Thursday, October 31, 2019

RBG and the Clintons reminisce

I didn’t remember that Gov. Mario Cuomo was Clinton’s first choice for the Supreme Court. He ended up nominating Ginsburg. There was a concern about her age as she was 60 at the time. But she has served now for 27 years. More from the Washington Post:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she knew there was concern about President Bill Clinton nominating a 60-year-old to the Supreme Court when he picked her in 1993.
“Some people thought I was too old for the job,” Ginsburg said Wednesday night during a conversation with Clinton and Hillary Clinton at Georgetown Law Center in Washington. She paused a beat.
“If you worried about my age, it was unnecessary,” she said.
Ginsburg is now 86 and entering her 27th year on the court. She and the Clintons reminisced about the old days at an annual lecture named for her.
Bill Clinton repeated that he knew within 10 minutes of interviewing then-Judge Ginsburg that he would offer her the job, although his first choice was New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.

He said she was serious about judging and laid out her views clearly. “I thought, this woman is completely on the level,” Clinton said.
Later, it was conceded that the serious Ginsburg also has a sense of humor. “It’s essential to the job,” she said.
Ginsburg says she is ‘on my way to being very well’ after cancer treatment

Hillary Clinton said she liked to think she had something to do with Ginsburg’s nomination as well. “I may have expressed an opinion or two about people he should move up” the list of possibilities, she said.

I wonder how many kids will dress up as RBG for Halloween today. Hope you have a fun night.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Are the Dems taking criminal justice reform seriously enough?

On Monday, at a forum involving former prisoners, only three Democratic nominees showed up to answer questions.  One of them is former prosecutor Kamala Harris, who has a terrible record on criminal justice reform.  Meantime, Donald Trump is speaking about criminal justice reform at every turn.  This issue has traditionally belonged to the left, but it seems to be up for grabs in the next election.  From the Marshall Project:

Harris faced questions about her record as a prosecutor in San Francisco and later as California’s attorney general, and whether she had been committed enough to “progressive prosecution.” She defended her actions, positioning herself as the only Democratic candidate who has taken tangible steps toward “reforming the criminal justice system.” The senator pointed to her creation of a reentry and job training program, for example.Harris’s critics say she opted for the most politically palatable programs while shying away from more substantive approaches, like declining to prosecute more low-level offenses, that could have reduced the number sent to prison each year in California.
As senator, Harris has been a vocal critic of President Trump’s First Step legislation, calling it a “compromise of a compromise.” The act granted early release for thousands of non-violent drug offenders. Harris said Monday that did not go far enough. “You took a step, but you just learned how to walk,” she said. “We need the plan for step ten.”She said on day one as president, she would conduct a comprehensive audit of the criminal justice system to understand areas for reform. Her plan also includes allocating federal funding to help local counties clear people’s criminal records, removing clemency from the Department of Justice and legalizing marijuana.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Ed Carnes to take senior status

Big news out of the 11th Circuit... Chief Judge Ed Carnes is taking senior status.  That means Donald Trump will get another judge on that court.  Currently pending are Barbara Logoa and Robert Luck.  But this seat won't go to a Florida lawyer or judge.  This one will go to someone from Alabama. 

The word is that District Judge Andrew Brasher is the favorite.  He's from the Middle District of Alabama.  If confirmed along with Lagoa and Luck, Trump will have appointed 6 judges to the court. 

Chief Judge Carnes has been on the court since 1992 (Bush) and has been Chief since 2013.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

NED Award to Patricia Seitz

The Federal Bar Association's NED award holds a special place in my heart.  The NED is named after Edward B. Davis, known to his friends as Ned.  He was the ideal federal judge -- smart, funny, old-school, and a real human being.  I've never heard anyone say a negative word about him or his wife, Pat Davis.  Two of the best.  And yes, I'm biased since I clerked for Judge Davis.

Last night, the local Federal Bar Association gave the annual NED award to Judge Patricia Seitz.  Congratulations to Judge Seitz for this amazing honor.

