Friday, May 30, 2008

Judge Highsmith to retire at the end of the year

John Pacenti covers the latest news here. We will have more on Judge Highsmith soon.
We also send our condolences to friend of blog, Dore Louis, for the passing of his father Paul Louis. Like Dore, Paul was quite a character and quite a lawyer. Here is the beautiful article from the Miami Herald. The intro:
He was a dogged attorney, whose representation of a young black man convicted of murder by an all white jury led to a landmark 1984 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court.
He kept a cane in his downtown Miami office, not because he needed it to walk. He swung it in the air or banged it on the table to make his point.
Even when his clients couldn't pay their legal bill, Paul A. Louis stuck by them.
''He wouldn't give up when he got into a case,'' said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Paul Siegel, who worked with him in private practice for more than 25 years. ``The law firm might not get paid, but he kept on it.''
Louis, whose legal career spanned nearly six decades, died Saturday at age 85.
Only a battle with throat and liver cancer could sideline Louis. Even as his health deteriorated, he checked in on cases.
''Literally after his voice was gone he was mouthing the names of clients that the firm still had and asking about the status of the cases wanting to be kept up-to-date to offer yes or no opinions on how to proceed,'' said his son, Marshall Dore Louis. ``His loyalty was just tremendous.''

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm back!

I admit it -- I was on vacation and just got back late last night... That's the reason for the slow blogging. I'm catching up on mail, DBRs, email, and so on. Ahhh, the joy of returning to work. Just a quick skim of the inbox shows that there are some really interesting things going on -- John Pacenti had a great article in yesterday's DBR about attorney's fees in criminal cases, and in today's DBR, Billy Shields discusses how the Justice Building Blog broke a fascinating story about the removal of a state prosecutor from a homicide investigation. Will have more soon.... In the meantime, send me an email if you know of something interesting happening in the new federal courthouse!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

NYT: should we elect or appoint our judges?

The New York Times had an interesting piece this weekend concerning an issue we've discussed on this Blog before -- whether judges should be elected or appointed.

Adam Liptak's article contains pretty good arguments as to why judges should be appointed, which is our position as well.

Check it out here:

And let us know your thoughts.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

News & Notes

1. "Sport fishing 'shtick' nets probation term for charter boat operator" via Vanessa Blum. If you can't get enough Tom Watts-Fitzgerald, check out this article:

Rejecting a call for harsher punishment, a federal judge on Thursday ordered the owner of a South Florida charter fishing business to serve five years' probation for not reporting sailfish reeled in by customers and killing undersized fish.Stanley Saffan, 58, of Miami Beach, who pleaded guilty to those charges in February, must also pay $210,000 in financial penalties, forfeit one of his Therapy IV boats to the federal government and perform 500 hours of community service work.A crowd of relatives and supporters who turned out for Saffan's two-day hearing showed relief at the sentence, which was well below the 18 to 24 months' prison term sought by federal prosecutors.U.S. District Judge William Zloch barred Saffan, who runs sport fishing charters out of Baker's Haulover Inlet in North Miami Beach, from serving as captain of a vessel during his probation

2. "Gun box allowed as evidence in ghost ship case" via Jay Weaver. Judge Huck rejected the defense's motion to suppress:

An empty gun lockbox -- considered vital evidence in the case of four Miami Beach charter boat members slain at sea -- will be allowed at the trial of two men charged with their murders, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Paul Huck rejected an attempt by attorneys for defendant Guillermo Zarabozo to suppress evidence gathered by FBI agents at his mother's home -- including the lockbox that may have contained the suspected 9mm handgun used in last fall's killings.
''The point here is not that they found a firearm in a lockbox,'' Huck said. ``It's that they found no firearm in the lockbox.''

DNC lawsuit

From the Miami Herald:

Florida's history of discrimination against African Americans should force the national Democratic Party to count all of the state's delegates at its national convention, a federal lawsuit filed Thursday claims.

