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 Adios, Ramon ...

Ramon Grau
, recently retired Supervisor of the Court Interpreters' Office, passed away on July 8th. 

A soft spoken and kindly person, Ramon epitomized the old saying "still waters run deep". 

We knew him for years, enthralled by his stories of living in Boston in the turbulent 1960's, and running a salon in Hollywood that sold concert tickets to all the major venues of the day.  It was hard to stump Ramon when it came to identifying a major rock 'n' roll band he hadn't seen live.

It was just about two years ago when we bumped into him, ironically, at the Peter Pan Diner, and joined him for dinner.  It was then Ramon casually opened up about his family history, blogged here.  Despite descending from a former President of Cuba and calling the freedom fighting hero of the Pedro Pan movement "Dad", Ramon had never before let on concerning his famous lineage, or the struggles he endured caring for the transplanted family in Miami during his father's Cuban incarceration.  Still waters run deep, indeed.

Ramon's quiet dignity is something we all can aspire to and remember.  He will be greatly missed by so many.

From an email Peter Weinstein sent last week:

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Ramon Grau passed away on Monday, July 8, 2013. Mr. Grau started as a freelance Spanish interpreter for the 17th Circuit prior to joining  the staff more than 16 years ago. He served as Supervisor of the Court Interpreter's office for the last several years. Mr. Grau retired on April 30, 2013. 

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at noon at the Science of the Mind church, 1550 N.E. 26th Street, Wilton Manors, FL 33305. Please take a moment to remember Ramon as we recognize his service to our Circuit ...


 Miami Herald (1992)

Howard Finkelstein
has rousedthe State Attorney from his slumber.  The exposure generated by the Public Defender's last letter  concerning racial disparity in cannabis arrests has most definitely touched a nerve.  Check out Satz's angry response, courtesy of BrowardBulldog.comDan Christensen's accompanying article is found here.

Satz is on comfortable ground.  He loves marshaling SAO resources to persuade through statistics, a hallmark of his administration for as long as we've been paying attention.  Right or wrong, you can count on the State Attorney to back up his position with numbers, and Finkelstein certainly opened the door this time around by citing to a recent ACLU study, The War On Marijuana In Black And White.  The problem is worse in other parts of Florida, Satz says, and how dare you insult powerless little old me for not doing anything about it in my jurisdiction.

Of course Satz misses the point, or at the very least doesn't want to address it.  Instead he indulges in another of his favorite pastimes, revisionist history. 

Satz writes "Concern for this problem (increased crime in underprivileged minority communities) and substance abuse issues in general, is what motivated my office to sign on to the creation of our drug courts and establish our pre-trial intervention programs. Rather than incarcerate marijuana users, the goal - regardless of race - is to facilitate rehabilitation."

Whatever his motivations or beliefs may be, the simple fact remains that while Blacks may be arrested at disproportionate rates state and nationwide, they (and everybody else) definitely have a much harder time getting out of the system in Broward, with or without a clean record, than anywhere else in South Florida. 

Think about it.  As Gisele Pollack points out in the BrowardBulldog article, Satz hasn't agreed to allow all cannabis arrests to be directed to her misdemeanor drug court.  There still isn't DUI or DV diversion here, and the late arrival DWLS program is so draconian in admission and completion requirements that five year, felon creating HTO suspensions still result with alarming frequency in Broward courts.  Compare to neighboring counties where driving charges can be dropped or quickly changed with relative ease, and where a wide range of cheap shot felonies like Battery on a Leo can also be diverted, to see how Satz's stated commitment to rehabilitation really plays out.  Then, to top it off, ask why cocaine residue and single pill possession cases are filed as felonies in Broward, or why the SAO never offers withhold & one day on some 893 cases like they do in Miami.

It's not a novel theory that Satz is out of touch, and has been for a very long time.  He may not understand the implications of having a criminal record, even if only a misdemeanor.**  He may not believe it's his job to consider the root causes of the increased crime in underprivileged minority communities he writes about when setting office policy, or his role in helping perpetuate it.  But to absolve himself of all responsibility and accuse Finkelstein of being "disingenuous" for pointing out his personal failures is just plain wrong. 

The vicious cycle of poverty, crime, substance abuse, and mass incarceration is a direct result of policies implemented by "leaders" whose time has come and gone.  Many, however, are still with us.  Whether blinded by fear, vanity, or the related motive of self-preservation, they are incapable of engaging in reflection and entering into meaningful dialogues to try and address even the most glaring of issues.  And if you need further proof, just read Satz's letter  one more time ...

*Howard Finkelstein, quoted by Dan Christensen.

** "Convicted defendants “normally get a fine, court costs and it goes on their record,” said Pollack. “But that will take away scholarships, and you can’t get into the military or rent some apartments or get a decent job.” (Also from BrowardBulldog)

The Drug War could be won if ...

SS: Broward reps call on state to reconsider Stand Your Ground

"I don't think it's a prosecutor's issue," (Satz) said. "I think it's a humanity issue. Life is precious ... I believe life is precious … "



 A message from a civil practitioner ...
Efiling is Failing
Robert Buschel

Computers are meant to accomplish two goals: reduce paper, and make things go faster.  The new State computer system implemented in Broward fails on both counts.

It is now clear that the new system creates more paper and slows the process down to a stop.  How infuriating if you are a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit and want to get the legal process started.  A plaintiff's lawyer eFiles a lawsuit, and then waits for it to be actually "filed."  It should just be "filed," shouldn't it?  Someone designed a computer system where a person is at the end of it, and we have to rely on that person to do something the computer is meant to circumvent --  people filing paper.  Why was this done?  We've created a process that only adds computers.

Once the clerk has physically filed it, he tells you it is filed via email, which means you can then submit an eSummons, the coversheet for the lawsuit to be served upon the defendants.  This process that used to take less than a minute when it was a face to face transaction now takes weeks. 

This is insanity! 

There is no reason the filing and the eSummons cannot happen in seconds.  The information for the summons can be created from the data that is logged into the Efiling system when the lawsuit is filed-- specifically the parties, the case number, and where the lawsuit will be litigated.  

And what about Motions?  When a Motion is "eFiled," where does it go and who gets to see it?  Apparently, the judge and the parties are not served with the eFiled document.  It is just for the clerk to deem "filed."  Hand service of papers is still required.  No pleadings docket is created.

