Switcheroo! – the rumors regarding Andrea Gundersen being pushed out of Family are true, and for all those fretting about her coming to Criminal, rest easy. She’s going to Dennis Bailey’s current Foreclosure Division #11, and Bailey is taking Gundersen’s Family Division #41. As far as Raag Singhal’s coveted former Civil Division #21, it’s being babysat by Mark Speiser until the JNC fills the vacancy created by Singhal’s call-up to The Show, with Raag’s replacement now likely coming to Criminal to take over for whomever wins the behind the scenes wrestling match to win admission to 21 Club. Today’s AO is found here with the three changes …
Save the date! – Gina Hawkins JQC trial is coming up, set for February 13th in the central courthouse. There’s been lots of back and forth on the docketing of this case, with former ASA Greg Lauer now a listed witness in support of what he categorizes as his former trial partner’s “playful actions.” All docs are found here …
Busted! – Clerk’s employee Sheena White got indicted by the Feds, suspended without pay since January 3rd of this year. The Indictment is found here. It’s unknown at this time if the allegations have any type of connection to White’s employment responsibilities.
Jason Maraj, one of Brenda’s higher-ups at the Clerk’s Office, recently beat a felony gun rap, ably repp’d by courthouse go-to-guy Jeremy Kroll. The PC Affidavit is here, No Info’d by the SAO’s Alex Urruela back on December 13th. Kroll also represents former ASA Alim Babayev on pending DUI allegations before Bobby Diaz, with Zeb Goldstein defending Babayev against a civil auto negligence complaint stemming from the same alleged DUI incident …
BOG Platform Statements – there are three races for BOG this year, and the platform statements are found here. Interestingly, Michael Shelley, running in the 11th Circuit, shares similar concerns with “(t)ransparency and consistency in discipline cases,” writing “the Bar seems to be focused on constitutionally protected free speech rather than actual misconduct that harms the client and the public at large.” Check out all the statements, including Jay Kim’s, and be sure to read this Q&A with TFB president-elect hopeful Michael Tanner, regarding legal challenges to mandatory bar associations, as previously highlighted via WSJ link on JAABLOG here …
Served! – JAABLOG is ensnared in Bryson v. Scherer, due to this post from May of last year. Marni’s attorneys are looking to invade the journalist’s privilege, but not if Pro Bono Warrior John Howes has anything to say about it. Check out this objection John filed back in December, and we’ll be sure to update after this Friday’s scheduled depo …
Whose mother do I have to hire around here to get a nolle prosse? – that’s the bad joke going around the courthouse these days, after the SAO dropped some serious 1st degree felonies, and then refiled them. The cases had been in ASA Jeff Chukwuma’s name, while the defense attorney was his mom, Laura Chukwuma. Needless to say, Jeff wasn’t the ASA that dropped the cases, but the incidents have been the talk of the SAO, where morale is even lower than the usually normal all-time-low, due to the perceived closeness of Laura to Mike Satz.
We saw Jeff Marcus and Satz last week and asked if they knew anything about the matter, since it was our understanding that police officers involved in some of the cases may have been the first to make the stink that led to the refiles. Marcus and Satz were predictably uncommunicative, so we went to the SAO’s PIO later that day, who replied last Friday:
“Here is the Broward State Attorney’s Office response to your questions:
As you know, cases are automatically assigned by the degree of felony and the seniority level of the prosecutors in each courtroom/division.
Assistant State Attorney Jeffrey Chukwuma was removing himself from cases where his mother was the attorney of record, as required. We recently discovered that while he was removing himself from those cases and giving them to other prosecutors to handle, his name was remaining on the case as the assigned prosecutor.
This was corrected after it was discovered and Mr. Chukwuma was counseled to officially have the cases reassigned to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
Among those cases were one case involving two co-defendants and a separate case involving one defendant. Those cases were randomly assigned to Judge Siegel’s division, where the defense attorney’s son is the lead prosecutor.
Because of the conflict of interest, another lead prosecutor from a different courtroom/division was asked to handle the above cases. That prosecutor was absent from court because of a missed flight and yet another prosecutor was asked to step in (at short notice) and handle the court hearings.
After speaking briefly with the defense attorney, the prosecutor was under the impression that charges were to be dismissed against all three defendants and that one of the three defendants had agreed to plead to one charge in exchange for time served.
Upon review, supervising prosecutors disagreed with the dropping (or nolle pros) of the charges against the three defendants and those charges were re-filed. Supervisors also disagreed with the disposition of the charge that had been pleaded out but it was not possible to re-file that charge.
Our prosecutors are continuing to review the matter.
The cases involved were:
17-8678CF10A and 19-2084CF10A Wiky Jean
18-13535CF10A Berlin Millicent
19-2138CF10A Tiffany French
All but 17-8678CF10A have been re-filed.“
We’ll be sure to update after the SAO finishes its review …