The suit, filed by state Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller and two other Democrats, claims that the federal Voting Rights Act prohibits the national party from stripping the state of its convention delegates as punishment for violating party rules by holding its primary too early.

The civil-rights-era law requires the U.S. Justice Department to approve any significant voting change in Florida to make sure it doesn't disenfranchise minority voters. Geller argues that includes the Democratic National Committee's demand that Florida switch ''from a state-run primary to party-run caucus system'' to avoid losing its delegates.

''This is not about the Hillary Clinton campaign; this is not about the Barack Obama campaign. This is not even about the Florida Democratic Party. This is about democracy and how we value our votes,'' said Barbara Effman, president of the West Broward Democratic Club and a Clinton delegate. Effman joined Geller, an uncommitted superdelegate, and Percy Johnson, an Obama delegate, in the lawsuit.

Here's the lawsuit, filed by Ben Kuehne and Richard Epstein, which was assigned to Judge Marra.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Liberty City 6 on the web

Just got an email about MobLogic.Tv which has this video about the Liberty City 6 and this post titled, "Thought Police":

News & Notes

1. "Former Miami-Dade teacher gets 7 years for enslaving Haitian girl" via the Sun-Sentinel. From the intro of Vanessa Blum's article:
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a South Florida woman to seven years and three months in prison for keeping a teenage girl from Haiti in servitude for six years.Maude Paulin, 52, a former Miami-Dade County middle school teacher, was convicted in March along with her mother, Evelyn Theodore, of conspiring to enslave the girl, forcing her to work and harboring an illegal immigrant.Before being sentenced, Paulin apologized to U.S. District Judge Jose Gonzalez Jr., saying she had good intentions when she arranged to bring Simone Celestin from Haiti to live with her family."I love Simone with all my heart," Paulin said. "Unfortunately, I can't change what is already done."

2. "26 charged in migrant smuggling crackdown" via the Miami Herald. Jay Weaver reports:
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged 26 South Florida suspects with conspiring to smuggle Cuban migrants in yet another major crackdown on illegal crossings of the Florida Straits.
In the latest 12 indictments, the defendants are accused of trying to bring 225 migrants to South Florida.
Prosecutors also charged two other suspects, Yamil Gonzalez-Rodriguez, 34, and Roberto Boffil-Rivera, 35, with alien smuggling, unlawful possession of a firearm and lying to a federal agent.
After the five Cuban migrants reached U.S. shores on April 21, Rodriguez demanded $25,000 payment, prosecutors said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Miami-Dade police detectives recorded two meetings between one migrant and Rodriguez, investigators said. On May 1, he paid Rodriguez $2,000. Six days later, he paid him an additional $3,000.
But Rodriguez was unsatisfied and threatened to shoot the migrant, police said. Rodriguez and Rivera were later arrested. Investigators found a loaded KAHR PM-40 firearm in one of the suspect's cars and pictures of Rivera holding the weapon.

3. Rumpole reports on trying to navigate state court:
We recently received an email from a prominent federal defense attorney who noted his/her travails on a recent Monday morning outing to our humble building. There was no place to park and after a half an hour of circling they parked in the median on a grass strip several blocks away.They got to the courtroom only to be told the prosecutor they had a meeting with had decided not to show up for work that day.A quick trip to the restroom (a clear rookie mistake) produced a few untimely steps in human liquid waste that was on the floor.And finally, beaten down by the heat, the lines, the smelly and dirty bathrooms not to mention the ridiculous belief that the prosecutor who agreed to meet them in court had any intention of actually showing up, they trudged back to their car, tie askew, bathed in sweat, actually longing for Judge Dimeitrouleas’s rocket docket, or for a quick arraignment and trial before Judge Huck, or a nice friendly sentencing before Judge Zlock.

