Friday, December 28, 2007

Rumors of my demise...

...have been greatly exaggerated.

It's just that it's the deadest week of the year. EXCEPT IN STATE COURT! Are you kidding me? Yes, we have anonymous juries and explosions in buildings, but nothing like the Christmas Eve Massacre (reported by Rumpole).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Guinea pigs

According to today's DBR, the probation office will begin moving into the new Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. federal courthouse in January. But none of the other occupants (including judges) will start moving in yet.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Liberty City 7 update

Judge Lenard has ordered an anonymous jury in the next Liberty City 7 trial. (via Miami Herald). Very bad news for the defense.

Here's the intro to the article:

A federal judge on Friday aired concerns about the possibility of jury tampering in the upcoming retrial of an alleged homegrown terrorism group and ordered that Miami-Dade jurors be selected anonymously for the high-profile proceeding.U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard cited numerous reasons for her order -- including a jury list handed by one defense lawyer to his client's mother so she could pray for an acquittal during first trial deliberations last week. Lenard noted that it was a ''pristine list'' with all 12 of the jurors' names and ''X'' marks next to six of them.''At this point, it's unclear to the court what that list was about,'' she said.Her order -- an edict normally seen in organized crime or major drug cases -- means that potentially hundreds of Miami-Dade voters who receive jury summonses for the retrial in January will be referred to by number, not by name. The judge also ordered the U.S. Marshals to provide criminal background checks on all prospective jurors for both sides.***''I do find there is strong reason to believe the jury needs protection,'' Lenard said. ``Here we have defendants accused of being members of a terrorist cell.''

On the other hand, Judge Lenard ordered the government to keep Lyglenson Lemorin here in the United States because he may be needed for the next trial. (via Sun-Sentinel). From the article:

U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard cautioned the government against moving ahead "with lightning speed so that he would not be available to testify.""I don't know if it's on a fast track or not on a fast track," Lenard said. "I have to protect the rights of these defendants and I intend to do so."

So, do we start calling the case the Liberty City 6 now?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jailhouse snitch?

Apparently someone at the federal jail claims that a defendant in the Joe Cool case confessed. Smells fishy to me. Here and here are the articles.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday cards

The following text accompanies this picture:

Past contributions by our firm have enabled the Daily Bread Food Bank to deliver over 1.3 million meals to those in need in our community.
This year, we decided to contribute a truck to help make the deliveries a little easier.
When you see this truck in our community, you may notice that our name is not on it. That is because the gift of this truck is made in your honor. It would not have been possible without you.

Where in the world is Lyglenson Lemorin?

Check out this AP story, by Curt Anderson, about the one defendant who was acquitted in the Liberty City 7 case. Even when you win, you lose....

A U.S. jury did not think Lyglenson Lemorin was involved in a terrorism conspiracy to topple Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices, but he did not walk out of court a free man.
Instead, federal agents took the legal U.S. resident to Georgia, where he remained Wednesday facing possible deportation to his native Haiti, his attorneys said. And Lemorin could be forced to return to court early next year in Miami to testify in the retrial of his co-defendants in the so-called "Liberty City Seven" case.
Lemorin's treatment has led people involved in the case to question the government's motives, especially if he is charged with largely identical terrorism-related offenses in deportation proceedings.

We also haven't had a Go Dore Go segment in a while, but the article quotes blog favorite Dore Louis:

His lawyers didn't know where he was until Monday, and Lemorin told them he feared he would be taken to the U.S. terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A Miami lawyer who represents a co-defendant in the Jose Padilla terrorism case said Lemorin was afraid for good reason.
"This is a category of individuals who are subjected to different rules," said attorney Marshall Dore Louis, who is not involved in the Liberty City Seven case. "I think anybody who is in that system should be terrified about what the government is going to do."

Anonymous Blog dies

Thank goodness it's not Rumpole.

Still, it's sad that StuckonthePalmetto is dead. It was one of the best blogs in South Florida. Here's the Herald report on what happened...

Monday, December 17, 2007

DBR covers Federal Bar Luncheon

John Pacenti's Justice Watch column today details Chief Judge's Moreno's take on the two big sentencing decisions from last week that he spoke about at the federal bar lunch:

Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno doesn’t expect a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions reinforcing the sentencing discretion of federal judges to create much of a ripple. “There will be a little bit of change,” he told the Federal Bar Association last week. The affable judge kept lawyers in stitches as he addressed the association for the first time as chief judge.
Moreno told the association that most sentences will fall within the guidelines but he expects the number of sentencing appeals to drop. In an interview afterward, the judge said the guidelines play an important role. “It eliminates disparities between different judges,” he said. “I like the guidelines because that’s what they are — guidelines — they are not mandatory sentences.” But he also welcomes the latest decisions guaranteeing more discretion to district judges. “We know the case and the individual,” he said. “It gives the opportunity for the exception if someone is young or if something is unusual. Sometimes people do fall outside the standards.”