Judge Altonaga, a former Judge Davis clerk, introduced Judge Seitz.  That was really cool, especially since Judge Altonaga is Judge Davis'
second favorite law clerk.

 h/t for the picture from last night's event from Michelle Suskauer

Raag Singhal advances to Senate floor

Congrats to Judge Singhal, who advances to the Senate floor for a full vote. He sailed out of committee this morning.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Addicted to jail (Probation Officers)

A few weeks ago, I wrote this piece in The Hill, "We're addicted to jail."  It addressed a problem that we have in the United States -- we jail too many people for too long.  I offered one modest proposal, that we get more defenders and civil lawyers on the bench and fewer prosecutors:
One easy fix — appoint more criminal defense lawyers and civil lawyers to the bench and fewer prosecutors. According to the Cato Institute, former prosecutors are “vastly overrepresented” throughout the judiciary. As to federal judges alone, the ratio of former prosecutors versus former criminal defense lawyers is four to one (and if you include lawyers who worked for the government on the civil side, the ratio is seven to one). A criminal case or a civil rights case has a 50 percent chance to be heard by a former prosecutor and only a six percent chance to be heard by a judge who has handled a case against the government. Cato explains the unfairness of this with a simple example — we would never allow four of the seven referees of a Ohio State-Michigan football game to be alumni of Michigan. Ohio State fans would never tolerate it. And yet, there are no criminal defense lawyers on the Supreme Court and there hasn’t been one for more than 25 years.

In many cases, former prosecutors have never represented a person sentenced to jail. They have never visited a client in jail. They have never explained to a family — while the family cried — that their loved one is going to be taken from them. As prosecutors, they have only put a lot of people in jail. And so, as judges, this addiction to jail continues, even for someone like Deandre, who ends up serving a jail sentence because he overslept.
I've decided to continue to write on this subject and offer other proposals with the hope of trying to fix the over-criminalization problem that both sides of the aisle agree on (when they literally can agree on nothing else).  If you'd like to write a response (and sign your name) or make your own proposal, please feel free to email me and I will post it.

One crazy function of the federal criminal justice system is that probation officers, who are mostly non-lawyers, prepare a presentence investigation report, which includes a calculation of the federal sentencing guidelines.  In other words, these officers are analyzing complex legal questions and making a determination, many times after only speaking to the prosecution about the case.  Those reports often-times take the most extreme view of the guidelines (even more extreme than the government's view of the guidelines), views that are not supported by the plea agreement, by the law, or by the facts.  The reports also do not ever include reasons for why there should be a downward variance under 3553.  They simply repeat their standard policy that there are no factors that warrant a variance.  And then some judges will meet with probation officers ex parte and discuss the guidelines and potential sentences, all without hearing from the parties.  It's an upside-down practice.

So here's another modest proposal, this one regarding probation officers --

1.  Probation officers should not do any analysis of the guidelines whatsoever.  That should be left to the parties to each submit their guideline calculations. The judge and her law clerks can then analyze the parties' submissions and rule on any disagreements.  The same for variance arguments (up or down).    

2. Just as importantly, judges should not have ex parte meetings with probation officers before the sentencing (or accept ex parte "blue sheets" with probation recommendations as to sentence).  It's simply not fair to the parties.  The judge that I clerked for -- Judge Edward B. Davis -- would occasionally meet with a probation officer in chambers when he had a question about something in the report.  But he would never do it without the parties.   I remember one exchange he had with a probation officer who had not recommended minor role for a drug courier.  Judge Davis asked him why the reduction was not considered even though the case law was clear that it was to be decided on a case by case basis.  The PO responded that his office had a policy of never including it.  Judge Davis chuckled and asked, "Don't you work for me?" 

 We have a real jail problem.  The federal guidelines are in part to blame.  That issue is exarcerbated when probation officers have the ability to shape the debate over how those guidelines are applied and then have access to the judge without the parties before sentencing.  There is no downside to making these small changes to our sentencing process. 

Bigger ones to follow.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

"Corruption fighter to controversy, Kastrenakes lauded for smarts, chided for ‘God complex’"

