Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"A judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge."

That was SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorssch during his speech tonight and in a dissent last year, which may give criminal defense lawyers some optimism (he found strip searches unconstitutional):
"Often enough the law can be 'a ass — a idiot,' Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist 520 (Dodd, Mead & Co. 1941) (1838) — and there is little we judges can do about it, for it is (or should be) emphatically our job to apply, not rewrite, the law enacted by the people's representatives. Indeed, a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels. So it is I admire my colleagues today, for no doubt they reach a result they dislike but believe the law demands — and in that I see the best of our profession and much to admire. It's only that, in this particular case, I don't believe the law happens to be quite as much of a ass as they do. I respectfully dissent."

And there's this:
Like Scalia, he has shown a willingness to occasionally side with defendants on criminal law matters. He sided with a Albuquerque middle schooler who was strip-searched by his schooldissenting while his colleagues ruled that the school police officer and other employees are immune from lawsuits. In one 2012 dissent, he argued against applying the federal law banning felons from owning firearms to a defendant who had no idea he was a felon. And he's expressed concern with overcriminalization, saying that states and the federal government have enacted too many statutes forbidding too much activity. But on other matters, he has been, like his would-be predecessor, harsher. He has taken a limited view of a defendant's right to competent representation, and tends not to view death penalty challenges favorably.
I guess we will see soon enough.

Bed Bug Massacre!

Yes, Trump is making news for firing the AG and for his impending SCOTUS pick.  But did you see that he settled the beg-bug lawsuit in Doral:
White smoke over President Donald Trump’s Trump National Doral Miami golf resort! The scandal of the luxury resort’s bed bugs is about to go away.
In a bit of good news for the new president, court records show his attorneys in Miami have reached a tentative settlement with a business traveler who sued the resort after his back, face and arms were devoured by voracious bed bugs at the revamped resort.
In a terse one-page report just slipped into the court file, court-appointed mediator Frank Allocca filed a notice that reads “an agreement was reached.” There were no details on what will likely be a confidential deal.

Monday, January 30, 2017

News and Notes

1.  Trump to pick SCOTUS nominee tomorrow.  The NY Times has this preview on how the nominee could affect upcoming cases. 

2.  The Ft. Lauderdale shooter was arraigned today.  The PD's office assigned veterans Hector Dopico and Eric Cohen to the case.  More from the Sun-Sentinel here.

3.  This dude found some cocaine in the ocean.  Now's he's in trouble:

But it was an object lesson in what not to do. In December, Mark “The Shark” Quartiano, a celebrity Miami fisherman, found a kilogram brick of cocaine. He promptly alerted the authorities.
Breeding did not. He instead handed over the 45-pound haul to four other people, on the condition they would sell the cocaine and pay a cut to Breeding. All five were caught in the summer — Breeding, a felon, had a firearm in his car when he was arrested — and faced conspiracy charges for the distribution of a controlled substance. Breeding pleaded guilty Wednesday, the News Herald reported, as did the other members of the network; they are awaiting a Feb. 16 sentencing. Breeding may be punished with up to life imprisonment and a fine in the millions of dollars.
In his letter, the fisherman asked that those who find the white lobster not follow his path. “I would like to let the public know the dangers and what not to do if this situation comes about,” Breeding wrote. “This changed my life and way of thinking and also made me aware of some of the dangers that can be found off shore in the Gulf.”

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pryor fading... Gorsuch and Hardiman rising.

According to numerous blogs, Judge Pryor isn't at the top of the SCOTUS list for Scalia's seat. I bet Trump wants someone to sail through for this seat and will save the more controversial selection for the following pick. Here's ABC on Gorsuch, who seems to be the leading contender right now (according to Trump, it will be announced a week from today):
One of Donald Trump's Supreme Court advisers said the process of picking a nominee is "very far along" -- and had words of praise for Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch.

"There is a lot of information in the hopper about who these people are and what their records are like and what qualities they have to serve on the Supreme Court," Leonard Leo told ABC's Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

Although Leo cautioned he would "never assume a front-runner," he spoke highly of Gorsuch, who sits on the bench of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

"He has very, very distinguished background," Leo said. "He has probably 200 or so published opinions as an appeals clerk judge. They are extremely eloquently written, they're incisive, understandable, clear, opinionated."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

“Your client has never coughed once.”

