Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fighting Lawyers Get Defendant Discharged

This is too good.

Stay tuned for the news at 11. This is just a tease.

'Notwithstanding that the trial which resulted in the criminal convictions now on appeal may have been free of error, we must discharge the defendant because his rights against double jeopardy were violated in an earlier proceeding.'

THE COURT: Here's how this is going to play. You've got two options. Option 1, you'll both move for a mistrial and a joint continuance and waive the defendant's jeopardy rights. I'll discharge the jury and re-set it and set it for another date for a back up judge to try this case.

Option 2 is, failing that, we will this week proceed to a direct criminal contempt hearing where you'll both need counsel. You'll then be referred to the Florida Bar with a copy of this tape to send to them. You take five minutes to discuss it and think about it and decide what it is you want to do.

The Appeals Court chose an option the trial judge did not. Option 3. It ruled that trying the defendant again arbitrarily and illegally overrode his rights against double jeopardy, that he was entitled to the jury he picked.


MR. [SYDNEY P.] SMITH (Defense Counsel): Well, even if the crime scene technician comes in and says, yes, I took that picture? I mean I'm going to try and find it your Honor. I'm not trying to wind you up but this is him not bothering to go through his pictures well enough. He had all weekend. He should have done it.
MR. RANCK (Assistant State Attorney): -- don't start --
MR. SMITH: I would ask you not to interrupt please --
MR. RANCK: I will ask you one more time --
MR. SMITH: -- I'm not going --
MR. RANCK: -- if you ever interrupt me --
MR. SMITH: -- don't interrupt me again --
MR. RANCK: -- you asshole --
MR. SMITH: -- I will not tolerate this man --
MR. RANCK: -- I will not tolerate --
MR. SMITH: -- act like a lawyer. Act like a lawyer.
MR. RANCK: you act like a lawyer.
MR. SMITH: I won't take that from you.
MR. RANCK: I won't take it from you.
MR. SMITH: I will not take that from you.
(whereupon the Bailiff entered the room and ended the confrontation while the Judge left the courtroom).
During this exchange the prosecutor had again left his podium, advanced to the defense podium where defense counsel was standing, and placed his nose in contact with trial counsel. He remained in direct face to face contact until ordered to his seat by the bailiff. Defense counsel apparently made no attempt to leave the defense podium. None of the foregoing took place in front of the jury. [e.o.] The jury was not in the courtroom and the judge took a brief recess without comment. Once the trial judge came back on the bench, he informed defense counsel of their choices. But he was, as you can see, overruled.
Just another day in the courthouse. Rumpole better pick up this story..
Well the Miami Herald checks in on this story, albeit a day late, in their Friday morning edition :-)

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