1.) SDFL’s  David Markus, caught slumming in State Court a few weeks back.  After a couple days, he left with a Not Guilty verdict; 2.) Circuit court candidate Stacey Schulman; 3.) Mari Blumstein and 4.) Giuseppina Miranda anxiously await Rick Scott’s impending decision as to who will replace Stacy Ross on the county bench.

                    Tonya Alanez and Johnny McCray

SS: Imperato’s arrest triggers a walk down judicial memory lane …

        (Starring Feiner, Levenson, Barry Cohen, Dale Ross,
Gardiner, Diaz, Julian, Greene, Korda, Seidlin, Howard Berman)

WELL DONE MICKEY ROCQUE! – The Sun Sentinel’s Megan O’Matz and John Maines have made national news with
in-depth reporting  on Sunrise PD’s efforts to lure drug dealers into their jurisdiction.  The big money stings have made millions for the City of Sunrise, and Satz’s Drug Trafficking Unit (DTU) has been more than willing to go along, no matter how many innocent men, women, and children were put in danger.  The good news, of course, is that Sunrise PD is no longer in the drug selling business, after public pressure following the Sentinel article shut them down. 

The reporters deserve a lot of credit.  This is long form investigative journalism at its finest.  Exhaustively researched and well written, with the payoff of an egregious government excess being stopped dead in its tracks.  It’s what the Fourth Estate is supposed to be all about, even in the day of the incredible shrinking newspaper.

Without taking anything from O’Matz or Maines, it’s important to remember the guy who got the ball rolling.  The story was broken right here on JAABLOG, back in
November of 2011 (“D … T … PEE-YEW!”), all because of Mickey Rocque. Offended by what he had learned while defending one of his clients, Rocque went public, despite the potential for angering the powers that be.  His courage made it possible for the Sentinel to pick up on the story and shut down the shameful practice, as no individual lawyer could have.  It’s a lesson all attorneys interested in making more than money should take to heart, for no matter how unlikely it sometimes seems, public exposure almost always slays a misbehaving Goliath. 

So, hats off to Mickey Rocque.  The man who was so instrumental in bringing Drug Court to backwards Broward now has another victory of far reaching implications to call his own.  But knowing Mick, he’ll never mention it again, which is why we’re doing it for him.  Well Done!

SS: Loose cash found hidden in Sunrise Police narcotics office

BBeat – Merrilee Ehrlich acting all cocky

Bob Norman w/ Weinstein re Imperato (video)

NBC National News: Ex-Prosecutor/Ex-Judge jailed for withholding evidence


We’re back (and forth) on the blogging thing these days, so enjoy it while it’s here.  And please continue to check back infrequently, just in case we’re feeling it …

Made For Each Other
– what do you get for the guy and gal who have everything?  That’s what we’ve been asking, despite the fact our invitation to this weekend’s wedding of David Bogenschutz and Gardiner up in North Carolina must have gotten lost in the mail.  In any event, everyone must have breathed a sigh of relief that the Supreme Court didn’t deliver their gift to the new Mrs. Bogenschutz before the nuptials, although it’s sure to arrive shortly.  But let’s not detract from the good thing that came from so much bad, namely Broward’s newest legal power couple.  Congratulations!

Winner, Winner, Chicken DinnerEd Merrigan’s promotion to U.S. Army Colonel was confirmed by the Senate earlier this week.  Anyone even remotely familiar with reruns of M*A*S*H will tell you that’s a big deal indeed, as very few ever achieve Full Bird status, especially during peacetime.  Could a General’s Star be in Ed’s future?  And a circuit judgeship as well?  The sky’s the limit, when you’re a thoughtful and patient guy.  Well Done!

