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

Friday, December 15, 2017

SO YOU WANT TO BE A US DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

Senator Kennedy: Ever tried a case?
Matthew Peterson (nominated to the US District Court for DC): No
SK: Any trial state or federal? 
MP: Nope
SK: ever argued a motion ?
MP: No
SK : In state court or federal court? 
MP: Nope
SK: Do you know what a motion in limine?
MP: Hmmm...no

SK: Ever read the federal rules of evidence?
MP: Law school...

Think we're kidding on this Trump nomination to the  US district court?









There was a time when the best and brightest were nominated to US District Courts. 
Judges like Judge Ed Davis and William Hoevler and Stanley Marcus and Jack Weinstein in the EDNY and Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District and, closer to home, Judges Federico Moreno, Bob Scola, Beth Bloom, Marcia Cooke and Kathleen Williams to name a few. 

But they aren't Trump judges. They took the bench with experience. Can you imagine appearing before Judge Moreno at one of his legendary calendar calls where he tosses lawyers intellectually aside as if they were a mere bag of shells not knowing what a motion in limine is, or having never argued any motion in court? 

Matthew Peterson sitting on the same bench as Chief Judge Beryl Howell? Having the same title as legendary Judge Jack Weinstein? 

It makes us sick. 

From Occupied America, Fight the Power of stupid judicial appointments of unqualified judges. 



Thursday, December 14, 2017

COULD CARDONA HAVE BEEN WON?

Three separate juries over almost thirty years have convicted Ana Cardona of aggravated child abuse and first degree murder. In each trial Cardona was represented by experienced criminal defense attorneys. So the question is: Could a defense be constructed to get a jury to acquit Cardona? 
Probably not. But possibly so (how's that for equivocating?). 

NO, THE CASE COULD NOT BE WON:
1)The facts were horrible. 
2) The pictures of Lazaro were extremely disturbing.
3) As Reid Rubin pointed out- a three year old child doesn't weight 18 pounds overnight. It takes years of sustained abuse and neglect for a child to become so malnourished. 
4) Cardona gave a statement which undermined her defense.
5) Cardona was pictured at Disney World after Lazaro's death. "You go to Disney World when you win an NBA championship, not when your child was murdered."
6) It is very very hard under the best of circumstances to obtain an acquittal in a case where a child has been murdered. 

YES, THE CASE COULD BE WON:
1)There was another person who may well have struck the fatal blow.
2)Thus the murder of Lazaro was an independent act Cardona had nothing to do with.
3) Cardona was 19 years old; the father of Lazaro had recently died and she had been evicted and was homeless with three children and had no where to go.
4) A story about a homeless teen-age woman, a single mother of three children who was desperate, scared, and unable to provide for her children could have been told in a much more effective manner.
5)The defense could have thrown a hail-mary and called Olivia Gonzalez- who the defense blamed for killing Lazaro- to the witness stand.
6)The great criminal defense attorney Gerry Spence might have been able to win the case, but not too many others could have pulled it off. 

No matter what you think about this case, remember that the defense was tasked with defending one of the most notorious defendants charged with one of the most notorious and heart-breaking murders in recent South Florida history. This was never going to be an easy case. Monday morning quarter-backing is easy; putting on your trial suit every day and going to court and fighting for a client with very little jury appeal is harder than it looks and sounds. 

From Occupied America, Fight the Power!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

CARDONA JURY OUT /VERDICT

8:00 pm VERDICT: GUILTY AS CHARGED FIRST DEGREE MURDER AND AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE 
CARDONA HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON

Thus ends (for the moment) this tragic case which has consumed South Florida for almost thirty years.

And let us never forget at the heart of this, was a small, innocent child, who was abused, who suffered, and who rarely knew the happiness and joy every child should know.
May Lazaro rest in peace. 

______________________________________________________

Judge De La O charged the jury Wednesday afternoon, and they were sent out to deliberate at 4:20 PM. 

As of 6:40 or so, as per @davidovalle305 the jury has asked to work tonight, which means Judge De La O is buying them dinner. 

