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  • 01/21/14--17:30: COURTHOUSE NAMING CONTEST

  •                            WHO SHOULD THE NEW COURTHOUSE BE NAMED AFTER?
                        (Weinstein, Robinson, Ross, Diaz, and Tobin are but five possibilities)  


    Peter Weinstein's MLK Day message, sent via email on January 17th:

    I was reminiscing with my brother on the phone this morning and we remembered when our dad, who was then a State Assemblyman in New York traveled to Washington to attend and support Dr. King's march.

    I remember him telling us all about Dr. King's speech and its importance to advancing civil rights in our country. As we prepare to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King day, please take time to remember the purpose of this observation and how we, as the judicial branch can continue to advance equal justice for all who appear in our courts and honor Dr. King's legacy.

    Coming Soon - the 17th Circuit spent how much on senior judges in 2013?

    CNN - Why are lawyers killing themselves?

     "Being a physician has stress. However, when the surgeon goes into the surgical suite to perform his surgery, they don't send another physician in to try to kill the patient ... "

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  • 01/23/14--17:30: STATE OF DISUNION
  • Is everybody having fun so far?

    We're not.  That sickening feeling just won't go away. 

    Walk into any Broward felony courtroom, and it'll grip you too, if you've got half a heart.  Damn near everyone in custody is Black, same as the folks in the pews waiting for their cases to be called.  The Drug War and other traditional factors directly linked to the proliferation of poverty in minority communities continue to take a heavy toll.  Jim Crow never died, he just got sophisticated.

    So keep the boo hoo hoos to yourself concerning this nasty old JAABLOG.  Nobody around here gives a wet noodle.  Those in Broward who control absolutely everything couldn't care less about changing anything, so don't expect things to be different from us either.  If you like to tell other people what to do, we'll continue to hold you to the same impossibly high standards demanded of poor people who can't even drive a car without being harassed by the cops.

    Sure, you've got a job to do.  And some of you do it well.  But it was your choice to climb up that flag pole, where one carelessly misplaced adjudication can fall and crush an individual and his entire family's future.  Call us old fashioned, and certainly Old Testament, since collective punishment is still the order of the day.  All of you are interchangeable, just like the case numbers that shield burned out eyes from the humanity underneath.  From Tallahassee to Key West, rest assured.  If we hear about your foible, you'll get a star turn, guaranteed.

    Your idea of the legal profession may be a bordello inspired clubhouse filled with pots of gold, guided by delightful double standards of behavior, and led by powerful apologists.  But it was never ours, and never will be.  Courage is in short supply in the face of glaring racism, seen everyday in Broward courts, and unlikely to change anytime soon.  So until that certain dream comes true, don't be foolish enough to expect any changes around here either. 

    It's the least we can do ...

    Coming Soon - Hey Supreme Court: What's Holding Up The Gardiner Opinion?; Why does Satz hire ASA's who admit to prior illegal drug use?

    SS: Broward-led spike in prison population

    JAABLOG: How To Win The Drug War (2011)

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  • 01/27/14--17:29: JQC DUI FYI
  •  Barry Stone (2011)

    Fourth DCA alum/senior judge Barry Stone is taking over Cindy Imperato's division full time, starting February 10th.  All hearings will be set via Imperato's office in the North Wing, where Stone will share space with Imperato until Peter Weinstein moves her back to Criminal full time. 
    Get those Motions To Suppress filed ASAP ...

    As far as the pending Imperato family DUI's, there's not much new to report.  Alexander's is still unfiled, and Jeremy Kroll
    has been retained.  The judicial DUI up in Palm Beach has been set off to March 10th, for case disposition.

    Will Cindy be going to trial?  It's anyone's guess.  But one thing's for sure.  The JQC is likely to take a hard look at anything that sticks to the elder Imperato, based on today's publication of the stipulation  between the judicial police and Hillsborough County's resident DUI judge Tracy Sheehan.

    The Sheehan JQC documents are found here.  She's agreed to a public reprimand, after blowing a .171/.161 following her first DUI arrest during a night out in Ybor City.  She did roadsides, submitted to the breathalyzer, accepted full responsibility for her actions, sought help, and apologized profusely.  The JQC categorized Sheehan's crime "an isolated incident".

