Florida Judiciary -- Rule by 'Judicial Fiat' instead of 'Rule of Law'

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Florida's Judicial News & Views

Judges Tortured, Murdered Terry

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December 2007

Appeals Court Criticizes Polk Judges

DUI case ruling faults incorrect finding of probable cause to proceed with charge.

By John Chambliss, The Ledger

12-28-07 -- An appeals court ruling involving a man jailed on a drunken driving charge after a Breathalyzer test registered 0.00 could change the way police in Polk County document evidence in some DUI cases. . . .The ruling criticized the way Polk County judges sometimes review cases when a DUI defendant makes his or her first court appearance after their arrest. The DCA ruling said the judge who reviewed Stephen Gould's arrest incorrectly found that probable cause existed to proceed with a DUI charge. . . . Gould's car had crashed into the back of another vehicle and Lakeland police officers investigating the accident gave him a Breathalyzer test, which showed no alcohol use. Gould told officers he had taken the drug Xanax and he was charged with driving under the influence. . . . The only evidence submitted to the judge at Gould's first court hearing was a traffic citation filled out by police that checked a box indicating that Gould was intoxicated. No supporting evidence accompanied the citation. . . . The three-judge DCA panel ruled this month that wasn't enough to show probable cause existed to arrest Gould.

Lawyer may lose license for blog entry on Broward judge

By Tonya Alanez | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

12-14-07 -- A defense attorney's law license is at risk because he posted an angry description on the Internet of embattled Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Alemán, calling her an "evil, unfair witch."Last week, as Alemán was on trial for alleged misconduct before the Judicial Qualifications Commission, The Florida Bar signed off on its finding that Sean Conway may have violated five bar rules, including impugning the judge's qualifications or integrity. . . . In the Halloween 2006 posting on a blog, Conway denounced Alemán for what he said was an "ugly, condescending attitude" and questioned her mental stability after, he says, she unlawfully forced attorneys to choose between unreasonable trial dates or waiving their clients' rights to a speedy trial. . . . Conway, a former Broward assistant public defender now in private practice, said Wednesday he feels justified in his comments. . . . "She was giving people one week to prepare for trial and as soon as the blog exposed it through powerful words she stopped it," he said. "And that's why I stand by what I did. Sometimes the language the bar approves of doesn't get the job done."

Letter: More injustice in the justice system

Vero Beach Press-Journal

12-12-07 -- The letter by Clifford Henry (“St. Lucie County engaging in illicit money-making scheme”), stating he was assessed a fine plus court costs by a St. Lucie County judge, in spite of his proof of innocence, prompted me to write. . . . My case involved a simple real estate sale wherein the judge awarded excessive attorney fees and costs to a Palm Beach County attorney and told everyone in the courtroom not to tell anyone that he ever awarded $375 per hour when the hourly rate for attorney fees in the 19th Judicial Court in St. Lucie County is $250 per hour. This judge ignored Florida Bar Rule 4-1.5 (1)(C) and required me to pay the Palm Beach County attorney for additional hours the judge spent at his doctor’s office (and not in the courtroom), a total of 33 hours at $375 per hour, plus $350 and $275 per hour for other partners in the Palm Beach County law firm. . . . He added a $14.98 per day interest fee, making it retroactive one month prior to the date I received the judgment amount. . ..  In Clifford Henry’s letter, he questioned how a judge who is sworn to be fair in his decisions could perpetrate an injustice against him? That is the question I asked. Just another example of injustice in the justice system.

Bea Corac / Port St. Lucie

Reprimand urged for Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Alemán

Alemán calls her hearing 'educational'

By Tonya Alanez | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

12-8-07 -- The attorney for the state agency that polices judicial conduct said Thursday that Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Alemán deserves a public reprimand for breaching her professional duty to be patient, dignified and courteous. . . . "This is a judge who doesn't have the ability to see what others see," Lansing Scriven, counsel for the Judicial Qualifications Commission, said in his closing argument on the third and final day of Alemán's judicial misconduct hearing. Yet Scriven said Alemán was capable of turning her behavior around. . . . The commission had charged Alemán, 49, with improperly threatening to hold attorneys in contempt and refusing to step down from caseswhere she had an acrimonious relationship with the defense attorney. . . . Alemán's inability to assess her own conduct called for the reprimand, Scriven told the commission's six-person panel.

Broward's Judge Alemán defends herself for 5 hours

The judicial panel reviewing the misconduct charges against Broward Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Alemán resumes its work Wednesday.

By Trenton Daniel

12-5-07 -- When asked to describe Broward Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Alemán's reputation on the county bench, assistant public defender Bruce Raticoff was blunt. . . . ''The word was she was cold-hearted and that she was going to kill my client,'' said Raticoff, the first witness to testify Tuesday before a hearing panel that is reviewing misconduct charges against Alemán. . . . Raticoff, one of several attorneys who has accused the jurist of improper conduct, was referring to a 2006 murder case for which the defendant was facing the death penalty. . . . Alemán'scase is before the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. The judge is accused of several violations, including that she unfairly held, or threatened to hold, lawyers in contempt of court. . . . Raticoff's testimony at the trial-like administrative proceedings followed nearly five hours of testimony by Alemán herself, who was questioned about her frosty disposition, and about incidents in which she ripped up an attorney's written motion from the bench, and a failure to recuse herself.

November 2007

Judges Feel Legal Blogs' Glare

By Julie Kay, The National Law Journal .

11-28-07 -- In May, Dale Ross, chief judge for the Florida circuit court in Broward County for 16 years, stepped down following a year of embarrassing scandals, gaffes and bad behavior by his judges. .. . . Although pressure was building for Ross to resign for years, many legal observers say it would not have happened if not for the new Broward courthouse blog, JAA Blog. . . . That blog hammered Ross on a daily basis and reported on such incidents as a judge arrested for smoking pot in a park, another judge making an off-color sexual remark and another judge allegedly taking a loan from a defense lawyer appearing before him. . . . The JAA Blog was started in August 2006 by a group of criminal defense lawyers fed up with the way things were being run in the Broward courthouse. They believed that it operated like a "good ol' boys network" rather than the second-largest county court in Florida.

Judge Larry Schack: Allegations false, and court records can prove it

Judge Larry Schack, guest columnist

11-26-07 -- I read the letter from Martin McMahon and was absolutely shocked since I never made the remark nor anything that could even be misconstrued as such. I have never thought the way that was portrayed in the letter, nor spoken that way. [McMahon letter below] The quote is a complete fabrication. . . . I am writing because Mr. McMahon raised a claim that strikes at the heart of what we as judges are supposed to do. I am responding for several reasons. . . . First, I owe it to the public who invests me with the trusted position of this office to assure them that I am exercising the authority they have loaned me in a proper fashion. . . . Second, as noted, the claim is patently untrue, and I do not want it impacting the proceedings in court. . . . Third, a fabrication of that nature not only impacts my reputation, it also impacts the reputation of the court system as a whole. When a judge goes awry, the entire judiciary tends to be tarred by the same brush. . . . Finally, I wish to use this as an opportunity to further educate the public on what we do as judges.

Letter: How can Judge Larry Shack make such a ludicrous statement?

Regarding Judge Larry Shack and his ludicrous statement, “I’m going to hand out a million years served before I’m off the bench,” what do we have here? Premeditation and prejudice — already sentencing people before their cases are heard. He is an elected egomaniac. . . . Let’s get together and vote, or force this “judge” into another venue — maybe flippin’ burgers at a hamburger stand. Then the “judge” can claim more than a billion served.

Martin McMahon, Stuart

Kaney removed from bench

The Florida Supreme Court won't put the retired jurist on any more overflow cases.

Jim Leusner | Sentinel Staff Writer

11-9-07 -- When Senior Orange Circuit Judge Frank N. Kaney finished handing out sentences Oct. 18, his 34-year career on the bench ended abruptly. . . . The Florida Supreme Court had decided not to renew the retired jurist's annual appointment to assist with overflow cases in the circuit. The exact reason is confidential under court rules. . . . But records released to the Orlando Sentinel show that six defense lawyers had complained to Robert Pleus Jr., then-chief judge of the 5th District Court of Appeal. They said "criminal defendants cannot get a fair trial before Judge Kaney," according to a March 28 letter Pleus wrote to the Florida Supreme Court. . . . Pleus described the attorneys, whose names were not disclosed, as "highly respected members of the defense bar."

October 2007

Judge Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

North Country Gazette

10-17-07 --The Ninth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission is seeking applicants to fill the vacancy of Orange County Circuit Court Judge James C. Hauser, who has resigned. . . . Applicants for the $145,080-a-year job must be residents of Orange or Osceola counties, a registered voter and an attorney in good standing for at least five years. . . . Gov. Charlie Crist will appoint a successor for a one-year term. The judge later would have to qualify and run for office. . . . Hauser, 58,  resigned in the middle of a misconduct investigation by the state Judicial Qualification Commission.

New rules on court records often ignored

Some Miami-Dade and Broward judges aren't following tough new rules meant to prevent the wrongful sealing of court records.

By Patrick Danner and Dan Christensen

10-15-07 --Six months after the Florida Supreme Court ordered tough new rules aimed at curbing the wrongful sealing of court records, judges in Miami-Dade and Broward aren't following them. . . . A review of sealing orders shows judges often are failing to comply with some of the new law's key requirements, such as specifying in writing the grounds for sealing court records, or including findings that the secrecy was no broader than necessary. . . . Broward judges have issued 10 sealing orders since the high court's ruling on April 5, the clerk's office said. Eight don't meet the new requirements. . . . Four of six sealing orders that judges issued in Miami-Dade do not comply. . . . The cases include the divorce of a prominent Broward homicide prosecutor, a defamation suit against a Miami doctor, and a Fort Lauderdale law firm's fee dispute in a probate matter.

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Disbarred judge accused of illegally acting as attorney

By Rebecca Catalanello, Times Staff Writer

10-12-07 --A disbarred judge was booked into jail Thursday amid allegations he has been practicing law without a license. . . . Louis Frazier Tidwell, 69, lost his law license after he was sentenced to prison in 1991 for having sex with a 14-year-old girl and smoking crack cocaine. . . . On Thursday, state attorneys asked Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder to sentence Tidwell to jail for violation of probation. . . . Chief Assistant State Attorney Karen Stanley said the violation stems from evidence the state has that he has illegally acted as an attorney. However, no formal charges have been filed detailing those allegations.

Ex-Huntingdon County DJ charged with misconduct

Sara Ganim

10-12-07 --A former magisterial district judge, who served for more than 30 years in Huntingdon County, was formally charged with misconduct by the Judicial Conduct Board Thursday. . . . Former District Judge Daniel S. Davis, who resigned from the bench Aug. 31, is alleged to have covered up financial misconduct in his office, and ordered unlawful community service programs to defendants in his court, according to a formal complaint issued by the board. . . . Davis was charged in the Court of Judicial Discipline in Harrisburg with failure to discharge his duties and failure to maintain adequate records. . . . The complaint filed against Davis alleges that he allowed his constable, David Ray Metzger, to collect more than $800 in fines from defendants and deposit them into his personal account. . . . The Huntingdon County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting Metzger on forgery and theft-related charges.

Activist Files Complaint Against Judge Durrance

'harsh decisions'

By Dana Willhoit, The Ledger

10-10-07 --Winter Haven resident and community activist Macy Butler has filed a complaint with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission against Polk County Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance. . . . Butler said that he is complaining because of recent sentences handed down by Durrance. . . . He cites two cases in which he thinks the judgment was too harsh. . . . The cases are Daniel Norris, a volunteer firefighter with no prior criminal record who was sentenced to 30 years in state prison for a drunken driving accident in which two of his friends died, and Joseph Woods, a man sentenced to six months in county jail for uttering a four-letter word in Durrance's court on a first appearance hearing. . . . "They need to review his record and review his tendency to make harsh decisions with people with nonviolent records," Butler said. . ..  Butler, a former president of the Winter Haven NAACP, said that he was especially upset when he heard of the sentence that former Sheriff's Capt. Mark DeComo received in Durrance's courtroom.

