Observers lucky enough to be in John Contini’s courtroom this morning were treated to an unusual display of fireworks directed at Joel Silvershein, appeals honcho for the SAO.  It happened shortly after the Fourth DCA issued a handful of Orders dated today, August 12th, containing the following language:

… We decline to modify our prior order but clarify that the stay imposed on the cases “pending sentencing” applies only to prevent the judge at issue from acting.  The stay does not deprive the circuit court of jurisdiction or prevent other circuit court judges from entering orders in the cases at issue.

Today’s Orders follow on the AG’s response to the DCA last week, confirming there are only twenty-eight cases pending sentencing where a downward departure motion has been filed.  Of course, the AG is still maintaining its position that all of the cases on the large list they submitted to the higher court should be stayed, and the Fourth hasn’t ruled on that issue yet.  However, it seems clear by the language from today’s orders that the ban on other judges handling Division FG cases is lifted, which means lawyers can call Marty Bidwill’s office for direction if they’re so inclined.

As for the fireworks, things started getting interesting when Silvershein disputed Contini’s reading of the above quoted DCA language, as the judge was addressing courtroom staff as to Bidwill’s newfound ability to resolve FG cases.  Silvershein basically stated that other judges should still be precluded from hearing any listed Contini matters, since the Fourth had also written that they weren’t ready to modify the stay in the sentence directly before the clarification language.  (“We decline to modify our prior order but clarify that the stay … “). 

It was classic SAO nitpicking.  Even with the obvious language of today’s Orders, Silvershein was arguing to keep everything in place just as before (and people in jail whom other ASAs have already agreed to release the moment the stay is officially lifted), and it set Contini off.  The transcript has been ordered, and it should make the news, so we won’t go into great detail except to say an infuriated Contini pressed Silvershein to admit personal involvement in helping the AG compile the large list of cases certified to the DCA as “pending sentencing”.  The judge said the majority of those cases were “disingenuously” listed, that the AG had “perpetrated a fraud” on the appeals court, and had deliberately mislead the Fourth because Defendants who have not pled or been found guilty are innocent until proven guilty, and in broader terms, pending acquittal just as much as they may be pending sentencing.

Silvershein did admit SAO involvement in compiling the list with the AG, and stated they had acted in good faith, but refused to directly admit any personal involvement.  Contini repeatedly pressed him to admit, and pointedly  to answer “yes or no” as to his role.  He was even ordered to answer as things heated up, with bailiffs being asked to escort Silvershein out of the courtroom when no answer was forthcoming.  Under pressure, Silvershein finally offered that he had indeed personally helped put the list together, which pretty much put a close to the hearing.  Silvershein ended by asking for the transcript to be ordered, and exited the courtroom.

So there you have it.  Contini strikes a blow for the little guy, at least emotionally.  It remains to be seen what will happen with the SAO’s request for disqualification, and how far reaching it will be.  Today’s blow-out will also undoubtedly add fuel to the fire.  However, Contini should be applauded for taking a public stand against the latest ham-fisted overreach by Satz and company.  People have been sitting in jail for weeks, while the SAO throws up obstacles despite clear direction from a higher court.  Jobs will undoubtedly be lost, and families will ultimately pay the price, all for the sake of __________ (fill in the blank).

Just another day in Satzland …

New Times: Judge Levey Cohen stands up for the little guy too

23 thoughts on “CONTINI v. SILVERSHEIN”

  1. 0


    What a horrible and embarrassing judicial blunder. This is a pending disqualification of judge issue. The judge whose removal is pending cannot get into an adversarial debate with the party moving for the disqualification. He certainly can’t interrogate that party in open court. He definitely can’t threaten the party with contempt and arrest if he doesn’t disclose his part in the disqualification process. The next move should be for the AG to ask the 4th DCA to issue an order to show cause against Judge Contini, why he should not be held in contempt of the 4th DCA.

  2. 0


    Was he talking about a case or the list of cases? I don’t see the blunder unless he’s talking about the facts of a case. And the quote from the order seems clear cut. What’s the confusion?

  3. 0


    The State and Judge Contini have been talking about that dang list of cases evertime I go in there. I doubt talking about the list is commenting on a pending mot to disq.

    Were they talking about the list today or about case specific stuff?