    Imperato, still only accused, refused roadsides and a breathalyzer.  She's currently exercising her right to fight the charges.  And, according to the Sun Sentinel, this is her second DUI, after a 1988 arrest in Leon County with property damage or personal injury.  It's unknown at this time if this is a first or second refusal.

    The facts as alleged are certainly much different than those in the Sheehan matter, so the stakes could be a lot higher for Imperato than previously thought.  In the meantime, she's still officially the judge inRandy Tundidor's  death penalty case ...

    Coming Soon - Jose Izquierdo and Jim Lewis are throwing AG hopeful Perry Thurston a party ...

    Miami Herald: Kudos to Judge Sheehan who owns DUI mistake (July, 2013)

    " ... The judge blew.

    “I had already made a horrible decision and could not compound it by playing lawyer,” she says
    ... "

    Bob Norman's Pulp: Judge Imperato and the Wiseguys

    We're all just pumping gas at Mr. Satz's station ...

    Coming Soon? - judicial candidates John Contini, Donnie Goodwin, and
    Dennis BaileyGeneral Master Julie Shapiro Harris? ...

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  • 02/06/14--04:06: PRAYERS
  • Thoughts and prayers go out to the Robinson family, as Mary remains in critical condition following a mid-trial collapse yesterday afternoon around 5:00 PM.  Obviously this is a time to respect the Robinson family's privacy, but in light of the fact mainstream media is aware of the situation and the abundant courthouse rumors, this has been posted.  

    God Bless ...

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  • 02/07/14--06:10: RECOVERY!
  • Peter Weinstein has sent an email detailing the full recovery of Mary Robinson.  She's alert, hanging with her family,  and raring to go.  The coma was apparently induced, to reduce swelling in the brain.

    Great news, for a change ...

    Coming Soon - Go, Laura, Go!

    SS: Broward judge recovering after seizure on bench

    SS: Judge Mary Robinson stricken on bench, hospitalized

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  • 02/07/14--09:11: LAWSUIT!
  • Recently, lawyers have been asking, where's Laura Watson?  She hasn't been handling a docket for a few days, but her well earned hiatus hasn't been spent idling by the pool.  Watson's been busy indeed, with her JQC trial set to startthis Monday, February 10th at 10:00 AM, in Room 347.

    But trial prep wasn't the only order of the day.  The ever plucky Watson filed suit in Federal Court today, against the JQC as a body, its Director and individual members (except the laypeople), and her prosecutors.  That's right, a whole bunch of judges just got sued.  Click the links for the VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT,INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, AND DAMAGES, the corresponding exhibits, and MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, AND PERMANENT INJUNCTION.

    Courageous stuff, and hot off the presses.  Take some time to scroll through, and check out the other pugnacious filings in the case so far here.  It's hard to say what will be happening to Monday's trial date in light of today's action, or the outcome of the entire affair, but it seems today's developments are unprecedented, even for bonkers Broward County.

    Stay tuned ...

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  • 02/10/14--08:01: TRIAL!
  • Laura Watson's JQC trial began this morning in Room 347.  A Federal judge denied her request for injunction over the weekend.  No word yet on whether the judge was in pajamas working from home when the Order was issued, wearing golf apparel or a bathing suit, or whether she had to make a special trip to the office before ruling.

    Stop on by Room 347.  JQC trials don't happen all that often, even in Broward.  Both the DBR and Sun Sentinel were in attendance, and a photographer as well, so there should be something in the mainstream media for anyone interested.

    Coming Soon - Monkees 50th Anniversary Salute ...

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  • 02/11/14--17:30: TUESDAY NOTES
  • JQC v. WATSON - it's almost over, folks.  The JQC has rested, and the Defense already started with its character witnesses.  Tuesday saw Tom Lynch and Watson's childhood friend/JNC member Terrence O'Connor going to bat for the embattled judge.  Star witness Jack Seiler takes the stand tomorrow at nine, with the whole mess wrapping up shortly thereafter. 

    Is this a clear cut case of the Florida Barpunting on a serious matter, or is the JQC railroad running full steam, as some claim?  It's still hard for us to tell exactly what this whole thing is about, and judging from the confused looks on some panel members' faces, we're not the only ones.  One thing's for sure, when juror Mayanne Downs, past president of the Florida Bar, asked Watson if she had checked with the Bar's 1-800-ETHICSanonymous hotline to make sure a complicated contract indemnity provision passed muster, it really made the JQC look bad. 

