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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

BILL SUROWIEC HAS PASSED AWAY

Please see the update below: 

Former long time assistant public defender Bill Surowiec, who had since retired, passed away this week.  This is sad news.

Bill was a part of the fabric of the REGJB for many many years. He was a fixture and a friendly face that we would see many mornings. And he was a very good defense attorney.

We are sure there a million great stories about him, so please post them in the comments section.

Update: Two former REGJB judges who went on to have their own uniquely successful careers have written wonderful memories about Bill and these should be read by everyone. 
First up, former county court judge, circuit judge, US District Court Judge, US Chief District Court Judge, and appellate court nominee (that was not acted on  when GHW Bush lost to WJ Clinton in 1992) Federico Moreno: 

Bill tried a death penalty case involving 6 first degree murders before me. The first time it was a hung jury; the second time the defendant was convicted of 4 murders, acquitted of 2, sentenced to death, but reversed by the Florida Supreme Court; the third time after I left to federal court, the defendant was acquitted of all counts. Bill was not only a great lawyer, but a wonderful human being, always adding humor at the appropriate time without demeaning anyone. He was loved by jurors, prosecutors, judges, judicial assistants, bailiffs and correction officers, an accomplishment that few can claim. My condolences to his widow Lynn, a former secretary for Judge Alan Gold and now to appellate judge Stanley Marcus. God rest his soul. Fred Moreno

Next up is former County Court Judge, Former Circuit Court Judge, and REGJB regular Ted Mastos:
Anonymous Theodore Mastos said...
I join in the comments made by Lennie Glick about Bill. He was always good for a laugh in an otherwise dreary building.

Back in the day when I was a circuit judge, Katie Pooler was my division chief and Bill was her boyfriend and later husband. Katie, always ready for a party, would get Bill to make his world famous chili. He made two types: regular and industrial strength. We would gather in my chambers and it was hysterical to see people breaking out in sweat with tears running down their cheeks while eating Bill's chili. Those were great times when things were a lot more casual than they are now. Bill was a friend and a great lawyer. God how I hate these years in my life when I am going to more funerals and wakes than I ever imagined. Rest in peace old buddy.
We think Ted Mastos has mentioned an important point: Bill and Ted were from an era when Miami was a smaller town. The courthouse was smaller. The community of lawyers was smaller. Everyone knew each other, and things were much more informal.  People worked hard and then gathered in chambers, or at the Marine Bar, or at someone's home, and socialized. There was a friendlier attitude in courtrooms and among the lawyers and judges. It's probably gone forever, and we are losing the generation of lawyers and judges who made the Miami criminal justice legal community special. It's an era that is gone, and the memories are fading- held by a select group of people who were lucky enough to experience it. 

Well said Judge Moreno and Ted Mastos. Thank you for contributing your memories. 







Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A NEW ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE FOR CRIMINAL

Update. Tomorrow: Miranda and money and the 2nd DCA. A surprising result. 

With the departure of Judge De La O, the hot topic over coffee and pastelitos at the El-Chapo Cafe  was who would be the new administrative judge? 

Now we can answer the question. But first, an update on new judge assignments:

Judge John Schlesinger will be taking over for Judge Hanzman- division 19.  Chambers will be room 415, Courtroom will be 4-5.
(Fun fact: You can rearrange the letters in both judges names to create the word "henchmen" or "chasms" to name a few words). 


Judge Eric Hendon will be taking over for Judge  Richard Hersch-division 4.  Chambers will be room 413,  Courtroom will be 4-7.
("drench cord")

Judge Lisa Walsh will be taking over for administrative Judge De la O- division 15.  Chambers will be in room 228, Courtroom will be 2-10. (whales, hallowed and hashed). 

Judge Jorge Cueto will be taking over for Judge Pooler- division 13.  Chambers will be in cuarto  212, Courtroom will be 2-4.
(Ocelot, coupled, and recoup). 

