All posts by Jaaber

MORE FROM THE FLORIDA BAR ZONE

Michelle Suskauer didn’t answer any of our questions, but she’ll sure be answering serious ones brought to the Bar’s attention by Jimmy Cohn.

From today’s Palm Beach Post article by Jane Musgrave:

The Florida Bar is investigating its president, longtime West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Michelle Suskauer, after a federal judge alerted the agency that she may have let a disbarred lawyer represent one of her clients …

“Certainly his role was more than that of a paralegal,” (Judge) Cohn said after looking at dozens of emails (that disbarred lawyer John) Garcia exchanged with accused fraudster Anthony D’Amico. “And he had direct client contact, which is prohibited by the Florida Bar. And it is a serious allegation.”

“Quite honestly,” Cohn continued, “the Florida Bar needs to take a look at this, and I plan to refer it to the Florida Bar.” …

While (Suskauer) didn’t attend a hearing in February when D’Amico pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud for allegedly directing more than $1.5 million of a former employer’s money into his own accounts, she said she sent an associate. She said she didn’t know why Garcia sat at the defense table.

D’Amico said it was all part of the ruse to make him believe Garcia was a lawyer. The only reason he hired Garcia was because Suskauer urged him to do so, D’Amico told Cohn. She described Garcia as a “federal court specialist,” he said. So, he agreed to pay Garcia $10,000 on top of the “significant amount” he paid Suskauer, he said …

“We used him as an expert so that our clients, if they’re sentenced as such, will be able to be better acclimated to the procedure,” (Suskauer) said. Aside from offering prison counseling, he worked only as a paralegal, she said.

But, Cohn said, Garcia — with Suskauer’s help — may have stepped over some important lines. He asked Suskauer about various Bar rules that attorneys must follow when dealing with disbarred lawyers. For instance, lawyers much file quarterly reports that include statements that none of a disbarred attorney’s work involved the unlicensed practice of law and that the former lawyer had no direct contact with clients, according to the Bar’s website.

Suskauer said she wasn’t familiar with the rules but was convinced that neither she nor Garcia violated them.

“Well, perhaps you should acquaint yourself with Florida Bar Rule of Professional Conduct 3-6.1(d)(2),” Cohn said. “I think you may come away with a different opinion.” …

THE FLORIDA BAR ZONE

 Imagine if you will:

A dimension where the chief justice of the Supreme Court is the strongest of proponents for free political speech …

(click any image to enlarge)

… living in a world where his underling Bar prosecutors and attorney  grievance committee members swore an oath of admission to uphold the aforementioned constitutional free speech rights, and to maintain respect due to courts and judicial officers by reporting on bad actors who disgrace both the courts they serve and their honorable colleagues …

… but curiously part of a universe where the same Bar continues to attack a whistleblower on behalf of a complainant and constitutional officer currently under criminal investigation for alleged dishonesty in Bar and court filings, who has already been found to have acted dishonestly in other proceedings by a circuit court judge …

… comprising a society where the same Bar may somehow believe reporting on the controversial actions and investigation of said constitutional officer doesn’t serve a “legitimate purpose” …

… part and parcel of a civilization where there’s confusion regarding the most basic of protections, when there really shouldn’t be …

… dominated by a culture where the same Bar is seeking identifying IP address information of constitutionally protected anonymous individuals, when there is no certainty they’re all even attorneys governed by the Bar’s jurisdiction …

… living in a  land now so foreign that the sacred principle of stare decisis has been thrown into question …

 (the last image is from the Bobby Diaz photography case)

… on a troubled planet where front page controversial news about the same Bar is purposely kept off their own informational page for dues paying members and the general public, because they “don’t include stories on pending cases and litigation“.

… with a long standing social order wherein the Bar’s ideals espousing motto is seemingly more akin to an agenda, as evidenced by the fact they certainly didn’t refer their discredited complainant to the State Attorney after damning video evidence was uncovered (JAABLOG had to both obtain the video and make the referral, in the interest of justice), making it now more than fair to question whether the Bar’s pursuit of “professionalism” requires ethical and moral underpinnings as a starting point …

So beware, what you are about to watch is a nightmare … something found only in The Florida Bar Zone!

