Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Judges, Beware Bloggers!

Judges Feel Legal Blogs' Glare



By Julie Kay
The National Law Journal
November 28, 2007

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.

The blog's founders include criminal defense attorney Bill Gelin of Tribune Legal Services in Fort Lauderdale and assistant public defenders Brian Reidy and Vivian Gariboldi.

"I have strong feelings about what is going on in Broward," Gelin said. "People are upset about the ways things are being done in the criminal justice system. So we formed a group and then thought, 'Why not have a blog?' "

Ross declined to comment.

SNIPER SHOTS?

The Broward blog is one of a handful of legal blogs that have started in South Florida in the past two years that have shone a spotlight on the justice system.

Supporters credit the blogs with providing valuable information about the inner workings of the court system, and bringing change. Critics counter that the blogs can be venues for inaccurate information and unsubstantiated personal attacks.

"The [JAA] blog absolutely effectuated change," said Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein. "There is no question in my mind that it had a great deal to do with the toppling of the past judicial administration."

Russell Adler, a partner at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler in Fort Lauderdale, noted that "[s]ince a lot of it is posted anonymously, it gives people the ability to fabricate things and state things that are not true.

"It's like being shot by a sniper -- you don't know where the shot is coming from and you don't know what the motivation is," Adler said.

Justice Building Blog is anonymous and written by a Miami criminal defense attorney who calls himself "Rumpole of the Bailey."

South Florida Lawyers, started anonymously a month ago, covers civil law in the southern part of the state. The Southern District of Florida blog is run by David O. Markus, a prominent Miami criminal defense attorney and president of the Miami chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

While the Southern District of Florida and South Florida Lawyers blogs are intended to share discourse and aggregate newspaper stories, the JAA Blog and the Justice Building Blog are clearly intended to make waves.

"People underestimate the impact of the Justice Building Blog, but I believe that every state-court judge, particularly criminal, reads it routinely as well as most of the practitioners," said Brian Tannebaum, a defense lawyer at Tannebaum Weiss in Miami.

"There are a lot of things that happen in the building that people didn't know about. I think it's had a huge impact on the way people operate in the criminal courthouse," Tannebaum said.

The downside to the blogs, say readers, is that anonymous responders post information about judges routinely not showing up for work, judges and lawyers having affairs with each other and other salacious rumors. The JAA Blog is not moderated and anyone can post any comment. The anonymous author of the Justice Building Blog recently began moderating the comments section and bans personal rumors and attacks from his blog.

"I think it would have a lot more credibility if you had to register your name. Right now, it's a tremendous catalyst for a lot of controversy that didn't exist before," Adler said.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Leonard Glick said he reads the Justice Building Blog "two to three times a day" and sometimes writes in.

"I think it's an interesting exchange of ideas," he said. "Some people spoil things by posting juvenile and hurtful things. But it's not totally a gossip mill. There are elements of important



* * * *
* * * *

From the JAABlog:

COFFEE TALK WITH MIKE SATZ

Broward State Attorney Mike Satz

DISCUSS: SHOULD DRUG RESIDUE CASES BE FILED AS FELONIES?

"TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES"

*A "Residue Case" refers to a seizure of drug paraphernalia or a storage container that has minute, microscopic, or burned particles of cocaine, heroin, or other felony class drugs. The device or container is sent to the BSO Crime Lab, analyzed through Mass Gas Spectrometry, and if the chemical compounds contained in an illicit felony drug are detected, a felony drug charge is filed, triggering the Sentencing Guidelines. The Legislature gives discretion to the State Attorney whether to file the case as a felony, or in the case of a pipe or other paraphernalia, as a misdemeanor, or to decline the case all together. In Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade, residue cases are rarely, if ever, filed as felonies. Likewise in Broward, misdemeanor cannabis residue cases are rarely, if ever, filed.


* * * *

http://judicialmisconduct.blogspot.com/

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Due Process Defenders 'WE the PEOPLE' in DC!

