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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

THE AGE OF IGNORANCE

The author William Manchester named his book about the dark ages "A World Lit Only By Fire". It was an age of ignorance and suffering. 

In Occupied America, ignorance has become a virtue. The President generates huge applause lines when he threatens to "Shut down the National Institute of Health" or gut the budget of the Center for Disease Control. Invectives against global warming and declaring it "fake news" generate even larger applause, while ice caps melt and polar bears drown after swimming hundreds of miles. 

People don't want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they'll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue - a highly intellectual virtue - out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt... They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors. They don't know that that dream is the infallible proof of mediocrity, because that sort of world is what the man of achievement would not be able to bear...
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

In "The Death of Expertise" author Tom Nichols writes "Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue."  One need only to see the choices of the president for his cabinet to know this is true. 

Nichols further writes "No longer do we hold these truths to be self-evident, we hold all truths to be self-evident, even the ones that aren't true." ("Obama taped me in Trump Tower.")

People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all. 
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. 

Scientific facts are "false news". Lies are truth if repeated enough. The President and Republicans scorn "Washington", the bureaucracy, the federal government. "Return the power and the money to the states, to the people" they bellow at populist rallies. 
Then the Asian flu threatens America, and we turn our eyes to a hollowed-out CDC and wonder why we don't have a vaccine? The Zika virus strikes terror in pregnant women, and those Americans who scorn intellect and who voted for the president ask why won't the government do something? 

The government can't. It's been shut down. The best minds run out of town, scorned for their intelligence and professionalism. 

In Ayn Rand's classic Atlas Shrugged, civilization slowly falls apart as the best and brightest mysteriously disappear, unwilling to work for governments that scorn them, and steal their intellectual property. 


Do you know the hallmark of a second rater? It's resentment of another man's achievement. Those touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone's work prove greater than their own - they have no inkling of the loneliness that comes when you reach the top. The loneliness for an equal - for a mind to respect and an achievement to admire. They bare their teeth at you from out of their rat holes,thinking that you take pleasure in letting your brilliance dim them - while you'd give a year of my life to see a flicker of talent anywhere among them. They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors. They don't know that that dream is the infallible proof of mediocrity, because that sort of world is what the man of achievement would not be able to bear. They have no way of knowing what he feels when surrounded by inferiors - hatred? no, not hatred, but boredom - the terrible, hopeless, draining, paralyzing boredom. Of what account are praise and adulation from men whom you don't respect? Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?"
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged


Who is John Gault?

From Occupied America, Fight the Power.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A READER INQUIRES




A reader has some questions that deserve answers
Here are some questions for you my friend Rumpy:
 1. Why does the State e-file discovery notices but not the actual discovery, which they send to you by snail mail? Even Broweird e-files the entire discovery package. Don't they have scanners or copies that scan documents or are they just supporting the U.S. Postal Service? Think of all the money they would save on postage! 
Rumpole says: Excellent question.

2. Do you really believe that KFR refuses to ride the elevator with her assistants? She may be more a politician than a lawyer now but she is not that full of herself. 

3. What is it with judges and their J.A.s, who refuse to accept motions by e-filing or email? I had a motion e-filed with a courtesy copy emailed to the J.A. with a proposed order. They don't respond. When I have my paralegal inquire, she is told that we needed to MAIL a copy of the motion, proposed order (3 copies) and self-addressed, postage paid envelopes for us and the SAO. Are we practicing in the 1950's? Should I send over some carbon paper?

Rumpole says: Another excellent question. We know judges read this blog. Any of them care to answer why they will not accept emails of motions with orders? 

From Occupied America, Fight the Power!



Monday, March 20, 2017

HOT WATER

Darren Rainey was an inmate at Dade Correctional Institute.  On June 23, 2012, he died while locked in a hot shower.

Almost five years later the Dade State Attorneys Office is giving the guards and staff at DCI a pass.
If you have insomnia and need help falling asleep then read the report. If you want to skip the gobble-gook butt-covering bureaucratic double speak, then just skip to the Dr. Lew's ME's report which is, in our humble opinion, a complete abandonment of an ME's job.