Rick Diaz nominated for lawyer of the year

The Wall Street Journal blog has posted its nominations for lawyer of the year. Sure, there's Alberto Gonzalez, Clarence Thomas, David Boies, Jon Keker, and Billy Martin. But you can also vote for our very own Rick Diaz! Check it out.

Defenders go to Liberia

Curt Anderson has this interesting story about the difficulties in investigating the Chuckie Taylor case -- the witnesses are scattered throughout Africa. Such problems raise the question about whether this sort of offense ought to be prosecuted in the United States. Here's the lead:

Witnesses are difficult or impossible to find, some moving to remote African villages accessible only by muddy roads rarely patrolled by police. Many who survived Liberia's bloody civil war and may have seen acts of torture are reluctant to talk to anyone about what happened, let alone a defense lawyer for the notorious son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.
Then there are the language and cultural barriers. These and other problems have forced a delay until spring in the trial in Miami federal court of Taylor's son Charles McArthur Emmanuel or Chuckie Taylor, the first person to be prosecuted under a law making it a crime for a U.S. citizen to commit torture or war crimes overseas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Initial thoughts on Liberty City mistrial

1. Why are people so mean? I can't believe how crude and stupid some comments are. It makes me want to shut down the Blog. Should I get rid of anonymous comments again?

2. Will the next trial be called Liberty City 6?

3. Will there be a next trial?

4. Joel Defabio, the lawyer for the one defendant who was acquitted, will be partying tonight. A lot.

5. The other defense lawyers certainly can claim victory but I'm sure they are dreading the prospect of trying this again. That said, they will be celebrating too.

I can't think of anything worse as a trial lawyer than having to retry a case, except sentencing of course. It sucks as much for the prosecution too. And it's probably the worst for the judge to have to sit through it again.

6. How will this case be compared to the Padilla trial? Other than being 'terror' trials, they really are nothing alike.

--David Oscar Markus


The liberty city 7 jury hung today as to 6 defendants and acquitted defendant Lemorin. A huge victory for the defense. More to follow.
--David Oscar Markus


Here's Chief Judge Moreno at yesterday's luncheon. He looks pretty fired up in facing the camera:

And here's Justice Thomas at the Palm Beach Bar meeting. The picture was uploaded from this Sun-Sentinel article.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chief Judge Moreno at the federal bar luncheon

It was a great and engaging lunch this afternoon with the Chief taking a variety of questions, from the new Supreme Court decisions on sentencing to the new federal courthouse to multi-district litigation.

Moreno explained that he didn't control when the new courthouse would open and there was no fixed date... The over on that January 1, 2008 looks pretty good right now. The new over/under line is January 1, 2009.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas also spoke today to the Palm Beach Bar Association. Here's a report on that talk.

When are we going to get a verdict?

The Liberty City 7 jury has been awfully quiet since being Allen charged...

Are they going to compromise?
Reach a verdict on all counts?


Monday, December 10, 2007

''It is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you can do so."

That was Judge Lenard today to the Liberty City 7 jury. Apparently they sent another note today saying that they were still deadlocked. Judge Lenard read the "Allen charge" sometimes known as the dynamite charge... Defense lawyers hate this jury instruction because it typically leads juries to compromise.

Huge sentencing day...

Criminal law practitioners have quite a bit of reading today as the Supreme Court decided two mammoth cases -- Gall v. United States and Kimbrough v. United States. In a nutshell, the cases are huge victories for district judges, criminal defense lawyers and their clients. The decisions reaffirm that district judges have wide discretion in sentencing defendants and that the guidelines are really just advisory. Judges are free to disagree with them (as the judge did in Kimbrough with the 100-1 crack disparity) and appellate courts are to defer to the district courts unless they abuse their discretion in sentencing. It will be interesting to see how district judges use their discretion now that the Supreme Court has said it really really means it.

In other sentencing news, Michael Vick got 23 months. Almost two years for a first-time offender with no prior history... Thoughts?

For all your sentencing news, the best place to go is and for the Supreme Court news, go to

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ask Chief Judge Moreno anything you want!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007, at the Banker's Club at noon.
Chief Judge Moreno will take your questions at the Federal Bar Luncheon.

