra ten dollars? But those ten dollars add up to thousands over time.

Someone as successful as Kevin "Mr. Wonderful" O'Leary, a billionaire,  proudly calculates that he can brew a cup of morning coffee for 20 cents and saves and invests the $2.50 Starbucks charges. 
So perhaps it pays to be a bit parsimonious. 
But it's not in our nature. 

So what do you tip? 



Why Kevin O'Leary refuses to spend his money on fancy coffee from CNBC.

Friday, May 18, 2018

LEAGUE OF PROSECUTORS JUDICIAL ENDORSEMENTS 2018 .....


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

JUDICIAL ENDORSEMENTS .......

The League of Prosecutors has spoken:
(those endorsed are listed in BLUE)

 
CIRCUIT COURT

GROUP 8

Elisabeth Espinosa
David Miller

GROUP 14

Vivianne del Rio
Renee Gordon
Louis Martinez

GROUP 25

Yery Marrero
Joe Perkins

COUNTY COURT

GROUP 2:

Rosy Aponte
Kristy Nunez

GROUP 32:

Lizzet Martinez
Chris Pracitto

GROUP 33:

Olanike Adebayo
Eleane Sosa-Bruzon

GROUP 40:

Michael Barket
Elena Ortega-Tauler

GROUP 43:

Milena Abreu
Mike Mirabal

TWO NEW COUNTY COURTS JUDGES COMING TO A COURTROOM NEAR YOU:

By this time next week, Governor Scott is expected to name two new County Court Judges (to replace Judges Spencer Multack and Shelly Kravitz) from among the following names:

Milena Abreu
Ramiro Christen Areces
Raul Antonio Cuervo
Marcia Giordano Hansen
Julie Harris Nelson
Peter S. Heller
Kimberly Hillary
Lody Jean
Elijah A. Levitt
Jonathan Meltz
Griska Mena
Luis Perez-Medina

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

THE HOT CORNER

In baseball, third base is called the hot corner because that's where the action is. The third baseman is closest to a right handed batter. He has to guard the line and is often required to field sharply hit ground balls and make long throws. Just watch a you tube video of Brooks Robinson handling the hot corner to see how it's done. 

We have our own developing hot corner in the REGJB at the end of the second floor, with the two courtrooms facing each other manned by Judges Hirsch and Hersch. 
And Tuesday we have action, with Judge Hersch handling a robbery case (Phil Maniatty for the state) and Judge Hirsch presiding over a trafficking in cocaine case (Mike Walsh for the defense). 

Here's a great example of the hot corner. 1978 world series. Yankees-Dodgers.  Game Three. The Gator-Ron Guidry on the mound. Watch Yankee Third baseman  Gregg Nettles save two runs. Bases loaded. Two out and a line drive to the hot corner.  



Monday, May 14, 2018

FACDL AWARDS BANQUET

The FACDL had their annual awards banquet this past Saturday. 
We received positive reviews from several attendees, including high praise for  PD Abbie Waxman who received the Gregg Wenzel Young Lawyers Award, and Michelle Estlund who won the Rodney Thaxton "Against All Odds Award". 

Ms. Waxman was a Rumpolian 17 of 18 in jury trial wins this past year for her clients. A very impressive record, bit considering her pedigree, not surprising in the least. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

Significant in the praise we received was Ms. Estlund's remarks about Rodney Thaxton, a legendary Public Defender in Miami who died way too soon.  
Rodney Thaxton was the type of lawyer who comes along once in a generation or so. Ms. Estlund deserves credit for remembering Rodney Thaxton in her remarks. It was a classy thing to do. 

Congratulations to Ms. Waxman and Ms. Estlund for being part of Liberty's Last Champion. 
Well done. 
Well done indeed.