All posts by Jaaber

“Slow and gradual”

UPDATE IIMonica Hofheinz email to all SAO Units at 4:11 PM:

Today a meeting was held with the Chief Judge and other Courthouse stakeholders. It was determined, based on the downward trend of COVID-19 stats that our court system is getting closer to moving into Phase II and we will begin transitioning over the next few weeks and into October.

Phase II – limited in-person contact is authorized for certain purposes and/or requires use of protected measures.

The courthouse will not be opening to the full public or jurors just yet and virtual hearings will continue. Some measures are being installed in the courtrooms for phase II testing purposes.

Two Zortemp 1000 full body scanners with option for foreheads or wrists will be installed and tested at the West Courthouse entrance. Handheld scanners will be used at the 3rd floor rotunda entrance and Regional Courthouse entrances.

For SAO staff, we may be instituting the use of handheld no-contact thermometers at a future date.

We are beginning to bring back several support staff to work in the building with alternating schedules as the work on cases and mail has increased. Maintaining our alternating schedule will help with our social distancing. Everyone is still required to wear their mask, maintain 6 feet apart and not gather in groups.

The elevators are still a problem which has not been resolved.

The next meeting and update will be sometime early October. Stay vigilant and safe everyone.

UPDATE I – Response to a PRR requesting Supreme Court/17th Circuit recent operational plans, received at 4:05 PM:

The Office of the State Courts Administrator has concluded the operational plans in its possession are confidential and exempt, as explained below. That said, the 17th Circuit has its administrative orders about operational and due process procedures available on its website: http://www.17th.flcourts.org/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/

The base operational plan provided to the OSCA is also on its website. You can find the link in the attached document.

In regard to operation plans held by the OSCA: A judicial circuit’s operational plan is a record containing information that directly relates to the physical security of property owned or leased by the state. All such records, including portions thereof, are confidential and exempt from public access pursuant to Rules 2.420(c)(7), and (8), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, and sections 119.071(3)(a), and 281.301, Florida Statutes, and as such will not be released by the Office of State Courts Administrator.

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Original JAABLOG post at 2:40PM

Firm reopening dates have apparently not been set following today’s stakeholders’ meeting, with a concern expressed over other circuits having reversed course back to Phase I after attempting aggressive Phase II implementation. The PDO and SAO are also said to be in agreement with a slow and gradual reopening plan, specifics of which could be announced after Supreme Court review of a recently submitted 17th circuit proposal. We’re chasing that plan down at this time, but we’re told November or mid-November may still be the operative dates …

FRIDAY AT NOON

Lawyers and all others interested in traffic cases are invited to attend a 12:00 PM Zoom meeting tomorrow, September 18th at 12:00 PM with John Fry, head of the traffic infraction program for the 17th Circuit.

Pursuant to this Administrative Order signed by Jack Tuter on Monday, changes to the way pretrial hearings and traffic trials are handled during the pandemic and beyond are coming, with the potential for things to get cheaper for all those looking to work out tickets pretrial, and much more expensive if resolved via plea on the day of trial …

The meeting ID: 561 587 919.

RUMOR HAS IT …

… the courthouse will remain closed through October, with an expected reopening date of November 2nd. Jury trials are likely to be suspended until after the new year.

We’re told there’s a meeting Friday to discuss reopening, so wait and see if the information above is accurate …

SS – Broward public defender who was fired the day after losing a bid for her boss’s seat has landed a new job — as a prosecutor

FUN WITH PRR’S

The Florida Bar has turned over the closed Brenda v. Blog file, pursuant to a public records request. As with other closed files we’ve received from them, it seems wildly incomplete, with loads of duplications of documents, emails, and newspaper articles that would have already been in the possession of the parties. Whether or not the obviously missing information is deemed work product or otherwise somehow exempt, remains to be seen.*

For whatever reason, an interesting email was included, possibly by mistake, pictured below. Full information leading up to the request that’s the subject of the memo is not included, and there’s nothing provided that explains how the hiring of a 1st Amendment outside counsel issue was concluded. In any event, all those who believe Brenda v. Blog was being driven by Tallahassee and not Brenda, have seemingly been proven correct …

So there you have it. Interested parties to Brenda v. Blog included Adria Quintela, at the time head of lawyer regulation in Tallahassee and now a law professor at FSU, who was also involved locally in the Bobby Diaz and Marni Bryson focused complaints back when Ken Marvin was in charge. Also “Josh,” believed to be Josh Doyle, the Executive Director of the Bar, and Jack Tuter, together with unnamed “numerous Broward County judges,” all ostensibly in support of Brenda’s attack on the only unfettered, 1st Amendment defending courthouse blog on the planet …

SS – GC dismisses Forman’s complaints

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* While the above post was being written, the following email was received concerning the missing components of the file:

Rule 3-7.1(a), Rules Regulating the Florida Bar states that “[A]ll records including files, preliminary investigation reports, interoffice memoranda, records of investigations, and the records in trials and other proceedings under these rules, except those disciplinary matters conducted in circuit courts, are property of The Florida Bar. All of those matters are confidential and will not be disclosed except as provided in these rules.”

Subsection (b) them identifies what the Bar considered the “public record” subject to disclosure – “[T]he public record consists of the record before a grievance committee, the record before a referee, the record before the Supreme Court of Florida, and any reports, correspondence, papers, recordings, and/or transcripts of hearings furnished to, served on, or received from the respondent or the complainant.”

You have previously been provided the entire public record.

SS – Sandy D’Alemberte on Brenda v. Blog

SUN SENTINEL ON AMY BLOOM/ALEX ARREAZA

BLOOMING BRADY SCANDAL

While Zooming around yesterday, we stumbled upon State v. Jerrod Watson, Jr. , 16-008459-CF10A, before Tim Bailey. It’s a major Brady scandal, featuring former ASA Amy Bloom, fired in June from the SAO for insensitive Facebook posts. The Sun Sentinel was present for yesterday’s hearing, which time didn’t allow us to attend. They have a full story in the works.

