The SDFLA Blog is dedicated to providing news and notes regarding federal practice in the Southern District of Florida. The New Times calls the blog "the definitive source on South Florida's federal court system." All tips on court happenings are welcome and will remain anonymous. Please email David Markus at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Happy Halloween. In that spirit, the government wants its witnesses to wear disguises. Ze'ev Rosenstein's lawyers, Roy Black and Howard Srebnick, think this is a bad idea... Here is the intro from their response to the government motion for its witnesses to wear "light disguises":
Under the government’s proposed procedures, the defense may not conduct its own investigation of the surveillance officers, and instead must accept the government’s claim that "none of these officers have . . . information in their background that would provide ammunition for cross-examination . . . ." [Government’s Motion at 7].
Also under the government’s proposed procedures, the defense and the jury may not see or assess the true emotions and expressions of the surveillance officers while they testify.
Finally, the defense may not cross-examine these anonymous and veiled foreign witnesses about their procedures and techniques, and must accept their testimony that they were at all times able to accurately observe and identify people and what they were doing.
President Eisenhower once described face-to-face confrontation as part of the code of his hometown of Abilene, Kansas. In Abilene, he said, it was necessary to "[m]eet anyone face to face with whom you disagree. You could not sneak up on him from behind, or do any damage to him, without suffering the penalty of an outraged citizenry . . . In this country, if someone dislikes you, or accuses you, he must come up in front. He cannot hide behind the shadow." Coy v. Iowa, 487 U.S. 1012, 1017-18 (1988).
A wig, make up, and fake facial hair is not "light disguise," as the government states. It is a complete costume, the shadow to which President Eisenhower refers. After all, the purpose of the disguise is to make the witness look like someone else entirely – to be unrecognizable. In Israel, and presumably in this Court if allowed, the witness will not only wear full facial disguise, but s/he will also wear a turtleneck shirt and a large overcoat, so that only a fake face is seen. If the witness fidgets, the coat will hide it. If he is a bald male and his head perspires when nervous, the wig will hide it. If his mouth twitches slightly, the fake facial hair will hide it. If she is a female and her ears turn red during testimony, the wig will hide it. If the veins on the neck enlarge out of fear or anger, the turtleneck will hide it. If the face turns pale during testimony, the make up will hide it. Essentially, the person on the witness stand will be a fake.
Lots of other good stuff in this response. Any bets on what Judge D will do?
Sunday, October 29, 2006
News and notes
2. The Florida Bar has come out with its Media Awards. "This year’s grand prize winners are The Miami Herald and The Florida Times-Union (newspapers and other periodicals with circulation more than 50,000), The Villages Daily Sun (newspapers and other periodicals with circulation less than 50,000), WTSP-TV of St. Petersburg (television), and WUSF of Tampa (radio). Honorable mentions are awarded to The Daytona Beach News-Journal and The Daily Business Review. " The Herald won for Jay Weaver's investigative series about Broward Circuit Judge Eileen O'Connor, which prompted the NAACP to file an ethics complaint against her with the Judicial Qualifications Commission. Where are the blogger awards!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Acosta sworn in
Alex Acosta was sworn in today as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Great turnout in the Central Courtroom. Justice Alito -- who Acosta clerked for when he was on the Third Circuit -- spoke and administered the oath. When they were standing next to each other, they actually looked liked brothers. Striking similarity...
The program for the event had a quote that I often cite:
"The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he in a peculiar way and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer."
-- Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 88 (1935) (Sutherland, J.).
The AP already has coverage of it here.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
News and notes
2. Judge Moore ordered restitution in the Masferrer case.
3. Big plea in the Mutual Benefits case.
4. Alex Acosta is being sworn in tomorrow at 2PM.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Back in July 1998, Pensacola prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for a 28-year-old father of three named Antonio Monroy. He had been charged with three counts of cocaine trafficking. Soon he was picked up in Miami. He was sent to a federal prison in Coleman, Florida, northwest of Orlando, and a few months later, with a trial looming, he pleaded guilty.
It was the kind of case that breezes through the courts every day.
Then a friend of Antonio's contacted his mother, Virginia. A Miami lawyer could get her son out of prison early, he said.
