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 I'm sorry Your Honor, but I must respectfully disagree ...

No interviews this week
- despite strong rumours to the contrary, JNC chair Jamie Finizio's office confirmed via email late in the day Monday that all interviews for the current open seat were completed June 3rd.  It looks like we'll have the pick six list soon though, as we're told the JNC will vote Tuesday.  Stay tuned ...

Ruff Rides Again? 
- is Alan Ruff coming back again?  If Paul Petillo has a say in the matter, it will.  We've lost track of how many times this turkey has been basted (eight? nine?), but the PD's PB appellate division just may win Bruce Raticoff yet another go round.  Check out Petillo'sApellant's Motion For Clarification And Rehearing, questioning the Fourth DCA's reliance on the tipsy coachman doctrine to make the most recent jury's verdict stick ...

Welcome to the blog, Katie! - we love ya, Katie, but you're getting mostly negative reviews on the whole butt slapping thing.  Like it or not, you did high-five Superstar's lawyer on a job well done, which led Superstar to do what only multi-millionaire guys can do when lots of people are watching, namely slap another guy on the ass in appreciation.  Oh well.  The recent all-day judicial diversity training probably didn't cover lifestyles of the rich and famous, so don't take it so hard.  Cultural faux-pas will happen ...

Hey iPhone users - if you happen to be one of those still stuck in the dark ages, at least go to your Settings and turn off the iMessage feature.  Once you're actually sending text messages, everyone else with a modern phone will be able to reply.  And by the way, JAABLOG's Anonymous Tips Box hasn't worked in a really long time either.  So if you need us, send an email ...

Another reason why people like Gardiner go nowhere fast- courtesy of SDFL, here's the intro to federal judge Richard Kopf's recent blog entry entitled The best gift I ever got from a convicted killer:

If, over a long career, you sentence a lot of people to prison, several things can happen to you. Most of them are bad. Here’s a short list of some of the bad things:

* You can begin to see offenders only in numerical terms. ”What’s the base offense level, criminal history score and sentencing range? Next!”

* Unless you are very careful, you may become inured to the horrific impact that prison sentences have on offenders and their families. ”You say your parental rights will be terminated if you go to prison, well, they’ll be better off anyway.”

It's a lousy job ... if you do it right - Kopf's essay highlights the need for judicial rotation, and the simple fact judging your fellow humans is a super lousy job if you have the fortitude to do it right. 

Think about it.  The long hours due to the never ending stream of the same old boring, non-deterable offenses, lousy pay, the stress of dealing with both the inept and the much smarter than you are lawyers, media and appellate scrutiny, clueless or downright disrespectful litigants, elections every six years, a wimpy state attorney who tosses everything in your lap, and everything else you're expected to grin and bear.  It's really no fun at all.

Maybe that's why some judges can be found anywhere but their courtrooms, and why others resort to humiliation tactics or form over substance procedural edicts to cope.  Whatever the case may be, the genuinely good judges deserve our respect.  They're the ones who can always be found in court, no matter how many Motions or 3850's are waiting in their offices.  They're the ones who let you set hearings quickly and easily, and who would never impose a trial tax because you cut into their down time.  They're the ones who may get cranky, but never nasty, even when dealing with problems on the home front.  And they're the ones who unfortunately get dragged down by the burn-outs and neurotics, who honestly just don't seem to care about anyone but themselves ...

Hey Peter!
how about an Attorney's Lounge in the new courthouse, with computers, fax machines, and coffee?  It works in Miami, afterall ...

Coming Soon: June 14th - "Hey Gene Pettis!: Just what do you plan to do about institutional racism?"; JAABLOG Names Broward's Most Inefficient Judge; Is Perjury A Crime In Bar Discipline Trials?; STATEWIDE JAABLOG.

BBeat: Alu Back In City Hall Vowing To Stay Involved

SPU gets its man: juries won't always look the other way on cop cases ...

Gossip Extra: Chad Johnson Twist - Judge Who Heard Butt Slap is Legally Blind!

Well, we were just another band out of Boston ...

4 SO FAR ...

We're hearing Stacy Ross, John Fry, Abbe Rifkin and Tony Loe have made it out.  Jamie Finizio is not responding to email or text messaging at this time, so we may have to wait on the other two names ...



Slippery Slope - is it illegal for a lawyer to post a photograph from The New York Post with a caption inferring a Florida judge is a "Butt Head"?  How about a photoshopped picture from the web showing the judge as a football referee?  And can a lawyer post an article by a law school professor questioning the judge's ethics?  What about another one calling the judge and defendant "Dumb and Dumber"?  And does the Attorney General of Florida get a free pass to question the judge's temperament?  The ball's in your court, Florida Bar ...

It really is a lousy job - as we mentioned last night, judging is one hell of a grueling taskmaster, as Liz Scherercan probably tell you now ...

Where's the hate? - the Comments Section has been devoid of hate speak and lies concerning yours truly (and innocent family members - shame on you!) ever since the Bar came out against the blog.  Coincidence?  Your guess is as good as ours ...

STATEWIDE JAABLOG - this whole attack on lawyers' ability to tell the truth about court proceedings and judges is getting interesting.  Norm Kent and Russell Cormican sent off the most recent response to Bar questioning Friday, so now we wait for further inquiries or a probable cause finding from the Grievance Committee (GC).  The GC has sole discretion whether to invite the target to present their side of the story, as explained in the rules.  If you believe in conspiracy theories, politics may make a difference, as then still influential Gardiner got a chance to sob to the GC jury, while free speecher Sean Conway was not allowed to appear.*

We're going to enjoy every minute of this, so long as the Bar hasn't been duped into going forward with some perjury laden piece of shit under The Big (c).**  The issues presented are clear cut and primed to make case law in many important areas.  For us, of course, it's always been about highlighting racism in the criminal justice system, so we'll grab the big microphone any way they want to hand it to us.  Helping to restore integrity to a sacred system desecrated by the failed War on Drugs is the real issue, even if it has to be high-lighted by a bunch of hoo hah concerning judges who needed to be exposed.

