Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So How About That Florida Legislature?

What a bunch of kooks! In a time of deep economic anxiety, record-high gas prices, and a broadening recession, does anyone even care what the hail they are doing up there in Tallahassee? Let's take a peek:
Of the myriad losers in a state budget that cuts a record $4 billion in spending, public education will lose the most -- with Miami-Dade and Broward schools getting hit hardest of all.

The two biggest counties together will shoulder more than a third of the $332 million in cuts to K-12 classroom spending in the proposed budget lawmakers will approve when the legislative session ends Friday.

Those school cuts are a fraction of the total slashed from education: $2.3 billion -- 55 percent of the total cuts -- which will reduce spending on everything from construction to class programs in kindergarten through graduate school.

But classrooms won't be the only ones feeling the pinch of a $66.2 billion budget that represents the largest one-year drop in state spending. In the next few months, Floridians will pay more for boat registration, driver licenses and court fees as well as drunken-driving fines and college tuition.

Meanwhile, reimbursements for hospitals and nursing homes are decreasing, as is money for foster care and financial aid for students at private colleges.

The biggest budget winner: prison builders. They'll get $305 million to build one private and two public lockups. By the end of the budget year on June 30, 2009, the prison population is anticipated to swell to 107,000.

''If you build them, they will come,'' fretted Sunrise Democrat Sen. Nan Rich.
Hey, at least we're number one at something!

Hold on, there is someone trying to do something good up there -- WPB litigator Rowdy Roddy Tennyson:

As the House prepares to vote on the rental bill, which is sailing through both chambers unopposed, Crist signaled Thursday he might reconsider his veto of the penalties. The "new language that offers more protection to the renter or the consumer is encouraging," Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said.

Ron Book, a lobbyist for the Florida Apartment Association, said allowing the renter to choose whether to accept the early-termination fee should allay the fears of the governor and consumer groups.

"Do I think it's much more tenant-friendly? Yes. Did the [governor's] veto drive us to do it? Yes," Book said.

"The tenant gets the choice. One of the complaints had been landlords can put [early termination fees] in the lease, and they have to take it or leave it. Meeting with the governor's folks, they wanted more options for the tenant."

West Palm Beach attorney Rod Tennyson, who won class-action lawsuits against landlords that were illegally charging early termination fees, said that by giving the renter the final say, it's "getting closer to being a fair bill."

Renters might be better off with the two-month penalty, if they're renting from a complex with low occupancy rates — cases in which the landlord could keep charging rent while it takes months and months to find a new tenant, Tennyson said.

"Before you sign the lease, do a little research and check the box that helps you the most," he said.
Research before signing a rental agreement? Good luck, Rod. Things really are different up there.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Help, Or Hype?

Recently I have been barraged with numerous requests to join "new" legal communities of various kinds, all of which have gotten very favorable treatment in the press. For example, this NYT article about a new site where you can upload and download briefs etc.,, almost reads like a press release:

But free legal information for consumers who want to do some research before they visit a lawyer is far less broadly available on the Web. Now services are appearing that may make it easier for consumers to do their own preliminary homework on legal issues in advance of seeking help from a professional., a new site, is stocking a free, virtual law library by persuading lawyers to do something highly unusual: to post examples of their legal work online for use by one and all, no strings attached. Many of the documents are articles and newsletters that can be understood by ordinary mortals who want more background on a legal issue, or who would like to find lawyers with expertise in a particular area.

It works like this: Lawyers who contribute to JD Supra dip into their hard drives for articles, court papers, legal briefs and other tidbits of their craft. They upload the documents, as well as a profile of themselves that is linked to each document. Site visitors who have a legal problem and are thinking about finding a lawyer can use an easily searchable database to look up, say, “trademark infringement,” find related documents and, if they like the author’s experience and approach, perhaps click on his or her profile.

Contributing lawyers get publicity and credit for the socially useful act of adding to a public database, and visitors get free information, said Aviva Cuyler, a former litigator in Marshall, Calif., who founded the business. “People will still need attorneys,” Ms. Cuyler said. “We are not encouraging people to do it themselves, but to find the right people to help them.”

Maybe this will work, I don't know. But color me skeptical, based on my review of the documents uploaded to the site, many of them by right-wing think tank The Cato Institute and, oddly, Morrison Foerster. There are some interesting things on there, to be sure. And if it takes off then it will be much more useful than it is at present. For right now, however, it may be more trouble than it's worth.

Then there's, which Rumpy had previously discussed and which was lovingly profiled in the Herald a few days ago:

Launched last summer in nine states and Washington, D.C., the website debuted in Florida this month. Its ambitious plan: to publish numerical ratings on every Sunshine State lawyer, whether the lawyers like it or not. That's more than 70,000.