Oh Marni! – guess who came in last for all county judges in both the Knowledge & Application Of Law and the Impartiality (Freedom From Bias & Prejudice) categories in the 2013 Palm Beach County Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluations?  Marni Bryson, that’s who!  Check out all the poll results here, and the 2014 PB Judicial Rotations here.  It’s going to be a long hot summer …  

Tell Me Why (I Don’t like Wednesdays) – everybody knows Bobby Diaz typically insists on two days to try a single misdemeanor case, which means if he doesn’t get something started on Tuesdays, he often doesn’t have court Wednesdays.  Accordingly, we checked in to see how many discs were available for purchase from digital court reporting services at the courthouse from the last eleven Diaz Wednesdays.  THREE was the answer.  One day for roughly three hours, one for about 25 minutes, and one all day affair.  The other EIGHT Wednesdays, stretching back to August 28th, reportedly don’t have any recordings at all, meaning eight of the last eleven Diaz work weeks found him off the bench all day at least once.  A call to his office Thursday confirmed Diaz was Relief judge one Wednesday and not expected to be in court, and that he was not sick or on vacation during the period in question, meaning a whole ton of precious and expensive courtroom time is being squandered by Peter Weinstein’s judicial administration.  Diaz may prefer to work in his office while most judges are busy in their courtrooms, but the same Chief Judge who certified the need  for SIX new $134,000 a year county judges in 2013 (plus pension/benefits/judicial assistant’s salary) ought to examine why Diaz’s courtroom isn’t being utilized by someone wearing a robe to move cases most Wednesdays.  Your tax dollars at work, as if anybody cared …

Unhappy Halloween – nobody can accuse Matt Destry of not utilizing his courtroom time to the max.  Last week Thursday may have been Halloween, but that didn’t stop Destry from keeping everyone in court way past 11:00 PM, no matter how many ghouls and goblins were swirling about.  That’s right, since it wasn’t a nationally recognized holiday, lawyers, witnesses, and staff lost out on sharing Halloween with family.  Apparently, the ensuing courthouse-wide disbelief and backlash was extreme enough for Destry to reportedly announce in court that he will never again keep anyone past 7:00 PM, so a lesson may have been learned.  Stay tuned to mainstream media on this one, as we hear a full story is in the works …

Reversed! – it’s not often the Fourth DCA gets to reverse a Florida Supreme Court justice, but it happened on October 30th.  The Palm Beach appellate court sent a 2005 Jorge Labarga case back for a new trial, calling the conviction “fundamentally flawed” because of improper jury instructions.  Labarga was still a lowly trial court judge  at the time, but his unusual meteoric rise to the Supremes, after a brief pit stop on the Fourth, made it possible for the current District Court of Appeals to turn the tables on one of their bosses.  The opinion is here, and pro se to boot …

Speaking of the Supremes – did Barbara Pariente reference the blog during a speech at the recent Broward Bench & Bar Conference?  The demands of fighting against the racist drug war kept us from personally attending the judicial suckfest, but we’re told there was indeed a nice comment about Broward’s love of blogging.  Oh well, obviously we have no choice but to keep writing, since absolutely everyone seems to be reading …

A First Time For Everything – it’s  not often a lawyer gets to blame the need for a continuance on the President of the United States.  A BSO Deputy called off a deposition set for November 8th earlier this week, due to a last minute assignment working the presidential motorcade for Friday’s fundraising visit.  Barack Obama now owes us the cost of serving a subpoena and a witness fee check, but we’ll let it slide just this once …

Blog Mother Bows Outher judicial application  got the Broward reform movement started.  In any event, it’s all water under the courthouse now, that dank, dark place where many once promising judicial careers lie trapped and stagnant …

Coming SoonBob Belanger, meet Mrs. Bucket … sorry, Mrs. B
; The new Ken Marvin; Mickey Rocque restores law and order to the City of Sunrise; FELONY VOP BLITZ; Catching up with Garret Cunningham; On the Road with Eugene Pettis

            Meyer Lansky and Joe Varon

Pending Criminal Charges Got Korda Disqualified …

… Yes, the Judge is entitled to the presumption of innocence in his
criminal case. But that hardly generates a coincident supposition that
litigants in cases over which he presides while his own criminal charges
are unresolved need have no reason to fear his impartiality has been
impaired. We are bereft of reasons to escape reversal on this ground …

*UPDATE* – SS – Imperato requests transfer to Foreclosures, Paul Backman to cover


PB Post: Boca Raton police arrest Broward judge on DUI charge

It’s a Refusal …

Coming Soon Wedded Bliss!