That was Judge Turnoff getting even the defendant to laugh during his suppression hearing involving cough syrup.  From David Ovalle:

For all his Instagram photos of guns, cash and drugs, the self-proclaimed “CEO of the Purple Drank” insisted he wasn’t actually peddling large bottles of prescription cough syrup to Miami’s hip-hop crowd.

He posted all that stuff to enhance his street cred, self-described rap producer Harrison Garcia told a federal judge Monday. And for the likes on social media.

“I had an image to portray, to boost up my followers,” Garcia said. “I guess it’s just the music industry.”

And so Garcia, the accused mastermind of dozens of pharmacy heists across South Florida, claimed he was not a dealer but just a junkie, addicted to drinking the syrup mixed with soda, a brew known as “lean” or “sizzurp.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

The government is accused (again!) of invading the defense camp.

This one deals with the high profile case of Dr. Salomon Melgen, who is represented by Kirk Ogrosky and Matt Menchel. I'll relate the facts as detailed in the motion, which is being heard by Judge Marra:

The government executed a search warrant on Dr. Melgen’s office back in February of 2013. According to the motion, Dr. Melgen then retained a Medicare billing consultant, Ann Rose, to assist them in the representation.  Nevertheless, the government subpoenaed Dr. Melgen for records related to Ann Rose.  

Dr. Melgen’s lawyers informed the government that it had retained Rose and asked the government if it had issued a Grand Jury subpoena directly to her.  The government responded that it had issued a subpoena, but that it was prior to learning that Rose had been retained by Dr. Melgen’s lawyers.  So, Dr. Melgen’s lawyers requested that they be allowed to participate to protect the privilege.  The government did not respond and went forward without allowing Dr. Melgen’s lawyers to participate.  An indictment was returned in April of 2015.

Post indictment, Dr. Melgen learned that the prosecution had issued another Grand Jury subpoena to Ms. Rose a month after his lawyers had informed the government that she was working for them as a consultant on the case.  Ms. Rose had complied with the subpoena and was interviewed by the prosecution.  Dr. Melgen’s attorneys were never told of the interview, any grand jury appearance, or allowed to lodge any objections.  And, the government apparently has not provided any discovery to Dr. Melgen related to what happened.

On December 6, 2016, Dr. Melgen filed a motion in limine seeking discovery from SDFL and an proffer outside the presence of the jury if the government seeks to call their case consultant at trial.  This month, the prosecution responded by telling Judge Marra that they didn’t ask any questions about the consulting engagement and Ms. Rose didn’t reveal any privileged material.  Dr. Melgen’s reply stated the obvious: how would Dr. Melgen or his attorneys ever know what happen or how to object without any discovery? 

If true, how can the government justify issuing a subpoena to an attorney’s consultant with knowledge that the consultant is part of the defense team without even giving the lawyers an opportunity to object?

Here's the motion, response, and the reply. Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Everyone wants a piece of El Chapo

Even though he's being prosecuted in the EDNY (here's the indictment), 6 other districts want him too.  As does DOJ.  And lots of others. From the Government's press release:

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrea Goldbarg, Hiral Mehta, Patricia Notopoulos, Gina Parlovecchio and Michael Robotti from the Eastern District of New York; Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Fels, Lynn Kirkpatrick and Kurt Lunkenheimer from the Southern District of Florida; and Trial Attorneys Amanda Liskamm, Anthony Nardozzi and Michael Lang of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.

The case was investigated by the DEA, ICE and the FBI, in cooperation with Mexican and Colombian law enforcement authorities.  Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Illinois, the Western District of Texas, the Southern District of New York, the Southern District of California, and the District of New Hampshire.  The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in bringing Guzman Loera to the United States to face charges.  The investigative efforts in this case were coordinated with the Department of Justice’s Special Operations Division, comprising agents, analysts, and attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, DEA, FBI, ICE, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and the New York State Police. 
Our very own U.S. Attorney Ferrer is making an appearance "of counsel" in the EDNY case.  What a show...  the government even filed this detention memo, as if El Chapo is going to get a bond.  Ha!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

We see you, Judge Ed Carnes. We see you!

