Thursday, March 28, 2013

Congrats to Hurricanes on a great season

Tough way to go out, but what a fun ride.  ACC regular season champs.  ACC tourney champs.  Sweet 16.

Meantime, the Chief Justice is a victim of credit card fraud.  First it was Justice Breyer who was a crime victim, and now Justice Roberts.  From the AP:

Justice John Roberts has been a victim of credit-card fraud.
A Supreme Court spokeswoman said someone got hold of one of Roberts's credit card account numbers. The court did not provide any other details.
But the Washington Post's In the Loop column, which first reported the item, said Roberts told the cashier at a Starbucks in suburban Maryland that he had to use cash for his morning coffee because he canceled the card after discovering that someone else had the numbers.

The Chief Justice was never defense friendly, but this won't help any.  I would like someone to do the stats on whether Justice Breyer has been worse on criminal justice issues since his home was broken into.

Hope everyone had a nice spring break.  Back to regular blogging on Monday.

Jason Dimitris named county court judge.

He's a former AUSA.

Rumpole and Captain have all of the details over at the Justice Building Blog.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rumpole still barking up the wrong tree with Scalia

Rumpole and I have long disagreed about Justice Scalia.  We've been debating his jurisprudence at least as far back as 2009. See also here.  Well, Scalia has proved Rumpole wrong again as Justice Scalia ruled in favor of the 4th Amendment yesterday in the Florida drug dog case, Florida v. Jardines. But strangely he is still criticizing him in today's post.

 David Ovalle has the details in the Herald article here and he has been tweeting all of the Miami trivia and references to the case over the past 24 hours, including that Judge Will Thomas was vindicated for his ruling and that local Miami cops attended the Supreme Court argument.

In other bad news for police officers, a Ft. Lauderdale jury (before Judge Cohn) ruled that Anthony Caravella (who was cleared by DNA evidence) was set up by two police officers and is entitled to $7 million.  Paula McMahon for the Sun-Sentinel has the story and has been doing great work covering the federal courts in Broward. Here's the intro:

The 9,389 days Anthony Caravella wrongfully spent in prison still haunt him, but he was relieved Tuesday that two former police officers who put him away are finally being held accountable.
Jurors decided that William Mantesta and George Pierson framed Caravella, then a mentally challenged 15 year old, for the 1983 rape and murder of a Miramar woman and should pay him $7 million for the close to 26 years he spent in prison.
The city of Miramar or its insurers may have to pay some or all of the judgment against the former detectives, but legal experts said Caravella, now 44, has a good chance of collecting the money — plus his lawyer's fees and costs.
Former Miramar officer Bill Guess and retired Broward Sheriff's Major Tony Fantigrassi were found not liable after the five-week civil rights trial in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.
"I feel good that it's over with," said Caravella, now 44. "I feel like it took a long time but I'm just glad that everybody knows what happened — that's what I feel good about."
The eight jurors unanimously found Mantesta and Pierson liable. Both men acted with malice or reckless indifference to Caravella, who had an IQ of 67, violated his constitutional rights against being maliciously prosecuted, coerced him into confessing and withheld evidence that could have cleared him soon after his arrest, the jurors decided. DNA set him free in 2009.
"I was worried. I was afraid they were going to get away with it," Caravella said.
His lawyer in the civil suit, Barbara Heyer said: "The system really does work. Truth actually does prevail."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

RIP Anthony Lewis (UPDATED with Scalia opinion in favor of 4th Amendment)

He wrote Gideon’s Trumpet and covered the Supreme Court.  From the NY Times obit:

As a reporter, Mr. Lewis brought an entirely new approach to coverage of the Supreme Court, for which he won his second Pulitzer, in 1963.
“He brought context to the law,” said Ronald K. L. Collins, a scholar at the University of Washington who compiled a bibliography of Mr. Lewis’s work. “He had an incredible talent in making the law not only intelligible but also in making it compelling.”
Before Mr. Lewis started covering the Supreme Court, press reports on its decisions were apt to be pedestrian recitations by journalists without legal training, rarely examining the court’s reasoning or grappling with the context and consequences of particular rulings. Mr. Lewis’s thorough knowledge of the court’s work changed that. His articles were virtual tutorials about currents in legal thinking, written with ease and sweep and an ability to render complex matters accessible.
“There’s a kind of lucidity and directness to his prose,” said Joseph Lelyveld, a former executive editor of The Times. “You learned an awful lot of law just from reading Tony Lewis’s accounts of opinions.”
Mr. Lewis wrote several books, two of them classic accounts of landmark decisions of the Warren court, which he revered. Chief Justice Earl Warren led the Supreme Court from 1953 to 1969, corresponding almost precisely with Mr. Lewis’s years in Washington.
One of those books, “Gideon’s Trumpet,” concerned Gideon v. Wainwright, the 1963 decision that guaranteed lawyers to poor defendants charged with serious crimes. It has never been out of print since it was published in 1964.
“There must have been tens of thousands of college students who got it as a graduation gift before going off to law school,” said Yale Kamisar, an authority on criminal procedure who has taught at the University of Michigan and the University of San Diego. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court this morning will hear the first of two gay-marriage cases.  There were long lines to get into the Court and line-holders were paid handsomely to get one of the few seats.  The lawyers for both sides made the list of top 100 influential lawyers in the United States by the National Law Journal.  

Italy's High Court overturned the acquittal of Amanda Knox.  I doubt she will be going back voluntarily.  I wonder what the U.S. will do if Italy seeks her extradition.

UPDATE -- Yes, Justice Scalia is a defendant's best friend again -- this time in a dog-sniffing 4th Amendment case:

A 5-4 decision (SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, GINSBURG, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. KAGAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which GINSBURG and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY and BREYER, JJ., joined.).

First paragraph:
We consider whether using a drug-sniffing dog on a homeowner’s porch to investigate the contents of the home is a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

Last paragraph answer:
The government’s use of trained police dogs to investigate the home and its immediate surroundings is a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida is therefore affirmed.

Congrats to Miami PD Howard Blumberg for this victory!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday notes

1.  Rand Paul: People Shouldn’t Smoke Pot, But They Shouldn’t Go To Jail for Non-Violent Drug Crimes (via Slate):

Liberals are likely scratching their heads today, wondering how a man with whom they disagree on so many things could have uttered such sensible views when it comes to drug policy and the criminal justice system in the United States. In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said that while he doesn’t want to legalize drugs, he also doesn’t think people should spend time behind bars for non-violent drug crimes. Paul’s statement came on the heels of a bill he introduced with Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, that would give judges greater flexibility in adhering to mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, notes the Washington Post.
While arguing against mandatory minimum sentences for smoking pot, Paul pointed out that both President Bush and President Obama could have seen their lives destroyed by marijuana-related arrests, reports the Hill. “Look, the last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use,” Paul said. “Look what would have happened. It would have ruined their lives. They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys. They go to jail for these things. And I think it’s a big mistake.” Host Chris Wallace replied with a laugh: "Actually, I think it would be the last three presidents, but who's counting?"

2.  John Pacenti does an in depth piece on Lewis Tein and its lawyer Paul Calli:

Lewis Tein hired attorney Paul Calli, a partner at Carlton Fields in Miami, to handle its defense against the civil charges brought by the Miccosukees.Calli has called for sanctions against the tribe in federal court, saying the lawsuit "is a political ploy, attempting to blame the Lewis Tein firm (along with the tribe's former officers, employees, lawyers, accountants and bankers) for internal issues relating to the tribe's business and legal affairs.""The tribe and its lawyer know (or should know) that the tribe's complaint is not supported by facts and law," he wrote in the Oct. 15 pleading. Cooke has taken under advisement the firm's motion to dismiss the amended complaint.Miami criminal defense attorney William Barzee, a supporter of the firm, noted Billie is up for re-election in November."This lawsuit seems nothing more than politics, a means to an end — an effort by current one-term chairman Colley Billie to stay in office by maligning Billy Cypress to prevent him being re-elected," Barzee said. "Lewis Tein and Dexter Lehtinen and the others suffer as collateral damage, casualties in the tribe's internal political blood feud."

3.  The Canes are in the Sweet Sixteen.  They escaped Illinois yesterday, which was a tough matchup for them, but matchup well against Marquette this Thursday.

4.  Rumpole has some good stuff over at his blog this morning on bonds and why judges get stung when they let someone out who flees but never get credit when defendants show up.  The Herald article that he discussed leads to way too many people who should be on bond getting detained.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Font issues

Not sure what happened with yesterday's post.  Sorry about that. 