    And to think the Supreme Court still hasn't been able to deal with the egregious and insulting conclusions in Gardiner's Bar case, while Watson's convoluted JQC matter has thus far proceeded with lightning speed ...

    "Don't Blame Us" - in all fairness, it seems some of the GardinerOpinion delay is due to Respondent's answer brief not being filed in the appropriatefont.  Got that?

    From the Supreme Court's docket in Bar v. Gardiner:

    Respondent's answer brief, which was filed with this Court on July 12, 2013, does not comply with Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.210 and is hereby stricken. Respondent is hereby directed, on or before February 5, 2014, to serve an amended answer brief which is double-spaced and submitted in either Times New Roman 14 point font or Courier New 12 point font ...

    Come on.  It's not going to hurt that bad, is it? ...

    "Beyond the Pale" - that's how Howard Finkelstein categorizes reports of attorney Bradford Cohen's  recent outbursts against this here blog, and developments in his own ongoing dispute with psychologist Michael Brannon

    You can read about Bradford Cohen v. JAABLOGover at, and you can see an affidavit here  from psychologist Trudy Block-Garfield, detailing her former colleague Brannon allegedly making physical threats against Finkelstein back in 2007, still of great concern to the Public Defender in light of continuing litigation.  The affidavit has been filed in at least one recent circuit court criminal case thus far, and was forwarded in Januaryto Satz, as part of a follow-up general request for investigation into a variety of issues.  Satz's blustery responses are found here, signed, of course, by underlings.

    So, are there valid reasons for licensed professionals to behave as alleged?  Are elected officials and bloggers who take strong positions, and vigorously defend them, really so threatening?

    Here's what Finkelstein had to say earlier today:

    "Lawyers and professionals do this work because we all have taken an oath to decide important, life impacting issues through reason and law.  There is no room for threats of physical harm, whether explicit or implied."

    Lastly, referring specifically to Satz's refusal to look into Block-Garfield's concerns, Finkelstein said:

    "It took a lot of courage for Trudy to come forward.  The State Attorney put her on the stand for years and relied upon her testimony before juries, but now she suddenly doesn't exist."

    And the beat goes on ...

    Hey Bradford! - nobody EVER used the F-Word.  We'll take a poly, will you?

    Coming Soon
    - A bunch of cell phone camera pictures ...

    SDFL: Judge Richard Rosenbaum

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  • 02/12/14--17:30: WEDNESDAY NOTES
  • Thanks, Buddy - it seems everyone around the courthouse really enjoyed BrowardBeat's take on Cohen v. Blog, at least from the feedback we got.  And while critics are correct that the high road wasn't taken by either party before things spun out of control, absolutely everyone is wondering what could have prompted the other guy to cross into the creep zone.  That being said, we're satisfied this is over,* even if some of you still persist in spreading wholesale lies regarding a certain somebody being called "a derogatory name for a gay that starts with an F".  It never happened, of course, and while Mr.Cohen's distant relationship with the truth in this area may be infuriating, it goes with the territory of being a self-appointed cyber finger-pointer.  Besides, it hasn't been of any concern to friends, while others we've never met need only look back over the years of blogging to see that JAABLOG's core message of equality and justice for all has never wavered.  And so, without further ado, on with the show! ...

    *Although JAABLOG's polygraph challenge  to Cohen remains open ad infinitum.

    Gardiner Reply Brief - here is the Amended Answer Brief of Respondent, filed by Dave Bogenschutz on January 23rd.  It's a 52 page unmitigated Mitigation-Fest, with plenty of cites to the trial transcript.  In other words, it's a complete bore, since so many of Gardiner's celebrity witnesses were left unmolested by Bar prosecutors.  Whatever.  Hopefully the Supreme Court rules soon, considering everything is filed.  Check out the docket here, and read all the documents filed in SC11-2311 here.

    DBR: Judge Watson's Attorney Warns JQC That It's Reminiscent Of KGB

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  • 02/17/14--17:29: MONDAY NOTES
  • Good from Bad - maybe the Florida Bar isn't so bad after all.  Today Bar President Eugene Pettis hosted a meeting concerning selective enforcement of the drug laws over at his place, with Howard Finkelstein appearing by phone. 

