Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Blogging

Sorry I haven't been blogging much this week -- I've actually been swamped... Soooo, we're gonna close down the blog until the new year unless something big comes up (For example, if I win the blog fantasy football championship this weekend against RichRodisCuban, I will post about it!). Other than that, though, I need a little break. Have a great holiday season. Happy New Year and see you in 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Innocent people pleading guilty

It's one of the criminal justice system's dirty little secrets -- innocent people plead guilty because the risk if you lose at trial is too high. The Wall Street Journal covers this phenomenon here:

A surprise twist in the criminal case against Broadcom Corp. co-founder Henry Samueli again raises questions about plea bargains, one of the most important and controversial aspects of the justice system.

In a Santa Ana, Calif., court last week, federal Judge Cormac Carney dismissed the criminal complaint charging Mr. Samueli with lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission in its investigation of whether Broadcom misstated its earnings by improperly accounting for executive stock options. Judge Carney's dismissal came even though Mr. Samueli had stood before him in 2008 and pleaded guilty to that very crime.

Mr. Samueli did what lawyers and legal scholars fear a disturbing number of other people have done: pleaded guilty to a crime they didn't commit or at least believed they didn't commit. These defendants often end up choosing that route because they feel trapped in a corner, or fear getting stuck with a long prison sentence if they go to trial and lose.

The evolution of the criminal-justice system in recent decades has put many defendants "under all but impossible pressure to plead guilty, even if they're not," said Yale law Prof. John Langbein, a critic of the plea-bargain system.

A daughter of a defendant who recently pled guilty in this district says that her dad was innocent but couldn't risk a life sentence when there was a 2-year offer on the table:

But she wants to be pragmatic. Should her father risk spending the rest of his life in prison in an attempt to clear his name? She doesn't think so. Even before a plea bargain was offered, she said her father should consider one if it were offered. "It is really (awful), admitting to something you didn't do," she said. "He doesn't deserve any of this."

David Gerger out of Houston summed up best:

“When the government can increase your sentence tenfold for going to trial, then very few innocent people will have the courage to take that risk,” Gerger said. “They will just plead guilty, and that's wrong.”

There's a lot we can do to fix this, and much of it already has been discussed (even by yours truly -- I testified about this problem before the Sentencing Commission a few months back). For starters, juries -- not probation officers -- should recommend sentences to the Court.

And perhaps our court system should be more open to the public, like the state system is. One move in the right direction -- the 9th Circuit has started a pilot program where non-jury civil trials can be televised.

Video cameras, long banned from most federal courtrooms, could be used in civil trials throughout the West under a new initiative in the federal judiciary’s Ninth Circuit. One of the first cases to be televised could be next month’s hearing over a challenge to California’s same-sex marriage ban.

The move was announced Thursday by Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Kozinski called the move an “experiment” that “is designed to help us find the right balance between the public’s right to access to the courts and the parties’ right to a fair and dignified proceeding.”

But as Judge Kozinski said in an interview, “a lot has happened since then.” He cited advances in technology, the rise of Internet video transmission and greater experience of successful use of video in state courts and at the federal appeals level. “We thought it was time to take another look,” he said.

Judge Kozinski emphasized that the new initiative was still an experiment, and that it would be dropped “if it in any way impairs the fair administration of justice.” But he also noted that he did not expect to see problems.

“It’s a little bit of an uphill battle” to get courts to adopt technology, he said, adding: “We all have to be much more tech savvy than we really ever were, or particularly wanted to be. It’s just the nature of life in the 21st century.”

So, we have a lot to discuss in the comments -- are innocent defendants pleading guilty? Should we have cameras in the courtroom?

UPDATE -- check out this article about the attorney who was recently acquitted. Apparently the judge isn't too happy with the sweetheart deals given to the snitches:

A federal judge in Columbus, Ga., has slammed federal prosecutors for making "sweetheart plea deals" with drug dealers to further their "relentless pursuit" of a criminal defense attorney whose trial ended last month when a jury acquitted him of drug conspiracy, attempted bribery and money laundering charges.
U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land issued his harsh criticism of the U.S. Attorneys' Offices for the Middle and Southern Districts of Georgia in an unusual 19-page order explaining why he more than doubled the recommended prison sentence of a federal witness who testified against Columbus lawyer J. Mark Shelnutt.
Land suggested that the judgment of the U.S. Attorney's Middle District office in Macon, Ga., which oversees federal prosecutions in Columbus, "may have become clouded by its zeal to bring down a prominent defense attorney."
"The Court became concerned that the focus of the U.S. attorney's office was on getting a high-profile lawyer and negotiating sweetheart plea deals with the actual drug dealers to accomplish that," Land wrote.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Here's something to make you laugh this weekend -- it's the second most downloaded video of 2009.

RIP Joan Grady

Joan Grady -- longtime assistant to Kathy Williams at the FPD's office -- has passed away. Joan was an incredibly hard worker, and was always available to the lawyers in the office and the CJA lawyers looking for help. She was really loved by everyone and we'll all miss her.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Miami's worst kept secret is out

Rumpole and the DBR finally broke what people have been talking about for weeks now -- that the White House is actively vetting Kathy Williams for the open judge seat and Willy Ferrer for U.S. Attorney.

Congrats to these two very well-deserving candidates. Both are going to be absolutely great....

As an aside, I held off on posting this news for the past couple of weeks because the vetting process is very sensitive and I didn't want anything to slow the process for Kathy or Willy. But now, it's out there, so I am posting it...

Hopefully the official nomination will happen by the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Louie the interpreter retiring

No doubt that longtime court interpreter Angel Luis Nigaglioni "has seen it all." Here's a nice Herald article about him and his career.

The longest serving interpreter in U.S. federal court -- whose voice was also known to millions of Spanish speakers worldwide as that of late President Ronald Reagan en español -- has retired.
During his 35-year career, Angel Luis Nigaglioni played a unique part in South Florida's tumultuous judicial history, participating in such high-profile proceedings as the prosecution of Miami River Cops on corruption charges and the trial of Gen. Manuel Noriega, the former military dictator of Panama.
``I have seen everything. It is a fascinating profession in that every day you learn something, not just about language but about the human condition,'' Nigaglioni, 70, said.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We're #1!

