All posts by Jaaber

AN INTRODUCTION

I don’t believe we’ve ever been properly introduced.

My name is Bill Gelin.

I am a husband and a father, and I play a bit of electric guitar for fun.  I have the tinnitus to prove it.

Professionally, I am a lawyer, a journalist, and a whistleblower.

I have been the principal author on JAABLOG for years now.  Other contributors fell by the wayside for various reasons, and new authors have been hard to attract, most certainly because of the way I’ve been treated by the Bar, seemingly for helping to expose corruption, racism, unprofessional behavior, and hypocrisy in the justice system, and for being associated with a blog that doesn’t moderate comments.

Up until now I have written as “we”, and never wanted to become “I”.  That’s because the blog has always been foremost about the issues presented, and because anything that has been accomplished or exposed here has always been a group effort.  The truth is no one ever wants the public credit they’re due, for the same reason other authors have been so hard to find.  I look good because of all of you, and I hope one day attorneys, judges, law enforcement and others won’t have to be afraid to stand out and tell the truth on a public forum such as JAABLOG, and will be able to receive the praise and thanks they’ve earned for making their community a better place.

So why the change in pronouns?

Because I have decided to run for president-elect of the Florida Bar, a hidebound organization that I believe is gravely in need of reform, and I would like any attorney reading here to help me get my name on the ballot.

Further articles will greatly detail my positions and specific ideas, but in general terms, I will now state five general areas of interest:

  1. I am interested in utilizing the president’s spokesperson-ship to raise awareness of long-standing traditions of institutional racism within the legal system, and to direct the legislative advocacy function of the Bar to deter and compromise same.
  2. I am interested in reforming the judicial appointment process to ensure merit-based elevations and diversity on the bench commensurate with the general population.  I also want to work with the judiciary as a whole to improve professionalism and performance on the bench, not only to improve the system for everyone, but to preclude judicial problems before they become public embarrassments.
  3. I am interested in ending the Bar’s war on free political speech and efforts to chill criticism of public officials by those who work with and know them best, to ensure fairness, efficiency, an informed electorate, and public confidence in the legal system.
  4. I am interested in reforming the attorney discipline system to make it effective and due process oriented, instead of the current system which I believe disproportionately targets sole practitioners and goes easy on politically active or powerful lawyers, or those that can hire same, and ironically serves in most cases to simply distract a lawyer mentally and time-wise from his or her sacred and time-consuming duties owed to clients.
  5. I am interested in having a Bar that all lawyers can be proud of, and not, as is often the case, one they resent, and one which can rehabilitate the reputation of the legal profession in the eyes of the general public.

I am not asking for your vote at this time, but I am asking for your signature.  Bar rules state any member in good standing may be nominated if one percent of the membership signs a petition.  I will pledge to sign any other hopeful nominee’s petition in addition to my own, as I believe the importance of the sought after position deserves as much open debate, diversity of ideas and candidates, and discourse as is possible.  I also pledge if elected to not capitalize on the position to transform or grow my practice, or to sell my services down the road as an expert witness in fee disputes or other marketable areas open to past-presidents.  If fortunate enough to serve, I will remain a committed criminal defense sole practitioner.

Finally, I must address the elephant in the room, Brenda v. Blog.

There have been recent bizarre developments that mainstream media will hopefully be reporting on shortly.  However, in advance of any news coverage, I want to stress that Brenda v. Blog is not the driving force in my seeking Bar office, while it is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I want it to be known at the outset that current frustrations aside, I have always been keenly aware and disappointed that whatever accomplishments JAABLOG can claim regarding the overarching goals of tempering racism and injustice in the legal system are clearly more like bandages on symptoms than cures.  Any trip to a felony courtroom in Broward or throughout most of Florida unfortunately drives that point home with a vengeance.  The daily lessons of life in a courthouse are the driving force as to why I am now stepping up to the plate and seeking your preliminary support, just as they were the impetus to start blogging all those years ago.  This fact needs to be made clear, and I hope everyone will weigh all the issues before deciding whether or not to sign my petition.

Thank you,

Bill Gelin

(Disclaimer/Unsolicited Mass Communications – anyone subscribed to JAABLOG not wishing to receive blogs regarding my candidacy for president-elect of the Florida Bar should immediately UNSUBSCRIBE to JAABLOG.  Furthermore, the traditional “we” shall continue to be used for JAABLOG reportage not dealing with the petition drive or my candidacy)

“Forman doesn’t have the financial wherewithal”

*UPDATE* –  SS: Broward Clerk of Courts Brenda Forman is under criminal investigation

_________________________________________________________________________

Brenda is in over her head, and her courtroom shenanigans against former husband Howard Forman and JAABLOG aren’t making things any better.

