Rick Scott has appointed Kal Le Var Evans and Dan Kanner to the County Court Bench.
(JAABLOG at 5:33 PM)
Sorry for the slow pace of blogging. In addition to the summer doldrums, the updated format has presented a new challenge, namely the instantaneous delivery of courthouse news stories to the mainstream media via email. The old blog could be subscribed to, and the new one will have that feature soon too. But for the time being, it’s been easier to simply try and place a breaking story in the paper or on TV by directly alerting a reporter or two, instead of putting it on the blog and hoping it’s found quickly.
Such is the case with the video of Lynn Feig-Rosenthal at BSO’s Breath Alcohol Testing facility, shot hours after the judge’s morning reckless drive to work. After we acquired it yesterday, it was handed over to Bob Norman, who has a full story running tonight at 6:00 PM on Channel 10. A shorter version from the noon broadcast is found here.
Check it out. Feig Rosenthal hardly seems as cooperative as previously portrayed by her attorney Brian Silber, who issued this press release following his client’s plea last week. In fact, when we spoke to Brian yesterday, he reiterated that BSO would only accept a bundled blood and urine sample, that it was “all or nothing“, and that Feig Rosenthal had agreed to do a urine test. But that’s not what appears to be caught on the BAT video.
As to why the judge didn’t want to give a blood sample, Silber called his client, and called us back moments later. He reported that Feig Rosenthal had said the jail “appeared to be unsanitary“, and she was uncomfortable with them sticking a needle in her arm in that environment. But from the discussion on the BAT video, it seems the blood draw was to be performed by paramedics who had responded to the scene.
We’ll post the whole video to YouTube, once we can figure out how to edit out some of the personal information provided at the beginning. Feig Rosenthal appears argumentative, and as stated before, hardly cooperative, but in command of her thoughts and actions. At one point she asks for an attorney, and also asks to speak to the deputy off camera. The Xanax found in her possession is not mentioned on tape.
Mainstream media is aware of the video now, so it shouldn’t be hard to find while we figure out the basics of YouTube …
Will you also submit to urine and blood tests?” asked Wiley.
“The answer is no to each of those,” answered Rosenthal.
After refusing the urine test individually, Wiley offers her water.
“I couldn’t do a urine test. I’ve been asking for water,” said Rosenthal.
“OK, we could get you some water that way I could get you some water and when you have to go you could go ahead and do it that way,” said Wiley. “The blood test is no problem. We can bring the ambulance.”
“They were already here, so no,” said Rosenthal. “I’ll do a Breathalyzer test, no problem.”
Coming Soon – Cynthia Imperato, defendant, has court Monday …
*UPDATE* – Brian Silber had this to say shortly after the preceding article published:
“The video did not record their entire conversation about sobriety testing. In fact, there was an extensive discussion held off camera, which is the substance of this issue. Judge Rosenthal references this discussion on the video, wherein she said based on her previous discussion with the deputy, she accordingly refuses. I would also add that this video was taken many hours after the arrest and that the alcohol influence report describes her as “very cooperative and polite”, and the State Attorney substantiated her refusal claims … “
Randy Tundidor’s Spencer Hearing is now mired in controversy, at least from a legal ethics standpoint. Attorney Joe Pappacoda testified this morning that fellow defense attorney Jim Lewis advised the Tundidors to get rid of a firearm that could be used against them if discovered by police.
Quite a bombshell, and if true, big trouble for Lewis, and possibly for Pappacoda, if he failed to report it. If it’s a false allegation, Pappacoda will have to answer for not being truthful on the stand.
When reached a few minutes ago, Lewis wasted no time in expressing his anger at Pappacoda. Here’s what he said:
“I don’t know where Joe got this from, but I never told or would tell a client to hide or destroy evidence.”
Mainstream media is all over this one, so stay tuned as Broward’s criminal justice system is once again thrust into the spotlight in the worst possible terms …
Coming Soon – Where’s Peter?
Channel 10’s John Turchin broke out the Lynn Feig Rosenthal driving video today. It was obtained from the Palm Beach SAO this morning. We’ve got a copy too, and will upload to YouTube in case the Channel 10 link goes down in the future.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the settling of the Feig Rosenthal matter. The full case file should be available Monday from BSO. Until then, it’s anyone’s guess as to how a talented and thorough Traffic Homicide Investigator could botch a straight forward Implied Consent warning, and relegate a bottle of Xanax, a controlled, potentially intoxicating drug, to an event report that could not become public record by law until after a case filing decision was made …
What’s next for Lynn Feig Rosenthal?
If the JQC looks at her Reckless Driving case like the Miami Herald and some people we’ve spoken with, plenty. Quoting the editors, “the plea does not dispel the cloud that still hangs over her“. Exercising her rights is one thing, but the message sent in this case hardly improves public confidence in the judiciary.
