On Behalf Of Daniel Tibbitt Sent: Wednesday, December 2, 2020 1:19 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: FACDL-Miami 3rd DCA denial of writ on Zoom PVH’s
Today the Third District issued their decision in our writ seeking to stop probation violation hearings from going forward over Zoom. Judges Emas and Hendon ruled against us and found that whatever constitutional issues were present in forcing a defendant to go to a PVH over video and separate from his attorney were outweighed by the special circumstances of the pandemic. Judge Gordo concurred in the denial on the ground that she didn’t find a writ was the appropriate remedy, although she suggested that she did not agree with the constitutional conclusion. Those of us who were involved in the writ will be discussing possible next steps for further litigation on this issue later this week, but for now this decision from the Third DCA will be seen by the Eleventh Circuit judiciary as a green light to hold PVH’s over Zoom, so our members should be aware of that. I will update you if there is further relevant developments on this, and for now if you have a case where a judge is scheduling a PVH over Zoom please let me know so that, as the point person for this effort for FACDL-Miami, I can continue to keep track. The Third DCA decision is attached. If you have questions feel free to reach out.
FloridaBulldog.org has a nice recap of the status of the case thus far found here, without referencing alleged shocking claims discussed in depositions, which include a threat to kill, live-cast topless dancing, possible JQC involvement, and a sitting judge being asked if she knows what her vagina looks like.
Given the extended closures, and the long awaited announcement of additional in-custody Zoom links, which, we’re told, should be implemented shortly, frustrations are at an all-time high in the 17th Circuit.
With the jail cap creeping up to 76% of capacity with roughly 3300 inmates still on widespread lockdowns due to social distancing measures, scared and angry prisoners, together with their families, lawyers, and oftentimes judges, have an awful sense of foreboding about where the Broward County judicial system is heading over the next few months. Cases are simply not being worked out preemptively like they are in neighboring jurisdictions Palm Beach and Miami, and things are at a boiling point with the holiday vacation season and SAO transition on the horizon.
Compounding the problems are a chorus of complaints about Liz Scherer, who, no stranger to late starts when the courthouse is operating normally, has continued to indulge old habits even on her few and far between assigned in-custody Zoom days.
Accordingly, since stakeholder Mike Satz is a first-hand witness to his former employee’s late arrivals on Zoom, the following email was sent earlier today to the SAO’s PIO:
(A)n attorney with thirty-five years experience has spoken with both Chief Judge Tuter and Administrative Judge Circuit Criminal Siegel concerning Judge Scherer’s tardiness yesterday on the in-custody Zoom AM docket. He voiced concerns shared by many individuals that given the scarcity of in-custody Zoom dockets, no judge should be showing up thirty minutes late, and then resetting cases at the BSO 12:00 noon cutoff for defendants who had to wait weeks or possibly even months for their hearings.
I believe both you and Mr. Satz were witnesses to yesterday’s late start, as the Parkland case was also noticed for 8:30 AM, and that Mr. Satz has also been kept waiting on Zoom by Judge Scherer starting late for in-custody Zoom hearings on prior occasions.
As the county’s top law enforcement officer who is in agreement as a stakeholder to keep the courthouse closed, does Mr. Satz feel it is appropriate for a judge to regularly start her three monthly in-custody Zoom dockets late, and have to reset hearings at the BSO cutoff?
Does Mr. Satz feel it is appropriate for the Parkland case, where there is no chance of release for Mr. Cruz, to utilize long periods of precious in-custody Zoom court time that could be dedicated to other defendants who may be releasable?
Does Mr. Satz feel it is acceptable to have only two Zoom links available for in-custody defendants more than eight months into the pandemic closures, and what is he doing to help create more accessibility to courts for inmates given his agreement as a stakeholder to keep the courthouse closed?
Lastly, will Mr. Satz be voicing his concerns to Judge Scherer, Judge Tuter, or Judge Siegel concerning Judge Scherer’s habit for tardiness, or does he believe that’s best left to the private bar?
“I would hope that she uses the time allotted for a docket, given the pandemic, more effectively and efficiently to maximize the number of cases heard. It seems odd to waste that valuable court time having people wait as she often shows up late for a virtual docket.“
So there you have it. It’s up to the private bar and the PDO to let Jack Tuter know what’s going on with his judges, if what little in-custody court time available is to be used efficiently.
We’ll be contacting Bill Barner, head of BACDL, to see if they can help too. In the meantime, contact Tuter with your concerns or personal observations, and suggestions for improvement.
Lastly, as previously stated, additional Zoom links should be forthcoming any day now for in-custody extended hearings, so let’s hope the judiciary can pull together as a team, shorten their traditional holiday breaks, and move some of the backlog of in-custody cases before the whole place goes up in flames.
Good afternoon everyone. Chief Judge Tuter held a virtual meeting today with all the courthouse stakeholders and agencies to discuss the status of Phase 2 and the reopening of Broward Courthouses.
Since Broward County has not met the requirement of a 5% or under, positive testing measure for 14 days our courthouses must remain in Phase 2. We will continue with virtual hearings and no face-to-face contact in courtrooms. We don’t anticipate jury pools until sometime in 2021.
The SAO will continue with our alternating work schedules per your unit supervisors.
As things appear to be getting worse, it is imperative that you maintain social distancing, wear your mask, and frequently wash your hands. The wearing of a mask protects those around you and protects yourself. Also, please keep your family and co-workers in mind as you go out to places on the weekend. Large crowds, small spaces and other weekend events will increase your likelihood of exposure. If you are feeling ill, you should get tested and do not come into the office while you are waiting for the results.
Judge Tuter has ordered that anyone in the public areas of the courthouse without a mask is to be escorted from the building.
Our next meeting with the Chief Judge will be sometime in the first or second week of December.
The results aren’t official yet, reportedly to be certified tonight. We’re told there was an eleven vote shift from the tallies going into this morning’s recount, which had Odom leading by 1,216 votes.
Congratulations to both George Odom and Dennis Bailey on their campaigns. We haven’t heard from Dennis, but George sent over the following text earlier this afternoon:
“Humbled and ready to serve all the people of Broward County.”
“As of Wednesday morning, Odom was leading Bailey by 1,117 votes out of 786,211 cast. The 0.14% margin is slim enough to require a manual recount under state law … “
“Odom, 38, attributed his apparent victory to a long-term strategy of cultivating support in Black churches and community groups, middle class neighborhoods and among his peers in the courthouse. He came in first in a three-way primary in August, but earned less than 50% of the vote, forcing a runoff with Bailey, who came in second.”