At issue now is Amendment 10, which puts Brenda in charge of overseeing Broward County’s finances, among other things.

According to yesterday’s Sun Sentinel Editorial:

” … (T)he amendment makes the clerk of courts the “custodian of all county funds,” work long handled by the county administrator, who reports to county commissioners. Under today’s structure, Broward boasts a AAA bond rating.

The amendment contains one important caveat, however. It says the clerk will become the custodian of county funds, unless otherwise provided by county charter or special law.

House Bill 1183 is the Broward delegation’s attempt to create that special law and keep Forman from overseeing the county’s finances. Given her lack of qualifications for the job, it is a worthy effort.”

The editorial goes on to chronicle Brenda’s credibility destroying missteps, in addition to speaking of her general lack of qualifications.  Unfortunately, the Editorial Board was likely not aware of recent Brenda v. Blog developments regarding the Miami-Dade SAO accepting an Executive Assignment concerning Broward’s Clerk of Courts, otherwise the article could have been spicier.

From an email sent last week by Paula McMahon, Broward SAO’s public information officer:

” … (O)ur office sent Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office a request for an executive assignment on your complaint. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office accepted the executive assignment this afternoon.”

That’s all we know at this point, but will update with any developments.  Stay tuned until 2020, as it’s All About Brenda

DIAZ WHIFFS

Bobby Diaz and his friends don’t seem to like media coverage.

First there was Bar v. Blog back in 2013, when Diaz and Marni Bryson focused complaints were dismissed by the Bar without direction.  “That’s not what was done in this case” former Bar director of lawyer regulation Ken Marvin told the Sun Sentinel.  “An inference can be drawn from the fact that no letter of advice was issued.”

Next came the complaint against Larry Meltzer for holding his ground against Jill Levy when his mother-in-law was bravely facing down her final days (see transcript page 29/40).  This too was summarily dismissed by a Bar grievance committee, with no public comment from Levy, a known compadre of Diaz.

Brenda v. Blog is still ongoing, despite the travesty exposed by video evidence.  Forman has been close to Diaz and his wife, Dian Diaz, a one time high-ranking officer at the Clerk’s Office.

Lastly, a complaint signed by Diaz against Adriana Alcalde was dismissed today by a letter to the complaining party that seems sympathetic to Alcalde, pictured below, together with relevant portions of the original complaint.  Diaz put his name to the complaint on August 29, 2018, one day after his August 28th election victory over Michael Heise.

Read the letter carefully.  It’s hoped the Bar may have had enough of these types of frivolous complaints against good lawyers, as seems to be indicated by the chosen language.  In any event, we’ve frequently brought the ongoing issues to the attention of anyone who will listen, including Howard Finkelstein, who stated earlier today:

We are well aware of the disturbing patterns playing out with the Broward judiciary and the Bar, and it has not escaped my radar screen.

Stay tuned …

COMING SOON Is Satz passing the baton in early May?

(Click Images To Enlarge)

From the complaint:

(Therein a discussion of State v. Good ensued … )

And from Brenda’s most recent submission to the Bar in Brenda v. Blog:

Brenda & Bobby; Ken Gottlieb, Diaz, and Jill Levy

NBC 6 – Catching up with Ilona Holmes …

SS – Brenda tried to land spot on Florida Bar after complaining about lawyer …

SS – Forman v. Forman in 2020 for Clerk …

Lakeland Ledger – Former ASA Donna Perry and alleged workplace affair

5 way race

Attorney Sean Conway is seeking to succeed Howard Finkelstein in 2020, joining Gordon Weekes, Ruby Green, Jim Lewis, and Tom Lynch, whose filing is found here.

From an email from Sean this morning:

“I am filing this week to become Broward’s next Public Defender!

In memory of my father, Jack Conway, an Irish citizen, who had always encouraged me to run some day, I had planned to announce it this St. Patrick’s Day.  It is something I have been planning to do for a very long time.  I really liked working for Al Schreiber, back when you and I were trial partners there.  It genuinely felt like a place where people enjoyed coming to work.  

Here are a few ideas I want to talk to the voters about:  

*I see no reason why every attorney who receives a taxpayer salary should not have a case load – even the elected PD.  Having ran my own private practice for the past 14 years, I see no reason why a lawyer cannot both supervise and represent people;

*Why does a taxpayer-funded agency call up every newly arrested inmate to ask if they need a lawyer?  I would make sure each jail has a free line to call the PD’s office & the office would also monitor all inmates to see if they are in there without any charges having been filed, or if they are being held without bond.  But the private defense Bar and bailbond agencies used to handle that quite efficiently, and I see no reason to go in and solicit additional criminal defense work on behalf of the taxpayers.    