The American Tort Reform Association has ranked South Florida as the #1 "Judicial Hellhole" in the nation. How silly. Here's what they say:

South Florida, the home of, is known for its medical malpractice claims, never-ending tobacco lawsuits and generous verdicts. Trial practices favor plaintiffs, as exemplified by a string of reversals in a Miami-Dade case against Ford Motor Company. Florida is also developing a reputation as the place to bring slip-and-fall lawsuits due to its lower burden of proof compared to other states, making the state ripe for fraudulent claims. Supermarkets, corner stores, and restaurants have no choice but to settle, regardless of whether they could have prevented accidents. In addition, Florida is one of the few states that allow those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs to sue the automobile manufacturer for failing to prevent their injuries by designing a safer car, while hiding from the jury the driver's responsibility for the crash. South Florida is home to several legal scandals this year, in which lawyers enriched themselves with their clients' money and bought hospital records to solicit business. Even the organization representing plaintiffs' lawyers in the state has found itself in hot water.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"The defendant here isn't exactly Tinker Bell."

That was Judge Turnoff today in presiding over the bond hearing for Robert Antoine, a former Haitian government official charged in a telecom bribery scheme involving Haiti's state-owned telecommunications company. Judge Turnoff set a 10% bond at $1 million, meaning that Antoine will have to post $100,000 with the court. He'll get that back with interest if he sees the case through. Here's the Herald article. A snippet:

Federal prosecutors argued that Antoine was a flight risk and wanted him detained. ``He is the primary mover and shaker who made this all happen,'' U.S. Attorney Kimberly Selmore said in court. ``Without him, this couldn't be done.''
Selmore argued it was Antoine who was responsible for the contracts that allowed Esquenazi and Rodriguez to allegedly defraud Haiti Teleco. Antoine was joined by 19 family and friends in court Monday, and family members say they will come up with the money. Another hearing is scheduled to determined if the money is clean.
Antoine's attorney Dennis Kainen argued that his client should be allowed to post bail to fight the charges from behind bars. He said even before his extradition he had intended to fly to Miami from Haiti on Sunday.
"His ties to the community are overwhelming,'' said Kainen, noting that Antoine has been living in South Florida since 1969.

In other news, Curt Anderson covers the civil case against Chuckie Taylor:

Five Africans who claim they were tortured and abused in Liberia when former President Charles Taylor ruled will come to a Miami courtroom next week seeking millions of dollars from the man they say ordered the atrocities: Taylor's son, Charles McArthur Emmanuel.
Emmanuel, also known as Charles ``Chuckie'' Taylor Jr., was convicted in federal court in Miami last year of violating U.S. anti-torture laws as a high-level enforcer for his father. He is serving a 97-year prison sentence.
The five Liberian victims filed a lawsuit against him earlier this year, winning a default judgment in May that leaves only the question of damages for a trial that begins Monday.

Emmanuel, 32, did not initially contest the lawsuit but will appear in court and apparently act as his own lawyer in the bench trial next week before U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan. He has already been transferred from a federal prison in Marion, Ill., to Miami's downtown detention center, and has filed several handwritten motions.
In one of them, he asks an attorney for the Liberians for details about the victims and their case, but says it is doubtful that he will take the witness stand next week.
``I will not be testifying in the December proceeding,'' Emmanuel wrote. ``That could change based upon the information requested.''

The U

The buzz around town this morning is the documentary "The U," which played Saturday night on ESPN as part of their 30 for 30 series. I have discussed it a bit in prior posts, but I had no idea how unbelievable the movie was going to be. I had very high expectations, but the movie far exceeded anything I could have hoped for. It transported me back to the late 80s, watching UM games with friends. If you haven't seen it, make sure you do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kim Rothstein in the news

That's her high school yearbook picture. Brittany Wallman of the Sun-Sentinel has a great in-depth piece on Kim Rothstein. Bob Norman's wife scooped him!
From the article:

A health crisis struck when she was 12. She collapsed at a Plantation Central Park karate tournament. Doctors found she had a blood vessel disorder in her brain, a condition that causes seizures and headaches. She took a break from her beloved sport.
A 4.0 student at Seminole Middle School in Plantation, she became depressed and her grades slipped, the Sun Sentinel reported at the time.
But she made a comeback, despite the health risks.
"She's a great example of a never-quit attitude,'' her late grandfather John Shaffer told the newspaper.
"She is both charming and intelligent. Her accomplishments in karate are rather amazing,'' her doctor told the newspaper.
She went on to
South Plantation High School.
After graduating in 1992, she and her mother owned and operated a wellness center on University Drive in Davie, selling books and offering classes on yoga, belly dancing and reiki. She is a spiritual person, a practicer of Transcendental Meditation, and a good person, said Linnet O'Neal, a longtime acquaintance. Since meeting her now-husband, Kim has been studying Judaism.
O'Neal shopped at the store and eventually bought it from Kim's mother, a spiritual adviser who now works at a holistic health center.
"You've heard of people who are gifted clairvoyantly, who have intuition where they guide people almost as a life coach? Lynn is a wonderful teacher, and very humble and giving person. And Kimmie is a very humble and very sweet girl,'' O'Neal said.
About nine years ago, Kim Rothstein went back to school to obtain her real estate license, making her mother proud, O'Neal said.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ben Kuehne thanks his supporters

It was a packed event tonight as judges, former prosecutors, defense lawyers, and many others in the community came to celebrate with Ben. To the left is a picture of Ben from the party. And here are his remarks:

“Let there be Justice, and then no one will ask for anything unjust.” So proclaimed the revered patriot, lawyer, and scholar Jose Marti.

I am here today as proof to all that Justice lives in America. That we live in a time in a Nation that honors the message of philosopher Alan-Rene Lesage: “Justice is such a fine thing that we cannot pay too dearly for it.”

We are all fortunate to say we have a Justice Department whose goal is to try to do the right thing. I am humbled that the Department of Justice made the honorable decision to do the right thing.
As Dr. Martin Luther King enunciated, “the time is always right to do the right thing.” The Department’s timing was impeccable.

And I do not mean the right decision just for me. Instead, the inevitable resolution of my own legal drama is a reaffirmation by the highest powers of our Government that lawyers, including criminal defense lawyers, serve an essential – a vital -- purpose in our society. Our professional endeavor of testing the government, checking the exercise of public power, and challenging our institutions in an ethical but adversarial manner – what we do every day – is an honorable cause.

One of the great trial lawyers of our time, Edward Bennett Williams, observed that “Law is but a means; justice is the end.” We lawyers serve that cause of justice, and this outpouring of community support is a welcome approval of that cause.