COMING SOONSatz: In or Out?  (Our money is on out! ); Who is Brenda’s ghost writer?

BY ELIHU SMALLS

Brenda v. Blog has attracted a lot of attention, and now a new guest author, Elihu Smalls. His post is an update on the ongoing search for two new federal judges.  As reported by the SDFLA Blog, Raag Singhal is a front-runner for one seat, while perennial government application-filler John Couriel is being talked about for the other.

Smalls’ post is more “R” than the usual JAABLOG fare, but the timing is perfect, given the unconfirmed rumor that the Bar’s 1st Amendment IP Address attack may be a trial balloon in line with Donald Trump’s desire to modify free speech when it concerns public figures. In any event, as always, anyone seeking to publish coherent and relevant articles on JAABLOG, or looking for equal time, can drop us a line.

And without further ado, here’s Mr. Smalls:

Can Jeb Bush loving candidate be your next Federal Judge?

Who is the next Federal Judge appointment?

Word is that Rubio, who President Donald Trump used to call “little” Marco, and the President have been close due to Rubio’s activity in the Senate. Due to that closeness, the President takes his recommendations seriously. 

So who is Marco Rubio’s rumored recommendation for a Federal Seat in the Southern District? John Couriel, a Miami Lawyer. 

The only problem? Well it seems that Marco Rubio thinks the White House will have a short term memory lapse.

John Couriel was also a leading applicant for the US Attorney position that was recently filled by the Honorable Ariana Fajardo.  

It’s been told that during that interview process, there was a discussion about Bush and Trump that could have cost Couriel the job. The fact Couriel wrote-in Bush’s name on the ballot in 2016 wasn’t missed either.

So now the question remains: will the President’s loyalty to Marco Rubio overshadow putting someone on the bench that was anti-Trump? Will the President’s ego let him kneel to the political power of Marco Rubio to appoint John Couriel?

This is going to be a HOT summer on the Federal Bench!

Elihu Smalls

SERVICE DOG TRANSCRIPT

As promised, here is the transcript concerning Dennis Bailey’s now withdrawn canine ban in State v. Myron Rosner.

There’s a reference on page 6/7 to a conversation concerning the dog from a prior hearing, right after Bailey notes other people can help the paraplegic if he falls down and the dog isn’t present.  When that transcript becomes available, we will be sure to post …

(skip to page 24, after reading beginning)

KNOW YOUR BAR!

Here’s the promised most recent development in Brenda v. Blog.

Waiting for this one to come out has been like waiting on the stork, but Rafael Olmeda did a fine job.

Now that the 1st Amendment cavalry has arrived, we’ll be updating later with all the many thoughts and concerns surrounding the Bar’s rather bizarre maneuver.

In the meantime, Kerrie Crockett, the ASA  handling the executive assignment investigation concerning Brenda’s actions, has been brought up to speed, and we’ve asked her to broaden the inquiry to include all of Brenda’s interactions with Bar personnel, just in case they’ve once again been misled.

FRIDAY NOTES

Are You A Racist? – of course you’re not, but what are you doing to combat institutional racism in the criminal justice system?  The three photos above were taken in three different courtrooms this morning, and could have been duplicated in many others if time had allowed.  Unfortunately, the same scene plays out all over the felony divisions on a daily basis, as the failed War on Drugs and attendant collateral effects continue to take their toll unabated in Broward and elsewhere across Florida.

There is hope, however.  For the first time a former public defender is president of the Florida Bar, Michelle Suskauer.  Mutual friends have told us she’s a dedicated and caring practitioner, and she has taken unprecedented steps to lead the Bar in the right direction on criminal justice reform.  Read her “A Hard Look At Our Criminal Justice System” and a report on “The inaugural Florida Bar Criminal Justice Summit“, commenced under Suskauer’s leadership, a great first step.