At the time, Israel Perez Jr. was a defense attorney with almost twenty years of experience, including time clocked as a prosecutor in Fort Myers and Miami-Dade, where he served under Janet Reno. Before he met Antonio Monroy, the only blight on his record had been a 1993 public reprimand by the Florida Bar for improperly handling the funds of a client. Perez had an office in a black and tan tower called the Gables International Plaza in Coral Gables. He seemed like a reputable guy.
Virginia agreed to meet the lawyer, who soon showed up at her aging apartment building on Indian Creek Drive across from the Intracoastal Waterway in Miami Beach. According to the woman's description of that meeting, Perez laid out a plan. Perez would fly to Coleman and tell Antonio to expect two Drug Enforcement Administration agents to visit him after sentencing. Then agents would tell the court he deserved to be freed. It was a sure thing.
The cost to Antonio and his mother would be $100,000.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
"Pimpin' aint easy"
These were the videos found in Michael Miller's car when police arrested him. He was just sentenced in federal cour tto 10 years for attempting to transport a minor for prostituion. Here's the article from the Herald.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Padilla order appealed
The defense attorneys for the brothers convicted of masterminding the largest bank fraud in Miami history could have to pay back the $757,000 they were paid in legal fees. Federal prosecutors are claiming that money used to pay Ed Shohat and Bruce Lehr was tainted, coming from the sale of a Manhattan condominium that was part of the fraud. In court papers, the attorneys deny that the funds used to pay them were tainted. Shohat worked for Eduardo Orlansky for three years, while Lehr represented Hector Orlansky for 18 months. Both attorneys worked through a 4½-month trial and four weeks of jury deliberations. They also paid for several medical experts to testify about the health of their clients. The Orlanskys, who face 30 years in prison, were convicted in August of massive fraud in their operation of E.S. Bankest, a Miami factoring company. The Orlanskys created fictitious checks, invoices and companies to inflate the value of account receivables by hundreds of millions of dollars to support the fraud targeting Portugal’s Espirito Santo Bank. The nine-year scam allowed the Orlanskys to illegally obtain $167 million from the bank and its clients. E.S. Bankest was a joint venture of the bank and Bankest Capital, which was formed by the Orlanskys. Experts say it’s highly unusual for the government to seek payback of attorney fees, particularly in nondrug cases, and this may be a first for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami. “This is very rare,” said Miami attorney Scott Srebnick, who is also fighting forfeiture claims on behalf of his client, former Hamilton Bank Chairman Eduardo A. Masferrer.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
News and notes
2. Dep't of Interior employees won't be reading this blog or any other blog for that matter.
3. Jack Maxwell, a former electrical contractor will start trial Monday, accused of conspiring with the late Miami politician Art Teele to land a $20 million airport deal and then paying him tens of thousands of dollars as a consultant. Here's the Herald article about the trial. We did a lot of blogging on this subject, including debating Prof. Froomkin.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Cuban cigar counterfeitter guilty...
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Federal Defenders secure release of "enemy combatant" shepherd
We scooped the press on the Padilla motions last week here and here. Now we give you this story about Federal Defenders Paul Rashkind and Tim Cone and their victory in the case of Taj Mohammad.
Mr. Mohammad is a shepherd -- a member of the Gudjer Tribe, nomads who herd goats in the border mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Taj was arrested at his home in Afghanistan as a result of an argument and fight he had with his cousin, Ismael. Taj is 27 years-old, has a wife and a young son, who was an infant when he last saw him. Gudjers are a poor and peaceful tribe, who have remained nomads while their country dealt with hostilities, first from the Russians, then from the Taliban. Due to the proximity of the mountain range, Gudjers have moved back and forth into Pakistan for their own safety. Indeed, even though Taj Mohammad is a proud Afghan Gudjer, he was actually born a refugee in Pakistan during the time of the Russian occupation. Herding goats in the mountains is possible only while it is warm enough to do so. In winter, the family travels down the mountain to the valley, the Asadabad area, where they live during the colder seasons. Taj was "on the mountain" during hostilities between the US and Taliban forces. When he returned to the family home in the valley, after the coalition forces declared victory, he learned that his cousin Ismael had laid pipe to supply water to all the homes of his village, except the home lived in by Taj and his family. Taj and Ismael fought about this and Taj hit Ismael with a stick. In anger, Ismael falsely accused Taj of being a Taliban, to have him sent away. What Taj had not known when he fought with his cousin was that Ismael was supplying the water pipes at the U.S. military’s instructions. Four days later, December 9, 2002, Taj was visited at his home by the American military, who questioned him about the fight. They detained him, took him to Bagram, and eventually to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was detained at GTMO as an "enemy combatant" for nearly four years.
