Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Federal Bill Would Limit Bloggers' Legal Rights

A recent amendment to the federal shield bill being considered in the Senate will exclude non-"salaried" journalists and bloggers from the proposed law's protections.

The law, called the Free Flow of Information Act, is intended to prevent journalists from being forced to divulge confidential sources, except in cases such as witnessing crimes or acts of terrorism.

Essentially, this means the new age of reporting and reporters, independent citizen journalists are left legally hanging out to dry. Independent bloggers are the target here. To quote Pam's Blend Blogger, Pam Spaulding: "At once we're considered irrelevant and so dangerous they have to legislatively set up a slippery slope that can land us in the clink or left penniless just for trying to participate in citizen journalism. Wow. The real issue here, however, is less the shield law than placing a definition of what is a journalist on the books. That will allow pols, news outlets, state governments, etc. to deny citizen journalists press access because they are not "journalists" as defined by federal law."

Schumer's amendment draws a distinct line between bloggers and "real journalists" that:
limits the definition of a journalist to one who "obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity-

a. that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means; and
b. that:

1. publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

2. operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;

3. operates a programming service; or

4. operates a news agency or wire service."

To to be a journalist in Chuck Schumer's eyes, you have to both have a boss and that boss' company must disseminate news on some other medium beyond a blog. In the age of more freedom to publish what you choose when you choose, a legislator with a law designed to limit your rights and restrict your access. Just as more and more venues, from federal courts to sports teams, are accrediting bloggers as legitimate journalists, a United States Senator, probably afraid of the articles which would embarrass him, finds a way to restrict our freedom.

Shame on you Schumer, you hypocrite.

First Amendment Ruling Allows Protestors at Military Funerals

A federal appeals court in Virginia has thrown out a $5 million verdict against protesters who carried signs with inflammatory messages outside the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the protesters’ speech was protected by the First Amendment.

A Baltimore jury had awarded the Marine’s father, Albert Snyder, damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

The 2006 funeral of Mr. Snyder’s son, Matthew, was among many military funerals that have been picketed by members of Westboro Baptist Church.

Protesters carried signs with messages like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” But they were blocks away, and as offensive as they were and are, and continue to be, we must always be reminded that the first amendment IS for those who offend us.

Repugnant, outrageous, despicable, do not adequately describe what I feel they do to these families," said Representative Steve Buyer, an Indiana Republican who is a co-sponsor of a Congressional bill to regulate demonstrations at federal cemeteries. "They have a right to freedom of speech. But someone also has a right to bury a loved one in peace." Of course it is outrageous and despicable, callous and unfair to the grieving.
Here is a NY Times feature on how states respond to the protests:
In the past few months, nine states, including Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Indiana, have approved laws that restrict demonstrations at a funeral or burial. In addition, 23 state legislatures are getting ready to vote on similar bills, and Congress, which has received thousands of e-mail messages on the issue, expects to take up legislation in May dealing with demonstrations at federal cemeteries.

"I haven't seen something like this," said David L. Hudson Jr., research attorney for the First Amendment Center, referring to the number of state legislatures reacting to the protests. "It's just amazing. It's an emotional issue and not something that is going to get a lot of political opposition."

Most of the state bills and laws have been worded carefully to try to avoid concerns over the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. The laws typically seek to keep demonstrators at a funeral or cemetery 100 to 500 feet from the entrance, depending on the state, and to limit the protests to one hour before and one hour after the funeral.
A few states, including Wisconsin, also seek to bar people from displaying "any visual image that conveys fighting words" within several hundred feet or during the hours of the funeral. The laws or bills do not try to prevent protesters from speaking out.

Constitutional experts say there is some precedent for these kinds of laws. One case in particular, which sought to keep anti-
abortion picketers away from a private home, was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1988.

"A funeral home seems high on the list of places where people legitimately could be or should be protected from unwanted messages," said Michael C. Dorf, a constitutional law professor at
Columbia University Law School.