March 31, 2007
By Taffy Rice (View author info) Copyright Taffy Rice http://www.ahrc.com/new/index.php/src/news/sub/article/action/ShowMedia/id/3477

Atlanta, Georgia - On Monday, March 26, 2007, more than 25 people, 'WE the PEOPLE,' met at the office of Congressman John Conyers, to present violations of rampant due process perpetrated and condoned by judges, lawyers, and courts across this nation from Washington State to Florida.

The meeting was scheduled for 9:00, but Conyer's Staff appeared NOT to be prepared for the number before them. Despite repeated confirmations, instead of a 9:00 appointment, citizens were initially delayed for the meeting with Congressman Conyers, 2 Staff Attorneys, and 1 Administrative Assistant, which finally took place after 1:30.

The meeting began with the definition of intent and reason for citizens of good standing, to take time away from families, jobs, homes, and other immediate needs to address the mandatory requirement, to address wanton and replete criminal acts, instigated upon the unsuspecting, robbing them of guaranteed protections. This reporter stated unequivocally, as a result of judicial compromise, conspiracy, and overt denials of due process by the Cobb Superior Court, GA Court of Appeals, GA Supreme Court, and the 11th District Court, we have come before you Congressman Conyers, to seek some semblance of due process, having obtained NONE through requisite channels, with sworn oaths to uphold the laws of this land.

Congress bearing the ultimate responsibility, was and is, the proper and ultimate source from which to obtain redress. Mr. Carl Weston of Judicial Reform Investigations, spoke of the gravity regarding illegal acts being condoned by the Courts. Additionally, Mr. Weston addressed current efforts to deny due process, filings in the Federal Court, as well as related efforts to access the International Courts and governments, to obtain justice. Mr. Weston was followed by Mr. Rod Class. Class began by laying before Congressman Conyers, the rules of the Congress, which Conyers confirmed were currently the guiding force for the body. Next Class presented a document titled, the "Anti Government Movement Guidebook", published by the National Center for State Courts. In this Guidebook, Judges are given actions, arguments, and approaches for dealing with those entering their courts, asserting their rights or objecting to fraud. So much for unbiased triers of facts! Let there be no doubt, there is a playbook, you did not get a copy of, and the courts as well as related interests receive funding to create this documentation. Additionally, Class provided a CD of a judges conference, in which the judicial body was instructed, those asserting their constitutional rights, should be labeled as 'terrorists' or 'freeman!' Other interesting and related documents of interest to the public include, a "Benchbook for US District Court Judges" and "Chambers Handbook for Judges, Law Clerks, and Secretaries." One other key document provided by Class was a Letter of Marque and Reprisal presented to outline the rampant acts of treason and violations of law by those with a mandated requirement to uphold the 'rule of law.' This document in keeping with recent efforts by the White House, caught Congressman Conyers by surprise, along with the over 600 documents provided, to verify overwhelming lawlessness at very levels of the judiciary. With the power of government held by the Congress, both Congressman Conyers and Senator Leahy were fully engaged, having heard testimony from both US AG Gonazales, following the disclosure of awareness regarding the Harriet Miers plan to replace US Attorneys prosecuting white color crimes and racketeering, largely against Republicans. Then there was the testimony mandated by FBI Director Robert Mueller, and the krelated lack of lawful oversight and compliance, while spying on Americans. Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, the American Judiciary is on notice. Now the question is, will the US Congress address acts of fraud, racketeering, and treason, that continue to jeopardize the fundamental and core values of this country? May God be with us!