The Defenders began representing Taj about a year ago and, after security clearances were approved, Paul Rashkind began to uncover evidence and develop a strategy to obtain his release. Just 14 days ago, Rashkind and Cone filed a set of classified challenges to Taj's continued detention, explaining why he should be released now. Last night, on the eve of the military hearing, Taj was on a plane back to Afghanistan. He was released to his family earlier today. Rashkind commented, "America was not a safer place while he was detained, but we can certainly feel better about ourselves now that he is home."
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
A bunch of smoke?
Jay Weaver in today's Herald reports on the fake Cuban cigar trials, one of which starts today. Here's the start of the article:
The nation's biggest cigar maker has been on a mission to put suspected Cuban cigar counterfeiters from Little Havana to Hialeah out of business.
Fort Lauderdale-based Altadis U.S.A. paid tens of thousands of dollars to fund part of an undercover Miami-Dade Police probe of five suspects charged with trafficking in counterfeit cigars, court records show.
The first of three federal trials, set for today, raises controversial issues about the integrity of the investigation, the fake Cuban cigar market, and the U.S. trade embargo against the Castro government.
The police department, which normally funds its own investigations, said Monday it could not comment on Altadis' role in the probe because its legal department had not reviewed the matter and also because it involves a federal case. The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment. Altadis U.S.A. executives did not return two calls Monday.
Coral Gables lawyer Frank Quintero, who represents a defendant facing trial later this month, accused Altadis of trying to ''buy'' a criminal investigation from police for one purpose: to crush the alleged counterfeiters so the company can monopolize the U.S. market for Cuban cigars after Fidel Castro dies.
''It calls into question the impartiality of an investigation when witnesses including an informant are being paid by a private party that claims to be an alleged victim in the case,'' Quintero said.
Here is the indictment. Defense attorney is Frank Quintero (pictured, showing both the authentic and fake cigars). AUSA is Sean Cronin.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Update on Padilla motion to dismiss for outrageous government conduct
Here is the motion.
The argument section starts out like this:
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil 89 (Walter Kaufmann trans., Vintage Books 1966) (1886).
What was done to Padilla is described this way:
In an effort to gain Mr. Padilla’s "dependency and trust," he was tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his unlawful detention. The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and, ultimately, the loss of will to live. The base ingredient in Mr. Padilla’s torture was stark isolation for a substantial portion of his captivity. For nearly two years – from June 9, 2002 until March 2, 2004, when the Department of Defense permitted Mr. Padilla to have contact with his lawyers – Mr. Padilla was in complete isolation. Even after he was permitted contact with counsel, his conditions of confinement remained essentially the same. He was kept in a unit comprising sixteen individual cells, eight on the upper level and eight on the lower level, where Mr. Padilla’s cell was located. No other cells in the unit were occupied. His cell was electronically monitored twenty-four hours a day, eliminating the need for a guard to patrol his unit. His only contact with another person was when a guard would deliver and retrieve trays of food and when the government desired to interrogate him.
His isolation, furthermore, was aggravated by the efforts of his captors to maintain complete sensory deprivation. His tiny cell – nine feet by seven feet – had no view to the outside world. The door to his cell had a window, however, it was covered by a magnetic sticker, depriving Mr. Padilla of even a view into the hallway and adjacent common areas of his unit. He was not given a clock or a watch and for most of the time of his captivity, he was unaware whether it was day or night, or what time of year or day it was.
