Sunday, April 22, 2018


Want to know what's good about being in a Broward court before a Broward Judge? .....after more than thirty-five years of practice when we think of something we will let you know. 

Here is Broward Judge Merrillee Ehrlich having a total meltdown during bond hearings with a woman, in a misdemeanor case, and just to show that Broward Judges don't discriminate against the handicapped when they abuse and humiliate defendants- this defendant was in a wheel-chair.  Perhaps some Broward Bar organization will give Judge Ehrlich an award for berating and abusing all defendants on an equal basis. Who knows?  It's Broweird after all. 

Here are the highlights:

2:37: Yells at defendant who responds to question not to talk.
3:04: Yells at lawyer to keep quiet defendant

3:53: Yells at defendant- "I'm not here to talk to you about breathing treatment."

Reflect on that for a moment. This is a misdemeanor case. The defendant is obviously not well. She's in a wheel chair. We learned later that she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and in fact died within a few days of being released. The defendant indicates that she needs treatment to breathe. Not for pain. But to perform the basic function all humans need to perform to live. And the response of a member of the Broward Judiciary was that she didn't want to talk about it.  Yes, this is the Broward Judiciary on full display for the world to see. They abuse defendants and lawyers all the time. However most of them have enough self control not to do it on video in this fashion. 

4:10:  "I’m not going to spend all day with her interrupting me." 
4:50: Judge yells again
5:55 : "You’ve already said too much."
6:10  Judge Throws a fit and waves arms: "Don’t even say yes..." 

6:35: And here's what a kind and decent judge says to a handicapped person in a wheel chair that they've just ordered to go to pre-trial services: "Arrange for someone to carry you if you can’t get there."

Yes, that's what you want in a Judge. Someone who demonstrates caring and concern for the handicapped. 

Here is the video with Judge Merrillee Ehrlich in all her Broward glory. 

After this became public the good judge decided to hang up her robes and she quit. Good riddance.

Friday, April 20, 2018


Long time and careful readers of this blog know that Rumpole has a modest expertise in Game Theory, with a keen interest in the Nash Equilibrium and it's application to real life legal decision making. 
In Prisoner's Dilemma, we examine the situation of two individuals arrested and charged with a crime. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement and unable to communicate. The prosecution lacks the evidence to convict both on the main charge.  Each prisoner wants to get a year in jail in a lesser charge. Two prosecutors are dispatched to meet with each prisoner (and their counsel of course, this isn't Miami-Dade) simultaneously. The prosecutors offer each prisoner a deal. Each prisoner must then decide whether to cooperate with the outcomes as follows: 

If P1 and P2 each agree to rat the other out, each will get two years. 
If P1 rats out P2 but P2 remains silent, P1 gets off and P2 gets 3 years in prison. 
If P1 and P2 each remain silent, they each will only  be convicted of a lesser charge  and serve one year. 

Here is the dilemma: If each prisoner acts in their rational self-interest, then each betrays the other and they each get two years. 
If each reject their inclination toward rational self-interest then they each get the desired outcome of one year. 
Acting in rational self-interest and being a rat  leads to a worse result than in remaining silent. However, since by cooperating with the prosecution  the prisoner can possible go free or at worst do two years and eliminate the possibility of the worst outcome- three years,  being a rat is what is called the dominant strategy. And yet, the rational self interested choice to be a rat yields a worse outcome than the non-self interest choice to remain silent. So acting rational is irrational. Oy!

The Nash Equilibrium yields a solution for the dilemma but we will discuss that at another time. 

Let play a little Game Theory. 
Say you are a lawyer. And say you have damaging information on the President of the United States. Say your name is...Cohen. 
What do you do? Remain silent and risk three years (actually more) or cooperate and possibly get two years or walk free? 

Say you are the President of the United States. Being a rational actor do you:
1) Blame Obama; 2) Blame the failing NY Times, Failing CNN, failing MSNBC, and fake news? 
3) Bomb Syria? 4) Make a peace treaty with North Korea and agree to a joint North Korean -US military strike at the Seychelles Islands?  5) Stay in bed all weekend, eat cheeseburgers, watch FOX TV and fire Nicky Halley? 

From Occupied America, even Presidents have dilemmas they cannot reason their way out of. Fight the power and don't be a rat!

Thursday, April 19, 2018




While most of our loyal readers have been focusing on the really important issues of the day - Trump, North Korea, Comey and his new book, and Attorney/Client Privilege via the Michael Cohen case, many of you may have missed the latest on the venerable CRC - a/k/a Florida’s CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION.

For those not in the know, the CRC is reborn once every 20 years in the State of Florida. Its mandate is to review the Florida Constitution and propose changes for voters to consider. For the past year, at dozens of public meetings held around the State, the 37 members have been listening to the voters of Florida. The membership of the CRC is overwhelmingly chosen by only three elected leaders, all Republican; 34 of the 37 members were selected by Governor Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Senate President Joe Negron.

