BULLDOG WEIGHS IN

Under the gun of a new discipline rule, Florida lawyers had better keep judges happy…or else

By Noreen Marcus, FloridaBulldog.org, October 31st:

Judges who want to punish lawyers for any reason now have a superpower that can derail careers, courtesy of the Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court …

“This was all cranked up by activist political judges,” said a lawyer who is familiar with the disciplinary system but has not personally been disciplined … “Passing things like this undermines public confidence in the judiciary.” …

Reacting to misconduct in their courtrooms, judges trust themselves to police the Bar more than they trust the Bar to police itself. That’s at least one law professor’s take on the situation …

The court’s Oct. 21 ruling “suspends all time periods, so there’s a sword of Damocles over your head and you have no right to a speedy resolution,” Lawyer B said …

COMING SOONIt’s Getting Chilly Out There: Rule 3-7.18’s Chilling Effect on the Representation of Criminally Charged Defendants …

TUESDAY NOTES

No Masks! (aka Ready For Trial?) – vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear facemasks in the courthouse, according to Administrative Order 2021-62-Temp, issued today, and effective November 1st. The AO also prioritizes the order in which cases shall be heard by a jury …

AO 2021-62-Temp
“Don’t Trump my Florida”

Jim Lewis runs for Florida Attorney General – perennial candidate Jim Lewis is at it again, this time taking on Ashley Moody. The paperwork for “the Not-Trump Candidate” should appear over at the Division of Elections soon …

IN RE: AMENDMENT TO RULES REGULATING THE FLORIDA BAR–RULE 3-7.18

Jump? How high, you say? – dealing with the Florida Bar when complaints by judges are at issue just got a lot more difficult. The Bar, already notoriously gun-shy when it comes to disposing of grousing by robed complainants, is now subject to the above-styled new rule, which becomes effective on December 20th.

We’re told some judges, of the type who would involve the Bar on matters that are hardly egregious and could easily be settled man to woman, woman to woman, or any combination thereof, have been lobbying for more control over the attorney discipline process. Apparently, for some of the thinner skinned members of the judiciary, too many cases brought by judges have been dropped over the years, resulting in judges now being codified as Super Complainants. Judges’ traditional tools of being able to cajole, pressure, and unnerve bar counsel are now greatly bolstered by a seemingly limitless appeals power in the event a referral is deemed unfounded, in an arena where the Bar is already scared of its own shadow. Read all about it by clicking the link above, and ask yourself why Bar brass would go along with such a quirky amendment, particularly when members of the general public will forever remain more vulnerable to attorney misconduct than any judge could ever be.

Of course, the law is still the law, and due process, or whatever it’s called in Bar proceedings, remains essentially the same at the outset of a judicial complaint. It also remains to be seen if the creation of a special class of litigant will pass Constitutional muster. In the meantime, however, observers are concerned that other cherished legal principles like stare decisis will also be cast to the wind, with judges being allowed to re-file and re-litigate previously disposed perceived slights with the specter of new Rule 3-7.18 looming over hapless bar counsel.

Lastly, what say the JQC? Will the Bar lobby to re-classify judges and attorneys Super Complainants when calling out allegedly misbehaving jurists? Will a transparent and exhaustive JQC appeals process be implemented similar to the one judges now enjoy with the Bar? Or are accusations of judicial misconduct less concerning to the powers that be than those concerning attorneys?

Wait and see …

(Platitude courtesy of the Florida Bar)

Fun With The Rules of Judicial Administration – rules are always a wealth of information, if sometimes ignored.

For instance, did you know, in the absence of a lawyer being set for trial, it’s up to the judges to resolve a busy lawyer’s daily schedule conflicts amongst themselves, and not an added burden on the attorney, as is generally perceived?

Rule 2.550 addresses the issue of the scrambling, sought after attorney, apparently an issue for impatient judges since the Rule of Law was implemented, or at least since the Sixth Amendment Right of Choice of Counsel became a thing. The problem, of course, is there doesn’t seem to be a procedure in place in the 17th Circuit that anyone’s aware of to guide lawyers on where to send their emails pursuant to 2.550 (c), or a system for judges to resolve scheduling conflicts after being noticed.

Once upon a time there was a 17th Circuit administrative order (AO) that prioritized court appearances by rank, specifically 1. Federal/2. Circuit/3. County, but that AO seems to have been retired, because even though it made things easier, it probably hurt the county judges’ feelings. Without it, and without a system in place in accordance with Rule 2.550 (c), lots of ticked off judges often sit around waiting for much busier lawyers, at least in the criminal division.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. And since we’re always here to help, instead of addressing the elephant in the room by asking how it’s possible for some lawyers to be a heck of a lot busier than many of the trial-less judges at, say, 11:00 in the morning, we’ll instead take the lead and gather up the appropriate email lists for publication that can make Rule 2.550 a reality in Broward County …