4. "South Florida law firms hit by real estate slump, shed workers" via National Law Journal." Julie Kay explains:
In another sign of the hard times facing the legal industry, particularly in real-estate heavy South Florida, two local law firms — Holland & Knight and Shutts & Bowen — have laid off non-lawyer staffers. On a day that could be dubbed Black Friday in South Florida legal circles, Tampa-based Holland & Knight, one of Florida's largest and most venerable firms with 1,150 lawyers, laid off 70 staffers Friday, including legal secretaries, IT and accounting staff. No lawyers were laid off. The layoffs of about four employees in each of Holland's 17 offices represented 5% of Holland's non-lawyer workforce. Shutts & Bowen, a 200-lawyer, Miami-based firm, Friday laid off nine people, all entry level file clerks or paralegal clerks. No lawyers or legal secretaries were affected. The news comes on the heels of a decision announced internally Friday by Fort Lauderdale-based Becker & Poliakoff to temporarily and immediately chop all lawyer salaries by 12%. The firm, which is heavy in condo and real estate representation, said it was forced to take the action since clients are delaying payment in this lean economic environment.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Supreme Court decides US v. Williams

You all remember this case -- the child pornography case that our own Rick Diaz and Lou Guerra argued before the High Court.

The Court ruled 7-2 against Diaz's client.

Here's a summary from SCOTUSBlog:

In a second major ruling, the Court — after years of repeatedly nullifying Congress’ efforts to stamp out child pornography on the Internet — finally upheld such a law, a 2003 statute that Congress shaped in a way that it hopes would spare it from the same fate as earlier attempts. In an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court found that the 2003 law did not reach too far and that it was not vague in its scope. The decision came on a 7-2 vote in United States v. Williams (06-694).

Here is Justice Scalia's opinion.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ben Kuehne receives award

The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers-Miami Chapter had its annual banquet Saturday night. Of note for this blog, Ben Kuehne received the lifetime achievement award (which the group decided to give him after he was charged, not before as was reported in the NLJ and WSJ blog -- I know this because I was at the meeting where we unanimously agreed on the award). Ben spoke eloquently after he was introduced by Hank Coxe, former president of the Florida Bar.

The Jose Padilla defense team was also given awards. They were introduced by Kathy Williams, who gave a wonderful and fiery talk. Michael Caruso's speech was well done; he spoke about how important it was to have an independent judiciary and he applauded Judge Cooke for upholding her role in this respect.

On the state side, Steve Leifman received the judicial distinction award. He does such good and important work for the mentally ill. His award was well-deserving.

In addition to the awards, it's always fun to people watch at these things.... All in all, a fun night.

UPDATE -- apparently the WSJ blogger was there.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Is 23 years an appropriate sentence for a business opporunity fraud case?

That's the question posed by Vanessa Blum in this Sun-Sentinel article:

"A once in a lifetime opportunity." "A part time business that earns a full time income." "Call now!" "Don't miss out!"The late night television ads for the Box Office Express DVD rental machine peddled a dream. But it didn't take long for customers of the Hollywood firm to realize they'd been sold an empty promise.In some cases the machines never came. Sometimes they arrived but didn't work properly. Those that functioned would never yield impressive profits.Today federal prosecutors are asking a Miami federal judge to sentence the founder of American Entertainment Distributors Inc. to 23 years in prison for conspiracy, fraud and violating a court order banning him from selling business opportunities. Russell MacArthur, 43, pleaded guilty to those charges in February.

Prosecutors contended the false statements and inflated profit forecasts MacArthur, used to sell the DVD vending machines at American Entertainment amounted to a massive fraud that cost 400 investors a total of nearly $20 million. His plan all along, according to prosecutors, was to make as much money as possible and then declare bankruptcy and fold.It's an area where federal authorities in South Florida have been cracking down. A string of recent cases targeting so-called "business opportunity fraud" have involved the sale of debit card dispensers, Internet kiosks, payphones and anti-aging devices.So far, 14 individuals affiliated with American Entertainment have been convicted, not including MacArthur's partner, Anthony "Rocco" Andreoni, who died in March just hours before he was set to plead guilty.The defendants had worked for at least 16 other business ventures in which most customers lost almost all their investment, prosecutors alleged.In a recent court filing, MacArthur's attorney, Frank Rubino, asserted that prosecutors have exaggerated financial losses tied to American Entertainment. Most customers received the DVD rental machines they paid for, if not the profits they expected, Rubino said.But prosecutor Patrick Jasperse of the Justice Department's consumer fraud section responded that the machines, which sold for $28,000 to $40,000, had no value because American Entertainment failed to provide locations for them and other services that were promised.