After spending the past year listening to proposed amendments to our state constitution, the members whittled down the list of ideas to 23 workable proposals for final consideration. Those 23 proposals were reduced to 11 proposed final drafts for consideration by the CRC. And on Monday, after nine hours of debate between the members of the CRC, they voted to approve eight amendments to go before the voters in November, while rejecting three others.

You can read the Title and Content of each of the eight amendments by going here:

The Amendments range in subject from: Crime victims; judges; first responders and the military; public colleges & universities; school boards; offshore drilling; vaping; property rights; lobbying; and the oh so important industry of dog racing.

Today, we focus on just one amendment, P6001: "RIGHTS OF CRIME VICTIMS; JUDGES". The proposed amendment/s would create a new constitutional right for crime victims to receive information and provide input during criminal cases. Known as "Marcy’s Law", the measure would, among other things, establish a right for the safety of victims and their family members to be considered when bail is set in criminal cases. The package of amendments also includes expanding the mandatory retirement age for judges (from the current age 70) to age 75, while also eliminating the provision permitting judges to serve out their term if they had served more than half their term by the time they reached retirement age.

Here is just some of the language:

(b) To preserve and protect the right of crime victims to achieve justice, ensure a meaningful role throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems for crime victims, and ensure that crime victims’ rights and interests are respected and protected by law in a manner no less vigorous than

protections afforded to criminal defendants and juvenile delinquents, every victim is entitled to the following rights, beginning at the time of his or her victimization ...

(10) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, and to a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related postjudgment proceedings.

a. The state attorney may file a good faith demand for a speedy trial and the trial court shall hold a calendar call, with notice, within fifteen days of the filing demand, to schedule a trial to commence at a date at least five days but no more than sixty days after the date of the calendar call unless the trial judge enters an order with specific findings of fact justifying a trial date more than sixty days after the calendar call.

b. All state-level appeals and collateral attacks on any judgment must be complete within two years from the date of appeal in non-capital cases and five years in capital cases, unless a court enters an order with specific findings as to why the court was unable to comply with this subparagraph and the circumstances causing the delay. Each year, the chief judge of any district court of appeal or the chief justice of the supreme court shall report on a case-by-case basis to the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate all cases where the court entered an order regarding inability to comply with this subparagraph. The legislature may enact legislation to implement this subparagraph.

The entire proposed amendment P6001 can be read by going here.

For any of the amendments to become law, they must win the support of 60% of the voters.


As alluded to in the Comments section last week, veteran Judge David Miller has drawn opposition, again. This time it is from Elisabeth Espinosa, a ten year member of The Florida Bar. According to her bio, she is a partner at Cole, Scott’s Miami office and she defends insurance cases. She was an ASA in Orange County for six years, and also spent time as a criminal defense attorney. She states that she has tried over 70 jury trials.


Monday, April 16, 2018


With the revelation on Monday that Fox network host (we cannot bring ourselves to call it News) Sean Hannity was the third "secret" client of New York lawyer Michael Cohen, there is a natural tendency to feel smugly happy. 
Let's review Mr. Cohen's client list. 
First up- the current POTUS on whose behalf Mr. Cohen paid $130,000.00 to a porn star Unbeknownst (cough cough cough- we can't get through that with a straight face) to the President. 
Second- Elliot Broidy, the former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. 
And Third- Sean Hannity. Sanctimonious Fox Host, who regularly blasts the Clintons and Obamas for their "immoral ways". 

The President allegedly slept with a porn star. Enter Cohen. 
Broidy admittedly got a Playboy Playmate preggers and needed to pay her. Enter Cohen. 
And Hannity....? Perhaps a speeding ticket? Or a complaint about a bad meal at the Palm in NYC?  Or a landlord-tenant dispute? What could it be? What could it be that required the special skills of Mr. Cohen, Esq??

Here's the common thread of the three. Yes, they're men, but that's not it. 
Yes, they're older married men. But still, not what we are looking for. 
Hmmm...could it be that they're all mainstays of the religious right that believes sex is reserved for marriage and marriage is reserved only for two people of the opposite sex. 

There is a strong urge to call out the massive hypocrite that Hannity is. 
But there is a more important issue at play here. 
Attorney-Client Privilege.

Broidy and Hannity went to a lawyer with a problem. They have done nothing illegal that we are aware of. They are entitled to have their lawyer keep their secrets. 
It was disturbing to read Monday that Judge Kimba Wood (who is a great answer to the trivia question "name the second person Bill Clinton wanted to nominate for Attorney General before he nominated Janet Reno" - Zoe Baird was the first of course) forced the disclosure of Hannity's name in open court. That was wrong. Hannity had a right to have his secrets kept and Judge Wood was wrong to force the disclosure in open court. 

Of course Baird and Hannity aren't entitled to our support and sympathy. They have zero ability to ever see the principle behind an issue. They jump on any issue that helps their right-wing agenda regardless of whether it could later be used against them or their cause.  

But some of us are enlightened. Some of us can look behind the schadenfreude we feel about the revelation of the hypocrisy of Broidy and Hannity (Trump was always a what-you-see-is -what-you get- type of creepy guy). 