There's another possible benefit here too.  We've naturally got to wondering who sticks up for lawyers in the crazy upside down world we live in.  Judges are protected by Chief Judges (and in many cases, by the ultra-secret agents over at the JQC), and outspoken lawyers are often attacked by the Bar, but what official body sticks up for good attorneys who make a difference?  Nobody we can think of, which means JAABLOG, or something like it, might be the answer.

Think about it.  A statewide judicial watchdog run by an unburdened *** lawyer who knows the score, funded by advertising and interest groups (remember the Supreme Court merit retention battle?), with the ability to hire reporters, camera operators, and private investigators.  Mainstream media, politicians and lawyers would tune in as avidly as the locals already do to this blog, meaning judges would finally be held accountable to the public they serve, instead of the blocks of out-of-touch supervoters who typically control judicial elections.  The possibilities are endless, the mission is ultra-important, and it could all be presented in the modern Howard Stern fashion people expect these days, just so everyone stays interested in the important underlying message.

Everybody needs an exit strategy from the doldrums of practicing law, after all ...

*The Bar still hasn't apologized to Conway, despite the fact the JQC ultimately sanctioned Cheryl Aleman for pretty much the same behavior Conway called her out on.

**From The McKay Report:

In Doe v. Supreme Court of Florida, 734 F.Supp 981 (S.D. Fla., 1990), the U.S. District Court held that Florida's complainant gag rule violated the First Amendment. The District Court said:

Imposing an enforced silence on all aspects of Bar disciplinary matters including investigations, probable cause hearings, and final dispositions is more likely, in our view, to engender resentment, suspicion, and contempt for Florida's Bar and its legal institutions than to promote integrity, confidence and respect. Moreover, the regulation misapprehends the character of American public opinion and the fairness of our people. As Justice Brandeis wrote in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 375 - 76, 47 S.Ct. 641, 648, 74 L.Ed. 1095 (1927) (concurring):

Those who won our independence believed . . . that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; . . . that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of American government. . . . Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law the argument of force in its worst form (footnote omitted).

*** That's supposed to be a burning Bar Card.

Coming Soon - Does Matt Destry treat the indigent differently?; Hey Potential Jurors, Listen Up!

SS: Bail gets tougher for Broward burglary suspects

Administrative Order In Re Convenience Bail Bonds

            Jonathan Kasen



Meet the New Boss? - Satz is continuing the trend of replacing intractable dead weight with thoughtful individuals to head SAO divisions.  First came Sarahnell Murphy to county, Neva Rainford-Smith to SBU, and now Pete Holden to FTU.  It's not confirmed just yet, but all indicators point to Pete.

As much as we hate throwing Satz a bone, this is a smart decision.  Holden is an honest guy, with the kind of experience and perspective only a veteran homicide prosecutor can bring to the position.  Besides testifying on behalf of Cheryl Aleman many moons ago, no one can say anything negative about the guy.  He's approachable and calm, and by reputation won't toe the party line when confronted with a crap case.  Additionally, his promotion will open up a spot in the Homicide Unit, a nice morale boosting plum Satz can use to reward a deserving young lawyer. 

A guy like Holden could bring Broward into line with Palm Beach and Miami when it comes to working out cases.  In the meantime, a hopefully not premature Congrats! is due!

Backman Rising? - Arlene Backman may have been snubbed by the JNC today*, but she's not out of the running just yet.  The wild card, of course, is the still open 4th DCA spot, which may go to John Murphy.  If that's the case, Rick Scott could replace both him or Aramony with one of the six, which would prompt a request for additional candidates.  It gets even more confusing if Murphy or Aramony or both get replaced by a sitting judge, since there would then be two county seats to fill .  Got that?  Whatever the case may be, expect a 4th DCA decision by July 1st, and an Aramony decision by mid-August.  It's not over 'til it's over ...

BBeat: Judge Dissed By JNC (starring JAABLOG)

Wednesday Reversals

Hey Florida Bar - check out this DAVID KRATHEN REVERSAL.  It turns out even art vending is entitled to full First Amendment protections.  Who knew? Can you say slippery slope?

Coming Soon - Al Ribasfor judge?; Should judges recuse themselves from cases with lawyers who are lobbying the Governor to help the judge?

JQC charges Judy Hawkins with misleading panel and ignoring Paul Backman's Order


 Peter Weinstein and Paul Backman 
                                                                        (Courtesy Anon)

Slippery slope
- is it illegal for a lawyer to post a picture of two judges emailed by an anonymous source? (see above)

Scoop! - Ari Odzer
of NBC 6 is working on a courthouse exclusive for broadcast tonight.  It involves a letter Howard Finkelstein sent to Satz concerning cocaine going missing from the Crime Lab.  We've got the goods, of course, but we won't spoil Ari's fun, even if the Florida Bar needs to be reminded again and again and again that lawyers can be cutting edge journalists too.  Anyway, we'll follow-up Monday with the details, just in case you miss Ari's piece tonight ...

Setting the record straight - tons of media in the courthouse today, covering Liz Scherer as she sets the record straight in the tragic case of Antwon Hope ...

