It’s old home week at JAABLOG. Well trodden topics and familiar faces are making a comeback in the mainstream media and elsewhere.
First up, the JNC:
Long accused in forums like ours of stripping the meritocracy dead, the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board has also recently taken the appointment panel for judges to task. Stating “political affinity should have nothing to do with it,” the Sentinel sums it up thusly:
“America’s courts have no defense against politicians who seek to stack the bench except the power of public opinion — an opinion that should have no patience this November with politicians who would corrupt the courts to sabotage our fundamental liberties. In Florida, that means having no use for politicians who don’t support making the nominating commissions independent again.”
Our feelings are well-known on this subject, so we’ll end with a paraphrased story from law school orientation day, when Barbara Babcock said hello to us 1L’s with a version of the classic undergraduate welcome warning, playing on the 50% flunk out rate for college freshman.
“Look to the person on your left, and to your right,” Babcock said. “And now congratulate each other, because you’ve reached the end of the meritocracy by getting into law school. From here on out, it’s not what you do, but who you know … ”
Next up, Marni Bryson:
Bryson is no stranger to making headlines, or getting reversed. Now she’s featured in the Palm Beach Post for sending 64 year old attorney John Carter to jail for thirty days on contempt allegations. The Fourth DCA let him out almost immediately, pending appeal.
“I think you’re disrespectful to the people of Palm Beach County. I’m appalled,” Carter responded, saying that he had spoken to other attorneys who had the same complaints about her. “Never in my 35 years of practice have I ever experienced anything like this.”
For the record, we’ve never met Carter, but would love to speak with him now …
And here’s Bobby Diaz:
Swing and a Miss. We’re told Diaz has denied the SAO’s Motion to Recuse filed in State v. Mark A. Good, and that it’s to be appealed. We’ll let you know the gender makeup of the assigned circuit court appeal panel when it becomes official …
Last up in this special blog reunion roundup, the recently resurfaced Matt Destry, and supermensch Johnny McCray:
BACDL got it right this year by naming Johnny for the Harry Gulkin Award. McCray has won more than his fair share of big cases throughout the decades, and is known for possessing impeccable integrity. He’s never been afraid to stand up against injustice, publicly bucking Eileen O’Connor when she locked up a prospective juror, and bravely calling out Destry in the strongest possible terms when Destry was still a sitting judge. Some think he may have helped tip the election.
From the Westside Gazette Letter to the Editor, August 18, 2016:
“Judge Destry is neither a friend to minorities nor to the poor. He has demonstrated over and over again that justice in his courtroom is at best sporadic and at worst provided only to those whose favor he covets … He is the most terrifying kind of judge—unpredictable, harsh, and wildly and inconsistently wielding his discretion … Judge Destry’s version of justice evinces his propensity to consistently betray fairness and justice. It is quite incredulous how he has suddenly developed such great interest in our community as he has obviously bamboozled a few into supporting and endorsing his bid to return to the bench … ” (McCray further develops the theme a week later also in the Gazette in Message to Black clergy and political operatives: Please vet judicial candidates before endorsement)
Everyone owes Johnny a debt of gratitude in helping to rid Broward of the likes of Destry, in addition to his deserved lauding for a career full of considerable courtroom achievements. Please plan on attending McCray’s Gulkin award ceremony, set for April 26 at 5:30pm at the Pier 66 Panorama Ballroom. Tickets are $125 for private attorneys, and $75 for government lawyers and judges. If not sold out, tickets will be $140 at the door. Checks and RSVPs should be sent to Jason Blank, 888 S. Andrews Ave., Ste. 201, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 …
Ready for some new news?
Is she or isn’t she? – we’re told Bill Haury is staying put in criminal until Merrilee Ehrlich is replaced on the circuit court. Very odd, considering Ehrlich’s first person dismissal of retirement rumors just last week. But since judges are allowed to change their minds too, we’ve made a records request to Rick Scott’s office to see if they’re in receipt of a resignation letter, just in case …
Granted! (sort of) – Chris Pole has taken himself off the DUI discovery mess in State v. Zahariev. A sua sponte recusal order was entered by Pole after he initially denied Jason Blank’s Motion to Disqualify, and after Blank filed a Writ of Prohibition to the appeals court. Will other cases, closed or open, be affected? Wait and see …
Rising C level – global warming is a serious concern in South Florida, but no one’s blaming it yet for the flooding of the Hollywood PD’s Evidence Room. Eddie Lopez has filed this Motion with records requests to uncover the full extent of the damage, and in particular to see if his client’s attempted murder charges in State v. Cedi Pacheco have been compromised. Is Hollywood up to date on evidence retention protocols, or antediluvian in its approach? Wade and see …