September 2007

Chief Judge Under Investigation

By Kristin Smith, First Coast News

9-26-07 -- Jacksonville Circuit Court Chief Judge Donald R. Moran is under investigation for domestic battery. . . . Moran's wife told police he hit her after she punched him or threw something at him during an argument at their home Monday night, according to a police report. . . . The police report shows Moran, 62, left the home before police arrived to investigate. Moran's wife said the two had been drinking. . . . The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office would not say whether investigators have spoken with Judge Moran. A JSO spokesperson says it is an ongoing investigation. . . . Judge Moran has not been arrested. . . . Right now, there is not a warrant out for his arrest. . . . "Police do not need a warrant to arrest the aggressor in a domestic battery," said State Attorney Harry Shorstein. "That is one of the only misdemeanor charges police don't need a warrant to make an arrest."

Judge and Jury

Judge Lazarus takes justice into his own hands in the Keith Wasserstrom trial

By Bob Norman 

9-12-07 -- Joel T. Lazarus is a powerful guy. He isn't just a Broward Circuit judge; he's also a jury. And on Monday, he single-handedly did more to damage anticorruption efforts in his county than just about any man ever has. . . . Lazarus is the judge in the corruption trial against Keith Wasserstrom, a former Hollywood commissioner. Wasserstrom used the power of his office to help a sewage company to which he was allegedly financially tied get a lucrative contract in his city. . . . That much is uncontested fact — and the lurid details smell worse than the sludge involved in the city's contract. But after the prosecution and the defense rested Monday, Lazarus threw out the key felony charge against Wasserstrom, saying the unlawful-compensation case against him was "circumstantial." . . . In doing so, the judge not only subverted a fundamental American legal principle, the jury trial, but also the opinion of a much higher power — the Florida Supreme Court. . . . After Lazarus made the stunning move, I questioned the judge about it outside the courtroom. . . . "Did you make the decision to take this case out of the jury's hands lightly?" I asked him. . . . "What?" . . . "Are you a judge or are you both the judge and jury?"

Vindictive Judge Faces Misconduct Charges

North Country Gazette

9-10-07 -- A Seminole County judge who sent a defendant to jail earlier this year for asking the judge to recuse himself has been formally charged with misconduct charges by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. . . . In a formal complaint served last week, the judicial panel has charged that Judge Ralph Eriksson’s actions were “calculated to punish the defendant for exercising a legitimate legal right” and were “punitive and vindictive”, undermining the orderly administration of justice. . . . In another case, a defendant who was unable to hear the proceedings and who was confused why his attorney hadn’t filed some paperwork, was also sent to jail by Eriksson who has been a judge for 12 years. . . . Bob Lee Walton, 22, had been charged with driving under the influence and driving in violation of the terms and conditions of a business purposes license.  The case had been previously charged in Circuit Court due to an allegation of possession of cocaine that was subsequently dropped.

Failed polygraph exams on sex-harassment allegations haunt judge at hearing

Jim Leusner | Sentinel Staff Writer

9-5-07 -- After allegations surfaced in November that Orange Circuit Judge James C. Hauser exposed himself at a law student's apartment months earlier, he passed a lie-detector test and supplied it to deputy sheriffs and a state judicial panel investigating the matter. . . . On Friday, a lawyer for Florida's Judicial Qualifications Commission disclosed that Hauser failed two earlier polygraph exams and did not report the findings to authorities -- raising questions about this truthfulness. . . . JQC special counsel Lauri Waldman Ross, acting as a prosecutor on the probe, produced the test results subpoenaed from Richard Keifer, an Apopka polygraph examiner and retired FBI agent. . . . "You wanted people to believe you passed a polygraph," Ross asked the judge. "And that included the sheriff's department, the JQC and the public at large?" . . . "That is correct," Hauser said, adding that Keifer told him that the earlier results were "inconclusive." Hauser said he never saw the earlier results.

August 2007

Lawyer: Scathing written opinion not enough to remove
judge from bench

By Paul Flemming, Florida Capital Bureau

8-31-07 -- Like it or lump it, Judge Michael Allen's scathing written opinion in the appeal of W.D. Childers' bribery case doesn't make him unfit to be a judge, his lawyers argue. . . . Wally Pope, the lawyer for the Judicial Qualifications Commission said Allen's actions were ''uncaring, unjustified and motivated by ill will'' against fellow First Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Charles Kahn, reason enough to pursue ethics charges. . . . But Allen's lawyers Thursday argued that ethics charges against the judge should be dismissed because Allen's opinion did not fulfill the basic requirements to pursue an ethics case. . . . ''All Judge Allen's opinion did was show his reason for (voting to have the entire court hear) the Childers case,'' said Bruce Rogow, an attorney for Allen. ''You can like it or don't like it but there's nothing in there that shows a present unfitness to hold office.'' . . . Broward County Circuit Judge Paul Backman, who chairs the hearing panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission considering the case, said he'd make a ruling on the motion to dismiss as soon as possible.

Florida high court may take up children's rights to sue

By Daphne Duret, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

8-27-07 -- The question of whether Florida parents can sign away their children's rights to sue sports, amusement and water parks may soon become an issue for the Florida Supreme Court, state lawmakers or both. . . . In the meantime, a recent appellate court ruling in the death of a 14-year-old boy at an Okeechobee ATV park has left both parents and park owners confused. . . . Christopher Jones died in May 2003 after losing control of his ATV at the Thunder Cross Motor Sports Park. His father, Bobby, had signed a waiver acknowledging the risks at the park and giving up his and Christopher's rights to sue - a common practice before children enter parks or participate in sports events. . . . The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled this month that Bobby Jones could not sign away his son's right to sue, clearing the way for a lawsuit against the park on behalf of the boy's estate.

Kaboom Kit

Judge calls police to shoo 'O'Reilly' crew

They are given warnings. But a producer says the judge blocked them in his driveway.

By Colleen Jenkins, Times Staff Writer

8-24-07 -- Circuit Judge Manuel Lopez arrived home Monday evening to find a crew from Fox's The O'Reilly Factor parked in his driveway. . . . The crew wanted to interview Lopez about his decision to grant bail to a man who later killed a sheriff's sergeant. The judge wanted them off his property - and summoned law enforcement to help. . . . A Hillsborough sheriff's deputy issued trespass warnings to Brian Lyle, Jesse Watters and Colin Kelly. . . . The men face penalties only if they return to the judge's home, said sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway. . . . But the show's executive producer said Lopez blocked the men's sport utility vehicle, prohibiting them from leaving. . . . "They would have left without incident if the judge had let them," said David Tabacoff.

Pahokee suspect gets out despite 41st arrest

By Rochelle E.B. Gilken, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

8-22-07 -- Alvin Lamont Walker's rap sheet includes arrests for three homicides, a rape, batteries, burglaries and assaults. . . . And yet, after his 41st arrest, Sunday, the longtime Pahokee criminal was released immediately on his own recognizance, without having to post bail. . . . Walker, 57, who goes by the nickname "Cooter Pop," was charged with simple battery, for allegedly punching a fellow customer during an argument at a Pahokee liquor store. Judge Nelson Bailey allowed Walker to be released, according to the state attorney's office. . . . Bailey could not be reached for comment Monday. . . . Walker's criminal record reads like a broken record of dropped, dismissed or reduced charges. The whole community knows and fears him, said former Pahokee Police Chief Rafael Duran, now a corporal at the sheriff's office. . . . "He's basically a career criminal and has gotten away with a lot of things because people are afraid to talk," Duran said. "It's fear. It's absolute fear."

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Fla. Legal Elite Hope to Get Judges a Little Respect

Group wants to bring judges back in public's good graces after embarrassing blunders and judicial abuse and misconduct

Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review 

8-17-07 -- Prompted in part by Florida Supreme Court justices and the potential loss of a new courthouse, a group of high-powered lawyers is launching its own effort to restore public confidence in Broward County's fractured judiciary. . . . The project is spearheaded by former Democratic state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, prominent Republican lawyer Edward Pozzuoli and Eugene Pettis, a member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors. . . . The group began organizing in the past few weeks and is attempting to set up an initial meeting. . . . The objective: Help bring respect back to a bench beset by criminal investigation, insensitive comments and inappropriate actions. . . . "We have a great judiciary. We just have to prove it to the public," Campbell said. "The group is starting because there is a call for help." . . . The group plans to discuss ways to bring the judges back into the public's good graces and wants to meet with incoming Chief Judge Victor Tobin. . . . The judge said Tuesday that he is receptive to the lawyers' involvement.

'Absurd' case?' Prosecutors think not

A retrial is planned despite a scathing appeals court ruling.

By Carrie Weimar, Times Staff Writer

8-10-07 -- An appeals court called the case against Mark O'Hara "absurd" and "ridiculous," but the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office is refusing to drop charges against the 45-year-old Dunedin man. . . . O'Hara appeared before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta Wednesday morning, his first time in court since his release from prison July 25. . . . During the brief hearing, prosecutor Darrell Dirks indicated his office plans to pursue a second trial for O'Hara, who was accused of drug trafficking after authorities found 58 Vicodin pills in his bread truck. He had legal prescriptions for the drugs. . . . O'Hara's lawyer, Ira Berman, said he was stunned by the decision. He told Ficarrotta he planned to ask for a dismissal.

Judge questioned on visit to woman's home

Law student disputes his version of encounter

Jim Leusner | Sentinel Staff Writer

8-8-07 -- It started as a conversation between a male teacher and a female student after law class, followed by a casual dinner and a trip to her apartment to borrow some movies. . . . What happened next -- indecent exposure or consensual kissing -- is in dispute and may determine the future of Orange Circuit Court Judge James C. Hauser's career. . . . On Tuesday, an attorney for the state Judicial Qualifications Commission began questioning Hauser to determine his fitness for the bench. . . . In a mock courtroom at the Orlando offices of his attorney, Keith Mitnik, Hauser admitted a romantic interlude last year with a married Barry University law student in Orlando while he was a co-instructor in a class called "Making the Divorce Work." But he was adamant that it was a welcomed advance.

Judge upholds Save Our Homes law

By Marc Caputo

8-8-07 -- The Florida law that shifted about $7.8 billion in property taxes from homesteaders to all other property owners this year is ''even-handed'' and not discriminatory, a Tallahassee judge ruled Monday. . . . Circuit Judge John C. Cooper dismissed a suit filed by Alabama citizens who say they're paying an unconstitutional amount of taxes for second homes in the Panhandle. . . . The judge, basing his ruling on higher court opinions, ruled from the bench that the voter-approved Save Our Homes constitutional amendment did not violate the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection and right-to-travel provisions. . . . The plaintiff's lead lawyer, William Slaughter, said he was ''not at all surprised'' by the ruling because the case is fraught with ''political angst,'' judges such as Cooper are locally elected and ``even the Supreme Court reads election returns.'' . . . Slaughter, whose wife was once listed as a plaintiff, said he plans to take the case to the nation's highest court. Along the way, he'll stop at Florida's Supreme Court and the state's First District Court of Appeal, which issued the Reinish v. Clark opinion in 2000 that held that Save Our Homes is constitutional.

Anna Nicole Judge Larry Seidlin Scores Own TV Show

Move over Judge Judy… Judge Larry is coming to town!

8-8-07 -- Judge Larry Seidlin, the wisecracking emotional judge from the Anna Nicole Smith case, is shooting a pilot for his own TV show, Access Hollywood has learned.

The show will be produced by CBS Paramount. No other details were available.

The lampooning purveyor of justice (dubbed Sideshow Seidlin by the media for his courtroom antics) announced his resignation from the bench in June, amid speculation he was negotiating a deal for his own show.

Business and Legal Reports, Inc.

July 2007

Fla. Appeals Panel Finds in Error Judge Who Made
Columbine Remarks

Billy Shields, Daily Business Review

7-30-07 -- Broward Circuit Judge Charles I. Kaplan suffered his second appellate setback in three weeks Wednesday when a Florida 4th District Court of Appeal panel found he erred twice in holding a Broward juvenile in contempt for violating a court-ordered curfew. . . . In a two-page per curiam opinion in K.M., a child, v. State of Florida and Daryl Wolfe, a 4th DCA panel ruled a valid court order did not exist for violation of curfew, and thus Kaplan could not hold the teenage boy in contempt. . . . Kaplan, who was elected last year, declined to comment on the ruling. . . . Earlier this month, in a 2-1 decision, a different 4th DCA panel disqualified Kaplan from another juvenile delinquency case because the judge made remarks about the 14-year-old defendant's dress and appearance. . . . Kaplan compared the juvenile's appearance to two teenagers who killed 13 people in 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado. The panel majority said those remarks suggested Kaplan could not be impartial in the case.