Her press statement doesn’t help matters either. Does it seem like she’s taken responsibility for her actions? It simply creates more questions.
For instance, who is the doctor she blames for over-prescribing Ambien? And why did she balk at giving blood in addition to urine? Whether or not BSO perfectly followed procedure, it was a reasonable request, which Feig Rosenthal should have honored considering “(she) knows she must live by a more stringent standard than the one imposed on the people she serves”. If reelected, she will always be known as the judge who refused to come clean.
In addition to the press statement, she failed to appear in court. No public display of somber and contrite humility here. And since it was all about Ambien, what real harm could have resulted from discussing the issues before today?
Feig Rosenthal also filed a motion entitled Objection To Issuance Of Search Warrant And Motion For Return Of Property concerning her cell phone, which contained the video mentioned in the PC Affidavit from 595. Why did she invoke her right to privacy, and refuse consent to search her iPhone when the arresting officer asked her to unlock it and give him access after she was taken into custody? And why did she try to manipulate a law which clearly no longer applied to her, in order to stop the mug shot from being released?
Questions also abound at the way the case was handled. Why was the Xanax hidden from the public until today? Would it not have been in the average citizen’s PC Affidavit as a strong indicator of impairment, particularly in consideration of the downright dangerous driving pattern? And given the totality of the circumstances, why wasn’t she given significant probation? Has public safety been served by allowing a sweet breakdown plea with zero supervision or monitoring beyond the date of arraignment?
In the end, the biggest concern for the JQC should be over Feig Rosenthal’s judgment. But for the arrest, would she have taken the bench, and decided people’s fates in an altered state? Has the stress of a judgeship led to the need for strong sleeping pills and benzos for nervous tension that may be impacting her performance? And having failed to exhibit leadership qualities in her darkest hour, unlike Judge Brenda Sheehan, who fully cooperated with law enforcement during her recent driving dilemma and profusely apologized for her actions, does Feig Rosenthal deserve to remain in a position of authority over others?
Let’s see what’s next …
Rosenthal back to criminal? – Feig Rosenthal and the other arrested judges surrendered the moral high ground when they refused testing. They shouldn’t be allowed back into the criminal division, even after cases are resolved and sentences have been served. But since it’s up to the chief judge and not us, we’re preparing for all possibilities by searching for a silver lining.
Certainly voir dire and closing arguments before Feig Rosenthal got a lot better today, at least from a defense perspective. During jury selection, there’s always a few people who believe an arrest is a sign of guilt. Is there a better example to dispel such a misguided belief than that of the presiding judge, once pictured in a front page New York Times article in handcuffs, having been falsely accused of a DUI? And it would only get better during closing, ladies and gentleman. You can bet on that.
In any event, if Pete Weinstein wants to bring Feig Rosenthal back, he’ll most likely be hearing from Howard Finkelstein first. So hold off on working up your new shtik before we hear from the public defender. No need to waste your energy, after all …
Coming Soon – BSO official judicial bumper car video; Weinstein’s Waterloo?; Welcome back, Mary!
” … A Breathalyzer test showed Judge Rosenthal had not been drinking, but she failed a field sobriety test and refused to take blood or urine tests. She told the police that she had taken the sedative Ambien the night before. When asked, she refused to discuss the issue with the Editorial Board.
Ms. Rosenthal, 56, was named to the bench in 2012. She is a former federal prosecutor. She should not be faulted for having exercised her rights. However, the plea does not dispel the cloud that still hangs over her. She first fought to keep her mug shot from public view, later relenting. Few suspects get that privilege. In addition, defendants who appear before her under similar circumstances — refusing to give blood and urine samples — don’t get much sympathy from the bench. Voters should exercise similar judgment.
Challenger Frantz J. McLawrence, 42, from Tamarac, is a well-thought-of former public defender in Broward County. Admitted to the bar in 2003, he is in private practice with his own law firm where, he told the Editorial Board, he has litigated more than 40 cases and prepared and reviewed more than 6,000 cases for trial.
Judge Rosenthal, he said, is unreasonable and treats defendants harshly. He decided to challenge her because, in his view, the court needs “new blood.” In this instance, we agree. For Broward Circuit Court, Group 8, the Herald recommends FRANTZ McLAWRENCE.
From the release:
This was a case of an involuntary overdose of Ambien CR due to prescription error.
It had nothing to do with any other substance or medication, whatsoever …
“I have entered a no-contest plea today and sincerely regret the auto accident I was involved in on May 27, 2014. Thankfully no one was injured. It is important for the public to know this accident was the result of an involuntary overdose and adverse drug reaction I had to Zolpidem Tartrate ER (extended release), the generic form of Ambien CR. This involuntary overdose was caused because my doctor mistakenly prescribed me twice the amount of Ambien CR recommended by the FDA” said Lynn Rosenthal …
As published in police reports, there was an allegation that Rosenthal unlawfully refused to submit to sobriety testing.