There are a few spots left if you would like to attend. RSVP to
Lourdes B. Fernandez
Law Clerk to Hon. Robert L. Dubé
(305) 523-5771

The cold realities of prison

Dan Christensen has this story about how Ken Jenne is adjusting to prison. Mostly, he's bored and cold:

All Ken Jenne wants for Christmas is a warm sweat shirt.
''He really wants a sweat shirt because it's cold in prison,'' said his son, State Rep. Evan Jenne.


Jenne, whose prisoner number is 77434-004, observed his 61st birthday in prison in Miami last Saturday. His wife and son saw him Monday.
''We weren't allowed to bring him anything for his birthday,'' Evan Jenne said.
Jenne said his father was ``in good spirits.''
''The guards are treating him well and with respect,'' he said. ``My father doesn't feel in mortal danger. Every time he moves, there is a legion of guards around him.''
Jenne, who once hoped to be governor, now spends his days fighting boredom, his son said.
The former sheriff fills his days by reading a lot. ''Right now, he's reading a biography of Alexander Hamilton. It's a paperback. No hard covers are allowed,'' his son said.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hung jury in Liberty City 7 case?

Thanks to the many tipsters who have emailed me about the Liberty City 7 case. Apparently, the jury sent a note today (the 4th day of deliberations) that they are unable to reach verdicts on any of the seven defendants. Judge Lenard told them to keep trying (with the agreement of the parties). Sorry I was slow in getting this up today -- I was in the northern part of the District, Ft. Pierce. I'm not sure who thinks that Ft. Pierce should be part of the Southern District of Florida! I was almost in Disney World.

Anyway, back to LC7. The AP's Curt Anderson reports:

Jurors signaled Thursday they are struggling to reach verdicts in the case against seven men accused of plotting with al-Qaida to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices.

Jurors sent a note in their fourth day of deliberations that they have not reached agreement on the guilt or innocence of any of the seven defendants on any of the four terror-related conspiracy charges.

"There has been significant discussion regarding the evidence and the law," said Gregory Prebish, attorney for defendant Burson Augustin. "It's clear that the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict for any one of the defendants on any of the counts."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Louis Robles gets 15 years

This was the obvious result after the judge rejected the agreement of the parties to a 10 year deal. I still don't believe a judge should reject a plea agreement worked out in our adversary system (previously discussed here and here). I wonder if the prosecutors still argued for 10 years at the sentencing hearing as they believed this was the appropriate sentence... I think the feds (or Judge Gold) should release Robles from the appellate waiver so that he can argue to the 11th Circuit that the judge's rejection of the deal was inappropriate. Wouldn't it be nice to get some clarity about this from the appellate court?

SDFLA Blog question of the day -- Why won't the government abandon its appellate waiver so that Robles can litigate (with the government's support) whether district judges should be permitted to reject plea agreements.

Jose Padilla sentencing postponed

Due to a death in Judge Cooke's family, the Jose Padilla sentencing has been postponed until January. Our condolences to Judge Cooke and her family during this time.

Padilla co-defendant attempts suicide at FDC

Jay Weaver is reporting here that Jose Padilla co-defendant Adham Amin Hassoun attempted suicide last week at the Federal Detention Center. Sentencing on Padilla, Hassoun, and Jayoussi was supposed to begin tomorrow, but we're told that it has been pushed off until January.

In other news, the Liberty City 7 jury has the case (via Vanessa Blum). Over/under on verdict? As with the Padilla verdict, I say verdicts by the end of the week. (Rumpole never did send me my check...)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Informant killed

Jay Weaver details the murder case involving an informant here. The strange thing is the person that the informant was cooperating against was set to plead two days after the informant was killed. Here's the intro to the interesting article:

Wearing all black with a hood over his head, the hit man ran up the driveway of a central Miami-Dade home, pulled out a 9mm pistol and popped the FBI informant.
Seconds later, the shooter jumped into a getaway car. He had just shot his target in the back of the head outside the target's father-in-law's house. In the fleeing car, the shooter told the driver that the victim had ''looked scared'' just before he shot him at close range.
And so began the murder-for-hire investigation into the hit on Mahmoud Elchami on the afternoon of Nov. 19, 2006, according to FBI records filed in federal court. Agents say Elchami was murdered because he was going to testify as a key witness in a drug trial.
Agents allege the man who pulled the trigger is Joshua John Laing, who will be arraigned on Monday in the killing of Elchami, who died one day after the shooting. After his arrest, Laing, 22, confessed he committed the shooting in exchange for thousands of dollars, according to an FBI affidavit.