Wednesday, November 29, 2017

BREAKING -- JNC makes the cut to 10 finalists for district judge

The 10 finalists for the 5 open seats in the Southern District of Florida are:

Roy Altman
Antonio Arzola
Benjamin Greenberg
David Haimes
Peter Lopez
Rodolfo Ruiz
Raag Singhal
Rodney Smith
John Thornton
Melissa Visconti

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

News & Notes (UPDATED)

-- The JNC's interviews are open to the public today and tomorrow.  Anyone there and want to report back?

-- The ABA has listed its top blogs and twitter accounts.

-- Rumpole may want to pay attention to the 6th Circuit case in which the Court is considering outing the anonymous blogger.

-- James Gonzalo Medina was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to attack an Aventura, Florida synagogue and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.  

UPDATE -- Congrats to Ashley Litwin and Marc Seitles for their win in the 11th Circuit today.  Here's the opinion by Judge Rosenbaum, which starts off like this:
 Theodor Seuss Geisel (perhaps better known as Dr. Seuss) is said to have observed, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”1 This is one of those times.
This direct appeal of Defendant-Appellant Edriss Baptiste’s sentence for access-device fraud and aggravated identity theft requires us to determine how to account in Baptiste’s criminal-history calculation for Baptiste’s ostensible sentence from a prior state case. More specifically, a state court purported to sentence Baptiste for a marijuana-possession conviction to “198 days time served,” referring to time he spent in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention. Based on this disposition, the district court scored Baptiste two criminal-history points and therefore concluded his criminal-history category was II.
The parties debate whether time in Immigration custody can ever qualify as “imprisonment” for purposes of determining criminal history under the Guidelines. While the parties raise interesting arguments, we instead resolve this case by concluding that where, as here, a defendant has pled guilty to a prior crime and adjudication has been withheld, that disposition must be counted for a single criminal-history point under § 4A1.1(c) of the Guidelines, regardless of whether the sentencing court purported to impose—or even actually imposed—198 days or no days of imprisonment. For this reason, we vacate the sentence imposed by the district court and remand for resentencing, using a criminal-history category of I.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Back at it.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. It’s back at it, this Monday morning. It’s been almost a year, and we still do not have a U.S. Attorney nominee. But our acting U.S. Attorney, Ben Greenberg, will be interviewing (along with 23 others) for one of the 5 open judicial slots this week. The JNC will be cutting the list to 10, and then our 2 Senators will send 5 names to the President. It’s not altogether clear whether the President will nominate those 5 people or go with 5 of his own. And to come full circle, recent whispers around town have one of those JNC members, Jon Sale, as the emerging candidate (again) for U.S. Attorney.

The big cell-phone privacy case, Carpenter v. U.S., will be argued this week in the Supreme Court. I argued the same issue before the en banc 11th Circuit in U.S. v. Quartavious Davis, so this is an issue close to home for me. A few members of the 11th Circuit questioned whether the 3rd party doctrine should apply in our new technological world. This morning in the Washington Post, the lawyer who successfully argued Smith v. Maryland (one of the 2 leading 3rd party cases), wrote an op-ed saying (rightfully) that those old cases should not apply to our cell-phones:
That new world is defined by the rapid increase in sophisticated — and invasive — technology. It is also defined by a relentless and pervasive assault on privacy. As journalist Julia Angwin has shown in her book “Dragnet Nation,” the new digital world can track our movements, seize our secrets, manipulate our finances and much more.

In such a world, the very notion of a “legitimate expectation of privacy” seems antique.

There is evidence that the courts are catching on. Most predictive, perhaps, are the words of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, concurring in a 2012 case holding that the clandestine and warrantless attachment of a GPS tracking device to a defendant’s car was an unconstitutional search. Sotomayor suggested that “the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties” is “ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.” As Sotomayor noted, “People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that they visit and the email addresses with which they correspond to their internet service providers; and the books, groceries and medications they purchase to online retailers.”
Sotomayor is right. The Supreme Court should develop a modern Fourth Amendment doctrine. Such a test would recognize the legitimate claims of law enforcement but set objective boundaries — such as the duration of an intrusion or the nature of the data seized — that constrain those claims. The Carpenter case is the court’s opportunity to do so.