Court: Defendant's satanist robe OK for murder trial
Man cites permission given Muslim terror suspects to wear Islamic garb

© 2007

7-27-07 -- Florida trial Judge Peter Adrien has ruled that a satanist on trial for allegedly killing and dismembering another man, then eating portions of the body, may wear his full religious regalia when he defends himself in court. . . . The prosecutor in the case, Assistant State Attorney Herbert E. Walker III, told WND the motion was brought by Lazaro Galindo, who is on trial for the 2000 death of Argelio Gonzalez. . . . Walker said he did not object to the request, because Galindo cited recent decisions that have allowed Islam into U.S. courtrooms for Muslim faithful, and he didn't want to set up a circumstance that could result in grounds for an appeal if Galindo is convicted. . . . "His argument was that if Muslims have a constitutional right for their religious beliefs to be recognized by the government, then he does," Walker told WND. . . . Walker told WND it was the first time he's ever heard that a defendant will be allowed to wear satanic garb, and carry the satanic bible, during a murder trial.

I've Got Nothing Here

Radley Balko

7-27-07 -- This story is so bizarre and outrageous, I can hardly believe it's true. . . . Tampa's Mark O'Hara was released from prison this week. He was serving a 25-year sentence for possession of 58 Vicodin tablets. Prosecutors acknowledge he wasn't selling the drug. They acknowledge that he had a prescription for it. At his trial, two doctors testified they'd been treating O'Hara since the early 1990s for pain related to gout and an automobile accident. . . . But prosecutors inexplicably brought drug trafficking charges anyway, because as the article explains, "Under the law, simply possessing the quantity of pills he had constitutes trafficking." . . . This is simply stunning. The man was sentenced to 25 years for possessing 58 pills for which he had a legal prescription. . . . Prosecutors then argued—and the trial court agreed—that the jury was not allowed to consider the fact that O'Hara had a prescription because Florida statutes governing painkillers don't allow for a "prescription defense," as if that rather crucial fact were some mere technicality those ACLU-types are always using to get criminals off the hook.


Judge Victor Tobin to oversee Broward's judiciary

Broward judges on Tuesday elected a 10-year veteran of the bench to the court's top administrative post.

By Dan Christensen & Jennifer Lebovich

7-18-07 -- Broward Circuit Judge Victor Tobin, elected chief judge on Tuesday, pledged to bring a new, open-style administration to a wounded, and deeply divided, county courthouse. . . . Tobin's biggest challenge will be to restore public faith in Broward's judiciary following more than a year of upheaval on the bench. . . . Last week, Gov. Charlie Crist ordered a criminal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by two Broward judges who have been accused of accepting gifts and money from a defense attorney who regularly appeared before them. . . . Tobin succeeds Dale Ross, who resigned the post last month amid a rash of embarrassing missteps by Broward judges. . . . Tobin's election to lead the second largest judiciary in the state comes on the same day that the state Commission on Human Relations issued a number of recommendations to improve Broward courts.

Stuart's McManus named new circuit judge

By Derek Simmonsen

7-18-07 -- A partner in the Willie Gary law firm will become the newest judge on the Treasure Coast after being appointed to the post Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Crist. . . . F. Shields McManus, 60, a partner with Gary, Williams, Parenti, Finney, Lewis, McManus, Watson & Sperando, fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Circuit Judge Scott M. Kenney. He will be taking over a range of civil, family, probate and other noncriminal matters in Okeechobee and will begin sometime in August, he said. . . . "I'm extremely pleased and happy and excited and very thankful that the governor saw fit to appoint me because all the candidates were eminently qualified," he said Tuesday. "This was something that I wanted to do for many years."

Prosecutor named to probe 2 Broward judges

By Wanda J. DeMarzo

7-13-07 -- A criminal probe into possible wrongdoing by two Broward judges will be conducted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. . . . On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Crist assigned State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle the task of investigating accusations that Circuit Court Judge Larry Seidlin received gifts or loans from a local attorney who regularly represented clients in his courtroom. . . . Fernandez's office will also investigate whether Broward County Judge Robert Zack inappropriately solicited or accepted gifts or loans from a local attorney who appeared before him on a regular basis. . . . Crist assigned the cases to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office after receiving a request from the Broward State Attorney's Office on July 2. State Attorney Michael Satz said his office could not conduct the investigation because of a conflict of interest. . . . Seidlin -- best known for his crying jags and emotional outbursts during the Anna Nicole Smith case -- was a former prosecutor with the Broward State Attorney's Office and is eligible to preside over cases prosecuted by Satz. . . . Zack is a sitting judge and his daughter is a former prosecutor. . . . It's against the law for judges or public officials to receive gifts from anyone doing business with their agency. Judges also are required by law to report gifts on their annual financial disclosure forms to the state Ethics Commission.

Lawyer's memo: Father offered favor to Broward judge before son's sentencing

By Tonya Alanez | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Broward Circuit Judge Charles Kaplan

7-13-07 -- A Broward assistant public defender is raising questions about an off-the-record exchange between a judge and a parent in a juvenile case, according to a memo obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. . . . During a June 12 courtroom recess and before imposing a sentence upon a teenage boy, Broward Circuit Judge Charles Kaplan gave his business card to the teen's father after he told the judge he could get free tickets to social soirees, according to Assistant Public Defender Tanya Simpson's memo. . . . Kaplan says he did not received any tickets nor was that his intent. . . . "I'll gladly stand up to any scrutiny anyone wants to throw at me," he said. "I have a sterling reputation." . . . The teen, who had violated probation by testing positive for marijuana and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, was before Kaplan on an open plea, which leaves it to the judge to determine the sentence.

Fla. Judge Removed From Juvenile Case Over Columbine Remarks

Billy Shields, Daily Business Review 

7-13-07 -- In a split opinion, a Florida 4th District Court of Appeal panel removed Broward Circuit Judge Charles Kaplan from the juvenile delinquency case of a 14-year-old based on Kaplan's remarks comparing the defendant's dress and appearance to the two teenage mass killers at Columbine High School in Colorado. . . . The opinion was supported by 4th District Judges Larry Klein and Robert Gross. Judge Barry Stone dissented. . . . The Broward teen was in court over his possession of a razor blade on middle school property. The teen said he simply forgot to remove the blade from his trousers. . . . According to the 4th District ruling, Kaplan said in open court that the defendant is "walking around with a razor in his pocket; he's wearing black; his fingernails are black; he's got that thing in his ear. ... I think if you look around at all the kids that are doing things in school, they're dressing this way."


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Defense lawyer who has accused two Broward County judges of improprieties leaves town with bitter taste of justice

Michael Mayo

7-9-07 -- A "For Sale" sign hangs outside Lawrence "Chris" Roberts' waterfront home in Fort Lauderdale. After 38 years in South Florida, he intends to move to the Jacksonville area with his wife and 7-year-old son. . . . Roberts, a defense attorney and former judge, is not leaving quietly. . . . In the last month, he's taken a figurative torch to the Broward County Courthouse where he spent much of his professional life. . . . First he leveled allegations of impropriety against Larry Seidlin, the recently retired judge and ringleader of the Anna Nicole Smith circus who's gone on to pursue a television career. . . . Roberts said the judge prompted him to buy a $1,000 Louis Vuitton purse for Seidlin's wife about five years ago. At the time, Seidlin gave Roberts lucrative special public defender appointments in juvenile court.

On Mayo, Roberts, Kent, and JAABloggees

The Daily Pulp, Bob Norman’s Blog

7-9-07 -- Sun-Sentinel columnist Micheal Mayo weighs in on the Seidlin story this morning with a piece focused on Lawrence "Chris" Roberts, the man who blew the whistle on Judges Larry Seidlin and Robert Zack. The piece has its merits, including being the first to report that Roberts was planning to move out of the area (I only learned that Friday afternoon myself) and squarely looking at the ethical quagmire involved. But Mayo, in the midst of the column, takes flight from reality: . . . "It's hard to say whether Roberts should be lauded for his 11th-hour integrity or lambasted for his self-serving timing. . . . After all, it's pretty easy to set the town ablaze on the way out. True virtue would have meant refusing the gift and loan requests and immediately reporting the judges." . . . True virtue at the Broward County Courthouse? . . . Pardon me while I laugh my ass off. The courthouse has been so deeply corrupt for so long that finding "true virtue" there is like finding true peace in Iraq. It's just not there. That place is packed with stories about prosecutors cavorting with judges, of undisclosed gifts and illicit favors, of justice subverted, of, in fact, every sin imaginable. But those stories will never be told. I know a few ditties myself that would take the Seidlin matter to another level and make for a new scandal or two. . . . But the people at the heart of them, namely lawyers, know what will happen if they snitch (and Roberts' use of the word "rat" in Mayo column is telling). They'll be blackballed. They'll be smeared. They'll be destroyed, plain and simple. They can't tell the story, and if they do it's off the record. And if it's repeated, they'll deny it.

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Judge won't hear cases involving Broward State Attorney's Office

Zack faces investigation over loan

By Tonya Alanez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

7-5-07 -- The Broward State Attorney's Office has agreed to have all of its cases before embattled County Court Judge Robert S. Zack reassigned to another judge. . . . Zack, 64, is facing an investigation for inappropriately accepting a $2,500 loan from a defense attorney who regularly appeared before him. . . . The state attorney's office on Monday asked Gov. Charlie Crist to have an outside agency investigate the allegations against Zack. . . . Chief Assistant State Attorney Chuck Morton wrote in a letter Tuesday to Chief Judge Dale Ross that the cases should be reassigned "in an abundance of caution to avoid any appearance or perception of potential conflicts." Morton wrote that he was accepting Ross' offer to do so.

Judge cleared of wrongdoing for comment in court

The Associated Press

7-5-07 -- The state Judicial Qualifications Commission has cleared a Broward County judge of any wrongdoing for making a comment some called racist. . . . Circuit Judge Charles Greene used the term "N.H.I." in April after jurors acquitted a defendant of attempted murder. The victim, defendant and witnesses in the case were all black. . . . N.H.I stands for "no humans involved." The acronym is used to describe why some crimes against the poor or minorities might not be investigated or pursued as thoroughly as possible.

Another judge rotates into 'emotionally difficult' family court

By Deborah Circelli, Staff Writer

Judge Marriott

7-5-07 -- Case after case of allegations of physical and sexual abuse on children can make even the strongest of judges tear up. . . . After two years covering child welfare cases in east Volusia County, Circuit Judge Frank Marriott is the latest dependency judge to request reassignment to a new division. . . . While he found working with children "rewarding" and would volunteer to come back, he said he needed a break and wanted experience in other areas. He started Monday in the felony division where he'll handle such cases, including murder. . . . "As a judge, you can do something that really helps a kid," said Marriott, 60, of Ormond Beach, a judge since 2000 and a civil trial attorney in Daytona Beach for 25 years. . . . But the hard part of dependency court, he said, is it can be "emotionally difficult" for him or any judge. Dependency court can deal with removing children from their parents for abuse or neglect or terminating a parent's rights. . . . "It's a constant exposure to negative situations involving children. It sort of wears on you," Marriott said.

IRS Slammed Judge Larry With Tax Bill

7-5-07 -- A look at Judge Larry Seidlin's financial disclosure forms not only shows that he never reported any gifts from wealthy widow Barbara Kasler, but they also show the feds hit him for $11,000 for allegedly failing to report profits he made from stocks last year. . . . The IRS notified Seidlin of the apparent oversight in a letter this past September 11, notifying the judge that it had learned from a third party that he'd earned $27,763 from stocks he owned in a Boca Raton company called JAG Media Holdings, Inc. Seidlin included the "Notice of Deficiency," as it's called, in his latest financial disclosure, which he filed on June 5.

