90 DAYS FOR ROSENTHAL

*UPDATE BELOW*

The JQC has recommended a Public Reprimand and a 90 day suspension without pay for Lynn RosenthalThe findings and recommendation are found here.

The stipulation to punishment is found hereGuy Lewis, Rosenthal’s former boss at the US Attorney’s Office, is designated attorney of record for the accused.

(Thanks to Anonymous @10:43 AM)

Coming SoonShould the Supreme Court accept the terms of the Rosenthal settlement?

UPDATE: The documents are worth reading.  Rosenthal, in her testimony to the JQC, apparently contradicted the events captured on BSO’s video regarding the offer of a blood or urine test, just as she did on August 6th of last year when she spoke to WPLG’s Bob NormanThat video is found here.

The cellphone video Rosenthal shot on 595 was deleted after the JQC asked for it, and she told the JQC she wasn’t using meds any longer, which wasn’t true.  The JQC categorizes some statements as “misleading, or incomplete“, and references a prior attorney present at a hearing before Lewis was involved, believed to be David Bogenschutz, although we’re trying to confirm.  The JQC notes the problems with her testimony were due to a “personal family crisis“.

CALLING BOB NORMAN …

THE AG STRIKES BACK

Assistant Attorney General Heidi Bettendorf moved to supplement the pending Petition For Writ of Prohibition against John Contini this afternoon, asking now to have the judge removed from “all pending open criminal proceedings“.

In support, the AG has supplied Wednesday’s transcript featuring Joel Silvershein, and two additional transcripts from the preceding day, August 11th.  They can’t be posted until later, because redactions are necessary, as in one case the SAO was objecting to a mentally ill person being transferred to mental health court because of the stay.

Lastly, this supplement was filed, mentioning alleged violations of the canons in addition to legal arguments about commenting on a pending Writ.  Quotes from the August 11th transcripts are included, whereby Contini  asserts that Bettendorf is “telling lies from the pit of Hell,” and that the DCA should “spank” her …

SS: Imperato abandons appeal, wearing a monitor

Imperato’s JQC trial witness list features Peter Weinstein

JAABLOG WELCOME

kim blog APD Kim Segal

Buddy Nevins’ BrowardBeat.com and JAABLOG aren’t the only courthouse reads.  There’s also Kim Segal’s Life as a Public Defender blog.  It’s new, but with CBS and Kim’s 39,000 followers in reserve, sure to be a hit …

auto blog

Coming Soon : **CERTIFIED QUESTION** – Who bears responsibility for the unnecessarily prolonged & expensive FG Stay?  PAs, PD, CCRC, & BACDL?  The SAO & AG?  The Chief Judge?  The DCA?  Or the Media(s)?  You Make the Call

kareem_kid

Listen, kid! I’ve been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA! I’m out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes …

CONTINI v. SILVERSHEIN TRANSCRIPT

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 17TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

IN RE: WRIT OF PROHIBITION FROM FOURTH DCA ON FG CASES. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2015, 10:47, A.M.

THE COURT:  Here comes Mr. Silvershein.  Do you wish to be the recipient of the wonderful news?

MR. GELIN:  The judge was telling everybody that  he believes that these agreed pleas or people (that) are discretionary and I think could be set before Judge Bidwill because the order now states it’s Judge Contini, specifically, not FG.

THE COURT:  Take a look at those orders, Mr. Silvershein, we got a number of them in his hand.  Even though the orders speak to individually-named defendants, I think we are still waiting for one or two more orders.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  There were eight orders that were signed.

THE COURT:  I think the ones that you are holding there that were signed speak to be individually-named defendants, but there’s language in the orders that speak to another circuit court judge having the ability to resolve some of the agreed pleas.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  No, it doesn’t.  It talks about orders.  It doesn’t talk about files.  It talks about orders.

THE COURT:  So, get together all of you because the Fourth DCA is going out of their way in all of these orders to say that the stay does not speak to the circuit court generally.  Only to me as the acting judge, only Contini is precluded from acting on any of the cases in the stay. They further define stay to say it doesn’t speak to the circuit generally, meaning Judge Bidwill can take any of these agreed-upon pleas and that’s the position of the Fourth.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  I unfortunately disagree with the Court.

THE COURT:  It’s okay.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  I have the whole Stamper — we just need the main case, which is the 4D15-370. Actually, this was Regional Counsel’s motion to clarify is my understanding.