What occurred in the SDNY Monday was disturbing for all lawyers and clients. 

From Occupied America, where secrets are important, fight the power. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018


The President left the White House in the early evening. 
He and his party went down H Street NW for about 7 tenths of a mile. The presidential party made a right on 10 Street NW and went down three blocks before stopping in front of Ford's Theater.  The show that evening was the hit "Our American Cousins". 
April 14, 1865. Abraham Lincoln  had about 24 hours to live. 

Five days earlier General Lee surrendered the Confederate Army of Virginia to General Grant.

The Presidential party arrived late for the show, but the President was reported to be in a great mood. Lincoln and his wife were accompanied by Henry Rathbone, a young officer in the army, and Rathbone's fiancĂ©e- Clara Harris who was the daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris (the only Ira to serve in the US Senate we think). 

Sometime between 10:15 and 10:25, John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor who had failed in his attempt to kidnap the President on March 20. 1865, snuck up behind the President and shot him in the head.  Rathbone leaped up and grabbed Booth. Booth dropped his derringer and produced a knife and stabbed Rathbone in the arm. Booth then fled the presidential box, leaping on to the stage and shouting Sic Semper Tyrannis  ("Thus ever to tyrants") - the motto of Virginia. Booth's left foot and his riding spur became entangled with a flag draping the box, and Booth landed awkwardly, breaking his leg.  

Dr. Charles Leal was in attendance and gave aid to the President who was slumped over in his chair. He was soon joined by Dr. Charles Sabin Taft.  Leal removed a blood clot from the entry wound behind the left ear of the president, and Lincoln's labored breathing improved. Soldiers  arrived and took the dying president through a light rain to the house of tailor William Peterson. The doctors had judged the ride to the White House as too difficult for the dying president. 

Lincoln's oldest son  Robert Todd Lincoln arrived along with Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells and Secretary of War Edward M.  Stanton.  Throughout the night more doctors and government officials arrived, as well as Lincoln's faithful secretary John Hay. 

At 7:22 AM on April 15, 1865, the 16th President of the United States died without regaining consciousness. 
Secretary Stanton was widely reported to have said "Now he belongs to the ages". 

Friday, April 13, 2018


Today is Friday the 13th. 
Who is afraid? 
Who should be afraid? 

The Federal Blog run by David Markus reports that the judges of the SDFLA appointed acting US Attorney Ben Greenberg to be US Attorney, because his appointment runs out April 28, 2018. None of this ever happened under Obama even when he was spending most of his time hiding his birth-certificate, trying to usher in Sharia-law through the back door, raise our taxes, deplete our military and otherwise be a bad and incompetent President. Through all of that he somehow was able to make executive appointments on time. 
It seems a bit untoward that the judges of the district are appointing the prosecutor. 

Of court the term "untoward" could be applied to most of the current federal administration. 

There's an untoward side to the retirement of Judge Zabel. And by that we mean the actions of the State Attorneys office, and not Judge Zabel.  When and if we can, we'd like to run the whole story. For now we feel comfortable in saying Miami lost a well respected and decent and honest judge who worked very hard at her job and did a very good job, because of a nasty power-play. 

BTW, speaking of former Presidents, Clinton balanced the budget. The current deficit is going to shoot up over a trillion dollars with the new budget. Just wondering where all those Republican deficit-hawks are? Maybe they're all retiring from Congress. 
Of course Clinton was disgraced because he had an affair with a woman and that's something the Republican party assured the American people was conduct unbecoming a President and something that would never occur when a Republican got into the White House. 

From Occupied America, where hypocrisy and incompetence is the order of the day, Fight the Power and have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


The Judge has been dealing with well known legal issues involving her husband for some time now. It is unknown if this action is related to that and whether she has any liability for being listed on companies that her husband used which are the basis for criminal issues. 

At 4:30 AM on April 11, 1861, soldiers of the Confederacy fired upon the Union Fort Sumter.  The next day Union soldiers surrendered the Fort. 

Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs was the only voice in opposition to President Jefferson Davis's order to take the Fort. Toombs prophetically wrote Davis "You will only strike a hornet's nest.  Legions now quiet will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary. It puts us in the wrong. It is fatal."

Jefferson Davis of course famously tweeted that the order and the shots were "fake news". That didn't work out for him in the end. 

The opening moves of the war that devastated our states and split our country are on our mind as the current POTUS moves the United States towards firing shots upon a dastardly enemy in Syria. 

However this concerns us: 

In 2013 Trump tweeted this, which wasn't bad advice. 

Why do we keep broadcasting when we are going to attack Syria. Why can't we just be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise?...For the first time in the history of military operations a country has broadcast what, when and where they will be doing in a future attack!

On Wednesday, POTUS tweeted this:

Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia,  because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

So Rumpole wants to know why POTUS can't follow his own advice? 
Or are the tweets Fake News?
Or are the people in charge incompetent? 

We are worried. 
Fight the power.