    It came about after a chance encounter at the West Palm Beach courthouse a few weeks back.  Pettis good naturedly took our ribbing over not returning calls  during Bar v. Blog concerning the failed Drug War, and then quickly agreed to set today's meeting.  It wasn't stated, but considering the persecution was over, and the incredible importance of the subject matter, saying yes must have been easy.  A quick call to the Public Defender confirmed his participation, and it was off to the races.

    The meeting was premised on trying to find a role for the Bar, whose logo proudly boasts "Protecting Rights, Pursuing Justice ... ",in equaling the lop-sided scales of criminal justice.  Drug use and sales are as prevalent in affluent America as in low-income America, but minorities are wildly over-represented in courthouses, jails and prisons everywhere.  It's a national and statewide problem, and as Finkelstein pointed out, even the Feds are doing something about it.  Why, we asked, can't the Bar?

    The answer was a qualifiedwe can.  Pettis patiently explained that because the Florida Bar is a unified bar with compulsory membership and dues, neither the president nor anyone else can push the organization anywhere near the line which might cross into ideological territory.  Everything must fall under "the Keller umbrella".  Employing an example Pettis definitely didn't use, a bunch of us may hate what's going on in the criminal courts, while others like things just the way they are.  And if that's the case, the Bar can't be directed to get involved.  Got that?

    But there is a middle ground.  Pettis is eager to "initiate and raise the dialogue" by asking the Bar's Criminal Law Section  ("CJ Section") to discuss the elephant in the room.  He's asked for a request in writing from Finkelstein, who has agreed to provide the data he's assembled concerning Walking While Black, Biking While Black, and of course Driving While Black.  The CJ Section can then be queried whether Florida is answering Attorney General Eric Holder's call  to address important issues of fairness in the state's criminal courts, and to do all that is possible within the rules and guidelines of the Bar to suggest improvements. 

    "I was present in San Francisco last August when Attorney General Holder rolled out his guidelines," Pettis said.

    "We all move around as if these and other problems don't exist, like graduation rates.  We go about our lives as if everything is well.  But I would like to pull together a dialogue on a community and statewide basis to collectively do a better job." 

    So there you have it.  A great start, considering this is possibly the first time a state Bar president has agreed to get involved with such hot button issues.  Expect things to move quickly, since everyone is aware Pettis' term ends in June.  And in the meantime, we'll be sure to follow-up with Greg Coleman, the president-elect.  This is one ball that definitely needs to keep rolling ...

     Not a law firm ...

    Gold, Spechler & Sweetapple - everyone is talking about Friday's Sun Sentinel article detailing the battle for the beach, pitting the Ticket Clinic's Mark Gold, former judge Jay Spechler, and Laura Watson's other go-to-guy Robert Sweetapple against the city of Deerfield Beach. 

    Apparently it all started many years ago, but the trio isn't letting city hall get them down.  They're hosting private parties and generally making the most of their unique situation, while city officials are not so quietly trying to figure out what to do.

    "It's nice to be able to fight for your rights and have fun at the same time," Spechler says, although it was hard to hear exactly what he was saying, given the whooping and hollering in the background, and what sounded like the thwak of a beach ball being launched into orbit.  Unfortunately, signal was lost before we could get confirmation regarding the Beach Boys being booked for July 4th festivities, so stay tuned for all further developments ...

    a teenage symphony to God ...

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  • 02/18/14--07:32: WHERE'S KEVIN?
  • Kevin Kulik and Mitch Polay spent the last five days trying to pick a jury in the death penalty trial of accused Dunkin' Donuts killer James Herard, only to be stymied by the Florida Supreme Court.  It's not often one death penalty proceeding interrupts another, but that's exactly what happened today, after the Supremes issuedthis Order this morning in the Robert Henry matter

    Henry's execution was set for March 20th on Valentine's Day, prompting his attorney Kulik to reprioritize his to do list.  Paul Backman was forced to send the Herard jurors packing, but only after a lengthy discussion about whether or not Herard's wishes to sub his prior attorney John Cotrone as his penalty phase lawyer for Kulik would be allowed.  In the end everyone but Herard agreed that was a bad idea indeed, so the whole thing will start over with a fresh juror panel after Henry's death warrant expires at the end of March.  Herard, possibly sensing a strong appellate issue in a case fraught with problems for the defense, was visibly angry, stripping his tie off and throwing it down as soon as Backman's ruling was final.

