Let me tell you, I'm gonna miss Joan Fleischman. She was one of the most enjoyable parts of the Herald (I know that's not saying much), and she always found offbeat, interesting stories that gave texture and dimension to the crazy goings-on here in South Florida.
Joan, if you're listening, come write for us!
Still, I can't believe she scooped me again with this remarkable tale of life inside 73 West Flagler:
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Espinosa Dennis says she was battered at the courthouse -- by fellow Circuit Judge David Miller. She says Miller was bent out of shape because the fax machine at her office, which his staff sometimes used, was broken.
Dennis, 52, and Miller, 54, both work at 73 W. Flagler St. They had adjacent offices on the fourth floor. Miller initially spoke to Dennis' bailiff and judicial assistant about the fax machine, then asked to see her.
When she repeated that the machine was out of order, Miller became ''confrontational and told [Dennis] that he felt that he wasn't getting the full story,'' the Oct. 7 police report says. Miller then ``charged toward [Dennis], grabbed her by her shoulders and pushed her toward her office in an attempt to close the door behind them.''
Dennis' bailiff, Ivan Nahmias, 41, ''intervened.'' He ''jumped in between'' the two jurists and ''escorted'' Miller out of her chambers.
Miami-Dade cops assigned to the courthouse say they were summoned to her office after someone hit a ``panic alarm.''
Miller denied pushing Dennis. He told officers that he ``only squeezed by [her] to enter her office and talk with her.''
Chief Judge Joseph P. Farina said ''both parties were to leave the courthouse and have no further contact with each other,'' the report says.
Police turned the matter over to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office. Public corruption prosecutor Joe Centorino is reviewing the Fax-gate case.
Miller's attorney, Milton Hirsch, sent a letter to Centorino, calling it an ''unfortunate incident'' and an ``overreaction.''
''He did not act willfully or maliciously to touch, batter, or come into contact with Judge Dennis,'' Hirsch wrote.
Dennis' attorney is David Young, the former circuit judge-turned-TV judge. His client did not overreact, he says. ``Judge Dennis is a victim in this case -- and we are exploring all legal remedies.''
Miller has a new office -- on the fifth floor.
First, you can blame our dopey state legislators, who so drastically cut funding for the courts that two judges have to duke it out over a broken fax machine. Pathetic.
More importantly, dear readers, I blame you. Yes, you heard me -- all you hotshot tipsters who send me story ideas, none of you guys caught this one and passed it along to your humble gin-sipping, "10"-obsessed law blogger? So now Fleischman showed me up yet again?
Sheesh, you guys need to step it up.