In addition to his extreme isolation, Mr. Padilla was also viciously deprived of sleep. This sleep deprivation was achieved in a variety of ways. For a substantial period of his captivity, Mr. Padilla’s cell contained only a steel bunk with no mattress. The pain and discomfort of sleeping on a cold, steel bunk made it impossible for him to sleep. Mr. Padilla was not given a mattress until the tail end of his captivity. Mr. Padilla’s captors did not solely rely on the inhumane conditions of his living arrangements to deprive him of regular sleep. A number of ruses were employed to keep Mr. Padilla from getting necessary sleep and rest. One of the tactics his captors employed was the creation of loud noises near and around his cell to interrupt any rest Mr. Padilla could manage on his steel bunk. As Mr. Padilla was attempting to sleep, the cell doors adjacent to his cell would be electronically opened, resulting in a loud clank, only to be immediately slammed shut. Other times, his captors would bang the walls and cell bars creating loud startling noises. These disruptions would occur throughout the night and cease only in the morning, when Mr. Padilla’s interrogations would begin.
Efforts to manipulate Mr. Padilla and break his will also took the form of the denial of the few benefits he possessed in his cell. For a long time Mr. Padilla had no reading materials, access to any media, radio or television, and the only thing he possessed in his room was a mirror. The mirror was abruptly taken away, leaving Mr. Padilla with even less sensory stimulus. Also, at different points in his confinement Mr. Padilla would be given some comforts, like a pillow or a sheet, only to have them taken away arbitrarily. He was never given any regular recreation time. Often, when he was brought outside for some exercise, it was done at night, depriving Mr. Padilla of sunlight for many months at a time. The disorientation Mr. Padilla experienced due to not seeing the sun and having no view on the outside world was exacerbated by his captors’ practice of turning on extremely bright lights in his cell or imposing complete darkness for durations of twenty-four hours, or more.
Mr. Padilla’s dehumanization at the hands of his captors also took more sinister forms. Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors.
A substantial quantum of torture endured by Mr. Padilla came at the hands of his interrogators. In an effort to disorient Mr. Padilla, his captors would deceive him about his location and who his interrogators actually were. Mr. Padilla was threatened with being forcibly removed from the United States to another country, including U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was threatened his fate would be even worse than in the Naval Brig. He was threatened with being cut with a knife and having alcohol poured on the wounds. He was also threatened with imminent execution. He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him. Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake, and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla. Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.
Throughout most of the time Mr. Padilla was held captive in the Naval Brig he had no contact with the outside world. In March 2004, one year and eight months after arriving in the Naval Brig, Mr. Padilla was permitted his first contact with his attorneys. Even thereafter, although Mr. Padilla had access to counsel, and thereby some contact with the outside world, those visits were extremely limited and restricted. Significantly though, it was not until Mr. Padilla was permitted to visit with counsel that one of his attorneys, Andrew Patel, was able to provide Mr. Padilla with a copy of the Qur’an. Up until that time, for a period of almost two years, Mr. Padilla was the right to exercise his religious beliefs.
The deprivations, physical abuse, and other forms of inhumane treatment visited upon Mr. Padilla caused serious medical problems that were not adequately addressed. Apart from the psychological damage done to Mr. Padilla, there were numerous health problems brought on by the conditions of his captivity. Mr. Padilla frequently experienced cardiothoracic difficulties while sleeping, or attempting to fall asleep, including a heavy pressure on his chest and an inability to breath or move his body.
In one incident Mr. Padilla felt a burning sensation pulsing through his chest. He requested medical care but was given no relief. Toward the end of his captivity, Mr. Padilla experienced swelling and pressure in his chest and arms. He was administered an electrocardiogram, and given medication. However, Mr. Padilla ceased taking the medicine when it caused him respiratory congestion. Although Mr. Padilla was given medication in this instance, he was often denied medication for pain relief. The strain brought on by being placed in stress positions caused Mr. Padilla great discomfort and agony. Many times he requested some form of pain relief but was denied by the guards.
The cause of some of the medical problems experienced by Mr. Padilla is obvious. Being cramped in a tiny cell with little or no opportunity for recreation and enduring stress positions and shackling for hours caused great pain and discomfort. It is unclear, though, whether Mr. Padilla’s cardiothoracic problems were a symptom of the stress he endured in captivity, or a side effect from one of the drugs involuntarily induced into Mr. Padilla’s system in the Naval Brig. In either event, the strategically applied measures suffered by Mr. Padilla at the hands of the government caused him both physical and psychological pain and agony.