By way of background:

Alex Arreaza, counsel for Watson, filed this Motion to Vacate Plea, which he reports was granted after the SAO conceded. Watson, thirteen days past his eighteenth birthday, had been convicted on May 17, 2018 of Attempted Murder in the First Degree and Discharging a Firearm From a Vehicle, and sentenced to a year and a day in prison followed by ten years of supervision, concurrent with other matters.

From the motion:

The motion to vacate was filed after these SAO plea & closeout memos were discovered by Alex, information he says he learned about pursuant to a public records request.

From the plea memo:

And from Bloom’s closeout:

This morning, Arreaza stated the following:

“Jerrod was a minor, African American that was direct filed. After finding there was a sworn statement the state withheld the affidavit. This is disturbing because these constitutional violations seem to happen to African Americans and Hispanics that don’t have enough money to fight it. I was court appointed spd (special public defender). Now we go back to square one. We’re going to try the case. I’m surprised that the State has decided to go forward after reading Amy Bloom’s memo stating that they have no evidence and a victim recanting.”

Stay tuned for the full story from the Sun Sentinel …

GAME OVER!

The Florida Bar has taken the rotten tomato they were using for a ball in Brenda v. Blog, and gone home. Via letter dated August 25th to Forman, the case was formally closed some 667 days after the Bar received the initial complaint, following a no probable cause finding by Grievance Committee 17(c) on August 3rd. The controversial proceedings were carried through up to and including the Bar’s closure letter, which contained face-saving, false assertions. The Sun Sentinel’s Rafael Olmeda broke the full story earlier this morning.

Along the way, Brenda and her team at the Bar not only invigorated JAABLOG’s flagging interest in regular blogging, they also provided an abject lesson in the Streisand effect. If clerk’s employees, bailiffs, and other courthouse personnel outside of the blog’s traditional audience of lawyers, judges, media, and the JQC weren’t reading and commenting here before Brenda v. Blog, they are now.

As previously stated, our disappointment lies not with Brenda, of whom this type of conduct is to be expected. Our anger is with the disciplinary arm of the Bar, which by its actions has not only encouraged this type of awful behavior in Brenda and others like her, but has, most egregiously, stained the reputation of the Supreme Court, of which the Bar is an arm. The honorable men and women of Florida’s highest court deserve better, and the Bar should be held accountable.

Our deepest thanks to pro bono warriors Adriana Alcalde, Geoff Cohen, and John Howes, for seeing us through the most recent, and likely not the last, Bar assault on the Broward courthouse blog. Whether or not they agree with all or any of the things JAABLOG is, these honorable lawyers would walk the ends of the Earth to defend the Constitution of the greatest nation in the history of the world, upholding the solemn oaths they swore. They join Ed Hoeg, Russell Cormican, Jr., Norm Kent and Michael Klasfeld before them in their tireless, gratis efforts on behalf of JAABLOG, protecting free speech and true professionalism. We are truly indebted.

Now, without further ado, it’s time to add Brenda’s name to the JAABLOG Hall of Fame, namely the full & complete list of all those who have pursued or been the focus of baseless formal complaints to the Bar against the only unfettered, 1st Amendment defending courthouse blog on the planet:

Brenda Forman – who was found to have acted in bad faith in circuit court proceedings, defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “dishonesty of belief, purpose, or motive” …

Matt Destry – who quit the bench under a cloud of serious JQC accusations

Bobby Diaz – who was suspended and fined by the JQC for ethical violations in 2005 …

Marni Bryson – who is currently embroiled in a lawsuit involving accusations of marital infidelity and nude photographic texts of the judicial body …

Charles Morehead (RIP) – who violated Grievance Committee confidentiality ethics rules during l’affaire Scheinberg

Jack Thompson – who was an attorney at the time of his complaints, and is now disbarred … *

(*It must be noted Jack became a very good friend to JAABLOG shortly after his complaints closed, and remains so to this day … )

In closing, our thanks to you, dear readers. Your support throughout the years has been astounding, and won’t be forgotten. The tips, comments, and readership do more to hold our elected officials accountable than any official agency, and with your continued support, JAABLOG will never be silenced by the type of harassment and extra-legal maneuvers the Bar resorted to in Brenda v. Blog. On that you have our solemn word …

THANKS FOR PLAYING!

The Florida Bar Zone (May ’19)

CHANGE.ORG Petition – Justice for Ruby Green

COMING SOONThe return of Ilona Holmes’ Blue Light Special?

“Judge, I need one last continuance until January … “

PRYOR UPDATE

We were going to let Harold Pryor have a little breathing room after Tuesday’s primary victory, but reached out to him earlier today following loads of queries concerning the two specific issues below, which have also been topics in the comments section.

1. Will Ilona Holmes have a formal role in a Pryor SAO, assuming victory in November?

Heres what Harold had to say:

“It’s too early for me to make that determination. We just won a primary and have a general election coming up.

I will say she’s a great attorney and was a great judge, and why wouldn’t anyone want to consider Judge Holmes in any capacity?

I can also say I believe this rumor got going because I have asked former Bar president Eugene Pettis and Judge Holmes to head my transition team, if we’re fortunate enough to win in November.”

2. Is Mike Satz staying on the Parkland case?

“I’m still reviewing the matter, but it’s important to note the case is going on as scheduled, and I certainly have no plans to disrupt it.

While still being reviewed, it’s important to note the families I’ve spoken to during the primary election phase have strongly communicated to me that they want Mike Satz working on the case.