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  • 04/09/13--09:08: LAWSUIT!
  • Here is the complaint the Palm Beach judicial set is talking about, filed by prominent campaign consultant Rebecca Shelton against Marni Bryson for allegedly unpaid expenses and consulting fees from Bryson's successful 2010 county court campaign totalling $30,292.45.  Shelton was identified by Palm Beach Post articles as Bryson's "campaign manager", a role Shelton has performed for many judges and politicos in the Fifteenth Circuit.  The suit was filed April 1st by attorney Mark Shumakerassigned to circuit judge Meenu Sasser.  Bryson was reportedly served in the courthouse last week.

    The complaint is soon to be the newest headline in Bryson's short but newsworthy judicial career.  The Post has already published articles over Bryson's alleged personal relationships with a fireman witness, a DUI Defendant's ex-husband, a controversy over not disclosing a misdemeanor battery charge, and Bryson's official sanctionby The Florida Commission On Ethics, together with related stories over questions concerning Bryson's campaign money sources.  And now a public beef over another monetary issue connected to the 2010 campaign, this time with a former ally and confidante.

    The Shelton complaint may be newsworthy besides a rare and juicy peek behind the judicial elections' curtain, since there are still unanswered questions regarding the manner in which the Shelton managed Bryson campaign was funded.

    Here's what Bryson's opponent Laurie Stilwell Cohentold The Post at the time of the Ethics Commission's recommendation:

    Cohen said the ethics commission never investigated where some $163,000 of Bryson's campaign money had come from.

    "I don't think we'll ever know the answer to that question," Cohen said. "But at this point, it's moot. It's over."

    And now it may not be over after all, since Bryson's staunchest defender is now an adversary.  If anyone can verify whether Cohen's concerns were valid, it would be Bryson's former campaign manager.  Definitely a wait and see.  In the meantime, we'll be following all the Shelton v. Bryson developments, so stay tuned ...


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  • 04/10/13--10:02: COURTHOUSE LOSS
  • Susan Aramony passed away after a long illness Monday.

    Thoughts and prayers to the family of a judge characterized by many as "the nicest person in the courthouse".

    Funeral Information:

    Friday, April 12, 2013
     
    5:00 – 8:00 PM
     
    Service at 7:00 PM

    ___________________________________
     
    Baird-Case Jordan Fannin Funeral Home
     
    4343 North Federal Highway
     
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
     
    954-492-4000
     
    Saturday, April 13, 2013
     
    10:00 AM – Funeral Service
     
    ___________________________________

    Saint John The Baptist Catholic Church
     
    4595 Bayview Drive
     
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308
     
    954-771-8950
     

    In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to your favorite charity.

    SS: Obituary Susan Aramony


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  • 05/20/13--13:04: TWEET!
  • Howard Finkelstein has written Matt Destry a letter asking him to kindly refrain from allegedly posting to his Twitter account during court proceedings.  Although we've heard of judges banning jurors from tweeting during trials, it's unknown if a U.S. judge has ever done so. 

    If true, this could be another nationwide first.  Along with Andy Siegel's fondness for Facebook, and the Florida Bar's interest in blogging, the 17th Circuit is certainly cutting edge, even if the Clerk of Courts is still riding to work in a horse and buggy ...

    Coming Soon - JAABLOG RETURNS, all thanks to the Florida Bar!




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  • 05/20/13--14:15: THANKS TO ALL
  • To everyone who has been calling, texting, and emailing, THANK YOU for your support.  This blog could never have helped usher in some of the reforms that have made Broward a half-way decent place to live free and practice law without your help, and we'll weather the Bar's most recent onslaught together.  In the meantime, there's really no way to properly thank the other South Florida bloggers covering courts for what they did today, except to reprint their joint editorial in defense of rights all Americans hold dear ...



    You lose your rights, not with a bang, but with a whimper. One small encroachment after another. A bureaucrat pushes the edges here, a prosecutor challenges the boundaries in a few cases there. No one says or does anything and then you look up and suddenly a cherished right is gone. 
    Nothing is more insidious and dangerous to our constitutional rights than a bureaucrat who, under the cover of a government agency, seeks to intimidate someone. That is why the letters we have posted  from the Florida Bar to attorney and blogger William Gelin have so alarmed us: the bloggers who run the Justice Building Blog, the South Florida Lawyers Blog, and the Southern District of Florida Blog.

    WIlliam Gelin runs the JAA Blog which covers the Broward County Courthouse. To Mr. Gelin's credit he has never sought to hide his identity as the lawyer behind the blog. As a blogger who has openly challenged the way things are done in Broward, Mr. Gelin has courageously taken on numerous people in Broward County, including judges. Now, apparently after a series of posts about two Judges in West Palm Beach and Broward County, (ironically) anonymous bar complaints have prompted the Bar to send Mr. Gelin letters seeking him to admit or deny his involvement in the JAA Blog. 

    We as the legal blogging community in Miami view these letters as an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment and freedom of speech. The letters are chilling, and will have a chilling affect on the free speech of lawyers. Judges are invested with responsibilities and powers and all too often those powers cloud their judgment. The ability of lawyers to freely comment on a Judge represents an important check on those powers. The ability of citizens to write about the issues of the day has a long and storied history in our country. James Madison anonymously published many of the federalist papers under the pseudonym Publius in the local newspapers of the time. Blogging, anonymous and otherwise, serves a similar purpose. 