This afternoon, Judge Martinez sentenced MacArthur to 23 and 1/2 years.

UPDATED -- Here's the story of the sentencing by Blum. A couple of reasons for the lengthy sentence:

[Judge] Martinez said MacArthur deserved extra punishment for violating a court order banning him from selling business opportunities and for fleeing to Costa Rica after his indictment in 2005. He pleaded guilty in February.The judge called the DVD rental machine, which sold for $28,000 to $40,000, "a worthless piece of junk."

The defense lawyer responds:
Defense attorney Frank Rubino called the 23-year prison term "excessive" and a sentence more suitable for a drug lord or a terrorist."I'm not making light of this crime, but my god, 10, 12, 13 years is a long time," Rubino said.

The prosecutor:
But prosecutor Patrick Jasperse asked for harsh punishment, saying MacArthur was responsible for stealing the life savings and college funds of retirees and hardworking individuals."Russell MacArthur is a danger to the public," Jasperse said.

Ben Kuehne to receive award from FACDL-Miami this weekend

Saturday night the Florida Association of Criminal Defense lawyer will be having its annual banquet. Ben Kuehne will be receiving the Daniel S. Pearson-Harry W. Prebish Founder's Award, FACDL's highest honor. The Jose Padilla defense team will be receiving the Rodney Thaxton "Against All Odds" award, and Judge Steve Leifman will receive the Gerald Kogan Judicial Distinction Award.

Julie Kay writes about it here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"The beagle is basically a stomach on four feet."

Why does Tom Watts-Fitzgerald have to disrespect the beagle like that?

Okay, okay -- he was just explaining how the beagles find illegal cavier at the airport (via the Daily Business Review):

Watts-FitzGerald said in some ways the illegal caviar trade is just as dangerous as the illicit drug market. Since Russia began protecting sturgeon and limiting caviar exports, caviar fishermen from surrounding republics struck back. "They blew up the barracks of what was essentially the equivalent of the old KGB. They were trying to make a point," he said. "The M.O. is very similar [to the drug trade]. Illicit wildlife smuggling is an $8 (billion) to $10 billion business." Caviar smugglers use mules to hide shipments just like drug traffickers. In the 1990s, 500 grams of Beluga caviar was discovered at Miami International Airport in a carry-on bag by the Food and Drug Administration's version of drug-sniffing dogs: the beagle brigade. "The beagle is basically a stomach on four feet," Watts-FitzGerald said. "When he smelled the caviar, he just went crazy." Caviar smugglers sometimes simply re-use old paperwork from legitimate shipments to try to import illegal goods. But distributors have been charged millions of dollars in fines.

Here is what the case is about:

With a worldwide shortage of premium caviar due to a shrinking sturgeon population, some black market importers have turned to an American cousin: a prehistoric-looking river creature, the paddlefish.

Paddlefish roe has qualities similar to Russian caviar — arguably the finest in the world. But the fish also is protected in many U.S. states due to overfishing and habitat loss. Federal prosecutors charged a Plantation man and his company, Bemka House of Caviar, with flouting the strict permitting laws protecting the paddlefish by buying it illegally.

And the indictment (assigned to Chief Judge Moreno) is here.

You Tube dude sentenced to 6 1/2 years

You remember this crazy guy -- the one who taunted the cops on You Tube. "We's out here, we fighting a cold war," Rudy Villanueva said on the video. "Metro Dade Gang Unit, here I am baby." Judge Cooke sentenced him to 6 1/2 years over his objection that he was just messing around. Honestly, I just like posting the picture of the guy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Judge Gold at the Fed Bar luncheon

Judge Gold spoke today at the Federal Bar Luncheon about ethics and used Mark Giminez's "The Color of Law" as the basis for the discussion. It was a very entertaining speech and it was well received. Judge Gold's premise: You can do good and do well as a lawyer. Those ideas are not mutually exclusive. Here are a couple of pictures from the event.