The deceased had atherosclerosis? What 50 year old poor black man in America doesn't have some calcium in his arteries? So that, along with his underlying schizophrenia caused the ME, after much hand-wringing and dithering and Macbeth-like indecision, the ME came to the conclusion that the mentally disabled inmate who was locked in a hot shower for an extended period of time died...accidentally.

Blame the SAO if you will, but the fault dear Brutus, lies in the ME not the SAO. We've never seen an autopsy protocol that screams "decision to fit the facts" like this one. But that's our opinion. You can read the report and arrive at your own opinion.

From Occupied America...Fight the Power!



Saturday, March 18, 2017

TRUMP & MERKEL

We've obtained the transcript of the private meeting between Chancellor Merkel and President Trump. Conversations in italics are in German, between Merkel and her translator. 

DJT: Welcome Madame Chancellor. 
AM: Thank you. 
DJT: I know you have an election coming up, may I give you some advice?
AM: Certainly. 

DJT: Hire your own crowd counters at the inauguration.  Have them all carry those clicker things. Get your own count. Your opponents will use the crowd size against you. I had the biggest crowd in the history of the world, and yet...
AM-Int: He's mad. 
Int: Steady Madam.
DJT: You owe us money for NATO. You can pay in those German Marks.
AM: Mr. President, we use the Euro now. 
DJT: I've been thinking about using nuclear weapons. We've paid for them. Why not use them? When President Eisenhower ordered General Patton to nuke those German cities, it was tough at the time, but you made it back. I'm told you have the biggest economy in Europe. 
Aide: Mr. President, the Vice President is on the phone. 
DJT: Tell him to call back later. As I was saying, we don't win anymore. And nukes will win for us.
AM-Int: How could the Americans have done this? This man is crazy, and stupid. Nobody can take him seriously. 
DJT: Speaking of winning, We're going to ban all BMWs made in Mexico. I'm sorry about this, but it has to be done. 
AM: We don't make BMWs in Mexico.
DJT: Of course you do. I saw it on Fox News last night. Plus, the tapes show you are. The tapes of you on the phone....hahaha that's just a joke. Obama stopped taping you when he started taping me. 
Aide: Speaker Ryan is on the phone with a health care issue. It's urgent. 
DJT: NOT NOW! Listen, I'm thinking that the way to solve this NATO thing is to have us move our armies to the south and east. Face off against the French. You know how they are. Not trustworthy. 
AM: But to our west?
DJT: Putin has you covered. He's thinking of setting up a buffer zone in Poland. Protect you from the west and Russia from the east, and it will cost a whole lot less. Problem solved. My guy Jared actually thought of it. After he met with Putin last week. 

AM-Int: It's the Hitler-Stalin pact all over again. This nut wants us to divide the Poles...again! I won't be a part of this. Tell him I'm not feeling well. I have to get away from this madman. 
DJT: Here's the people you need to worry about. The British. And the English too.  That James Bond stuff is real. Fox News says Obama can leave a small pen in the room and whamo! they can record everything. It gets sent by telegraph and satellite to the Australians.. by the way didn't you invade Australia in world war two? Big mistake leaving. Tremendous mistake...
AM-Int: He doesn't know the difference between Austria and Australia, I don't know what to do here.
Aide: Mr. Putin on the phone for you Mr. President.
DJT (jumping up) I need to take this. Be right back. ..Mr. Putin....yes...she's here...told her about Poland...loved it...thought it was a tremendous idea....yes....and yes sir....and yes, right away....yup...he did tape me....fake news...yes...I saw it ....yes....yes....anything you say big guy....







Friday, March 17, 2017

HAPPY ST PATRICKS DAY

Today will be the day lawyers wear bad green ties or scarfs or ascots to court.  Afterwards there will be lots of drinking. 

Query: Should there be requirements that a lawyer demonstrate proficiency in an area before handling a case? 

A doctor who passes her medical boards on Tuesday cannot perform open heart surgery on Wednesday. She can't even lawfully remove an appendix. 

Yet a lawyer who is sworn in on Monday can pick a jury in a murder case on Tuesday. The Florida legislature has set proficiency requirements only for death penalty cases. 

