Friday, February 27, 2009

Federal Judges Might (Finally) Get Pay Bump

Hi folks, SFL still muckin' around in here.

This is an issue near and dear to Judge Fay's heart, as we all know:

House members voted Wednesday for a $410 billion spending plan to keep the federal government running through September, and the plan includes a cost-of-living adjustment for the federal judiciary for the 2009 calendar year. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the proposal would give judges a 2.8 percent increase retroactive to January.

Though it wouldn't bring judges close to the salaries of their friends in private practice or in deanships at top law schools, it would end their status as the only federal employees who did not get a cost-of-living adjustment this year. They have gone without such an increase in seven of the last 14 years, and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has made the issue a priority.

The spending plan now heads to the Senate, which has been less receptive to arguments for higher judicial pay and could amend the plan. In October, senators removed plans for the judiciary's 2009 cost-of-living adjustment from auto-bailout legislation passed by the House.

Even though I tweaked the Judge's speech on this at the recent Bench & Bar conference, in all seriousness it is a no-brainer and is long long long overdue.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Federal JNC named

SFL is doing a great job filling in. Thanks!

I just got a note about the new Federal JNC. First up for them -- the new district judgeship created by Judge Hurley going senior. Here's the list of JNC members:


John Fitzgibbons (Statewide Chair)

Northern
Linda Shelley (Chair)Jim ApplemanJohn AurellDuby AusleyMartha
BarnettWilliam "Bill" HarrisonMelanie Ann HinesDon HinkleDoug MannheimerJon
MillsDaryl ParksBuzz RitchieLeander ShawJim SmithSusan Story

Middle
Wayne Hogan (Chair)Steve CheesemanTom DukesW.C. GentryNat GloverSaundra
GreyMichael GrindstaffBen Hill IIITrudie Kibbe-ReedMike MaherMarcos MarchenaBill
McBrideSusan McCaskillHugh NormileSteve PajcicMarsha Santana RydbergBruce
SmathersBruce StrayhornBrian T. WilsonWilliam "Bill" Wilson

Southern
Kendall Coffey (Chair) Georgina Angones Reginald Clyne Gonzalo R. Dorta Al
Dotson Philip Frieden John Genovese Evelyn Greer Jillian Hasner Manny Kadre
Chuck Lichtman Richard Lydecker Tom Panza Luis Perez Danny Ponce David Prather Dennis Richard Justin Sayfie Chris Searcy Steve Zack


Looks like a solid list of members from the Southern District. I note with sadness though that there isn't one criminal defense lawyer on the committee...

Judge Garber Nixes Ochoa Bid for Retrial

SFL here.

Magistrate Judge Garber denies Ochoa motion:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Garber denied the request by MedellĂ­n cartel leader Fabio Ochoa, whose lawyer argued that convicted codefendant Alejandro Bernal was not a truthful witness in the 2003 trial.

Attorney Paul Petruzzi cited previously undisclosed evidence showing Bernal had informed federal agents before trial that Ochoa gave $2 million to al Qaeda to help finance the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Petruzzi said the prosecution should have turned that evidence over to the defense so it could have challenged Bernal's truthfulness on the witness stand.

But the magistrate judge disagreed.

''Bernal's letter of August 2002 merely sets forth a rumor that Ochoa was involved in assisting in the planning of the Sept. 11 attacks,'' Garber wrote in a four-page order filed this week. ``Such belief was not based on any personal knowledge held by Bernal and is merely speculative without any factual basis.

''As a matter of fact, any reference to terrorist attacks was regarding speculative attacks to take place in Colombia to prevent the extradition of Ochoa to the United States,'' he wrote.

Well, which was it -- financing to conduct the 9/11 attacks, or attacks within Columbia to prevent Ochoa's extradition?

"Well Known" Motorcycle Mechanic Sentenced Before Judge Altonaga


Hi folks!

SFL here, still doin' time at David's fine place while the big man goes to court and cross-examines witnesses -- you know, the stuff we all wish we were doing right now....