Behind locked doors - we're getting mighty tired of judges locking the doors on public hearings.  Today Hope Tieman-Bristol held crossover juvenile hearings behind locked doors, with the Court Deputy claiming the rule is in place because the hearing room is cramped.  Bristol clarified that the doors are locked because she had received a death threat, which still didn't seem like a good reason, considering the courthouse is heavily secured against civilians bringing in weapons.  We'll be checking into this one, as well as the common practice of judges locking courtrooms when instructing juries.

Are consumers getting the shaft? - the Florida Bar's Legal Fee Arbitration Program has now caught our attention too.  Some people really aren't happy at all with the way things are handled, and they're not lawyers.  Are you one of them?  If so, drop us a line ...

Coming Soon - Do all of Broward's judges actually live in Broward?



by Haydee Oropesa, Esquire

(Haydee is a Stetson grad, practicing in the Tampa Bay area)

I don’t know Bill Gelin, don’t practice law in his neck of the woods, and never heard of his blog until now.   I hear the Florida Bar is investigating him.  I‘ve perused that blog and can’t say I personally endorse it; in fact, I find some of the postings and commentaries distasteful. 

Mr. Gelin suspects that he is being investigated for being critical of two local judges.  He says he is not being told what rule he has violated or who submitted the complaint against him.   In any event, a local reporter, Bob Norman, covered his story and prominent politicos went on the record in his defense.   Broward Property Appraiser Lori Parrish, who is married to a Circuit Court Judge, claims that Mr. Gelin’s blog efforts in commenting about the local courthouse has resulted in a public good worthy of praise and appreciation - not an investigation.  Howard Finkelstein, Broward’s Public Defender, also chimed in supporting Mr. Gelin and called the investigation a “travesty.”   If Mr. Gelin is having to undergo every attorney’s worst nightmare for making truthful public commentary about judges, the much dreaded and anxiety-producing experience that is a Florida Bar investigation, Mr. Finkelstein is right. 

I contacted Mr. Gelin and expressed an interest in supporting his efforts of truthfully raising legitimate issues however critical of the judiciary.  Mr. Gelin expressed appreciation but kindly cautioned me against identifying myself as he did not want me being drawn into the fray or potentially coming under scrutiny myself.  I appreciate you looking out for me, Mr. Gelin, but, no thanks.  I am Haydee Oropesa, and here is my complaint. If Mr. Gelin has not said anything false or with reckless disregard to the truth in commenting publicly about the judiciary (should that be the basis of his investigation), the chilling effect on the speech of attorneys fearful of such investigations is problematic and detrimental to the public at large.

Freedom of speech and our ability to petition the Government for a redress of grievances is a right that we as Americans cherish deeply.  Since early childhood, my Cuban parents, who fled communism in Cuba, continually reminded me of how fortunate I was to have been born in a free country.  Soon we will be celebrating the 4th of July and the adoption of our Declaration of Independence.  Prior to listing the King’s repeated injuries and abuses, which included his control of the judiciary, the signers declared, “To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”  I would venture to guess, had the technological advances of our day been available, this massive document would have appeared on a blog like Mr. Gelin’s.

Americans, however, do not enjoy an unbridled right to free speech.   In discussing this issue, routinely one is met with the famous, “you do not have the right to run into a crowded theater and falsely shout fire."  Conversely, what happens when there is a fire in the theater and you fail to run in and alert those in danger of being set ablaze because you have been conditioned and stifled by fear of negative repercussions?   Attorneys who fear becoming the subject of investigation and fail to publicly comment on valid issues may therefore achieve the very thing Rule 4-8.2 is in place to prevent, namely deteriorating public confidence in the judicial system.

The Florida Bar’s interest in regulating an attorney’s speech under Rule 4-8.2 serves a legitimate interest and is a reasonable limitation on what attorneys say.  Rule 4-8.2 reads in part, “A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge….”   The Florida Supreme Court in The Florida Bar v. Ray, 797 So.2d 556 (Fla. 2001), made it abundantly clear that the purpose of this rule is not to shield judges from criticism by attorneys in exposing valid problems within the judicial system, but to rightly  prohibit the practice of attorneys making false and reckless statements without regard for truth. The Florida Supreme Court stated that the purpose of the rule is to preserve public confidence in our judicial system.  Litigants at times justifiably walk out of courtrooms with their confidence in the system compromised and not because of comments made by a lawyer.  When an attorney speaks out publicly to call attention to valid problems within the judiciary, the public’s confidence in the system is reinforced and, if it has waned, has a chance of being restored. 

Who gets to sit on the bench and administer justice on behalf of the public is decided by voters.  Judges wield immense power over the lives of those brought before him or her.  As such, one casts a vote and hopes it is a well cast vote.  “Robitis” is a term known by lawyers as meaning someone who changes dramatically upon being clothed with the mighty black robe.  A good inoculation program against “Robitis” is blogging the truth about judicial conduct when warranted for the benefit of voters.  We the people should be well informed in order to quarantine from the bench those we deem necessary come election time.  A good number of the electorate will never have occasion to enter a courtroom and see their elected judge in action, much less regularly observe how a particular judge daily carries out his or her judicial duties.  Attorneys, on the other hand, have that unique position.  As such, commenting publicly gives any interested voter the means to gain knowledge on who should or should not remain on the bench.

Mr. Gelin’s truthful blogging efforts can achieve this goal and I stand with him towards this end.  The news and controversy surrounding his story has already reached the Tampa Bay area where attorneys are discussing the issues.  I will remain hopeful that the Florida Bar will sort through the facts of this interesting case and make the right decision.  

