Conducted between 1:39 PM and 1:45 PM, June 29th, 2021.
Out of twelve circuit felony courtrooms checked, there were three in use on a Tuesday afternoon.
Circuit judges have been able to set in-person hearings since Monday of last week, for both in-custody and out of custody hearings.
Morning dockets have been running smoothly since the partial reopening began, although many judges, circuit and county, seem to be concluding early in the morning, or well before noon. Judges have also been sorting out scheduling issues due to the large volume of cases previously noticed for Zoom.
Busy lawyers working in other courtrooms are being called to courtrooms where some judges’ dockets are concluding far too early. In some instances, cases are being reset when lawyers are unavailable, begging the question, how can taxpayer funded judges be less busy than attorneys given the historic case backlog and desperate conditions created by the pandemic?
The full reopening starts after July 6th. Let’s hope fighting to get cases on dockets will be a thing of the past, and that all types of hearings will be heard on both morning and afternoon sessions. Judges with less to do should also be encouraged to assist busier judges and share workloads. In the meantime, we’ll be sure to monitor both county and circuit courtrooms while the Supreme Court continues to actively direct the lower courts to cut through the backlog, to ensure the 17th Circuit is properly managing scarce court resources.
As you may know, the federal government announced yesterday that Juneteenth – which commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas – is now a federal holiday. (It is not a state holiday at this point.)
Given the short notice and the fact that Broward courts will remain open on Monday with many hearings already scheduled, we are going to mark the event this year by closing the State Attorney’s Office at 3 p.m. today, Friday.
Hungover young lawyers and older ones needing a caffeine boost no longer have to scramble across SE 6th St for a cup of decent coffee. The rotunda where Napoleon Broward made his final stand is now home to the above-pictured kiosk. Whether it was the County Commission or Jack Tuter who finally ended the coffee drought … Thank You!
“God has truly blessed me with an amazing support system. Last night at Riverside Hotel, Harold Pryor and Michael Satz held a fundraising event in my honor. To everyone who continues to show their support, please know I offer my deepest gratitude. Thank you.”— Bobby DuBose
“The Broward State Attorney’s Office is quite familiar with death penalty convictions being reversed by the courts, because Broward County, under the leadership of lead prosecutor Michael Satz, leads the State of Florida in death penalty case reversals. Many times, these reversals are due to prosecutorial misconduct and overreaching,” wrote Melisa McNeill, chief assistant public defender, and Tamara Curtis, assistant public defender in court papers filed last week.
“The defense is hopeful that the newly elected State Attorney, Harold Pryor, will not continue Michael Satz[‘s] legacy of having the most death penalty cases reversed in the State of Florida,” they said.
Assistant State Attorneys Nicole Chiappone and Jeff Marcus labeled those remarks “unprofessional insults.” (emphasis added)
Still, in addition to death penalty reversals the state attorney’s office under Satz was a party to grievous miscarriages of justice in which long-imprisoned defendants were freed after being exonerated by DNA tests or other evidence. In cases where evidence of police misconduct existed, it was not prosecuted. …
The County Commission looked poised to vote downMark Bogen’s proposal to name the Ceremonial Courtroom after Jack Tuter, when Tim Ryan kept the item alive by asking for a postponement for Tuter to seek a JEAC opinion as to whether the proposed honor for a sitting judge would run afoul of judicial canons.
Steve Geller took the initiative to remove the item off the Consent Agenda. If it had stayed on Consent, it was a done deal. Geller, however, wanted discussion, and was soon joined by Dale Holness, Mike Udine, and Nan Rich in voicingstrong concerns against the precedent of naming something for a relatively young and healthy person.
Geller, referencing Alcee Hastings and others who have received honors while living, stated:
We have made exceptions when people appear to be close to dying … perhaps if he were retiring …
And from Dale Holness:
The entire community knew (Hastings’) health condition …
In response to Mark Bogen’s spurious argument that precedent had also been set via the County Commission dedication plaques that adorn most large public building projects, Nan Rich stated:
The plaque that goes up on a building is not the same … I just have a problem naming parts of buildings for people who are living …
In any event, the whole thing is now set off until the next County Commission meeting in August, pending the aforementioned JEAC opinion. Ryan and the county attorney discussed the possibilities of motions to disqualify Tuter and other legal issues if the naming goes through, echoing concerns we’ve heard regarding Tuter presiding over cases involving Broward County.