If the judge gives you her email address, you can send a courtesy copy of a filed motion. Miami-Dade requires this, through a separate system.  Their eCourtesy program  is a little more advanced.  The judge can retrieve the document filed.  In Broward, not quite yet, where the lawyer needs to get paper to the judge and opposing counsel, unless both provide their email addresses.  And let's not even discuss the time when a judicial assistant prompted me to call the clerk to have them send the paper file to the judge's chambers, so the judge could consider what I eFiled. 


Lastly, in the Broward system, you get a reference number and not the case number to track down what stage of "filing" your document is in.  I was told to bring that reference number to the clerk, window #4, and maybe someone will speed up my Efiling.  I guess I'll have to talk to that human tomorrow after waiting in line, if I can get there before 4:30 PM.

Go to the clerk's office and ask who designed the Efiling process.  The answer is probably not a lawyer.  People have the misconception that a guy who knows how to program computers understands the context and purpose of a computer design.  In this case, someone had to assume that a computer architect/programmer knows what lawyers do and what litigation is, and why the antiquated paper system is no longer useful.  Obviously, that wasn't the case here.

We're not asking Captain Caveman to invent a new design for paperless litigation.  Look at the CM/ECF system in federal courts.  It's not perfect, but you know when the judge has issued an order and when the parties have filed documents, which everyone can view.  It instantly tells you when the response is due to the motion because the computer can add +10 or +15 days to the filing date.  Isn't that great? 

The end game of going paperless is to have more court time to discuss justice on the merits, rather than disputes over what was filed, when, and am I looking at the right thing.  Amazingly, it's already taken years to get to this point, and still that hasn't been achieved.  A backlog is growing, and it's time to introduce practicing lawyers to the Clerk's programmers to fix the design and the process.

Rob Buschel

The Florida Bar: "Protecting Rights, Pursuing Justice":

President Obama spoke out on the Trayvon Martin verdict ...
what does the President of the Florida Bar have to say?

SS: Eugene Pettis "circumspect" on Martin case (July 9th/pre-verdict)

"(Pettis) said blogs are "part of our society. As we move into new frontiers, we have to find ways to balance free speech with our ethical obligations."

Pettis is similarly circumspect about Florida's racially explosive Trayvon Martin case, where neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman is on trial for second-degree murder of the teenager. There's no outcome yet; the court process has to unfold, he said.

"I think it will define itself," Pettis said.

Coming Soon- Lawyers' ethical obligations to expose judges that need exposing; 
Lawyers' ethical obligations to expose racism in the criminal justice system, ETC.;
An open email to Eugene Pettis;

        Bob Norman and Rafael Olmeda

SS: Rest In Peace Ramon Grau

OR, CT, and IA only three states mandating "racial impact studies"

Incarcerating the young is often counterproductive, MIT professor shows

BrowardBulldog: Satz tentatively signs on for MM Diversion for all cannabis cases

“Our office is in favor of the idea,” said state attorney’s spokesman Ron Ishoy ...

                                    WELL DONE!


*CORRECTION* - Regarding "THAT'S HIS DEFENSE?" (See below), there is misdemeanor diversion for some domestic violence cases in Broward, even if the State Attorney's website  says the following, with no information on the DVU page regarding a diversion program:

Ineligible - The following will not be approved for M.D.P.:

2.  Domestic Violence offenses (to be handled by the Domestic Violence Unit).

There is, of course, no diversion for felony domestic violence cases in Broward County.

Sorry for the confusion!



43 Days And Counting ... - Friday marks the 43rd day since Norm Kent and Russell Cormican sent this response  to the Florida Bar, answeringthese "investigatory" letters.  To date we haven't heard a peep from the Bar.  Will they write back?  Will there be a chance to be heard before the Grievance Committee?  Will the Bar come clean and indicate a single rule that was violated, or say who filed the complaints, or identify why the articles and photographs are contrary to Bar law?  Developing ...

Miami Herald v. Tornillo - here's another good case for the Bar to chew on, which we found after an old friend of Joe Boyd's  called Wednesday to offer support.  Back in 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court had to reverse the Florida Supreme Court, which wanted to muscle in on the Herald's editorial control by forcing them to offer equal access on their editorial pages for candidates roundly criticized on same. 

From the opinion:

"It has yet to be demonstrated how governmental regulation of this crucial process can be exercised consistent with First Amendment guarantees of a free press as they have evolved to this time."

And that was from 1974.  Maybe the Bar is still stuck in the 1950's?**

**Not that it matters anyway, since JAABLOG has always been an open forum.

Speaking of reversals, here's Wednesday's - Michael Gates - Reversed in Part & Remanded;
Amy Smith - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Carol-Lisa Phillips - Reversed and Remanded; Cathy Brunson - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Elijah Williams - Reversed in Part; Gary Sweet - Reversed and Remanded for a New Trial; Amy Smith - Reversed and Remanded; Lisa Porter - Reversed & Remanded; Richard Oftedal - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Marina Garcia-Wood - Reversed and Remanded; Joel Lazarus - Reversed and Remanded; Cindy Imperato - Reversed & Remanded (Talabisco): See also SS: Corruption charges reinstated against Tamarac mayor:

"Flansbaum-Talabisco's lawyer, Larry Davis, said he was disappointed with the ruling.

"We're reviewing the opinion and trying to determine what the options are going to be," he said ... "

New Courthouse Blues
- apparently many county criminal judges are upset about the design of the new courtrooms.  We're told the mock-ups raised lots of red flags, and Jack Tuter, acting chief judge while Peter Weinstein is off, is getting an earful.  We're told Tuter sent an email around trying to placate the county troops, assuring them their concerns have been heard.  However, whether or not the ship has already sailed in regard to the most serious design flaws remains to be seen ...

2014 Broward update - it looks like at least two incumbents may have to earn their positions this upcoming election season, while the county judge in question may be facing two challengers.  Sorry, we're still not at liberty to name any names besides Jonathan Kasen just yet, so stay tuned ...

Please, don't call it "service" - we're getting sick and tired of judges who didn't have any other way to make a fat salary and a fantastic pension  except by winning a robe calling their daily grind "service".  If it's a pay raise, particularly a big one, it's really no great sacrifice, ok?  Sure, there are plenty of talented lawyers who may have foregone lucrative opportunities to judge, but you can bet the vast majority of new state jurists these days are hitting the jackpot salary-wise when they swear-in.  Service is many things, like working for a non-profit, risking your life for your country, or giving up a cool million a year to work with children in Cambodia.  Adding a third or nearly doubling your salary?  Hardly ...

Coming Soon-Peter Weinstein's Senior Judge Addiction; Financial Disclosures.