Users can sort through hundreds of local lawyers' profiles using a variety of criteria -- legal specialty, disciplinary record, customer reviews, rating -- or simply verify the credentials of one attorney, all for free. Lawyers can pad their bare-bones, automated profiles at no cost.

''We may not be the first kid on the block, but we're the first that really has the consumer in mind,'' CEO Mark Britton, 41, said.


Indeed, it's a crowded marketplace. Competitors include Best Lawyers in America, Leading American Attorneys, Florida Trend's Legal Elite, Florida Super Lawyers, Law and Leading Attorneys, and the grandparent of them all, Martindale-Hubbell's rating service. Passing judgment on people who litigate for a living is risky, too. Avvo (short for avvocato, the Italian word for lawyer) was only 10 days old last year when two Seattle attorneys sued, claiming their ratings were inaccurate.

This January, the Florida Bar's advertising committee voted unanimously to prohibit attorneys here from advertising their Avvo ratings, ethics counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert said. It reversed that decision this month.

But Britton and his brood -- 22 staffers in Seattle, plus contractors in China and India -- say their product is different. Avvo evaluates all lawyers, not just the top tier. Attorneys can ignore it, but they can't opt out. It rates lawyers anywhere from 1.0 (extreme caution) to 10 (superb) using an ''unbiased,'' secret mathematical model that weighs many factors, including law school attended, years of practice, disciplinary history, peer endorsements, published articles, awards, leadership roles and recognition from competing services, such as Best Lawyers. Clients can post comments, too, though the rating system ignores them.

This one has possibilities, I guess, but right now it's a bit hard for me to evaluate its utility, given the crowded field in which it operates. Maybe the right course it to wait this out some, and see who is left standing and who establishes credibility over the long run.


What am I, chopped liver?

I sit at my desk, waiting to pounce into action on behalf of a client, yet I keep getting passed over. First, TO passes over me to hire Allan Lerner to write a cease-and-desist letter over some "porn happens" incident on South Beach. Ok, fine, it's a dumb case really.

But now Ashley Alexandra Dupre?? You know, Eliot Spitzer's canoodler-for-hire? She has gone and hired -- of all people -- Richard Wolfe:

Dupré filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Miami, claiming Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis should pay her more than $10 million.

Turning 23 Wednesday, Dupré was underage -- 17 -- when she ran into Francis' film crew outside Miami Beach's Chesterfield Hotel in March 2003. They got her drunk and filmed her flashing her breasts in hotel rooms, she claims in the suit.

Francis, 35, who arrived in Miami on Monday to promote his company's new magazine, told The Miami Herald he has ''never sold one'' video of Dupré. His attorney in Los Angeles said there are no plans to sell the Dupré footage, although a Girls Gone Wild news release last week announced the Hooker Gone Wild DVD featuring Dupré would be included with every copy of the video empire's new $9.99 monthly magazine.

Francis has heralded the footage since last month, when Dupré became identified as ''Kristen,'' the high-priced prostitute who had sex with New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, leading to his resignation.

Francis has advertised the topless footage on his websites -- including one called

Dupré and her Miami attorney, Richard Wolfe, say Francis has profited from false advertising and unauthorized use of her name and images. They also say that even though she signed a consent, at 17, Dupré was not legally competent to enter into a contract with Francis.

But Francis recalls that Dupré knew exactly what she was doing. Although she was 17 at the time of the filming, Dupré showed the crew a fake ID showing she was of legal age and named Amber Arpaio, Francis said.

That's ok, Ashley -- I forgive you.

A lot of interesting issues here. Contracts, consent, fair use, etc. If you want to see how Richard the Lionhearted framed Ashley's claim, you can review the lawsuit here.

Who do you think Joe Francis will hire? He has a reputation for taking cases to the mat.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Oh, To Be Allan Lerner!

One of the perks of being a litigator is you just never know what your day will bring. Can you imagine, sitting in your office, starting the day, and who should call but Terrell Owens! And he inadvertently stumbled onto some porn being filmed on South Beach. And he's in the picture!

Well, that's when you spring into action, just like Allan Lerner did in this cease-and-desist letter published here. What do you think of Allan's letter? I kinda like it -- it's somewhat minimal and even restrained, but so many lawyers go way over the top with them. I think this one hits the right tone.

Boy, that's a fun case. Much better than enforcing arbitration provisions, arguing about contracts, or discussing fraudulent land sales. Good luck Allan -- keep us informed on the results!

Bye Bye Blank Rome?