Will Tuter seek the opinion, or, recognizing today’s political winds, potential ethical quagmires, and the thoughts raised in Sounds About White and elsewhere, does he withdraw his name from consideration? Does he seek the opinion, and the JEAC puts the issue to bed? Does it still pass, despite today’s on-the-record strong concerns of four commissioners? Does it go down in flames on a vote in August, or does it quietly die on the vine in face-saving fashion before the next meeting, without coming up for a vote?
Date: June 15, 2021 at 9:47:05 AM EDT Subject: (BACDL) Reopening Q&A w/ Judge Coleman today and tomorrow.
Eric Schwartzreich and Josh Danz, co-chairs of the criminal law section of the BCBA, are having a “Q and A” today and tomorrow at 1:30pm with Judge Coleman regarding courthouse re-opening. It will be on Judge Coleman’s zoom.
Infighting and controversy have ironically stricken the Broward County Commission on the eve of an exception being made to the County Administrative Code allowing commissioners to permanently name the new Ceremonial Courtroom in honor of the very much alive Jack Tuter.
Both Mark Bogen,seen here in the comments section posing gleefully with Tuter and Mike Satz, and his colleague, Steve Geller, have come out strongly against the actions of a third commissioner, Dale Holness, to honor Kodak Black via proclamation for his extensive and well-documented charitable efforts.
The proclamation lists several of Black’s contributions, including college costs for the three children of two FBI agents killed in a raid in Sunrise; funeral costs of a South Carolina police officer; and $100,000 to Nova Southeastern University’s law school in memory of Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the Parkland high school shooting in 2018.
“Our commission needs to honor people who have done things that are special and worthy of being honored,” said County Commissioner Mark Bogen. “I do not believe Mr. Black is worthy of that honor. Based on his past criminal conduct, this is not a man we should be honoring.” …
Holness signed the proclamation as the mayor of Broward, a title he had until November, when the one-year term ended. …
By signing the document “claiming to be mayor when he’s not, it’s very troubling any person would sign a document purporting to have a title when the person doesn’t have that title,” Bogen said. …
“What I have read about Kodak Black, I wouldn’t have signed my name to a proclamation,” Geller said.
Brad Cohen, Kodak’s lawyer, who spoke to us this morning, was not happy to hear about Bogen and Geller’s comments. Brad pointed out Kodak’s charitable good works started when he was fifteen years of age, and go much deeper than the ones mentioned in the Sun Sentinel, many having been made anonymously.
“The kid has done so much charity work that it puts other people to shame,” Cohen said.
Later in the day, after the news had sunk in, Cohen authored the following strongly worded post to Twitter:
So there you have it. Racially charged squabbling over honoring an undeniable homegrown minority hero to countless local, national, and international young people, a day before the Commission marches in lockstep to name a prestigious courtroom for a sitting caucasian judge. The timing is instructive, and indicative of much larger problems.
There are, of course, legions of deceased Broward leaders of all backgrounds and professions who took courageous and dangerous stands in the civil rights movement and in other areas, including combat in defense of our nation. Certainly no exception would need to be made for any of these exceptional people, and in a county known for systemic racism in the criminal justice system, where exceptions are only bestowed upon the wealthy or politically powerful, one shouldn’t be given now.
Jack Tuter should take heed and refuse the honor. Despite his achievements, he should pave the way for a more symbolic crusader for change. While Bogen and Geller, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter era, may still be ill-advised and ignorant of the miles Broward needs to travel to shed the shackles of mass incarceration, as evidenced by their objections to a mere proclamation, Tuter is not. The chief judge and those below him understand the ongoing challenges, as would anyone who bothers to take a moment and observe the make-up of the individuals populating circuit court criminal dockets. If the most stubborn problems cannot by their very nature be fixed quickly, powerful symbolic opportunities can and should be capitalized on immediately when rare occasions, such as the naming of the Ceremonial Courtroom, present themselves.