    And now all thoughts to Kevin, who has the weight of the world in his hands ...

    Coming Soon - Reversible error?: Uncertified interpreters, the 17th Circuit, and you ...

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  • 02/26/14--06:48: WELCOME BACK, FRY
  • Mary Robinson is doing great, but due to the normal rehab schedule, John Fry will be taking over her division.  Steven Shutter will be handling Fry's duties up at the north satellite.  The switch may be happening as early as this week, much to the relief of the county judges who have been taking turns covering Robinson's docket.  Today relief duty judge Olga Levine handled the chore, while Bobby Diaz didn't appear to have any court at all.

    In other Fry news, all the candidates vying for O'Connor's circuit spot were final interviewed yesterday in Tampa.  Expect news of the appointment soon ...

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  • 02/27/14--03:18: ROADSHOW!
  • The Fourth DCA is in the house TODAY, February 27th, starting at 1:30 PM in Room 416.  The schedule is here

    Come root for the home team, and don't forget to bring a copy of your favorite opinion for autographing afterwards.

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  • 02/27/14--17:29: JAABCAM

  • 1.)GOLD WATCH TIME - make sure to drop by the North Wing 7th Floor conference room FRIDAY, February 28th, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, to say bon voyage to Denise Goodsmith.  After more than eleven years working with Andy Siegel, and a couple more decades JA'ing before that, Denise is calling it quits.  A hearty well done, but not without a bit of sadness.  As any lawyer or staffer will tell you, it was always a pleasure dealing with a team player like Denise.  Congrats!; 2.) Coming Soon - senior judge Fred Berman?; 3.) Who knew?  A young Buddy Nevins with a circa 1966 Keith Richards.  Before, and before the Sun Sentinel, there was Teen Life Magazine, and a largely unseen stash of photos of Buddy with leaders of the 1960's cultural renaissance; 4.)Mitch Polay and accused Dunkin' Donuts killer James Herard.  This was shortly after Kevin Kulik pulled rank.  Herard is pushing Polay to continue voir dire with a new penalty phase lawyer, while Mitch knows better ...

    Coming Soon - Randy Tundidor v. Imperato update; Dear Mr. Pettis & Chief Adderley; Lowly judges not invited to Topping Ceremony ...

    SS: Tonya Alanez goes to Pakistan

    Herald: Tampa lawmaker tackles issue of DL Drug suspensions

    PB Post - Marni Bryson's tough talk

    SS: 4th DCA in the house

    Gainesville Sun - JQC opens up on Andy Decker

    JQC Decker documents

    Bob Norman video starring Norm Kent

    Bob Norman video starring Eric Rudenberg & Mike Glasser

    Grimm - Broward PDO v. DJJ

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  • 03/03/14--17:30: GETTING FUNCKY
  •  Oh Mike, not again ...

    The BSO Crime lab scandal is growing.  Lawyers are reminded not to plea any cases involving drugs tested by Kelli McDonald until further notice.  Close to 6000 cases could be called into question, so make sure to carefully peruse those lab reports before jumping on any sweet offers.  Brady Notices have gone out from the SAO, together with this twenty-four page report.

    This is another major expose courtesy of the Public Defender's Office.  We published Howard Finkelstein's first letter to Satz regarding crime lab issues back in May of 2013, and referenced it againin June , before Channel 6's Ari Odzer made the story mainstream.  Finkelstein's more specific June 13 letter, and a link to Ari's story, are found here.

    Expect more mainstream news coverage soon.  We're told McDonald may have retained counsel, and is set to be deposed in Public Defender cases.  Barry Funck, a nationally recognized forensic crime lab expert, is rumored to be in talks with the powers that be to conduct an audit of McDonald's work.  An internal audit by BSO Crime Lab personnel has turned up additional discrepancies in a small sampling of her cases, pointing to a much larger potential problem.

    Developing ...