  4. 0


    What’s so difficult about being compelled to tell the truth, Joel ? Cough it up. You’ll feel better about yourself.

  5. 0


    Lawyers have to learn mandatory Brady Cle now maybe they should have to retake legal reading and writing too.

  6. 0


    Send that transcript to the JQC immediately. We need to get rid of Contini now, or at the least, banned to Civil. Dozens of people waiting in jail for this to resolve. It’s reprehensible and a travesty of justice

  7. 0


    If you think Judge Contini originated this mess, think again. You people up in Broweird are so undereducated

  8. 0


    SOCIAL CHANGE by anonymous
    Some of us are old enough to remember times in history when the world got “stuck” on belief systems that amounted to worshiping an idea whose time had come and gone and them brave souls who came forward to be identified as changing the status quo.

    Just to name a few of the soldiers against the status quo are those who fought against the old narrow-minded racial beliefs held by many to learning to distrust or question government authority after Watergate to changing rigid sexual roles.

    Some of the heros who fought and died for racial equality are MLK, Malcolm X, and Nelson Mandella. And those who tried to restore political integrity and make government competent and compassionate are Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. PM Thatcher’s belief that personal responsibility and hard work are the only way to national
    prosperity gained her important allies and critics who accorded her begrudging respect. And those who fought against the sexual stereotypes and roles would be advocates of gay lifestyle and gay marriage believing their love is just as valid as anyone else’s love.

    I stand before you now questioning the word “rogue.” I have heard it used recently. The dictionary defines rogue as a dishonest person, someone uncontrolled or undisciplined. As an adjective it means no longer obedient or controllable.

    Yet Churchill was regarded as a rogue elephant and history now views him and his accomplishments very fondly.

    Those of whom we are so hypercritical of momentarily as being rogue may become the impetus for social change and open a new door and era to changing attitudes and beliefs.

  9. 0


    Judge Contini was a prosecutor for Michael Satz for several years before he left to open his own criminal defense practice. As a sole practicioner, he was always well liked and respected by both prosecutors, judges and other attorneys in the legal community. So after 30+ years of practicing law, and being very good at it, he was encouraged to run for a Judicial position, and won. Being a judge is different than a prosecutor or defense attorney, the rules are a little more strict. Being “a Judge” was something totally new, incredibly complex with an enormous caseload, (thanks the the police state known as Broward County, Florida). But like any new job, if you’re really trying to do your very best, learning processes and procedures, and as you learn, you may suggestions some of your own to make the job easier or better. Now in that context, Judge Contini was a new jurist and trying to do a great job while learning all the ‘ropes’ he may have acted a bit over zealous, with the action that started all this, the downward departure ‘template’ email. But if the intention was to make things run a bit smoother in the courtroom, primarily for the defendants that come before him, through the lawyers, the intention was not malicious or an act of favoritism or malice. It was Judge Contini trying to do a great job, I might add one he took a significant pay cut to campaign for and won. He would only do that if he believed he could give 110%. He doesn’t play favorites, he respects honesty, integrity and professionalism, something BOTH the Broward County Public Defenders Office and the State Attorneys Office could use a bit more of. He’s one of the least biased jurists in that Courthouse. For Judge Conini, it is about the people who are represented by these two sides, that are supposed to be adversarial, but not petty and malicious, as the SAO has been to Judge Contini, and the APD who actually sent it to the SAO.
    This ‘list’ the SAO sent the AG was either a deliberate exaggeration, or a massive clerical error. I would like to believe it was the latter, but it appears not as the SAO is trying to use it to get Judge Contini disqualified, or at least let him know they run the show. They don’t like change, and they really don’t like Judges who they can’t intimidate.

  10. 0


    Hate to break it to u duffis, but Contini did not take a pay cut but rather like most of the rest of Broward judges actually received a pay increase as judge! Lol. His stupidity is what got him in trouble. It’s the easiest job in the world and he screwed it up. Just one less dummy in criminal.

  11. 0


    True. I heard Contini was complaining that the money was no longer there which used to be in criminal law (back before the number of law school grads doubled, economic downturn, etc.). Plus, these newbies were taking cases for pennies.

    So, good try at attempting to prop him up, but the reality is he needed the job for the money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.