Lastly, JAABLOG’s two phone messages to Peter Weinstein earlier today questioning whether a judge with pending criminal charges would be allowed to sit in a criminal division have yet to be returned …


Rumors about Eileen O’Connor retiring have been swirling for quite some time.  Now we’re being told it’s official, with her exit set for April 30th, 2014.  A call to Rick Scott’s press office was made earlier, and they promised to get back to us, while O’Connor’s JA offered an official “no comment” just a few minutes ago …


Mark Speiser
, Ginger Lerner-Wren, and Howard Finkelstein
sparked an international movement …

Treatment Court Nominated for International Award

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Broward County’s ground-breaking Mental Health Court is pleased to announce it has been nominated for the prestigious Innovating Justice Awards for 2013. The awards are given annually by HiiL, a foundation for international justice in The Hague, Netherlands. The prizes go to projects around the world that develop innovative ways to deliver justice. HiiL chooses finalists for the award based partly on votes cast online by the public. The awards will be announced on Dec. 11. They carry a cash prize of 50,000 euros (about $67,000), which HiiL uses to promote the spread of the winning innovation worldwide.  Voting runs from Oct. 7 to 18. To vote, click here(JAABLOG will post a reminder when voting starts on the 7th … )

Since it was launched in June 1997, Broward’s Mental Health Court has provided a compassionate, alternative form of justice to an estimated 16,000 people with mental illness who had been arrested. Before the court’s inception, mentally ill defendants routinely spent months in jail for minor crimes such as loitering or disorderly conduct, rather than getting treatment they needed, according to Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, a co-founder of the program.

Broward’s court was the first in the nation focused solely on crimes caused by mental health, and it tackled a highly complex national problem. For the past 16 years, this specialized therapeutic court has swiftly identified individuals with serious mental illness in need of appropriate mental health treatment and support and diverted them out of the jail system and into community-based treatment.   Research demonstrates that the approach is smart justice that saves tax money, reduces recidivism, and promotes public safety, while respecting the dignity and human rights of offenders.

The court has been widely emulated, by at least 250 cities across the country, and dozens more in the works. Congress embraced the concept as a national model, passing legislation in 2000 to expand diversionary criminal justice strategies. The HiiL Foundation recognized the  achievement, and nominated the program in the category of Successful Innovations.

The court was a bold innovation which emerged from desperation.  Our mental health system of care was in shambles, our jail was over-crowded, and a task force was formed to seek solutions,” said Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, who has presided over the court since its first day.  “We had no money, but we had a courageous community with a shared vision to deliver justice. Broward’s influence has been profound across the country and internationally.”

For more information about the awards and nominees, and to cast an important vote, visit the foundation, or visit the Mental Health Court’s Facebook Page.

                                    WELL DONE!

60 Minutes: Untreated mental illness an imminent danger? (9/29/13)


Criminal lawyers have been busy panicking all week due to the impending October 1st deadline for criminal courts E-filing.  Training sessions have been held in the main courthouse for both judges and lawyers (there’s another one for attorneys about to start in the jury room as of the time of this post), and everyone has noticed the recently installed swanky new touch screen oversized monitors on each judge’s dais. 

Everyone can breath a sigh of relief though, as the October 1st deadline seems likely to be pushed back in Broward and other places as well.  Clerk of Courts Howard Forman helped to clear up some of the confusion just a few minutes ago, explaining that Clerks from Broward, Hillsborough, Lee and Miami-Dade Counties have requested an extension of the deadline from the Supreme Court, and hope for it to be granted by Administrative Order any day now.  And while it’s anyone’s guess as to what the Supremes may do, if the biggest counties need more time, it’s a safe bet they’ll get it.  The AO should post here shortly, so check it out.  In the meantime, everyone is still urged to register for E-Filing, while all the problems presented by criminal E-filing are ironed out …

State v. Cunningham UpdateGarrett Cunningham’s case has been assigned to Matt Destry’s division.  Johnny McCray for the Defense, and Katie Bogenschutz for the SAO.  Things may change, however, if any of the parties decide to ask to send this mess to an out of county judge or prosecuting authority …