Monday, April 23, 2018

Should judges be appointed or elected?

After reading the Justice Building Blog about Broward Judge Merrillee Ehrlich, I started thinking about this question again. I think the appointment process leads to more qualified judges. But elections, at least in theory, hold judges accountable for bad behavior. Perhaps judges should be appointed but not for life. What about having a committee that evaluates judges every 5 years to decide whether they get re-upped or not?

From Rumpole:

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."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Jane and Marty Raskin join President Trump's legal team

There is always a Miami connection.

From McClatchy:
A husband-and-wife legal team from Miami is joining President Donald Trump’s personal legal team in the special counsel's Russia investigation.

Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin, two former federal prosecutors and veteran defense lawyers who have a private practice in Coral Gables, are joining Trump’s team along with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“Jane and Marty are highly respected former federal prosecutors with decades of experience. They have a nationwide practice and reputation for excellence and integrity,” Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement Thursday.
The big debate among criminal lawyers for the past few months has been — would you take that case if he called... the Raskins have said yes. They are well-respected lawyers down here, who are apparently Trump supporters.  Their website is here. And they are joining Rudy Guliani.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Congrats to Judge Lauren Louis

The investiture of Magistrate Judge Lauren Louis was wonderful. She gave a heartfelt speech that was one of the best investiture talks I have seen. It's easy to see that she will be a great judge. Congrats!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

News & Notes

1.  Gorsuch is channeling his inner-Scalia.  The opinion is Dimaya v. Sessions.  District judges should get ready for the ensuing litigation.  It shows again that the trial and appellate courts are so law-and-rder conservative with its rulings that it takes a slightly less conservative Supreme Court to stop the get-away conviction train every now and then. This time it took Justice Gorsuch. From SCOTUSBlog:
Gorsuch concurred in part and concurred in the judgment. He emphasized at the outset that “[v]ague laws invite arbitrary power.” He defended the originalist foundations for vagueness challenges that Justice Clarence Thomas questioned at length in his dissent, tracing the history of those challenges back to Blackstone’s condemnation of vague statutes and the “tradition of courts refusing to apply vague statutes.” He further noted that the concern with vague statutes was not “confined to the most serious offenses like capital crimes.” Addressing the government’s argument that a more lenient standard of review should apply in civil cases, Gorsuch would have gone even further than the plurality. He suggested that provisions of civil laws should be scrutinized closely for vagueness even outside the deportation context: “Why, for example, would due process require Congress to speak more clearly when it seeks to deport a lawfully resident alien than when it wishes to subject a citizen to indefinite civil commitment, strip him of a business license essential to his family’s living, or confiscate his home?”

2.  Sotomayor broke her shoulder.

3.  RIP Harry Anderson.  When I was growing up, I thought that every judge should be like him (with a little Judge Wapner).  He was the best.  From the LA Times:
"Night Court" and "Dave's World" star Harry Anderson received a tip of the hat from costars and fellow magicians sending out heartfelt tributes to the late sitcom star.

The actor, who died on Monday at age 65, began his lengthy career in stand-up and magic, then notably played judge Harry T. Stone on the Emmy-winning NBC sitcom "Night Court."

Costar John B. Larroquette and several others fondly remembered the actor — and his iconic fedora — with messages honoring Anderson's memory.

"He was wicked smart. He was wicked funny. He had a big laugh. He had a big heart. He delighted in legerdemain especially when he caused someone to scratch their head and proclaim; How the hell did you do that? And he could eat a hamster like no one I ever knew," the actor tweeted late Monday, describing their work on the show as "a carnival fun ride with Harry."

Monday, April 16, 2018

How should we handle attorney-client privilege?

Alan Dershowitz has this proposal:
There is a better and safer way to deal with this issue than the current approach of using prosecutors and FBI agents to do the sifting. A law should be enacted under which anytime the government is seeking to search an office or home that may contain confidential and privileged information, the search team must be accompanied by a judicial officer – a judge, a magistrate or someone appointed to fulfill that function.
That judicial officer should be the only one ever to read material that is eventually deemed to be confidential. A judge can be trusted not to leak far better than FBI agents or prosecutors. And if a judge were to leak, it would be easy to identify the source of the unlawful disclosure, since the single judge would be the only one to have access to the confidential material.
And Trump's lawyers have filed papers this weekend asking to do an initial review before the government gets a chance.  Here's the WSJ coverage:
Lawyers for President Donald Trump say they should be allowed to review the material seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week from Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen before government investigators begin their ​own, according to a court filing late Sunday.
The filing asks​ a Manhattan federal judge to stop the government from using a “taint team” of prosecutors to review the evidence for documents protected by attorney-client privilege and to issue an order allowing Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump and their legal teams to comb through it first for “materials over which the President asserts privilege.”
After Mr. Trump identifies which communications he believes are privileged, the government taint team can make objections, the filing said, and the court can make the final determination about which materials investigators are allowed to see.
 Trump won't be at the hearing today.  He's in Miami.  Here's how to avoid the traffic.