    NYT: Holder and Republicans Unite to Soften Sentencing Laws

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  • 03/11/14--18:30: TUESDAY NOTES


    Off and running
    - Gene Pettis and Howard Finkelstein are pulling together as a team.  As previously reported, the President of the Florida Bar requested something in writing from Broward's Public Defender concerning the wildly disproportionate rates of minority occupancy in the State's jails and prisons due to non-violent crimes, and boy did he get it.  Finkelstein's letter, found here,** went out on March 4th, as first reported by Buddy Nevins

    Pettis, who was traveling last week, caught up with us today.  He's already spoken to Miami's David Rothman, Chair-elect of the Bar's Criminal Law Section, who Gene says immediately agreed "there's a problem".  Finkelstein's letter will shortly be in all the Section members' hands, with the goal of raising the issues together with informed suggestions to the Board of Governors.

    Here's what else Gene had to say:

    We're looking for a solution, or at a minimum, improvement in the system.  It's obviously an issue, there's no question, not a lot of debate.  Look at the demographics, the types of infractions getting people into jail.  Attorney General Holder's position is enlightening, and I am looking forward to those that are experts in that arena to give us some guidance on the problems at hand.  This is what needs to be done.

    So there you have it.  As Gene says, this isn't rocket science.  The Drug War is a dismal failure even to casual observers, while a tremendous human price is still being exacted on a daily basis in our most vulnerable communities.  Certainly most prosecutors and judges are sick of it too, but until an official body like the legislature or the Bar supports them, they will unfortunately almost always enforce the status quo.  And that's why this is such a big deal.  A blue ribbon panel of prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges making up the Bar's Criminal Law Section is being asked by their president to take notice of the sick elephant in the room, with the chance to make a real difference on a statewide basis, and perhaps nationally as well.  Quite simply, it's unprecedented, and with Republicans finally joining the call for reform, the future is brighter than it's ever been. 

    Definitely a wait, see, and pray the mainstream media takes notice ...

    **The Public Defender also sent Chief Frank Adderley this letter  back in February, regarding the legal harassment of Fort Lauderdale's African-American citizenry.

    E-Filing fun - E-Filing could be a real boon to defense attorneys, considering police reports should be available online all over the State shortly.  Essentially, if Public Defenders or FACDL can maintain public databases of PC Affidavits, A-Forms, or whatever you want to call them sorted by author and crime, testilying could be seriously curtailed at nearly every stage of the proceedings.  Most lawyers can tell you stories about how they wished they had a stack of a particular cop's police reports to impeach with, and now that the State is scanning them all in, it may be possible.  In the future you may be able to diffuse charges by detecting disturbing patterns, or by roughing up stubborn subjects by confronting them with piles of their own work, and saying things like this:

    I just handed you your last fifty DUI arrest reports, and on every one of them, you wrote "watery, bloodshot eyes, and an odor of an alcoholic beverage", isn't that correct?


    I just handed you your last fifty BatLeo arrest reports where the Defendant was injured, and on every one of them, you wrote "the Defendant fell and sustained his injuries while being taken into custody", isn't that correct?

    You get the point.  They may be able to keep cameras out of police cars, but they can't keep the reports offline.  So let's get busy ...

    Reset! - Cindy Imperato's DUI up in Palm Beach has been continued to April 14th for case disposition before Mark Eissey.  In the meantime, her son's DUI arrest is still showing "Unfiled" on the Broward Clerk's website, nearly two months later ...

    Whose job is it anyway? - calculating time served has traditionally been the Clerk's job.  They are the keepers of the record, after all, and have been doing a great job of it for as long as anyone can remember.  Still, in David Haimes' division, it's up to the lawyers to figure out.  Accordingly, after a recent trip to 7900, we naturally got to wondering, just whose job is it anyway?  Howard Forman promised yesterday to give us an answer soon, so stay tuned ...

    Breaking Big - click here for Slate's interview with Pittsburgh attorney Daniel Muessig, the man behind the Thanks Dan! videoDid I mention I'm Jewish?

    Coming Soon- Joel Lazarus to weekend First Appearances?; More RRA attorneys going down, and soon?

    SS: Russell Williams hands Lynn Rosenthal an election year hot potato

    Bob Norman: update on "Perry's Law"

    Bob Norman: Surprise, Trump gets special treatment at Broward Courthouse

    SS: Streitfeld channels Larry Seidlin

    SS: BSO Crime Lab Scandal

    SS: Man pleads guilty to Satz threat on JAABLOG

    "Rant-sites", JAABLOG, and you ...