    The Florida Bar's letters to Mr. Gelin amount to both a fishing expedition and a veiled threat for him to stop criticizing Judges from the pages of his blog.  We jointly condemn the letters the Bar has written, and stand behind our colleague in this matter. That is why all three blogs have taken the unprecedented step of running this post simulataneously. We urge our readers to voice their support of Mr. Gelin by writing to the Bar to condemn the actions of the Bar Counsel in this case. 

    Thank you. 

    Justice Building Blog
    South Florida Lawyers
    Southern District of Florida Blog



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  • 05/21/13--18:30: TUESDAY NOTES
  • We're back ... and not because we particularly enjoy spending late evenings pounding away at the keyboard.  No, we're blogging because you really need us.  The Florida Bar's actions have shaken the cobwebs of complacency clean off, and once again light will shine down the dark, dank corridors of power.  Make no mistake about it - nothing except almighty boredomcan chill our right to speak the truth, and those seeking to prove otherwise better dig in for a very public fight. 

    Really, what is the Bar afraid of?  Cannot the Rule Of Law withstand valid criticism of judges by those who know them best?  And is there not room for improvement, after the massive combined failures of the Bar and JQC to instill confidence regarding the general public's perception of Florida's legal profession?  Or is this simply a heavy dose of sour grapes, gleefully force fed by long suffering government regulators itching to beat down upstarts armed with daunting new technologies?

    If we've done anything wrong,  we'll take the rap.  No big deal.  But the Bar shouldn't be allowed to change the rules in the middle of the game.  Sending letters which fail to specify any misconduct, a single violated rule, or even a specific offensive phrase or photograph is just plain old chicken shit.  And the act of refusing to say who made the complaints, given the huge number of people we've exposed and enraged over the years, speaks volumes.  Right or wrong, they've made up their mind, despite the words Protecting Rights, Pursuing Justice, Promoting Professionalism, as found in their very own logo.  It may be business as usual for the perennial protectors of the status quo, but when constitutional rights are at stake, they ought to take the high road.

    We've said our piece for now.  Expect more horse beating later.  But still ...

    Has the Bar been misled? - it's hard to tell.  As previously stated, they won't say who started the ball rolling, or why.  In any event, some of the Bar's questions sure have a familiar ring to them, like straight out of the blog's Comments Section familiar.  For instance, why did they inquire whether we posted Marni Bryson's address?  Did the liar who made that same incredibly false claim swear out a false complaint?

    Long time readers may also remember the oft repeated lie in the Comments Section that we "stalked" Bobby Diaz, or the picture of the Police's Every Breath You Take single that we once posted to play along.  Did the liar(s?) who published the stalking accusations also file complaints?  Is that the reason for the long string of questions concerning articles and photographs starring Diaz?

    Time will certainly tell whether the Bar has been misled or is operating under false assumptions, or whether they somehow have a valid claim.  In the meantime, ponder the fact that Bryson herself referred to your humble author as a "stalker" in her courtroom not too long ago, and think twice before publishing a lie.  You never know who may be reading ...

    He likes it! - speaking of Diaz, he's been seen swearing in jury pools on numerous occasions since the election ended.  Pat LaVigne*, in charge of the Jury Room under Clerk of Courts Howard Forman, told us on more than one occasion that Diaz did qualifying chores only a couple times a year before last year's contested election.  After making near daily trips to face the jurors/voters during the campaign, he's apparently taken more of a liking to it.  LaVigne says it's not an uncommon occurrence for judges to return often after a successful campaign, joking "once they come in for an election, they're mine".  Another unexpected benefit derived from the free exercise of democracy, especially considering the huge gap in the jury room rotation following mainstay Ron Rothschild's retirement.  Well done!

    * Many will also remember Pat from the ten years she spent as Billy D.'s in-court clerk.  This September marks her retirement, after something like thirty-four years of service.  Be sure to stop by and wish her well, before she disappears with her gold watch ...

    Who wants to be the Clerk of Courts?
    - speaking of Howard Forman, this will be his final term.  Howard was kind enough to confirm earlier today that he will not be seeking another four years.  Most interestingly, he doesn't have a particular successor in mind, although he points out he still has three years to decide whether or not to support a candidate to fill his shoes.  Ultimately, of course, it's up to the voters, but anyone familiar with Broward politics knows a Forman embrace could make all the difference in the world.  Pucker up ...

    May 22nd @ 5:00 PM
    - that's the deadline for applications for appointment to Susan Aramony's former circuit court spot.  Expect some surprises, and more candidates trying than for the last few go rounds.  Stacy Ross has been lobbying hard, and Arlene Backman is expected to put in as well.  The potential for infighting between all judges named Ross and Backman and their friends is tantalizing, especially after Arlene got a recent temporary leg up to the circuit court courtesy of Peter Weinstein, who chose her to fill in for Merilee Ehrlich after Ehrlich'smouth got her bumped from juvenile.  We'll be sure to post the names of all the applicants as soon as they're available, together with an update on John Murphy and Peter Blanc's quest for a Fourth DCA knighthood ...

    Coming Soon -Finkelstein rips Satz on Brady obligations; YES WE CAN: Eugene Pettis, The Florida Bar, and Saying No To Institutional Racism In The Criminal Justice System; UPDATE: GARDINER & SCHEINBERG;

    SS: Destry Tweets!


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  • 05/23/13--05:51: 30 NAMES
  • The following thirty lawyers have made application for Susan Aramony's former circuit court position.  Interviews will be June 3rd, at the Broward Bar.  We'll post the lucky interviewees when they're selected.