BBeat: Open Judicial Seat Draws Third Candidate

SDFL: Soiling a federal courthouse bathroom opinion



Is it illegal to post pictures of public figures on the internets, or hold them accountable to the voters who put them in office?  Of course not.  Can lawyers keep tabs on how judicial resources are expended?  Of course they can.  This is The United States Of America, lest anyone forget.

Are these activities against any Florida Bar Rules?  That can't be the case either.  Despite the Bar's questions regarding the posting of Bobby Diaz pictures and accompanying articles, they haven't cited a single rule that may have been violated.  We've made repeated requests for direction in this area, but they steadfastly refuse to cite a rule or indicate any wrongdoing whatsoever on our part.

Not that it matters anyway.  Even if the Bar eventually makes a formal accusation, we're going to leave it to the courts to decide.  The powerful are powerless in the face of the truth.  It may take an awful long time before we're vindicated, but we'll fight to the death to keep this nation's core freedoms intact.  That's what being a lawyer is all about, no matter what anyone else believes.

Now that the Preamble is out of the way, take a look at the pictures above.  The one on the left is Diaz's locked courtroom at 9:40 AM on Friday.  Notice the empty clipboard as well, which seems to denote no docket for the day.  On the right is Diaz himself, sipping coffee in the cafeteria at 10:39 AM (he was still there at 11:10 AM, when we made our last pass through).  A JA confirmed Diaz was not relief judge this week, meaning there was no administrative reason not to be holding court (in a courtroom, that is).

What's the point?  The same as it's always been.  Although we'd pretty much stopped paying attention to Diaz's court schedule, it seems a safe bet not much has changed.  The man spends a lot of time off the bench during business hours, plain and simple.  Whether he's hyper-efficient or something else, it's apparent the 17th Circuit is woefully mismanaged, or the good 'ole patronage system is still intact.  Your tax dollars are being burned for no good reason, and nobody seems to care, including the Florida Bar.

Think about it.  Would the 17th Circuit be paying county and circuit senior judges damn near full time wages if obviously under-utilized "active" county judges were efficiently managed?  Would it take a long time to get hearings in some divisions if court was held all day on a daily basis?  Likewise, would it take years to get the simplest misdemeanor trial matters to a jury if these cases were properly managed and distributed?  Would the jail cap be so high if county judges were sharing workloads and dockets, and adding crossover special dockets as needed?  Would there be so many judges with "substantial pending caseloads" if everyone was pulling together as a team?  And shouldn't county judges be asked to handle both criminal and civil matters, instead of becoming inefficient one-trick ponies?  Most importantly, would Peter Weinstein have to certify a need for SIX new county judges in Broward County for fiscal year 2012/2013 if the county judges we have now were being properly deployed and managed?

This isn't rocket science, folks.  It's just your tax dollars at work.  And it's our duty to never let them forget it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes the powers that be ...

Go, Debbie, Go! - Add Deborah Carpenter-Toye's name to the list of potential candidates in 2014.  She tells us she's very serious about a run, but is still working out the specifics.  And Kevin Kulik tells us she's not the only one expected to join the fray.  He estimates there are "three or four" other people out there making plans, in addition to the ones everybody already knows about.

From Kevin:

"A lot of very experienced lawyers who would make good judges are thinking of running.  Everybody's leaning towards open seats, but if it gets too crazy, running against an incumbent is not out of the question if it's the right judge."

And it's only July ...

COMING SOON - The Sun Sets On The Sunrise PD ...

Howard Zeidwig administers The Oath (video)


UNIONIZE! - As previously mentioned back in June, we've naturally got to wondering who sticks up for lawyers since the whole Bar v. Blog thing got rolling.  Judges are protected by Chief Judges, or in many cases by the ultra-secret agents over at the JQC, while good lawyers often are attacked by the Bar.  Conversely, there isn't any constitutional officer or official body to protect attorneys' interests that anyone can think of.

A statewide media watchdog like JAABLOG is certainly a good idea, but it would have to be part of a greater whole.  Essentially, a Lawyer's Labor Union must be formed, with the sole interest of protecting the working attorney's rights. 

It's not a new idea.  The ABA Journal
ran a story back in 2009, complete with links to scholarly articles discussing the issues.  Mostly concerned with tortured associates' rights vis a vis the big firm partners they work for, the general principle makes a lot of sense on a broader scale too.

If only half of Florida's nearly 97,000 licensed lawyers ponied up a hundred bucks, the union would have an operating budget of close to five million dollars.  That's peanuts when compared to judicial or Bar budgets, but more than enough to earn us all a lot of respect.  As more lawyers join, and factoring in the advertising revenue from a statewide blog like the one you're reading, more money would roll in.

What's in it for the attorney? 

Lots of things we don't have now.  

For a start, think about bar complaints.  An organized labor union could protect lawyers from the Bar, and the judges they work for.  You get a lawyer who practices Bar defense to tell them to stick it, or work out a fair deal if you really did screw up.  The entirely flawed bar discipline process  could also be improved and changed, since aggregated lawyers would have tremendous political influence and litigation resources.

Having trouble with the Partner or elected official you call "Boss"?  Feel like you're being exploited, ripped off, or targeted for termination?  Enter your local union rep to make things better.  Collective bargaining and everything else unions do would be on our side, not to mention the weight of a very large and prominent voting block when dealing with a politician.  And oh yeah, can anyone say "Strike"?

You wouldn't have to be afraid of bad judges anymore either.  They would finally be held accountable, no matter how well they present in the condos at election time.  The previously mentioned voting block and corresponding endorsement power is one important aspect.  Another is the ability of non-lawyer union reps to tell the truth in the media and on the campaign trail, without the fear of judicially sponsored Bar reprisals.  Additionally, union funds, or "war chests", could be utilized to back experienced lawyers to run lousy or lazy judges off the bench.  And the union could file JQC complaints when needed, so you wouldn't have to be in the line of fire.**  All in all a severely powerful potion could be brewed, likely resulting in judges quickly correcting aberrational behavior.

Let's not forget about the badly broken JNC process either.  You wouldn't have to be up somebody's keester or related to a sitting judge or local powerbroker to don a robe any longer.   The statewide political muscle represented by a lawyers' union would certainly be attractive to a Governor, and likely to trump the relatively low level local fundraising efforts that for some often leads to influencing who will win the judicial lottery.  Welcome back, meritocracy.