* Also, I would work with the new Sheriff to get that Jail-Video link Mr. Schreiber had established back up & running again.  Not only did that Jail-Video link save time for the attorneys, but also less work for the BSO corrections deputies; 

* I would explore the idea of all attorneys being permitted to do limited, outside legal work (non-criminal), with certain policies in place;

*Lastly, if I am chosen by the voters, nobody at the PD office loses their job just because I am elected.  Everyone starts with a clean slate.  Even if you openly support other candidates – all I am asking for is your vote.  I have seen the tragedy which befalls other offices around the State when there is a change in administration.  It is not fair to the clients, for one thing – but also people should be able to express their political opinions without fear of repercussions … “

4 WAY RACE

The race for Public Defender may be getting a lot more interesting soon.  In addition to Gordon Weekes, Ruby Green, and Jim Lewis, retired judge Tom Lynch is also seriously considering throwing his hat in the ring to replace Howard Finkelstein in 2020.

As the rumors reached fever pitch this week, Tom was asked for a comment this morning.  Here’s what he had to say:

”I’m leaning heavily to run for the public defender, and will make my final decision soon. If I run I will file in early April. I have had encouraging phone conversations with a number of people. I was hired as a public defender before I was even a lawyer. Al Schreiber was the best boss I ever had. The public defenders office taught me how to become a trial lawyer. I was always extremely proud to be a public defender. I believe the office can be run better. I’m told there is low morale, and I believe the focus should be on everyone trying cases.”

Interestingly, Tom’s decision may impact the candidacy of another rumored hopeful, Josh Rydell.  

When asked about Lynch, here’s what Rydell said:

”Based on conversations I have had with retired judge Tom Lynch, I will not be running for public defender and look forward to working diligently with Tom on his campaign as we both have a similar vision for the office.”

Whether or not a Lynch filing impacts the candidacies of any of the already filed individuals remains to be seen …

OTHER NEWS – Al Pollock for Sheriff; Congratulations to Terrence Lynch, BSO’s New General Counsel …

REJECTED!

Brenda’s quest to sit on the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors has failed.  Unbeknownst to us, she had applied to be a lawyer overseer on January 4th, after falsely complaining to the Bar about JAABLOG’s supposedly aggressive behavior, which was also claimed in her now discredited lawsuit.

Jack Thompson, one time blog foe and now friend, sent over the Dear Brenda letter pictured above, and we followed up today with the Bar’s PIO, who provided Forman’s redacted application, found here.  The Bar could not recall a Constitutional Officer ever applying for the Board of Governors over the last twelve years or so, but a thorough records check was not requested, and has not been done at this time.

As far as Brenda’s motives in wanting to participate in formulating and adopting matters of policy concerning the activities of the Bar, the application doesn’t mention whether or not JAABLOG played a role.  In any event, her written statement regarding “how important it is to stay on the honest and right side of the law” is welcome, given the mixed messages previously offered by Mark Speiser in her guardianship debacle, and her affidavits and assertions now wholly contradicted by video in Brenda v. Blog

The above photograph of shackled juveniles being led to court in the North Wing of the central courthouse was not taken years ago, when people like Vic Tobin and Peter Weinstein were campaigning hard for a new courthouse tower.  It was, in fact, taken this morning, and is representative of the still daily medieval display that the now built, expensive new courthouse was supposed to eliminate.

Given Jack Tuter’s recent plea in the DBR to “encourage anyone involved in the court system to give us input on changes we can make to be more efficient,” the following email was sent this afternoon to the chief judge:

” … I am requesting a meeting to give input on how we can address the shameful practice of parading shackled juveniles in the public hallways of the North Wing.”

Of course, since Tuter has blocked JAABLOG from sending emails directly to all judges after some embarrassing word snafus, the message bounced back, which is why it’s being posted here …

JQC v. KOLLRAhere is the Sun Sentinel on the most recent example of a Broward judge stepping in it.  It’s the “Is the rumored impending JQC action merely a campaign violation case?” that we mentioned back on December 5th.  And as far as Dennis Bailey’s proposed JQC settlement, there’s still no direction from the Supreme Court …

SS: Path to court for shackled Broward juveniles is shameful spectacle (2010)

” … When Broward County builds a new courthouse, the problem will be solved, (Tobin) said, because separate, private pathways for juveniles will be designed and built into it … “

TWO MORE FOR TUTER

Kathy Pugh sent the following email message this morning, after early voting tallies for Jack Tuter’s unopposed run for a new term as chief judge were satisfied:

I am pleased to announce that Chief Judge Jack Tuter  has been re-elected by a majority vote of all active Judges for another two year term beginning July 1, 2019.

Congratulations!

Coming Soon – Is Jack Tuter Broward’s newest chief judge for life?