June 2007

In the Bag

Judge Seidlin heads off to la-la land with collateral damage to his image

By Bob Norman 

6-29-07 -- So Judge Larry Seidlin, of Anna Nicole Smith fame, has quit the Broward County Courthouse to go off to Hollywood to develop a TV show. . . . South Florida should rejoice. . . . It´s not so much that the 57-year-old Seidlin was a bad judge; it was that he wasn´t much of a judge at all. He is, in fact, a shining example of the dim era ruled by outgoing Chief Judge Dale Ross, who pretty much let judges do as they pleased so long as they bowed at his feet. . . . So, other than drag the country though a needless and absurd Anna Nicole hearing/screen test, what did Seidlin do? . . . Well, as almost everyone at the courthouse can tell you, flying through dockets in the morning and playing tennis in the afternoon was his M.O. But what few know is that he also allegedly had time to wrangle gifts out of at least one lawyer working in his division and a small fortune from an elderly woman living in his ocean-view condo building on Las Olas Boulevard. . . . We´ll start with the woman.

Judge Vying for Promotion Cuts His Long Mane of Gray Hair

New York Lawyer, by Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review

6-29-07 -- Broward Circuit Judge Thomas M. Lynch IV is so committed to promoting a new, more positive image of the Broward judiciary that he chopped off the long gray mane that has cascaded down his black robe for much of the past decade. . . . Lynch is one of three veteran judges vying for the circuit’s chief judgeship following Chief Judge Dale Ross’ unexpected announcement that he is stepping down in September after 17 years at the helm. . . . While Lynch’s two rivals for chief judge — Circuit Judges Paul Backman and Victor Tobin — haven’t altered their appearance, they agree that the main problem facing the Broward judiciary is public perception.

All Rise, Here Comes Judge 'Weepner'

By Angela Mosconi & Michelle Caruso, New York Daily News

6-22-07 -- Judge Wapner was firm and fair, Judge Judy is tough as nails. But when Judge Larry Seidlin gets his own courtroom show, they better put a big box of tissues on the bench. Seidlin, the weepy Florida judge who presided over the fight over where to bury Anna Nicole Smith, has inked a deal to develop a 2008 show with CBS Television Distribution and is slated to film a pilot in L.A. next month, Broadcasting & Cable magazine reported on its Web site. . . . The Bronx-born jurist is leaving his court job after spending a week in Hollywood meeting with TV execs in search of a deal. His last day on the bench is July 31, according to his letter of resignation. . . . Seidlin, a former New York cabbie, was coy Tuesday when asked if he has a future on the tube. "We don't know. There's a lot of things we'll explore," he said as he was leaving his chambers with his 6-year-old daughter in tow. . . . When pressed about his TV plans, he turned to his daughter, Dax, and said: "What do you think, my little one? Do you want to see me on TV? Do you want to be on TV with me?" . . . "Yes," the pigtailed girl said.

Judge in Anna Nicole Case Resigns -- and TV May Be Next

Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review 

6-20-07 -- In the latest Broward County,Fla., judicial shakeup, Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin, who drew large audiences and sharp criticism for his handling of the February custody fight for the body of tabloid icon Anna Nicole Smith, has announced he is leaving the bench at the end of July. . . . Seidlin did not return a call for comment by deadline.

It has been rumored that Seidlin has a TV show in the works. Twentieth Television, which previously said it was talking to Seidlin about a deal, could not be reached for comment by deadline. . . . Seidlin came under widespread criticism in the legal community for his handling of the Smith case, and more recently came under fire for other behavior. Last month, WSVN-TV Channel 7 reported Seidlin took three-hour lunch breaks on the four days in April that he was tailed by the station's investigative team. WSVN also showed that he was at a tennis club by 4 p.m. on three of the four days he was watched. He declined to comment for the TV report.

Judge Larry?
Magazine says retiring Broward judge headed to TV

By Paula McMahon,

6-20-07 -- Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin is destined for the small screen -- he has committed to develop a fall 2008 court show with CBS Television Distribution, the TV industry magazine Broadcasting & Cable is reporting. . . . Citing "multiple industry sources," the magazine reported that Seidlin is expected to tape either a pilot or sales presentation in early July in Los Angeles. Seidlin announced Tuesday that he was stepping down from the family court bench, effective July 31. . . . His attorney, Dave Bogenschutz, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Wednesday that he could not confirm or deny the report. . . . The magazine previously reported Seidlin met earlier this year with several program distributors.

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Recently published stories on South Florida judges in trouble

Attention-getting Broward judge in Anna Nicole Smith case resigns

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin -- who gained notoriety for his tearful televised performance in the Anna Nicole Smith case -- is leaving the bench on July 31. (Jun 19, 2007)

PHOTO GALLERY: Anna Nicole Smith -- 1967 -2007

FILE VIDEO: Judge Seidlin's emotionally charged ruling

Broward judge in pot-smoking case retires

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Three months after being cited for smoking marijuana in a public park, a Broward County judge has announced his retirement. (Jun 14, 2007)

Broward judge faces possible removal by state panel for smoking marijuana

A Broward County judge apologized in court Monday for smoking marijuana in a Hollywood park, cutting a deal on his misdemeanor drug case but leaving his judicial career in jeopardy. (May 8, 2007)

Judge Korda pleads not guilty to pot charge, attorney says

Broward judge placed on leave while he faces pot-smoking charge

Broward judge seeks reassignment after insensitive remark creates uproar

Broward Circuit Court's diversity committee had its first case before it even had bylaws. (May 2, 2007)

Colorful Anna Nicole Smith Judge Leaving

Larry Seidlin, the wisecracking judge who presided in the dispute over Anna Nicole Smith's remains and was lampooned for his sobbing announcement of the verdict, will resign next month, a court spokesman said Tuesday. (Jun 19, 2007)

Diversity training is slated for judges treatment of minorities sparks action

Broward judges have berated litigants for not speaking English and disparaged the cleaning crew for leaving a bench in disarray, raising the ire of minority and women's lawyers groups. (Apr 27, 2006)

Chief judge's shtick not the example courthouse needs

Comedy in the wrong hands can be dangerous. For the latest proof, we turn to Broward County Chief Judge Dale Ross' stint in magistrate court last weekend.Magistrate duty involves setting bail and handling cases of those who've been arrested. During the course of two hours last Sunday morning, Ross made a series of quips that would make a radio shock jock proud. (Feb 11, 2007)

Charges accuse Judge Cheryl Alemán of arrogance and discourtesy

The state judicial watchdog filed formal charges against Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Alemán on Tuesday, accusing her of "a pattern of arrogant, discourteous, and impatient conduct."Using unusually strong language, the state Judicial Qualifications Commission charged her with violating several canons or rules, and acting in a manner that "erodes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." If the allegations are proven, Alemán faces anything from a public reprimand to removal from the bench. (Feb 7, 2007)

Seidlin a TV star? CBS makes an offer

The appetite for his antics may be wearing thin in South Florida, but the networks and cable TV only seem to want more of Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin.The courthouse rumor mill was grinding two big items Friday: Seidlin is retiring from the Broward bench. And he's finally getting that TV judge show his friends say he should have. (

Judge won't face misconduct charges over bias complaints

Broward Circuit Judge Eileen O'Connor will not face judicial misconduct charges in connection with accusations she failed to disclose two employee discrimination complaints when she applied to become a judge in 2003, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has learned.The state watchdog agency that monitors judges, the Judicial Qualifications Commission, voted at its Aug. 24 meeting to dismiss a complaint against O'Connor. (Sep 16, 2006)

Judge denies remark racist defender's office files complaint over comment on court's cleaning crew

The Public Defender's Office on Monday called for a state investigation into a Broward County judge's courtroom comments that they say demean minorities and poor people. (Jun 28, 2005)

Judge Accused in Pot-Smoking Case Resigns

Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review 

6-15-07 -- Veteran Broward Circuit Judge Lawrence L. Korda has resigned from the bench, three months after he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge for smoking pot in a Hollywood, Fla., park. . . . "It has been my honor to serve the court and the state for over 30 years," Korda, 59, wrote in his June 11 letter to Gov. Charlie Crist. The Florida judge was first elected to the bench in 1978. . . . His resignation takes effect July 2. Korda had been on a voluntary paid leave of absence since early April. After he was caught smoking pot, Chief Judge Ross had transferred him from the family to the probate division. But public criticism mounted, and Korda went on leave. . . . Copies of Korda's letter also were sent to Ross and the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. The NAACP says it has filed JQC charges against Korda in connection to the marijuana incident.

Schiavo Alma Mater Honors Judge In Death Case

Commentary By June Maxam

6-15-07 -- Florida honors judges who advocate killing the disabled, elderly and vulnerable. . . . The alma mater of Michael Schiavo, the estranged husband who battled in the courts for years in order to secure a court order to kill his wife, is honoring retired Circuit Court Judge Susan F. Schaeffer, the judge who assigned Probate Court Judge George W. Greer to be the executioner in the Terri Schiavo case. . . . Schaeffer is also the judge who allowed Schiavo and his concubine, Jodi Centonze, to duck depositions in the 2001 civil suit brought by the Schindlers, Terri’s parents against Michael Schiavo accusing him of fraud, perjury, breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy.  She then dismissed the civil proceedings against Schiavo. . . . Judge Schaeffer and Circuit Judge Walter L. Schafer Jr. were among the three 2007 inductees into the St. Petersburg College Hall of Distinction which recognizes friends and alumni who “have brought honor to themselves, the community and SPC”. . . . Schaeffer has also been named the college’s Outstanding Alumna for 2007.

Panel Says Orlando Judge Erratic, Abusive

North Country Gazette

6-6-07 -- An Orlando circuit court judge has been formally accused of erratic and abusive behavior from the bench and allegedly making unwanted sexual advances towards a law school student according to charges filed against him Friday by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. . . . The commission alleges that James C. Hauser, 58, made  inappropriate sexual advances towards a 33-year-old married student in a class he was co-teaching at Barry University’s law school during the spring semester of 2006. . . . He allegedly continued to call the student numerous times from his cell phone and his chambers after she made it clear that his advances were unwanted, the commission charged.

Point Of Order Broward Judiciary In Disarray

Written by Reginald J. Clyne, Esq.   

6-04-07 -- Local attorneys have long held that some in the  Broward County judiciary are rude, discourteous, and racist.  Many lawyers are afraid to say anything because of possible repercussions.   Few individuals will run against an incumbent judge in Broward because of the likelihood of retaliation by other judges on the bench. . . . Last year, the Haitian Lawyers Association, Broward County Hispanic Bar Association and Cuban Bar Association took the offensive against insensitive and racist remarks made to a Hispanic lawyer about a Haitian client who needed a translator. . . . Florida Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis met with the minority bar associations and ordered diversity training for all Broward County judges. . . . After the diversity training, Broward Chief Judge Dale Ross stated about a black defendant, he was “playing that atrocious rap music on a boom box.” . . . That same month, Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin embarrassed many in the legal profession with his mishandling of the Anna Nicole Smith  case that led to him breaking down in tears.  This was followed by Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda smoking pot in a public park where children were present. . . . Circuit Judge Charles Greene stepped down from his post as chief administrative judge of the criminal division after he used the racially charged acronym “NHI,” meaning “no humans involved,” when referring to minority defendants and witnesses involved in an attempted murder case.

May 2007

Robles Case Shows More Document Sealing

By Julie Kay, Daily Business Review

5-30-07 -- Disbarred Miami attorney Louis Robles was set to accept a federal plea deal for 10 years in prison and $13 million in restitution to former clients whose money he took. . . . But the previous week, Robles' bond was abruptly revoked, and U.S. District Judge Alan Gold threw him back in jail because Robles' girlfriend warned his probation officer that Robles had hired a pilot and was planning to flee the country. . . . Yet no one outside the case knew about these key developments in the high-profile Robles case until a week after he was arrested. That's because the probation officer's petition for bond revocation, the arrest warrant and other key documents were kept off the federal court Web site by the office of Southern District of Florida Clerk of the Courts Clarence Maddox. That was done in apparent violation of U.S. Judicial Conference rules. . . . The move distressed Miami defense lawyers and First Amendment experts, who are concerned about an escalating trend by the courts of keeping a variety of documents off the electronic docket.

Judge Roberts Loses Appeal in Ballard Case

By Dana Willhoit, The Ledger

5-30-07 -- The 2nd District Court of Appeal has refused to reconsider its decision to take Judge Susan Roberts off the Roy Phillip Ballard murder case. . . . Roberts was removed as judge from the case in February, after the 2nd DCA ruled that remarks Roberts had made in the case were enough to cause the State Attorney's Office to fear it wouldn't receive a fair trial. . . . Roberts had told the State Attorney's Office it should rethink whether it wanted to seek the death penalty against Ballard, given that he was 65 years old. . . . Ballard has been charged with the murder of his stepdaughter Autumn Traub, whose body has not been found. . . . Ballard's lawyer, Byron Hileman, filed a written request asking the 2nd DCA to reconsider its decision to remove Roberts from the case. . . . He argued that when Judges Charles T. Canady, Craig Villanti and Douglas Wallace removed Roberts from the Ballard case, their ruling had the potential to set a new precedent that would allow many more judges to be removed from cases than had been in the past.