Sure, there are pitfalls to watch out for, like union leaders growing too powerful.  No one wants a "meet the new boss/same as the old boss" routine going down, that's for sure.  But in a day and age when patronage, nepotism, and the failed drug war have done so much damage to the quality and integrity of the judiciary, not to mention the utter failure of the Florida Bar to instill confidence in the general public's mind regarding the legal profession, it's more than apparent that something must change, and drastically.  As attorney Clarence Darrow once said:

With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men, than any other association of men.

It's time to unionize.  Not only for the sake of lawyers, but for everybody else too ...

**Apparently the Bar may feel lawyers should go to the JQC with concerns over judicial conduct, instead of going public.  If true, the Bar is even more out of touch with reality than anyone could have possibly imagined.  But much more on that later ...

JA Catches Judge Fornicating With Bailiff? - Polk County is going off.  Read all about a JA who filed a wrongful termination suit  after allegedly getting canned for reporting an allegedly very chummy Polk County judge and bailiff.  And check out Buddy Nevins here, who says Polk County police are also doing it absolutely EVERYWHERE.  Unbuttoning ...

Coming Soon - Who is John Harkness, and Why?;Thomas D. Hall, Clerk of the Court at the Florida Supreme Court, misses out on a free trip to Broward ...

SS: Howard Finkelstein Editorial

"Taxpayers are paying for yet another innocent man convicted under State Attorney Mike Satz’ watch.  Frank Lee Smith died in prison before he was exonerated. He is another name on Broward County’s long shameful list of exonerees all prosecuted by Satz’ office. Something has been wrong in Broward for a long time. Broward leads the state in innocent men wrongfully convicted.  And the man in charge the past 38 years has yet to say he was wrong or even apologize for destroying their lives. If Satz doesn’t recognize he was wrong, how will he stop it from happening again?" (emphasis added)


Herald: Florida Supreme Court overturns Broward murderer’s death sentence

Lewis Tein Update and Bruce Rogow's $709,000 Fee

Mike Mayo on Perry Thurston's address, etc.

NYT: Jagger B-Day

"(Paul) Simon thinks the ’60s singers might be unique. “The ’60s had a lot of really talented people. All the bright kids wanted to do popular music. Within a decade or two, all the bright kids wanted to be directors,” he said ... "

(in your face, judges ... )


 Got JQC Complaint?

The JQC has finally opened up on Laura Watson, following our reporting of her Bar troubles (click here for more).

The JQC documents are found here ...

Rumor of the Day - has there been a shakeup in the makeup  of the JQC?

Local Boy Makes Good - a huge victory for Michael Weinstein in the seemingly never-ending pill mill doctor trial in Palm Beach Federal Court.  It's all over the mainstream news (like
Carmel Cafiero on Channel 7), but Michael was still nice enough to text the following not too long after the verdict came down:

"I feel the jury spoke loudly that my client was not part of a conspiracy.  And that she was legitimately practicing medicine and not participating in the George brothers' scheme."

Definitely a rewarding way for a lawyer to spend his summer vacation away from the daily grind of state court. 

Well Done!

Coming Soon
-Ms. Joni Bea Goode weighs in on the Laura Watson case;
What the Scheinberg & Gardiner Precedents Mean For Future Lawyer Discipline Cases ...

SS: Broward Judge Watson under scrutiny in 2004 insurance settlement

Polk County judge denies sexual misconduct (video)


Dust off your resumes.  The JQC has two vacancies.  Paul Backman resigned yesterday afternoon after eight years judging Florida's judges.  Preston Silvernail, the current chair of the JQC, is also to be replaced, due to his impending resignation from the bench. 

Backman's term on the JQC was set to expire December 31st, 2018.  Silvernail's term was to run through December 31st, 2016.  Their replacements could be picked as early as next week, after the circuit judges vote during their regularly scheduled conference.  The new members' terms will run through the dates of their predecessors' original terms.  Current JQC vice-chair Rick Morales becomes the new chair, and Kerry Evander steps into the vice-chair.

Paul Backman's email sent to Broward judges this morning at 8:54 AM:

Good morning.....I wanted all of you to hear this from me as the rumors are flying all over the place.

I resigned my position on the Commission yesterday afternoon.  This decision has been contemplated for the last 6 months.  After speaking yesterday with the Commission Chair and Vice-Chair, we decided collectively, with the Conference next week, this was the right time to do this.

I have appreciated all of your support over the years, but believed, with close to 8 years as a member, it was time.

Again, my thanks for everything.


Also, Krista Marx is already lobbying hard to replace Silvernail.  Marx's email to judges statewide:

Dear Colleague,


     I am writing to request your support in the election for the JQC position which is being vacated by Judge Preston Silvernail.   I possess the qualifications, experience and reputation to serve the members of the judiciary well.  I have been on the bench since January, 1999 and have served in a broad range of divisions.  Over the last fifteen years,   I have been dedicated to the improvement and integrity of the bench. Prior to becoming a judge I was a prosecutor for many years.  My experience gained through spending nearly every day of the last twenty eight years in a courtroom is an important perspective that will contribute to the effectiveness of the commission.  I hope you will take the opportunity to review my brief bio. 

        I have also attached a list of classes or lectures that I have given.   The contested election will be held at the conference business meeting in Daytona on August 5th.You must be present at the meeting to vote.  I hope I can count on your support.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions.  Thank you for your consideration.

Best Regards,

Krista Marx
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit

Brooke Kennerly, executive director of the JQC, was asked whether Backman had been the subject of complaints or otherwise in some type of trouble that necessitated his resignation so early in his second term.  Her response echoed Backman's statement to us earlier today, that being on the JQC is a lot of work, and that the judge had simply had enough after eight years.

And there you have it ...

Coming Soon -
Who is Krista Marx, and why the JQC?









Kimberly Dinkines appeals the sentence imposed after she was found guilty of false verification of ownership or false identification given to a pawnbroker. Dinkines argues that because her Criminal Punishment Code score was four, her conviction was for a non-forcible felony, and no competent evidence existed that she was a danger to the public, the court was required to impose a nonstate prison sanction instead of the three years in prison she received. We agree with Dinkines ... (Emphasis Added)



 (Photo Courtesy Tony Clifton)

The Governor's legal team wouldn't confirm at 4:10 PM, promising instead a press release later in the day.

It's all over the courthouse already though, so we're calling this one official.

                         Circuit Judge Stacy Ross ... SURPRISE!