He is having too much fun in this Kardashian case before the 11th Circuit.  The introduction:
Kimberly, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian appeal the district court’s denial of their motion to compel arbitration of Kroma Makeup, EU’s claims against them for cosmetics trademark infringement. At first blush, the issue appears to require application of Florida’s doctrine of equitable estoppel under which a party to an agreement who relies on it in a dispute with a non-party can be required by that non-party to comply with other terms of the agreement, including the arbitration clause. But there is a wrinkle in this case: the arbitration clause which the non-party to the agreement is seeking to enforce is explicitly limited to disputes between the parties. What then?
 And the conclusion:
Like makeup, Florida’s doctrine of equitable estoppel can only cover so much. It does not provide a non-signatory with a scalpel to re-sculpt what appears on the face of a contract. The district court correctly denied the Kardashians’ motion to compel Kroma EU to arbitrate the dispute between them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ft. Lauderdale airport shooter detained

No surprise there.  And his lawyer, Bob Berube, agreed to it.  The Sun-Sentinel has the details about the hearing where evidence came out that he thought he was under "mind control" and had visited jihadi chat rooms:
Accused airport shooter Esteban Santiago told investigators after his arrest that he communicated with Islamic State terrorists or sympathizers in "jihadi chat rooms" before he killed five people in Fort Lauderdale, authorities said in court Tuesday.
Whether that's true is not clear. Prosecutors and agents are still combing through electronic devices Santiago may have used, looking for evidence to show whether he was radicalized and whether he actually visited those terrorist chat rooms and websites, law enforcement sources said.
Santiago's statements to investigators were revealed during a court hearing Tuesday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.

Haitian Senator appears in Southern District of Florida; Snow Day in Miami; Jon Sale meets with Mayor Guliani

Interesting questions about whether he was lawfully taken from Haiti or not.  The Miami Herald has some coverage:
With dozens of T-shirt clad supporters and his wife looking on, former Haiti rebel leader and Senator-elect Guy Philippe pleaded not guilty Friday to drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges in a Miami federal courtroom.
Philippe’s plea came as his recent arrest by the Haiti National Police continued to spark nationalist sentiments in Haiti and abroad, and his supporters demanded answers about how he could have been turned over so quickly to U.S. federal agents for prosecution in the United States.
Philippe’s lawyers and supporters say there was no legal procedure followed, and he was essentially taken from Haiti without any formal process. The Haiti National Police, they said, voluntarily turned him over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which brought him to Miami on Jan. 5.
“This may conflict with international law,” said Zeljka Bozanic, one of Philippe’s attorneys, who was joined by Philippe’s wife, Natalie. “I don’t think the proper legal protocol was followed.”

And in other news, the Palm Beach Post remembers the Snow Day in Miami back in the 70s.  Our very own Bill Matthewman makes an appearance:
William Matthewman, a U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, was a uniformed police officer for the City of Miami in January 1977. He was on patrol, and handling a traffic stop with some other officers. He remembers it was bitterly cold.
“All of a sudden, small flakes fell from the sky and started landing on the windshield of our cars and on our dark blue uniforms,” said Matthewman, who was born and raised in Miami. “Once we all realized it was snow, we were really amazed.”
Matthewman said he recalls the driver in the traffic stop got a “snow break” and no ticket.
Climatologically, it is not supposed to snow in South Florida. The laid back tropics are a region constantly gaining energy from the sun, and with Florida’s temperatures moderated by warm water on three sides, snow is unusual even in northern reaches of the state.
If other blogs can report on Trump meeting with Pryor, we can report on Guliani meeting with Jon Sale (and his wife Jayne Weintraub).  Sale, one of the leading candidates for U.S. Attorney, and Guliani are law school classmates and close friends.  It may give him the inside track for the gig if he wants it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trump has interviewed Judge William Pryor for open SCOTUS seat

Wow, he's not wasting any time.  Above the Law has all of the details:

On Saturday afternoon, here in cold and snowy New York, President-elect Donald Trump interviewed Judge William Pryor of the Eleventh Circuit for the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The opportunity to meet with PEOTUS to talk about SCOTUS must have lifted Judge Pryor’s spirits, in the wake of the loss of his beloved Crimson Tide in Monday’s football championship.
The news of a Trump/Pryor meeting, while notable, is not surprising. At last week’s press conference, Trump said that SCOTUS meetings are underway and we should expect a nominee within two weeks of inauguration day. And Judge Pryor, beloved by conservatives, sits at the top of the Trump SCOTUS list.
Judge Pryor is very conservative and very outspoken — but he’s also very smart and a stickler for preparation, and he would likely perform well at confirmation hearings. He might not be able to bob and weave around the issues as well as some other nominees, given his paper trail and past pronouncements (and he might not even bother to; recall how he refused to disavow his “Roe is an abomination” comment in his 2005 hearings). But Bill Pryor is not going to self-immolate like Robert Bork in 1987; he’s too shrewd for that. And short of a self-immolation, he has a solid shot of winning confirmation, with 52 Republicans in the Senate (plus some Democrats who might cross over — Vice President-elect Mike Pence is already working on that). 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

"It’s Game of Thrones, The Apprentice, and Survivor, all mixed into one.”

Via Politico, great quote from a senior Trump person on the transition process... David Lat from Above the Law has coverage of the SG sweepstakes and the DOJ transition, which all seems very chaotic.  The process for this District doesn't seem any more organized. 

Enjoy the long weekend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

SCOTUSblog profiles Judge Bill Pryor

It's an incredibly detailed and informative post on the potential Supreme Court nominee from the 11th Circuit.  The whole thing is definitely worth reading if you are interested in the Supreme Court.  Here's the intro:
Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is widely considered, along with Judge Diane Sykes, to be the front-runner to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. President-elect Donald Trump mentioned both judges by name during a primary debate shortly after Scalia’s death, and both have the conservative bona fides necessary to allay concerns about, as Pryor himself has put it, adding “more Souters” to the court.
Pryor, 54, earned his B.A. from Northeast Louisiana University in 1984 and his J.D. from Tulane University Law School 1987. Pryor clerked for Judge John Minor Wisdom on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and then worked as a private attorney until 1995. He served for two years as deputy attorney general of Alabama before becoming attorney general in 1997. As attorney general, he became known for his removal of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for Moore’s refusal to follow a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building.

President George W. Bush nominated Pryor to the 11th Circuit in 2003, but the nomination stalled after Senate Democrats criticized Pryor for several incidents. While serving as attorney general, Pryor wrote a brief in defense of the Texas law banning sodomy that was later struck down in Lawrence v. Texas. Additionally, Pryor has called Roe v. Wade the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” Bush eventually appointed Pryor to the appeals court during a congressional recess in 2004, and he was later confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 53-45.

Rumor has it (UPDATED)

The nice thing about blogging is that we can post rumors as they come in (oh wait, the MSM does that too, see Golden Showers!).  We don't have anything like that, but we have it on a reliable source that the Trump administration has asked U.S. Attorney Willie Ferrer to resign. [UPDATE -- someone with knowledge of this has indicated that this rumor is false and that Willie has NOT been asked to resign.] If true, there should be a shakeup in that office in the near future.  There's also been quite a bit of speculation on what Mr. Ferrer will do next.  I'll leave that for him to say.

The shakeup locally and nationally will hopefully change the extreme position that the government frequently takes on bond.  For example, yesterday DOJ asked for the VW executive (who was arrested in Miami while on vacation with his family) to be held on pretrial detention.  From the DBR:
The defense team said they would like Schmidt to be held in a marshal-supervised hotel until a full bond hearing could be held in Michigan. They argued Schmidt had cooperated with the U.S. government by meeting with FBI agents of his own volition in London early in the investigation.
"He showed that he has absolutely nothing to hide from the government," Massey told the judge.
Massey also said Schmidt's arrest came as something of a surprise, because the government told Schmidt's attorneys as recently as Dec. 16 that he was only a "subject" and not a "target" of the investigation.
Singer insisted that Schmidt's meetings with U.S. officials were rife with deception. Schmidt traveled to the U.S. to meet with regulators in 2015 and deliberately hid the emissions test cheating from them, Singer said.
"It's actually, I think, a fact that weighs against him," he said.