(Disagree with Haydee, or anything else on the blog?  As always, JAABLOG will print any viewpoint you may have, so long as it's written in coherent English. Just drop us a line ... )

                                THANK YOU HAYDEE!

COMING SOON - Is it time for a new Chief Judge?

Howard Finkelstein editorial on the latest government intrusions

Howard Finkelstein's Letter to Satz re Crime Lab

NBC 6 - BSO Crime Lab Under Scrutiny After Losing Cocaine

SS: Crack missing from BSO crime lab ignites dispute, call to review cases

SS: McHugh releases ex-Dolphin Chad Johnson from jail

Herald: Scherer sharply questions state workers

SS: Broward courthouse 'going up fast'

Bob Norman: The Florida Bar Strikes a Blow for Unjustice Everywhere (2009)

ARE YOU A RACIST?: NYT EDITORIAL: Racially Biased Arrests for Pot

The Senior Judge Army's Steve Shutter


It turns out the Bar really does ask "how high?" when a judge says "jump!". 

As we mentioned
earlier this month, the Bar has caught heat in recent years from judges unhappy with the way robed complaints are handled.  That's why a big chunk of the 2012 Hawkins Commission Review Of Discipline System is dedicated to judges, starting on page 30 of the Final Report, and continuing on page 85 with a survey of judges concerning the Bar's performance. 

Something called Standing Board Policy 15.91 is mentioned a lot, which may be reprinted in its entirety in The Florida Bar Discipline Counsel Manual,
uploaded by some kind soul here.  The stuff on judicial complaints starts on page 56 of the Manual.  Interestingly, this language is found on page 58: "The initial communication should include whether the Judge wishes to be the named complainant or whether the Judge wishes to remain anonymous.  If the choice is anonymous, then the file is opened with TFB as the complainant." (emphasis added)

We're not too sure how recent the bootlegged Manual is, so we've requested a copy or a link to both a current Manual and the full text of Standing Board Policy 15.91 from the Bar.  We're also checking with the JQC to see if a lawyer can complain against a judge anonymously.  We'll post everything as soon as we get it.  In the meantime, doesn't it seem like the need for a statewide judicial media watchdog grows daily?

JQC v. Glant - is it normal for the JQC to file formal charges against a judge battling cancer?  Or for the Supreme Court to issue an Involuntary Retirement Order?  And how come the Gainesville Sun makes no mention of the JQC action in reporting David Glant's "surprise(d)" retirement?  Developing ...

The last remaining ? - Now that Patti Henning has eliminated the guesswork, wannabe's will be focused on Marc Gold as the only 2014 judge who hasn't yet said yay or nay to retirement ...

Coming Soon - Are Jack Thompson's complaints against attorneys being taken seriously by The Bar?; Should other Gardiner cases be reopened?


 Cast your vote at MLB.comBALLOT ...

Anything for family - for years we've been begging Mike Dutko for permission to out his famous son-in-law, Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles.  It's a nice little human interest story, but the very private Mike wouldn't green light the pitch until now.  The reason?  Nick is leading the pack for an All-Star Game outfield berth, but he needs a few more votes to clinch it.  Nick has posted impressive numbers this year, but any extra push will be greatly appreciated by the Dutko family, so click on over via the link above.  You can vote up to thirty-five times, just like if you were a Kennedy supporting Chicagoan back in 1960 ...

Congrats Michael! - the other Michael Dutko, that is.  Jr. is heading over to Conrad Scherer, after wrapping things up as an ASA in Palm Beach.  Well done!

Who is Red Roberts? -
Mike Brannon, that's who.  The New Times has the scoop on Red's cool career as a professional wrestler, as part of this article detailing the losing legal battle his alter ego Brannon initiated against Howard FinkelsteinGet in the Ring, MotherF*cker!

Parity! - it turns out a lawyer can file a JQC complaint against a judge, and remain anonymous, even after the case goes public.  It's all about protecting the lawyer (or anyone else who complains) from retaliation by a robed rogue.  Here's the case that deals with the issue.  Anyway, we feel better, although it hardly seems sensible that the Bar would need to protect judges from lowly lawyers by keeping judicial bar complaints secret, even if judges have to face the electorate every few years ...

Go, Gisele, Go! - there's at least one Broward judge who is fighting back against selective enforcement of the drug laws, detailed in this New York Times EditorialGisele Pollack is working to get each and every cannabis case automatically diverted to her misdemeanor Drug Court division upon filing by the Clerk, no matter how bad a Defendant's prior record may be.  Those who qualify by statute and choose to stick with the program can get the charges dropped, while felons can earn a withhold if they follow through, keeping their driver's licenses and jobs in the process.  Howard Finkelstein has already signed off, but the SAO still hasn't agreed, hardly a surprise since Satzalso remains the stumbling block in getting a DUI Diversion program in place in Broward like the ones in Palm Beach and Miami.

Here's what Pollack had to say when asked why she's pushing for widespread cannabis diversion:

"I don't want the disproportionate arrest factor being perpetuated in the criminal justice system any longer.  It bugs me.  It really does.  I want to eliminate it by giving every individual a fair opportunity to participate in a misdemeanor Drug Court program."

Not much to add to that, except all judges need to listen up when Gisele's talking ...

        The pig says what?



PAUL BACKMAN - REVERSED & REMANDED - Imposed maximum sentences after guy no showed following a furlough, but jeopardy had attached ...

MATT DESTRY - REVERSED & REMANDED  - Careful with those Padilla warnings, or you WILL be reversed ...