Most people who practice criminal defense usually come from the PD or state attorney's office, where they receive training. But as more lawyers enter the marketplace, less have the training necessary to handle a complex case. 

What to do? 
Does a Judge have an obligation at any point to stop a deficient defense? We have seen (notorious) situations arise (rarely) where judges have been caught assisting the prosecution. This of course is both an outrage and a violation of due process of law. But what should a Judge do when an incompetent defense attorney is bungling their way through a trial? 

In other matters, we have been pondering the statements made by the president's aide that "microwaves can be turned into cameras."

Startling information. At the moment, this is the only solution we can think of:

Another beautiful spring Miami weekend

From Occupied America, Fight the Power!



Thursday, March 16, 2017

DIARY OF A MAD PRESIDENT BIG BIRD ALOHA ISSUE

Dear Diary....Hawaii is a State? Who knew? And they have judges? I just figured they have like tribal counsels like on Survivor, which by the way, is an okay reality show but not nearly as good as the Apprentice when I hosted it. Everyone says that. I don't trust any state where you can't get a good bagel or deli. Whoever heard of a pastrami sandwich with pineapples? 

Meanwhile, now I have some wacko  Judge canceling my travel ban. Pretty soon people will be able to travel to and from wherever they want. Whoever heard of that? What a disaster! And only I can save everyone. 

We're canceling PBS. Goodbye Big Bird. Good bye Sesame Street. Goodbye PBS Newshour. Next up, MSNBC. No more funding for them. Get Rachel Medows off the air. That  will show them to publish my taxes. 

Got a new health care bill. Amazing. Fantastic bill. Lowers costs for everyone. Raises fees for doctors. Covers more americans. People can choose their own insurance. It's fantastic. People are saying they have never seen insurance like this. Best part is....get ready...Mexico will pay for it all! Every peso. 

Enemies List: Fraggle Rock. American Experience. That guy who did the Civil War documentary. Those Muppets. Hate em. Messy.  This whole NBAA basketball bracelet thing.  Maybe Obama had time to tell everyone about college basketball, but that's why Obama-care failed and the North Koreans have intercontinental submarines. Avocados. Turns into guacamole from Mexico and Tacos and we ain't paying for that anymore. Girl Scout Cookies (except the Thin Mints. Love the Thin Mints). 

Next week we are going to de-fund kindergarten snack time. Why should some coal miner in Minnesota pay for some fat kid's twinkies? Love twinkies though. Golden. With cream inside. Never goes stale. Amazing snack. Fantastic snack. People have never seen a snack like that. Memo to self- new law- everyone gets one twinkie package a week (except fat kids in diapers). Cut planned parenthood funding to pay for it. Love being President diary. Speak to you soon.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF FIRE

UPDATE: Judge Hanzman didn't hold Gutierrez in contempt. He reset the case for sixty days while the SAO investigates. The PDs have taken the case over for sentencing. 
The Herald article is here. 
Hanzman also expressed a healthy contempt (pun intended) for the claim that the pants caught on fire accidentally. But he also indicated that he thought contempt to be a long-shot.  This is what a good judge does- not rush to judgment. Lets see what happens in sixty days. 

We rise to defend Stephen Gutierrez, Esq. 
When last we left the young defender, his pants had caught fire during closing argument in an arson case. 
We have no inside knowledge, but it probably was a stunt designed for closing argument. 

In the 1970's, young Assistant Public Defenders Roy Black, and Jack Denaro took off their shoes and put their socks on their clients' hands while in court, trying to prevent the prosecution from obtaining fingerprints. They then argued that the prosecution needed a warrant. 

Good defense- nay, good lawyering requires disruption. It requires saying NO when everyone in court says "that's the way we've always done it." 

Judge John Kastrenakis, when he was a Dade State prosecutor, sat in court during his closing argument and didn't say a word for (approximately) twenty minutes (could have been longer) to show the jury just how long Joyce Cohen delayed calling the police when she discovered her husband Stanely shot. 

Clarence Earl Giddeon's petition to the Supreme Court requesting court appointed counsel when he "wasn't entitled to it" was five  handwritten pages. He changed criminal law forever. 

Criminal defense attorneys have an obligation to be disruptors in defense of their clients. 