Here's what's happening in Judge Altonaga's courtroom:
R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that defendant Jimmy A. Soto, of Miami Lakes, was sentenced on February 24, 2009, for his participation in a $5.4 million health care fraud and money laundering scheme. U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga sentenced Soto to 140 months' imprisonment.

In December 2008, after a week long trial, a Miami jury convicted Soto of a series of related health care fraud and money laundering charges. The evidence at trial established that Soto conspired with Leonardo Lozada, Eliades Diaz, and Jose D. Claro to defraud Medicare through the fraudulent submission of $5.4 million in durable medical equipment ( DME ) claims during 2005 and 2006. The claims concerned a Hialeah-based DME company operating as Med-Pro of Miami, Inc ( "Med-Pro" ). Medicare paid Med-Pro approximately $1.3 million based on the bogus claims, which were for DME items that were neither prescribed by doctors nor delivered to Medicare patients, most of whom resided in the Treasure Coast area of Florida.

Soto, a well known motorcycle mechanic, was also found guilty of laundering more than a $1million in monies stolen from Medicare. At trial, it was established that Soto recruited his customers and friends to cash several hundred thousand dollars worth of checks for Med-Pro during 2006.
Question -- can someone be a "well known motorcycle mechanic"? The only one I know is that guy from California with all the tattoos (new book cover pictured above), and even he's not that well-known.....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Complications in the UBS Case

SFL here, still filling in while David does his "trial lawyer" thing.

More on UBS --

Now Judge Gold has a Swiss federal court to possibly contend with:

UBS was sued on Tuesday in a Swiss federal court by wealthy American clients seeking to prevent the disclosure of their identities as part of a tax-evasion investigation by the United States Justice Department.

The lawsuit accuses UBS and Switzerland’s financial regulator, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or Finma, of violating Swiss bank secrecy laws and of conducting what Swiss law considers illegal activities with foreign authorities. It also named Peter Kurer, the chairman of UBS, and Eugen Haltiner, the chairman of Finma, as defendants.

The suit, filed by a lawyer in Zurich, Andreas Rued, on behalf of nearly a dozen American clients, underscores the growing clash between Swiss banking secrecy laws and those of the United States. Tax evasion is not considered a crime in Switzerland. Disclosing client names under Swiss law is a criminal offense and can expose bank executives and officers to fines, prison terms and other penalties.
Oh no -- foreign law possibly impacting our legal process again? Remember that whole Supreme Court controversy a few years back?

Me neither, but Judge Scalia probably does.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley...

...is taking senior status.

We are losing a gem of a judge. I recently tried a case with Judge Hurley and he loves being a judge and trying cases. That's evident from being in trial for a month with him. He is courteous to the lawyers and treats both sides with complete respect -- and he is a thoughtful judge. He calls em right down the middle.

We all wish him well.

So, any bets on who President Obama will appoint for that spot?

Ho Hum -- The Princess, A Sex Sting, and UBS

Hey, can you tell it's SFL here?

Yep, still foolin' around while David tries another big case.

So I told you all this UBS thing was big. Here's an update on what went down in Judge Gold's courtroom yesterday:
U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold set a July 13 hearing on the IRS lawsuit, unless an agreement is reached first. UBS claims that turning over the account names would violate Swiss privacy law and jeopardize the bank's license to stay in business.

"Such violations would expose these (UBS) employees to substantial prison terms, as well as fines, penalties and other sanctions," the UBS lawyers said in a court filing last week. "There is simply no reason to have, nor equity in having, such an expedited process here."

The IRS had sought an accelerated timetable, but Justice Department tax attorney Stuart Gibson and UBS lawyers told Gold at a brief telephone hearing Monday they had agreed on a lengthier process. Gold also set a series of deadlines for court filings.

"I would appreciate the continued efforts to discuss this matter, to narrow down what the legal issues are and the factual issues are," Gold said.
Most judges probably would appreciate that.