Hey Peter - is it prudent to continue assigning retired county judges to circuit court posts after they've been reversed?

CORRECTION: JUNE 27th - that's when the six hopefuls looking to replace Suasan Aramony will interview locally with Rick Scott's visiting staff, in Del Ray ...

COMING SOON - JNC Emails; PB Judicial Elections Update; A cold sore if you don't lay off that chocolate ...

OCCCRC's Dan Callahan and Tony Ryan, Wednesday morning.  Ryan is widely credited with turning the 4th DCA Region around, after being appointed to replace Phil Massa.  The former PB Assistant Public Defender has attracted top talent and kept it through an unassuming management style, including Broward chief Melissa Donoho and recent hire and all around good guy CallahanWell done!

 (Photo by Evan Hoffman)

The Attorney's Room
in the Miami-Dade Courthouse boasts water, coffee, a fax machine and clerk's computer.  It just makes sense to have one in Broward's new courthouse too, if only to allow busy lawyers emergency access to data and printable office forms like ASA's, APD's, and judges currently enjoy ...

Backman backlash? - has Peter Weinstein's administration been compromised due to perceived favoritism in the JNC process?  Developing ...

BBulldog - BSO has two huge contracts up for grabs

            Wayne Spath and Norm Kent

                        THANK YOU ALL

The outpouring of support since the Bar opened up against the blog has been inspiring. There's really no way to properly thank all the well wishers, let alone Norm Kent and
Russell Cormican, our First Amendment lawyers. These guys have taken time from their busy practices and Norm's duties as Publisher of South Florida Gay Newsto tell the Bar just where to stick it, and they're doing it Pro Bono to boot, just like all the other times the Bar has come sniffing around the blog. So make sure to give these guys some high fives too the next time you see them, since everything that's been achieved around here has always been the sum total of everyone's generous contributions and dedication to reform. 




SS: Scheinberg Gets His Due


Remember, they didn't catch him in a lie, or accuse him of dishonesty like you know who ...

(Nice Scoop, Rafael!)

Coming Soon - Kevin Tynan and the Scheinberg appeal ...

BAR COUNSEL MANUAL 2013- Thanks to the Bar for sharing!

Download this 450 page behemoth if you've ever scratched your head at the attorney discipline system, if you supervise lawyers, or if you want to get in on the very easy (and lucrative) fields of Lawyer Disciplinary Defense, Lawyer Regulation, and Professional Responsibility.

The more you know ...

Rumpole on Scheinberg

Sabbath enters Billboard album chart at No. 1

Paris 1970 ( Full Concert)

"Faces shine a deadly smile
Look upon you at your trial ... "


 Yee haw!

                        JAABLOG RETURNS TUESDAY!

SS: Suspension stains reputation of former prosecutor Scheinberg

   The Diaz Precedent?

Coming Soon - Why can't lawyers post pictures of public figures on the internet?; Has the Florida Bar ignored its own procedures and guidelines as laid out in SBP 15.91?


Attention ASA's - your office is haunted.  By ghosts.  Real live ones, mostly inhabiting the sixth floor offices where Satz can be found hiding most days. 

Their names are too numerous to mention, as many are unknown.  But they have one thing in common, as all were falsely convicted by the man you call boss.

Jerry Frank Townsend was one such victim.  His conviction ended the search for a serial killer who went on to kill ten more women and children.  Police lied and cheated to make it happen. 

Frank Lee Smith is another.  His story was told by PBS's award winning Frontline.  Smith was cleared by DNA evidence, but not before he died from cancer on Death Row.  Terms of settlement with BSO and the detectives who sent Smith away should hopefully be made public soon.

Anthony Caravella  is also a familiar name.  A jury recently ordered a huge verdict against some of the former cops who did him in, after the tireless efforts of Diane Cuddihy and Barbara Heyer to see justice done.

Sonia Jacobs is yet another.  Her story was featured in two major Hollywood productions, one of which features the immortal line "What rock did that guy crawl out from under?", concerning your illustrious leader.

John Purvis and Tim Brown are two other known victims. Christopher Clugston, who contracted HIV after being gang raped in prison, is yet another.  

a 2012 article by BrowardBulldog'sDan Christensen:

A study released in May by the National Registry of Exonerations showed that Broward accounted for nine of Florida’s 32 exonerations since 1989 – more than twice as many as any other county in the state. Most of those exonerated defendants were black.

Many of the aforementioned exonerated suffered from mental disabilities, making them particularly vulnerable to police malfeasance and your leader's laissez-faire attitude toward same.  Chillingly, Satz has thus far refused to publicly accept an iota of responsibility for any known miscarriage of justice (despite enjoying prosecutorial immunity), while all of the victims still with us wait in vain for an apology from the man you call "Mr. Satz".

It's not like any of this is news, which is why Satz's inability to respond both personally and meaningfully to any of Howard Finkelstein's complaints regarding common sense Brady Obligations is truly disturbing.  One would think with so many ghosts already flying around, Satz would do anything to clear the air.  But that just doesn't seem to be the case, as evidenced by
today's letter  from the Public Defender concerning Officer Lee Coel, last week's missive concerning Detective Steven Greenlaw, and Tuesday's coverage  of Finkelstein's public criticism of Satz's overall handling of police misconduct in Broward.

Hopefully this little ghost story held your attention.  It's not like you need them following you around the rest of your lives as well ...