Seekers of justice see our system as one that actively embraces achieving the right result, with our independent judiciary willing to reach correct conclusions defined by the law and the facts.

I readily applaud the several brilliant jurists who were so willing to apply the law as it is, as it should be, without fear of criticism. I am the beneficiary of the attention and “eminently correct” rulings by several of the very finest federal judges to serve the public interest.

Although it is understandable in the crystal clear light of hindsight that my legal case is what we refer to as a “No Brainer”, that it became so is the direct result of my dedicated team of outstanding lawyers: led by John Nields, Jason Raofield, and Laura Shores from Howrey in Washington, D.C., and my good friend, Jane Moscowitz, from Miami. I publicly thank them for their skill, dedication, and commitment to me and the precedent-setting value of my case.

But the reason for this Appreciation Reception is because of you, your support and attention to my case and the underlying message of enabling lawyers to be lawyers, without fear of retribution or prosecution. This day would not have been possible without all of you serving as the constant, pervasive, and effective foundation for my demonstration of innocence.

A message repeated by our independent Fourth Estate, our media. I am gratefully indebted to the Miami Herald and its court’s reporter Jay Weaver, and the Daily Business Review, especially John Pacenti, as well as the other journalists both locally and nationally, who consistently reported the truth of my case. The message was heard loud and clear, and helped to bring about a fitting end to my case.

I work daily with a stellar group of lawyers and legal professionals who never abandoned me, content with the knowledge that I would prevail in this classic battle. Allow me the privilege of thanking Susan Dmitrovsky, Bob Ader, Beth Hitt, Robert Hertzberg, and Amanda Maxwell, as well as Mirta Rodriguez, Sandy Hart, Leeza Bodes, Serena Young, Luly Moreno, and especially Barney Brown, who after being exonerated after serving 38 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, works with me as my legal intern.

President Kennedy once observed that “Our nation is founded on the principle that observance of the law is the eternal safeguard of liberty, while defiance of the law is the surest road to tyranny.” As lawyers and community leaders, we must lead the way to ensure that observance of the law is ingrained in our society, so that no one, not even the government, can claim a right to ignore or countermand the rule of law.

Let us sharpen our pencils and write a clear message to those in our community who may not understand and appreciate the abiding passion for justice in our nation: Our diligence every day, as directed by our Constitution, to provide effective counsel to our clients, is the keystone to our democratic way of life.

Throughout this legal drama, my greatest strength has been the unsinkable spirit and love of my wife, Lynn, and our entire family. I want to thank them for knowing who I am, and of my sincere dedication to the law.

Allow me to close with a story about Rudyard Kipling, one of the great writers. In the prime of his career, it was said he was making the previously unheard of sum of one shilling per word. Learning of this, a group of Oxford students, on a lark, decided to wire the Great One a single shilling and ask, in return, for one - just one – of his very best words. Soon enough, Kipling wired back just one word: “THANKS.”

I thank you – all of you who work so diligently to bring justice to our community, our courts, our nation – most appreciatively for giving me the opportunity to work with so many great people in making our America and our community a better place.

Well said!

Here's our prior coverage of Ben's case.

Quick Hits

Sorry for the slow blogging. I'm getting killed over at work. But quickly:

1. Josephus Eggelletion pleads guilty to money laundering, will resign (via Miami Herald).

2. Liberia victims to face Taylor's son in US court (via AP).

3. Obama's acceptance speech (via London Times).

4. ALI pulls plug on standards for death penalty (via Ellen Podgor at White Collar Crime Blog)

We'll be back soon.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

AUSA David Haimes named Broward Circuit Judge

Congrats to long-time federal prosecutor David Haimes on his appointment to the state bench. Here's Gov. Crist's press release:

Governor Charlie Crist today announced the appointment of David A. Haimes of Plantation to the 17th Judicial Circuit Court.
“David epitomizes the spirit of a dedicated and committed public servant,” Governor Crist said. “With over 15 years of legal service under his belt, I am confident he has the expertise and insight to serve the people of the 17th Circuit well.”
Haimes, 44, has served in the United States Attorney’s Office as an assistant U.S. attorney since 2003. Previously, he served as an assistant state attorney with the Florida State Attorney’s Office of the 17th Judicial Circuit from 1999 to 2003; as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable William Dimitrouleas from 1998 to 1999; as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice from 1995 to 1998; and as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable William J. Zloch from 1993 to 1995. He earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Notre Dame Law School.
Haimes will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert B. Carney, effective December 31, 2009.

Hat tip: JAABlog.

Monday, December 07, 2009

"Gotta get away from my lawyer. Sit tight. Say nothing. Write nothing. Brooklyn to bronx. I'll make u famous."

That was Scott Rothstein texting with Sun-Sentinel reporter Mike Mayo. They had nicknames for each other and everything. Rothstein kept up a con with Mayo, promising him that he would get the exclusive Rothstein interview -- I guess to keep Mayo from writing anything too critical about him. Mayo details the exchanges here. It's an interesting read.

Of course, the most comprehensive place to go for Rothstein news is the Daily Pulp. Bob Norman is just churning out news over at his site. Good stuff.

In other news:

1. Ex-Broward Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion to plead guilty (via Herald). Looks like Ben Kuehne is back to work -- he and Kendall Coffee are representing Eggelletion.

2. SFL covers Judge Moreno's decision to pay Roberto Martinez and Colson Hicks $4.5 million more than initially approved for work as a receiver. Although Judge Moreno gave less than Martinez was asking for, he still about double the hourly rate that was billed ($450 vs. $218). Any thoughts on this? Should CJA lawyers be able to ask for a kicker when they do good work?