What do you know -- the feds bust a Miami Beach sex ring:

Bernabe-Caballero, 34, remained without bond in Miami's Federal Detention Center Monday night and was scheduled for a 10 a.m. hearing Tuesday about extradition to Michigan, where the grand jury in the case had convened.

Bernabe-Caballero's attorney, Rene A. Sotorrio, declined to comment.

Smart move, I wouldn't say anything either if my client was facing these kind of allegations.

And -- can you believe it -- a story about a cocaine princess and federal court.

Sometimes these things write themselves.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More on Kuehne R&R

SFL here, hope you had a nice weekend.

Here's a nice quote from John Pacenti's article on Judge Bandstra's R&R on Ben Kuehne:
If Bandstra’s decision stands, the case would be down to five substantive money laundering counts. Kuehne and Saldarriaga are accused of using a money broker to hide the movement of drug profits into the defense fund. The money broker was an informant working with the government and exchanging pesos for dollars used in U.S. drug stings.

Miami litigator Jane Moscowitz, one of Kuehne’s attorneys, said she was thrilled with the Bandstra ruling.

“It took my breath away that the motion had been granted,” she said.
And us too, Jane.

And here's some more background on the IRS/UBS suit, which is being closely watched in financial and legal circles:
While the deferred prosecution agreement reached between Swiss banking giant UBS and federal prosecutors on Wednesday might have initially looked like a great deal for the government, in reality the Zurich-based bank isn't disclosing nearly as many client names as law enforcement officials are suggesting, says Miller & Chevalier tax partner George Clarke III.

Clarke says that the decision by the Justice Department to file suit against UBS on Thursday in Miami is evidence of this.

Despite forking over $780 million in penalties as part of its deferred prosecution agreement, UBS, represented by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz litigation partner John Savarese, managed to secure a pretty good deal for itself, Clarke says.

Sure, not bad for a bunch of carpetbaggers from New York. But what are we, chopped liver?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another one bites the dust

The government's case against Ben Kuehne is in utter shambles -- Count I (the most serious count) was already dismissed. The case against a co-defendant has been dismissed. And now, Magistrate Judge Bandstra has recommended that Count 7 -- the wire fraud count -- be dismissed against all defendants. It is time for the government to concede defeat, no?

Is It Friday Already?

By SFL

Boy the federal court beat is...a little beat today.

Does it count as SD FL news that I saw Judge Moreno having a nice lunch at La Loggia yesterday?

No, guess not -- darn, where's Julie Kay when you need her?

Anyways, the always-in-trial big man already updated us on Joe Cool. Judge Huck set sentencing for May 6.

Third time's the charm in the Liberty 6 retrial, which is starting to feel like Jarndyce and Jarndyce -- only longer.

What do you all think of this line from the defense opening:

“This case is a 100 percent setup; this is a manufactured crime,” the lawyer, Ana M. Jhones, said in her opening argument, which drew several objections from the prosecution, most notably when she remarked that “taking an oath to Al Qaeda is not a crime.”
True, but do must jurors think it should be?

And finally, more details on the IRS v. UBS showdown unfolding right here in sunny South Florida:

With today’s lawsuit, the U.S. asked a federal judge to enforce its so-called John Doe summonses. On July 1, a federal judge in Miami approved an IRS summons seeking information on thousands of UBS accounts owned or controlled by U.S. citizens. Negotiations between the U.S., Switzerland and UBS have been at a standstill since then, according to a Justice Department filing.

UBS said in a statement that it expected today’s filing.

“UBS believes it has substantial defenses” to the U.S. attempt to enforce the summonses and will “vigorously contest” the case, the bank said in the statement. The bank’s objections are based on U.S. laws, Swiss financial privacy laws, and a 2001 agreement between UBS and the IRS, according to the statement.

Anyone know who has been retained to represent UBS on this? I know a certain humble blogger who's available.

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Joe Cool verdict

Guilty.

I am loving guest-blogger South Florida Lawyer. Great stuff below...