David Ovalle thinks there will be a verdict tonight. Rumpole says tomorrow. 
Jury had one question about the definition of aggravated child abuse if it meant a history of abuse, which Reid Rubin clearly proved with his picture of the emaciated body of the child, or if it meant the striking of a fatal blow- the proof of which is less clear. 
The jury also wanted the late Dr. Hyma's testimony, which they cannot have. They can have it read back to them. 

Stay tuned.

CARDONA CLOSINGS II

Update: MM is at closings...

This is MM blogging from closings through Rumpole who is posting...follow me on Twitter @millennialme786

Yermish comes out for the defense....slower than a snail. He apologizes for his voice...he mentions he doesn't have three hours of voice...he introduces a PD appellate lawyer at the table...he mentions the Magna Carta (the Magna Carta???) and then tells the jury they have listened to the evidence and have every right to be angry at Ana Cardona...

First...I am disappointed in the defense. They should have come out firing and they did not. Second, it's a snooze fest closing and I'm not the only one saying it.

Third...about ten minutes into hemming and hawing Yermish finally gets to the defense of his client that Cardona was a 19 year old uneducated single mother. These are the points he should have opened with (as per my trial ad profs). 

CARDONA CLOSINGS TODAY

UPDATE from MM: Yermish comes out for the defense....slower than a snail. He apologizes for his voice...he mentions he doesn't have three hours of voice...he introduces a PD appellate lawyer at the table...he mentions the Magna Carta (the Magna Carta???) and then tells the jury they have listened to the evidence and have every right to be angry at Ana Cardona...

First...I am disappointed in the defense. They should have come out firing and they did not. Second, it's a snooze fest closing and I'm not the only one saying it.

Rumpole says: We are having technical difficulties with the font for this post. We are going to move to a new post. Sorry for the inconvenience. 



Update from MM: "She fled with her lover and left him with only the tape on his diaper and his lollipops T-shirt...There is no gray area...she is responsible...Oliva and her are two of a kind...Lazaro died because his mother didn't love him...she didn't care...she wanted him to die...Lazaro died ladies and gentlemen because she killed him...he was starved and tortured and murdered and she is responsible...hold her responsible to the fullest extent of the law...Find her guilty of first degree murder and child abuse." 

A powerful closing from Reid Rubin. I am also struck by just how tiny Cardona looks framed between her two large male defense attorneys. Its a startling contrast. 


Lunch break now...Pizza for the jurors (no pineapple- a clear indication that they are a conservative, law abiding jury.) 

1PM for defense closings. 


Update from Millennial Me: Reid doing a good job hammering the principals instruction so that if the jury has any doubt that Cardona actually killed her child, the jury can find her guilty. He is also patiently explaining to the jury why the lesser do not apply. 


Update: From Millennial Me.  David Ovalle broke the story that the jury told the judge they do NOT, repeat DO NOT want pineapple on their pizza for lunch. What a reporter that guy is! 


Schedule: State's closing; Lunch (pizza -no pineapple); Defense closing.
 


"Reid is doing a very thorough job on closing. He is hammering Cardona's statement to the police."


MM also wants everyone to know they can now follow her on Twitter @Millennialme786 

Closing arguments are taking place as we write this in the Cardona case. 

First up: Reid Ruben for the state. Don't miss it. He's the best they have. 

Then the defense, and we're guessing rebuttal after lunch. 


Millenial Me will be sending us updates and we will post as we have time. 


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

OY VEY

Roy Moore's wife wants you to know she knows Jews. She likes Jews. Some of her best friends are Jews and they even have a .....(steady now) A JEW LAWYER (gasp!!!)




In response the only thing that comes to mind is that we know Judges. Some of our friends are Judges. We have even had a drink with a ....judge.

From Donald Trump and Roy Moore's Occupied America, where they even know some black fellas and some jews, Fight the Power!

Monday, December 11, 2017

CARDONA TAKES THE STAND!

Hey, it's the girl-blogger, and wow was today amazing in court! Ana Cardona testified and it was as tension filled a courtroom drama as you're ever going to see. 