No Wonder Miami's Immigration Judges Aren't Fair

Emily Witt

5-25-07 -- The reputation of immigration court received another blow Wednesday, when Department of Justice employee Monica Goodling testified before congress that she had "crossed the line" when it came to her hiring tactics. Goodling admitted that she intended to hire people who were conservatives in her position interviewing candidates for attorney general appointments - including immigration judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeal. Goodling did not reveal what she specifically asked of immigration judges, but the idea that asylum seekers get a fair trial is compromised, at best. . . . As New Times documented last fall, the Miami Immigration Court is among the courts with the lowest grant rates for immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. . . . Judge Denise Slavin, who presides over the court at Krome Detention Center and is president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, admitted that she was concerned about Goodling's testimony and "the issues it presents with respect to judicial independence and the public's confidence in the court system."

Judges brashly judged by blog

By Colleen Jenkins and Abbie Vansickle

5-25-07 -- When it came time to elect a new chief judge earlier this year, some Hillsborough judges quietly suggested adding the issue of term limits to the confidential ballots. . ..  The push went no farther than an anonymous straw poll. . . . Things aren't so discreet down in Broward County. . . . Since August, legal types there have found a new guilty pleasure in JAABlog, a blog created by the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward. . . . Founders say the public forum helps expose courthouse problems such as cronyism, nepotism and judges who run unopposed.

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Judge tackles voice problems

News Press Editorial

5-22-07 -Lee County Circuit Judge Joseph Simpson has decided to start wearing a lapel microphone to amplify his voice in the courtroom. . . . He will also be taking additional speech therapy classes. . . . There had been complaints that Simpson, who suffers from a Parkinson's-like disease, was sometimes difficult to understand. . . . Simpson, Chief Circuit Judge-designate G. Keith Cary and others among Simpson's colleagues have reacted quickly and constructively to the concerns. . . . Simpson, elected last year, is a splendidly qualified jurist and is highly thought of in the legal community. He knows, however, that a judge has to be able to communicate effectively for justice to be done.

Miami-Dade Judge Will Get His Own TV Show In The Fall

5-18-07 --(AP) Another Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge is getting his own television show. Criminal court Judge David Young will step down May 25th. His show is scheduled to start airing in syndication in the fall. Young joins former Miami-Dade bench colleagues Marilyn Milian, who hosts "The People's Court," and Alex Ferrer of "The Judge Alex Show." . . . Development executives with Sony say Young caught their attention in news reports about his handling of the case of two America West pilots found guilty of being drunk in the cockpit just before take-off from Miami International Airport.

Broward Judiciary Needs An Overhaul

Jim DeFede Is A Commentator For CBS4 News

5-17-07 --The Broward judiciary is a mess. . . . One judge was caught smoking marijuana in a public park, while another makes a fool of himself on national television presiding over the Anna Nicole Smith circus. The chief criminal judge wrapped up a recent trial by suggesting the defendant and the victim and the witnesses--all of whom were poor and black--didn't really matter. "NHI" he said. No humans involved. . . . The Broward judiciary is rife with allegations of bigotry, racism, nepotism, sexism, cronyism -- and just about every other ism you can imagine. . . . You have judges telling crime victims they have to speak English if they want to be heard, while the county's top judge, Dale Ross, has been accused of ridiculing Mexican and African-American defendants from the bench. . . . "Broward County is a major metropolitan area," said Bill Gelin. "It's a majority minority community, and it is still being run by boss hog and his adjutants."

Commentary: Schiavo Judge To Discuss Role Between Law, Media

North Country Gazette

5-17-07 --One of America’s most vilified judges, Pinellas County probate court judge George W. Greer, judge, jury and executioner for Terri Schindler Schiavo,  will be among the presenters at The Florida Bar’s June 1 Media Law Conference. . . .  Greer is the icon of judicial tyranny in America, who set the stage for the mass killing and extermination of the disabled and elderly in the U.S. as part of the government’s effort to save of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, to perpetuate a throw-away society. . ..  His fellow judges and lawyers in Florida, particularly in Pinellas and Pasco Counties, have done everything possible to try to atone and condone Greer’s acts of judicial tyranny which brought attacks and the spotlight on the judiciary nationwide and made Pinellas County and its guardianships infamous worldwide–to try and improve his image, sell him to the public.

Embattled Judges Seek to Restore Public Confidence . . . With Secret Meeting?

New York Lawyer, by Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review

5-16-07 -- The committee charged with helping restore public confidence in the Broward Circuit Court held its first meeting with minority bar groups — in secret. . . . The four-judge diversity board, chaired by Circuit Judge Elijah Williams, held a closed dinner-and-drinks session Monday night at the Bimini Boatyard & Grill to gather input from minority bar leaders. The dinner and drinks were paid for by Cuban American Bar Association president Elizabeth Hernandez. . . . Chief Judge Ross established the board in late March to help him deal with criticism from a series of incidents involving racially insensitive comments, alleged misconduct and embarrassing behavior by judges. . . . The meeting was attended by the four Broward judges on the board, Commissioner on Human Relations Shahrukh Dhanji and leaders of seven minority bar organizations. . . . A Daily Business Review reporter was refused entry to the meeting. Several attendees refused even to identify themselves to the reporter. There was no public notice of the meeting.

Top judge gets caught in a blogjam

By Fred Grimm

5-15-07 -- The chief-judge-for-life doesn't much like the criticism of his regime that's busting out in the blogosphere. . . . Undermines the judiciary, Broward Chief Judge Dale Ross complained. ''There's nothing constructive offered,'' he told The Miami Herald's Jennifer Lebovich. . . . The judge's words were reminiscent of his letter published in The Herald last September complaining that one of my columns was undermining his judiciary. . . . ''If the intent of The Miami Herald is to erode the public trust and confidence in the court system, it has done a good job,'' the judge wrote. . . . I had called the Broward judiciary a cabal of ''bubba judges'' who maintained a good-ol'-boy system of cronyism usually associated with courthouses in unsophisticated rural backwaters.


And now the chief-bubba-for-life is catching hell in the new media. A blog posted by a group called the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward ( has been posting similarly unkind comments about the perpetual Ross regime.

When Should a Judge Face Discipline for What an Opinion Says?

Howard J. Bashman, Special to

5-14-07 -- Earlier this month, the Investigative Panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission issued formal disciplinary charges against an appellate judge serving on Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal based on statements contained in a concurring opinion the judge had issued in the course of deciding a case on appeal. This would be quite remarkable if that opinion were in fact deserving of censure, but what makes this event all the more outrageous is that it is difficult to conceive from reviewing the case that the concurring opinion provides any cause for disciplining its author. . . . The underlying case began as an appeal from a criminal conviction. The appeal was originally argued before a panel that ultimately decided by a vote of 2-1 to overturn the conviction. Before that ruling was issued to the parties and docketed as the appellate court's judgment, the decision was circulated within the appellate court to all active judges. At that point, a majority of the non-recused active judges voted in favor of rehearing en banc. As a result, the three-judge panel's decision never issued.

Is The "Wheel" Of Broward Justice Coming Off?

5-14-07 -- When Broward Chief Judge Dale Ross told reporters last week that JAABlog is out to "undermine" the judiciary, he gave the blog he hates a wonderful plug. It has led to a torrent of news reports, first by Jordana Mishory in the Daily Business Review on Friday and followed by the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel yesterday. . . . Ross was upset that there had been name-calling on the blog, which was set up by attorney William Gelin to expose corruption at the Broward County Courthouse. Some of it has even been done, gasp!, anonymously. Ross complained to Mishory: . . . “I like folks who are serious people, who come up to me face-to-face and say, ‘Hey Dale, I have a problem I’d like to talk to you about.’" . . . Here's what he told the Herald's Jennifer Lebovich: . . . ''There's nothing constructive offered. I think the blog, if it was positive in nature . . . would be helpful to the judiciary. I'm not sure the method and manner advances anyone's cause.'' . . . I'll put my name to this bit of negativity: Ross is obviously afraid that he's about to get blown out of the water. So, rather than deal with his own problems, he's lashing out at a blog that is doing what a great free press ought to do -- uncovering the abuses in the justice system, no matter how seamy they might be. And in Ross's little empire, there's enough abuses to keep ten blogs busy.

Gay Judge Moves His Act From Courtroom to TV Studio

New York Lawyer, By Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review

5-14-07 -- Miami-Dade Circuit Judge David Young was conducting a routine criminal court motion calendar recently when he had a moment that would have made for great tabloid TV. . . . Young told a weathered, wrinkled woman, who looked to be in her 50s, that she had successfully completed her pre-trial intervention program. Suddenly she began to weep. Out of the blue, she told the judge she had a bad heart and indicated that she had a scar on her chest. . . . Then she decided to show him the scar. Without warning, she lifted her black-and-gold macramé shirt. . . . “Whooaaaaa,” Young exclaimed, recoiling behind the bench. “I haven’t seen anyone do that in the past 14 ½ years.” . . . The openly gay judge paused a beat and added: “I hadn’t seen anyone do that in the past 47 years, but that’s a different story.” . . . The 48-year-old got over his surprise and composed himself. The scar-baring defendant turned to leave the courtroom. He called after her, “Madam, I’m having a TV show — come back and flash me then. I’ll beat Judge Judy and Judge Marilyn in a heartbeat!”

Some Fla. Criminal Defense Lawyers Take Aim at Beleaguered Judiciary Via Web Log

Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review

5-11-07 --A small band of criminal defense lawyers has shaken up the Broward County, Fla., legal community with a Web log that reports what the bloggers consider abuse and misconduct by judges. . . . Their controversial blog takes daily blasts at Broward judges and urges lawyers to run for election against sitting judges. Designed as the communication arm of the new criminal defense group Justice Advocacy Association of Broward, the site was started last year to provide information about case law. . . . The site, which averages 31,000 hits a week, has become a daily must-read for many in the legal community at a time when Broward judges are involved in a series of verbal gaffes and face allegations of misconduct. . . . The blog gained visibility last month when it was the first to report that Circuit Judge Charles Greene, chief administrative judge of the criminal division, used the term "NHI" -- meaning no humans involved -- to describe the minority victims and witnesses in a recent murder trial. That remark led to a firestorm of criticism. In the wake of the controversy, Greene stepped down as administrative judge and at his request was re-assigned to the civil division. . . . Fort Lauderdale attorney William Gelin, one of the blog's founders and a frequent writer, said the goal of the blog is to inform the public and hold court officials accountable. "We are shedding light on previously very dark places," he said, adding that so far judges have not treated him or his clients differently as a result of his blogging. . . . The Web site has angered many Broward judges and lawyers. Last week at a news conference, Broward Chief Judge Dale Ross blamed the blog's organizers for trying to "undermine" the judiciary. He said in an interview he would prefer that lawyers with concerns come to him directly. . . . "I like folks who are serious people, who come up to me face-to-face and say, 'Hey Dale, I have a problem I'd like to talk to you about,'" he said. While Ross said he doesn't read the blog, he complained that he hadn't "seen one thing yet that was factually correct." . . . The incoming president of the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association, Miramar attorney Jose Izquierdo, also criticized the organizers of the blog, saying they are using it "as a forum to attack and not fix the problem." . . . Russell Williams, vice president of Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, echoed that criticism of the blog. "All they do is complain, and the complaints become a cancer that grows from the inside and spreads throughout the courthouse," he said.

Fla. Supreme Court Makes Landmark Change to Trial Procedure

Forrest Norman, Daily Business Review

5-9-07 -- For more than 150 years, Florida defense attorneys have had the last word with juries in noncapital criminal trials where their client was the only defense witness. But the Florida Supreme Court has sided with prosecutors and revised procedural rules to give the state the last word. . . . On Thursday, in a 5-2 vote, the high court amended the rules of criminal procedure. The new rule states that "in all criminal trials, excluding the sentencing phase of a capital case, at the close of all the evidence, the prosecuting attorney shall be entitled to an initial closing argument and a rebuttal closing argument." . . . The per curiam opinion states the change "brings Florida procedure into accord with the procedure in the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions." . . . In making the decision, the court sided with the Florida Bar's Criminal Procedure Rules Committee, which recommended the change, and went against the Florida Bar Board of Governors, which voted not to support the change. . . . In its ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court changed Rule 3.250 and added Rule 3.381.