Should Judge Hoeveler recuse in the rock-mining case?

Judge Hoeveler says he doesn't "consider [himself] biased" in the rock-mining case in which he was just reversed. (Read the 2-1 opinion here). Although the 11th Circuit did not remove "the respected" Judge Hoeveler from the case, it did say that he had "predetermined" to ban the practice at issue. And as John Pacenti points out in his Daily Business Review article, the Judge has had his issues with environmental cases before.
So should he recuse? Or do we give him the benefit of the doubt? The appellate court did not take Judge Hoeveler off the case, so unless he thinks he should recuse, he will continue to be the judge.

The Herald had on op-ed yesterday saying that Judge Hoeveler has the opportunity to strengthen his opinion:

In lifting an injunction banning three rock mining permits in Northwest Miami-Dade County and remanding the case back to U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler for reconsideration, an appellate panel left the door open for the judge to review and strengthen his decision. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Judge Hoeveler didn't show proper deference to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decisions to issue more rock-mining permits in a case pitting rock miners against environmental groups.

Here's the rest of the op-ed, which gets a couple facts wrong (including that it was a 3-2 decision instead of a 2-1 decision) but it provides an interesting argument nonetheless:

In July, Judge Hoeveler issued an injunction against permits requested by three of nine mining companies. The Corps hadn't given enough consideration to the proximity of mining activities to Miami-Dade's drinking-water wellfield, the judge said. He wanted a new environmental study, which the Corps agreed to conduct. But the miners appealed, and in doing so launched personal attacks against the judge, perhaps hoping that he would be removed from the case.
The 11th Circuit panel wisely kept Judge Hoeveler on the case. After reading the ruling, our advice to both sides: Don't pop the Champagne corks just yet. The 3-2 appellate-court majority said Judge Hoeveler appeared to have made up his mind, regardless of the evidence, in finding that rock mining in Miami-Dade's Lake Belt ''is a bad thing.'' The judges also said that he misread the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act and how the Corps interpreted it in permitting more mining in the Lake Belt. NEPA, said the panel, allows the Corps to determine that, even though an activity like mining may damage or even destroy an environment, economic value can outweigh environmental concerns.
That said, the appellate judges took pains to make it clear that Judge Hoeveler had not erred in his ruling. In fact, the panel's third judge, Phyllis Kravitch, dissented, writing that Judge Hoeveler's ban on mining in the Lake Belt to protect the water supply was justified under the Clean Water Act.
Which will it be, NEPA or the Clean Water Act? In addition to its concerns for wellfield protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had questions regarding the endangered wood stork during the permitting process. There were other issues about wetlands destruction, too. Ultimately, the Corps shortened the lifetime of the permits and required mitigation via wetlands acquisition by the miners.
Judge Hoeveler nevertheless found reason to want more information on what threat mining could pose for wellfield contamination. We don't find that unreasonable, nor for that matter, did the appellate panel. The appellate court said that Judge Hoeveler would have to find firmer ground upon which to uphold a ban on the three permits. That's fair to both sides.

Here's the original Herald article explaining the 11th Circuit's opinion in more detail.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Building

STOP THE PRESSES! There have been court proceedings in the new building. Some of the judges have moved in, others are moving this week, and the most junior judges.... well.... it's still going to be a while. But progress is progress. Here's a picture of the inside.

So, who's going to have the first trial?

And a reminder: Judge Gold will be speaking this Wednesday at the Federal Bar Association luncheon at the Banker's Club at noon. RSVP to

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I'm always fascinated by reports on deliberations. In the recent high-profile trial of the Uma Thurman stalker, a Wall Street Journal reporter was on the jury. Here is her description of the trial and deliberations.

