FIX THIS NOW, PETER!

blogg Ask Azim Ramelize …

The sleek new courthouse is partially open for business, but the festivities are muted due to the embarrassing, seemingly patchwork ramp that connects the North Wing to the new addition.  The long hallway has already caught the attention of the Sun Sentinel and ADA attorney Matthew Dietz, who is on record stating the ramp’s angle is steeper than Federal standards allow.  As one courthouse regular puts it, even if the slope is legal, it’s definitely not accident or lawsuit proof.

Today we shot a couple videos with APD Azim Ramelize to show just how fast the ride down is, and how straining the climb back up will be for folks in wheelchairs.  Video Number One is here, and Video Number Two, wherein Azim discusses some of the other problems in the existing courthouses facing disabled folks, is found here.

Let’s hope Peter Weinstein, who has made the new courthouse his number one priority, addresses all of the issues immediately, and doesn’t leave them for the new chief judge to solve … *

* The CJ election is February 1st.  Absentee voting is currently underway.  Jack Tuter, Fred Horowitz, and Carlos Rodriguez are the candidates.  The new boss takes over in July …

12 FOR 2

The following twelve names were sent to Rick Scott in consideration to replace Tom Lynch and Arthur Birken on the circuit court:

Daniel Casey, Tom Coleman, Fabienne Fahnestock, John Fry, Yael Gamm, Stefanie Moon, Michele Ricca, Abbe Rifkin, Andrew Salvage, Claudette Vanni, Mariya Weekes, Michelle Zeiger …

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Peter Weinstein Tuesday morning, swearing in Betsy Benson, Debbie Carpenter-Toye, Barbara Duffy, Kathleen McCarthy, Mike Lynch, Kim Mollica, Florence Taylor Barner, and Andrea Gundersen …

(click photo to enlarge)

WELCOME BACK, RACIAL DISPARITY …

921.002The Criminal Punishment Code.—The Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) shall apply to all felony offenses, except capital felonies, committed on or after October 1, 1998.
(1) … The Criminal Punishment Code embodies the principles that:
(a) Sentencing is neutral with respect to race, gender, and social and economic status(emphasis added)

However, before the 1998 CPC was enacted, there were older guidelines in use, originally put in place in part to combat racial disparity in sentencing, which capped the amount of time a judge could dole out to an offender.  In fact, a Department of Corrections report entitled Sentencing Guidelines 1995-96 Annual Report, Part II: Impact, Section 2.  Sentencing Neutrality, states as follows:

FACT: This study found that an offender’s race has NO meaningful effect on the sentencing decisions made by Florida courts under the 1994 and 1995 sentencing guidelines structure.

And now comes the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s exhaustive study entitled Florida’s broken sentencing system, finding racial disparity alive and well throughout the state.  After examining “tens of millions of documents” relating to criminal cases from 2004-2015, all cases falling after the enactment of the 1998 CPC which eliminated caps and allows judges to impose any sentence within the statutory maximum, the Herald-Tribune found racial bias in sentencing is back with a vengeance.

The good folks in Sarasota didn’t suggest the 1998 changes to the guidelines as a possible factor in the inexcusable reemergence of racial disparity in sentencing, but some of our sources did.  Additionally, sources caution against the filing of disqualification motions against the worst judicial offenders based upon the Herald-Tribune’s Judges Database, at least until a better understanding of the methodology employed by the paper can be realized, and a more thorough consideration is given concerning the role all parties may play in the current state of sentencing in Florida, namely the SAO, PDO, Defense Bar, Law Enforcement, DOC, JNC, JQC, DCA, SCT, Judicial College, and Legislature.  Until that time, however, lawyers should be informing their clients of the study, particularly in courtrooms starring judges with higher scores on the racial bias database scorecard …

Everyday People …

New Courthouse Move-In Schedule

Coming SoonGoodbye, Hugh’s Catering …

NYT on the cost of diversion programs

Rumple: Brennan out after fiasco in the Keys

31 FOR 2

Below is the list of applicants for the two Circuit Court vacancies as a result of the resignations of Broward County Circuit Judges Thomas M. Lynch, IV and Arthur M. Birken.

1.      David Bierman

2.      Randi Glick Boven

3.      Daniel A. Casey

4.      Thomas James Coleman 

5.      Haccord J. Curry, Jr. 

6.      Andrew C. Demos

7.      Fabienne E. Fahnestock

8.      Phoebee Rebecca Francois

9.      John D. Fry

10.   Yael Gamm

11.   Pamela M. Gordon

12.   Michael Heise

13.   Doreen Inkeles

14.   Nicole Hunt Jackson

15.   Scott A. Levine

16.   Samuel D. Lopez

17.   Stefanie C. Moon

18.   Robert G. Nichols

19.   Bradford Alan Peterson

20.   Michele McCaul Ricca

21.   Abbe S. Rifkin

22.   Andrew L. Salvage

23.   Rhoda Sokoloff

24.   Max G. Soren

25.   Scott R. Strauss

26.   Russell Miller Thompson 

27.   Madeleine Torres

28.   Claudette Renee Vanni 

29.   Mariya Weekes

30.   Gerard S. Williams

31.   Michelle Zeiger

THANKS, MIKE!