Women Lawyers Hold 'Damages' Seminar

The Broward County Women Lawyers' Association


Stefanie C. Moon,United States Attorney's Office

Michael Rourke, Berenfeld Spritzer Schechter & Sheer LLP

Diana Santa Maria, Law Offices of Diana Santa Maria, P.A.

Participate in an engaging discussion of the best practices for litigating damages, from experts to valuation to trial techniques.Submitted for one (1) credit CLE.

OCTOBER 14, 2009

RSVP to or call 954.627.9916

Early registration discount: $25 Judiciary, $30

BCWLA member, and $35 non-members if received by October 7, 2009.

Regular registration and walk-ins:

$28 Judiciary,
$35 BCWLA members,
and $40 non-members

Register via PayPal by clicking here, or send your check payable to "BCWLA" to Treasurer Temple Kearns, Shutts & Bowen LLP, 200 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 2100, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33301.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Self Defense? Student Slays Intruder With Samurai Sword

Johns Hopkins University police had alerted a student and his roommates to the possibility that there was a suspicious person lurking around their home and canvassed the area with the students before one of them killed an intruder with a samurai sword, Baltimore police disclosed late Wednesday.

Police also confirmed that the Tuesday morning encounter unfolded after the man lunged at the sword-wielding student. The new details shed more light on the circumstances that led up to the death of Donald D. Rice, 49, a repeat offender who had been released from jail over the weekend.

Police and prosecutors are considering whether to charge student John Pontolillo of Wall, N.J., after he killed Rice with a slice from the sword. I am thinking not. In the garage, the student told police he discovered a man and when the student told the man to get out, the man accosted him, Guglielmi said. The student defended himself with the sword, cutting off the man's hand and causing a severe laceration to his upper body, he said.

I took fencing at Camp Sequoia years ago. Plus, I watched a lot of Zorro. If you know how to handle them, swords can be dangerous. Better than a frying pan to disable an intruder. But seriously, the 'Stand your Ground' law gives you enhanced rights to defend yourself inside the curtilage and surroundings of your home. If you are searching out noises, and not knowing what is there, you grab a bat, a stick, a sword, and someone comes at you in the dark of night, you protect yourself anyway you can.

I am guessing that this John Hopkins student acted within the law, and in a way most of us, similarly situated, would have done. When you commit a felony and break into someone's home, there are never any guarantees, nor should their be, that a homeowner will retreat. You put your life at risk. This intruder, a repeat offender it turns out, paid with it. Tough break, but a life of crime may lead to a death because of it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weed: Back in a Neighborhood Near You

--The cover of Fortune Magazine--

Weed, A Poem
by Yours Truly


The word is out.

People are lighting up.

The President has inhaled.

Cities have decriminalized.

Doctors have prescribed.

The media has recognized.

People have consumed.

Farmers have grown.

Colleges have re-mobilized.

Celebrities have indulged.

Patients have medicalized.

TV shows have promoted.

The Internet has spread the word.

You Tube has shown the pictures.


Still illegal.

Still not harmful.

But the times, they are a changin'

Kitty Cat Cleared of Kitty Porn

Well, everyone has heard about this story. A dude in Jensen Beach says the child porn found on his computer was inadvertently downloaded by his kitty cat, who jumped on his computer. Made for some great Spring copy, and of course, it was a Florida story.
But any of us who has represented anyone on a kitty porn charge knew the 'Kitty Cat Defense' would not purr its way into court. You just don't step away from a computer and inadvertently download that stuff. It actually requires a skill set. So Keith Griffin better find himself one fighting dog of a lawyer. He is getting charged with multiple counts of child pornography.

Up to 1,000 images, according to police who did not buy his story and charged him with 10 counts of child pornography last month. But last week, Martin County Sheriff officials slammed him with an additional 90 charges of child pornography. Now it appears the cat has his tongue because he is not saying much anymore.

Griffin, 48, remains incarcerated at the Martin County Jail.