Thanks.

New Plea Agreement Policy Becomes Effective Tomorrow


SFL here, still muckin' around this joint while David tries another big case.

Boy I feel like a dinosaur thinking back to the days when the clerk's office was not automated, and you had to actually walk over to Court to pull a docket or see an administrative order.

Now the clerk can just imprint them directly into the microchip transmitter located behind your retina, saving a lot of time and also something they used to have a long time ago called "trees."

Wait a minute -- that upgrade is set to launch in 2010.

I guess in 09 they're still using old fashioned emails, and I got one earlier today from the clerk that said this:
Administrative Order 2009-2, effective February 20, 2009, provides in part:

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that as of February 20, 2009, the Southern District of Florida's current policy of providing limited electronic access to plea agreements is rescinded. All plea agreements filed on or after February 20, 2009 will be public documents, with full remote access available to all members of the public and the bar, unless the Court has entered an Order in advance directing the sealing or otherwise restricting a plea agreement.

Please visit the Southern District of Florida web page at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov for the full text of Administrative Order 2009-2.
Hmm, I have to think this is a good thing, right?

Guest Blogging At David's Place.

Hi folks, SFL here.

David was kind enough to lend me the keys to his soapbox for a few days because, as you may have heard, he's busy doing IMPORTANT LEGAL STUFF.

In fact, here's a taste of what the big man has been up to this week:
The guiding principle of the medical profession is often stated as "First, do no harm."

But according to federal prosecutor Sean Cronin, Dr. Ali Shaygan operated by a different four-word motto, "Mo' money. Mo' money," with deadly consequences.

Making his opening statement Wednesday to a Miami federal jury, Cronin called Shaygan a drug dealer who sold prescriptions for dangerous narcotics to boost his income.

One of Shaygan's patients, James "Brendan" Downey of West Palm Beach, died in June 2007 after overdosing on methadone prescribed by Shaygan, Cronin said.

Shaygan's attorney, David O. Markus, countered that the 37-year-old physician prescribed appropriate doses of medications to patients who claimed to be suffering from pain and other ailments.

"He had a legitimate medical reason for doing what he did," Markus said. "Because a patient passes away doesn't make the doctor a criminal."

Shaygan, who lives in Miami Beach, is charged with 141 counts of unlawful prescribing and causing Downey's death. If convicted, he faces more than 20 years behind bars.
Geez, all I do is move around money.

Good luck David!

In other SD FL news, all you machers can see if you made the list. No, not the Madoff investment list, but the list of 19,000 offshore UBS bank accounts of American investors who may have been trying to avoid US taxes:

The largest bank in Switzerland, UBS, agreed Wednesday to reveal the names of wealthy Americans whom the authorities suspect of using offshore accounts to evade taxes.

The change in policy is the result of UBS' admitted role in conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. As part of the agreement, the bank will pay $780 million in damages, and also close all offshore accounts of its American clients.

You can see the filing that was submitted to Judge Cohn here.

Ok ok I know it's not Shakespeare, and I'll see if I can punch it up a bit, but I did promise myself -- out of my deep respect for David -- not to "work blue."

Boy, now I know how Bob Saget feels.

Have a good day everybody!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Exhaustion

Trial the last two days from 8:30 am to 6:30pm. I'm tired...

Updates you probably know already:

Openings in the Liberty City 6 today.

Closings in the Joe Cool case and the jury is out.

Good news -- South Florida Lawyer has agreed to guest blog. THANK YOU!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Looking for part-time blogger!

I am trial, probably for the next 4-5 weeks. (Details here). Anyone interesting in helping out while I'm busy?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

''He said if I blamed it on him, he was going to turn it around on me."