 Changing chambers.... because every judge wants a better chambers. 

Judge Del Pino  Division 16 will be moving to  the seventh floor. Chambers will be in room 712, courtroom 7-3.

Judge Charlie Johnson  Division 9 will be moving to the fourth floor. Chambers will be in room  424, courtroom  4-3.

AND NOW, YOUR NEW CRIMINAL COURTS DIVISION ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE....

No, Judge David Young is not making an "Ali like" return to the ring or the REGJB. And no, neither Judge Blake nor Firtel are being lured out of retirement for one more REJGB go-around. 

Your new Administrative judge, a former ASA, an all around good guy and a very good judge, is none other than Judge Charlie Johnson!

So here are a few changes that could be made to make everyone's life at the REGJB easier:

1. A Starbucks on the first floor. 
2. A Prime 112 replacing Au Bon Pain. Call it "Prime 1350". Has a nice ring to it. 
3. Replace the dial up modem powering the Wifi with something more modern like from the late 1990s. 
4. A-forms...dare we say it... almost too much to dream for...but A forms scanned and on line. 
5. Valet parking.
6. A Fed-Ex Kinkos replacing the clerk's office on the second floor.
7. Not punishing defendants who go to trial and lose....okay okay, maybe be are asking too much. But the Prime 1350 and the Starbucks will be nice. 

From Occupied America, fight the power. 




WHEN WILL THE OTHER SHOE DROP?

Hollywood. Congress. Liberal Senators and even TED talks conferences for goodness sakes... have all been roiled by accusations by women of unwanted sexual advances by men. 

When will the shoe drop here?

Take one powerful and experienced lawyer. Give them power (robes). Add dozens of not powerful and inexperienced lawyers, court reporters, and the like. Mix. KABOOM!
It's happened before. Many many many times. 
Who amongst us has not heard the whispers of the Judge with the young PD or ASA? Or the older lawyer with the law-school intern. 

The last few months have been eye openers. 

Here is our question: What procedures are now in place for a young ASA or PD or any of the courtroom personnel to make a complaint against an older, powerful lawyer?  Other than emailing us (and we have gotten those emails which we treat in the strictest confidence and destroy upon reading), where can someone in the legal system turn when an unwanted advance is made? 

From Occupied America, where the most powerful man in the world liked to "grab them" (meaning women)  in a region not suitable for discussion on a family blog, fight the power. 









Thursday, November 09, 2017

RUMPOLE CALLS OUT THE FEDS

There was a rare contretemps between what has otherwise been a prolonged period of peace between the best legal blog in Florida, and Mr. Markus's federal blog. 
On Thursday we commented (negatively) on the the SDFLA blog  that the new federal magistrate's 25 trials in five years as an AUSA was nothing to brag about. 
Mr. Markus's federal hackles were raised, and the debate is on. 

Rumpole says that federal prosecutors are spoiled. All the rules are in their favor. 404(b) evidence, no matter how flimsy, comes in ( AUSA: "Um, the defendant may have once considered selling cocaine." Court: "Motion to admit granted.")  The defendant is punished for testifying. And federal agents sit in court and watch all the testimony; holding the quaking hands of the AUSAs when things get rough. 

State court prosecutors get thrown into the fire. Bad cops, tough cases, depositions by sneaky defense attorneys- ASAs try 25 cases a year. 

Give us a five year ASA who's tried a hundred cases- dozens of which had serious issues- and held her own, over some Ivy League tower Fed who spent her time in the office shooting fish in the barrel by trying Illegal Re-entry after deportation cases. 

Rebuttal?



RECAP

It was a very nice turn out last night in the swanky Brickell Village area as hoi poloi mingled and discussed the issues of the day at the REGJB. 

Judges Gordo, administrative honcho De La O, Richard Hersch, (blog comments fav) Zilber, Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts, Jason Demitreoleas (sorry for the spelling) Tinkler-Mendez, among others showed the flag for the bench. 