Prosecutor Rich Tuttle apologizes as Robert Dewey exonerated by DNA

Movin' on down? - yes, the Bar is apparently taking some of Jack Thompson's complaints seriously. 
Click here  to see their letter confirming the opening of a file against Perry Thurston, after allegations surfaced concerning where the House Minority Leader actually resides.  For his part, Thurston stated unequivocally "Of course I do," when we asked him last week whether he does in fact live in the district that put him in office.  Whatever the case may be, it'll be interesting to see if the Bar follows through, as term-limited Thurston mulls a bid for Florida Senate or Attorney General ...

SAO Movement - Stefanie Newman out of SPU, in as Felony Supervisor; Hunter Davis out as Felony Supervisor, in for Newman at SPU; Adriana Alcalde out of SPU, in for Pete Holden in Homicide ...

Wednesday Reversals -
Matt Destry - Reversed & Remanded For New Trial; David Haimes - Reversed & Remanded; Cindy Imperato - Reversed and Remanded for Further Expeditious Proceedings; Richard Eade - Reversed & Remanded; Carol Lisa-Phillips - Reversed In Part And Remanded; John Kastrenakes - Writ Granted, Remanded For New Trial; Susan Lubitz - Reversed & Remanded.

Coming Soon - Trader Joe's!; Lisa Lampanelli on today's Supreme Court rulings; Florida Bar salaries; The Supreme Court Establishes The Scheinberg Precedent; ShouldLawyers Unionize?: Protection against Judges, the Bar, and Law Firm Partners; Why does the Bar really allow judges to file complaints anonymously?

The lines we crossed, just to climb those hills ...

                    Adios Chuck!

Be sure to stop by McGuire'sthis Friday to wish Chuck Morton bon voyage, following his last official day at the SAO.  He's got one more trial to wrap up as a Special Prosecutor, and a more formal sendoff is also planned, but Chuck will otherwise be making himself pretty scarce around the courthouse after this week.  Warning: war stories will abound ...




Mike Mayo: Florida Bar should protect rights, not judges

"Investigation targeting Fort Lauderdale attorney/blogger Bill Gelin is disturbing ... "

Howard Finkelstein Op Ed: Satz, institutional racism, and cannabis laws

"A recent report revealed that blacks are arrested and prosecuted for possession of marijuana by Broward  State Attorney Mike Satz at 3.7 times the rate of whites resulting in institutionalized racism ... "

Broward may offer alternative in pot cases

"Prosecutors are more hesitant than defense lawyers to commit ... "

NBC 6: Gordon Weekes on abuse allegations at AMIkids

SS: Marc Gold and the Double Jeopardy defense

"But Gold did not appear to realize that once a jury has been sworn in to hear a criminal trial, jeopardy is attached, meaning the case has to proceed unless there are extraordinary circumstances, such as a hung jury or attorney misconduct, lawyers in the case said ... "

BBeat: Stacey Schulman makes it official

Blanced! - Treasure Coast's Mark Klingensmith wins 4th DCA Broward seat

COMING SOON - SEX AND THE SAO; Jack Seiler on jury duty; It's all about PIP, stupid; Florida Bar, Florida Bar, Florida Bar, Florida Bar ...

                            JAABLOG RETURNS SHORTLY


 Broward's newest PA is born ...

North Satellite ASA Deniz Cankaya got popped over the weekend for Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer.  The case is designated as an unfiled misdemeanor in the Clerk's computer. 

From the PC Affidavit:

Def then entered the street and began talking back at these officers.  I then said "For an educated State Attorney, you should know better."  Def pulled up his sleeves appeared to take a fighting stance and said "Come out here and I will show you."  Def clearly threatened this uniformed officer with the intent to fight ...



 A picture's worth a thousand words ...

It's not like more proof was needed.  Walk into most any courtroom on any given day in Broward County, and it smacks you in the face.  In custody or waiting for their cases to be called, a hugely disproportionate number of Defendants caught up on drug charges are Black.

Still, it was nice of the ACLU to publish this report last month, showing how billions of dollars are wasted annually on racially biased arrests nationwide.  It's bad everywhere folks, but as we've been pointing out since day one of blogging, it's even worse in Broward County.

What do you do about racism in the criminal justice system if you happen to be Satz, the county's top law enforcement officer since 1976?  Apparently nothing.  Or if you happen to be Eugene Pettis, President of the Florida Bar, whose logo proudly  boasts "Protecting Rights, Promoting Justice"?  Pretty much the same it seems, judging by his refusal to even return calls asking about plans to combat racial injustice.

Thankfully, there is some leadership to be found.  As previously reported, Gisele Pollack is pushing back, as is Howard Finkelstein.  The Public Defender's relentless one sided correspondence to hapless pen pal Satz is showing everybody just what the State Attorney is made of.

Check out this missive citing the ACLU study, delivered to the SAO earlier today.  It features some of Finkelstein's strongest language yet, most assuredly to be met with the same stony silence everyone has come to expect from a man who can't even muster the courage to publicly apologize to any of the known wrongfully convicted victims  prosecuted by his office.

From Finkelstein's letter:

Broward County is a glaring example of institutionalized racism ... In 2010, Broward County was ranked 12th in the nation for the highest number of marijuana possession arrests of black residents ... black residents are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white citizens- even though the percentage of black residents who use marijuana is almost equal.

These numbers unequivocally show that black residents are targeted by law enforcement.  These numbers fall on your shoulders as the chief law enforcement officer ... If you did not know that law enforcement was targeting black communities, you were not doing your job.  Your decision to be a passive State Attorney has given police free rein in the black community.  Your failure to lead for the last 38 years has allowed racism to become institutionalized in Broward County ... it is your job to fix it.

