Monday, June 04, 2012

"Their conduct was outrageous, disgusting, abhorrent. [I] would go so far as to describe it as being the most outrageous in … 25 years on the bench."

That was Judge Turnoff in the contempt hearing of two lawyers whose conduct has gone from bad to worse.  The Sun-Sentinel has the details here.  From the end of the article, explaining Paul Petruzzi's efforts to get his client's money back:
While it looked as if Turnoff might lock up Mayas because of his actions, the judge stopped short of that on Friday. Instead, he ordered Mayas to report daily to pre-trial release officers, surrender his passport — and hire a lawyer who is qualified to represent him in federal court.

The judge gave both sides 10 days to file legal arguments about the contempt issue, and indicated he expects to see Mayas and Roy together in his courtroom very soon so he can hear the full story.

Outside court, Petruzzi said he suspects “pigs will fly” before his client gets any money from Roy or Mayas or they pay Petruzzi's $7,500 — and rising — bill, as ordered by the judge.

“But I'm not going to stop until we do [get the money], because it's wrong,” Petruzzi said. “Neither of these guys ought to be practicing law anywhere.”

Meantime, the Ninth Circuit is trading jabs in a mining case of all things.  From the WSJ blog quoting from the dissent:
“No legislature or regulatory agency would enact sweeping rules that create such economic chaos, shutter entire industries, and cause thousands of people to lose their jobs. That is because the legislative and executive branches are directly accountable to the people through elections, and its members know they would be removed swiftly from office were they to enact such rules,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately,” he added, “I believe the record is clear that our court has strayed with lamentable frequency from its constitutionally limited role.”
Last week was a good one for Mike Tein.  He was cleared by the Bar and his client in a lengthy medicare fraud case was found not guilty of two counts and hung on another.  The Miami Herald covers the case in which the DOJ prosecutor, Jennifer Saulino, obtained guilty verdicts for the other defendants:
The 12-person Miami jury convicted psychiatrists Mark Willner of Weston and Alberto Ayala of Coral Gables, the medical directors for American Therapeutic Corp., for their roles in a $205 million scheme to fleece the taxpayer-funded program for the elderly and disabled. The jurors found them not guilty on other healthcare fraud offenses.
In addition, the jury convicted Vanja Abreu, Ph.D, program director for American Therapeutic in Miami-Dade, of the same healthcare-fraud conspiracy offense, and two other defendants, Hilario Morris and Curtis Gates, of paying kickbacks to residential home operators in exchange for providing patients.
However, the jurors, who deliberated for five days after a nearly two-month trial, could not reach conspiracy verdicts against Lydia Ward, Ph.D., program director for American Therapeutic in Broward, Nichole Eckert, a Fort Lauderdale therapist, or Morris and Gates. Justice Department lawyers said they plan to retry those defendants on the deadlocked counts.

Read more here:
  One final note -- the NY Times has this op-ed about federal judges writing their own opinions:

THERE is a crisis in the federal appellate judiciary. No, I’m not referring to the high number of judicial vacancies or overloaded case dockets — though those are real problems. The crisis I have in mind rarely is discussed because it raises too many embarrassing questions. I’m talking about the longstanding and well-established practice of having law clerks ghostwrite judges’ legal opinions. We have become too comfortable with the troubling idea that judging does not require that judges do their own work.
With so much news and controversy about what federal appellate judges say in their opinions, it would be natural for a layperson to assume that such opinions actually come from judges’ own pens (or keyboards). But ever since the beginning of the law-clerk age, which dates back at least 70 years, most judges have been content to cast their vote in a case and then merely outline the shape of their argument — while leaving it to their clerks to do the hard work of shaping the language, researching the relevant precedents and so on. Almost all federal appellate judges today follow this procedure. 
There is also the matter of intellectual integrity. Put simply, it cannot be accepted as legitimate that judges can put their names on opinions that they did not write. It’s not quite plagiarism, but it puts me in mind of the product known in the academic world as “managed books”: a professor will use research assistants to not only research a project but also write a first draft — but nonetheless the professor claims the work as his own. The managed books approach has been condemned as an affront to intellectual integrity. There is no principled reason the judicial counterpart should not be similarly condemned. I am reminded of Henry J. Friendly, the great judge of the Second Circuit, who explained that he wrote his own opinions because “they pay me to do that.”
Younger members of the judiciary need to take a hard look at themselves and ask how what they are doing stacks up against the known examples of judging at its highest level — not just Judge Posner and his contemporaries who write, but also gifted writers among judges of earlier eras like Learned Hand and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. The next generation will need to accept the opportunities and challenges of appellate judging and dare to do all the work that befits a judge.
 I think the piece way overstates the "crisis" about this issue...  But what do you all think?


South Florida Lawyers said...

I LOVE Judge Turnoff -- he's the best.

Anonymous said...

It's not overstated. How is a 3l quallified to write judicial opinions that msy seriously affect the lives of individuals with catastrophic injuries or individuals facing life in prison?

Anonymous said...

Time for the ol' "screw em if they can't take a joke" defense.

Anonymous said...

Just another case of a scummy drug dealer turning on his counsel.

Anonymous said...

The attorney is giving us all bad names. He did not turn on his lawyer after the lawyer did quality work. He turned on him after he realized that the attorney lied and scammed him. The attorneys literally to the curtains in the guys house.

Anonymous said...

i heard these guys were former prosecutors?

Anonymous said...

I clerked for a circuit judge who outworked all of hs law clerks, did his own research and his own writing even on unpublished opinions. From my perspective most of the other judges did their own writing as well, especially on published opinions.

Anonymous said...

It's good to know that at least one judge is writing his or her own opinions. I bet if you gave me 5 opinions from federal judges I could tell which ones were actually written by the judge v. law clerk.

Anonymous said...

I was a student of one of the accused Therapist and Im in complete shock, she was teaching ethics. Go figure.