That's the title of this Palm Beach Post article which profiles Palm Beach judge John Kastrenakes.  From the intro:
The two faces of Judge John Kastrenakes — vigilant defender of the law and unbridled hothead — played out in stark relief this month after his decision to send a juror to jail for 10 days.
WEST PALM BEACH — When John Kastrenakes arrived at the Palm Beach County Courthouse 10 years ago to take a seat on the powerful circuit bench all that was missing was a shining steed.
After sending five elected officials in the county to prison, the career prosecutor was feted as a gleaming knight who would use his formidable skills as a dogged crime fighter to continue to chip away at the area’s reputation as “Corruption County.”
A year later, he grabbed headlines for far different reasons.
Stopped for driving the wrong way in the parking lot of a service plaza on Florida’s Turnpike, Kastrenakes became irate. Blasting the Florida Highway Patrol trooper as “a liar,” he said he would never believe her and would doubt the veracity of any FHP officer who appeared in his courtroom.
Concerned about his ability to be fair, state prosecutors asked him to step down from seven cases built by FHP troopers. Kastrenakes agreed and apologized for his outburst.
The two faces of Kastrenakes — vigilant defender of the law and unbridled hothead — played out in stark relief this month.
Howls of overreaching and racial bias greeted his decision to send a 21-year-old West Palm Beach juror to jail for 10 days. Ruling that DeAndre Somerville willfully violated his orders, Kastrenakes found the young black man guilty of contempt of court after he explained that he overslept and didn’t call to report his absence because his cellphone was broken.
Florida state Sen. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, has asked the Judicial Qualifications Commission to investigate Kastrenakes.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Investiture for Roy Altman

It will be a big party on the top floor of the Wilkie Ferguson courthouse tomorrow afternoon for Judge Roy Altman.  Congrats to Judge Altman.

Judge Rodney Smith’s investiture will be next.

Then, if all goes according to plan, Judge Raag Singhal will be confirmed and have his.

We are still waiting on that 5th open district seat in Fort Pierce.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Lagoa and Luck on the Senate calendar

Judges Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck will have their first hearings before the Senate tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 10am and will answer any questions the Judiciary Committee might have.  After this hearing, they'll answer written questions from the Senators.  Floor votes should come relatively quickly. 

If you are interested in getting all the news as it happens, you should follow @fedjudges on Twitter.

Will the Dems address federal judges in tonight's debate?

Trump has placed an emphasis on remaking the federal judiciary and he has been extremely successful. Obama (and Clinton) never had such an emphasis. And the Democratic candidates so far have barely mentioned the judiciary in their campaigns and debates. Hopefully it will be discussed tonight.

Others, however, have been pressing for a new narrative on judging. Clark Neily of Cato has called for a moratorium on appointing prosecutors to the bench.
Given the government’s vast resources, nearly every court case pitting a lone citizen against the state represents a David-versus-Goliath fight for justice. To further stack the deck with judges who are far more likely to have earned their spurs representing Goliath than David is unfair to individual litigants and a bad look for the justice system as a whole.

Fortunately, the solution is simple: a temporary moratorium on nominating former prosecutors to the bench and a strong preference for lawyers with substantial experience representing individuals against the government in criminal and civil cases. If that proposal seems extreme, consider the image of a federal judiciary in which former public defenders outnumbered prosecutors 4 to 1. Notwithstanding the transformative effect that would have on our deeply dysfunctional criminal justice system, not to mention the Bill of Rights, it’s probably not a good idea. But neither is it wise to continue doing nothing while the imbalance runs the other way.

It is perfectly understandable that current government officials wish to stock the courts with former government advocates. But it’s a bad deal for the rest of us and a doubtful way to ensure equal justice under law.

And Demand Justice has put out its own Supreme Court shortlist (as Trump did when he was a candidate) since no Dem has done so. There are no Floridians on the list, and it's not a realistic list in my view (with only 2 Circuit judges), but it's a conversation starter.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Kudos to Judge Scola for being compassionate

It’s not every day that a federal judge is compassionate. But Judge Scola deserves a lot of credit today for releasing 84-year old Hafiz Khan, who is dying. The federal public defender’s office filed the motion for Khan, which received very strong opposition from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. From the Miami Herald:

“I do find that his demise is imminent, and he can no longer speak and does not pose a danger to the community,” Scola said Friday, after holding three hearings this week on the Khan family’s petition.
Earlier this week, a prison doctor testified that Khan has a host of dire health issues and could die within weeks. But he also said he may be too weak to be moved from the prison medical facility, let alone to Miami. Scola, the judge, raised concerns about the logistics of transferring Khan because of his fragile state.

The family, with the help of Federal Public Defender Michael Caruso and colleague Sowmya Bharathi, found a solution that satisfied the judge’s concern: a hospice center in Raleigh that could accommodate Khan on Friday.

“No one wants him released without proper medical care available,” Bharathi said, adding that Khan’s family had the finances to pay for his ambulance transfer to the Raleigh facility and the daily hospice care.

The judge said that because of Khan’s rapidly deteriorating health and inability to speak, he believed the defendant would be unable to spread any possible propaganda to incite the Taliban to take violent action against Americans — evidence that surfaced during his 2013 terrorism trial in Miami.