That was Guillermo Zarabozo, the Joe Cool defendant, testifying on Friday. Here's a snippet of the Herald article:

''I told them what he told me to say,'' Zarabozo testified at the murder retrial in federal court in Miami. ``It was the biggest mistake of my life. I lied. That's why I'm here.''
Zarabozo, testifying after the government rested its case, admitted that he and Archer lied that Cuban ''pirates'' had hijacked the boat on their chartered one-way trip to Bimini and then killed the crew. Zarabozo is charged with 16 counts of conspiracy, hijacking, kidnapping, murder, robbery and use of a firearm in commission of those crimes.
Archer, 36, pleaded guilty before the first federal trial in September and was sentenced to life in prison -- Zarabozo's fate if he is convicted of any of the offenses.
Prosecutors will return on Tuesday to cross examine Zarabozo. It is expected to be an intense confrontation. They have argued that Zarabozo has been lying about his role in the murders.
But rather than try to prove conclusively that Zarabozo fatally shot the crew, prosecutors have unveiled newly discovered evidence showing that he and Archer plotted for months to hijack the chartered vessel to Cuba. The evidence supports the conspiracy charge and refutes Zarabozo's claim that he thought the boat was a charter to Bimini.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Breaking -- Judge Cooke dismisses case against Ben Kuehne's co-defendant for Speedy Trial violation

In a 13-page Order, Judge Cooke has dismissed the case against Gloria Florez Velez, the lead defendant in the Ben Kuehne case for a violation of her speedy trial rights. Henry Bell represents Ms. Velez. More to follow...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

To Tase or not to Tase



That's the video from Buckley v. Rackard, 292 Fed. Appx. 791 (11th Cir. Sept. 9, 2008). The ACLU is asking for the Supreme Court to take cert. Here is their press release.

Racial issues come up during jury selection in Liberty City trial

The defense is arguing that the prosecutors are striking all the African-American jurors. The prosecution is arguing that the defense is striking all the Hispanic males. Both sides are giving race-neutral reasons for their strikes. Judge Lenard has halted jury selection and has asked for briefs by Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sentencing Commission testimony

I had the pleasure today to testify before the U.S. Sentencing Commission regarding the 25 year anniversary of the Sentencing Reform Act. Here's the agenda of speakers at the regional hearing, and here's an article from the local paper previewing the hearings.

It was pretty interesting. I provided both written testimony (which I will post when I'm back in Miami tonight) and oral testimony, after which I (and the other panelists) answered their questions.

I am in the Atlanta airport now trying to get home, but I will post more about the day later.

La Bamba and owner guilty

Here's the Herald article. Judge Lenard must be breathing a small sigh of relief that she at least got a verdict on the two lead defendants in the case. The jury was out over two weeks and she was in the middle of starting trial #3 in Liberty City 7. But there weren't verdicts across the board -- the jury hung on two of the defendants, after lengthy and heated deliberations. Apparently the jury foreman resigned as foreman during the deliberations... What's in the water in that jury room? Will the government retry the two hung defendants?

Miami Herald : South Florida prosecutor up for dean of FIU's law school

Dean Alex? Check out this link. Sorry for the sloppy post but I am sending this from my Blackberry as I am testifying today before the US Sentencing Commission. More on that later.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Joe Cool

Jury picked.

Opening statements starting up now.

The usual suspects


Jay Weaver has an article this morning about Alex Acosta being asked to stay until the Spring, and about his possible replacement. The usual suspects are listed: David Buckner, Curt Miner, Jackie Becerra, Mark Schnapp, Willie Ferrer, and Daryl Trawick.

Friday, February 06, 2009

11th Circuit approves book banning -- case not over yet

By Julie Kay

So the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in the controversial, three-year-old case of book banning brought by the ACLU against the Miami-Dade School Board. The court, in a 2-1 opinion, reversed U.S. Circuit Court Judge Alan Gold and ruled that the School Board was within its rights to yank the childrens' book Vamos a Cuba due to "factual inaccuracies."
The School Board had argued that the book -- part of a 24-volume series on life in different countries -- portrayed life under dictator Fidel Castro as essentially overly positive. The ACLU brought the case on constitutional/book banning grounds, and the school district has spent a quarter-of-million dollars defending it.
While school board members applauded the ruling, the ACLU promised a certain appeal. Lawyers there are currently deciding whether to request an enbanc hearing before the 11th or go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to ACLU spokesman Brendan Hensler.
"This is the first case where a book was banned for what it doesn't say," Hensler said. "People recognize that book banning is not the solution -- that we shouldn't take books away but add more."
The books, which were replaced on the shelves of school libraries after Gold's ruling, will stay on the shelves until the litigation plays out, he said.
Interesting fact: it's unclear if any of the controversial books are even on the shelves any more. Most were checked out or stolen by souvenir collectors or angry residents.

Are you surprised by the 11th Circuit's ruling authored by Judge Ed Carnes? Will the U.S. Supreme Court take a book banning case?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Federal Bar reception

Over 500 lawyers and judges filled the downtown Hyatt tonight for the annual South Florida Federal Bar Association Reception. I forgot to snap pictures... Sorry.

Random thoughts:

I wonder if the judges dread it or whether they enjoy it.

It's also interesting to watch people work the room.

Lots of DBR reporters mingling...

More younger lawyers seem to be coming out. Many of the old guard weren't there.

Very few prosecutors showed up.

A sprinkling of state judges made an appearance.

South Florida Lawyer was there. Rumpole was not.

Breaking: Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Undergoes Cancer Surgery


From NPR:


Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Undergoes Cancer Surgery

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has undergone surgery for pancreatic cancer, apparently at an early stage. The court said the 75-year-old Ginsburg had the surgery Thursday at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She will remain in the hospital for seven to 10 days, said her surgeon. Dr. Murray Brennan. This was according to a release issued by the court.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"That's a nasty, impolite question."



In a room filled with some of Palm Beach County's most powerful people, it took a 20-year-old political science student to throw off U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Tuesday afternoon.Student Sarah Jeck stood in front of 750 people and asked Scalia why cameras are not allowed in the U.S. Supreme Court even though the court hearings are open, transcripts are available and the court's justices are open enough to go "out on book tours." Scalia was at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in part to do a book signing and wasn't happy at the question."Read the next question," Scalia replied. "That's a nasty, impolite question."Scalia's trademark mixture of humor, confidence and combativeness was on full display Tuesday at a luncheon put on by the Palm Beach County Forum Club and Bar Association.

***

After the luncheon, Jeck said she wasn't offended by Scalia's chilly response and was excited to see him speak. But that doesn't mean she agreed with him."I don't think that it should be up to him what parts the American people can and can't see of the judicial process," she said.

The DBR has more here. And Palm Beach blogger Grey Tesh has this:

Scalia on why there should be no cameras in the courtrooms, particularly in the trial (district) courts:"There's something sick about making entertainment out of people's problems."Maybe. but what about the public learning about minimum mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders? About the government not turning over crucial documents until the witness has testified? About how the agent gets to sit in and listen to everybody's testimony before he testifies? About how the snitch (the most culpable defendant) got 3 years for his "cooperation" testimony while his co-defendants are facing life for their minor roles?It's not just entertainment, it can be an education. That's what the American public will get if cameras were in the federal trial courts.Scalia also said "I should be the pinup boy for the criminal defense lawyers."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

In the comments, there are calls for the follow up to what I called the most boring post ever. Here is one of the comments:

How about something less prurient and more generally worth noting: the 11th Circuit in an en banc opinion overruled its prior decision in United States v. Brown, 79 F.3d 1550 (11th Cir. 1996), finding that the district court did not err in using the pattern jury instruction for mail fraud, that is, not limiting the mail fraud statute to schemes that would deceive only prudent persons. No matter what your particular persuasion -- prosecutor, defense lawyer, judge, or even criminal -- this is an important decision in white-collar cases. http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200513809op2.pdf

Well, there you have it.

CocoDorm allowed

The Herald headline is: "Judge OK's gay porn filming in Miami."

Headlines don't get much better than that, do they?

The Judge is Judge Cooke.