THE COURT:  If you look at the language, it says the stay speaks to just the acting judge meaning myself.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  What it says is they are not modifying their June 10th order, which means that those cases are stayed. It’s only granted to the extent that judges other than you can consider from entering orders in the cases. Now, I’m looking at the whole Stamper case.  I understand that you have individual cases.

THE COURT:  I’m looking — if you could — thank you, Mr. Silvershein.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  I’ve given a copy to Ms. Singer. I didn’t mean to interrupt your proceedings.

THE COURT:  I agree, Mr. Silvershein.  I’m looking at what you are looking at. This is what it says, “We decline to modify our prior order but clarify that the stay imposed on the cases “pending sentencing” applies only to the judge at issue, that’s myself, from acting. “The stay does not deprive the circuit court of jurisdiction or prevent other circuit court judges, i.e. Judge Bidwill from entering orders in cases at issue. Having said that — and take up to the Fourth, again, if you like — “Any case in FG division, any case that was previously listed on any AG list, any stay list, now can be resolved by Judge Bidwill or any other circuit judge, notwithstanding anybody’s argument to the contrary.” I’ve talked to Judge Bidwill and he is willing to take those because according to the Fourth, “It is very, very clear, only the acting judge, Contini, is precluded from resolving those cases or acting as a quote “acting judge” from acting, but they go out of their way to say “the stay does not deprive the circuit court of jurisdiction or prevent other circuit court judges from entering orders in the cases at issue.” So, especially all the 50, 60 or 70 agreed-upon pleas that we have right now, that we keep resetting every week or two, where everybody is in agreement that it’s discretionary, that they are not even scoring Florida State Prison, that there’s no downward departure motion filed.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  The problem is judge —

THE COURT:  They were never pending sentencing. They were pending acquittal.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  No, Judge, I disagree.

THE COURT:  I’m going to speak and hold you in contempt if you interrupt me again, Mr. Silvershein.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  You are commenting on what you can’t comment on.

THE COURT:  I’m going to let you speak.  I’m going to let you speak when I’m done. All these cases that were disingenuously listed by the attorney general, not by your office, by the attorney general’s office, listing cases where the people have always maintained their not guilty plea.  They were presumed innocent.  They are pending acquittal as much as they are pending sentencing. And for the AG to have taken and hijacked all those cases where people have plead not guilty, where they never changed their plea from not guilty to guilty, they were never pending sentencing.  They were disingenuously included on a master list of hundreds of cases.That’s what the AG did in misleading and perpetrating and a fraud on the Fourth DCA.Now all those cases that were erroneously put on their list — actually, deliberately, put on the AG’s list and then sent to the Fourth DCA and misrepresenting to the Fourth DCA that those cases were pending sentencing.  They were not pending sentencing. Now, the Fourth DCA last week said “pending sentencing.”  They put quotes around it.  They actually defined what pending sentencing meant. They ordered the state to come up with a real list of those cases that are really pending sentencing.  Those cases for which a downward departure motion has been filed. The AG listed only 28.  Those are the cases pending  sentencing. Now, even as to those, what are they saying today? The Fourth DCA is saying today as to either list, “Any other circuit court judge except for Contini can resolve those,” and if you have a dispute with what I’m saying, take it up to the Fourth, seek a further clarification if you like. But how many times are they supposed to clarify for you that “pending sentencing” means somebody has been convicted by a jury or they decided to plead guilty, we ordered the PSI, their sentencing date is set out a few weeks, they score prison, a downward departure motion has been filed.  A downward departure motion has been filed.That is a person, quote, “pending sentencing.”  That’s the list of 28. Even on those, Mr. Silvershein, even on those, Judge Bidwill can take those pleas.  Any other circuit court judge can take those pleas according to this order that you just handed me. Now, if you dispute what I’m saying, go to the Fourth and seek further clarification.  I don’t know why we would need further clarification when they just clarified it for all of us now. Go ahead, Mr. Silvershein.  I told you I would let you speak.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  I respectfully disagree with you as to your interpretation, number one. Number two, I think it’s improper for you to comment on these cases.  You are essentially ruling on these cases.

THE COURT:  I’m not.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  You are ruling on these cases and giving your opinion when the Fourth says you are not to be handling these cases.