3. Honest-services fraud is before the High Court this week. Should be really interesting. More on this later, but here's a primer from USA Today.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ben Kuehne event and other weekend news

This should be something:

In Grateful Appreciation of the
Overwhelming Community Support of his Innocence

Invites the Community to his
On the Occasion of his Vindication

Sky lobby
Bank of America tower
100 S.E. 2nd Street
Miami, Florida 33131
Thursday, December 10, 2009
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
RSVP to:

In other news, former AUSAs Mike Tein and Richard Scruggs sqaured off before their state court trial, which starts Monday morning. Tein filed a motion alleging prosecutorial misconduct and the judge allowed Tein to cross-examine Scruggs. Apparently, there were fireworks:

Fri., Dec. 4 2009 @ 9:11PM

Richard Scruggs is usually the guy asking people tough questions and getting witnesses to spill the beans. But today Miami-Dade's veteran public corruption prosecutor was on the receiving end of an intense grilling. And he was not enjoying himself.It went down inside the courtroom of Judge Beatrice Butchko in the Miami-Dade criminal justice building at 1351 NW 12th Street. The man putting the screws on Scruggs was Michael Tein, the criminal defense lawyer representing Rev. Gaston Smith, who is facing grand theft charge for allegedly stealing $17,000 in county grant money.Tein accuses Scruggs of prosecutorial misconduct in Smith's case.During several hours of testimony this afternoon, Scruggs's answers went from terse to angry. At one point he growled: "Mr. Tein will you calm the rhetoric please."He repeatedly denied he acted with malicious intent when he waited a month to inform Smith and Smith's other criminal defense attorney that a Miami-Dade police detective had secretly recorded two conversations they had with Scruggs and investigators before the clergyman was indicted. Tein zealously quizzed Scruggs if he ever informed Smith that he was a criminal target during the pastor's interviews before he was arrested. "No, no, no, no," Scruggs grumbled. "You got that!"
Scruggs disputed comments attributed to him by Miami New Times staff writer Gus Garcia-Roberts in this profile of Smith. He claims he never told Garcia-Roberts Smith had rejected a plea deal in exchange for his testimony against suspended Miami city commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. (Scruggs is prosecuting her for allegedly stealing $50,000 in county funds.) Scruggs also denied telling Garcia-Roberts that he had reported Smith to the Internal Revenue Service for possible tax evasion. "Absolutely not," Scruggs said under oath. "I don't recall talking about taxes at all."Judge Butchko appeared skeptical. She asked: "So how would the reporter know that if he didn't get it from you? Is the reporter clairvoyant?"Scruggs' reply: "I don't know." He said that alot during his inquisition. And the assistant state attorney conceded that he did tell Garcia-Roberts that Smith "was caught with his hand in the cookie jar." But he claimed it was off the record.Then Scruggs revealed something that just made no sense. When Tein asked him why he didn't complain to New Times editor Chuck Strouse or demand a correction, Scruggs says he decided not to because "no one reads this stuff anyway." Tein: "No one reads the New Times?"Scruggs: "Yeah, Uh-huh."

Apparently, court went until 9:30 Friday night with Tein throwing punch after punch against Scruggs. This trial (preview here by the Miami Herald) should be a fun one to watch.

UPDATE -- here's another New Times article on the hearing, and here is a portion of the transcript including part of Tein's cross of Scruggs and the judge's ruling.

Friday, December 04, 2009

See you all at this event

The Steve Chaykin Fellowship event is coming up:

When: Saturday, January 9, 2010

6:30 pm -- Cocktail Reception

8:15 pm -- Concert

Where: Gusman Hall
University of Miami
Coral Gables Campus

On Saturday evening, January 9, 2010, a Reception and Concert by Grammy Nominated Jazz and Blues Artist Marcia Ball, will be held at the Gusman Concert Hall, on the University of Miami Campus. All the proceeds will benefit the Steven E. Chaykin Fellowship at the Center for Ethics and Public Service, at the University of Miami School of Law.

More information about this event can be found on the web at or by calling Susan at (305) 374-7771. The Steven E. Chaykin Fellowship Trust is a 501(c)(3) corporation, and a portion of your donations may be tax deductible.

Ho hum

Well, it's a Friday in December. Awfully quiet around town.

I found interesting this Herald article about a state judge and a defendant being Facebook friends:

Several weeks ago, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Yvonne Colodny accepted a new friend request on the social networking site Facebook -- from Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.

On Thursday, Spence-Jones was not a pal but a defendant whose grand theft case was on Colodny's docket for arraignment.

Colodny disclosed the tidbit to lawyers in the case, assuring them that she immediately unfriended the politician when she learned of her arrest on Nov. 13. Colodny also noted that she never once looked at Spence-Jones' Facebook page.

``We'll be leaving Facebook because of the issues arising from that website,'' Colodny said Thursday morning.

Defense lawyer Michael Band and prosecutor Richard Scruggs chuckled about the disclosure but had no problems with it. Band entered a plea of not guilty for Spence-Jones, who did not appear.

So, should judges abandon Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging altogether?

Other topics to consider on this Friday:

1. Who would release ladybugs at Art Basel?
2. Who would win in a fight between Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor?
3. Is Florida the ponzi scheme capitol of the world?
4. Here's a creative way to enforce a judgment -- have the Marshals seize paintings from Art Basel.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Did Scott Rothstein surrender or was he arrested?

There has been some debate about whether Rothstein was arrested or whether he was permitted to surrender. The answer is really neither. When a defendant surrenders, he is permitted to show up at magistrate court for his first appearance on his own (not in handcuffs). And when someone is arrested, federal agents show up at your house at 6:30 in the morning and bring you to court. Here, we had a little of both -- Rothstein wasn't arrested at his house (or the hotel he was staying at) and he didn't show up to magistrate court on his own. Instead, it appears he surrendered himself to the FBI office where they put him in handcuffs and brought him to court. The feds did this so that they could say they arrested him, but they allowed him to show up to the FBI office because it's pretty obvious he has been cooperating and so they gave him this small concession. Also, for some reason Rothstein's lawyer continues to say he isn't cooperating, so having him show up to court in handcuffs allows Rothstein to continue to say this even though I think everyone knows that train has left the station.

The whole surrender vs. arrest thing has always bugged me. If a defendant knows about the charges and hasn't gone anywhere, he should be permitted to surrender even if he isn't cooperating. The government should not be able to use the threat of arrest to coerce a person into pleading... It's a complete waste of resources. Obviously, this is not the typical case, so perhaps the government, for political reasons, couldn't allow him to simply show up to court on his own (especially since he's been sipping martinis for the past couple weeks in everyone's face).
The other topic being discussed is the information vs. indictment. Rothstein has been charged by way of information, meaning that the feds didn't have to go to a grand jury. This generally is a tell-tale sign that the defendant is cooperating. But again, the whole information vs. indictment thing has never made much sense to me. Who cares whether you are charged with an information instead of an indictment. It does absolutely nothing for the defendant whatsoever. I guess it saves an agent from an afternoon of explaining the case to a grand jury. In my view, we should just get rid of the grand jury altogether. That would require a constitutional amendment though, and we haven't had one of those in a while.