Still, Satz can't do nothing alone.  He needs a never ending stream of fresh new lawyers to allow institutional racism to continue to thrive.  As everyone knows, he hires them right out of school, after confirming via polygraph exam that many used illegal drugs in the past.  The irony isn't lost as they're turned loose into the county and circuit juvenile courts for training on cannabis and juvenile drug cases, until promoted to circuit felony, where the racial disparity in drug arrests is most overwhelming.  By that time they're programmed so well, most don't even blink an eye when asked to prosecute some poor slob over a single pill felony or a microscopic cocaine residue arrest*.  Compounding the injustice, the cases are often derived from manufactured DWB stops featuring dark tints, a seatbelt violation, or preposterous "consensual" searches.

Everybody needs a job.  We get that.  But everyone needs to try to do something, or you're just as complicit in the administration of modern day Jim Crow as those actively making it happen on the streets.

Think about it.  If enough people went to Satz, including the hypocrite judges who smoked and snorted their own small parcels of South American real estate back in the day, and impressed upon him just how far racism has crept into Broward's criminal justice system, things might change for the better.  Even a man with as dismal a legacy as Satz might make an effort to actually accomplish something of lasting value in his last years in power, even if only to improve his image.  All you can do is try.  And if that happens, at least you can answer the question "Am I a racist?" in the negative.

*Single pill and cocaine residue felonies are rarely, if ever, brought to court in neighboring jurisdictions ...

NYT Editorial - American Mayors: Let Them Smoke Pot




 "She never intended to mislead, deceive ... " (p.21)

Gardiner's Answer Brief

Initial Brief of the Florida Bar

"The appropriate sanction for Respondent, where she withheld pertinent information to the prejudice of the defendant in a criminal death penalty case, deprived the defendant and the public of the perception that he was receiving a fair and impartial trial, prejudiced the integrity of the entire legal system, caused extensive judicial resources to be unnecessarily expended, intentionally misled the Judicial Qualifications Commission during her disciplinary hearing, and further provided misleading testimony during the instant disciplinary proceedings, is disbarment."
                                                (emphasis added)

From Bogenschutz's Brief, regarding the blog:

Attributed to Mike Brannon:

"He knew of the “horrific comments” about Respondent on the local blog ... She was despondent over the situation and talked about her children – she talked about them being exposed to some horrific things being said about her on the local blog and around the courthouse ... These were all anonymous posts about her on a blog allowing them to say “the most awful things about other people but not have to take responsibility for what they said.” ... She was extremely highly impaired in her ability to organize her thoughts or weave consistency through her thinking. Those triggers continued with Respondent throughout the contact that she was forced to endure with the chief writer of that courthouse blog, who waited frequently outside her door to take pictures, talk with her, or make some other accusation. It was hard for her to escape from these triggers ... He had never in his forensic psychology history, since 1994, in 5 surrounding counties, seen judges addressed with such disrespect as this anonymous blog. “There had almost seemed to be a reveling in that, a celebration in that, people’s misery and misfortune, to the point they are willing to make things up and talk about attorneys and willing to say things anonymously to cause other people pain. It’s remarkable.” 
                                (Brannon's had a tough few years too ... )

Attributed to Paul Backman:

"He is aware of the courthouse blog and the types of comments, salacious remarks, and things of that nature that were made on that blog about Respondent, both before and after the proceeding, and would define them as “libelous, scandalous, and scurrilous.” He described that most were inappropriate to the point where “if they disclosed their names, if they were lawyers or judges, they would be in front of the Bar or they would be in front of the JQC,” and they were continuous and subject of courthouse discussion and banter ... It wasn’t about the work – they attacked her as an individual, and it “took a great toll."
                (Paul Backman "I do not sit on any cases involving Broward judges")

Attributed to Richard Cole:

"Mr. Cole tried a case with Respondent, became impressed with her abilities, and subsequently offered her a job with his law firm ... Mr. Cole was contacted by the Blog owner, Mr. Gelin, who attacked Respondent as being dishonest. He never knew Mr. Gelin before ... " **

**Here is what was reported from the actual discussion, posted April 27th, 2010:

No return calls, yet - from 4th DCA Judge Dorian Damoorgian, or The SAO.  We left a message to call Friday, and a specific question today, asking whether Damoorgian lent his old friend, Judge Ana Gardiner, a hand (or good word), in her relocation to Cole, Scott & Kissane.  We've been hearing a strong buzz along those lines, but the good Judge has yet to return our calls for confirmation.  As for Satz & Co., it's a stab in the maybe not so dark, based on her old friendship with Mike, and the SAO's one time working relationship with former Top Fed Tom Scott.  Today was the first call we made to the Sixth Floor Boys, so it's still likely that the normally prompt Ron Ishoy will return with a "yay" or "nay" tomorrow.

We did, however, manage to get through the same question to Richard Cole, managing partner of Gardiner's new firm, and also the man quoted in the papers regarding her hiring.  Cole was forthright and gentlemanly, politely no commenting when presented with specific names.  Cole also stated that his firm had completed "due diligence," which included "discussions with (Gardiner's) colleagues, and many other people, both inside and outside the legal community."

As far as any potential Florida Bar hurdles, Cole said "we are satisfied that everything is behind her and us, and are looking forward to her joining the Firm and moving forward."