“Mr. Khan’s danger was his ability to speak and influence other people,” said Scola, who in his order prohibited Khan from any access to a telephone, computer or the internet. He also limited his visitors at the Raleigh hospice facility to immediate family members.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

CA11 issues interesting opinion on experts

There are 3 opinions in this lengthy case, with the majority written by visiting district judge Lewis Kaplan, a concurrence by Julie Carnes, and a dissent by Tjoflat.

Of note is that many practitioners think that the criminal discovery rules require less disclosure from prosecutors on experts than the civil case counterparts. But Tjoflat explains that that understanding is wrong. Prosecutors must make real expert disclosures or risk full reversal:

In closing, to understand just how significantly Mentor has been wronged today, consider what we would do if this case were criminal rather than civil. Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)(1)(G), the government has a duty to “give to the defendant a written summary of any [expert] testimony that the government intends to use.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 16(a)(1)(G). The government’s summary must include the expert witness’s “opinions, the bases and reasons for those opinions, and the witness’s qualifications.” Id. As with the Civil Rules, the government has the continuing duty to inform the defendant of changes to the expert’s opinion. Id. 16(c). And, like Civil Rule 37(c), Criminal Rule 16 empowers the district court to “prohibit [a non-compliant] party from introducing
the undisclosed evidence.” Id. 16(d)(2)(C).

Now imagine this were a criminal trial. The government identifies Dr. Porter as an expert witness. Mentor obtains Dr. Porter’s summary, deposes Dr. Porter and—based on the information obtained—builds its defense. All seems to go as planned until, mid-trial, Dr. Porter changes his tune in a way that prejudices Mentor. Moreover, the circumstances of the reversal indicate that the government induced Dr. Porter to change his opinion. Mentor moves for a mistrial citing the
prejudicial and deliberate Rule 16 violation. The district judge denies Mentor’s motion, and Mentor appeals. Now the case is before our Court. What result?

Reversal. See United States v. Chastain, 198 F.3d 1338, 1348 (11th Cir. 1999) (“[W]here it is apparent . . . that the defense strategy may have been determined by the failure to disclose, there should be a new trial.” (citation omitted) (second and third alterations omitted)). Reversal, and perhaps—because of the violation’s deliberateness—a citation of criminal contempt for the prosecution. But over on the civil side—with the same degree of prejudice and the
same degree of deliberateness—we inadvertently reward this behavior.

Why is that? Why do we tolerate in a civil case the same kind of behavior that would require reversal in a criminal case? It seems that we have two standards of ethics and professionalism—one for criminal cases, and another, significantly more lenient standard for civil cases. Lawyers do without a hint of shame in a civil case what they would never think to do in a criminal one. This bifurcated sense of what ethics and professionalism require of the bar is sadly nothing new. But what is new—and what is made worse by today’s majority opinion—is the extent to which we will let civil lawyers get away with behavior that would be unthinkable in a criminal trial.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

“We’re addicted to jail.”

That’s the title to my latest in The Hill.  Please take a look.  Here’s a snippet:

We issue jail sentences like candy, to address every known problem that we have. Drug problem — jail. Using your family member’s address to get your child into a better school — jail. Paying college athletes — jail. The United States jails more people than any other country in the world. We have higher incarceration rates than Russia, Iran, and Iraq — by a lot. We tolerate innocent people sitting in jail when we only suspect that they might have done something wrong, as one man did for 82 days when he brought honey into the United States. 82 days.

Even though oversleeping doesn’t seem to be a rampant problem, the judge in Deandre’s case admitted that he was trying to solve a broader jury “misconduct” issue with jail. This is not how it should be.

The jail solution has become much worse than the diseases it was trying to cure. So what do we do about it?

Sunday, October 06, 2019

First Monday in October

The Term starts off with two exciting criminal law cases:

1. First up is Kahler v. Kansas: “Whether the Eighth and 14th Amendments permit a state to abolish the insanity defense.”  Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog has a nice write up here.  A snippet:
Under Kansas law, Kahler could not argue that he was insane as a defense to the charges. In 1995, Kansas had replaced the insanity defense with a new law that allows a defendant to argue that, because of mental illness, he could not have intended to commit the crime but makes clear that mental illness “is not otherwise a defense.” The law was a response to several high-profile criminal cases, including the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The trial court instructed the jurors in Kahler’s trial that they could only consider Kahler’s mental illness as part of determining whether he intended to kill his victims. The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to death.
The Kansas Supreme Court upheld Kahler’s death sentence, rejecting his argument that the failure to allow him to raise an insanity defense violated the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in March.
In his brief on the merits, Kahler contends that it has long been established that a mentally ill person who commits a crime without understanding that his actions are wrong is not morally responsible for those actions and therefore should not be held criminally responsible. The importance of this rule, he suggests, can be seen in the fact that, until 1979, every jurisdiction in the United States allowed an insanity defense. Today, he continues, 45 states, the federal government, the U.S. military and the District of Columbia all allow a mentally ill defendant to assert an insanity defense.
But under Kansas law, Kahler argues, it doesn’t matter whether an insane defendant understands that what he is doing is wrong. The only question is whether he intended to commit the crime, which is a much lower bar. Therefore, Kahler posits, “so long as a defendant intentionally kills another human being—even if he delusionally believes the devil told him to do it, or that the victim was an enemy soldier trying to kill him,” he can be convicted of murder even if he is insane. Such an approach is not the equivalent of offering an insanity defense, Kahler maintains. Rather, he predicts, the state’s rule will “shrink the class of defendants who might be acquitted as a result of mental disease or defect almost to the vanishing point.”
Removing such a fundamental principle from the criminal justice system, Kahler maintains, violates the 14th Amendment’s due process clause, which was enacted to protect exactly these kinds of basic principles. Kansas’ rule also violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment because, “by convicting and punishing people who are not blameworthy, cannot be deterred, and require incapacitation and rehabilitation that the criminal justice system cannot provide,” it doesn’t advance any of the justifications for punishment – such as deterrence or retribution. Indeed, Kahler notes, at the time the Eighth Amendment was adopted, it was widely regarded as cruel and unusual to impose criminal punishments on the insane.
Kahler acknowledges that the Supreme Court normally gives the states a fair amount of latitude in how they structure their criminal justice systems, and he concedes that states can “tweak” a baseline standard that hinges on whether the defendant knows that his actions were wrong. States can also require defendants to show that they are insane, perhaps even beyond a reasonable doubt, but they can’t get rid of the insanity defense altogether.
Kansas frames the issue very differently, telling the justices that the state has simply “redefined,” rather than “abolished” the insanity defense. Although a defendant cannot raise insanity as an affirmative defense to accusations of a crime, the jury can still consider evidence of mental illness in determining whether the defendant could have intended to commit the crime.
2.  Second up is Ramos v. Louisiana, which addresses “whether the 14th Amendment fully incorporates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous verdict.”  Amy Howe again:
In Ramos’ case, the justices are not writing on a blank slate. Nearly 50 years ago, in Apodaca v. Oregon, the court ruled that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a right to a unanimous jury, but that such a right does not extend to defendants in state trials. The justices were deeply divided. Four justices would have ruled that the Sixth Amendment does not require a unanimous jury at all, while four others would have ruled that the Sixth Amendment establishes a right to a unanimous jury that applies in both state and federal courts. That left Justice Lewis Powell, who believed that the Sixth Amendment requires a unanimous jury for federal criminal trials, but not for state trials, as the controlling vote.
In his brief on the merits, Ramos starts with the threshold question of whether the Sixth Amendment’s jury trial clause requires a unanimous verdict at all. He argues that the answer is yes: The Sixth Amendment, he contends, guarantees a defendant in a criminal case a “trial, by an impartial jury,” which the Supreme Court has consistently interpreted as requiring a unanimous jury verdict before a defendant can be convicted of a crime. This includes the court’s 1972 decision in Apodaca, he continues, in which “a majority of the Court agreed yet again that the Sixth Amendment requires jury unanimity to convict.”
The history and purposes of the jury trial clause also make clear that a unanimous verdict is required to convict a defendant, Ramos continues. Starting as far back as the 14th century, Ramos explains, laws in England required a unanimous verdict. The colonies embraced this requirement in their own legal systems, and the Framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights adopted this understanding of what the right to jury trial meant in the Sixth Amendment. The requirement of a unanimous verdict also serves important purposes at the heart of the jury trial right, such as countering possible bias or overreach by prosecutors. “Indeed,” Ramos writes, “the knowledge that a conviction cannot be obtained absent a unanimous verdict deters prosecutors from bringing questionable charges in the first place.” The requirement also “ensures the jury’s verdict represents the voice of the whole community” and “promotes public confidence in the reliability and fairness of the criminal justice system.”
Louisiana counters that the Sixth Amendment does not require a unanimous jury. Nothing in the text of the Constitution imposes such a requirement, even though the Constitution imposes other requirements on the jury system – for example, specifying where jury trials must take place. And, the state argues, the justices should not assume that, just because juries were required to be unanimous in the late 18th century, that requirement was tacitly included in the Constitution’s reference to a “jury.” To the contrary, the state suggests, the history of the Bill of Rights shows that the Framers intentionally omitted a unanimity requirement from the Sixth Amendment: The original draft of the amendment included a unanimity requirement, but the Senate rejected it, instead adopting a different version without one. At the same time, the state observes, some state constitutions explicitly imposed a unanimity requirement – which they would not have needed to do if the phrase “trial by jury” had been understood to include a requirement that the jury’s vote be unanimous. Indeed, the state adds, there were other historical jury practices that no one has argued should be read into the Sixth Amendment – for example, “the requirement that juries consist of twelve male property owners who would be held without food and drink until they returned a unanimous jury verdict.”
Louisiana also sees no conflict between the purpose of the Sixth Amendment and a rule that jury verdicts do not have to be unanimous. The purpose of the jury trial clause, the state stresses, is to ensure that a defendant is convicted by members of the community, who have looked at the evidence and independently concluded that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That purpose is served, the state insists, whether the vote is unanimous or is instead 11-1 or 10-2 – as demonstrated by the fact that most countries (including England) that use jury trials do not require unanimous verdicts. Eliminating the unanimity requirement also significantly reduces the likelihood of a deadlocked jury, the state notes, which in turn reduces burdens on court systems.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Breaking — Jared Strauss is your new Magistrate Judge