It is worth noting that throughout his captivity, none of the restrictive and inhumane conditions visited upon Mr. Padilla were brought on by his behavior or by any actions on his part. There were no incidents of Mr. Padilla violating any regulation of the Naval Brig or taking any aggressive action towards any of his captors. Mr. Padilla has always been peaceful and compliant with his captors. He was, and remains to the time of this filing, docile and resigned – a model detainee.
Mr. Padilla also wants to make clear that the deprivation described above did abate somewhat once counsel began negotiating with the officials of the Naval Brig for the improvements of his conditions. Toward the end of Mr. Padilla’s captivity in the Naval Brig he was provided reading materials and some other more humane treatment. However, despite some improvement in Mr. Padilla’s living conditions, the interrogations and torture continued even after the visits with counsel commenced.
In sum, many of the conditions Mr. Padilla experienced were inhumane and caused him great physical and psychological pain and anguish. Other deprivations experienced by Mr. Padilla, taken in isolation, are merely cruel and some, merely petty. However, it is important to recognize that all of the deprivations and assaults recounted above were employed in concert in a calculated manner to cause him maximum anguish. It is also extremely important to note that the torturous acts visited upon Mr. Padilla were done over the course almost the entire three years and seven months of his captivity in the Naval Brig. For most of one thousand three hundred and seven days, Mr. Padilla was tortured by the United States government without cause or justification. Mr. Padilla’s treatment at the hands of the United States government is shocking to even the most hardened conscience, and such outrageous conduct on the part of the government divests it of jurisdiction, under the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment, to prosecute Mr. Padilla in the instant matter.
The motion ends this way:
In closing, the following words of dissent have often been repeated in the recognition that we, as a Nation, ignore the government’s violation of law at our peril:
Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 485 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting). In defending this Nation against the threat of terrorism it is neither necessary nor proper for our government to abandon the bedrock principles upon which this Nation was founded. All that is sacred in our national life is secured by the promise that this is a Nation of laws and not of men.
Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means – to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal – would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face.
It cannot be disputed that Mr. Padilla was tortured for a period of over three years. The pain and anguish visited upon Mr. Padilla will continue to haunt him for the remainder of his life. The government’s conduct vis-B-vis Mr. Padilla is a stain on this nation’s character, and through its illegal conduct, the government has forfeited its right to prosecute Mr. Padilla in the instant matter. Mr. Padilla respectfully requests that this Court dismiss the indictment against him for the government’s outrageous conduct and requests a hearing on this motion.
U.S. Attorney's office to hire journalist
What about a U.S. Attorney's office blogger?
Saturday, October 07, 2006
"Foley attorney David Roth is go-to guy for Palm Beach elite"
"I'm not no prison escapee"
In this week's New Yorker, there is an article about Richard McNair. McNair may be America's most prolific escapee (bot state and federal). In fact, he is the first person to escape from a maximum security federal prison in thirteen years.
This escape occurred last April when he was being held at USP Pollock in Lousiana. McNair escaped from Pollock by configuring himself within a shrink-wrapped pallet of U.S. Postal Service mailbags that had been refurbished by the prison's inmates. McNair used a snorkel-like cardboard tube to breathe. After the truck that contained the pallet was beyond the fence of the prison, McNair broke through and began running.
Later that day, a local police officer who was on the lookout for McNair actually stopped him "jogging" parrallel to the town's railroad tracks.
The officer stopped McNair and began to question him. The dash-cam of the officer's car captured the "investigation." Needless to say, he talks himself out of arrest.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Jose Padilla - Terrorist or Thug?
Interesting article in the Miami New Times about Jose Padilla. Author Trevor Aaronson gathered the information for this story from the federal courthouse in Miami, the Broward State Attorney’s Office, and through conducting witness interviews. He concedes, however, that much of the federal government’s evidence against the alleged terrorist remains under seal.
Aaronson basically concludes that “[i]n portraying Padilla as an evil mastermind behind a plot to kill thousands, the federal government forgot one thing: He’s just a punk. Federal and state court records prove that much.” The article details Padilla’s past criminal history in Chicago, his marriage, his conversion to Islam, and his alleged travels to the Middle East.