This is Rumpole's territory, but big ups to Phil Reizenstein for hanging a jury 8-4 for not guilty with a death qualified jury.  That doesn't happen every day of the week.  Dave Ovalle from the Herald has the details on some really great lawyering.  

Justice Ginsburg has a trainer.  The WP Post covers this neat story about how she can now do 20 pushups:

Ginsburg and Johnson are an unlikely pair, the world-class lawyer and her physical powerhouse of a trainer. He stands an inch shy of 6 feet, weighs 206 pounds and can pump out 84 push-ups in two minutes. She’s just over 5 feet and just over 100 pounds — and she has passed her own milestone on the green mat.
“When I started, I looked like a survivor of Auschwitz,” Ginsburg said in an interview. “Now I’m up to 20 push-ups.”
And those are old-fashioned, knees-off-the-ground push-ups, her trainer proudly points out.
Discretion is a big part of the unwritten job description for people like Johnson, people who cut hair, cook meals, tailor suits — and keep secrets for those in power. Johnson often knows when his well-known clients are tired or sick — or why they’ve had a rough day on the bench.

The Tourney starts tomorrow, so expect slow blogging for a few days.  Go Canes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Justice Scalia during oral argument on Arizona voting law: "No problemo"

Yes, Justice Scalia lapsed into Spanglish during oral argument on the question of whether Arizona can require proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections:

JUSTICE SCALIA: You think "may require
only" means shall require only? Is that -- is that your
submission? "May require only" means shall require
MR. SRINIVASAN: It "may require only" in
effect means shall require information that's necessary,
but may only require that information. I think the
statute would make very little sense if the EAC
discharged its statutory responsibility by having a
Federal form that required nothing other than the name.
That wouldn't be within anybody's conceivable conception
of a rational objective of Congress that would enable
the EAC to -­
JUSTICE SCALIA: It would not be a problem
if the State could require it. It would not be a
problem. When -- when the commission fails to do what
enables the State to assess qualifications, the State'll
do it. No problemo.

 The NY Times says that oral argument seemed split along ideological lines:

 The Supreme Court appeared divided along familiar lines on Monday as it heard arguments over whether Arizona can require proof of citizenship from people seeking to register to vote in federal elections.
Several of the court’s more liberal justices sounded doubtful about a state law that imposes requirements beyond those called for by a federal law.
“Many people don’t have the documents that Arizona requires,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said.
The Arizona law, enacted in 2004 by a ballot initiative, requires prospective voters to prove that they are citizens by submitting copies of or information concerning various documents, including birth certificates, passports, naturalization papers or Arizona driver’s licenses, which are available only to people who are in the state lawfully.
The question for the justices was whether that state law conflicted with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which allows voters to register using a federal form that asks, “Are you a citizen of the United States?” Prospective voters must check a box yes or no, and they must sign the form, swearing that they are citizens under penalty of perjury.
Several members of the court’s conservative wing indicated that the state was free to impose additional requirements to make sure only citizens vote.
Justice Antonin Scalia said the federal form was inadequate. “So it’s under oath,” he said. “Big deal. If you’re willing to violate the voting laws, I suppose you’re willing to violate the perjury laws.”
“Under oath,” he added, “is not proof at all. It’s just a statement.”
Patricia A. Millett, a lawyer for several groups challenging the Arizona law, responded that “statements under oath in criminal cases are proof beyond a reasonable doubt” sufficient to lead to the death penalty.
She added that tens of thousands of people had been rejected from the registration rolls because of the Arizona law, though there was no evidence that they were not citizens.