    Arlene Backman, Dennis Bailey, Mark Bockstein, Randi Boven, Kelly Charles-Collins, Haccord Curry, Jr., Paul Eichner, Kal Evans, Phoebee Francois, John Fry, Pamela Gordon, Renee Harrod, Susan Hugencugler, Jorge Hurtado, Jonathan Kasen, Tony Loe, Sam Lopez, Scott Mager, Giusepina Miranda, Charles Moorehead, Robert Nichols, Michelle Ricca, Mark Rickard, Abbe Rifkin, Derrick Roberts, Stacy Ross, James Rubin, Richard Sachs, Maxine Streeter, Jerry Williams.

                    May the most politically connected win!


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  • 05/23/13--08:01: DBR RE JAABLOG
  • Florida Bar Investigates JAABlog Entries Of Broward Attorney
    by Adolfo Pesquera     05/23/2013

    (Copyright 2013. ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved)

    Investigations by The Florida Bar into the blogging activities of a Broward County lawyer have raised First Amendment concerns among other South Florida courthouse bloggers.


    William Gelin, best known as the main author of JAABlog, is under investigation based on complaints that apparently stem from his comments about judges in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

    On advice of his attorney, Norman Kent of Fort Lauderdale, Gelin said he would not respond to The Bar's questions "in the event this is a political agenda."

    Gelin maintains The Bar is not following its own rules by citing which rules of conduct are the basis of the investigation.

    By Bar policy, the source of the complaints against the Oakland Park attorney is confidential.

    "They are just coming at this from a very strange perspective," Gelin said. "They refuse to identify any type of misconduct. They won't specify anything from among the thousands of words and the hundreds of pictures which they find offensive."

    Bar counsel Navin Ramnath of the Sunrise office sent Gelin the first notice of an investigation with a list of questions relating to identifying the authorship of two dozen JAABlog posts from 2012 and 2013. After Kent replied for Gelin, objecting to the vagueness of the inquiry, Ramnath sent two letters dated May 10 relating to different complaints.

    Each began with the statement: "I agree that the requested information was vague. Please provide The Bar with a response to the following questions."

    If Gelin did not respond by Monday, Ramnath continued, "this matter may be referred to a grievance committee."

    The investigation prompted the directors of three other South Florida legal blogs to issue a joint statement Monday condemning The Bar's actions. The Justice Building Blog, the South Florida Lawyers blog and the Southern District of Florida Blog said The Bar letters "will have a chilling effect on the free speech of lawyers."

    'Fishing Expedition'

    The bloggers called Gelin courageous for openly criticizing judges through JAABlog as opposed to the more common practice of attorneys commenting anonymously.

    "Apparently after a series of posts about two judges in West Palm Beach and Broward County, ironically, anonymous bar complaints have prompted The Bar to send Mr. Gelin letters seeking him to admit or deny his involvement in the JAABlog," the joint statement said.

    "Judges are invested with responsibilities and powers, and all too often those powers cloud their judgment," the statement continues. "The ability of lawyers to freely comment on a judge represents an important check on those powers."

    The bloggers interpreted The Bar's actions as a "fishing expedition and a veiled threat for (Gelin) to stop criticizing judges from the pages of his blog."

    Karen Kirksey, a spokeswoman for The Bar, said Gelin is a member in good standing with no disciplinary history.

    "A complaint was filed, so The Bar is looking into it as normal," Kirksey stated by email. "It may have no merit at all. Any further information about the complaints at this point is confidential."

    The Bar questions concerning Gelin's blog activity covered a wide range of topics posted over the past year. But the questions seem weighted toward his criticism of Broward County Court Judge Robert Diaz and Palm Beach County Court Judge Marni Bryson, and his editorial control over the blog.

    Gelin opposed Diaz's re-election last year and has often criticized the judge's work ethic, claiming he is often absent and shifts cases to other judges. Gelin has made a habit of scouting courtrooms to count how many judges are working in public sessions.

    In Bryson's case, Gelin claimed attorneys familiar with her do not think she treats all attorneys equally. He also recalled past media coverage citing financial disclosure discrepancies in her election campaign and a 1994 accusation of misdemeanor battery when she was a college student that never led to a formal charge.

    Discussion Needed

    In 2010, a Broward County Bar Association committee debated whether Gelin's blog activities met professional standards. The association's rules of professional standards state lawyers are not allowed to criticize judges, opposing counsel, parties or witnesses because it could cast the justice system in a bad light. The association has no authority to regulate or punish lawyers, and nothing came of the inquiry.

    Gelin told the Daily Business Review that judges already are an insulated class of elected officials. The Bar would prefer lawyers to bring their grievances against judges to the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, but for lawyers who rely on the impartiality of judges for their livelihood, going to the JQC can be a high-stakes gamble, he said.

    "If the judiciary and The Bar do not like lawyers using media they can't control, then they need to change the rules. But if they want to change the rules as they go along, forget about it," Gelin said. "There needs to be an open discussion."

    There were no posts on JAABlog from April 10 to Monday, but Gelin insisted the inactivity had nothing to do with the investigation. In fact, JAABlog postings had become increasingly sporadic over the past year because Gelin said he was more involved with his legal practice and his family.

    In addition, Gelin said many of the changes lawyers sought had occurred in the Broward court system. JAABlog began as a team effort by several lawyers in 2006 to take on institutional racism, he explained. Broward lawyers used it to shed light on abuses from the bench and to pursue reforms.

    "For whatever reason, a lot of that has been achieved," Gelin said. "Lawyers will tell you it's a much better place to practice than it was 10 years ago."

    Sun Sentinel - Courthouse blogger faces Bar scrutiny after criticizing judges (5/18)

    Sun Sentinel - Sheriff's Office rehires court deputy fired for hitting on jailed woman (5/14)

    PB Post: Political consultant’s lawsuit against Marni Bryson raises allegations (4/20)


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  • 05/23/13--11:09: JAABWALK
  • Our afternoon constitutional began at 1:47 P.M. Thursday, concluding at 2:02 P.M.  Only non-criminal, old courthouse courtrooms were checked.  There's a slight possibility that some courtrooms found either locked/dark & empty might have had late afternoon start times, but that's very unlikely based on the surrounding conditions we found.

    And without further ado ...

    15 of 22 inspected courtrooms EMPTY ...

    Interestingly, of the seven courtrooms in use, TWO of them were staffed by SENIOR JUDGES, meaning only FIVE active non-criminal judges were on the bench.  Just something to think about the next time the County Commission tries to jam some unnecessary and massively expensive construction project down your throat ...

                    (To The Florida Bar - list of specific courtrooms checked 
                   available for viewing for a reasonable time upon request)

    SING ALONG WITH JAABLOG!


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  • 05/23/13--18:28: JAABCAM 2



  • 1.)Diane Cuddihy, Marty Bidwill, and Peter Weinstein, basking in some Point Blank light; 2.) The view from some JAABLOG-in-laws' living room, Watertown, Massachusetts, during the lock-down; 3.)Lead by ExampleRon Rothschild has been picking up shifts pro bono, when asked; 4.)The Weight of the World.  Veteran homicide prosecutor Chuck Morton waiting on a verdict; 5.) The reason why there are always jurors available, even when lawyers with three year old cases really don't want them.  Jury Room Chief Pat LaVigne; 6.)Tony Loe put in for judge, when will Brian Cavanagh? Bruce Udolf is on the right ...

                                    Good Night!


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  • 05/23/13--18:29: JAABCAM
  • Ye Olde JAABCAM is bursting with exposures, accumulated during our extended hiatus.  As JAABLOG rises like a Phoenix, room must be cleared for new stock.  Here's the first of two batches of six:




    1.) Something just doesn't feel right in Drug Court since Mr. DeHart hung up the red blazer; 2.)Tom Morse, Louis Pironti, Marshall Geiser, and Andy Smallman, waiting on some late judge; 3.)Liz Scherer before the JNC - will gal pal Stacy Ross soon be joining her on the circuit?; 4.)Ilona Holmes gently nudges another fish into the sea; 5.)UH-OH - this one was snapped during today's JAABWALK); 6.)JAABCAM (and our hard drive and email account) is(/are) jam-packed full of pictures of Bobby Diaz dockets, just in case ...


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  • 05/28/13--18:29: TUESDAY NOTES
  • The First Cut Is The Deepest - the JNC will be announcing the list of interviewees to replace Susan Aramony Wednesday afternoon.  Contrary to initial information, all thirty applicants will not receive interviews.  We'll post the names and interview schedule tomorrow ...



    Don't be denied- yes, the little rooms outside the North Wing criminal courtrooms really were intended for lawyers to meet with clients and witnesses (both state and defense).  That's why the little sign on the right says "CONFERENCE".  Of course, everyone knows BSO staged a courthouse coup many moons ago, snagging the anterooms for their own personal rumpus space.  That's what the little paper sign on the left is all about, not to mention the locked door.  Inside you'll often find TV sets, DVD players, refrigerators, microwave ovens, coffee makers, landline telephones, magazine racks, and walls papered with pictures and other personal effects, rivaling even the most well appointed dorm rooms.  Some court deputies still let lawyers in when they ask, but the majority throw major tantrums if you go anywhere near their homes away from home.  But fear no more.  You have a right to use the rooms as they were intended, and BSO brass will back you up.  Just ask nicely, or call for Sgt. Solomon Smith, in the unlikely event the doors still remain locked ...

    Yes we can't! - walk into most any Broward felony courtroom, and you should get a sickening feeling deep inside your gut.  African-Americans dominate both the public pews, and the in-custody populations.  While the criminal justice professionals who work on the front lines of the failed drug war are most certainly used to it, you'd expect the incoming President of the Florida Bar to at least make a peep.  But that doesn't seem to be the case, judging by Eugene Pettis' refusal to return calls asking what types of initiatives he plans to implement to mobilize the full force of the Florida Bar to combat the plague of institutional racism.  Protecting Rights, Pursuing Justice be damned, it would seem.  Despite the high hopes everyone had when it was announced the Bar would have its first African-American President, it appears everyone can expect more of the same ...

    The Truth Hurts - another possible reason why The Bar doesn't want anyone to know when judges are in (or out) of court is found here: The 2013 Certification of the Need for New JudgesSIX new county judges needed in Broward County?  But seriously, folks ...

    "The Harvard of the South" - Bob Norman on the alleged grade-fixing scandal at Nova Law School ...

    "People, Places, and Things" - Marcia Beach's retirement gives us license to tell a compelling personal story. It was strictly off limits for the blog while she was still a judge, as it deals with a harrowing event from her childhood.