Our concern, however, is a familiar one to anyone who has been reading around here since 2006.  We don’t see any mention in the report or in her address of the driving problems of selective enforcement and other components of institutional racism that plague the system, and since we weren’t at the Summit, sent this email off to Suskauer earlier today:

 “I am writing to inquire as to the steps you and the Bar have taken in regards to criminal justice reform. I have reviewed what is available online regarding a recent symposium, but am not aware if institutional racism, selective enforcement of the laws, overrepresention of minorities in the system, and racial disparity of sentencing of minorities has been addressed or is to be addressed at later dates.  Please detail what has been discussed or is to be discussed at future symposiums and meetings to combat the above referenced problems and others along those lines addressed in scholarship by Michelle Alexander (“The New Jim Crow“) and others.”
Michelle, for her part, was quick to reply that she has forwarded the email to the Bar’s “communications department” for a response, which we’ll post upon arrival.  It’s hoped the driving issues underpinning the mass incarceration epidemic were indeed discussed and prioritized, but if not, that dialogue can surely be started under Suskauer’s leadership …
Disrespectful! Disrespectful! – the photo above is from this afternoon’s robing, where maybe a few more judges decided to turn up then were at the last one we documented.  Is it a respect problem, or something bigger?  Jack Tuter seems to think it’s the former, as seen in the email below that he sent around earlier this week, although at this point it’s getting hard to tell exactly what’s going on with the judiciary …
Waiting on transcriptsMike Glasser reports his situation with Barbara McCarthy was resolved yesterday to the benefit of his client, although some interesting things were reportedly said on the record.  We’ll let you know as soon as the transcripts from that hearing, and from the service dog situation, arrive …
COMING SOON – The FBI?

SUGGESTION BOX

JAABLOG should update later today, but with Broward County in the midst of another ongoing round of seemingly incurable dysfunction at the highest levels, we wanted to solicit suggestions to be included in a planned letter to Charles Canady, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

As was the case back in 2007, there is no longer hope that the 17th Circuit’s judicial administration is able or willing to address and cure ongoing problems within the courthouse.  It is hoped the Chief Justice can travel to South Florida to not only address the judges, but also concerned members of the public, as his predecessor Fred Lewis did years ago.

While the sensitivity and diversity training implemented by Lewis in 2007 was obviously not a cure, it did go a long way to restoring confidence in our most august institutions.  Even a handshake and a reassuring “we hear you“, as Lewis did with us and others in attendance, is enough of a building block to start and infuse the process of healing and improving with real meaning and energy.  The very fact that he took the time from his busy schedule to travel here and publicly address Broward’s problems spoke volumes as well.

So there you have it.  Maintaining professionalism, civility, and accountability is a constant struggle, and your suggestions and proposed solutions are the key, together with any instances of troubling behavior we can cite to that we may not already be aware of.  Drop us a line, or post a comment, for possible inclusion in the letter.

In the meantime, here is a recent article from Essence entitled A year After a Florida Judge Broke Her Mom’s Spirit, Teen Struggles to Put Her Life back Together, concerning the death of Sandra Faye Twiggs and her survivors’ fight for justice …

SERVICE DOG UPDATE

Tom Morse emailed earlier today to update on Myron Rosner’s situation with his service dog, Winter, and Dennis Bailey.

Apparently we missed the fact that Bailey last week had banned the dog from future hearings.  Today, however, Tom emailed the following to JAABLOG:

I just received a call from the JA to Judge Dennis Bailey withdrawing their order to ban Mr. Rosner’s service animal in his Courtroo(m)

That’s good news, and great work by Morse.  Now we’re only waiting on the transcript, which should become available shortly, and will be posted to paint the full picture of what went down.

NYT – Ordeal of Woman Who Gave Birth In Broward Jail Cell Prompts Internal Investigation

WEDNESDAY REVERSALS

KASTRENAKES – REVERSED AND REMANDED

MIRMAN – REMANDED

LUBITZ – REVERSED AND REMANDED W/ INSTRUCTIONS

BACKMAN – REVERSED IN PART

ROBY – REVERSED AND REMANDED FOR NEW TRIAL

BACKMAN – REVERSED IN PART/REMANDED

LEVENSON – REVERSED AND REMANDED

COHEN – REVERSED AND REMANDED

GREENE – WRIT GRANTED

SUSKAUER – REVERSED IN PART

D. BAILEY – REVERSED AND REMANDED

SCHOSBERG-FEUER – REVERSED AND REMANDED