The world has changed profoundly since I argued Smith v. Maryland. And as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. taught us long ago: “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

RIP William J. Surowiec, Esq.

RIP William J. Surowiec, Esq.

A great lawyer and super nice guy. And his wife is the best. So sad.

It's been an awful week in the District. Rumpole has a nice post about him here.

A celebration of his life will take place Saturday, November 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm., at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

RIP William M. Hoeveler

RIP William M. Hoeveler, a long-time well-respected judge in our District.  here:
The Herald has a nice and detailed obit
Hoeveler even drew praise from the most infamous defendant ever to appear in his courtroom, the deposed Panamanian General Manuel Noriega, who was captured by U.S. forces that invaded Panama in late 1989, leading to a nationally covered Miami trial that was “the mother of all battles in the war on drugs,” as one prosecutor later described it.

“The one shining light through this legal nightmare has been your honor,” said Noriega, who was convicted of cocaine trafficking and racketeering charges in 1992. “You have acted as honest and fair as anyone can hope for.”
His judicial secretary for nearly 40 years, Janice Tinsman, once wrote that while Hoeveler is “often considered by people to be the epitome of what a judge should be ... there is another thing he has taught us that many people do not realize, and that is we are on a journey in our lives.”

“I have seen him journey back from a stroke because he believed in what he did in serving the public,” Tinsman wrote in 2011, when Hoeveler won the Federal Bar Association’s Judicial Excellence award, named after the late U.S. District Judge Edward B. “Ned” Davis. “He did not just sit down and not come back. I have seen him journey back from the loss of his wife [Griff] only a couple of months after suffering his stroke.

“He did not quit. ... He loves the law. He did not give up. ... He has shown us that he is a man of faith in God. He has shown us that our paths in life, no matter what has put us on that path or what is in front of us, that we must always journey on.”

Thursday, November 16, 2017

RIP Judge Kenneth Ryskamp

RIP Judge Kenneth Ryskamp.  He was 85.  A nice man, who served this District for a very long time.

From his Wiki page:

Education and career

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ryskamp received an Artium Baccalaureus degree from Calvin College in 1955. He received a Juris Doctor from University of Miami School of Law in 1956. He was a law clerk for Judge Mallory H. Horton of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal from 1957 to 1959. He was in private practice of law in Miami, Florida from 1959 to 1986.[1]

Federal judicial service

Ryskamp was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on March 12, 1986, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida vacated by Judge Joe Oscar Eaton. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 23, 1986, and received commission on April 24, 1986. He took the judicial oath and commenced service on May 2, 1986. He assumed senior status on January 1, 2000.[1] As of January 2017, Ryskamp has taken inactive senior status, meaning that while he remains a federal judge, he no longer hears cases or participates in the business of the court.[2]

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

“I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports.”

That was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Many criminal defendants have (wrongfully) been prosecuted for 1001 violations (false statements) or obstruction for similar statements. One senator made this point to the Attorney General:

As Democrats repeatedly put heat on Mr. Sessions over the evolution of his testimony before Congress, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, invoked an unexpected ostensible ally: Senator Jeff Sessions.
Holding up a speech he said Mr. Sessions had given on the Senate floor during the proceedings to remove President Bill Clinton from office, Mr. Jeffries said Mr. Sessions had then justified his vote for removal by saying that he would not hold the president to a different standard than a young police officer he had prosecuted years before for lying under oath.
“You stated that you refused to hold a president accountable to a different standard than the young police officer who you prosecuted,” Mr. Jeffries said. “Let me be clear: The attorney general of the United States of America should not be held to a different standard than the young police officer whose life you ruined by prosecuting him for perjury.”
Mr. Sessions vehemently disagreed with the comparison, repeatedly calling Mr. Jeffries suggestion “unfair.” “Mr. Jeffries, nobody, nobody, not you or anyone else should be prosecuted, not be accused of perjury for answering the question the way I did in this hearing,” Mr. Sessions said. “I have always tried to answer the questions fairly and accurately.”