Judge Takes Deal For Using Marijuana

By Jon Burstein, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

5-8-07 -- A Broward County judge apologized in court Monday for smoking marijuana in a Hollywood, Fla., park, cutting a deal on his misdemeanor drug case but leaving his judicial career in jeopardy. . . . Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda soon could face tough questions from the state's judicial watchdog agency - ranging from where he got the marijuana to how often he has used the illegal drug. The Judicial Qualifications Commission could recommend that the Florida Supreme Court remove the veteran judge from the bench. . . . The agreement Korda reached with prosecutors should make Monday his first - and last - court appearance as a criminal defendant. Korda's arrest gained national attention because it came just three weeks after he briefly handled part of the paternity battle over Anna Nicole Smith's daughter.

For stating opinion, judge is charged

A judicial panel says Michael E. Allen was wrong to question a fellow judge's ethics.

By Lucy Morgan

5-7-07 -- For daring to question the ethics of a fellow judge, 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Michael E. Allen is facing formal misconduct charges. . . . The state Judicial Qualifications Commission filed charges against Allen on Thursday that could lead to his removal from office. . . . In charges filed with the Florida Supreme Court, the commission said that by criticizing Judge Charles J. Kahn Jr. in a written court opinion, Allen could "impair the confidence of the citizens of this state in the integrity of the judicial system." . . . Said Bruce Rogow, one of Allen's attorneys: "It is unprecedented, not just here, but anywhere in the country, " for a judge to face disciplinary charges based on a written opinion. . . . "This is all about judicial independence, " Rogow said. "Can an appellate court judge write an opinion seen by all the members of the court before it goes out and still have to fear that the JQC will seek to punish him for that opinion?"

Judge Leaves Criminal Bench After Being Accused of 'Vile' Remark

Minority bar groups have complained to Fla. high court about similar behavior by other judges in same county

John Pacenti, Daily Business Review 

5-2-07 --Veteran Broward County, Fla., Circuit Judge Charles Greene, the administrative chief of the criminal division, asked to be re-assigned from the criminal bench Tuesday after he was accused of making a racially insensitive remark in his courtroom. . . . In a letter to Broward Chief Judge Dale Ross on Monday, Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein complained that Greene used the initials "NHI" -- meaning No Humans Involved -- to describe defendants and witnesses in an attempted murder case involving minorities. . . . Greene made the comment after the acquittal of James Thompson on April 19 on charges of attempted murder, burglary and shooting into a vehicle, according to Thompson's attorney, Tom O'Connell of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. . . . This is the latest in a series of embarrassments for the Broward judiciary. Leaders of South Florida's minority bar groups recently sent a letter to the Florida Supreme Court complaining about a "continued lack of sensitivity" toward racial and ethnic groups displayed by Ross and other Broward judges. Ross met with the minority bar leaders in March to discuss their concerns.

April 2007

Insurance Company Does Damage Control on GC's Remarks About Judges Being 'Paid Off'

United Automobile Insurance Co. rushes to disassociate itself from general counsel's statement about Florida judges

Forrest Norman, Daily Business Review 

4-20-07 -- Facing a firestorm of criticism from the Miami-Dade, Fla., legal community, United Automobile Insurance Co. has scrambled to distance itself from its general counsel's comment this week that judges in Miami-Dade County Court "are being paid off." . . . The insurer took out a full-page ad in the Daily Business Review in its public relations effort. . . . But at the same time, the insurer's lawyers are aggressively trying to remove one Miami-Dade County Court judge from all its cases, claiming she's biased against the carrier. In a new court filing to recuse Judge Jacqueline Schwartz, North Miami Beach-based United said it filed a complaint against her with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. . . . While United general counsel Charles Grimsley also has been a public spokesman for the company, he said he knew nothing about the ad before a reporter told him about it during an interview Thursday. He did not deny making the comment. . . . "I was searching in my head for some explanation as to why there was this judicial hostility," he said. "It has to go beyond campaign contributions, which give the appearance that something like that is going on, but I don't think it's actually going on. I don't think there's any money changing hands."

Moratorium Placed on New Cases for Overloaded Fla. Drug Court

Forrest Norman, Daily Business Review 

4-13-07 -- Miami-Dade's overwhelmed felony drug court will stop taking new cases, thrusting hundreds of defendants into mainstream criminal court to face possible prison time instead of treatment and rehabilitation options. . . . Miami-Dade Chief Judge Joseph Farina confirmed in an e-mail that he declared the moratorium and that it will last no more than 120 days. . . . "At this time, the existing caseload has exceeded the court's ability to provide Drug Court services for all those in need, thereby necessitating a temporary moratorium," Farina wrote. "As cases are closed, new participants will be enrolled in the Drug Court program." . . . The Miami-Dade Circuit Court's drug court -- established in 1989 -- became a national model. It has been mimicked by more than 400 communities throughout the country. The goal is to give drug users treatment and counseling instead of sending them to prison.

Carnival-Like Hearing on $93M Attorney Fees, $100M Sanctions Against Motorola

John Pacenti, Daily Business Review 

4-12-07 -- Florida's Broward Circuit Judge Leroy Moe seemed to tip his hand Wednesday during a hearing to consider Stuart, Fla., litigator Willie Gary’s post-trial request for $100 million in sanctions and $93.1 million in attorney fees in a trade secrets case against electronics giant Motorola. . . . Moe said he did not want to hear from the scheduled long list of witnesses. "Fees are going to the law firm," he said. "How they split them up is up to them." . . . The eight-week trial in the $10 billion trade secrets case ended in a mistrial last fall when jurors deadlocked over whether Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola stole the idea for a satellite vehicle tracking device from now-defunct SPS Technologies of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Gary's firm represents the former owners of SPS. . . . Gary said the case ended in a mistrial because two witnesses for Motorola defied Moe's sequestration order and read plaintiff testimony before taking the stand. . . . "Motorola's multiple violations of the sequestration rule and this court's orders were intentional deliberate, blunt, willful and contumacious," Moe wrote in a Jan. 12 order setting the date for this week's hearing.

Judicial rifts surface

Two complaints involve one judge. A sexual harassment case is tossed but an ethics complaint against one of the judge's critics - also a judge - remains.

By Lucy Morgan

4-11-07 -- An uproar has engulfed the state's largest and most important appellate court. . . . Two complaints have been filed with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, both having to do with the former chief judge of the 1st District Court of Appeal, Charles J. Kahn Jr. . . . The JQC dismissed one of the complaints, the St. Petersburg Times has learned, and is considering the other. . . . In one complaint, 13 of the 15 judges on the appeal court said that Kahn had affairs with two court employees, traveled with them at state expense and helped one of them get a better job. Though the relationships were consensual, the judges worried that it amounted to sexual harassment, given the power position the judge holds.

Broward judge placed on leave while he faces pot-smoking charge
by Bill Hirschman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

4-11-07 -- Broward Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda begins "an indefinite, temporary leave" of absence today while prosecutors pursue a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession against him, Chief Judge Dale Ross said. . . . Ross said Korda agreed on Tuesday that an open-ended paid leave gives him time to undergo counseling "for personal issues" and would bolster "public trust and confidence" in the court system.Korda, 59, could not be reached for comment despite telephone messages. . . . Three Hollywood police officers say they saw the family court judge smoking marijuana on March 18 in Stanley Goldman Memorial Park near a group of children.

Motorola Owes $11,000 an Hour for Hung-Jury Case, Lawyer Says

By Joe Schneider

4-10-07 -- Willie Gary, a Florida attorney whose personal Boeing 737 has an 18-carat gold bathroom sink, wants Motorola Inc. to pay him $11,000 an hour for his work on a lawsuit against the company. . . . That's the least he should receive, Gary says. In court papers, he says he will ask a judge today for twice as much, or $22,000 an hour, because Motorola violated a court order in defending the suit. At the $11,000 rate, Gary would receive $24.3 million and other plaintiff's attorneys $12.5 million. . . . The lawsuit charges that the law firm and some of its partners committed errors in documenting the acquisition for Charter and then concealed those errors from Charter for many months, according to a Charter release. . . .Charter filed its five-count federal complaint against Irell & Manella in the Santa Ana Division of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Irell & Manella has offices in Century City and Newport Beach. . . . While lawyers sometimes take in the equivalent of $11,000 an hour in contingency fees when they win a big case, the wrinkle in the Gary request is that his client didn't win. The trial ended with a hung jury. . . . ``This is outrageous,'' Paul Alfieri, a spokesman for Schamburg, Illinois-based Motorola, said in an e-mailed statement. Motorola is the second-biggest maker of mobile phones behind Finland's Nokia Oyj.

Blasting 'Overpayment' of Bills in Murder Case, Fla. Judge Halves Defense Fee Request

Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review

4-10-07 -- A veteran Broward County, Fla., Circuit judge has called the legal bills in the capital murder case against a former federal informant one of the "worst" examples of "overpayment" of legal fees and costs that she's ever seen. . . . The case of Luis Martinez, who has been jailed since his arrest in November 2003, is now on its fourth set of publicly paid defense attorneys and has run up legal bills of $46,000 so far. With a trial date nowhere in sight, Judge Ana Gardiner slashed the fees requested by Fort Lauderdale, Fla., defense lawyer Barry Butin in half -- to $10,600 -- when Butin recently withdrew from the case after 14 months. . . . Under state statute, the fee cap for representing defendants at the trial level in capital homicide cases is $3,500. For the state Judicial Administration Commission to pay attorneys more, the court has to find that the extra billed hours were reasonable and that the case was extraordinary.

Victims-of-Law, Inc. is an

March 2007

Two Judges in Anna Nicole Smith Case Get Reassigned

Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review

3-28-07 -- The two judges who oversaw the Anna Nicole Smith cases in Florida's Broward Circuit Court are swapping jobs -- at least temporarily. . . . Chief Judge Dale Ross ordered the moves Tuesday in the wake of complaints and a newspaper editorial that Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda should be moved out of family court until his misdemeanor drug charge is resolved. . . . Korda, who briefly oversaw the paternity dispute involving Smith's baby daughter, was cited on March 18 for possession of one marijuana cigarette weighing less than 0.1 gram. Police said they caught him smoking pot in a Hollywood, Fla., park. . . . Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin, who gained national fame for his courtroom theatrics during the Anna Nicole Smith body custody case, will move from the probate to the family division to make way for Korda. . . . Chief Judge Ross said in an interview that he hopes the swap is temporary, and the judges can return to their respective divisions when Judge Korda's marijuana case is resolved. The move is slated for April 9.

Judge Pulls Gun After Attack on Defendant

By Associated Press

3-27-07 -- A Circuit Court judge pulled a handgun in his courtroom after a man jumped a railing and punched a handcuffed defendant accused of molesting his son. . . . Bailiffs eventually took control of the attacker during Friday's outburst, and Circuit Judge John Merrett handed his gun to a clerk for safekeeping. The judge met with the father in his chambers and later ordered him released without bail, even though he was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors. . . . The man is not being named to protect the identity of his son. Merrett said Monday he never put his finger on the trigger or pointed the gun at anyone. Because of the way his courtroom is configured, the judge said he couldn't see the fight below his bench. He said he pulled the gun as a precaution. . . . "I didn't know if he was going after me or the bailiffs or the defendant," the judge said.