The cat is being cared for by a friend. The cat may have nine lives. Probably about as many years as the dude is facing. To those who are offended by the unjust sex laws in America, a poignant article in The Economist warrants your attention:

Our American laws are too harsh and need review. Period. The day we can find a politician with the guts enough to say so is a day I will write about that person. I don't see it coming soon. Politicians, as the article says, just don't have the guts to do what is right, only what is continually expedient.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Naked Motorcyclist Scores DUI Number 5

Here is the AP link:

I am just thinking maybe this guy should move to a place where there are subways.

Too bad it was not Broward and one of those blonde police women could have taken him down for Fox and they could have gotten someone other than a kid selling weed. No, the venue was Ocala. The driver could not explain why he was naked or where he was at.

After getting out of jail, he was given the link to the nude bicyclists club of America though---

Mary Travers' Peaceful Voice

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Never met Mary Travers.

Never interviewed Mary Travers.

Know very little about her.

Do know one thing.

Whenever I wanted quiet and reflective moments, sought an introspective yet sharing moment with people I cared for, Peter, Paul, and Mary did it for me. Growing up protesting a war in Vietnam, when there was a concert for peace, she was there. When there was pain to be tamed, she was there. When your spirit needed to soar, she could provide the lift.

You know, we still have a foreign war going on, one that has lasted longer than World War I and World War II combined. Yeah, really. One that saw August pass with its bloodiest month. Her songs still ring true.

When you look up and each day see people of your generation passing, from sudden death or lingering disease, you kind of say, wow, this really has been a short ride.

I end each nite watching ESPN. They say of hurt ballplayers that they are day to day. Guess what, we are all day to day. Minute to minute in fact, whether we are Patrick Swayze or the guy selling newspapers on the corner.

So like Phil Ochs once wrote, if you have something to say, you better say it now. Because there is no one to say it for you when you are gone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Jewish Avenger vs. The Investigative Reporter: Who is Right?

I thought I would do a debate with myself over the brouhaha between Scott Rothstein and Bob Norman. It reminds me of the Talmudic story of when a rabbinical student thought he caught a Rabbi in a conundrum.

The story goes like this. Student 1 and 2 each approach the Rabbi with a claim they think is correct and ask him to settle the dispute. Student 1 makes his argument and the Rabbi says, “You are right.” The second student makes exactly the opposite claim and the Rabbi says, “You are right.”

Now a third student comes up to the scholar and says: “But Rabbi, you have totally contradicted yourself. Each of the two students gave opposite arguments and yet you said they were both right. This cannot be.”

Alas, the wise Rabbi smiled at the third student, patted him on the head, and said: “See, you are right, too.”

So Scott Rothstein has the quijones to stand up to Bob Norman, who rips anyone at anytime when he thinks they have their hand in the Broward Corruption Stew, a porridge fed upon by many over the years. There are multiple brands, from The Cowan Chowder to The Jenne Jambalaya. The list is too long to list.

Here is the piece:

Scott has an absolute right to do fight back against the same injustice that Norman exposes. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Why should you not be able to defend yourself or another if you think you or that other party is being slandered? Who granted to Bob Norman an exclusive right to write without criticism?

But Scotty, what are you thinking? You are not a Bronx pugilist. How dare you threaten a reporter? You are the name partner of a big macha law firm, with lots of legal credentials, even though Barry Stone is there. And how can you win an argument with a guy who as the journalist gets in the last word? I am guessing a lot of friends called up Bob and said ‘What kind of schmuck is this to go after an investigative journalist?’. It was my first reaction.

After all, Bob Norman has for years been this community’s leading investigative citizen journalist, exposing systemic corruption. If there is dirt, he gets to it. Just like JAABLOG in the courthouse. If someone is bleeding, they get the DNA first. Plus, Bob Norman, even though he is prone to hyperbole (oh, he is going to hate that) has been proven right again and again. Occasionally, he gores your friends or yourself, but it does not matter. The community is served by his writing.