Rick Scott Appoints Stacy Ross to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit



Peter Weinstein sent the following email earlier today.  It comes as a surprise to some, since many believed the juvenile division assignment created by Merilee Ehrlich's transfer, ably covered in the interim by Arlene Backman, would be given to the judge named to replace Susan Aramony, whom we now know to be Stacy Ross.  In fact, there may have been questions during the JNC process to candidates specifically mentioning that the circuit seat up for grabs would indeed be a juvenile assignment.  We're trying to confirm exactly what was said during the interviews, whether anyone on the JNC had been told it was a juvenile seat (and by whom), whether Ross has been offered the juvenile position, and if she turned it down. 

Developing ...

From: Peter Weinstein
Date: August 1, 2013

In April, I wrote requesting that anyone interested in the juvenile division on a temporary basis to please contact me upon Judge Ehrlich's change to the family division.

I would like to thank Judge Arlene Backman for her service in the juvenile division and for a job well done.

There will soon be division openings so if you have any thoughts regarding the juvenile division or Judge Ross's county civil division, please let me know ASAP.




Blogging certainly is a funny thing.  

After we posted Peter Weinstein's email a little after 1:00 PM concerning the juvenile spot, which Weinstein sent to judges at 12:17:24 PM, Stacy Ross was quick to memorialize a conversation via email she had with the Chief Judge earlier today, which Ross emailed to all judges at 1:28 PM.

Stacy's email follows:

Thank you Judge Weinstein for the congratulatory remarks in your previous email.

As we discussed earlier today, I would (be) very honored and it is my desire to serve in the juvenile division.

Thank you,
Stacy Ross

So there you have it.  Ross to juvenile. 

Game over.



Welcome to the JQC - the 15th Circuit's Krista Marx and the 5th Circuit's Michelle Morley were elected by Florida's circuit judges yesterday to replace Preston Silvernail and Paul Backman on the JQC.  Both ran unopposed.  Marx increases Palm Beach's potency on the panel, joining current member  Jay White, an attorney based in West Palm Beach. 

Florida Bar v. Gardiner -
click here for the Bar's Reply Brief, made available online yesterday afternoon. 

Of course, the Bar does nothing to defend everybody's favorite blog, or question why so much emphasis was placed on it by David Bogenschutz.  Furthermore, the Bar makes no mention of all the nasty comments and lies that were posted on the blog concerning whistle blower Sheila Alu in rebuttal to Bogenschutz's claims.  That was another obviously significant point the Bar failed to make, even if no one can say who authored them.  The Bar also did not call into question the vast majority of the witnesses Bogenschutz relies on in his Answer Brief, including Richard Cole, who, according to Bob Norman, was awarded $600,000 in legal fees by Gardiner prior to her joining Cole, Scott & Kissane.  In fact, the only Gardiner witness the Bar mentions is Michael Brannon, despite easy to draw connections that could have been made between the witnesses, Gardiner, and lawyer Bogenschutz.

From the Brief:

In her Answer Brief, Respondent continued her pattern of utilizing obfuscating and misleading statements in order to avoid responsibility for her misconduct, and demonstrated conclusively why disbarment is required in the instant case ... That she should continue to misrepresent her true relationship with Scheinberg before this Honorable Court conclusively demonstrates that she has not taken responsibility for her conduct and that disbarment is the appropriate sanction in this matter ...

Further, in the Answer Brief, Respondent argues that this Court should give great weight to the evidence of Respondent's severe depression in mitigation of the appropriate sanction ... However, in presenting this argument, Respondent neglected to mention that Dr. Brannon never diagnosed Respondent with depression. Dr. Brannon only saw Respondent twice in six months, and never in a professional capacity ... Indeed, when asked if he was making a diagnosis of clinical or severe depression, he answered "no one has asked me to do an evaluation or assess her in that way so I'm not doing it from a professional standpoint."

Additionally, in reference to her treatment for depression, Respondent asserts, "The Bar's suggestion that respondent go[t] no help until 2009 is belied by the testimony of Dr. Brannon ... Such statement by Respondent in her Answer Brief is yet another example of her tendency to state technically true facts, but through omission of pertinent details, create misleading and false statements ...

Further, even if this Court leaves aside the fact that Respondent was never diagnosed with depression, and that she did not seek treatment for any such condition until after her misconduct came to light, disbarment is still the appropriate sanction for Respondent. This Court has consistently imposed the sanction of disbarment despite evidence of depression and emotional problems of the Respondent ...

Indeed, the record is replete with Respondent's inability to grasp the severity of her misconduct, and to accept responsibility for her actions. She continues to argue that there was no real basis for the granting of a new trial, and even attack's the State's decision to provide one. However, this Honorable Court has repeatedly stated that, in a death penalty case, the appearance of impropriety "is as much a violation of due process as actual bias would be." ... This is because "life is at stake and . . . the . . . sentencing decision is so important."  Respondent‟s refusal to acknowledge that her actions, standing alone, violated defendant Loureiro's constitutionally protected due process rights, and entitled him to a new trial before a fair and neutral arbiter, are conclusive proof of her failure to accept responsibility for her misconduct. Disbarment is the appropriate sanction for Respondent ...

And now it's up to the Supreme Court, with the entire legal establishment watching ...

Coming Soon - Laura Watson is no shrinking violet ...


 The Bar and JQC have much in common ...

Laura Watson, Pro Se litigant
- despite the negatives we've heard concerning her demeanor on the bench, we've taken a liking to Laura Watson

For starters,
she's representing herself  before the JQC.  Whatever they say about having a fool for a client may sometimes be true, but just as often can produce surprisingly good results at both the trial and appellate court levels.  It's also pretty much a given that such proceedings are a hoot to watch, as the prosecution and tribunal often end up losing their collective cools before such cases limp across the finish line.

This one has all the earmarks of a good old fashioned slugfest.  Watson has already called into question the cozy relationships between JQC members, and by extension the motivations behind the prosecution.  Apparently, many of the members are former Florida Bar honchos who may also share business interests, and Watson wants to know just how tangled up everyone is in order to file Affidavits To Disqualify against her inquisitors.

From the
Motion Re Rule 25 Affidavits:

Without a disclosure of the relationships between the members of the Hearing Panel, the Investigative Panel, the Special Counsel, and the potential witnesses and interested parties, a financial or regulatory nexus between the JQC and the private persons acting on the Commission's behalf cannot be determined ...

There's also a Gardiner& Scheinberg reference found later on, just in case anyone up north can't figure out which way this one is headed.  Additionally, the plucky Watson has demanded that the JQC come to her
via this filing, the aptly titled Demand That All Hearings Be Held In Broward County - TheCounty Of The Judge's Residence

It's going to be a bumpy ride, and another fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of JQC secrecy, already badly ripped and tattered following the very public Bar v. Gardiner fiasco ...

