Monday, April 17, 2006

News and notes

Julie Kay's column, Justice Watch, in the DBR has lots of interesting notes today:

1. It describes in much further detail Alex Acosta's talk last week at the Federal Bar Association lunch. Here's one passage:

[Acosta] announced two new deputies in the major crimes division: Barbara Martinez and Ben Greenberg. They will join Chuck Duross, who Acosta named a deputy several months ago. Deputies play key roles, mentoring and supervising new assistant U.S. attorneys, who all start out in major crimes. Martinez, 34, joined the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami in 2000, after serving three years in the fraud section of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Last year, Martinez received the second-highest honor given to federal prosecutors around the country, the Director’s Award, which is awarded by the Department of Justice. She received the award for her work on a child pornography case involving 100 victims. The defendant was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to 100 years in prison. Greenberg, 35, joined the U.S. attorney’s office in 2000. A skilled litigator, he is currently overseeing two of the office’s most high-profile cases — the prosecution of Z’ev Rosenstein, an alleged Israeli organized crime figure who is charged with a massive Ecstasy drug ring, and the fraud retrial of former Hamilton Bank chairman Eduardo A. Masferrer. Acosta related how Greenberg proudly “claims to have indicted 42 cases in one month” — a record for the office. He is the son of Miami-Dade County Attorney Murray Greenberg. Duross, 35, has worked at the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami since 2001. He previously worked at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C., for 4 1/2 years. Last year, Duross was named Federal Prosecutor of the Year by the Miami-Dade Chiefs of Police Association. He was honored for his work on Operation Check-Mate, in which 23 defendants were convicted in a massive counterfeit check writing scheme. In addition to announcing his new deputies, Acosta also said he would ask the Department of Justice for bonuses and raises for AUSAs in an effort to stem a high turnover rate. He declined to state how much he would request. With a new AUSA in Miami earning about $70,000, it is virtually impossible for them to afford a home in South Florida’s pricey real estate market, he said. By comparison, starting salaries for new associates at major Miami law firms are between $105,000 and $125,000. And since they cannot earn more than members of Congress, even more senior AUSAs are capped at a salary of $140,000 a year. “We’ve seen turnover similar to patterns seen in New York and California,” Acosta said. “The cost of housing is inordinately high here. Rather than hire a few more prosecutors, I’d rather use the money to reward the ones we have.” Former federal prosecutors later applauded Acosta’s plan. “The pay for federal prosecutors should be increased,” said Peter Prieto, managing partner of the Miami office of Holland & Knight and a former federal prosecutor. “They work very long hours and do highly sophisticated work.” Acosta said he’s also taking steps to replace the 30 or so prosecutors who have left in the last year. He reported that, after months of interviewing, he has hired six new prosecutors. Another initiative Acosta plans to start is a mentoring program to pair up senior litigation counsel, such as Richard Gregorie and Caroline Heck Miller, with younger attorneys. “All the big [USAO] offices have formal training programs, and it’s time Miami does too,” he said. According to several sources, Acosta found out he was chosen as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida about two weeks ago. The White House is expected to forward his nomination to the Senate next month, said the sources who spoke on condition that they not be named.

2. The Hamilton Bank trial starts today. It's take two. Last trial was hung. Defense lawyers are the Srebnick bros.

3. The other big bank case, the Bankest case "was abruptly postponed on April 5 when one of the defendants, former bank president Eduardo Orlansky, underwent emergency gall bladder surgery." His lawyer is Ed Shohat. Prosecuting is Caroline Heck Miller, Matthew Menchel and Ryan Stumphauzen. Hector Orlansky is represented by Bruce Lehr.

4. In non-DBR news, the comments to the last post are fun and are not meant to make anyone upset. I hope everyone took them in that spirit.

1 comment:

Ruben Oliva said...

Duross, Martinez and Greenberg are good picks -- veterans, fair, and you can take their word to the bank. Acosta is making the right moves. Sloman as first deputy would also be great. Just my two cents.