Schmidt's local lawyer is one of the candidates for U.S. Attorney, John Couriel.  If John gets the gig, there may be some hope that he softens the office's very harsh position on bail.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Lots of press coverage for the shooter's initial apperance

There was a ton of press at the airport shooter's initial appearance yesterday.  "The judge told him the maximum penalty -- DEATH!"  "He was shackled!"  "The prosecution is seeking detention!"  So basically, like every other initial appearance, except that the maximum penalty in this case could be the death penalty.  In every initial appearance, the defendant is shackled and the judge reads the charges and the maximum penalties.  And in every case of serious violence, the prosecution seeks detention.

In any event, he's very lucky  that he will have the Federal Public Defender's Office representing him in this case.  It will be extremely interesting to see if the government actually seeks the death penalty.  You would think it wouldn't based on all of the reports of mental illness and that the FBI returned the gun to him.  But with the new AG Jeff Sessions, who knows.  Perhaps he will use this case to start off his administration with a new direction by trying to reinvigorate the federal death penalty. 

Meantime, it looks like law enforcement is leaking again, which has become a real problem in this District and around the country.  This time, it leaked awful videos to the press.  Here's coverage on the leak:
Local and federal authorities think they know who leaked security video of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooting to TMZ.
Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief told CBS4 News that she’s doesn’t specifically know who leaked the video, but she’s fairly certain it was a member of law enforcement.
TMZ obtained the dramatic surveillance video of suspected mass murderer Esteban Santiago calmly pulling a gun from his waistband and shot 15 bullets at Terminal 2’s baggage claim at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday.
Five people were killed and even more were injured.
It’s video that Sharief said the public was never meant to see.
“We’re not tolerating this,” Sharief said. “This is an ongoing investigation. That tape shows a victim being shot and we don’t want that out on the street.”
Sharief said it appeared that the video released to TMZ was taken by someone recording the surveillance video with a cellphone.
She said a reflection captured on the cellphone recording might give away the person by identifying the law enforcement agency the person works for.
“We were able to clearly see the association or agency that the person was with and identify some other significant characteristics,” she said.
Sharief said the identity of the person who recorded the video and possibly leaked it isn’t known, but the county asked the FBI to investigate.
Sharief said after airport officials and the FBI enhanced the reflection, investigators were able to rule out airport and FBI personnel.
She said it “leaves BSO and a couple of other law enforcement agencies that were in that room.”

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Federal Criminal Complaint filed against Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter, Esteban Santiago

The Feds have decided to bring this case, which may bring the death penalty.  Below is the Criminal Complaint. (It is not clear yet whether the State will also bring charges.)

The case will be prosecuted by Rick Del Toro with assistance from Department of Justice Trial Attorney Larry Schneider.  Esteban Santiago Ruiz will make his initial appearance on Monday at 11am before Magistrate Judge Alicia O. Valle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Interestingly, Judge Valle used to be the press person for the U.S. Attorney's Office, so she will know how to handle the media, which will be packing her courtroom.  

If Ruiz and his family do not retain counsel, he will be appointed counsel, likely the Federal Public Defender's Office, which is well-equipped to handle a case like this. If the government seeks the death penalty (that decision will be made in D.C. by the new Attorney General), then learned counsel (a lawyer with death penalty experience) will be appointed to the trial team.  

The federal charges include: Title 18, United States Code, Section 37(a)(1), performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation that caused serious bodily injury; Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A), using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and  Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(j), causing the death of a person through the use of a firearm in the course of a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). The statutory charges authorize a maximum penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years. 

According to the complaint, on January 6, 2017, Esteban Santiago Ruiz was present in the Terminal 2 baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he pulled out a gun and started shooting until he was out of ammunition.  Santiago killed five people and wounded six more.  Moments later, Santiago was confronted by a BSO deputy.  He dropped his handgun on the ground and was arrested by BSO deputies.  According to the complaint, he then confessed after being read his Miranda rights.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Magistrate position open in Ft. Pierce

From the website:

The Judicial Conference of the United States has authorized the appointment of  a full-time United States magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida at Fort Pierce.  The current annual salary for the magistrate judge position is $186,852 per year. The term of office is eight years.