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November SAO Newsletter (click to enlarge)

Mike Satz may not have money to move his employees out of the old courthouse, but he does have $78,000 annually to invest in his 2020 reelection campaign.

At least that’s how some people are categorizing the recent hiring of the first ever SAO Community Outreach Programs Director Lisa Arneaud, pictured above.  She’s on board as of November 1st at the previously mentioned salary, just two months after Satz squeaked out a reelection victory over Teresa Williams in August by a mere 5400 votes.

Sadly, it would appear the pained face of old Mike at his reelection night party was not due to a bad burrito, or to the thought of how he was going to ensure Sarahnell Murphy as his chosen successor after his last triumphant term.  Rather, it seems things are getting way too close for comfort for Broward’s self-appointed State Attorney for life.

As for the $78,000 being paid to Arneaud, many at the SAO are now up in arms, in addition to the sick offices issue.  To put things in perspective, Satz has five dedicated, long-term lawyers in the top of the heap Homicide Unit making $82,000 a year, and one stuck at $70,000.  Factor in the $102,000 being paid to Public Information Officer Ron Ishoy, and the message seems perfectly clear: It’s All About Mike …

Coming SoonCircuit Criminal Judges Revolt: Hell No, We Won’t Go!

EVICTION!

*NEW UPDATE* – we spoke to Marty Kiar, outgoing Mayor of Broward County, at around 1:00 PM.  Marty had spoken with Alphonso Jefferson, the county liaison to the courthouse, who stated Monica Hofheinz had received authority from Peter Weinstein to start moving SAO lawyers into the Law Library before consulting with the County.  It is unknown at this time if Weinstein was aware of the ordinance mandating the Law Library when he made his decision.

Furthermore, Broward County Ordinance Sec. 19-6, in italics below, seems to indicate the Chief Judge may have overstepped his authority …

A committee to be known as the Broward County Law Library Committee shall be composed of a circuit judge residing in Broward County, who shall be chairman, and four (4) practicing attorneys who are members of the Broward County Bar Association. The said circuit judge and attorneys shall be designated from time to time by the Broward County Bar Association, and notice of such designation given to the County Commission of Broward County. The said law library committee shall have full authority to prescribe and enforce rules and regulations as to the use, maintenance and operation of said library. The clerk of the circuit court shall be ex officio secretary to the committee. The law library committee shall have the sole and absolute authority to select the law books and periodicals to be purchased for the Broward County Law Library. The law library funds shall be expended only for the purpose of procuring, equipping and maintaining the law library for public use and the same is hereby made a county purpose. The law library committee shall conduct, maintain, manage and make all policy decisions for the Broward County Law Library. All purchases made by said committee shall not be subject to the restrictions placed upon county purchases by general or special laws, and it shall not be necessary to advertise for bids or to secure bids for purchases made by said committee.

(emphasis added)__________________________________________________________________

*UPDATE* – an SAO source says employees have been given the option of moving to the 110 Tower or the Law Library, and that the Law Library should remain open, but we’re still waiting for confirmation from County officials …

______________________________________________________________________

We’re told the current Law Library may be a goner, at least temporarily, in order to accommodate SAO personnel currently housed in the old courthouse, until the new building opens.  SAO Director Monica Hofheinz has reportedly received authorization for the takeover, but has not returned a call seeking confirmation at this time.

Broward County Ordinance Sec. 19-1, in italics below, would have to be suspended.  It is unknown at this time whether the public will have access to a pared down law library during any proposed move …

Sec. 19-1: The establishment and maintenance of a county law library in the court house at the county seat of Broward County, Florida, is hereby declared to be desirable, a public need, and a general county purpose; that the purchase of law books, legal periodicals, and the continuation of law books and legal periodicals for placement in said county law library, and the maintenance of said county law library, shall be a general county purpose.

DEVELOPING …

SS: SAO Orders County To Move Employees

CAUTION ASBESTOS

(Click to Enlarge)

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Longtime readers will remember a picture of one of the asbestos warning signs seen above from Room 510-M published on JAABLOG years ago.  Apparently, that old photo made the rounds at today’s County Commission Meeting detailing employees’ growing concerns with the old building.  However, since our source couldn’t say whether or not the Commissioners realized the signs still adorn the air handlers on the fifth floor directly below the SAO in the old courthouse, we figured we’d publish the above new photos, all taken yesterday, November 14th, at around 11:30 AM …