Here's Jeff Sloman at the press conference yesterday:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Scott Rothstein to be arrested tomorrow (Tuesday) -- NUMEROUS UPDATES BELOW

The Herald broke the story here:

Scott Rothstein, the flashy Fort Lauderdale attorney who authorities say ran a $1 billion investment scam while acting like a philanthropic tycoon, is expected to be arrested Tuesday on a federal racketeering charge, sources familiar with the case said.
Rothstein, who had fled to Morocco in late October but returned in early November, is expected to appear at a magistrate hearing to face the RICO conspiracy charge at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.
While under federal watch in November, Rothstein cooperated with prosecutors and provided them with details of his Ponzi scheme, involving the sale of fabricated legal settlements to wealthy investors.FBI and IRS agents also raided his Fort Lauderdale law office and seized his waterfront home and other assets.
Rothstein could not be reached for comment, and his attorney, Marc Nurik, declined to say anything about his client's imminent arrest.
``Scott intends to see that all legitimate investors get paid back,'' Nurik said late Monday. ``Exactly how that's going to be done remains to be seen. He is sincere in his intent.''
Rothstein, 47, is likely to plead guilty soon while he is in custody. The U.S. attorney's office, meanwhile, will convene a grand jury to consider criminal charges against Rothstein's alleged co-conspirators -- including possibly former employees of his now-defunct firm.

Scott is still talking, this time to the Sun-Sentinel:

Rothstein called Monday, after I sent a text asking if he was about to turn himself into federal authorities, a rumor that was making the rounds."No, I'm not surrendering," he said. "I'm sitting here in the hotel with my attorney (Marc Nurik) and it's a very strange scenario."First we're fielding calls from people asking if we're in protective custody. No, I'm not in protective custody. Now we're getting calls if I'm about to surrender...So I guess you guys are giving me a heads up that I'm about to be arrested."


Said [Mark] Nurik: "Nobody's telling us that they're picking him up, and nobody's giving us any right to surrender...He's sitting here with me, talking about the case. He's mostly freaking out about being arrested."

So, he'll obviously be detained with no bond. But should he be?

UPDATE 9:30am Tuesday -- Rothstein has been arrested early Tuesday morning and he wasn't permitted to surrender. He will make his initial appearance this morning in Ft. Lauderdale before Judge Robin Rosenbaum.
SECOND UPDATE -- No bond... Stipulation to detention...
THIRD UPDATE -- Rothstein was charged by way of infomation, which means he is definitely cooperating. Still strange to me that they simply wouldn't indict him. Here's the information, which has been assigned to Judge James Cohn.

Would you do 40 months for a billion bucks?

Bradley Birkenfeld would. He's the UBS banker who helped the government makes its case against UBS and all the tax cheats. Here's the New York Times story:

Bradley C. Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months in prison for helping rich Americans dodge their taxes. Now he is hoping for a bit more — a few billion dollars more.
Mr. Birkenfeld, a former private banker at the Swiss bank
UBS, won the enmity of his peers by violating the omerta of Swiss banking: He divulged the tax evasion secrets of UBS, the world’s largest bank by assets, and its well-heeled American clients. As part of a deal with federal prosecutors, he admitted to, among other things, helping to smuggle diamonds in a tube of toothpaste.
Now, as thousands of wealthy Americans seek amnesty for keeping illicit,
offshore bank accounts, Mr. Birkenfeld and his lawyers hope to use a new federal whistle-blower law to claim a multibillion-dollar reward from the American government. If they succeed — and legal experts say the odds are pretty good — it would be the largest reward of its kind.
Mr. Birkenfeld, who is to begin his prison term as soon as January, is being represented by the executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center, Stephen M. Kohn. Mr. Kohn successfully represented Linda Tripp, who helped expose the
Monica Lewinsky scandal of the Clinton years.
“We are seeking at least several billion dollars,” Mr. Kohn said.

So, how much would it take you to do 40 months in a federal pen:

I would do 40 months in federal prison for:
$1 million
$5 million
no amount of money free polls

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving weekend blogging

The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians was certainly thankful to Judge Seitz on Thanksgiving Day. Just hours before we all headed home on Wednesday to defrost our turkeys, Judge Seitz issued an order stating that she was “convinced that the Tribe will succeed on the merits” after a two-day preliminary injunction hearing last week seeking to halt construction on 21-mile “Loop Road” in the Everglades. The DBR’s article is here. Judge Seitz found that “the Government failed to comply” with environmental laws prior to starting the project. Michael Tein represented the Tribe at the hearing and accused the National Parks Service of a “cover up.” Mike produced Interior Department notes and memos indicating that government viewed public disapproval of the project as a “high risk” that would be handled with an “internal memorandum to file” instead of the full-blown public environmental study that federal environmental laws require. Apparently, the government was going to use money earmarked back in 2005 for “emergency Hurricane Wilma relief,” to pay for repaving the road, which Mike said had no hurricane damage. Mike’s brief charting out the alleged “cover up” is a fun read and I will post it shortly. After the hearing, the government agreed to delay the project another two weeks to allow for additional briefing. Judge Seitz said she would rule by December 14.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The case against Ben Kuehne and the co-defendants has been dismissed by the Feds. Happy Thanksgiving.

UPDATE -- The government moved to dismiss the pending appeal against Gloria Velez and also moved to dismiss the entire indictment in the district court against Velez, Oscar Saldarriaga, and Ben Kuehne. The motion simply says that it is based on the changed circumstances from the Court of Appeal's decision and in the interest of justice. Indeed. It was signed by Ken Blanco, Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

UPDATE 2 -- Ben Kuehne issued the following statement:

On this, the day before Thanksgiving, I am gratified beyond measure that the United States Department of Justice has decided to abandon all charges against me. I have had throughout a deep and abiding belief that things would turn out well in the end. However, I did not know the end result would come about by decision of the Department of Justice. We are all fortunate to be able to say that we have a Justice Department whose goal is to try to do the right thing—not to win at all costs.

