Thursday, May 30, 2013

Who has more power -- a King or a Federal District Judge?

My money is on the district judge.  But Judge Scola had an entertaining exchange with Joel Steinger in the Mutual Benefits case yesterday.  Curt Anderson reports:

The alleged leader of an $800 million South Florida insurance fraud scheme was found competent to stand trial Wednesday despite severe pain from a spinal cord ailment that requires him to take powerful drugs including morphine.
U.S. District Judge Robert Scola issued his ruling at a hearing Wednesday for 63-year-old Joel Steinger. Steinger was the top executive at Mutual Benefits Corp., which prosecutors say was a massive fraud scheme in which some 34,000 investors lost more than $800 million.
Steinger, seated in a wheelchair during the hearing, said he needs surgery to correct the spinal problem and complained loudly it would be unfair if he's forced to stand trial in September without the operation. Steinger said he cannot control his bowel movements or bladder and takes enough morphine "to choke a horse."
"I can't concentrate for five minutes because I'm all hopped up on drugs," Steinger told the judge. "And you're asking me to defend my life in a trial under these conditions? Do you think that's fair, your honor? I don't."
Scola, relying on a report by Bureau of Prisons mental health and drug experts, said there was no evidence to indicate Steinger suffered from mental problems or could not understand and take part in a trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rochlin agreed.
"Simply put, the defendant is competent," she said.
The judge also said it's not within his power to order surgery for Steinger at the University of Miami, as he has requested, rather than at another hospital. Steinger is being held without bail until his trial and most of his assets were frozen long ago.
"I wish I were the king of the world, but I'm not," Scola said.
Ha! Okay, judge, maybe not the world, but of South Florida! 


Anonymous said...

Judge King has the most power.


Anonymous said...

Just curious, but if his assets were frozen, who's going to be paying for his back surgery?