THE COURT:  I’m not giving my opinion at all.  If I give my opinion on the petition of writ of prohibition, you are right.  I’m not giving my opinion on a petition of writ of prohibition at all. I’m telling you about the list itself, the list of cases that, not your office, to the credit of your office, your office did not put together that list?

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  We did.

THE COURT:  Okay.  Are you telling me that you, Joel Silvershein, participated —

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Our office assisted in creating that list.

THE COURT:  Your office is co-complicit with Heide Betancourt of the AG’s office in putting together a list of —

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Are you accusing us of acting disingenuously?

THE COURT:  I am not accusing you of disingenuously misleading the Fourth DCA.  Are you telling me that your office put together —

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  You have used the word disingenuously.

THE COURT: Are you telling me that your office put together a list of hundreds of cases where people have maintained their not guilty plea, they are presumed innocent and you hijacked those cases and those —

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  I think it’s improper —

THE COURT:  — hijack those cases numbers, and hijack those cases numbers, and travel over their bones, and you are actually putting people who were presumed innocent, you are putting their cases on a list of cases pending sentencing?  Is that what you did?

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Judge, I think it’s improper.

THE COURT:  Did you do that, Mr. Silvershein?  Did you put together that list of people pending sentencing?

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Our office —

THE COURT:  — people who have maintained their not guilty plea — did you put those cases, Mr. Silvershein? “Yes” or “no.”  Did you put them on a list of cases pending sentencing?  Answer the question.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  We created a list based on the order of the Fourth DCA and the attorney general.

THE COURT:  You disingenuously mislead —

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  We didn’t disingenuously do anything.  We didn’t disingenuously do anything do one particular thing.

THE COURT:  Mr. Silvershein, you, Mr. Silvershein, you are telling me that you are admitting that you participated with the AG in coming up with a list of people that are presumed innocent, presumed innocent, have maintained their not guilty pleas, have never changed their plea from not guilty, you put them on a list of cases pending sentencing?  Did you do that?  Answer the question.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Judge, it’s improper.

THE COURT:  Leave the courtroom.  If you are not going to answer the question, leave the courtroom.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Fine, Judge.

THE COURT:  Leave the courtroom.  Leave the courtroom.  I’m going to give you one last chance.  Answer the question. Did you put those cases, did you, personally assist Heide Betancourt, the AG, in putting presumed innocent not guilty defendants who maintained their not guilty pleas, did you put their names on that list of cases pending sentencing?  “Yes” or “no.”

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Look, Judge, I’m sorry.

THE COURT:  Are you afraid to answer the question?

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  No, I’m not.

THE COURT:  Answer the question.  Did you do that?

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Why do you keep pushing me on these issues —

THE COURT:  Escort this gentleman out of the courtroom please.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Judge, I’ll walk.

THE COURT:  If you are not going to obey this Court’s order, I’m ordering you to answer the question.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  Judge, you can’t order me to answer the question.  The answer is “yes.”  I assisted.

THE COURT:  Thank you for being honest.  Thank you.  Thank you.  You are excused.

MR. SILVERSHEIN:  However, am I allowed to address the Court?

THE COURT:  You are excused.  You are excused, Mr. Silvershein.

(MR. SILVERSHEIN):  I ask that this transcript be ordered.

THE COURT:  I have no idea what that mumbling was all about.

* * * * * * * * *

UPDATE

Movement! – Rumors, rumors, rumors.  For instance … Dennis Bailey for John Contini, if he’s ultimately moved, which means Lynn Rosenthal may be replacing Barbara McCarthy in January, depending on how her campaign is going.  If Contini stays, in spite of today’s dust-up, Bailey would likely take McCarthy’s spot.

Why Rosenthal instead of Stacey Schulman, someone both the SAO and Defense Bar would welcome with open arms?  Your guess is as good as anyone’s, particularly considering the unsettling PAC sponsored anti-Jahra McLawrence mailers which surfaced during Rosenthal’s campaign.   Did her team have anything to do with the ads?  Definitely something that needs exploring.  In any event, if Peter Weinstein does send Rosenthal back, no one can say he’s not willing to court controversy.  That’s a good thing from a blogging standpoint, but probably not such a good thing for those who think the beleaguered 17th Circuit could probably stand a bit more calm.  Wait and see …

Lawsuit! – attorneys Steve Hammer and Mike Jones have sued their former colleague, attorney Richard Ansara, over a fee dispute involving a seven million dollar estate inherited by formerly homeless person Ronald Novack, the adopted son of the Fontainebleau Hotel’s founder.  Apparently, efforts to mediate the issues we first reported back in 2013 (see below) resulted in failure, leading to a complaint being filed July 7th.  The complaint does not specify just how much Hammer and Jones are looking to recover, but it’s thought to be a considerable sum, and should be borne out in discovery. The complaint is found here, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Deborah Carpenter-Toye and Casey MillsDeveloping …

Coming SoonWork Study 2015: time clocks for Judges? 