    Gainesville Sun: Man urinated on strangers near UF campus

    Tampa Tribune: Something Happened To Me Yesterday ...

    Law 360: Courts Wade Through Murky World Of Online Defamation

    USA Today: $3.5 million in Colorado pot revenue for January

    Herald: Despite false trial testimony, judge upholds 24-year sentence

    SS: Broward Drug Court Judge Towbin-Singer honors highway hero

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  • 03/12/14--18:30: WEDNESDAY NOTES
  •  Guest columnist Charlie Gasko writes:

    The RRA meltdown is close to resolving.  As reported in the local newspaper, plenty more legal types will be facing charges.  I'm thinking maybe around twenty.  Deals are being made behind the scenes, since the statute of limitations is about to run.  If these folks don't flip and cop out to lessers, they'll be tied up with RICO charges that'll make their heads spin.  Some of the names may surprise you.  After that, the Bar goes into action.  Buckle up for a bumpy ride.

    (Mr. Gasko currently resides in the Tucson, Arizona area.  His views are purely conjecture, however he has been known to have extremely accurate insights into the inner workings of federal agencies in the past.  Again, none of the above has been confirmed, but is in line with many of the rumors we've been hearing around the courthouse)

    Senior Judge Army - add retired 4th DCA judge Mark Polen to the growing ranks of Peter Weinstein's senior judge army.  From what we're being told, Polen is supposedly coming to Foreclosures in the next few weeks, while Joel Lazarus is now the permanent Sunday First Appearances judge "for the sake of consistency".  Frankly, none of Weinstein's hardcore addiction to senior judges makes any sense to us, given the soft schedules of so many public servants currently taking home full time pay and pension benefits.  Whatever the case may be, count on seeing lots more of Peggy Gehl, Kathy Ireland, Barry Stone, Steve Shutter, John Frusciante, Lazarus and Polen, and a lot less of the people you actually voted for ...

    SS Editorial: Hollywood police deserve better union leader than Marano

    Bob Norman: Trump verdict, Streitfeld video

    BrowardBeat: Florida Bar joins the fight

    Affidavits filed in JQC v. Decker

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  • 03/17/14--18:30: THE FDMC
  •  Sorry, merit based entry only (for a change) ...

    There's an exclusive club in Broward County, and probably in your town too.  The First Degree Murder Club, or FDMC for short.  Lawyers with two or more not guilty verdicts in First Degree Murder cases.  Lessers or compromise verdicts don't count.  It's got to be a flat out not guilty or JOA to qualify, and you have to do it twice to show the first time wasn't a fluke.

    These cases are the ones police and the SAO thoroughly investigate, and they're handled by the most talented and experienced prosecutors.  No mismatches here.  Adding to the stress is the media scrutiny these trials often attract, not to mention how some of them test stamina by dragging on and on and on.  Attorneys who overcome the incredible odds and pressure even once in a career are masters of their craft, but to do it multiple times puts them in a league of their own.

    And without further ado, here are the known members of Broward's FDMC:

    John Cotrone, John George, Barbara Heyer, Pete Laporte, Jim Lewis, Hilly Moldof, Mitch Polay, Chris Pole,  Pat Rastatter, Keith Seltzer, Raag Singhal, Don Tenbrook, Mike Tenzer, and Dohn Williams.

    Well done!

    (Post a comment if you know of others, and we'll follow-up.  Most homicide lawyers were contacted, but it's a certainty there's more.  Interestingly, the majority of those named above have three or more NG's, with one attorney boasting SEVEN)

    Coming Soon- Your new circuit court judge is ...; Eugene Pettis follows through; How come no one wants to calculate time served?

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  • 03/21/14--07:52: MERRIGAN TO CIRCUIT
  • All indications point to Ed Merrigan being appointed to circuit court this morning, although this is still not confirmed.

    Merrigan's victory was predicted, and now conventional wisdom has Dan Kanner taking over Merrigan's county spot.  Wait and see ...


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  • 03/23/14--18:29: SUNDAY NOTES
  • Blacks need apply - there's a deepening diversity crisis in the 17th Circuit judiciary.  With Mary Robinson on extended medical leave, and Ian Richards under attack at the polls, Broward is in grave danger of losing badly needed Black representation on the bench.  There are currently six judges that fit the description (out of 90), only three more than when we first wrote about the issue back in 2008.  It's a disgrace, and current governor Rick Scott has yet to appoint a Black 17th judge, while making at least four blatantly political local appointments thus far.