Strauss has been an AUSA in Broward. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2005.

Congratulations to Jared Strauss!

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Rudy G. hires Jon Sale

Yours truly is quoted in the Herald article praising Rudy for the hire.  It's a smart move.

A former Watergate prosecutor based in Miami may have a big say in whether Rudy Giuliani complies with a subpoena from lawmakers conducting impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives.

Giuliani has tapped Miami-based veteran attorney Jon A. Sale, of counsel with Nelson Mullins, to represent him before the congressional inquiry into whether President Donald Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s president for a political favor.

“This subpoena is very complex because it raises a lot of issues — including privilege and constitutional issues — so it requires serious analysis,” Sale said in a brief telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “There’s a lot of work involved here.”

A former New York University law school classmate of Giuliani, Sale was a junior prosecutor during the Watergate probe and is often described as the dean of the white-collar defense bar in South Florida.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Your new chair of the Committee on Audits and Administrative Office Accountability .... is .....

Drumroll please...

Chief Judge K. Michael Moore.

Congrats on the appointment by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Other appointments are listed here, including Judge Kethledge as the Chair on the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules.

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, which is celebrated yesterday and today. Schools and state courts were closed yesterday. But the feds were open. And the 11th Circuit issued this opinion regarding Scott Rothstein, affirming his 50 year sentence. They couldn’t have waited a few days to issue the opinion?

In other news, there’s a new baseball smuggling case. The last one, a trial in front of Judge Kathleen Williams, is on appeal. The Sun-Sentinel has the details on the new matter:
A Cuban national in South Florida is accused of running a smuggling operation that moved Cuban baseball players through Mexico and into the major leagues in exchange for a large percentage of their contracts.
After being deported from Mexico in June, Tomas Valle Valdivia, 44, faces new smuggling charges in Miami. Prosecutors say he is part of a criminal enterprise that has profited for years off the black market for Cuban ballplayers.
Valdivia, also known as “Tomasito,” is accused of using go-fast boats to smuggle one player off the island in October 2013 and another at an undetermined time. Neither player is identified in court documents, but the first appears to be Cincinnati Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias.
Court documents claim the agreed-upon price for the player’s smuggling was 20% of his $27 million contract. Iglesias was the Reds’ only Cuban defector in 2013, according to the website He signed a $27 million contract in 2014.
RELATED: White Sox's Jose Abreu says he ate fake passport, washed it down with beer on plane to U.S. »
In addition, Tomasito’s Lawyer, Joaquin Perez, said the player is “not doing so well for Cincinnati.” Iglesias finished last season with a 3-12 won-lost record.
Perez made the comments Thursday in Miami federal court, where he argued unsuccessfully for Tomasito’s release from custody.