Good from Bad – maybe the Florida Bar isn’t so bad after all.  Today Bar President Eugene Pettis hosted a meeting concerning selective enforcement of the drug laws over at his place, with Howard Finkelstein appearing by phone. 

It came about after a chance encounter at the West Palm Beach courthouse a few weeks back.  Pettis good naturedly took our ribbing over not returning calls  during Bar v. Blog concerning the failed Drug War, and then quickly agreed to set today’s meeting.  It wasn’t stated, but considering the persecution was over, and the incredible importance of the subject matter, saying yes must have been easy.  A quick call to the Public Defender confirmed his participation, and it was off to the races.

The meeting was premised on trying to find a role for the Bar, whose logo proudly boasts “Protecting Rights, Pursuing Justice … “, in equaling the lop-sided scales of criminal justice.  Drug use and sales are as prevalent in affluent America as in low-income America, but minorities are wildly over-represented in courthouses, jails and prisons everywhere.  It’s a national and statewide problem, and as Finkelstein pointed out, even the Feds are doing something about it.  Why, we asked, can’t the Bar?

The answer was a qualified we can.  Pettis patiently explained that because the Florida Bar is a unified bar with compulsory membership and dues, neither the president nor anyone else can push the organization anywhere near the line which might cross into ideological territory.  Everything must fall under “the Keller umbrella“.  Employing an example Pettis definitely didn’t use, a bunch of us may hate what’s going on in the criminal courts, while others like things just the way they are.  And if that’s the case, the Bar can’t be directed to get involved.  Got that?

But there is a middle ground.  Pettis is eager to “initiate and raise the dialogue” by asking the Bar’s Criminal Law Section  (“CJ Section”) to discuss the elephant in the room.  He’s asked for a request in writing from Finkelstein, who has agreed to provide the data he’s assembled concerning Walking While Black, Biking While Black, and of course Driving While Black.  The CJ Section can then be queried whether Florida is answering Attorney General Eric Holder’s call  to address important issues of fairness in the state’s criminal courts, and to do all that is possible within the rules and guidelines of the Bar to suggest improvements. 

I was present in San Francisco last August when Attorney General Holder rolled out his guidelines,” Pettis said.

We all move around as if these and other problems don’t exist, like graduation rates.  We go about our lives as if everything is well.  But I would like to pull together a dialogue on a community and statewide basis to collectively do a better job.” 

So there you have it.  A great start, considering this is possibly the first time a state Bar president has agreed to get involved with such hot button issues.  Expect things to move quickly, since everyone is aware Pettis’ term ends in June.  And in the meantime, we’ll be sure to follow-up with Greg Coleman, the president-elect.  This is one ball that definitely needs to keep rolling …

 Not a law firm …

Gold, Spechler & Sweetapple – everyone is talking about Friday’s Sun Sentinel article detailing the battle for the beach, pitting the Ticket Clinic’s Mark Gold, former judge Jay Spechler, and Laura Watson’s other go-to-guy Robert Sweetapple against the city of Deerfield Beach. 

Apparently it all started many years ago, but the trio isn’t letting city hall get them down.  They’re hosting private parties and generally making the most of their unique situation, while city officials are not so quietly trying to figure out what to do.

It’s nice to be able to fight for your rights and have fun at the same time,” Spechler says, although it was hard to hear exactly what he was saying, given the whooping and hollering in the background, and what sounded like the thwak of a beach ball being launched into orbit.  Unfortunately, signal was lost before we could get confirmation regarding the Beach Boys being booked for July 4th festivities, so stay tuned for all further developments …

a teenage symphony to God …

        2014 Gulkin Award Winner Hilly Moldof 
     with daughters/presenters Kelsey and Meeghan


BACDL Feb Newsletter – Moldof Interview

249 thoughts on “MONDAY NOTES”

  1. 0


    I heard the 45 foot Airstream was airlifted onto the beach in the middle of the night. Would have loved to see the invasion. Good luck with another battle against the bureaucracy. I place my bet on the trio to prevail.

  2. 0


    The City of Deerfield Beach has met its match. This is not a trio to mess with. Go get em’

  3. 0


    Bill Gelin, with all respect, I can’t believe how naïve you are. In a way, it is touching and refreshing, but please get real. Here are the facts:

    The Keller decision that Bill is referring to is the US Supreme Court case that prohibits state bars from pursuing ideological/political agendas. The Florida Bar ROUTINELY violates Keller. Proof:

    The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, in violation of Keller, actively participated in political efforts to allow “gay adoption.” Then Chief Justice Canady and then Associate Justice Polston said, in the Liberty Counsel case addressing The Bar’s politicization, that “the Florida Supreme Court has abdicated its duty to supervise The Florida Bar.” The Supremes gutted Keller in that case.

    Maybe even worse, The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors ILLEGALLY took $300,000 in members’ dues and funded the retention campaigns of three Florida Supreme Court Justices in the last general election. This was a brazen, shocking betrayal of Keller.

    So, Bill, when Eugene Pettis tells you that The Bar can’t get involved in these criminal justice issues, he is, to be frank, lying. Such are the very issues that The Bar should be getting involved in, but it does not get involved in them–in assuring the delivery of equal justice to all–because it is too busy pursuing political, partisan, divisive issues that it pretends it is not pursuing.

    Maybe, Bill, you are giddy from The Bar’s getting off your case–for now–but you really need to look at the facts and not at the phony rhetoric. Eugene Pettis embodies what is wrong with The Bar. He is a hypocrite. He talks about The Bar serving others. The Bar serves itself, and The Bar targets for destruction anyone who dares say and prove otherwise.

    Jack Thompson, Who Knows Better

  4. 0


    Spechler would be nothing in this town again after he was done with him…

    Dont think that worked out as planned for Vic.

  5. 0


    When does the statute of limitations run in Scott Rothstein ponzi scheme to file indictments against judges and lawyers? Which ones are sweating it out? It is disgusting that the Fla Bar and JQC let these crooked muts continue to sit on the bench and practice law in our community.

  6. 0


    Spechler has all the time he needs to hang out at the beach now dreaming about how he was swindled out of the courthouse by Tobin. Who’s laughing now?

  7. 0


    Where is that loser Tobin anyway? Think he’s tryin to stay under the radar for a while???

  8. 0


    I hear he was at the Dennis Bailey fundraiser Thursday night. Same night as the COOPA dinner with all the condo big wigs. Bailey blowing off the event for his event is well known. Those ladies in Century Village West are not very forgiving, sucks to be Dennis.

  9. 0



    LEADERSHIPOff and running – Gene Pettis and Howard Finkelstein are pulling together as a team. As previously reported, the President of the Florida Bar requested something in writing from Broward’s Public Defender concerning the wildly disproportionate rates of minority occupancy in the State’s jails and prisons due to non-violent crimes, and boy did he get it. Finkelstein’s letter, found here,** went out on March 4th, as first reported by Buddy Nevins. Pettis, who was traveling last week, caught up with us today. He’s already …

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