55 Days And Counting ... - Wednesday marks the 55th day since our response to the Bar.  Thus far, not a peep has been heard back from the lawyer police.  They still haven't cited a single rule that's been violated, noted a single repugnant word, phrase or photograph, or said who made the complaints. 

As everyone knows, Bar questions are focused on reports concerning Marni Bryson and Bobby Diaz.  But is it safe to assume they actually are the ones who complained?  Despite
Diaz's refusal to answer Bob Norman's questions, we have to believe it wasn't a judge after all. 


Because the Bar's own guidelines
on judicial referrals say so.  Those rules are found in Standing Board Policy 15.91 - Policy on Judicial Referrals and Complaintspublished in their very own training manual, starting on page 57. 

From Standing Board Policy 15.91:

Regardless of how judicial referrals come to the attention of the bar, this policy codifies how the information should be handled ... Standing Board Policy 15.91 requires bar counsel to communicate with Judicial officers when they refer matters to the Bar. 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. This will require some tailoring of the 15 day letter since the respondent will not be receiving the referral letter. Instead, the 15 day letter will contain a recitation of the facts as alleged in the referral, and will require respondent to respond to those allegations. (Emphasis Added)

Of course, to this day, the Bar has not recited any facts or allegations, and as previously mentioned, they haven't bothered to cite any broken Bar rules.  The "15 day letters" went out January 30th (Bryson), and February 13th (Diaz).  Accordingly, the complaints couldn't have come from a judge, unless the Bar violated their very own codified rules.  And that just couldn't be possible ... right?

Hold on!- Ilona Holmes
got bashed  by the Fourth DCA last week, after refusing to allow an IC Defendant to wear street clothes during trial.  One thing that wasn't reported however, was the State's main evidence, recorded JAIL CALLS, which reportedly found him confessing to a bunch of messed up things from the Broward County Jail.  Sure, the guy should have been allowed to don one of the wrinkled, ratty, ill-fitting, non-matching relics from the PD's donated thrift rack, but it's not like the jurors still couldn't have figured out his home address all by themselves after hearing the calls.  In any event, you can be sure the Defendant will be well dressed at his upcoming new trial, unless he can convince a judge to allow him to appear in his birthday suit, which just might lead to a third reversal ...

Gomez v. Milian - Al Milian has a fight on his hands.  Mary Gomez, a family law practitioner, has filed in the 11th Circuit open seat which Al had previously filed for.  Now it's a two person race.  Additionally, you can add Donnie Goodwin to the list of Broward lawyers mulling a run in 2014.  It's too early to tell whether he's going for an open seat or against a sitting judge, so s
tay tuned ...

Coming Soon - Catching up with the Bar's
Lorraine Hoffman.

BBeat: Lawmakers Will Get A Pass On Lying About Residency

"I don’t mince words: State Reps. Joe GibbonsJared Moskowitz, Hazelle Rogers, Perry Thurston and state Sen. Maria Sachs are liars."

Herald: Florida Bar won’t file ethics charges against Lewis & Tein


Jonathan Kasen makes it official, filing yesterday in county court Group 27, currently occupied by Ian Richards.

Let the games begin ...


 Hi, I'm Fred Karlinsky ...

2014 update - Jonathan Kasen's filing against Ian Richards has stirred the pot.  There's talk of others jumping into the race, including former candidate Alan Bernstein, and at least one female.  Mike Dutko is reportedly making calls on Kasen's behalf, while Glenn Roderman has committed his support to a Donnie Goodwin campaign, even if it's for the circuit seat currently occupied by John BowmanEvan Hoffman is also mulling his options, and word on the street is his race will be very well funded. 

Of course, most of the intrigue centers on why the establishment's Dutko has been pushing Kasen against a sitting judge in the first place, and whether/why his partner David Bogenschutz may also be motivated to see the end of the Judge Richards era.  As far as the expected outcry concerning the targeting of one of Broward's few Black judges, it's been muted, at best.  Chalk it up to Richards' unpopularity with the rank and file, after he reportedly authored an eventually dismissed anonymous bar complaint against a much beloved APD, who also worked for the SAO once upon a time. 

Still, something does stink about the feeding frenzy that's been kicked off by the perception that one of Broward's few Black judges is low hanging fruit, and that it's A-OK to go after him.  Accordingly, all eyes are once again on Howard Finkelstein, to see if he'll come to the rescue like he did in 2010.  Others are hopeful Black leaders Perry Thurston, Chris Smith, Marsha Ellison, and Eugene Pettis will come through, since it's really not fair to always expect Finkelstein to do the heavy lifting.  People are also anxious to see whether Satz is committed to keeping Black judges on the bench, since everyone agrees the State Attorney could make a huge difference in the Save Judge Richards campaign.  Definitely a wait and see ...

But wait - there's hope yet.  After two successive in-your-face political hook-ups, the JNC and Rick Scott have a chance to redeem themselves.  The county seat once occupied by Stacy Ross has been opened up, and a Black lawyer could be appointed if we all work together.  While the JNC has absolutely no credibility left, there is still a chance they could do the right thing this time around.  If Richards is to be sacrificed, at least the JNC can make sure the number of Black judges will stay at their already pathetically (and institutionally racist) low levels.  Tell everybody you know to apply before the September 5th deadline, and to call JNC Chair Fred Karlinsky to tell him Broward deserves better.

"Paul Backman calling... " - Howard Finkelstein takes us back to the year 2009, when everyone was wondering whether the transcripts of Gardiner& Scheinberg's depositions, taken during the appeal of the first Loureiro trial, would become public record.  The general feeling was the transcripts could only hurt Gardiner, since it was believed she may have already been cleared by the JQC.  No one can say for sure, of course, since all that JQC stuff is top secret, but once the transcripts did become public record, things certainly went south for Gardiner, who was still being called "Judge" at the time of her testimony in Palm Beach.

In any event, imagine our surprise when Finkelstein recently told us he had once received a call from Paul Backman, under the mistaken belief that the Public Defender was ordering the transcripts.  That's right, a sitting JQC member had called Howard back in '09, ostensibly to help Gardiner.  Shocked, the following text was sent to Backman earlier today:

Howard Finkelstein said you called him when you were still on the JQC a few years ago and asked him why he was ordering transcripts of Gardiner's testimony taken by Carey Haughwout and Rogow before Satz agreed to a second trial in Loureiro .. he said he told you he wasn't ordering them and felt you were trying to discourage him from doing so as he felt it was implied doing so would hurt Gardiner ... it's going on blog so I wanted to offer you a chance to respond.  Did it happen? If so, why? Was the Gardiner matter already before the JQC? And did the JQC investigate you because of Howard's claim? Please call me at 954 605 6413 or text back if you would like to make a statement or clarify any issues ...