Meantime, Justice Kagan was speaking on Gideon and said that indigent defendants weren't entitled to Cadillac lawyers, just Ford Tauruses (via BLT):

Indigent defendants aren't entitled to "the best defense money can buy," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said on Friday at a U.S. Justice Department event marking the 50th anniversary of the high court's landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision, which guaranteed that people accused of crimes have the right to a lawyer even if they can't pay.
Speaking before a standing-room only crowd in DOJ's Great Hall with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and former Vice President Walter Mondale, Kagan said the provision of a "Cadillac" lawyer isn't a right for poor defendants. But they should at least have a "Ford Taurus" defense, complete with a lawyer who has the skills, resources and competence necessary to thoroughly advise a client.
"We don't have the resources to make [a Cadillac defense] happen," Kagan said. "And I'm not sure if we did have the resources that that's exactly what we should want."
But even a Taurus defense is hard to come by, she said. In the five decades since the March 18, 1963, decision, states have faced challenges adhering to the high court's unanimous decision that found that "lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries." If a person facing a felony charge is too poor to hire a lawyer, the court ruled, the government is obligated to provide one for free. Subsequent decisions expanded the right to juvenile proceedings and certain misdemeanors.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cert granted in United States v. Kaley

This is Howard Srebnick and Richard Strafer's case dealing with whether a defendant is entitled to a pretrial hearing to challenge forfeiture.  SCOTUSBlog has this quick summary:

 The Court also granted review on whether an individual faced with the forfeiture of property that may be the proceeds of a crime has a right to a pre-trial hearing to challenge the basis for possible forfeiture.  The Justice Department agreed that the Court should address this issue because of a division among lower courts on it; the case is Kaley, et al. v. U.S. (12-464).

Here's the 11th Circuit opinion, which Judge Marcus wrote.  Judge Edmondson concurred but said he would have decided the case differently.  Judge Marra handled the case at the trial level.   There was a circuit split.

Wow---prosecutorial misconduct leads to reversal of death penalty conviction

The Ninth Circuit reversed a death row conviction due to prosecutorial misconduct.  The opinion, by Judge Kozinski, is here.  The Trial Insider blog summarizes the case this way:

Kozinski wrote, “This is a disturbing case. There’s no physical evidence linking Debra Milke to the crime, and she has maintained her innocence since the day she was arrested.”
The only evidence linking her to the murder of her son by two men she asked to take him to see Santa Claus in 1990 was the word of Detective Armando Saldate, Jr., “a police officer with a long history of misconduct that includes lying under oath as well as accepting sexual favors in exchange for leniency and lying about it.”
Young Christopher had asked his mother to let him see Santa Claus at the mall and she agreed to let him go with her roommate James Styers. Styers picked up a friend, Roger Scott, and instead of the mall, drove the boy to a ravine outside town where they shot him in the head. They drove to the mall and reported Christopher missing. The motive was allegedly a plot by Styers and Scott to collect social security benefits and insurance as a result of the boy’s death, according to the court.
Police began to suspect the two men almost immediately. Saldate was one of the officers questioning the two men. Scott led the officers to Christopher’s body. Scott purportedly said at some point that Milke was involved, but neither man would testify against her and the statement was excluded as hearsay at her trial.
But Saldate seized on the statement and went to question Milke. She was taken to a small room at Pinal County jail where Saldate abruptly told the 25-year-old woman her son was dead. He said he didn’t “buy” her sobbing because she had no tears, according to the opinion.
He continued to question her, without tape recording the conversation as instructed. Saldate claims Milke opened up to him within 30 minutes, waived her Miranda rights, and confessed to a murder conspiracy with the two men.
She has consistently denied involvement in the murder and said she had asked for a lawyer but was ignored. Saldate even testified he destroyed his interview notes after writing his official report. In the end, the jury believed Saldate and convicted Milke. What jurors didn’t know was Saldate’s “long history of lying under oath and other misconduct,” Kozinski said. “The state knew about this misconduct but didn’t disclose it,” despite the requirements of long-standing legal precedents. (Brady v. Maryland and Giglio v. U.S.)

And here's Thomson Reuters:

The detective testified that Milke told him she had contemplated having an abortion while pregnant with Christopher and had complained to Styers about her son. The detective said she confessed to conspiring to the murder, although she protested her innocence and denied the claim.
In its ruling, the court said the state failed to disclose Saldate's substantial misconduct record, which included four court cases where judges tossed out confessions or indictments because he lied under oath.
The court said that, without the detective's testimony, the prosecution had no case against her, as there was no physical evidence linking her to the crime and neither of her supposed co-conspirators - Styers and Scott - would testify against her.
"The panel held that the state remained unconstitutionally silent instead of disclosing information about Det. Saldate's history of misconduct and accompanying court orders and disciplinary action," the ruling said.
"Some of the misconduct wasn't disclosed until the case came to federal court and, even today, some evidence relevant to Saldate's credibility hasn't been produced, perhaps because it's been destroyed."
The appeals court ordered the state to provide Milke's counsel with the detective's personnel records. The district court was then ordered to release Milke, who is one of three women listed on Arizona's death row, unless the state should decide to retry her.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Judge Dube retires

Magistrate Judge Dube has been part of the court family for a long long time.  Today he retired, and the court had a nice luncheon for him.  In classic Dube fashion, he started off his remarks: "I am a humble man, but I agree with all the nice things you said about me."  Good stuff. 