But then Scott says wait a second, you just can’t trespass on someone’s good name without a basis in fact, and if you do, damn, 'I am going to use the resources of my law firm to sue your ass in court, especially if you go after my friends. And because you are going after my friends I am going to go after your wife.' But he sounds like a kid in a sandbox shouting: ‘na na na na na.’ Not exactly graceful. But still, the guy stood up for his buddies. That's what friends do. So I am thinking that a lot of people who have been targets of Bob privately called up Scott and said ‘Way to go. Kick his ass.’

So Scott is right too, because if you libel someone and can prove up the falsehoods were published with a gross recklessness or careless disregard for truth, you may pursue a legal claim justly. You have the right to right the writer who wrongs you.

Bob justifiably retorts that just because Scott is politically connected and well-heeled he will not compromise himself one single iota in exposing shady deals and corrupt leaders, adding 'if you think you can intimidate me into doing so, go shove a frying pan you know where.’ And damn, that is just what he should have said, because Bob is jealously protecting a first amendment right to probe into, and then write about, anything he damn well wants.

But then Scott bitches that Bob says things with his own slant and violates fundamental principles of fairness by driving and digging his targets into the ground with innuendo not fact. But Bob correctly points out 'look, deal with it. There's a free press' and he is entitled to express opinions, and formulate conclusions, without the permission or consent of Mr. Rothstein. And Mr. Norman is absolutely right about that.

So I can’t decide who to congratulate. I suppose that is why I am a wimp on this. Having lived my life in both roles, as a journalist and a lawyer, I am conflicted. I am equivocating. Loudon Wainright would say I am like a dead skunk in the middle of the road. Where you only find yellow lines.

Bob Norman can't let himself be intimitated. That does not mean he cannot be called out on what he writes. All his sources are not unimpeachable. They have their own agenda, just as his stories have their own slant. Sometimes you get it wrong. I am sure he has kicked himself more than once over the years.

I hosted a radio show for ten years. Within five seconds of expressing one thought, some caller shot back live what an idiot I was, and how I might not leave the station alive that morning. I had to deal with it on the spot. The essence of a free society is to express not only the opinions you support but the ones you oppose. We did not create the first amendment just for people to agree with us. Besides, callers who agree all the time can be boring. Better you get called out to defend yourself.

So to the Scott Rothsteins of the world, if you feel legally wronged, sue- that is what you do best. Don't take crap from journalists who lie, but damn you better prove up that lie. And to the Bob Normans of the world who feel passionate about their prose- write it, that is what you do best, and that is what our society needs most. Don't take crap from lawyers who threaten you.

Maybe Fidel Castro could open his speeches with the line "I think I can say without fear of contradiction...." Well you can't in America. Even if you are the President you can get heckled by a Congressman. And if you are the President, you more than anyone else should be able to stand the heckling.

So Scott and Bob, they can’t both be right, can they?

Let me ask my Rabbi.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Man in Anti Pot Ad Charged With Pot Growhouse

Don’t you love it when the Emperor gets caught wearing no clothes? When the voices of righteousness are caught with their pants down?

A labor organization's voice for a drug-free work force found himself behind bars this week charged with cultivating a massive marijuana grow.

In Virginia, Wendell Aaron Searls, 56, was accused Wednesday, Sept. 9, of cultivating marijuana and possessing the drug with intent to deliver, both felonies. He was jailed about 10 p.m. on a $52,000 bond. Police described the 8th Avenue discovery as "a highly sophisticated, efficient, well thought out marijuana production facility."

Criminal complaints state Searls admitted to having the marijuana grow in his attic, which Huntington Police Sgt. Darrell Booth called a "marijuana factory." It included more than 100 plants and sophisticated tools needed to grow the crop indoors.

Searls appears in commercials as a hard-hat-wearing worker for the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation. The commercial lists him as a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 521. It has appeared on television and YouTube to promote the organization's drug-free message.

"Nobody wants to work next to anybody whose judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol," Searls says in the commercial. "We don't just talk a drug-free work force. We do something about it. The union work force is a drug-free work force."

Steve White, director of the ACT, said his organization was shocked and disappointed. Those associated with the commercial were unaware of Searls' suspected behavior. He called the allegations unfortunate and embarrassing.