And now, we've had our fill of socializing with those who wear robes for another year. 

Everyone's fav fed blogger has a few posts covering federal rabbits, and the selection of Lauren Louis (wife of ace criminal defense attorney Dore Louis we think) as the new magistrate. 

And lest you forget that the smartest POTUS with the self proclaimed best memory and highest IQ is in Asia, here is, word for word, the toast of the self proclaimed best and smartest President ever at the dinner with the South Korean President:

Together, our nations remind the world of the boundless potential of societies that choose freedom over tyranny, and who set the free. And we will free, and we will sacrifice, and we will hope, and we will make things beautiful, especially the aspirations of your people.

He had us at "and who set the free."

From Occupied America, with the world's most eloquent president, set the free, make aspirations beautiful,  and fight the power. 



Tuesday, November 07, 2017

BENCH AND BAR

Here's the latest updates on judicial movements:

Cuesta for Colodny (3-4)
Schlessinger for Hanzman
Hendon for Hersch
Walsh for De La O
Cueto for Pooler 

NB: All trades are not final until approved by the commissioner's office. 

Why not join some of the judges who don't want to go, and help them drown their sorrows at a Bench/Bar Mixer? 

Here's a gem from family court:


Q. Are you married?
A. No, I'm divorced.
Q. And what did your husband do before you divorced him?
A. A lot of things I didn't know about.


From Occupied America, go drink with a Judge and Fight the Power.



Monday, November 06, 2017

BATTERY ON A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

Miami style....



 Does the A-form say "an impaired woman was being escorted out and she took a swing at an officer and in a display of professional law enforcement technique she was punched unconscious by a law enforcement officer?"

We doubt it. 

For all our black-robed readers who often deny motions by ruling "why would the police lie?", take another look at the video. For all those cases where clients said the officers beat them up but the prosecutors and judges didn't believe them... take another look at the video. 

From Occupied America, where police beat up citizens, fight the power. 


Friday, November 03, 2017

WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE?

A couple of things are on our busy mind: 

First: And with apologies to everyone's favourite federal blogger for entering his milieu,  why does FDC need to know the license plate of our car and the make and model when we fill out that form to see a client at FDC? Sometimes we take Uber. Sometimes we park on a lot on Flagler, do some business with our civil brethren, and then walk a few blocks over.  How far away does our car need to be before that information is not important enough for the feds to require it on the form to enter the facility? 

We are old enough to remember when most federal clients were held at the facility by Metro-zoo and you had to drive and park in the lot. But with a facility downtown served by Uber and Metro-rail (btw- the former Chief Judge, Federico Moreno, has been a proponent of taking Metro-rail to court ever since its inception), why do they still require this information? 

Second: We can email the facility to see our clients. Why can't we fill out the forms in our office and email them as well? 

It's hard enough to be a lawyer without all this nonsense. 

Third: As we approach Thanksgiving, just how many trial weeks are left in the year? Figure next week and the week after. The week of Thanksgiving (the 20th is out). Then the following week and the weeks of December 4 and 11. So that's a total of five real trial weeks left in the year. 

And while we are on the subject of it, now is a good time to remember Rumpole's first rule of trial: never ever ever allow a trial to be set the first week of the year. That's when Judges and Prosecutors- who have spent the holidays ruminating on the defendants who got away- put their plan and resolutions to be tough on crime and defendants who go to trial into effect. 

From Occupied America, fight the power. 



Wednesday, November 01, 2017

HERRERA HAMMERED

Attorney Jose Herrera, who was once the counsel for the Miccosukee tribe, but has since lost that plum job with his disingenuous handling of a case, that for a time unfairly besmirched the reputation of two fine lawyers,  (see our coverage in 2013 of that contretemps here) has been found GUILTY by Judge Tunis, who was the appointed Bar Referee.

Sanctions come next. It won't be pretty.