Fla. Appeals Court Tosses $1.58 Billion Verdict Against Morgan Stanley

Panel did not rule on judge's controversial ruling based on Morgan Stanley's violation of her discovery orders

Jordana Mishory, Daily Business Review 

3-22-07 -- Florida's 4th District Court of Appeal threw out one of the largest verdicts in U.S. history Wednesday when it overturned a $1.58 billion judgment against financial behemoth Morgan Stanley. . . . The 2-1 decision in Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc. v. Coleman (Parent) Holdings Inc. tossed both the $604.3 million economic damages award and the $850 million punitive award handed down by a Palm Beach, Fla., Circuit Court jury. The conspiracy and fraud case was brought by billionaire financier Ronald O. Perelman. . . . The court found that Perelman did not prove damages because his damages expert did not correctly calculate the amount of damages his company suffered due to fraud allegedly committed by New York-based securities giant Morgan Stanley. . . . The majority held that the trial court should have entered a directed verdict on compensatory damages in favor of Morgan Stanley, and therefore the punitive damages verdict could not stand either. The court remanded the case with an order to enter a judgment in favor of the defendant. . . . The complaint alleges District Judge Paul W. Clark violated rules of judicial conduct by not disclosing that he had received campaign contributions in 2004 from a law firm representing Dr. George Tiller and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston.

Supreme Court hears objections to proposed secret records rule

3-6-07 -- (AP) The Florida Supreme Court heard a wide range of objections Monday to proposed rule changes designed to stop the improper sealing of court records and dockets. . . . The proposal was in response to last year's discovery that hundreds of civil and criminal cases involving television personalities, judges, police, elected officials and other prominent people had been sealed as part of secret dockets in some courts, mainly in South Florida. . . . The news media, prosecutors, public defenders, court clerks, plaintiffs' lawyers and a judge opposed all or parts of the proposal made by a Florida Bar committee. The justices will act at a later date. . . . The oral argument included an exchange between Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis and Circuit Judge Judith L. Kreeger, chairwoman of a Supreme Court committee conducting a broader study of public access to court records.

Can court cases be hidden?

By Chris Tisch

3-5-07 -- The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today about how to resolve issues surrounding the use of secret dockets. . . . Newspaper reporters in South Florida discovered last year that some court cases were being kept off the public docket, essentially masking their very existence. . . . While judges frequently seal parts of a file, such as psychological evaluations in a criminal case, the sealing of the entire docket is far more rare. The docket provides the names of the parties involved as well as the nature of the case. Its sealing could prevent the public from knowing the case ever existed.

Put court openness atop docket

A Times Editorial

3-5-07 -- A cry of foul erupted across the state last year when it was discovered that courts in a number of counties were keeping cases off the public docket, essentially erasing their very existence. Even worse, it appeared that Broward County was keeping cases off the docket to protect prominent and influential people from public embarrassment. In places like Pinellas and Pasco, where dozens of cases were also hidden from public view, the motives seemed more benign and were primarily due to mistakes and misunderstandings. . . . Nonetheless, the problems pointed up the need for a statewide policy. And on Monday, the Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments on a new set of proposed rules on public access to court documents, a plan offered by a committee of the Florida Bar.

Attorney General Joins Effort to Oust Roberts

Petition filed seeks removal of judge in 26 first-degree murder cases.

By Dana Willhoit, The Ledger

3-1-07--The Attorney General's Office has thrown its hat in the ring in the increasingly bitter feud between the State Attorney's Office and Circuit Judge Susan Roberts. . . . On Wednesday, the Attorney General's Office filed a petition with the 2nd District Court of Appeal asking that Roberts be removed as judge from 26 first-degree murder cases in the 10th Judicial Circuit, which includes Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. . . . The 2nd District Court of Appeal has already ordered Roberts removed from one murder trial, that of Roy Phillip Ballard, because of remarks she made regarding the death penalty.

February 2007

Court: Bury Anna Nicole Smith in the Bahamas

Story Highlights

• NEW: Appeals court clears way for Anna Nicole Smith's burial in Bahamas
Bahamas funeral for Smith set for Friday, lawyer says
• Daughter's guardian says Smith wanted Bahamas burial next to her son
• Smith's mother wants daughter buried in Texas

(CNN) -- A Florida appeals court cleared the way Wednesday for Anna Nicole Smith to be buried next to her son, Daniel, in the Bahamas. . . . The decision by a panel of three judges with the 4th District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that gave custody of Anna Nicole Smith's remains to the court-appointed guardian for her daughter, Dannielynn. . . . Last week, Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin awarded custody of Smith's body to Richard Milstein, whom Seidlin had appointed as guardian ad litem for the nearly 6-month-old girl. . . . Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, appealed that ruling, because Milstein wants the former Playboy playmate buried in the Bahamas and Arthur wants her daughter buried in Texas with other family members. . . . Milstein intends to have Smith buried next to her son, Daniel. The late model purchased the adjacent Bahamas burial plot after Daniel, 20, died in September, three days after Dannielynn's birth. . . . Howard K. Stern, Smith's partner and attorney who claims to be the biological father of Dannielynn, also wishes to have Smith buried in the Bahamas. . . . Any appeal of the decision by the panel of Florida's 4th District Court of Appeal would go to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Guetzloe Files: Questions Of Judgment

2-27-07 -- The latest in a series of reports from The Guetzloe Files offers new findings that raise questions for some of the most powerful people in our community -- circuit court judges. . . . In recent weeks, Local 6 reported about politicians, business leaders, lawyers and strip club owners all involved in some way with political consultant Doug Guetzloe. . . . Monday night, Local 6's Tony Pipitone reported on the story of judges who say they did not know they were in the files. . . . “A judge whose ambitions Guetzloe would be asked to "smash" and another's to promote and three judges who can't explain how their campaign checks wound up in the (Guetzloe) files," Pipitone said. "They sit in the same circuit as another judge who prevented us from airing the files for 10 days after Guetzloe won an injunction. But there is no evidence the court's rulings were in any way affected by any relationship. Nor are we suggesting Guetzloe did anything wrong with the judges. But Guetzloe's involvement in the judicial branch does raise questions of judgment."

‘Secret’ cases prompt high court review

By Lise Fisher, Sun staff writer

2-27-07 -- Questions of access and judicial discretion in sealing court cases will go to the Florida Supreme Court next month after reviews of court records around the state uncovered hundreds of secret files. . . . Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis asked each of the state's 20 circuit courts to check their files after newspaper reports last year about secret cases, not recorded in dockets accessible to the public, were uncovered in South Florida courts. . . . A Florida Supreme Court hearing is set next month on proposed changes to rules that govern when someone can challenge a judge's decision to seal a file. . . . “You don't even know they exist. That was the main concern of the media or others,” Eighth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Frederick Smith said about the discovery of the secret records.

Report: Anna Nicole Judge Offered Job On CBS


2-26-07 -- The judge in the Anna Nicole Smith case may have a future at CBS, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on Monday. . . . The senior producer of the network’s "Saturday Early Show" wrote a letter to Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin, who has been presiding over the former playmate’s case, asking if he would be interested in hosting a new segment on the program called “Morning Justice,” in which he would tackle viewers’ problems. . . . "I have been extremely impressed by your compassion in the Anna Nicole case and I would love to discuss with you the idea of being our judge on a new segment, 'Morning Justice,'" Michael Rosen, the show's senior producer, wrote in a letter Friday to the judge, according to the Sun-Sentinel. . . . Seidlin’s judicial assistant, JoAnn Gallo, confirmed he received an offer and said she has been fielding hundreds of calls a day for the judge.

Florida Judge in Anna Nicole Smith Case Is Vilified as 'Weepy Wacko'

Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press 

2-26-07 -- From the state that brought you the hanging chad, now comes the crying judge. . . . Some members of the bar and other court-watchers are cringing over the way Judge Larry Seidlin wept -- no, sobbed -- on live, national TV as he announced a ruling Thursday in the dispute over where Anna Nicole Smith should be buried. . . . Some are accusing the brash former New York cab driver of showboating for the cameras, or worse, auditioning for his own courtroom TV show, with his one-liners, his personal asides and his smart-alecky Bronx delivery during the six-day hearing. . . . They say that he let the hearing drag on way too long, that he made inappropriate jokes for a dispute over a body, that he acted as if it were all about him. . . . "He's like Judge Judy's wacky little brother," legal analyst Jefrey Toobin quipped on CNN.

Recusal Requests Involve Judge's Family

Susan Roberts is asked to quit cases involving detectives investigating her son.

By Dana Willhoit, The Ledger

2-20-07 -- The State Attorney's Office wants Circuit Judge Susan Roberts to remove herself from seven Lakeland police homicide cases because Lakeland detectives are investigating the judge's adult son, Carson Brawley. . . . According to a motion filed Monday afternoon, the State Attorney's Office and Lakeland police are investigating Brawley after a child being cared for by him suffered a significant head injury. That child and two others who were living in Brawley's home have been temporarily placed in Roberts' custody. . . . Lakeland detectives Scott Kercher and Bradley Grice, who are investigating the Brawley case, are also handling the seven homicide cases that Roberts would preside over. "In all of these cases the State anticipates that issues will arise which will call for the Judge to rule on the credibility of the detectives involved," the State Attorney's Office said in its motion. "Inasmuch as these very detectives are investigating potential criminal charges against her son, it would be improper for Judge Roberts to preside over such matters."

Review of judge's actions is sought

Staff Report

2-20-07 -- The judge who jailed two women in a fatal home-birthing case is being accused by the women of breaking the law by refusing to release them from prison during their appeal. . . . Tom McGlade, whose wife and daughter-in-law were convicted last year of practicing unlicensed midwifery after a relative died during childbirth, has asked the Judicial Qualifications Commission to review Judge Edward Nicholas' actions related to the women's appeal. . . . Nicholas ignored a higher court's ruling that the women should be released from prison pending an appeal, saying the McGlades posed a threat and would continue performing "underground births." . . . Nicholas' decision drew a scathing rebuke from the Second District Court of Appeal, which eventually freed the women and called Nicholas a "recalcitrant" judge whose rulings were "palpably illogical."

Broward judge in Anna Nicole Smith case shoots from the lip

'This body belongs to me,' Judge Seidlin says

By Paula McMahon, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

2-16-07 -- His friends say Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin could have been a stand-up comedian and should have been the first judge to preside over The People's Court on TV. . . . But he shocked many television viewers who watched as the robed Seidlin, leaning back in his chair in chambers, pronounced that Anna Nicole Smith's "body belongs to me now" and "that baby is in a cold, cold storage room." . . . The New York Post labeled him a "wacky judge." CNN's Nancy Grace, who is not renowned for sensitivity, remarked on the air that it was not how she would refer to "the dead body of a lady waiting to be buried." . . . For attorneys who frequent his courtroom, the judge's "open mouth, insert foot" style was no shock. They say he's been talking that way in the anonymous halls of juvenile and probate court for years.

Judge Cited For Refusing To Release Dying Man

© 2007 North Country Gazette

Broward Circuit Judge, Cheryl Alemán.

2-7-07 --A judge who refused to release a dying man from jail and then allegedly entered a misleading order in the case which appeared to be in response to a newspaper article is the subject of an ethics investigation by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. . . . In a formal complaint served on Broward County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Aleman Tuesday, the commission alleged that the judge had violated judicial canons through a "pattern of arrogant, discourteous and impatient conduct toward lawyers and others".. . . The commission's investigative panel found that during a hearing on July 1, 2003, Aleman had denied the request of inmate Jean Felix for a medical furlough despite the assistant public defender and assistant state attorney appearing both stipulated that Felix was suffering from an incurable fatal disease and that his life expectancy was approximately two months according to medical personnel at the jail.

Click for .pdf Notice of Formal Charges

Jurors Criticize Judge for Acquittal

Susan Roberts

Pierre Ducharme/The Ledger

By Dana Willhoit, The Ledger

2-7-07 --A Polk County judge's decision to abruptly end a murder trial by acquitting the defendant has drawn fire from some of the jurors in the case. . . . Paul Joseph, one of the jurors on the Samuel Lugo murder trial, said he lost faith in the judicial system after Judge Susan Roberts acquitted Lugo in December before the case went to the jury. . . . Several other jurors reached by The Ledger agreed that they felt they should have been allowed to deliberate, and said that Roberts told them that the reason she was acquitting Lugo was that if they found him guilty, their decision might get overturned on appeal.

January 2007

Prosecutors Step Up Push to Remove Judge

By Dana Willhoit, The Ledger

1-30-07 -- Polk prosecutors filed an emergency petition with the 2nd District Court of Appeal on Monday, escalating their effort to keep Circuit Judge Susan Roberts from presiding at a murder trial. . . . State Attorney Jerry Hill's office asked the appeals court to issue an order removing Roberts from the Roy Phillip Ballard trial and to delay the trial until the appellate judges can issue a ruling. .