When I was a clerk back in 1997, Judge Dube made a point of introducing himself to the new clerks and offering any help we needed in figuring out how the court worked.  He also helped us all get involved in the Federal Bar Association, a group he ran for over 25 years.

His longtime clerk Lourdes Fernandez gave some really nice heartfelt remarks about her 10 years with Judge Dube.

He's a good man. 

Here's a picture of him from the luncheon:

Federal Bar Luncheon on trial advocacy

Yesterday the Federal Bar Association had its monthly luncheon at the Banker's Club on trial advocacy.  On the panel:  Judges Altonaga, Martinez & Scola.  It's always interesting to hear the judges' take on what works in trials.  I liked Judge Scola's comment that there is a big difference between being a litigator and a trial lawyer...

While the talk on trials was going on, a case in West Palm Beach that was set to start ended up resolving by way of misdemeanor.  The plea, where the felony counts were dropped, was worked out during the middle of a Kastigar hearing.  Jeffrey Neiman, Jack Goldberger, Bruce Reinhart, and Theresa Van Vliet were the defense lawyers.  Jon Burstein covers the case involving anti-aging clinics here

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

11th Circuit has oral argument only 11% of the time

That's second fewest in the country.  Seems way too low.  Only the Fourth Circuit is worse at 10.5%.  The Second Circuit, which has about the same number of cases, has oral argument 23% of the time. 

A few weeks back Rumpole asked whether his readers would rather be a state Supreme Court Justice or a federal district judge.  Well, a Montana Supreme Court Justice has just been nominated to the district court.  So, at least for him, the answer is the feds.

And finally, more sequestration fall out for the judiciary.  BLT covers it:

The AO identified a slew of other problems posed by sequestration: fewer probation officers to supervise ex-offenders; a 20 percent cut in funding for drug testing and mental health treatment; case processing backlogs because of fewer clerk's office staff; a 30 percent cut in funding for court security systems; delays in payments to court-appointed criminal defense lawyers; and "deep cuts" to information technology programs.
"Reductions of this magnitude strike at the heart of our entire system of justice and spread throughout the country," Gibbons said. "The longer the sequestration stays in place, the more severe will be its impact on the courts and those who use them."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Basically, every Friday the Federal Public Defender's Office will be closed."

That's FPD Michael Caruso describing one of the effects of the sequester on his office.  John Pacenti covers the issue in today's DBR:

Now, the sequester's mandatory budget cuts are about to hit home, slowing many facets of the federal justice system in South Florida.
Criminal sentencing hearings in federal court will be suspended Fridays — a favorite day for many judges. This is a result of unpaid furloughs hitting prosecutors, public defenders and federal marshals over the next six months.
Each Federal Public Defender employee in the Southern District of Florida must take 22 unpaid days between April 1 and the end of the government's fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. It translates into almost one day each week.
"The real cost is to the employees of the office," Caruso said. "We have single moms and we have parents who are saving for their kids' college, and we have people who need to pay their mortgage. Every employee is taking a 20 percent pay cut."
Sources told the Daily Business Review that each prosecutor in the Southern District will take 14 furlough days, but the office did not confirm that figure.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer's office referred all questions about budget cuts to the office of Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington.
The Justice Department released a letter from Holder to U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Maryland, chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, outlining sequester budget cuts for prosecutors, civil attorneys, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
The Marshals Service is facing furloughs of up to 13 days; employees at the Bureau of Prisons will face on average 12 day.