    Still, it's hard to pin it on the JNC and Scott if qualified minority applicants don't apply.  Sure, the "why bother, it's all fixed" argument is understandable, as is the fact talented Black private sector lawyers typically top a judicial salary within a year or two of finishing law school.  But it's not called public service for nothing, and the community's need for Black judges couldn't be more glaring.  The point is qualified minority lawyers need to put in for Ed Merrigan's county seat, if only to see what kind of claptrap the JNC or Scott come up with to deny the community comes second when it comes to picking judges.  Exposure is a powerful tool, and it may fix the problem going forward, at least to a degree.  And who knows, they may surprise everyone and do the right thing, even if the applicant isn't married or otherwise related to a judge or political boss.  So spread the word, as this one may be attainable for all the right reasons, for a change ...

    Relapse is part of Rehab ... and everyone knows it, except perhaps Peter Weinstein.  His decision to leave a vulnerable and suffering Gisele Pollack on the criminal bench has backfired big time, following last week's much talked about second public benching of Broward's misdemeanor drug court judge.  The details will be emerging shortly, suffice it to say Weinstein's leadership is once again being called into question. As we told Bob Norman a few months back, allowing Gisele to pass judgment on drug users while battling her own demons is a real credibility buster, and now, unfortunately, if reports of wildly erratic behavior are true, seemingly a recovery killer too. 

    Let's face it.  Weinstein isn't the first chief judge to cater to the whims of his voting subjects.  He also isn't the first to promote an image of a strong judiciary at all costs, even if the tactic has proven to almost always make things worse in the end.  But this one seemed like an easy call to make, and a lot of people aren't happy about the way the whole thing was handled.

    But hey, we're here to help.  A bunch of calls were placed on Friday to the Florida Bar, since substance abuse issues in the workplace are nothing new to a body governing nearly 100,000 stressed out souls.  It turns out there's an agency called Florida Lawyers Assistance, based right here in Pompano, which was created in response to a Florida Supreme Court mandate to help lawyers and salvage legal careers.  Bar reps put us in touch with Michael Cohen, the Executive Director, who gave us the rundown of options for balancing rehabilitation with protecting the public, such as behavior contracts, random testing, monitoring, and meetings, with the threat of discipline for those that don't take things seriously.  Interestingly, Cohen also stated the JQC has been in contact in recent months, although he has no insight into what the secretive judge protectors are thinking about.

    So stay tuned.  There's light at the end of the tunnel, as soon as Weinstein and the JQC start treating judges just like everybody else ...

    JAABLOG Movement - Sandy Perlman to vacated civil O'Connor, Cindy Imperato to vacated foreclosure Perlman, Barry Stone to vacated foreclosure Imperato, and either Liz Scherer or Ed Merrigan to vacated criminal Stone.  If Scherer gets Imperato's old criminal division (FJ), then Merrigan would go to vacated Scherer dependency.  None of this is anywhere near official of course, but we're told Imperato is moving her office from the North Wing to the old courthouse in May, meaning her desired return to criminal may not be so imminent.  Additionally, there are whispers that some veterans want out of criminal, so there may be more openings soon.  In any event, as of Friday there was still some confusion as to who is getting stuck in dependency.  Since Stacy Ross seemed to get seniority credit for being a county judge, some are wondering if Merrigan will also get special consideration, in addition to his already helming Veteran's Court, which deals with circuit felony issues.  In the old days Scherer would have had her choice of assignment, particularly after dedicated and lengthy service in the grueling dependency court.  But since politics play a very important role in this judicial administration, we're told it's still a wait and see ...

    Additional FDMC confirmations - John Howes, who didn't return a call before deadline, is a member of the First Degree Murder Club, as is judicial candidate Dennis BaileyWe're still looking for a working phone number forTom Gallagher, so in the meantime drop a comment concerning anyone else you think we need to contact ...

    Meet Melissa Donoho

    SS: Merrigan appointed to circuit judgeship

    Bob Norman: Streitfeld/Trump coziness could lead to new trial

    How terribly strange to be 70 ...

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