One of the greatest trial lawyers of the 20th century- Edward Bennett Williams- while defending Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa in a bribery case in DC, in which the jury had eight African-Americans, brought in former black heavyweight champ Joe Louis to warmly greet Hoffa in view of the jury, and then  sit behind Hoffa during closing argument. 

Miami's own great defense attorney- the Late Richard Sharpstein did a closing argument in federal court wearing an old raincoat, an old hat, and doing an impeccable Colombo imitation. 

Some will point out that Gutierrez's "stunt" endangered people in the court. Probably not, but we all know playing with fire is not the safest thing to do. But we'd rather risk a small fire than the conviction of an innocent man. 

Our point is this- Gutierrez should not be held in contempt. What he did was NOT designed to undermined the integrity of the court. He was trying to be a disruptor. He was thinking outside of the box. He was dedicated to his client and tried to win. He didn't lie to the court. He didn't steal funds from a trust account. He didn't try and falsify testimony. 
All he did was try and do something different to win a case for his client. 

Edward Bennett Williams, in that great courtroom in the sky is looking down. And he sees the drones of male and female criminal defense attorneys walking to the podium. Giving jurors a small smile. Thanking them for their service. Summarizing the evidence. Maybe using that Reasonable Doubt chart that falls in and out of favor every few years. And they probably win a few and lose a few. 

And then he sees Stephen Gutierrez and says:  "I like that kid. He reminds me of myself. He's got guts. Moxie. He's dedicated to his client. He doesn't have a lot of experience, but he has heart and I'll take that every day."

So will we. 

Judge Hanzman, do not hold Stephen Gutierrez in contempt. Do not quash creativity. There is another way to resolve this. 

Your obt' srvt, 
Horace Rumpole, Esq. 






IT'S BACK ..... FLORIDA'S DEATH PENALTY ......


THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

THE DEATH PENALTY IS "ALIVE" AND WELL IN OUR GREAT STATE OF FLORIDA ........

For those of you that have been following the never ending saga of Florida's Death Penalty Statute, you know it has been through the "Ring"er and back a few times over the past couple of years. 

In January of 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida's death penalty law in Hurst v. Florida because the trial judge, rather than the jury, was responsible for finding critical facts necessary to impose a death sentence.  Then, in Perry v. State, the high court struck down an amended version of the statute, which had permitted judges to impose a death sentence if 10 or more jurors recommended death.

The Florida Supreme Court also ruled that the unanimity requirement would apply to death-row prisoners whose direct appeals had been decided after the United States Supreme Court's June 2002 decision in Ring v. Arizona which held that capital defendants had a right to a jury determination of all facts necessary to impose the death penalty.

Well now the State Legislature has gone and done it again.  They made sure that the first bill passed by both houses of the legislature would address the death penalty statute.  And Governor Scott barely waited until the ink was dry when the bill reach his desk.  Last night, he signed the new death penalty statute into law.  Scott signed  SENATE BILL SB-280, which had passed the Senate by a vote of 37-0, into law.  (The Senate Bill tracked the language in House Bill HB-527, which passed the House by a vote of 112-3). 

The key language in the new law states:

921.141 Sentence of death or life imprisonment for capital felonies:
 
2(c) If a unanimous jury determines that the defendant should be sentenced to death, the jury’s recommendation to the court shall be a sentence of death.   If a unanimous jury does not determine that the defendant should be sentenced to death, the jury’s  recommendation to the court shall be a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. 
 
SAD NEWS TO REPORT .......
 
DENISE KELLY JOHNSON has passed away.
 
You may not have known her despite the fact that she worked at the State Attorney's Office for the past 22 years.  But she was a force inside the office.  She was the Chief of the Child Support Enforcement Division and she oversaw more than 20 attorneys in that division that were assigned to work with parents who needed help obtaining child support from a parent who had not met their child support obligations.
 
She had suffered a stroke as she was leaving the office to attend the Investiture Ceremony of KFR on February 23rd.  Although she was released from the hospital last week and had begun physical therapy, she died suddenly on Friday at the age of 61.
 
 
Our prayers go out to her family and to all those that worked with her at the State Attorney's Office.
 
CAPTAIN OUT .....