"Were we fooled? Apparently so," White said. "This instance, while it might be tragic and ironic, it is exactly what we are trying to prevent -- people who use illegal drugs being in the workplace."

The commercial belongs to a rotation of television advertisements opposing drugs. It was not airing this week, and White vowed it would be taken out of the rotation. Too bad. We should play it more, not less.
We don't exactly feel sorry or sympathetic for this hypocrite of anti drug hype.
He is like that anti gay Senator caught in a men’s room playing with his stall, or something else like it. Screw him. Like the minister condemning prostitution after turning a trick with a hooker, this guy's hydroponic operation fries his own butt and humiliates his own group. How typical of the holy and the righteous. Hoisted again on their own petard.
This could be one of the few times I am glad there is an anti marijuana growhouse law on the books. His next ad will come from the prisons, telling us how as a convicted criminal he has learned a lesson and turned over a new leaf. Let's hope it is not a hydroponic one.

One Time Miami DEA Head Now Indicted for Fraud

Tell me how we should trust the government. Tell me how the powers that be honor us all.
I am reminded of the Tom Lehrer song about how we love our leaders and elect them again and again, and what did you learn in school today little boy of mine?
Thomas Raffanello, a former global security director with Stanford Financial Group and once South Florida’s top anti-drug agent, was indicted Thursday in the collapse of the financial company described by the Securities and Exchange Commission as an $8 billion fraud.
Raffanello, 61, of Coral Gables was charged with obstructing an SEC case, destroying records in a federal investigation and conspiracy for his work at Stanford’s Fort Lauderdale office.
Raffanello was in the law enforcement spotlight after he was appointed special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami in 2002.
He announced major drug indictments and was part of the agency’s transition to a post-Sept. 11 enforcement world. He locked up those bad pot growers. He jailed those bad guys. He was the head of the DEA, so honored, so distinguished, he became the point man. And now today, years later, everything points to him.
The full story is in the Daily Business Review on Friday, September 11.

DNA Tests Prove Broward Man Innocent

Right here in Broward County.
No easy road to freedom. 26 years in jail. 41 now. He was 15 and a kid when he was locked up. Says the confession was coerced. Complains the police beat him. And a quarter century later he is proven right. Justice failed him. The courts, the cops, the prosecutors, his lawyers. Until Diane Cuddihy, eight years ago, said, 'Let's look at this again.' How do you return a life lost?

One more mistake to compound so many others our courts have made all across this country for so many years. You know, the numbers are becoming so great, the Innocence Projects should be federally funded under a stimulus package by the Federal Government. Instead, people are debating cuts in crime labs. Insane. Cutting? We should be adding.

This past week, DNA results were released in the case of Anthony Caravella, a mentally retarded man, who was convicted at the young age of 15, of raping and murdering Ada Jankowski in Miramar, Broward County, Florida. How many other innocents was in he in jail with? How many are still there never to be freed?

Thank the courageous Diane Cuddihy of the Broward Public Defender's office.

Thank the Innocence Project of Florida.

Diane Cuddihy says the DNA results mean "Anthony is innocent, it exonerates him."

The test, performed by a private lab in Richmond, Calif., eliminated Caravella as a potential source for the sperm found inside the Miramar victim’s body 26 years ago.

The test yielded the DNA profile of an unidentified male that could be checked against genetic databases to see if there’s a match with anyone on file.

The State convicted Caravella of stabbing the victim to death and raping her in the meantime, depositing his semen inside of her during the crime.

Their own lab, in 1983, identified sperm on a swab of material taken from the victim’s vagina. Now, 25 years later, Forensic Science Associates, one of the best private labs in the nation, found some sperm cells on a slide made from the same swab, extracted the DNA from those sperm cells and determined, conclusively, that the sperm could not have come from Anthony Caravella.
It means the defendant is not the perp. It is as simple as that, no matter how much the State may try to confuse the issue.