From JAABLOG (August 22, 2013):

‘Tis the season for fee sharing disputes.

(Here) 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 …

CONTINI v. SILVERSHEIN

Observers lucky enough to be in John Contini’s courtroom this morning were treated to an unusual display of fireworks directed at Joel Silvershein, appeals honcho for the SAO.  It happened shortly after the Fourth DCA issued a handful of Orders dated today, August 12th, containing the following language:

… We decline to modify our prior order but clarify that the stay imposed on the cases “pending sentencing” applies only to prevent the judge at issue from acting.  The stay does not deprive the circuit court of jurisdiction or prevent other circuit court judges from entering orders in the cases at issue.

Today’s Orders follow on the AG’s response to the DCA last week, confirming there are only twenty-eight cases pending sentencing where a downward departure motion has been filed.  Of course, the AG is still maintaining its position that all of the cases on the large list they submitted to the higher court should be stayed, and the Fourth hasn’t ruled on that issue yet.  However, it seems clear by the language from today’s orders that the ban on other judges handling Division FG cases is lifted, which means lawyers can call Marty Bidwill’s office for direction if they’re so inclined.

As for the fireworks, things started getting interesting when Silvershein disputed Contini’s reading of the above quoted DCA language, as the judge was addressing courtroom staff as to Bidwill’s newfound ability to resolve FG cases.  Silvershein basically stated that other judges should still be precluded from hearing any listed Contini matters, since the Fourth had also written that they weren’t ready to modify the stay in the sentence directly before the clarification language.  (“We decline to modify our prior order but clarify that the stay … “). 

It was classic SAO nitpicking.  Even with the obvious language of today’s Orders, Silvershein was arguing to keep everything in place just as before (and people in jail whom other ASAs have already agreed to release the moment the stay is officially lifted), and it set Contini off.  The transcript has been ordered, and it should make the news, so we won’t go into great detail except to say an infuriated Contini pressed Silvershein to admit personal involvement in helping the AG compile the large list of cases certified to the DCA as “pending sentencing”.  The judge said the majority of those cases were “disingenuously” listed, that the AG had “perpetrated a fraud” on the appeals court, and had deliberately mislead the Fourth because Defendants who have not pled or been found guilty are innocent until proven guilty, and in broader terms, pending acquittal just as much as they may be pending sentencing.

Silvershein did admit SAO involvement in compiling the list with the AG, and stated they had acted in good faith, but refused to directly admit any personal involvement.  Contini repeatedly pressed him to admit, and pointedly  to answer “yes or no” as to his role.  He was even ordered to answer as things heated up, with bailiffs being asked to escort Silvershein out of the courtroom when no answer was forthcoming.  Under pressure, Silvershein finally offered that he had indeed personally helped put the list together, which pretty much put a close to the hearing.  Silvershein ended by asking for the transcript to be ordered, and exited the courtroom.

So there you have it.  Contini strikes a blow for the little guy, at least emotionally.  It remains to be seen what will happen with the SAO’s request for disqualification, and how far reaching it will be.  Today’s blow-out will also undoubtedly add fuel to the fire.  However, Contini should be applauded for taking a public stand against the latest ham-fisted overreach by Satz and company.  People have been sitting in jail for weeks, while the SAO throws up obstacles despite clear direction from a higher court.  Jobs will undoubtedly be lost, and families will ultimately pay the price, all for the sake of __________ (fill in the blank).

Just another day in Satzland …

New Times: Judge Levey Cohen stands up for the little guy too

COFFEE TALK WITH JORGE LABARGA

ct4ct3

Today’s Guest: Chief Justice Labarga!

Discuss:  Are Florida’s judges underpaid?