Monday, November 13, 2017

Fane Lozman is headed back to SCOTUS

Most lawyers dream of getting a golden ticket to the Supreme Court.  Fane Lozman, who isn't a lawyer, just found his second golden ticket.  SCOTUSblog describes the case this way:

With today’s grant in his lawsuit against Riviera Beach, Florida, Fane Lozman – whose eponymous website describes him as a “persistent and tenacious underdog who fought against the government seizure of 2200 homes and businesses” – joins Carol Ann Bond and Encino Motorcars in the pantheon of recent repeat litigants on the merits at the Supreme Court. But unlike Bond’s and Encino’s, Lozman’s latest case involves an entirely different set of legal issues from those presented in his first case, even though his opponent is the same.
In Lozman’s first visit to the Supreme Court, the justices ruled that Lozman’s floating home was not a “vessel” for purposes of federal maritime jurisdiction. His second case, however, arises from his November 2006 arrest at a city council meeting, after he refused to stop talking about local government corruption when a councilmember directed him to do so.
The charges against Lozman were quickly dropped, but that didn’t end the matter. Lozman filed a lawsuit in federal district court, alleging that he had been arrested in retaliation for his criticism of the government and for a lawsuit that he had filed against the city. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled, however, that Lozman’s retaliatory-arrest claim could not succeed because the jury found that the police had probable cause to arrest him. Now the Supreme Court will decide whether that ruling is correct.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

News and Notes

1.  As posted earlier, your two new magistrates are Lauren Louis and Bruce Reinhart.  Here's a little more about them from their law firm profiles:

Lauren Louis:

Lauren’s practice includes a broad spectrum of significant complex litigation matters, including professional malpractice, intellectual property disputes, antitrust violations, civil rights enforcement, employment law, and class action litigation. She represents both plaintiffs and defendants in federal and state courts across the U.S.

Lauren participates in internal and pre-suit investigations to analyze her clients’ civil and criminal exposure. Lauren is also designated by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to serve as a Criminal Justice Act attorney, which allows her to represent indigent criminal defendants in Federal Court. Lauren was part of the trial team that represented Florida children on Medicaid, in which the firm appeared pro bono.

From November 2001 until July 2006, Lauren served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, where she tried more than 25 jury trials, wrote approximately 30 briefs, and appeared twice to argue before the Eleventh Circuit.

And Bruce Reinhart:
Bruce E. Reinhart is a nationally recognized trial attorney and distinguished former federal prosecutor. Mr. Reinhart’s extensive experience includes having served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Florida for over 11 years, as Senior Policy Advisor to the Undersecretary for Enforcement at the U.S. Treasury Department, and as a Trial Attorney in the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

2. Amy Howe of SCOTUSBlog will be speaking today at the Federal Bar Luncheon. It's always a great talk.

3. Speaking of the Boies law firm, David Boies is in a little bit of hot water. From Slate:

Renowned liberal attorney David Boies represented Al Gore during the contested aftermath of the 2000 election and argued for marriage equality before the Supreme Court. Boies’ progressive legacy, though, is now in question in the wake of revelations about his involvement in the Harvey Weinstein scandal. In October, the New York Times reported that Boies, who represented Weinstein starting in 2015, was aware that the Hollywood mogul had settled with several women who’d accused him of sexual misconduct. Now, Ronan Farrow’s latest blockbuster in the New Yorker has raised the possibility that Boies helped abet a sprawling and costly conspiracy to cover up Weinstein’s misdeeds.