 Picture of Federal Defender Michael Caruso by DBR J. Albert Diaz

Monday, March 11, 2013

NY Times covers airport case

OK, so it was a little more involved than that because the characters were a world-renowned physicist and a super model.  The physicist chatted with the model online and really wanted to meet her in person.  All he had to do was carry one of her bags....  You know where this is going:

Frampton didn’t plan on a long trip. He needed to be back to teach. So he left his car at the airport. Soon, he hoped, he’d be returning with Milani on his arm. The first thing that went wrong was that the e-ticket Milani sent Frampton for the Toronto-Santiago leg of his journey turned out to be invalid, leaving him stranded in the Toronto airport for a full day. Frampton finally arrived in La Paz four days after he set out. He hoped to meet Milani the next morning, but by then she had been called away to another photo shoot in Brussels. She promised to send him a ticket to join her there, so Frampton, who had checked into the Eva Palace Hotel, worked on a physics paper while he waited for it to arrive. He and Milani kept in regular contact. A ticket to Buenos Aires eventually came, with the promise that another ticket to Brussels was on the way. All Milani asked was that Frampton do her a favor: bring her a bag that she had left in La Paz.
While in Bolivia, Frampton corresponded with an old friend, John Dixon, a physicist and lawyer who lives in Ontario. When Frampton explained what he was up to, Dixon became alarmed. His warnings to Frampton were unequivocal, Dixon told me not long ago, still clearly upset: “I said: ‘Well, inside that suitcase sewn into the lining will be cocaine. You’re in big trouble.’ Paul said, ‘I’ll be careful, I’ll make sure there isn’t cocaine in there and if there is, I’ll ask them to remove it.’ I thought they were probably going to kidnap him and torture him to get his money. I didn’t know he didn’t have money. I said, ‘Well, you’re going to be killed, Paul, so whom should I contact when you disappear?’ And he said, ‘You can contact my brother and my former wife.’ ” Frampton later told me that he shrugged off Dixon’s warnings about drugs as melodramatic, adding that he rarely pays attention to the opinions of others.
On the evening of Jan. 20, nine days after he arrived in Bolivia, a man Frampton describes as Hispanic but whom he didn’t get a good look at handed him a bag out on the dark street in front of his hotel. Frampton was expecting to be given an Herm├Ęs or a Louis Vuitton, but the bag was an utterly commonplace black cloth suitcase with wheels. Once he was back in his room, he opened it. It was empty. He wrote to Milani, asking why this particular suitcase was so important. She told him it had “sentimental value.” The next morning, he filled it with his dirty laundry and headed to the airport.
Frampton flew from La Paz to Buenos Aires, crossing the border without incident. He says that he spent the next 40 hours in Ezeiza airport, without sleeping, mainly “doing physics” and checking his e-mail regularly in hopes that an e-ticket to Brussels would arrive. But by the time the ticket materialized, Frampton had gotten a friend to send him a ticket to Raleigh. He had been gone for 15 days and was ready to go home. Because there was always the chance that Milani would come to North Carolina and want her bag, he checked two bags, his and hers, and went to the gate. Soon he heard his name called over the loudspeaker. He thought it must be for an upgrade to first class, but when he arrived at the airline counter, he was greeted by several policemen. Asked to identify his luggage — “That’s my bag,” he said, “the other one’s not my bag, but I checked it in” — he waited while the police tested the contents of a package found in the “Milani” suitcase. Within hours, he was under arrest.
 The article is a fun read, but it leaves a lot of important details till the end.  Meantime, this is the woman who Professor Frampton was trying to meet:

And here is Frampton:

Friday, March 08, 2013

Friday afternoon notes

1.  Maria Elena Perez of Nevin Shapiro infamy is in trouble with the Southern District of Florida.  Judge Moreno issued this order referring her to the disciplinary committee based on the NCAA investigation and her prior conduct. 

2.  Curt Anderson interviewed the FBI undercover informant in the Khan case.

3.  The Dyer building is still empty, but Miami Dade College wants to take it over.  From John Pacenti's article:

The Dyer building was left vacant due to health concerns after the Wilkie D. Ferguson Courthouse opened.
Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno welcomes the idea of the college acquisition.
"Miami Dade College could make repairs for a fraction of the cost of the GSA," Moreno said. "They've done a magnificent job with the Freedom Tower."
The slim tower is a Miami landmark that the college took over in 2005. It was the home of the defunct Miami News and was used by the federal government to process refugees fleeing Fidel Castro's communist Cuba.
Moreno said Padron intends to preserve the historic nature of the courthouse but noted some security changes would be needed. Tunnels link the Dyer courthouse to the Federal Detention Center across the street, and access would need to be sealed. The courthouse also connects to other buildings in the federal complex.