    As background, Beach is a native Floridian. Born in St. Pete, she grew up in the deeply segregated South, mostly in Hardee and Polk Counties. "Everything we did was part of the Old South," Marcia remembers, thinking back on the 50's and 60's. Her Dad was a welder and an artist, who worked with materials of the trade to create art in his free time.

    The Beach's were a forward thinking lot. Dad was big on helping people who wanted to help themselves, regardless of race, creed, or color. His welding workshop, in the back of the family home, was open to trustworthy people who wanted to learn the trade.  Knowledge and tools were freely distributed, even if it meant the backyard of the Beach house hardly resembled the rest of the segregated South.

    The Klan was still very active at the time. They sent violent, unsubtle messages to those who angered them, usually in the form of a burning cross. Recipients couldn't talk about it either, since police and government were both riddled with Klan members. It took great courage to stand up to them.

    One such man was Mr. Beach, who never wavered in his beliefs, despite the danger.  Almost inevitably, Marcia recalled, she woke up one morning to find "a big burn mark in the yard", and a whole lot of tension in the air.  Dad had managed to quietly clean up the Klan's fiery calling card while she was still asleep, and her parents didn't acknowledge what happened until dinner later that evening. Marcia, still emotional talking about it after all these years, remembers how terribly shaken they all were. And she's still shocked they were targeted "just for teaching others how to earn a living".

    But it didn't change anything. As previously stated, the Beach family never wavered, despite the threat of further violence. African-Americans and Hispanics still came and went as Mr. Beach pleased, and to hell with anonymous cross-burning cowards.  Even under a cloud of violence and ostracism, the family remained true to their ideals, just as Judge Marcia never gave up on trying to help a troubled soul overcome an addiction to drugs so many years later.

    Remember this tale of inspiration the next time you have to stand up for justice against great odds, and never, ever let the enemies of TRUTH stand in your way!

    Coming Soon - If The Bar really wanted Gardiner disbarred, why didn't they call the Timpano witnesses, or effectively cross-examine character witnesses AT TRIAL?; 4th DCA vacancy update; Guess who's running for judge?; Ruffed up - Alan Ruff not likely to get an eighth trial ...

    New Times: JAABLOG targeted by Bar

    Rumpole on "PD Withdrawal" Supreme Court Decision

    SS: High-profile Orlando attorney seeds medical marijuana initiative



            Steven Spielberg's Seven Seas 
        (viewed from
    15th Street Fisheries)


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  • 05/29/13--18:29: WEDNESDAY NOTES
  •  Introducing Auryiah Najae Cooper, 8.10 lbs, 19.5 inches ...

    JNC Update
    - Jamie Finizio Bascombe, JNC Chair, left word late this afternoon that the interview schedule will not be available until Thursday morning.  It was originally slated for release today, but if history is any example, they probably wanted to notify the applicants before everyone read about it on some stupid blog.  Lots of eyes on this one, and apparently a whole lot of heavy-handed infighting going on.  People are saying Stacy Ross has more than a strong shot due to patented Scherer SupportIF she gets out of committee (although a Conrad & Scherer lawyer, Maxine Streeter, also put in, further complicating things), which means others may have an interest in keeping her name from the Governor.  In any event, we'll post the interview names as soon as they're emailed ...

    2014 Update - Russ Thompson has filed in Mel Grossman's spot, and Julie Harris is squatting in Jeff Streitfeld's seat.  All eyes are on Marc Gold and Patti Henning to confirm possible retirements.  Stacey Schulman and Mike Lynch are two new names rumored to be considering a run, in addition to many familiar faces from past election cycles who know perseverance is the only tried and true method to becoming a judge.  There's also a strong buzz going 'round that Ian Richards may face a challenge, as payback for knocking out Catalina Avalos six years back.  The rumored opponent has also put in for Susan Aramony's spot, so we won't out him just yet.  Lastly, in the "no way" department, Melissa Steinberg states for the record she's definitely not a candidate in 2014 ...

    40th Anniversary Blues - if Satz keeps his campaign promise to run again in 2016, he may have more trouble than he bargained for.  Lots of talk, and lots of lessons learned from the last go round ...

    Attention Palm Beach lawyers - Political Consultant Dan Lewis says: "I'm willing to support and do whatever it takes to assist any qualified candidate running against Judge Debra Stephens.  I will join any exploratory committee or kitchen cabinet supporting qualified challengers, and I will aggressively volunteer my time and devote as many resources as possible".

    That's quite an offer, considering Dan estimates he's been involved with "several hundred" judicial campaigns statewide over the last twenty years.  He's got a database of eighty-five million addresses which he can easily email, and you can read all about it at
    PoliticalStrategies.com.

    And that's not all.  A prominent Palm Beach lawyer has also committed to joining a qualified candidate's steering committee, and will help to raise money.  He's willing to go public as soon as you are.  Just drop a line to
    Dan@politicalstrategies.com to get the ball rolling ...

    Welcome Baby Auryiah! - luckily for everyone the little bundle of joy pictured above was born in a hospital, and not the Palm Beach County Jail.  It was an awful close call after Auryiah's Mom, Lashundria Brown, was jailed at roughly thirty-eight weeks for five days, following a guilty verdict on a misdemeanor battery charge before Marni Bryson.  Bryson, pregnant herself, apparently was unmoved by a young APD's plea not to send his soon-to-deliver client to lock-up, or by the State's recommendation of Time Served.  We're happy to report that everything worked out in the end, despite some unneeded and dangerous stress for the Cooper/Brown family ...