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

COALITION FOR JUDICIAL ACCOUNTABILITY
REQUEST FOR C-SPAN COVERAGE
WASHINGTON BRIEFING
November 28 ? 8:30 AM
Cannon H.O.B. Room 121
Congress, U.S. Capitol
CONGRESSIONAL ACTION NEEDED in 2008
Calling for Judicial & Legal Reform
Topics:
1. Judiciary’s New Rules for Judges: Are Conflicts of Interest Now Okay?
2. Congressional Oversight of the Courts
Proposed Legislation H.R. 785 & S. 781 - An Inspector General for the Courts?
Defining "Good Behavior" - Judges Appointments are Not for Life?
3. Should There Be An Independent Judiciary: Is Independence a Myth?
4. Judicial Transparency: Is Court Secrecy American?
5. Regulation of Lawyers & the First Amendment
6. Lawyer Whistleblowers: Should Lawyers Inform the Public of Misconduct?
7. Psychological Considerations
8. Overview of Needs for Reform
Presenters:
Constitutional Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar (Yale)
Moderator/Attorney/Radio Host Lisa Macci (Florida)
Attorney Jonathan Moseley, Legal Affairs Council (Virginia)
Author/Attorney Caroline Douglas (New Mexico)
Activist/Attorney Mark A. Adams JD/MBA (Florida)
Former U.S. Marshal/Activist Matthew Fogg (Washington DC)
Psychologist Diane Perlman (Washington DC)
Kim Lurie JD Alliance to Restore Integrity in Divorce
Constitutional Lawyer Paula Werme (New Hampshire)
Upon request and with confirmation, speakers may be available for interviews from 7:30 to 8:15 AM on 11/28.
Schedule:
8:30 Introductory Remarks
8:45 Remarks by Members of Congress, their Staff, and/or Presenters
9:15 Presentation on the Independence of the Judiciary by Professor Akhil Reed Amar
9:45 Overview of Needs for Reform - Interviews with Attorneys and Activists
9:45 Interview of Mark Adams on Busby v. Bilbray, Curtis v. Feeney, Russell v. Brown-Waite, and Linn v. Media General
10:45 Caroline Douglas Interviews of Family Law Reform Advocates 11:45 Break for Lunch
1:00 Psychological Considerations - Mark Adams interviews Dr. Diane Perlman
2:00 Jonathan Moseley discusses the Current Regulatory Scheme, Proposed Rules and Legislation, Constitutional Considerations, and Suggestions for Reforms with Judicial Reform Advocates
4:00 Closing Remarks by Mark A. Adams JD/MBA
Please note that most sessions will be conducted in an interview format and that times may vary.
CONTACT: Jon Moseley, Esq. (703) 850-3733 (cell) JonMoseley@earthlink.net
Caroline Douglas, Esq. (505) 603-5100 (cell)
Mark A. Adams, Esq. JD/MBA (813) 495-5079 (cell) MarkAdamsJDMBA@live.com

Thursday, November 29, 2007 12:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

S. 461, SENATE BILL The Judicial Transparency and Ethics Enhancement Act of 2007 (9 comments ?)
S. 461 would amend title 28, United States Code, to provide an Inspector General for the judicial branch.
grassly 202 224 3744 leahy's spector
Detailed Summary
Status of the Legislation
Points in Favor
Points Against


http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/110_SN_461.html
10th CONGRESS SUBCOMMITTEES
Administrative Oversight and the Courts [oversight110.cfm]
Lawyer handling 461 in subcommittee-
CHAIRMAN: CHARLES E. SCHUMER, D-NEW YORK
RANKING MEMBER: JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALABAMA
Membership: (4:3)
Democratic Members Charles E. Schumer, NY (Chair) Dianne Feinstein, CA Russell D. Feingold, WI Sheldon Whitehouse, RI Republican Members Jeff Sessions, AL (Ranking Member) Charles E. Grassley, IA Lindsey Graham, SC

SENIOR STAFF Preet Bharara, Democratic Chief Counsel Cindy Hayden, Republican Chief Counsel U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Adminstrative Oversight and the Courts 224 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Majority Office Phone (202) 224-8352 Majority Office Fax (202) 228-2260 Republican Office Phone (202) 224-7572 Republican Office Fax (202) 228-0545



The Constitution [constitution110.cfm]



CHAIRMAN: RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, D-WISCONSIN
RANKING MEMBER: SAM BROWNBACK, R-KANSAS
Human Rights and the Law [humanrights110.cfm]

CHAIRMAN: RICHARD J. DURBIN, D-ILLINOIS
RANKING MEMBER: TOM COBURN, R-OKLAHOMA

Thursday, November 29, 2007 6:45:00 PM  

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