"You've had 27 years to come up with your story" shot Reid Ruben at Ana Maria Cardona, and thus began a memorable cross examination of one of the most notorious defendants in recent Miami-Dade History. 

Earlier in the day Cardona finished her direct testimony under the patient questioning of PD Manny Alvarez.  She finished her testimony in dramatic fashion- nearly screaming and twice saying that "Olivia Gonzalez Mendoza" killed her son in response to Manny's last question if she killed her son. 

Cardona took the stand Monday morning to a courtroom packed with prosecutors, PDs and Judges. The tension was thick when Cardona took the stand and took the jury through her life history, coming from Mariel, Cuba, and her three children.  Cardona testified she was homeless after Lazaro's father died and she was evicted,  and Olivia Gonzalez-the woman the defense blames as the killer- forced her into a sexual relationship in exchange for housing and food. This trial has all the makings of a tragic movie. 

Cardona became unhinged as she testified, forcing Judge De La O to call sidebar after sidebar and once he instructed the interpreter to interrupt Cardona because the interpreter couldn't keep up with all she was saying. Also- some unusual moments where Judge De La O had to correct the interpreter's translation of Cardona's testimony in Spanish. I've never seen that before in my admittedly limited trial experience, but I know the Judges watching are all admiring the way De La O is handling this very challenging moment. Cardona speaks Spanish so fast that interpreters are cycling in and out because she is tiring them out. Unbelievable. 

It was clear to most of us in gallery that Reid Ruben was going to have a tough time because  Cardona was mostly uncontrollable, and that's what in fact happened. 
Reid Ruben went hard at Cardona, mocking her claim that "Olivia killed my son" and asked her if she wanted to tell the jury that again? So Cardona did- crying out "Olivia Gonzalez killed my son."

Cardona also shouted out to Ruben that he could call Olivia Gonzalez to court and ask her himself. Point to Cardona on that one. I've been wondering about that and some of the other lawyers told me that Olivia Gonzalez is out of prison and in Miami and that for some reason neither side wants to call her. Weird. It seems to me that the defense should have called her, but maybe they want her to be the boogey-man in the jurors eyes. The jurors are going to hold the fact that Olivia Gonzalez was not called against somebody and I think Cardona put the prosecution on the defensive on that one.  

At times Mr. Ruben shouted at Cardona and she shouted back at him and both the interpreter and court reporter became flustered and add to that the defense team on their feet objecting, and this was courtroom theatrics at their best and De La O did a wonderful job keeping control. 

Cardona managed to claim she turned down a plea offer and that she'd been to death row several times and that she even volunteered to go. All of these exchanges caused Judge De La O to interrupt and call for sidebars to regain control of the testimony. 

It was a dramatic move to call Cardona to the witness stand, but if you think about it- the PDs made the right move. Cardona is no longer facing the death penalty and she really has nothing to lose. But this was a move Reid Ruben was ready for, He had her taped statement ready to go, as well as pictures of Cardona with Olivia Gonzalez in Orlando, smiling, after the murder. Reid Ruben even had medical records showing Cardona was using cocaine when she gave birth to her son Lazaro. This is one prepared dude. 

I don't think this case is a slam dunk. But it's going to very very hard for jurors to vote not guilty because of the tragedy of this case. The late Dr. Hyma, a Dade ME, had his testimony read back in court today and it was very very disturbing. This was a child that was abused before he was killed.

Thanks for letting the girl blog Rumpole. 
Millennial Me. 









Sunday, December 10, 2017

HO HO HO

Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada just named a woman to Canada's Supreme Court. 
Is it me, or do the Justices all look like Santa Claus? I mean, if you're Canada, and you're closer to the North Pole than the US, do you really want to dress your judges in Red Robes with white trim? Ho Ho Ho. 🎅


I'm going to miss Judge Ortiz. Rumpole reported Saturday that she has left the REGJB. She is such a class act. Always calm. Always knowledgeable and very fair.  Rumpole is loath to praise judges, but I am not and Judge Ortiz is a great one.

That new legal movie with Denzel Washington is a hot mess. It has no structure and its discombobulating. Skip it. 