    Coming Soon - The JAABLOG Interview: Howard Finkelstein; You, Me & the JQC; There you go again: The Florida Bar changes rules mid-game yet again; GARDINER & SCHEINBERG; Porn Hub, IPads, and Prostate Health; Who wants to be the Chief Judge?

    What's up at Perry's Homestead? (4/19)

                JAABLOG's Back - Is everybody having fun so far?



                        Bo & Jerry with Nick Nolte
                        (
    advising on Cape Fear)


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  • 05/30/13--08:11: NEVINS OUTS KASEN
  • (The JNC list is still not available as of 11:00 A.M.)

    Buddy Nevins
    piggybacked on our story from last night regarding Ian Richards.  He went ahead and outed Jonathan Kasen as Richards' possible challenger.  Read about it here.  Kasen also told us this morning "I haven't made any decisions yet," when asked whether he would run against Richards ...

    Coming Soon - Is JAABLOG "mass media"?

    Herald: More heat for O'Connor's former lawyers Lewis & Tein


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  • 05/30/13--11:34: 20 JNC INTERVIEWS
  • Arlene Simon Backman, Dennis D. Bailey, Mark P. Bockstein, Randi Glick Boven, Kelly Charles-Collins, Kal Le Var Evans, Phoebee R. Francois, John D. Fry, Rene D. Harrod, Susan Odzer Hugentugler, W. Anthony “Tony” Loe, Giuseppina Miranda, Charles A. Morehead, III, Michele McCaul Ricca, Abbe S. Rifkin, Derrick S. Roberts, Stacy M. Ross, Richard Sachs, Maxine K. Streeter, Gerard S. Williams.

    Ten applicants failed to make the cut.

    Interviews are Monday June 3rd starting at 9:30 a.m., at the Broward Bar Association.  OPEN TO THE PUBLICHere is the list  as emailed by the JNC.  Applicants we spoke to were emailed earlier today.

    Interestingly, no interview for Jonathan Kasen, potentially a challenger to a sitting judge ...

                    DISBAR GARDINER & SCHEINBERG



                        THEY NEVER CAME FORWARD

    Bob Norman: Larry Davis said what?

    Rhoda Sokoloff files in Patti Henning's seat

    FLORIDA JQC OFFICIAL COMPLAINT FORM

    JQC Members

    CONTACT JNC MEMBERS IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT AN APPLICANT

    Herald: Broward prosecutor appears in court to support jailed brother


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  • 06/02/13--18:29: SUNDAY NOTES
  • Settlement! - Mike Wrubel and Jim Green have reportedly made a deal on behalf of Frank Lee Smith, the man Satz sent to Death Row, only to be exonerated by DNA after dying from cancer while waiting to be executed.  Smith is only one of many victims of Broward's beloved SAO (click here andhere for more), but his story was told by PBS's Frontline

    As the Sun Sentinel reportedlast February, the case was slated for trial this summer.  On Friday, however, Defendants BSO and the two former Detectives who handled the case, Richard Scheff and Phillip Amabile, reportedly agreed to terms of a settlement.  Specifics are still unavailable at this time, but hopefully will be made public soon. 

    Satz was not a Defendant, as prosecutors enjoy the fruits of absolute immunity.  BSO could be held accountable, under the partial umbrella of qualified immunity.  That being said, let's hope Satz at least musters the courage to apologize to Virginia Smith and the rest of the Smith family for his role in this particularly chilling travesty of justice.  Just don't hold your breath ...

    Can you say awkward? - someone at T.J. Reddick either has a tremendous sense of humor, or really needs to bone up on party planning.  Seated together at Saturday's 21st Annual Awards & Scholarship Gala were none other than Ian Richards and Jonathan Kasen.  Richards wasn't the only judge at the table either, which must have amped the tension even higher.  In any event, Kasen's appearance at the must attend political event can only mean he's in it for real.  Put it together with Mike Dutko's clever non-response* to questioning Friday as to whether rumours are true he started this ball rolling by lunching with Kasen a while back, and it sure looks like game on ...

    * "I have lunch with a lot of people".

    Damn It! - imagine our disappointment.  We tracked down a copy of the Bars Initial Brief  in the ongoing appeal of David Crow's recommended one year suspension for Gardiner, and it's rock solid.  No wholesale Bar bashing can follow on this topic, except to say maybe the Palm Beach judge wouldn't have been so generous with his sentence if the Bar hadn't followed its horse shit investigation with a totally limp courtroom presentation.

    As first reported by the Sun Sentinel's Rafael Olmeda earlier this month, the Bar is seeking to disbar Gardiner, as they have been all along.  That's why they're attempting to disturb Crow's ruling, much to Team Gardiner's chagrin, which would never have looked a gift horse in the mouth by taking an appeal.