From a scientific standpoint, what is interesting is that when the local crime lab had a crack at this evidence, they got no DNA result. In fact, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab, didn’t even detect semen, despite the fact that lab analysts did see sperm on the tested vaginal swab in 1983.

Everyone in the local law enforcement community is baffled, but should any of us really be surprised at this point, asks the Innocence Project on its web site:

"Government-run crime labs just are not as good as independent private labs at getting DNA results in these challenging old cases. Maybe it is because the scientist is not as experienced. Or they did not painstakingly search on the slide for microscopically visible sperm cells. Or maybe they just don’t view the importance of the case in the same way as a private lab would. Who knows."

The Innocence Projects knows though that time and time again, private labs succeed where government-run crime labs have failed.

"What we do know," the Project has said, "is that when the prosecutor Carolyn McCann says that they need to review the methods of the private lab because the result doesn’t comport with what her lab found, while certainly necessary, she is really only trying to intimate that something is amiss in an attempt to delegitimize the perfectly legit results. The only thing that is amiss, is that we now know a guy has spent 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and no one, except his attorney, is trying to rip down the prison walls to free him."

Another important point about this case will be the focus of ongoing conversations about this case, is Mr. Caravella’s mental retardation (IQ of 67) and how that, combined with coercive and suggestive interrogation methods by law enforcement, led to what DNA results show was a false confession. False confessions contributed to a wrongful conviction in about 25% of the DNA exoneration cases nationwide.
One of those cases, that of Jerry Frank Townsend, makes this case more troubling because both are Broward cases, both involve law enforcement suggestively interrogating a mentally retarded person until they confess and using that false confession to close cases, and both cases may even involve at least one of the same law enforcement officers.

When Caravella is exonerated, he will be the 243rd DNA exoneree nationwide, the 11th in Florida, and the 4th in Broward County alone. 243 wrongful convictions so far. And more to come. How could we have been so wrong so often in so many places?

JAABLOG has covered this at this link

So has the Herald-

and the Sentinel,0,258915.story

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sheriff Copped Out, But the County Must Fund In Custody Drug Treatment Programs

by Norm Kent

This week the county meets with the public on its budget for next year.

Regrettably, the Sheriff has not included Diversion Treatment Programs in his funding request to the County Commission. Told to cut his budget, he eliminated those treatment programs which aid in reducing the jail cap, and which he operated more for that purpose than out of altruism. As a consequence, those in custody treatment programs defense attorneys use to mitigate sentences for their clients are in serious jeopardy.

Add to that treatment programs, such as BARC, Broward Alcohol Rehab, are losing counselors. The more counselors you lose, the less clients you can intake. The consequence: the more addicts you leave without help.

The burden for these initiatives should probably come from the County Commission’s resources because the citizens we are helping are members of our family, they are our friends, they are our neighbors. I dare say that there is not a single one of us, either on the commission, or in our courtrooms, that has not been adversely impacted by drug abuse.

I dare say the percentage of success is smaller than we all would like them to be. Not everyone gets better. But the Torah teaches us ‘that he who saves a life it is as if he has saved the world.’ If we spend money on curing people today, we may have less property crimes tomorrow. If we spend money on these programs today, we may reduce jail costs tomorrow. Partly, we fund these programs because we are selfish, because we want to be safer. Partly, we fund them because we aspire to do good, and we know that our inner nature dictates it is honorable to give people a second chance.

Ultimately, where or why the funding comes is not as important as that the funding comes.

I know the County Commission and I know that in their heart of hearts they want to fund these programs. I know that as a society we all want rehabilitation to flourish and recidivism to diminish. That requires a sound fiscal investment in successful programs, such as ATACC, where clients remain in custody and in treatment; where they have a clean environment and strong inducement to get better. Freedom is a heavy price to pay, but it steers people in the right direction. If only they take the wheel.

The real test for the addict comes not in the jail but out on the streets after the program is ended and the doors to the community are opened. We need to insure we have given them the tools to turn away from the streets and the easy high which leads to a disastrous road. But it is also up to the addict to do better so he can become a partner in our society, instead of an inmate in our jails.