Backman replied as follows:

I suggest you direct your inquiry to the JQC as that would be the appropriate place to make your inquiry. As you well know any matters that may or may not involve the JQC are by constitution strictly confidential and any further comment would be inappropriate and in violation of the judicial canons.

So there you have it.  Another odd detail in the Gardiner fiasco.  We'll be addressing this one further, as well as all kinds of questions concerning how the JQC and Bar handle matters when one of their own stands accused ...

Coming Soon
- Why does the Bar allow judges to complain anonymously?;Scheinberg'sthree, count 'em, three Grievance Committees;An open email to Eugene Pettis; Who wants to be the new Chief Judge?


            Remember when you were young? 

    APD'sLarry Davis, Lynn Sharon, Bobby Diaz,
                  Rob Jakovich
,and Barry Butin ...
                            (circa 1984)


Boy, the Florida Bar sure does fight dirty.  While everyone was hoping for an intelligent debate on First Amendment, media, and political/lawyer speech issues, that doesn't seem to be the way Bar v. Blog is headed. 

Call us stupid.  Call us naïve.  But please don't call us dishonest, which seems to be the Bar's upcoming pitch at the Grievance Committee (GC) meeting on September 11th.  They finally wrote back yesterday, citing a slew of rules that "may have been violated", which make your humble author out to be Jack The Ripper, Son of Sam, and Gardiner all rolled into one. 

Of course, the Bar still refuses to cite a single word, phrase, or photograph they find offensive or inaccurate.  They refuse to make a single specific accusation of misconduct.  They won't disclose the contents of any complaints that were made, or say who made them, or draw lines from the cited rules to the blog posts in question.  Instead, they simply print the rules, attach twenty-two articles concerning Bobby Diaz and one about Marni Bryson, and say the opportunity exists "to make a written statement, sworn or unsworn, explaining, refuting or admitting the alleged misconduct".  Got that?

Additionally, the Bar states they will be presenting our prior written responses, also composed without knowledge of the complaints or accusations.  Topping it off, the Bar says unequivocally "you and your client may not attend". 

As previously stated, we sure have been naïve.  And the incredulous stares from experienced politicos we spoke to around the courthouse today added insult to injury.  "What did you expect?", ran the theme, "that's how the game is played".  Apparently, since the First Amendment and media laws can't be evaded to shut down the truth, the vagaries of the Bar rules can be utilized, even if it means an unfounded assassination attempt on a person's character and reputation.

Pushing as hard as we do, we know people are going to push back.  Whistleblowing ain't beanbag, as the saying goes.  It's just we always expected more from an organization like the Bar.  However, it's now apparent they'll sacrifice all vestiges of fair play and due process to do what they want (or what they're told).  And it's an abomination to the entire legal profession.

But don't start feeling sorry for us.  We have faith in the GC members, and in Bar higher-ups in Tallahassee.  Despite being frustrated by local nemesis Adria Quintela, there's time to approach Ken Marvin, and members of the Board of Governors before the September 11th deadline.  Hopefully, they'll see to it that the spirit of Rule 3-7.4(h) is honored, and ensure proper notice of the accusations is given so a sufficient reply can be made before the GC meets.  And if not, there's always a Writ of Mandamus to the Supremes, lest anyone forget this is The United States of America.

As we've said before, if we've blundered, or made an honest mistake, we'll take full responsibility and do the time.  We're only human.  Like any media outlet, we blow it sometimes, even if corrections or retractions concerning the articles in question have never been requested to this day.  That being said, we stand by every word we've ever written, and feel that if the Bar has information concerning inaccuracies or otherwise, they ought to come to the table with clean hands to clear the air.  They might not like the blog, they may not like having had to absolve all bloggers of liability concerning unmoderated Comment Sections in a prior ruling, and they may hate living in a world where new technologies allow lowly individual lawyers to have a say in how judges and lawyers are held accountable.  But to allow them to ignore or change their own rules midstream, and to adopt Rollerball style tactics in prosecutions, is anathema to everything the Bar, the judiciary, and the Rule of Law is supposed to stand for ...

Coming Soon: Links to the 23 Bar v. Blog Articles; Two Weeks Worth of Wednesday Reversals; Dan Lewis says: "Florida BAR disciplinary grievance processes have just two gears; Railroad and Whitewash."

Carmel Cafiero - Miami Courthouse/Corrections Parking Scam (w/ Herb Cohen)

BBeat: Judge Richards: I’ll Fight Hard For Re-Election

SS: Public defender's chief sleuth wins prestigious state award for work

Rumpole's commentators on Hugo Black and criticism of judiciary

From Glik v. Cunniffe:

The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.” Mills v. Alabama, 384 U.S. 214, 218, 86 S.Ct. 1434, 16 L.Ed.2d 484 (1966). Moreover, as the Court has noted, “[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.’ ” First Nat’l Bank, 435 U.S. at 777 n. 11, 98 S.Ct. 1407 (alteration in original) (quoting Thomas Emerson, Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment 9 (1966)) ... The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. Houchins, 438 U.S. at 16, 98 S.Ct. 2588 (Stewart, J., concurring) (noting that the Constitution “assure[s] the public and the press equal access once government has opened its doors”) ... (Emphasis Added)
                                (Thanks to Lloyd Golburgh)



Former APD Claudia Isabel Robinson (maiden name Estrada) has joined Jonathan Kasen in Group 27, hoping to unseat Ian RichardsThe filing is here.

More coming?

Wait and see ...


Who wants to be a Federal Judge? - two slots are available, and SDFL has the list of wannabe's here.  Judges from the 17th Circuit include former Federal employees Marty Bidwill and David Haimes, as well as Marina Garcia Wood, her main squeeze Carlos Rodriguez, and Jack Tuter.  Palm Beach jurists Jeff Colbath, Robin Rosenberg, and Meenu Sasser are also looking for promotion ...

Satz met with Kasen ... but won't be supporting him.  Here's the official SAO response to questions regarding the rumored Kasen/Satz confab:

"Mr. Satz took a courtesy meeting with the gentleman as he has done with many aspiring candidates running for a variety of political offices through the years.  As for support,  Mr. Satz does not support candidates running against incumbent judges."