    In any event, if the Supreme Court follows the law as laid out in the Bar's brief, there can be no other outcome except a well-earned disbarment.  Instance after instance of dishonesty is clearly laid out, together with voluminous corresponding case law citations, like this example from pages 27-28:

    Indeed, this pattern of dishonest conduct carried over to the instant disciplinary proceeding, and provides support for finding another aggravating factor. Standard 9.22(f) submission of false evidence, false statements, or other deceptive practices during the disciplinary process is also present in this case. It is apparent that truth for Respondent is whatever is expedient, and she will say whatever is needed depending on the forum she is speaking to and the concern she is attempting to address. This is evidenced, for instance, by her testimony before the JQC wherein she purposely diminished her relationship with Scheinberg in order to support the JQC’s finding of only minor misconduct, in comparison with her sworn testimony before the Grievance Committee, wherein she purposefully and falsely magnified her relationship with Mike Tenzer in order to demonstrate that she had a similar relationship with defense counsel as she did with Scheinberg. (See TFB Ex. 16, pages 26-27, 29). At the Hearing before the Grievance Committee, Respondent testified that she and Mike Tenzer were great friends, that they often had breakfast and lunch together, and had been out to dinner together. She indicated that she spent most every Saturday at the gym with him, and they had breakfast together afterwards. Similar to her intentional misleading of the JQC regarding her relationship with Scheinberg, by this testimony she deliberately and intentionally misled the Grievance Committee regarding the nature and extent of her relationship with Tenzer. (TFB Ex. 16, pages 26-27, 29). Respondent omitted the pertinent details that would have accurately portrayed her relationship with Tenzer. Again, in the Final Hearing in this cause, Respondent testified under oath that her relationship with Tenzer was similar to, or on par with, her relationship with Scheinberg. (TR 517). However, these statements by Respondent were not true. Mr. Tenzer testified that they were not friends, they did not socialize, but instead were mere professional acquaintances who sometimes happened to dine in the same locations. (TR 83-85). The appropriate sanction in this case is disbarment. Indeed, in The Florida Bar v. Senton, 882 So.2d 997 (Fla. 2004), this Court held that lying in the disciplinary proceeding alone is worth disbarment.

    Fun stuff, except when you consider it's just a circus side show following the main event, when two dangerous clowns put a man on death row via a deeply corrupted trial*.  We'll be posting more highlights throughout the week, just in case you don't have the stomach to read through it all for yourself ...

    * The jury in the second, clean trial refused to impose the death penalty, despite the arguments of Brian Cavanagh, perhaps the most effective prosecutor to ever grace a Broward courtroom.

    But wait!
    - you didn't think the Bar was going to get off scott free tonight, did you?  We've now spoken to multiple sources who say the Bar has been feeling judicial heat in recent times to take their complaints more seriously.  The end result is Joe Q. Public may be getting short shrift, as we're told the Bar has indeed implemented measures to JUMP when told to by someone wearing a robe.  But is it also true there's an "unwritten rule" in place that all judicially motivated complaints must go to Grievance Committee, no matter how frivolous or misguided?  Developing ...

    Coming Soon - Update on the Scheinberg appeal; If Gardiner got to go to the Grievance Committee, why can't we?;  Lemons into Lemonade: Florida Bar defense work seems pretty easy, and much more lucrative than street law ...



                        You got old, Bitch.


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  • 06/03/13--18:29: MONDAY NOTES
  • Sorry! - if you stopped by the Broward Bar today to gawk at the circuit court wannabe's interviewing for Susan Aramony's spot, you were misdirected.  The JNC provided interview list didn't mention a location, so the traditional Broward Bar locale was posted in error, instead of the proper spot, the Tower Club in Fort Lauderdale.  Hopefuls got to match their lofty dreams with a stunning twenty-eighth floor view, free of a certain pesky blogger, who was tied up in court until it was all over anyway.  In any event, no one has called with good or bad news thus far tonight, with one reliable source telling us the six names comprising the short list won't be released 'til Tuesday.  So stay tuned ...

    Buzz Buzz Buzz - is Chuck Morton leaving the SAO after decades of service?  That's the very pervasive rumour, although we can't get any type of confirmation from the powers that be.  Chuck hasn't returned our call, and SAO media man Ron Ishoy has yet to even acknowledge the email (or follow-up call) we sent this afternoon trying to get the scoop.  It could all be BS, of course, although we're told he may wrap it up as soon as the end of this month.  Rumours are also flying regarding the game of musical chairs that would most certainly be set off by Satz's number two calling it quits, as division chiefs might be swapping roles.  Again, stay tuned ...

    Coming Soon -
    Armageddon!

    UPDATE -
    "Chief Assistant State Attorney Chuck Morton has decided to retire at the end of June after more than 37 years as a respected prosecutor and leader in the Broward State Attorney’s Office. “Chuck Morton has been a pillar of this office for decades. We certainly wish him well, but I really wish he wasn’t doing this,” said State Attorney Mike Satz. “He will really be missed by me and by so many people in this office and throughout the legal community.” Mr. Morton will be replaced by Jeff Marcus, Assistant State Attorney-in-Charge of the Felony Trial Unit, Mr. Satz announced ... "

    (FROM SAO JUNE NEWSLETTER, apparently published after our email asking about Morton, Marcus, et al ... )

    Coming Soon - Sarahnell Murphy to head FTU?

                                        CONGRATS CHUCK!



            Never poke a hibernating bear ...

    SS: Al Milian defeats SPU's "prosecution in search of a crime."

    Don't try this at home ...


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  • 06/04/13--18:29: TUESDAY NOTES
  • "The 5 + 2 Dilemma" - The JNC is taking an excessively long time to throw up six names to the Governor, and that's definitely not a bad thing.  Although scheduling conflicts could be playing a role, it's more likely honest debate is the holdup.  The applicant pool is loaded with many highly experienced lawyers, many more than in past years, in addition to some less deserving political types (and their supporters) expecting the usual bye. 