When you raise a child, you have to put away money for his bar mitzvah or wedding but you have to save for the unforeseen illness like pneumonia, or cancer, which I and some of you have gone through. When you govern a county, you plan for our schools and our theaters and our highways, but you set aside funds for the hurricanes, the calamities, and the catastrophies.

The sheriff capitulated a bit, copped out if you will, by turning this task back to County Commissioners, but truly it was theirs to begin with. I am not sure I want the Sheriff really operating drug treatment programs anyway. His job is to insure decent housing, humane treatment, normal recreation, safe incarceration, and proper medical care. That's enough.

But when you plan and design a jail, you cannot just provide hot meals and steel cots. You must take into account those living with illness, AIDS, and diseases; you must realize that those locked up are going to have mental health issues and emotional problems; that they are going to be alcoholics and dependent on drugs. We have more than just a constitutional and legal duty to serve this community.

We have a moral obligation you cannot allow the limitation of finances to ignore. For a county to not fund a drug program in a jail is the legal and moral equivalent of bringing a patient in a gurney to the emergency room and not having oxygen or a physician to treat him. You might as well have left him in the street because you are sentencing him to certain death.

If this County Commission chooses to be remembered instead for life, it will re-fund these programs in the next budget.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Trouble With Justice

Well here is an article I wrote 30 years ago that I could not figure out how to post on the blog because it is a PDF. You just hit the link above, entitled, 'The Trouble With Justice,' and it takes you directly to the full article posted by Jaablog for me.

Jaablog has been kind enough to post it on their site so I could link to it on my site since I guess you cannot put a PDF on a free blog.

Rather long, for Broward Life, a weekly glossy, it summarizes my convictions back then, many of which I still stand by today.

On the tombstone of my friend Al Lowenstein, there reads this saying: "If a man stands by his convictions, and there abides, eventually the world will come round to him..."

As I reach the Fall of my life, I am happy to look back and see what I said then I stand by today; and sorry that so many of the sores which infected the justice system then still wound us today.

I would like to think we have progressed and moved forward and achieved much, but in truth our gains have been modest, and I dare say the justice system has ruined as many as it has saved.

Someday, folksinger Tom Paxton, once wrote, 'Peace will come.' Someday. But it is not around the corner.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cops Shoot Fire Chief Over Traffic Tickets

This today by Debra Cassens Weiss in the ABA Journal

A fire chief who went to court to complain about a speed trap in Jericho, Ark., ended up with a bullet in his hip after he got in a scuffle with police at the hearing and one of them fired his gun.

The fight broke out during Fire Chief Don Payne’s second court appearance over traffic tickets in one day, the Associated Press reports. Earlier in the day, Payne failed to get a traffic ticket dismissed. When police issued a new ticket to either Payne or his son, the fire chief returned to court to protest. The scuffle broke out when an argument escalated between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing. Payne was shot from behind.

Jericho residents admitted their town is known for the large number of tickets given to motorists on the main highway there. But the shooting has changed the status quo.

“Now the police chief has disbanded his force ‘until things calm down,’ a judge has voided all outstanding police-issued citations and sheriff's deputies are asking where all the money from the tickets went. With 174 residents, the city can keep seven police officers on its rolls but missed payments on police and fire department vehicles and saw its last business close its doors a few weeks ago.”

Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley said he doesn’t plan to file any felony charges against the officer, who was not identified, or Payne. He said he didn't remember the name of the officer who fired the shot.

Small town justice. The rules are different there. Here, if you get a traffic ticket we send you to comedy traffic school. We don't shoot you. Now there was once a city just west of SR 84 where you could get a ticket for driving 36 in a 35, but we disbanded it. Wasn't it Hacienda Something, and Red Crist was the mayor, judge and the cop?

Jack Webb Schools Barack Obama

Labor Day celebrates the rights of workers not to work; a day which celebrates unions and organized labor, and the rights of workingmen.

But the American debate today, from Miami to Maine, from Sunny Isles to Seattle, is all about health care. So here is a little respite.