Although I would have preferred not to go through this experience, I am also gratified that my case has been the occasion for an important precedent-setting legal ruling by the District Court, recently affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and embraced by the legal community, in preserving and protecting the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. This ruling deals with an area of law that is close to my heart. It is to the right to counsel in criminal cases that I have dedicated much of my career at the Bar. I want to, once again, thank the many members of our community who have, over the past two years, so consistently expressed their confidence in my innocence. Throughout this period, I have continued to do what I have been trained to do, and what I love most, which is to practice law. I am grateful to the many clients who have reposed their confidence in me by seeking to utilize my legal services.

I am also grateful to my amazing lawyers, John Nields, Jason Raofield, and Laura Shores from Howrey in Washington, D.C., and my good friend, Jane Moscowitz, from Miami. I wish to thank them for their skill, dedication, and commitment to me and my case.

Finally, throughout this legal drama, my greatest strength has been the unsinkable spirit and love of my wife, Lynn, and our entire family. I want to thank them for knowing who I am, and of my sincere dedication to the law.

Escape From Dubai

In another this-is-too-good-to-be-true story, Curt Anderson covers former French intelligence officer Herve Jaubert, who believed he was essentially being held captive in Dubai when his passport was confiscated by authorities amid a dispute with his employer, a powerful government-run conglomerate. He claimed he was threatened with torture and worried each day he would be arrested. From the AP article:

So Jaubert disguised himself as a Muslim woman and fled the country. The accomplished diver hid scuba gear under the head-to-toe abaya. He swam out to the area's only patrol boat and cut the fuel lines. Then, he said, he launched his rubber dinghy, started the motor and piloted it six hours to meet an awaiting sailboat.
Now he's in South Florida, embroiled in a federal lawsuit over an ill-fated business venture with Dubai World Corp., which says the 2008 escape story is one of his many lies. Jaubert sued the company, claiming the failed plan to build recreational submarines for tourists and the super-wealthy cost him millions in lost business opportunities.
"I lived with fear in my stomach for more than a year. Every day when you wake up, you expect to be picked up by the police," Jaubert said.

And we even get a video!

In other words, we should all be thankful that we weren't in Mr. Jaubert's shoes. Think Midnight Express:

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The U

Friends of Blog Alfred Spellman and Billy Corben (of Cocaine Cowboys fame) are now coming out with the U, which will air on ESPN December 9. Barry Jackson has a piece on the documentary today. Apparently, UM didn't cooperate... I never understand that. The movie is going to get made; you might as well cooperate. From Jackson:

Inside a Miami Beach office that feels like a not-too-reverential Hurricanes shrine, the finishing touches are being applied to the documentary of record on the University of Miami football program.
Stacks of old newspaper clippings and UM media guides sit atop a table. A Ray Lewis action figure poses menacingly on a desk, and a stuffed ``Ibis'' lurks across the room. A UM pin cushion and Canes pillow are propped on the couch.
Director Billy Corben and producer Alfred Spellman aren't only accomplished filmmakers -- they're also former UM students. Corben believes Canes fans will be pleased when their two-hour documentary, The U, airs at 9 p.m. Dec. 12 on ESPN, in a high-profile slot following the Heisman Trophy show.
``For Canes fans, this will be a reminder of what they loved about this team. For Canes haters, this will be a reminder of what they hated about this team,'' said Corben, who has crafted six films with Spellman, most notably Cocaine Cowboys. ``I'm also hoping the haters might walk away with some passing appreciation of what the team brought to the table in terms of their pop culture contributions, the merger of sports and entertainment, the style of game played.
``The criticism of the team has been well-documented. We certainly review it. But this is really a Canes talk-back, a Canes rebuttal kind of piece. There's no dearth of incredible highlights of both sensational plays and over-the-top celebrations.''
But Corben said UM refused to participate and would not allow the filmmakers to interview coach Randy Shannon, former athletic director Paul Dee or former president Tad Foote, though old sound bites from Foote appear in the film. According to Corben, former coach Dennis Erickson and several former Hurricanes players said they disregarded UM's request that they not grant interviews.
``It upset me to no end,'' Corben said of UM's resistance. ``I felt disrespected and unappreciated by my alma mater. Early on, [UM athletic department spokesman] Mark Pray told me, `You should rethink even doing this project.' It was a display of rudeness, disrespect and ignorance. UM has a persecution complex about that era.'' As a result, Corben said he resigned from UM's Citizens Board, which supports the university's philanthropic efforts and promotes UM's programs.
Jackie Menendez, UM's vice president/communications, said the school declined to allow the interviews or participate in the project because Corben wasn't willing to allow UM officials to read the script in advance. Corben said he never was asked for a script -- ``a documentary doesn't have a script'' -- but that he sent UM a treatment, which is a two-page synopsis of the project.

When Devin Hester heard that UM wasn't cooperating, this was his reaction, showing his Bear/bare behind.

The movie should be great. I'm looking forward to it. Luke Campbell has the title track:

In other news, a Miami pastor was convicted before Judge Huck yesterday after a lengthy trial. He was convicted of committing $7 million in fraud.

Rothstein was apparently paying his lawyers and staff with ponzi proceeds. This keeps getting uglier and uglier. Bob Norman has pics of his house and lots of other news.

An agent who was kidnapped in Colombia has been released:

About three hours later, ``Fat Man'' returned to the cabin with one of his men, who told Ortiz that they knew he was a federal agent.
They were visibly nervous, Ortiz told the FBI.
The man removed Ortiz's handcuffs, repeatedly saying, ``Our apologies, brother.''
Once his hands were free, Ortiz saw that his apologetic guard carried a revolver in a belt holster and asked him for it. The man surrendered it.
Ortiz also asked for a car, a demand accepted by his kidnappers. One of them drove him to the city.
Ortiz arrived on his own at the hotel, where a contingent of Colombian police officers and U.S. agents were waiting for him so they could take him immediately to Bogotá.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Did you know that the Sears Tower is now called the Willis Tower?

I sure didn't.