In local news, Jose Padilla co-defendant isn't happy with the jail he's been assigned to. From Curt Anderson's article:

A man convicted along with one-time "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla of supporting al-Qaida wants a federal judge to block the government from sending him to a prison unit where his telephone calls, mail and visitors would be closely monitored.
A lawyer for Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 46, claims that the Communications Management Unit at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, amounts to "cruel and unusual punishment" and that his inclusion in that unit is discriminatory because it is based partly on his Muslim faith and Arab ethnicity.
Jayyousi is "due to be transferred at any time to this unlawful place of confinement, where he will suffer irreparable harm," attorney William Swor said in court documents filed this week.
Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said Thursday that Jayyousi's religion or ethnicity have nothing to do with the designation at the unit that currently houses 46 inmates. Having all the inmates in one unit ensures that no communication is slipped out by a prisoner not subject to the restrictions.
"They are placed in the unit because their communications need to be closely monitored," Billingsley said.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, who presided over the trial last year of Padilla, Jayyousi and Adham Amin Hassoun, issued an order Tuesday temporarily preventing the U.S. Bureau of Prisons from transferring Jayyousi from Miami. Cooke scheduled a hearing May 22 on the matter.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"If there is a verdict for her and she is ordered to be released, how can the verdict be changed so suddenly!!!!!!!!!"

That was the defendant's mom after Judge Cohn sentenced Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan to 29 months a week after sentencing her to credit time served. I've tried not to blog about the case because I was involved for a brief time early on in the litigation. Here is the intro from Vanessa Blum's article:

Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan, an Iranian woman accused of trying to export night vision goggles, thought her guilty plea last month would be her ticket back to her family.The federal prosecutor had recommended a term of time served for the 30-year-old mother's role in the illegal plot to trade with Iran, a U.S.-designated terrorist nation. U.S. District Judge James Cohn imposed the sentence at an April 25 hearing in Fort Lauderdale federal court.But on Tuesday that smooth resolution unraveled. Determining the sentence had been a mistake, Cohn extended Gholikhan's prison term from time served to two years and five months.Under the law, federal judges can amend sentences within seven business days that result from "arithmetic, technical, or other clear error."

Gholikhan's lawyer Bill Barzee had this to say:

William Barzee, Gholikhan's attorney, called the resentencing unfair and un-American, saying after the hearing that his client feels like she's back in Iran."I don't think it's fair to [agree on a sentence] and have someone plead guilty and then come back and ask the court for a do-over," Barzee said in court Tuesday.

And a sentencing professor commented:

Jonathan Rosenthal, a Fort Lauderdale defense lawyer who teaches sentencing at Nova Southeastern University, said he found a description of Gholikhan's resentencing "troubling" because the guidelines are only one factor judges should consider."I don't understand how on Monday a sentence of four-and-a-half months is reasonable, but on Tuesday, all of a sudden, that sentence is no longer reasonable," Rosenthal said. "Judges are not supposed to give guidelines any undue weight."

It's a valid point. If a sentence of credit time served is reasonable, how can a sentence of 29 months be reasonable the next day -- especially when the prosecutor had agreed to credit time served. If the situation was reversed -- and the defendant didn't like her sentence -- would a judge allow her to come back to court?

Monday, May 05, 2008


Here's a little ethics question for my SDFLA readers on Monday morning:

Should the attorney-client privilege survive a client's death when revealing that client's statements (that he was the murderer and not the guy on death row) would save a man from death row or from life imprisonment (or any imprisonment)?

Those are the questions Adam Liptak examines in this NY Times article from a real life example. It's pretty dramatic that the judge is threatening the lawyer for revealing his dead client's statements:

STAPLES HUGHES, a North Carolina lawyer, was on the witness stand and about to disclose a secret he believed would free an innocent man from prison. But the judge told Mr. Hughes to stop.