    There's also talk of more time being needed for "investigative" purposes.  Whatever the truth may be, all you need to do is add five and two to see the math just doesn't work.  The same qualified five  from last time are in the running, together with new applicants Stacy Ross and ArleneBackman (Dale's daughter and Paul's wife, respectively), making seven.  Factor in the other thirteen in contention, many highly qualified, and it's obvious somebody's going to get hurt before six can be sent up.  And it may not be who you think, considering this JNC& Governor have made three surprising picks already.

    In the meantime, in case it really does take anywhere from a few days until next week for them to decide, we'll try to help by telling you who we think should never be allowed to be a circuit judge, and why.  Stay tuned ...

    Coming Soon - What happened to the first two Scheinberg Grievance Committee's?; Why did Art Goldbergleave the Broward Bar?...

    SS: Chuck Morton to retire after 37 years with SAO

    BBeat: Chris Pole in the electoral cross-hairs?

    SS: Political questions swirl over pending Rick Scott 4th DCA pick



                    Last Men Standing ...


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  • 06/05/13--18:29: LORI & HOWARD WEIGH IN
  •  The truth shall set you free ...

    Did Bobby Diaz file a complaint against the blog?
    - we're starting to wonder, seeing as how he wouldn't answer Bob Norman's direct question to that effect on camera earlier today.  And he wouldn't return the Sun Sentinel's call earlier this month either, when Rafael Olmeda broke the Bar v. Blog story.  And did Diaz speak to Marni Bryson before any of the complaints hit, after the Palm Beach judge made the blog for the first time?  We've heard she may have placed some calls south of the border at the time, but can't confirm whom she may have spoken to.  If only the Bar would clear up some of the mystery ...

    In any event, you've got to check out Bob's piece, WHICH AIRED ON WPLG CHANNEL 10 TONIGHTLori Parrish and Howard Finkelstein come out swinging, as you would hope any elected official would when core American values are under attack.  These guys are owed a debt of gratitude not only from yours truly, but from anyone who appreciates living in a free and open society.  Both are highly successful politicians with friends on both sides of the love/hate JAABLOG debate, but they aren't afraid to stand up for what's right no matter who they piss off.  And for that they have our eternal respect.

                                  THANK YOU LORI, HOWARD, AND BOB!

    June 5th Reversals
    - MICHAEL ROBINSON REVERSED; BARBARA MCCARTHY - REVERSED.

    Coming Soon - Hey Florida Bar: Aren't You Interested In Buddy Nevin's Article "Judge's Supporters Try To Silence Blogger"?; Hey Florida Bar: How Come No One Ever Asked For Retractions When The Articles Ran?; JNC Deadlock?; Howard Forman gets married!

    ABA Report of the Commission on Evaluation of Disciplinary Enforcement ('92)

    FBJ: Attorney Defamation: The Proper Standard of Review ('94)



    So that's why Gardiner resigned ...

    "In her written response, Respondent stated:

    Ana Gardiner, a single mother, was offered a partnership in a prestigious Florida firm: Cole, Scott and Kissane, a firm boasting 177 Florida lawyers and the talents of Richard Cole and former federal Judge and United States Attorney Thomas Scott, to leave the Broward bench. The Judicial Administration Commission and Legislature have reduced the salaries of Circuit Judges by 2% and future reductions are anticipated. The opportunity to become financially secure was the driving force in her resignation from the bench.

    (TFB Ex. 13, pg 1) (emphasis added)."

    (
    P. 34, Initial Brief Of Florida Bar)


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    Broward judges up in 2014 (please post a comment if we missed anyone or made a mistake):

    Circuit Court:

    Lynn Rosenthal; Bernie Bober; Mike Orlando; Jeff Levenson; RET. MEL GROSSMAN/OPEN SEAT; RET. JEFF STREITFELD/OPEN SEAT; RET. PATTI HENNING/OPEN SEAT; Raag Singhal; Merrilee Ehrlich; Tom Lynch; John Bowman; Steve Ferren; Dale Cohen; Charlie Greene; Renee Goldenberg; Andy Siegel; John Murphy*; RET. MARC GOLD/OPEN SEAT (?); Fred Horowitz; Michael Kaplan; Marty Bidwill; Jack Tuter; Mily Rodriguez-Powell.

    County Court:

    Steve DeLuca; Ellen Feld; Ian Richards; Stacy Ross**; Chris Pole.

    *John Murphy up for the 4th DCA - he interviewed with Rick Scott Thursday, June 6th ...
    **Stacy Ross would avoid 2014 election cycle if appointed to Susan Aramony's circuit spot ...
    *** A county seat will open up if Ross, Fry, or Backman make the circuit ...

    2014 Palm Beach judges

    Coming Soon - Pete Holden to FTU?; Tit for Tat ... If Ian Richards gets opposed, so does Mily Rodriguez-Powell?

                                                VIVA DEMOCRACY!


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  • 06/07/13--08:43: NO BOND HOLDS
  • Expect an Administrative Order shortly taking away the standard bond currently assigned upon booking to all suspects charged with Burglary Dwelling.  In reaction to a rash of home burglaries in Broward County, a no bond hold will now apply.  Similar to the procedure in place for Domestic Violence cases, the accused will instead be held no bond until the First Appearances judge has an opportunity to review the allegations and an individual's prior record, at which time bond can be assigned. 

    Developing ...

    Coming Soon
    - PB County Judges Rebeling Against The SAO's New DUI Diversion Program?


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