Anyway, the leader from the Liberty City group -- Narseal Batiste -- who was convicted of attempting to blow up that building was sentenced to 13 1/2 years by Judge Lenard. She sentenced brothers Burson Ausgustin, 24, and Rotschild Augustin, 26, to six and seven years in prison. Patrick Abraham, 30, received more than nine years and 34-year-old Stanley Phanor, eight years. Prosecutors had asked for 70 years for Batiste and 30 years for the others. I was happy to see that Judge Lenard rejected those requests. From the BBC:

Sentencing Batiste, US District Judge Joan Lenard said: "You've done great harm to yourself, your family, the young men who were your followers, and you've violated the trust of your country."
Batiste apologised for the plot in court, saying he had "wanted respect".
"I wanted to be this person that I really wasn't. I've never been a violent person," the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

Anyway, hope you have a nice Thanksgiving week... I'm trying to figure out my new iPhone. I think I miss my BlackBerry....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

News & Notes (Fins edition)

It's been a long day, so I'm trying to cheer up in watching the Fins. So far, so good. 14-3 as we speak. Here we go with some news & notes:

1. Who wants to be a Magistrate? There's an opening in the District. The salary is $160K and to apply, you need to be less than 70, a member in good standing of the bar for 5 years, and not related to any judge in the district. Chief Judge Moreno has put together this selection committee:

Chair:David Rothman, Esq.
Rothman & Associates, P.A.

Georgie Angones (non-attorney)
Assistant Dean, Development & Alumni Relations

Jacqueline Becerra, Esq.

Greenberg Traurig PA

Robert Brochin, Esq.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Maria Christina Enriquez (non-attorney)

Paul Huck, Jr., Esq.
Colson Hicks Eidson

Manuel Kadre, Esq.

Todd Omar Malone, Esq.
The Malone Law Firm

Sonia Escobio O'Donnell, Esq.
Jorden Burt LLP

Vivian Perez-Siam (non-attorney)

Abigail Price-Williams, Esq.
Miami-Dade County Attorney's Office

Joseph Raia, Esq.
Gunster Yoakley & Stewart, PA

Alejandro Soto (non-attorney)
President & CEO, Insource, Inc.

Let's hope the committee acts more quickly than Obama.

2. More Liberty City sentencings today (AP). Judge Lenard has been sentencing the defendants to what looks like reasonable sentences in light of the facts of this case even though the government has been asking for 30+ year sentences:

Four men described as soldiers in a terrorism plot to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices have each been sentenced to less than a decade behind bars, far less than federal prosecutors sought.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard, in sentencing hearings Wednesday and Thursday, said the four were followers who participated far less than ringleader Narseal Batiste in discussions about possible terrorist attacks. The conversations were recorded by the FBI using an informant posing as an al-Qaida operative.
The plot never got past the discussion stage, which has led defense attorneys and national terrorism experts to describe the case as overblown since the "Liberty City Seven" were arrested in June 2006. Lenard appeared to share that sentiment, at least for the four who were sentenced.
"As I see this case, these young men were looking for something. I don't know, maybe it was their naivete and youth that made them fall under the influence of a man with a need to control and they became his followers," Lenard said.
Prosecutors sought between 30 and 50 years in prison for each of the four men, with Batiste facing a maximum of 70 years when he is sentenced Friday. They were convicted in May in the third trial of the case following a pair of mistrials, and two of the original suspects were acquitted.
Lenard sentenced Batiste's self-described "No. 1 soldier," 30-year-old Patrick Abraham, to just over nine years Thursday. Stanley Phanor, 34, got eight years and two other men were sentenced to even less time Wednesday. Lenard said a terrorism enhancement that applies in each case would result in an unreasonably harsh sentence, so she opted for leniency.
Abraham, a Haitian native who has been jailed since his 2006 arrest, apologized for what happened but insisted he never sought to be a terrorist.
"I am not nobody's enemy," he said. "I am not the government's enemy."

Batiste to be sentenced next.....

3. Kathy Williams was honored by UM yesterday. I asked one of my favorite readers who was there to give me a quick summary of the event:

Kathy Williams received the Lawyers in Leadership Award last night from UM's Center for Ethics & Public Service for her "dedication to public citizenship and leadership." Examples of Kathy's professionalism, leadership, dedication, and intellect, were highlighted by several speakers (Michael Caruso, Celeste Higgins, and Ricardo Bascuas), and included the fact that Congress cited Kathy's FPD's office as a model defender's office. Spotted in the packed room were Judges Moreno, Seitz, O'Sullivan, and Palermo. Kathy's speech was short and sweet, thanking all those who guided her and expressing gratitude for being able to "work with her heroes."

Even if you don't know Kathy, you've probably benefited from her national and local work related to indigent defense. Congratulations to her for this well-deserved accolade.

4. Prof. Bascuas, a FPD alum, spoke at Kathy's event. If you haven't recently, you should check out his blog. Lots of fun stuff.

5. Tom Withers writes in re his case below:

Mark Shelnutt was and is innocent of each and every charge brought against him. Mark represents what is good and right about criminal defense lawyers. He tries to right wrongs when he sees them. He brings a passionate intensity to defending his clients. And, most importantly, he believes in our system of justice and trusted the jury to fairly listen to the evidence, which they did.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lawyer acquitted in federal court in Georgia

Friends of the blog, Tom Withers* and Craig Gillen, walked a lawyer (Mark Shelnutt) today in Columbus, Ga. Shelnutt was charged with money laundering and drug offenses. The judge read 36 not guilty verdicts:

At 2:45, Land began to read.
“Count One, conspiracy to launder money,” the judge said. “Not guilty.”
“Count Two, aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Not guilty.”
“Count Five, money laundering. Not guilty.”
Then the judge’s words, cadence and diction took on a lyrical quality. The chorus, time and again, was “Not guilty.”
Thirty six times Land read a charge and followed it with not guilty.
By the time Land was finished, Shelnutt’s supporters, a combination of family and friends, many of them connected to St. Luke United Methodist Church, were cheering.

I'm sure Ben Kuehne and his legal team have been following the case...

*Tom runs his own blog here.