Probably the most interesting part of the article is the section related to Padilla’s detention by the FBI in 2002 while leaving Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and thereafter being declared “a continuing, present, and grave danger to the national security of the United States” by President George Bush.
While the article does not interview any of Padilla’s current lawyers, the author interviews Stephen Vladeck, who worked on the amicus brief that questioned the legality of Padilla’s detention at a navy brig. Mr. Vladeck claims that the government’s story has changed many times regarding Padilla’s role in this alleged terrorist conspiracy and he profoundly adds that “[w]hether Padilla is who the government says he is this time, whether he did what he’s charged with doing or not, there are scary ramifications for the American justice system.”
With very fine lawyers for both the government and the defense, it should be one heck of a trial.
"Cult leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh says he wants to die with dignity"
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Jose Padilla on the offensive
Judge Prior says judiciary's independence not under attack
Recently some leaders of the bench and bar -- including, on this page last week, retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- have decried what they describe as unprecedented threats to the independence of the judiciary. I respectfully disagree.
You can read the whole thing here.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Prosecutors in the case of Ze'ev Rosenstein want Israeli undercover agents testifying at his Miami trial to wear disguises and use numbers instead of names to protect their identities. Apparently, this is how the agents would testify in Israel.
I guess that this would be a persuasive argument if the trial proceeded in Tel Aviv. Because the government extradited Rosenstein from Israel to the United States to be prosecuted under our Nation's laws, shouldn't the agents testify without disguises and under their real names?
Read Vanessa Blum's article in the Sun-Sentinel here.
Federal Court filings to be suspended
Julie Kay reports today that because of the new e-filing system that will be going into effect, the court has to suspend *all* filings (unless it's an emergency or indictment or some other exception) starting tomorrow thru October 12. Here's the Review's summary:
Lawyers who practice in the Southern District of Florida will get a one-week vacation, courtesy of U.S. District Court as it prepares to implement a new, long-awaited electronic case-filing system. No motions or pleadings will be accepted between the close of business Thursday and 9 a.m. on Oct. 12 as the court adopts its new CM/ECF case filing system. Exceptions will be granted for emergencies, such as jurisdictional deadlines for filing an appeal or a statute of limitations deadline. In those cases, motions must be brought by hard copy to the appropriate clerk of the court’s office in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce and Key West. The court will automatically add five business days to filing and service deadlines that occur during the shutdown period, so no lawyer will be penalized for a delay. Chief Judge William Zloch ordered the shutdown and exceptions in an administrative order posted on the court’s Web site, stating that “a failure to take action may result in a miscarriage of justice.” “The hiatus is necessary,” said Thomas Meeks, chairman of the local rules committee for the Southern District of Florida. “They have to switch everything over.” On Oct. 12, the district will officially switch to the new, nationwide paperless filing system, becoming one of the last federal court districts in the country to do so. At that time, e-filing and hard copy filing will no longer be permitted and attorneys will have to file all motions and pleadings via computer to the Southern District of Florida’s Web site. They’ll be able to do so 24 hours a day, from any location. The only exceptions to electronic filing will be for: • Documents filed under seal • Documents related to habeas cases and Social Security cases • Civil complaints • Civil documents not requiring a filing fee, such as recovery of student loan, bankruptcy appeal, bankruptcy withdrawal, recovery of veteran’s benefits and appointment of a receiver • Criminal complaints, indictments, criminal information and plea agreements • Emergency motions and requests for emergency hearings • Summons • Surety bonds • Proposed trial exhibits The office of clerk of the court Clarence Maddox has been training the estimated 4,000 South Florida lawyers who practice before the court, as well as judges. David Markus, president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, welcomed the court-imposed vacation. “You’ll never find a lawyer who will complain about getting a few extra days to file something,” he said. Julie Kay can be reached at email@example.com or at (954) 468-2622.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Acosta names new execs
Matt Menchel is chief of criminal.
Karen Gilbert is chief of major crimes.
Robert Senior is the deputy chief of national security, public corruption, and civil rights.