Tom O’Connell lost his fight with bladder cancer today.  He kept fighting right up to the very end, and working too.  A familiar sight around the courthouse and political circles, his intelligence, humor, and unwavering belief in the plight of the underdog was contagious. Tom is survived by his wife Amanda, and a young daughter.

Kevin Kulik summed up the feelings of many: “one of my best friends of all time.”

Funeral information to follow …


The Broward County Courts will remain closed Wednesday except for First Appearance, Shelter and Juvenile Detention Hearings. Future Court Operations will be determined tomorrow and notification will (be) sent out accordingly. Please refer (to) the court’s web page ( and emergency hot-line (954-831-7777) for additional information. – From: 17th Circuit Emergency Message …

Boca residents endure the lingering horrors of Irma the day after the storm hit … waiting in line for a  restaurant table on a Monday night, and a limited menu (Madison’s Steak House).



From the Florida Supreme Court Website:

Broward County. The courts will be close(d) starting Thursday through Tuesday. Check the local courts’ website for further details. Updated 9/6/2017, 12:40 p.m. ET


UPDATE – courts closed Thursday, Friday and Monday …


The official announcement should come shortly after 11:30 A.M. today, but sources indicate the courthouse will be closed Thursday and Friday, and potentially Monday, following an impact assessment …


From: Kunsman, Gary
Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2017 4:46 AM
Subject: GW Kunsman Depo (case cite deleted)

Mr. Hecker;
I have just looked at the toxicology file for the case in which I am to be deposed today only to discover that the matter involves the essentially negative results (only inactive THC metabolite present) of a urine tox analysis. I fail to understand why I am continually deposed on cases of alleged DUI when only a urine specimen is available for analysis as urine results, especially when the only finding is the inactive metabolite of Delta-9 THC is present, only inform us of what an individual has been exposed to over the 3 or 4 days prior to the specimen collection (7 to 10 days prior in reference to the Cannabinoids Delta-9 THC and Delta-9 Carboxy THC) and bears no relationship to what may or may not have been present in the blood at the time of specimen collection and certainly none to the time of any alleged incident prior to the collection. The ASA should be cognizant of these facts since I have testified to this in deposition and in court at least 6 or 7 times since mid-May of this year (the time of Mr. Wagner’s retirement).

I certainly understand the need for and purpose of depositions but when they provide nothing more than information that is already available in recent testimony from the expert witness to be deposed it seems that the time and expense of all parties involved could be put to far more profitable ends; in my case that means being spared the trip from Dania Beach to the Courthouse and being allowed to perform my principle function as a postmortem toxicologist working for the District 17 Medical Examiner.

Please note that I would copy the prosecutor on this case except that, in the normal fashion of the Broward County SAO, they have not contacted me concerning the toxicology results in this matter so I do not know who is the ASA most recently assigned to this matter. I encourage you to forward this email to them if you do know who they are, again, in the interest of saving us all from a needless expenditure of our very valuable time.

Thank You for your attention in this matter and I look forward with hope to notification that my deposition will not be required while anticipating that I will lose the greater part of an afternoon being deposed and trying to catch up on real work (ME casework) this weekend.

G.W. Kunsman, Ph.D., F-ABFT
Chief Toxicologist
District 17 Medical Examiner’s Office
Broward County, FL

Under Florida law, most e-mail messages to or from Broward County employees or officials are public records, available to any person upon request, absent an exemption. Therefore, any e-mail message to or from the County, inclusive of e-mail addresses contained therein, may be subject to public disclosure.

THANKS TO SCOTT HECKER, who adds at 4:13 p.m. in the comments section:

I sent this email here to be posted. Apparently, in misdemeanor DUI we only get the toxicology report and not the whole file.

I wanted to know the concentrations of the drugs, and was told by the ASA, that information was not available and the lab never supplied it to them.

I filed a motion to compel and was sent 23 pages of the toxicology report that was not in the initial discovery request. Even the ASA expressed surprise. And the concentrations were in the report.

I set the deposition of Dr Kunsman, and received this letter from him before the deposition today

He said with metabolites he is NEVER able to testify or render an opinion that the individual was under the influence at the time of driving.

As to Active THC in a toxicology report, He has the same opinion
Without knowing when the individual and went to the bathroom before giving his sample, or whether the person was hydrated or dehydrated , he can render an opinion as to intoxication with just a urine report.

Blood was a different story.

So, If you did not know to ask for a full report, you would not know this additional evidence existed.

PB Post: Bryson murder case reversed 

While judges can put time limits on jury questioning, in Hopkins’ case the strict time limit prevented his attorney from questioning all of the prospective jurors, Judge Carole Taylor wrote for the three-judge appellate panel. Palm Beach County Judge Marni Bry(s)on allowed attorneys only 3.6 minutes to question each potential juror. “The trial court abused its discretion,” Taylor said.

Bobby Diaz Receives Florida’s Highest County Court Judicial Honor



50-year members of The Florida Bar 1967-2017

“Congratulations to The Florida Bar’s 50-year Members — Class of 1967. The members of the Bar celebrate your service to the profession and your communities.”

John Edward Aurelius, Michael Colodny, Victor D. Comras, John Edward Hartman, Robert Stuart Hauser, Jon E. Krupnick, Bruce Martin Lyons, Robert Steven Miller, Barry Gilbert Roderman, Stephen Ross, Michael Joseph Satz, William S. Spencer, Norman D. Tripp, R. Joel Weiss, David Harry Zoberg

UPDATE – Joseph D’Amico in as 17th Circuit General Counsel; Alexandra Rieman out …


*UPDATE* 8:45 PM THURSDAYHoward Finkelstein spoke to us from his home.  He confirmed what he told the Sun Sentinel earlier today about 2018.  When asked about a run for Congress in 2020, he stated: “You never can say never because in a million years I never thought I would become the elected public defender, or have my own TV segment.

COMING SOON – 2020 …

*UPDATE* – SS: Finkelstein not running for Congress … in 2018 

“Howard Finkelstein said Thursday he’s not sure what he’ll be doing when he retires as Broward County public defender when his current term expires (2020) — but it won’t involve running for Congress in 2018 … “


Mr. Finkelstein goes to Washington?

Developing …


BACDL has joined Howard Finkelstein’s call to remove Mardi Levey Cohen from the criminal bench.

NBC 6 originally broke the story back on May 1st, in a report titled Public Defender Wants ‘Bully’ Broward Judge Removed.

On June 16th, BACDL President Huda Ajlani-Macri authored this strongly worded letter to Jack Tuter, urging the incoming chief judge to reassign Levey Cohen, and to review audio tapes, transcripts, and witness affidavits of her alleged disrespectful judicial behavior. Meanwhile, sources have defended Levey Cohen since the NBC story originally aired, claiming the courtroom tapes have been improperly cherry-picked and taken out of context.

In any event, it may all be a moot point.  Whatever the impetus, Levey-Cohen has been rumored to be leaving in July for a civil division since the NBC story came out.

Definitely a wait and see …

COMING SOONTHO Tribulations …