"Liberty City terror suspect gets 6 years in prison"

The first of the Liberty City defendants -- 24-year-old Burson Augustin -- was sentenced today. The government sought the maximum -- 30 years. But Judge Lenard did the right thing and sentenced Augustin to 6 years. From the AP:

A judge on Wednesday handed a six-year jail sentence to one of five men convicted of plotting to blow up the tallest building in the United States, Sears Tower, and swearing allegiance to Al-Qaeda.
US District Judge Joan Lenard found that Burson Augustin, 23, played a minor role in the conspiracy and gave him a far lighter sentence than the 30 years that prosecutors had been seeking.
In handing down the sentence, Lenard said: "Islamic terrorism is one of the most tremendous problems that this country now confronts... this defendant took an oath to Al-Qaeda."
But she added that Augustin's actions might have been affected by other factors. "This was a young man who for whatever reason, perhaps lack of education or lack of direction, came under the influence of Narseal Batiste."
Augustin's attorney Louis Casuso, had asked for leniency, telling the court that "when you are young, you say a lot of stupid things and you go through a lot of stupid things."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vamos a Cuba

Gotta love Miami -- Denials of cert are rarely newsworthy, especially front-page newsworthy. But the cert denial re Vamos a Cuba landed on the front page of the Miami Herald:

A three-year battle that pitted claims of censorship against the right of Miami-Dade schools to remove from their shelves a book that portrays an inaccurate view of life in Cuba ended Monday on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a huge win for the Miami-Dade School Board, the high court declined to take up the case -- leaving in place a decision by a federal appeals court that said the board's right to set educational standards is not equivalent to censorship.
``This is a great victory for the School Board and for Cuban Americans,'' said board member Perla Tabares Hantman, who from the beginning supported removing the book Vamos a Cuba from school libraries.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which sued the district after the book was removed from school shelves, called the Supreme Court's decision not to take up the case ``a blow to the First Amendment.''
``What the Supreme Court did was to give the School Board the power to cleanse the library shelves of various books,'' executive director Howard Simon said. ``That sets a dangerous precedent.''

Here's our prior coverage of the book banning case.

Bob Norman is churning out stories about Rothstein so fast that the rest of us can't keep up. It's really incredible what he is doing over at his blog. The investigation, insight, etc. Even if you are exhausted over the Rothstein coverage, his blog is worth a read. Here's one story about 1000 times chai. You can't make this stuff up!

And if you aren't watching Curb this season, you are really missing out. Here's a taste of this week's episode (be careful watching at work; rated R):

Sunday, November 15, 2009


That was the name of 22 of Scott Rothstein's corporations and it stood for "What a Wonderful World." Indeed. Here's the Sun-Sentinel story covering the genesis of the Rothstein spending, which started sometime in 2005.

I know, I know, enough Rothstein. But the Wall Street Journal got in the act, even including a slide-show. And here's the accompanying article, with some interesting stories including this one:
At an Eagles concert this year, Don Henley, the band's drummer, singled out Mr. Rothstein and his wife, Kimberly. "I don't normally do this, but this goes out to Scott and Princess Kimmy on their one-year wedding anniversary," Mr. Henley told the audience as the band ripped into "Life in the Fast Lane," its paean to the perils of excess. Mr. Rothstein paid $100,000 to one of Mr. Henley's charities for the dedication.

If you are sick of Rothstein, you're gonna want to puke after another story about how abysmal Obama has been with judicial selections. The New York Times has weighed in:
President Obama has sent the Senate far fewer judicial nominations than former President George W. Bush did in his first 10 months in office, deflating the hopes of liberals that the White House would move quickly to reshape the federal judiciary after eight years of Republican appointments.
Mr. Bush, who made it an
early goal to push conservatives into the judicial pipeline and left a strong stamp on the courts, had already nominated 28 appellate and 36 district candidates at a comparable point in his tenure. By contrast, Mr. Obama has offered 12 nominations to appeals courts and 14 to district courts.
Theodore Shaw, a Columbia University law professor who until recently led the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., said liberals feared that the White House was not taking advantage of its chance to fill vacancies while Democrats enjoy a razor-thin advantage in the Senate enabling them to cut off the threat of filibusters against nominees. There are nearly 100 vacancies on federal courts.
“It’s not any secret that among the civil rights community and other folks there has been a growing concern about the pace of nominations and confirmations,” Mr. Shaw said. “You have to move fairly quickly because things are going to shut down before you know it, given that next year is an election year and who knows what is going to happen in the midterm elections. No one wants a blown opportunity.”
Seriously, what is taking so long?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

News & Notes (Scott Rothstein edition)

1. Bob Norman is killing this story, telling us about strippers, Bova Prime (SFL will like the picture in this post, which I included to the left) and Judge Zloch.
4. UPDATED -- SFL covers the bogus Judge Marra order here. Here's the "order" and the SunSentinel coverage. Here's what SFL has to say about the "order":
1. There's no case number.
2. An interior decorating dispute yet Rothstein allegedly obtains a $2 million judgment.
3. "Punitive damages for fraud" to the tune of $21 million.
4. Rothstein allegedly gilds the lily with repeated references to how "clear and convincing" his evidence and presentation was.
5. A "contempt of counsel" award and Rule 11 sanctions too (where's the 28 USC Section 1927 award as well??)
6. Jones somehow waived her right of appeal "based on the doctrine of fraud in the inducement" and "unclean hands"?
7. This is friggin' loony tunes.
FURTHER UPDATE -- Rumpole has joined the party here. He even gets all Kobayashi Maru on us. The original is worth a watch:

This is not a post about Scott Rothstein

Who's going to the ADL lunch today honoring Albert Kreiger and Edith Osman? Come by and say hello.

Those who aren't can try betting on the Supreme Court.

Or watch some clips of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the best comedy on TV right now:

You prefer Glee, you say. Well here you go.

Fine, and if you must, here's a Scott Rothstein story. Blech.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ed Morse duped for $57 MILLION

According to this Herald article, he wired Scott Rothstein $57 million based on this story:

What began as a dispute over a $2 million decorating bill for Morse's new Boca Raton and Maine homes transformed into a $57 million scam, in which Rothstein allegedly ripped off his wealthy clients with an elaborate series of lies, delays and forged court orders, sources familiar with the matter told The Miami Herald.
Ed and Carol Morse -- who were family friends with Rothstein -- sued Boca Raton decorator Jan Jones in 2006 claiming he botched their job. Rothstein told the Morses earlier this year that they had won the breach-of-contract case and that the decorator owed them $23 million, sources said.
It wasn't true. In fact, the Morses lost the case.
Rothstein also produced purported federal court orders signed by a judge, saying the Morses could claim the judgment by seizing a Cayman Islands bank account belonging to the decorator, sources said.
There were no such court orders, nor any fat bank account, court records show.
To confiscate the money, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer allegedly told the Morses they had to post a bond 2 ½ times larger than the judgment, or $57 million, the sources said. The large amount was required as a guarantee in case bank officials confiscated the judgment from the wrong account, Rothstein told them.
So the couple wired the $57 million to Rothstein in installments earlier this year, the sources said. It is not clear whether Rothstein paid any of that money back.

PAINFUL. Too bad Morse didn't have the force:

Okay, I was sick of Rothstein stories too, but $57 million.....