Still, that doesn't mean Satz will be helping Ian Richards, as our specific question on that topic remains unanswered ...

Slippery Slope - here's a few upcoming Bar v. Blog topics: Can a lawyer on trial for being a journalist film the proceedings? Can a journalist on trial for being a lawyer film the proceedings?; We'll take a polygraph exam, how about the Bar's witnesses?; "Are you sure you weren't just Hometowned?"; Piercing the veil of Bar & JQC secrecy; Disqualify Adria Quintela?; Scheinberg'sthree GC's ...

Wednesday, August 14 Reversals:

Jeff Colbath - Reversed & Remanded
; Jack Tuter - Partial Remand; Bill Roby - Reversed in Part and Remanded;Paul Backman - Reversed and Remanded for a New Trial;Diana Lewis and John Hoy - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Mel Grossman - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Charlie Greene - Reversed & Remanded; Marc Gold - Reversed & Remanded; Dale Ross - Writ Granted; Eileen O'Connor - Reversed and Remanded with Directions.

Wednesday, August 7 Reversals:

Lucy Chernow Brown - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Robin Rosenberg - Partial Remand; John Kastrenakes - Reversed & Remanded; Peter Weinstein - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Tom Lynch - Reversed and Remanded; Diana Lewis - Reversed and Remanded; Geoff Cohen - Reversed; Carol-Lisa Phillips - Reversed and Remanded; Nelson Bailey - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Martin Colin - Reversed in Part and Remanded; Cathy Brunson - Petition Granted re Motion Disqualify; Carol-Lisa Phillips - Reversed with directions to vacate the order granting transfer of action; Carlos Rebollo - Petition Granted.

Coming Soon - Laura Watson 1, Miles McGrane 0; Why does Carol-Lisa Phillips get reversed so often?; Who testified for Gardiner, and who didn't ...

                                    The Naked Prey
                            starring JAABLOG ...


 Richard Kaplan for Clerk of Courts!

Laura Watson 1, Miles McGrane 0
- Laura Watson is rattling the JQC's cage.  The normally staid proceedings have been turned upside down by her refusal to simply go along to get along, and by her invitations to media and the public to attend hearings which normally pass unnoticed.  Watson wants a "fair, complete open public trial", and isn't afraid to ruffle some feathers to get it.

On Tuesday, her office doors were thrown open for all who cared to observe a telephonic status conference concerning various motions  she's filed relating to JQC jurisdiction and transparency regarding relationships amongst panel members, witnesses, and special prosecutor Miles McGrane.  Others attended by phone, including Adolfo Pesquera, who has an article running tomorrow in the DBR which clearly lays out the procedural history of the case and presiding judge Kerry Evander's rulings. 

The hearing was a hoot.  Watson, representing herself, tenaciously laid out her arguments.  "Prosecutorial misconduct" was mentioned, with Watson stating at one point the proceedings were "an attempt by Mr. McGrane to serve his buddies", namely JQC witnesses looking to recoup a settlement previously ordered against Laura Watson, PA.  Watson even wondered aloud whether Evander himself was "fair and impartial", with McGrane categorizing Watson's demands regarding disclosure of relationships "purely a fishing expedition".  As to procedural issues, Watson stated at one point "I have no idea what they're claiming I did", as the prosecution went on to seemingly contradict itself as to whether or not the Rules of Civil Procedure apply to JQC proceedings.

Expect a lot more fun on this one.  Evander, to his credit, acknowledged the uniqueness of some of the issues presented, and is keeping an open mind.  In the meantime, Watson is anticipated to dig deep into the degrees of separation between panel members, many of whom held important posts at the Florida Bar in the past, so there should be plenty of bad blood brewing.  If there is a trial, Watson believes it should take six weeks, with McGrane estimating only three or four days in total.  In the end, let's hope everything is done properly and thoroughly, since due process is something that should be afforded everyone, including accused  judges ...

Fun with lawyer websites - "All this shit in the car man" - click the link for a slick video over at Richard Bellis, Esq., and click here  to see Jose Izquierdo's site, who bills himself as "the go-to lawyer for local news channels ABC, NBC, CBS, and Telemundo".  Sorry Howard Finkelstein and Roy Black, but your services will no longer be required ...

Wednesday Reversals:

Jeff Colbath - Reversed and Remanded in Part; Merrilee Ehrlich - Reversed and Remanded; Bob Pegg - Reversed and Remanded; Ken Gillespie - Reversed and Remanded; Don Hafele - Reversed and Remanded; Merrilee Ehrlich - Reversed and Remanded; Sandy McSorley - Reversed and Remanded; Barry Cohen - Petition Granted; Charlie Burton - Petition Granted.

Coming Soon - Referral Madness - Just how lucrative can being on the Florida Bar's Board of Governors be?

A typical Florida Bar investigation (see what sticks) ...



 Ansara's big score?

'Tis the season for fee sharing disputes. 

Following on the heels of Laura Watson's hybrid Bar/JQC mess, comes a nifty little number involving attorneys Richard Ansara, Steve Hammer, and Mike Jones.  At issue is a reputed large settlement stemming from the estate of Fontainebleau hotelier Ben Novack, on behalf of Novack's sometimes homeless son Ronald.  The Sun Sentinel has background information on the probate issues in this  2011 article.

Ansara, Hammer, and Jones are now infighting regarding what many believe to be a large fee that was paid to Ansara.  The legal issues, of course, will focus on the actual relationship between the lawyers, and whether there was shared representation of Novack.  We're being told all the lawyers were involved in the case, were associated, and shared space, but that Ansara did leave at some point with the understanding that the Novack case was still a group effort.  As time went on Hammer and Jones reportedly lost contact with the troubled younger Novack, and were surprised to learn much later that the case had settled for an undisclosed sum.  According to a source close to the proceedings, Ansara reportedly started spending lots of money, which led to the discovery that the case had been successfully closed.

Michael Bernstein is Ansara's lawyer.  He politely no commented earlier today, explaining that both sides of a "private dispute" are represented by counsel in a case that is in the earliest stages.  Former ASA Katie Phang is on board for Hammer and Jones, but we missed her call and hadn't made contact as of the time of this post.  No lawsuit has been filed at this point in time, and mediation is likely, so stay tuned, just in case this thing takes on a life of its own ...

♪ ♪ Fontainebleau, 'cause it takes a shark ♪ ♪