A parking problem

A Times Editorial

1-29-07 -- Has it gotten to the point where it needs to be said that a judge who decides disability claims should not park his car in a handicap space using a permit issued to someone else? . . . Seven days in the past three weeks, a St. Petersburg Times reporter observed Judge Elving Torres' Mercedes in one of seven spots for the handicapped outside the Times' office in downtown Tampa. State records show the handicap placard on the dashboard of his car is registered to an 86-year-old woman from Bradenton.

December 2006

Mistake not worth 30 years

By Letters To The Editor

Re: Warped justice ruins yet another man's life, Dec. 4 editorial

12-14-06 -- Congratulations for the excellent editorial. As a conservative Republican, law-and-order and even hard-nosed, I am outraged by Circuit Judge Ric Howard's grossly inappropriate sentences in each of the three cases described. . . . The sentencing in the case of William Thornton is the most egregious example of judicial bad judgment I have ever heard of. Thirty years in prison for an accident? That is shameful. For God's sake, it was an accident! . . . My understanding of the Thornton case is as follows:

- William Thornton was 17 years old, a good student with a part-time job and had never been in trouble before. He was not drinking or on drugs and it was not a hit and run. ---- He topped a hill and skidded into an intersection that has since had a warning sign installed before the crest of the hill, indicating negligence by the county at the time of the accident because there was no sign. ---- - The driver of the other vehicle was legally drunk (0.1102, that's far above the legal limit of 0.0800), which may have prevented him from taking evasive action. --- - Most important, weren't the deceased not killed by the impact, but died when they were thrown from their vehicle? And they illegally did not have their seat belts fastened, which would have protected them. --- - Were the deceased too drunk to fasten their seat belts or did they deliberately violate the law by leaving them unbuckled? Wouldn't they have survived the accident if they had buckled up, as the law requires, and what would the sentence have been if they had lived? Surely not 30 years.

Judge Holder must pay his own attorney's fees, state Supreme Court rules

The judge was cleared of misconduct charges last year but owes $1.8-million in legal bills.

By Colleen Jenkins, Times Staff Writer

12-08-06 -- Circuit Judge Gregory Holder beat a plagiarism charge but remains on the hook for his attorney's fees, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday. . . . The state Constitution does not authorize the high court to award attorney's fees arising from Judicial Qualifications Commission proceedings, the majority opinion said. . . . Holder's lead attorney questioned the decision. . . . "This puts a wrongfully accused judge in the position of making a Hobson's choice between loss of reputation and removal from the bench on one hand," attorney David B. Weinstein said in a prepared statement, "and mounting an effective defense - which could lead to financial ruin - on the other." . . . Six months ago, attorneys for the JQC and Holder argued before the court after the judge made an unprecedented request for the ethics body to foot his $1.8-million legal bill. Holder said he was entitled to recoup fees because the misconduct charges were connected to the performance of his official duties.

Judge Ousted After Wrongly Jailing 11 People Late for Traffic Court

Bill Kaczor, The Associated Press

12-08-06 -- A judge who jailed 11 people because they were late for traffic court after being directed to the wrong courtroom lost his job Thursday. The Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled he was unfit to remain on the bench. . . . The justices said the jailing and strip searching of the 11 misdirected motorists capped a series of complaints of intemperate conduct against Seminole County Judge John Sloop, 57, of Sanford, Fla. . . . "Judge Sloop's indifference to the anxiety, humiliation and hardship imposed upon these 11 citizens reflects a callous disregard for others that is among the most egregious examples we have seen of judicial authority and lack of proper judicial temperament," the high court wrote in an unsigned opinion. . . . The justices also offered an apology on behalf of the judicial system to the citizens of Florida and Seminole County and in particular the 11 jailed defendants. They came to court on traffic citations ranging from driving with a suspended license to having an illegal tag.

Warped justice ruins yet another man's life

A Times Editorial

12-04-06 -- Another young man guilty of committing serious offenses appears before Circuit Judge Ric Howard fully expecting to pay for his actions but also, naively, believing that he will be treated fairly. Instead, he receives a punishment that meets the basic rules for a legal sentence but fails the test for true justice. . . . In an all-too-familiar scenario last week in the Citrus County courthouse, Howard - who lives in Hernando County and is elected by voters of the five-county 5th Judicial Circuit - again imposed a cruel punishment on a young man who was foolish enough, or poorly advised, to put himself at the mercy of a judge who has demonstrated that that trait is in short supply. . . . Jason Aron Hill of Beverly Hills admitted that he had sex several times with his girlfriend. This became a crime because Hall is 19, an adult, and the girl is 15, a minor. Also, after smoking marijuana and being bored, the two set paper towels on fire and nearly burned to the ground a gazebo belonging to the Beverly Hills Recreation Association. . . . Make no mistake, these are serious offenses. Hall, a high school dropout, should have known better than to have sex, even consensual, with a 15-year-old. Plus, he violated his pretrial release orders to stay away from her. And he initially denied to authorities that the two had been intimate. . . . Hall was also 20 minutes late to his court appearance, which incensed the judge. . . . The Jan. 25 fire caused about $25,000 in damage. The group's insurance rates doubled as a result, putting the association in such dire financial straits that four part-time workers had to be laid off.

November 2006

A hero to some, an out-of-line judge to others

By Chris Tisch

11-29-06 -- Pinellas Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell’s wife awoke him early Tuesday morning with some news. . . . She heard Gov. Jeb Bush on the radio accusing Farnell of throwing a judicial “temper tantrum” for threatening to jail the secretary of the Department of Children and Families because the agency wasn’t removing mentally ill inmates from local jails quickly enough. . . . “If this is a tantrum,” Farnell said, “he’s lived a very sheltered life. We’re just trying to help these poor folks.” . . . A Pinellas judge for nearly 25 years, Farnell has gained national attention recently for his battle with DCF. . . . He has threatened to fine the agency thousands of dollars a day and jail its leader, Lucy Hadi, if DCF doesn’t start following a state law that requires mentally ill inmates to be removed from local jails within 15 days. . . . While advocates for the mentally ill are praising Farnell, Bush is critical. . . . “With all due respect to judges pounding their chest in their big black robes up on top of a big chair looking down and castigating Secretary Hadi, they’re not governor,” Bush said Monday. . . . “They’re not the secretary. They’re not the legislature. There is a separation of powers... I think that some of the temper tantrums that have taken place have gone too far.”

Chief appeals judge steps down

Charles J. Kahn Jr., accused of appearing to aid a former senator, loses "chief."

By Lucy Morgan

11-19-06 -- Florida's largest appellate court has quietly replaced its chief judge amid internal rancor and suggestions of political influence surrounding the bribery conviction and prison sentence of former Sen. W.D. Childers. . . . Charles J. Kahn Jr., elected in 2005 to head the 1st District Court of Appeal for two years, resigned the chief judge's job last month in the face of a revolt by fellow judges. . . . A formal complaint alleging misconduct has been lodged against Kahn, documents obtained Friday by the St. Petersburg Times indicate. . . . In a written opinion denying Childers' appeal of his bribery conviction, another judge suggested that the public might conclude that Kahn was trying to reverse Childers' conviction as a political favor.

September & October 2006

Appeals court chastizes local judge in case of midwives

Staff Report

10-25-06 --An appellate court today dismissed Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas’ stance that said there is no reasonable condition to allow the release of two women convicted for practicing unlicensed midwifery. . . . Instead, the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland ordered an independent judge, Paul E. Logan, to set bond conditions for Tanya and Linda McGlade. Logan must have a report filed by Nov. 3, the appellate judges said. . . . The McGlades were convicted at trial this year of practicing unlicensed midwifery. Prosecutors filed the charge after a relative of the McGlades died shortly after birth in December 2004.

Punishment For An Innocent Woman

Judges Tortured, Murdered Terri
By: Gordon Bishop

The Vatican – the Catholic headquarters in Rome – likened the removal of Terri Schiavo’s s feeding tube to capital punishment for an innocent woman.

Others have referred to the way Terri died as an "execution, torture" and outright "murder."

When is Life NOT "Life?"

When both state and federal judges play "God," Life is no longer ‘Life.’

The United States Congress tried to rescue Terri Schiavo from the cold clutches of the judges who passed final judgment on whether Terri Schiavo should live – or die.

President Bush joined the Congress in trying to keep Terri alive.

The judges over-rode both the President and Congress.

What kind of a "legal" system do we have in America?

One that is certainly not "legal."

Where is "the law?" Who is "the law?"

The founders of America created the U.S. Constitution specifically to prevent a renegade Congress, or renegade President, or a renegade judge to deny citizens their individual rights, which are clearly spelled out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court was established to uphold the Constitution – not to make laws. Congress makes laws, with the President either approving or rejecting legislative bills awaiting his decision.

Two-thirds of the federal government wanted to help Terri Schiavo – not kill her.

The justices and judges prevailed.

The President, Congress and Terri Schiavo lost.

This was a showdown between the two Americas: The traditionalists and the secularists. The anti-God, anti-religion, pro-abortion secularists won the day when Terri Schiavo died "on their watch."

Since when did our government become "Murder, Incorporated?"

The taxpaying-voting citizens of America must now demand a real reform of our nation’s judicial system, which has been running out of control for the 75 years, beginning with President Franklin Roosevelt’s socialist "New Deal" program in 1935. That was the year that "entitlements" became federal law.

For the record, there is no such thing as "entitlements" in the U.S. Constitution. That’s not what our founders envisioned for a new nation based on freedom, liberty and opportunity for all citizens.

The only way voters can reclaim their country, as set forth in the Constitution, is first to vote out of office those who want the Supreme Court to make laws.

Sadly, most eligible voters no longer bother to vote. They no longer believe in the socialist system that has evolved over the past 75 years, leading to bigger and bigger government and more and more taxes at the expense of the working class.

Maybe Terri Schiavo’s "execution" will spark another 1776 Revolution, forcing government to be accountable for its destructive actions against the U.S. Constitution.

Do Americans today have the will and the spirit to unite and establish a government that serves the taxpayers, not the corrupt self-interests.

The lawyers and legal system will be the first agenda in the 21st Century American Revolution. Either they obey the laws of the land, or they will be dealt with by the "rule of law," which is the foundation of our Constitutional Republic.

No, we are not a "democracy," which Greek philosopher Plato warned will lead to "anarchy" (mob rule), which is what we have today. The secularists are the "mob."

Traditionalists seek "rule of law," which the founders wrote into the Constitution.

Taking Terri Schiavo’s life was a decisive victory for the secularists.

Now is the time to take back our Constitutional freedoms rooted in faith and the rule of law.

The people must lead the charge because it is the future of their country they will be fighting for.

Why Judge George Greer should be impeached

Murder by Judicial Fiat

By: Dorothy Mataras

1-30-05 -- Pictured here, Judge Greer's demeanor is that of a man who would love to strangle someone. Greer is 'legally blind' and may not realize how he comes across to the public.

Being 'legally blind'  protects the judge under the Americans with Disability Act just as Terri Schindler Schiavo is supposed to be protected; except her disability, although not life threatening, is fodder for the 'right-to-die' people including Greer. Years ago and in some countries today, Greer's disability could be cause for him to be euthanized. Unless he receives a miracle, he'll never be able to see with his eyes just like Terri's brain could never be made whole again.

The fact that Greer is blind has a double edged sword. He has never seen Terri and will be unable to ever physically see her so he cannot judge her reactions to people and stimuli.. He has never bothered to visit the person he sentenced to a death by starvation, a long, painful death. Nonetheless, this judge claimed he was Terri's legal guardian, a classic conflict of interest, a dual role, her judge and her 'legal guardian.' This is tantamount to a judge judging his own case which is totally unacceptable in this country. Ironically, the Florida Appellate Courts have condoned this aberration.



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, I have had more than enough of judicial opinions that bear no relationship whatsoever

 to the cases that have been filed and argued before the judges. 

I am talking about judicial opinions that falsify the facts of the cases that have been argued,

judicial opinions that make disingenuous use or omission of material authorities,

judicial opinions that cover up these things with no-publication and no-citation rules." 
M. Freedman, Professor of Law and Distinguished Legal Scholar, Speech to The Seventh Annual Judicial Conference of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (May 24, 1989), reprinted in 128 F. R. D. 409, 439 (1989).  According to Prof. Freedman, immediately after his speech, a judge sitting next to him said "You don't know the half of it!"


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