Farrow reports that in 2016, Weinstein enlisted Kroll, a corporate investigation firm, and Black Cube, a private intelligence agency, to try to stop outlets from publishing allegations of his sexual abuse. Kroll and Black Cube agents reportedly met with journalists and victims to obtain information and attempt to quash stories. Boies’ elite firm, which represented Weinstein, contracted with these companies, potentially adding a layer of attorney-client privilege to insulate Weinstein from the intelligence work he commissioned. Boies didn’t hand off all this work to associates. Farrow reports that the lawyer personally signed a contract “directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a [New York] Times story about Weinstein’s abuses.” Further complicating matters, he did so while his firm was representing the Times in a libel lawsuit.

Boies told Farrow that he didn’t think this was a conflict, explaining that he was doing the Times a favor by pushing the newspaper to vet its Weinstein coverage carefully. “If evidence could be uncovered to convince the Times the charges should not be published, I did not believe, and do not believe, that that would be averse to the Times’ interest,” he told the New Yorker.

This is pretty clearly nonsense. Legal ethics expert and Georgetown Law professor David Luban told us in an email that, at minimum, Boies could have run afoul of Rule 1.7 of New York’s rules of professional conduct, which bars lawyers from representing a client “if a reasonable lawyer would conclude that … the representation will involve the lawyer in representing different interests.” There are exceptions, but they require informed consent from both clients, which Boies did not provide to the Times. “We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm’s lawyers were representing us in other matters,” the newspaper said in a statement. “We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe. It is inexcusable and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies.”

More from Above The Law here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Another ACCA case

Here's an interesting introduction by Chief Judge Carnes in U.S. v. Davis:
This is an ACCA “violent felony” issue case. So here we go down the rabbit hole again to a realm where we must close our eyes as judges to what we know as men and women. It is a pretend place in which a crime that the defendant committed violently is transformed into a non-violent one because other defendants at other times may have been convicted, or future defendants could be convicted, of violating the same statute without violence. Curiouser and curiouser it has all become, as the holding we must enter in this case shows. Still we are required to follow the rabbit.
So, who is the rabbit?  The rule of law?

Monday, November 06, 2017

** **BREAKING -- Lauren Louis selected as new magistrate in Miami

** **BREAKING -- Lauren Louis has been selected as the new magistrate in Miami.

And as noted below, Bruce Reinhart is the new mag in West Palm Beach.

**BREAKING -- Bruce Reinhart selected as new magistrate in West Palm Beach(UPDATED)

**BREAKING -- I am being told that Bruce Reinhart has been selected as the new magistrate in West Palm Beach.

I am still waiting to hear who got it in Miami.

UPDATE -- Lauren Louis has been selected as the new magistrate in Miami.

Shanieck Maynard investiture

Congrats to Shanieck Maynard on her investiture as Magistrate Judge in Ft. Pierce. 

The judges will be selecting two new magistrates today for West Palm Beach and Miami from this list:


Lynn Kirkpatrick, Lauren Louis, Gera Peoples, Steven Petri, and Erica Zaron

West Palm Beach:

Panayotta Agustin-Birch, Celeste Higgins, Stephanie Moon, Steven Petri, and Bruce Reinhart

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Federal Bar Association Dinner

It was a big night at the South Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association last night.  Judge Donald Graham received the Ned Award, named after Judge Edward B. Davis.  It's a very prestigious honor and one that Judge Davis would be very proud that it was awarded to Judge Graham.  Also, Russell Koonin was installed as the new president of the organization.  Ben Brodsky is the outgoing president.  Here are some good pictures:

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Give me a lawyer dog or Give me a lawyer, Dawg

Did the defendant say: Give me a lawyer dog or Give me a lawyer, Dawg.  According to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the defendant could have wanted some sort of weird animal called a lawyer dog:
In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a “lawyer dog”does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview and does not violate Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 101 S.Ct.1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981).

The memes from the case have been funny.  Here's one from Slate: