Monday, January 31, 2011

John Pacenti knocks it out of the park

He's got two interesting stories in the DBR this morning:

1) Lew Freeman's emails from prison and 2) the age of our district's judges.

Here's a part of the Freeman article:

Other reports from Freeman dispel any notion of a "Club Fed" where white collar criminals enjoy the comforts of home.

He spins a story of when 11 "new spa members" showed up late one night and there was a shortage of mattresses. Inmates learned there were 300 new mattresses at the prison storage but couldn't be touched because they were to be used in case of a hurricane.

The temperature in the prison also fluctuates wildly, he relates. A cold snap in the fall was made even more brutal for inmates by an air conditioner still blowing. Freeman said he bought a wool cap for five tunas and another inmate loaned him a long-sleeved shirt.

"I was petrified of waking up one morning and urinating ice cubes from the freezing," he said.

Then when temperatures returned to normal, the air conditioning unit broke, and Freeman said he stripped down to a T-shirt and shorts at night to stay cool.

He also relates a time when three urinals broke and the hot water was turned off forcing inmates to take cold showers.

"If you wanted a warm shower it was up to you to supply it. No I didn't pee in (the) shower," he wrote.

Freeman spins a lot of bathroom humor. Not a big change from his days on the outside. He revels in the fact that there are private shower stalls, but adds he doesn't think he's in too much danger if he drops the soap: "I am too old and undesirable to this population."

And the age issue article has some interesting comments from our judges. Here's Judge King:

King didn't shy away from the issue. In a 45-minute interview, he talked about telling fellow judges and established attorneys in the community — the old lions of the bar, as he calls them — to alert him or Moreno if he starts to slip. King was articulate and entertaining. He said he takes no medication and seemed chagrined that he had to run to the eye doctor to update his eyeglass prescription.

King, who has been on the bench 40 years, still routinely travels to Key West for trials in the southernmost point of the district and is overseeing multidistrict litigation involving debit card fees. He still does some things old school. He will not sign an order electronically and keeps a paper printout docket of all the cases before him on the corner of his desk.

The judge said he also watches how his rulings hold up on appeal. He said if he is only reversed a couple of times a year among the numerous decisions he makes, he believes he still has what it takes to keep on the bench.

King said another reason judges don't readily retire is because they see the position as a calling.

"The philosophy is that this is sort of like becoming a priest or a rabbi or a minister," he said. "It is a life commitment."

Judge Moreno has a good quote: "Getting older, as in many things, is a good thing. Judges are like good wine, the older they get, the better they get."


Anonymous said...

Taking shots at a judge in the "Atlantic Coast Conference"? Wait a minute, Miami is in the ACC, so it very well could have been a Miami judge.

Anonymous said...

Some judges, like Judge Moreno, have indeed improved with age. Others, not so much.

Anonymous said...

pacenti is one writer who can take a lead about politics, which i have no interest in, and make me want to read the story. he is one of the most talented writers who never leaves me, as the reader, disappointed. thank you, jp!