Let the record be clear – this allegation is false.
When asked to submit to field sobriety exercises and breath testing, Rosenthal agreed and performed as instructed. However, when the arresting officer unlawfully requested that she provide both a urine and blood sample, Rosenthal lawfully refused the blood draw.
Pursuant to Fl. Stat. §316.1933, a blood draw may only be performed in cases that involve death or serious bodily injury. Since this case did not involve either instance, the officer’s request for a blood test was illegal and Rosenthal properly refused it. Moreover, it was unlawful for the officer to bundle the urine and blood test together. At a minimum, he should have permitted her to take the urine test by itself.
On July 2, 2014, Rosenthal successfully challenged the officer’s request at a formal review hearing conducted by the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. As a result, the driver’s license suspension that normally follows a refusal to submit to testing was invalidated …
Until now, Rosenthal remained silent about her case because she wanted it to be decided on its merits. Now that the case is resolved, she has chosen to speak publically about her experience to warn others about the real dangers of Ambien and its side effects, particularly for female patients and those who take its extended release formulation.
Rosenthal has also chosen to put an end to this case in an effort to reinforce the public’s belief in our system of justice and to mend any questions about its integrity. As a public servant, Rosenthal knows she must live by a more stringent standard than the one imposed on the people she serves. As such, she has chosen to take responsibility for what happened on May 27, 2014 so that the judiciary and the public can put this matter to rest once and for all.
(Click the link above for the full text)
PB ASA Michael Smith was kind enough to admit the mystery validly prescribed controlled substance in Lynn Feig Rosenthal’s possession at the time of her arrest was indeed Xanax. Still, the case was viewed strictly as an Ambien problem, and despite the horrific driving pattern and Alprazolam, dropped to the previously noted Reckless. Interestingly, defense attorney Brian Silber, who was very much in command during the 2:30 PM plea in absentia, refused to disclose the meds in discussions prior to the hearing, describing the issue as “a private medical concern“.
ASA Smith said Feig Rosenthal’s 595 cell phone video was never reviewed by the PB SAO. Also, the refusal was tainted, as Feig Rosenthal reportedly wanted to offer up a urine sample, but refused when informed BSO would only take both blood and urine. Silber was strong on this point, adding Team Rosenthal had prevailed at a DHSMV Formal Review Hearing dealing with those issues. Additionally, Silber promised a press release explaining his client’s behavior that day to be published later this afternoon, detailing double dosage Ambien issues which he successfully argued caused the arrest.
The plea terms were as follows:
Withhold, 3 months administrative probation, 25 hours CS, substance abuse evaluation, and victim impact panel. Restitution is ordered and reserved. Because all the terms have already been satisfied and no follow-up drug/alcohol treatment recommended, the judge’s probation is essentially already over, as early term was part of the deal.
We’ve requested the video from BSO from the Main Jail sally port and judicial parking lot. It should be public record, now that the case is resolved. Mainstream media is also hot on the video trail too.
Lots of issues to discuss on this one, so wait for the press release and video …
The Clerk has posted an Information online for Lynn Feig Rosenthal, charging her with one count of Reckless Driving Causing Injury To Property Or Person (citing BSO), denoting Florida Statutes 316.192(1) and (3)(a),(b),(c)1. (1 DEG MISD).
Mainstream media is standing by, in case the 2:30 PM “status conference ” in Room 850 is indeed a quick plea. If just an arraignment, it would be the quickest one in history, since the Clerk’s computer shows the Information being filed July 22 …
Stay tuned …
Lynn Feig Rosenthal’s case is set for a status hearing today, Wednesday, July 23rd, at 2:30 PM in Room 850. Bill Altfield is the judge. The case is still showing unfiled, although that means nothing. Rumor has it her defense team has been negotiating for a charge of reckless driving, which means they may be trying to sneak a quick plea in this afternoon if Dave Aronberg has agreed. A waiver of speedy trial has not been filed, and the mystery drugs from the property receipt and videos from the jail sally port/judicial parking lot/cell phone still haven’t been released. If the hearing is not a plea, it could be in relation to a previously filed motion by Team Feig Rosenthal objecting to her cell phone being searched, and asking for the phone to be returned. Wait and see …
As for Gisele Pollack, her case is also unfiled at this time. A representative of the Miami SAO said last week negotiations are still underway, and that a waiver of speedy trial has been executed. Mike Catalano has joined Eric Schwartzreich in defending Pollack.
Lastly, Cindy Imperato is set for case disposition on August 4th in Palm Beach. Is she going to trial, or taking a plea? We’re getting mixed signals on this one. As for her son’s DUI allegation in Broward, it’s long gone …
Coming Soon – Should Rosenthal, Imperato, and Pollack be allowed to return to criminal?
(Please keep the Anonymous Tips coming. They’re great, and we’ll get to all of them as soon as the summer doldrums pass)