Everyone is buzzing about whether or not Cardona will testify. I can't wait and I'll be lurking around the courtroom. And I won't miss closings for sure. But if Cardona testifies, I don't think she will be as easy to cross as people think, even for a great lawyer like Mr. Reid Ruben. 

Sometimes I really get into the mood for Italian food and then Miami disappoints. In New York or Chicago or Boston it seems like there's a good place every block or so. But in Miami we have to drive to a Carrabbas or something ridiculous and it stinks. And all of those places on Lincoln Road seem like rip-off joints. I hate walking down the street and being hustled by some woman in way- too-tight revealing clothes to walk into a restaurant. What are they thinking? Are they thinking that guys will eat there because they somehow believe that if they eat their the girl at the door will go out with them? Really?

Here's my analysis on Senator Franken.
The democratic senators think Roy Moore will win in Alabama. 
The democratic senators do not want to seat Roy Moore and if he is seated they want to immediately have him investigated and removed. 
In order to attack Moore, the democratic senators had to put their house in order and that meant they couldn't have Franken around at all. 
So Franken had to resign all because the democrats think Roy Moore will win. 
Sad. Franken had his faults but he was a good senator. 

I just watched the Ben Bradlee documentary this weekend. 
JFK while president had an affair with Bradlee's sister in law and also made a pass at Bradlee's first wife. 
Would the same democratic senators who forced Franken out have tried to impeach JFK?
Mary Pinchot Meyer was the woman JFK had an affair with. Her story is fascinating. She was married to a CIA officer. She was a serious artist. There is a JFK love letter to her, written on White House stationary that was kept by Evelyn Lincoln- Kennedy's secretary and auctioned a few years ago for $89,000.00. 
Pinchot-Meyer was murdered while she was walking one day. A man was arrested for the murder and tried and found not guilty. 
Her story is replete with late night rendezvous' with the President, and powerful CIA officers and an unsolved murder. 

I am literally starving myself half the time to make up for the extra calories I am eating at these holiday parties which now seem to be happening every day. I'm not sure it's worth it, but I don't want to deal with the depression of not fitting into my tight jeans. 

I am so caught up in this Cardona trial opera but I think it's proper that we all remind ourselves that an innocent little boy was killed and that is the real tragedy here. 

Was anyone else offended that Rumpole called me "the chick" in his poll?
LOL- he did it after checking with me because he wanted to see if people would raise a fuss and no one did. 😜

Rumpole is dope. 👍




Saturday, December 09, 2017

CARDONA TO WRAP UP AND JUDGES ON THE MOVE

The Cardona case moved along  this past week, with a read back of the late Dr. Hyma's testimony as the medical examiner on the case. Up Monday: Dr Death herself: Chief ME Emma Lew will also testify. It's worth a look for a young lawyer, so stop on by. The appearance of the ME on the stand often heralds the ending of the prosecution's case. Insiders mumble that the state may rest on Tuesday. The Defense could rest the following day, and uhho....closings Thursday and the much feared "Friday Verdict" that long time and careful readers of the blog know is one of the things Rumpole says the good defense lawyer should avoid at all costs. 

COMINGS AND GOINGS
Very quietly Judge Maria Ortiz, a long time fixture of DUIs and other misdemeanors on the Fifth Floor has left the REGJB replaced by veteran Judge Wendell Graham, who - and this is a rough guess, hasn't sat in the REGJB since the turn of the century or so. 

Judge Steven Millan will be a last minute addition to circuit movement, heading to Dependency. 


Judge Milton Hirsch gets a dream assignment, appointed to the Circuit Appellate division as an associate administrative judge along with Judge Monica Gordo.  If you find yourself appealing a county court case, your cites better be right, Blue Book Bristol Fashion, and you'd be wise to bone up on your classics, Shakespeare of course, decisions from the DC Circuit cira 1880's, Disraeli's thoughts on the common law, and of course, the Federalist Papers.  Familiarity with Locke wouldn't hurt either. There's a new sheriff in town and he thrives on brilliant legal obscure thoughts. Have fun. 

From occupied America, where any action on impure thoughts will bite you in your butt (except if you hold the highest office in the land) Fight The Power!