A  full  public  notice  for the magistrate judge position is posted in the office  of  the clerk of the district court.   The notice is also available on the Courts website at: www.flsd.uscourts.gov

Interested  persons  may  contact  the  clerk  of  the  district  court for additional  information and application forms. The application form is also available on the Courts website www.flsd.uscourts.gov. Applications must be submitted only by applicants personally to; Flsd_magistratejudgerecruitment@flsd.uscourts.gov  and  must be received by February 6, 2017.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Will Judge Ursula Ungaro be the next U.S. Attorney?

https://files.ctctcdn.com/ec708238001/4dc8bff5-37ce-491a-bd01-618d8aa250c8.jpgThe rumors are swirling, and apparently many are pointing to Judge Ungaro as the next U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. (For a list of the other potential candidates, see here).  

I've received emails from numerous sources on this, so I reached out to Judge Ungaro for comment.  She said: "We have a fine U.S. Attorney and, to my knowledge, he has not resigned.  In the event he chooses to do so, and I hope he does not, the U.S. Attorney's position is extremely important, interesting and challenging, and whoever is appointed should have maturity, good judgment, and value the rule of law in the pursuit of justice."

Well, Judge Ungaro certainly has all of those characteristics.  I've had lots of cases before Judge Ungaro (both as a PD and in private practice) -- she is wickedly smart and is really fair (as an example, see the sentences she handed out in the Greer case).   She would whip that office into shape, that's for sure.

Feds drop "weak" case

This is an example of why the grand jury is such a waste.  There is no check on the government from the grand jury and it is simply used as a way to investigate.  From Paula McMahon:
Federal prosecutors are dropping the criminal case against a man accused of issuing a Facebook threat to "exterminate" gay people in South Florida, according to a court document filed Tuesday.
The decision to drop the case against Craig Jungwirth comes about six weeks after prosecutors publicly acknowledged in court that the evidence against him was "weak."
Jungwirth, 50, of Orlando and formerly of Wilton Manors, has been jailed since early September.
He was arrested on allegations that he posted an online threat that read, in part: "None of you deserve to live. If you losers thought the Pulse nightclub shooting was bad, wait till you see what I'm planning for Labor Day."

Tuesday, January 03, 2017


Nothing like starting off the new year with the Chief Justice's year-end report.  This one is about how great and important district judges are.  The intro:
As winter approached in late 1789, Justice David Sewall of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court received unanticipated correspondence from President George Washington. Washington informed Sewall that he had been appointed and confirmed as United States District Judge for the District of Maine, then still part of Massachusetts. The matter was not open to discussion; Sewall’s commission was enclosed. Writing from his home in York, Sewall noted that the appointment was “unsolicited and unexpected,” and he expressed concern that his service as a state supreme court justice would not fully prepare him for the task. “In this new appointment,” Sewall explained, “the Judge is to stand alone, and unassisted, and in some instances in matters of the greatest magnitude—Such as relate to the life of Man.” Grateful for the privilege of national service and the honor of appointment, he hoped to vindicate the President’s confidence and secure the “approbation of my fellow Citizens.” “All I can promise on the occasion, is, that I will endeavour to merit them—by striving to discharge the duties of the office with fidelity and impartiality according to the best of my abilities.”President Washington appointed all thirteen original United Statesdistrict judges in like fashion, and most responded with similar humility and trepidation. Despite their modesty, however, they were a distinguished group. John Sullivan of New Hampshire had been a general in the Revolutionary War, delegate to the Continental Congress, and—before the formation of the Union—President of New Hampshire. James Duane had served five years as Mayor of New York. William Paca had signed the Declaration of Independence and served as Maryland’s governor. David Brearley signed the Constitution for New Jersey, as Gunning Bedford, Jr., did for Delaware. William Drayton, appointed in his native South Carolina, had served more than a decade as Chief Justice of the British colony of East Florida. Francis Hopkinson of Pennsylvania, a poet and musician as well as
a lawyer, designed key precursors of the Great Seal of the United States and the United States flag famously attributed to Betsy Ross. These individuals are not well known in our era, but they launched the new system of United States district courts and set the course for the important role those institutions would come to play in the new republic.
Speaking of District Judges, there is a rumor going around that one of our own DJs is interested in the new U.S. Attorney slot.  Anyone else hearing this?