Here is some of the article:

The boys of Cocodorm -- Snow Bunni, J Fizzo, et al -- are staying put, after a federal judge ruled that the gay porn website has a right to film out of its Edgewater home.
Cocodorm.com features black and Hispanic men, known as ''dorm dudes,'' who share a webcam-filled house together.
Miami has tried to shut the house down, arguing it constitutes an adult business illegally operating in a residential area. The city's Code Enforcement Board in 2007 agreed, but Cocodorm responded to the code enforcement proceedings by suing in federal court.
From the outside, the Cocodorm house looks like any other residence. Those who want to see Cocodorm do so via the Internet, with a credit card. Last week, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke sided with Cocodorm, basing her ruling on a previous case involving the city of Tampa and another adult website, Voyeurdorm.com.
Like Miami, Tampa tried to use its adult-business zoning laws to close the ''dorm'' in question, in this case occupied by women.
But an appeals court, ruling in the website's favor, found that Voyeurdorm's customers weren't gathering at the Tampa home -- or anywhere else in Tampa. ''As a practical matter, zoning restrictions are indelibly anchored in particular geographic locations,'' the appeals court wrote. With Voyeurdorm, the court added, 'the public offering occurs over the Internet in `virtual space.' ''
Judge Cooke found that the same logic applied to Miami's Cocodorm. City legal staff tried to argue that wording differences between the Miami and Tampa ordinances meant the situations weren't identical, but Cooke disagreed.
''This argument must fail,'' Cooke, in her Jan. 27 ruling, wrote of the city's defense. While acknowledging Miami's ordinance did not contain the exact same language as Tampa's, Cooke wrote ``it is nonetheless its functional equivalent.''


Here's my question -- did Cooke's law clerks have to visit the site?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Cuban 5 cert petition

Read it here.

And here is the SCOTUS Blog post on the case.

Tom Goldstein who runs SCOTUS Blog is counsel of record in the Supreme Court for the five.

Stop the presses -- Snitch's misconduct not disclosed to defense

John Pacenti has the story here about the latest transgression -- this time in a health care fraud prosecution. Orlando do Campo and Joaquin Mendez have filed a lengthy motion arguing their client deserves a new trial. Here's the intro from the DBR article:

In the Justice Department’s stout-hearted fight against health care fraud in the heart of Hialeah, Orlando Pascual Jr. was the perfect snitch.
He was an insider who ran a durable medical goods scam called Med-Source Medical Equipment, and Washington prosecutors used him in at least three trials, court documents show.
Among the five known defendants Pascual helped put behind bars was Dr. Ana Caos, a general practitioner for nearly two decades who was accused of writing fake aerosol prescriptions for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The 62-year-old is serving five years in the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex near Orlando.
But Caos’ Miami attorneys are trying to overturn her April conviction, saying in court documents that Pascual neglected to mention he ran yet another Medicare fraud with his brother-in-law at an HIV-infusion clinic called Medcore Group, billing the government for $5.5 million in fraudulent services.
Miami criminal defense lawyers Orlando do Campo of do Campo & Thornton and Joaquin Mendez, a solo practitioner, are incredulous that prosecutors informed the defense about Pascual’s second fraud after Caos’ trial, which means the jury didn’t hear the full extent of the government witness’ criminal exploits.
The lawyers said in a Jan. 15 motion for new trial that there is substantial reason to believe from documents filed in the new case that government agents with the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General knew about Medcore in 2006 — two years before Caos’ trial.
Caos’ attorneys were informed of the latest charges against Pascual in a June 25 letter, two months after their client’s conviction and a month before her sentencing. The letter said investigators didn’t link Pasqual to the HIV-infusion clinic because his last name was misspelled "Pasquale."
(That's my favorite part)
"It is undisputed that Dr. Caos’ trial was severely tainted by Mr. Pascual’s perjury," Caos’ 26-page motion reads. "There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that the government knew or should have known that Mr. Pascual lied on the witness stand."