Consider:  Budget cuts are hitting agencies across the state hard, to the point the Clerk of Courts is laying off employees, keeping shorter hours, and requiring furlough days.  At the same time, private sector first year associates at top firms start at $160,000 plus a bonus, almost $16,000 more than a circuit judge ($146,079.96), and $22,000 higher than a county judge ($138,019.92).

Should some of the highest paid public servants be concerned about the private sector at a time when all state employees are hurting? Does the extremely generous judicial pension program, which remains unmatched in the private sector even after recent changes requiring state employees to kick in three percent of their yearly income, make up for the perceived shortfall?  Or is Labarga correct in the following beliefs, taken from a recent Sun Sentinel interview:

(Labarga said) (s)tagnant salaries and reforms to state worker-pension programs have caused judges to flee the bench in recent years … “We lost a tremendous amount of judges throughout the state … They are back in private practice making millions right now. So we need to keep what we have, and we need to attract very talented people” … Labarga said better salary or benefits are needed to lure private attorneys into the public sector. As Florida’s population continues to grow and more businesses settle here, the state will need top-notch judges to deal with an influx of civil and contractual cases … Labarga said reforms must start with the pension … He recognizes the state will never be able to compete with private-sector salaries but said guaranteeing judges a secure future can make the position more attractive … “I want some more diversity among the profession … I want to see some more people from the private sector. I want to see more lawyers who are doing contract law … what we see now are pretty much prosecutors.”

TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES!

UPDATE

Bye Bye, Bailiffs – mainstream media is working up a story on the demise of the 17th Circuit’s bailiff system.  Apparently, Broward will be going the way of neighboring counties when it comes to courtroom security, but it will take some time to realize the vision.  We’re told courtrooms will eventually be staffed by a Police Academy trained corrections deputy, and an armed law enforcement officer, without a bailiff in sight.

Where’s the heat coming from?  It’s hard to say, but it’s no secret that as with the judiciary, a handful of unprofessional knuckleheads always ruin it for the good guys.  While most would never dream of power-tripping, it happens.  Additionally, judges may simply feel they need more security, as dockets swell and courtrooms tend to resemble a circus environment on busy days.  It may be theorized that better trained courtroom staff will make for a more professional environment, which certainly is the case in Miami-Dade (corrections) and Palm Beach (armed law enforcement).

The good news is bailiffs have some time to plan.  Sources tell us it will be “six or seven years” before the proposed changes are fully realized, mostly due to budgetary issues.  There simply isn’t enough money to pay the higher wages of the number of corrections and law enforcement deputies necessary to look after a hundred judges.  The implementation plan is thus one of attrition, namely saving up money by continuing the current practice of not replacing bailiffs as they quit or retire.  The new system will be put into effect courtroom by courtroom, until the new staffing solution is operational circuit-wide.

More information should be forthcoming.  Apparently, there’s a meeting with BSO brass and mainstream media this afternoon, so stay tuned …

Staycation over? – the Fourth DCA has given the AG/SAO until Friday to clarify the cases they believe John Contini should be disqualified from.  As everyone knows, the State has been arguing that damn near every open case before Contini at the time the Fourth issued the stay order should be stayed, and John has complied, absent clarification from the court of appeals as to which cases were actually “pending sentencing“.  Additionally, because the stay order is directed at Division FG, and not Contini specifically, efforts to have other judges substitute in to move cases have been successfully thwarted by the SAO.  The result has been loads of people sitting in jail that probably shouldn’t be there, but all that seems likely to change soon, in an apparent victory for the pro-Contini forces.

From an August 3rd Fourth DCA order:

The state is ordered to provide this court with a list of cases “pending sentencing” as previously filed in which a motion for downward departure has been filed.  The state shall file the list in this court by Friday, August 7, 2015. (emphasis added)

We’re told the number of cases that fit the criteria described above could be in the twenties, so hopefully it’s back to business as usual in Division FG soon, if the folks we’ve spoken to are correctly reading the tea leaves …

SS: Contini’s recusal leads to retrial for convicted armed robber facing life sentence

Coming SoonIlona said what?

SALOMON V. MCCARTHY

David-Salomon

David Salomon, former President of the Broward County Hispanic Bar, confirmed earlier today his candidacy for circuit court, group 23, currently occupied by Barbara McCarthy.  David’s filing should post over at the Division of Elections next week.

Word on the street has another formidable candidate eyeing the McCarthy race, so stay tuned …

Justice Advocacy Association of Broward