Your next Magistrate will be one of these 5 candidates

Richard A. Beauchamp, a partner at Panza, Maurer & Maynard
Sowmya Bharathi, Assistant Federal Public Defender
Candace Duff, a partner at Greenberg Traurig
Steven Petri, Assistant United States Attorney
Alicia Valle, Assistant United States Attorney

Two private lawyers, two prosecutors, and one public defender.

Thanks to my tipsters.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Tipsters unite

Yesterday the Magistrate Appointment Committee, led by David Rothman, interviewed 15 applicants (which narrowed the field from over 50).

 The committee then recommends that the District Court interview 5 of those applicants. The process is very secretive, so I don't have the 5 names yet, but if you know of someone who got out of committee, let me know.

In other news, Eric Holder defended the Aaron Swartz prosecution yesterday. I think the exchange is pretty telling:
I think that's a good use of prosecutorial discretion to look at the conduct, regardless of what the statutory maximums were and to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was," Holder testified, adding that Swartz and his attorneys had rejected the plea offers.
Holder was responding to questioning from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who suggested that the prosecutors handling the case were overzealous and guilty of misconduct.
In 2011, Swartz was charged with breaking into a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading 4.8 million documents from JSTOR, a subscription service for academic articles.
Swartz was an accomplished programmer and activist who argued that more online information should be free to the public.
Critics, including Swartz's family and members of Congress, have accused prosecutors of seeking excessive penalties in the case.
"Does it strike you as odd that the government would indict someone for crimes that would carry penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million fines, and then offer them a three month prison sentence?" Cornyn asked.
Holder insisted that the charges themselves are less important than the penalties sought by prosecutors and said several months in prison would have been appropriate based on the crime.
But Cornyn worried that such harsh potential penalties could empower prosecutors to "bully" defendants into pleading guilty.

Shocker! Defendants being bullied into pleading guilty.  Say it isn't so!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Khan convicted

The jury came back this morning guilty on 4 counts in the only defendant remaining in the Pakistani Taliban case.

Why doesn't the SDFLA have a drug court?

Seems like this District would benefit from such a program, which are up and running in numerous districts around the country. The front page of the NY Times profiles the new federal drug court and Judge Gleeson, who is yet again out in front of cutting edge criminal practice:
Federal judges around the country are teaming up with prosecutors to create special treatment programs for drug-addicted defendants who would otherwise face significant prison time, an effort intended to sidestep drug laws widely seen as inflexible and overly punitive. The Justice Department has tentatively embraced the new approach, allowing United States attorneys to reduce or even dismiss charges in some drug cases. The effort follows decades of success for “drug courts” at the state level, which legal experts have long cited as a less expensive and more effective alternative to prison for dealing with many low-level repeat offenders. But it is striking that the model is spreading at the federal level, where judges have increasingly pushed back against rules that restrict their ability to make their own determination of appropriate sentences. So far, federal judges have instituted programs in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. About 400 defendants have been involved nationwide. In Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Thursday, Judge John Gleeson issued an opinion praising the new approach as a way to address swelling prison costs and disproportionate sentences for drug trafficking. “Presentence programs like ours and those in other districts mean that a growing number of courts are no longer reflexively sentencing federal defendants who do not belong in prison to the costly prison terms recommended by the sentencing guidelines,” Judge Gleeson wrote. The opinion came a year after Judge Gleeson, with the federal agency known as Pretrial Services, started a program that made achieving sobriety an incentive for drug-addicted defendants to avoid prison. The program had its first graduate this year: Emily Leitch, a Brooklyn woman with a long history of substance abuse who was arrested entering the country at Kennedy International Airport with over 13 kilograms of cocaine, about 30 pounds, in her luggage. “I want to thank the federal government for giving me a chance,” Ms. Leitch said. “I always wanted to stand up as a sober person.”
Doug Berman has uploaded the Gleeson opinion here, and it's worth a read.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Claudio Osorio pleads guilty

But not before Judge Altonaga. He was scheduled to plead before her this week, but she recused. The case was reassigned to Judge Dimitrouleas and he took the plea today to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h). AUSA Lois Foster-Steers is prosecuting the case.