Another interesting tidbit concerning Cole and Gardiner,courtesy of Bob Norman on May 10, 2010:

"Embattled Broward Circuit Judge Ana Gardiner awarded Richard Cole, the attorney who recently hired her, some $600,000 in legal fees last summer, according to court documents."
                   (Emphasis added.  Somehow the Bar missed that too ... )

And now, back to the brief:

Attributed to Val Small Williams:

"She knows William Gelin, the “blog” writer, and was approached by him when her name became public as a potential witness at the Final Hearing. He asked her if she thought she was listed because she was black, “and I asked him what does that have to do with it?”.
                            (Well, Val was the only Black person that testified ...)

Attributed to Bill Scherer:

"He is familiar with the courthouse blog and has personally observed inaccurate statements and false comments written about himself and his daughter ... "
                                (Liz made judge shortly thereafter ... )

Attributed to Dale Ross:

"He is familiar with the courthouse blog, and he and his family (particularly his daughter, who also serves on the bench) have been the subject of “attacks.” Every single thing that has been written about himself as well as his family has been inaccurate.“A lot of things said were not only untrue, they were vicious. There was some kind of motive attached to it.”  
                (emphasis added - Why did Dale quit the Chief Judgeship then?)

Attributed to Gardiner:

"She retired from the bench in 2010, and went into practice with Cole, Scott, & Kissane ...
The “blog” became “incredibly incredibly brutal and offensive,” and took a sexual nature to it, because she was 36 and single when she came to the bench. She tried to get some of the more offensive blog posts taken down, but this was refused, and these continue until the present date ... An article came out called “Judging Ana,” and she got her first JQC inquiry. It “totally devastated me,” and contained false rumors ... She was missing time, and the “guy from the blog” would wait for her every morning to take pictures of her ... "
                                 (Where to start? ... )

From the "Mitigation Factors" section of the brief:

"The character of the Respondent was shown by respected and unimpeached testimony of 15 exceptional witnesses to be, in the words of the Referee who observed them and their
demeanor, “overwhelming.” ... Not a single witness called by the Florida Bar contradicted those views ... Throughout the testimonies of Dr. Brannon, Judge Backman, and Judge Lebow, the thread and spectre of a constant badgering by a courthouse “blog” was seen to severely affect the psychological condition of an already wounded and vulnerable person ... "
                                (emphasis added)


                        DISBAR GARDINER NOW

David Bogenschutz, JAABLOG's 2009 Person of the Year

Meet Wilson Jean/Who will testify on behalf of Gardiner? (2012)


THERE GO DA JUDGE & JUDGING ANA - let's talk reputation for real ...



Coming Soon
- Broward and Palm Beach judges' net worth ...

BBeat: Who’s Richer? “Help Me Howard” Finkelstein Or Mike Satz?

Rumpole on JAABLOG

Rumpole on BWB and Finkelstein's Letter to Satz

WSVN 7: Zimmerman judge is former Satz ASA


 ASA Sheila Alu was at Timpano's that fateful night ...

We asked whistleblower Sheila Alu what she thought about Gardiner's Answer Brief.  Here's what she emailed earlier this afternoon:

To this day, I remain absolutely perplexed why Scheinberg andGardiner just don't tell the truth.  And, now Gardiner is blaming the BLOG, really? Bill Gelin isn't to blame for them lying about their ex-parte communications and robbing a criminal defendant of his constitutional right to a fair trial. Bill Gelin wasn't laughing at Timpanos about a juror passing out after viewing horrific pictures of a victim’s head partially decapitated.

It’s not just Gardiner and Scheinberg’s lying that get my goat, the Florida BAR continually tried to sweep this case under the rug. Then, they put on a sham of a trial, and now they are asking for disbarment.  The BAR closed the first investigation without even talking to me or the two other women who were present the evening at Timpanos when they were all laughing about the juror fainting after seeing the pictures and discussing the fact that Gardiner allowed the photos into evidence.  Then, the BAR prosecutor goes to trial without calling any witnesses who could rebut Gardiner’s "impeccable character in the community" or who could testify as to the events that really happened the night in question. Moreover, they don't even charge either with that injustice.

What I do understand now is why so many people told me to keep my mouth shut about what I observed that fateful night at Timpanos. What an absolute sham this whole experience has been.  As lawyers, we have a duty to right wrongs, to stick up for the little guy, to speak the truth regardless of the outcome, and yes to report other lawyers for violating their code of ethics.  Would I do it again? Not a snow ball's chance in hell!

Regardless of all the personal turmoil this took on me, I can't help feel a degree of sympathy for Scheniberg and Gardiner. I just wanted them to tell the truth and give the guy a new trial. Loureiro got a new trial because Mike Satz did the right thing. Many on this BLOG take shots at Mike, but I can tell you he supported me every step of the way regarding this matter, and I know it must have put him in a horrible position.  Say what you want, but Satz helped me keep my faith in the system.

As for Scheinberg or Gardiner ever telling the truth----that will happen when HELL freezes over.

Sheila Alu

Bob Norman: Whistleblower says former judge lied on stand (Video - Nov. 2012)

Mary Robinson on the plywood bench
(New courtroom mockup, Monday, 110 Tower)

An additional viewing of a mocked up criminal courtroom has been arranged for Friday at noon, to accommodate the county criminal judges currently attending a conference.  Stop by if you missed out on Monday ...

                Wednesday Reversals
Robert Hawley - Reversed & Remanded to Discharge Appellant
Marty Bidwill - Reversed & Remanded
Stephen Rapp - Reversed & Remanded
Elijah Williams - Reversed & Remanded
(SeeSS: Stand Your Ground Applies To School Fight)
Jeff Colbath - Reversed & Remanded for New Trial
Bob Rosenberg - Reversed & Remanded "Gross Abuse of Discretion"