“If you testify,” Judge Jack A. Thompson said at a hearing last year on the prisoner’s request for a new trial, “I will be compelled to report you to the state bar. Do you understand that?”
But Mr. Hughes continued. Twenty-two years before, he said, a client, now dead, confessed that he had acted alone in committing a double murder for which another man was also serving life. After his own imprisoned client died, Mr. Hughes recalled last week, “it seemed to me at that point ethically permissible and morally imperative that I spill the beans.”
Judge Thompson, of the Cumberland County Superior Court in Fayetteville, did not see it that way, and some experts in legal ethics agree with him. The obligation to keep a client’s secrets is so important, they say, that it survives death and may not be violated even to cure a grave injustice — for example, the imprisonment for 26 years of another man, in Illinois, who was freed just last month.

This is a classic law school hypo, and it's interesting to see how it is playing out in the real world. Monroe Freedman, the ethics guru, is quoted a bunch in the article. He would draw the line at saving someone from death row, but not life imprisonment:

Most experts in legal ethics agree that lawyers should be allowed to violate a living client’s confidences to save an innocent man from execution, but not to free someone serving a prison term, however long.
“I prefer to draw the line at the life-and-death situation,” said Monroe Freedman, who teaches legal ethics at Hofstra. “That situation is sufficiently rare that is doesn’t present a systemic threat. If that is extended to incarceration in general, it would end the sense of security clients have in speaking candidly with their lawyers.”
The questions get more complicated when the client has died.

So, SDFLA readers, what do you think?

And have a happy Cinco de Mayo!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Joe Cool defendant passes polygraph

Assistant Public Defenders Anthony Natale and Brian Stekloff, along with co-counsel Bill Matthewman, who represent Joe Cool defendant Guillermo Zarabozo, filed a motion yesterday to admit polygraph evidence. Here's the intro:

Mr. Zarabozo has passed scientifically valid polygraph examinations conducted by two separate, leading experts in the field of polygraph examination. Both experts have determined that Mr. Zarabozo truthfully answered questions that demonstrate he did not: (1) commit premeditated murder, i.e., shoot anyone; (2) conspire to commit murder; or (3) commit felony murder. The Eleventh Circuit has held that polygraph evidence is admissible to corroborate the testimony of a witness at trial–here, Mr. Zarabozo. See United States v. Piccinonna, 885 F.2d 1529, 1536-37 (11th Cir. 1989). Moreover, for the reasons discussed in detail below, the science of polygraph examination has evolved to a point where it clearly satisfies the requirements of Daubert. As Justice Potter Stewart stated, “Any rule that impedes the discovery of truth in a court of law impedes as well the doing of justice.” Hawkins v. United States, 358 U.S. 74, 81 (1958) (Stewart, J., concurring). Any effort to deprive a jury from hearing the results of Mr. Zarabozo’s polygraph examinations would run contrary to Justice Stewart’s admonition and would impede justice in this case.

Apparently Zarabozo passed two different polygraph examinations. Here are the questions from the first polygraph:

“1. While on the Joe Cool, did you shoot anyone? Answer – No.
2. Before hearing the first gunshot, had you talked with Kirby Archer
about shooting anyone on board the Joe Cool? Answer – No.
3. Before hearing the first gunshot, had you talked with Kirby Archer
about stealing the Joe Cool? Answer – No.”

And from the second:

“Q1: Regarding what you knew before that charter boat the ‘Joe Cool’ crew was killed and
the boat hijacked last September 22, 2007: Do you intend to answer truthfully each
question about that” A1: Yes.
Q2: Other than what you now know: At any time before the crew members of the Joe
Cool were shot: For any reason did you really know that was going to happen? A2:
Q3: When you said that before the shooting occurred on that boat the Joe Cool; that the
only reason you were on board, was to travel to Bimini and participate in pre-planned
security job with Kirby Archer, did you lie about that? A3: No.
Q4: When you said that you expected to participate in a future CIA assignment with
Kirby Archer either in Cuba or Venezuela after the Bimini security job was done: Did
you lie about that? A4: No.
Q5: When you said that you brought your handgun for use on the Bimini security job and
that it was never intended to be used by you or Kirby Archer to hijack that boat the
Joe Cool: Did you lie about that? A5: No.”