Mass defections at Blank Rome's Boca office:

At least half of Blank Rome's Boca Raton office is leaving for Greenberg Traurig, and sources say the rest are in negotiations to go. That could leave Philadelphia-based Blank Rome without a Florida office for the first time in 30 years.

Partner Bruce Rosetto and three associates have signed on with Greenberg, the Florida-based mega-firm, according to Michael Leeds, managing partner of the Boca Raton office of Blank Rome.

Blank Rome is a Philadelphia firm with 425 lawyers in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Florida.

Currently, there are four partners and four associates in Blank Rome's Florida office.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the entire practice group is departing for Greenberg, including partners Leeds, Howard Camerik and Steven Lessne.

Topper Ray, spokesman for Blank Rome, said that just four lawyers — half the office — are departing, but that the rest are staying. "It's not the whole office," he said.

But other sources say the rest are in negotiations with Greenberg or other law firms.

Leeds said in a e-mail, "I can only confirm that Bruce Rosetto and three associates are leaving but I do not believe that their new home has been decided for certain ... Mr. Rosetto can provide any more detail as he wishes." Rosetto did not return calls for comment. Greenberg Traurig also declined comment.
So here we have -- again -- the possible closing of a small South Florida office of a national firm. The South Florida landscape is littered with the bones of failed national efforts to penetrate our legal market. The business model is always the same -- lure some hotshot to "head" the local office, efforts are made to recruit and sustain the office, then resentment and inequalities between more prominent offices (where power is centralized) and the local office emerge, until finally the satellite office limps into the sunset. (BTW, I have no idea whether that is what happened here.) There are exceptions, of course, but once again we perhaps see the same pattern repeating itself.

Who's next, folks?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Metrorail Chaos on Morning Commute

Anyone remember that old Neil Rogers bit about the bridge tender? Where Neil goes off on an dim-witted caller about how five thousand cars have to wait for one schmuck on a boat?

Well, many staffers and lawyers were paralyzed on the morning commute this morning when a teenager suddenly jumped into the path of an oncoming Metrorail car:

The incident happened as the northbound train approached the Douglas station at 7:23 a.m., said Manny Palmeiro, a spokesman for the transit system.

By noon, all train service was back to normal.

Witnesses at the Douglas station said the man was standing on a platform filled with commuters, including a large contingent of children who were accompanying their parents as part of ``Take Your Child to Work Day.''

The man did not appear distressed or agitated. He was normally dressed, witnesses told authorities. As the train approached, he peeked out over the tracks.

''And then he did the unthinkable,'' said Miami Fire Rescue spokesman Ignatius Carroll. ``He jumped.''

Power was shut down before firefighters could remove the man.

They placed him in a basket, slid him several cars forward, treated him on the scene and then took him to the hospital.

For hours, the rail system was shut down between the University and Brickell stations as Miami-Dade police and firefighters worked the scene.

Commuters were diverted onto a fleet of buses that rolled north toward Brickell for the rest of the train trip downtown.

Frustration mounted as people rushed to fill the shuttle buses.

''It's first come, first serve,'' said Joallen Boone, who was with five children, ages 9 to 15, that she was taking to her job at the Miami-Dade courthouse. ``I'm a little frustrated but glad the man is alive.''

Passengers on the train said they did not know what the disturbance was but were evacuated.

''We all felt a bump. Everybody looked at each other. It was standing-room only. It felt like a speed bump,'' said Gary Cocharan, 48, who was on his way to his job with the University of Miami's public safety office. ``The conductor never told us anything.''

The incident severely disrupted the morning commute for Metrorail passengers heading into downtown from Kendall and Coral Gables.

It also added extra vehicle traffic to northbound U.S. 1 as Miami-Dade Transit was forced to run shuttle buses for northbound passengers from the University station to Brickell.

With all the children heading downtown with their parents, this one idiot managed to frighten, disrupt and inconvenience thousands. Needless to say the City responded brilliantly, as teams of highly-trained emergency personnel quickly moved into action, shuttling commuters downtown in an effortless display of crisis management (...slowly wakes up from dream....)

For Chris Carver Diehards Only

You know who you are, and you must be fed:

In court documents, Milstein listed his rate at $475 an hour for his work at the hearing and a brief appeal. He also charged for time spent planning Smith’s funeral, overseeing the trust set up in Dannielynn’s name and responding to paternity issues.

The $198,493 bill also included work done by his colleagues at Akerman Senterfitt, including shareholder Christopher Carver at $415 an hour, of counsel Mary Swayze at $360 an hour and associate Mia Martin at $250 an hour. Carver attended Smith’s funeral on assignment in the guardianship case.

Alan Shore Goes to the Supreme Court

Ok, I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Some Days You Eat the Bear, Some Days the Bear Eats You

What do you all make of this Texas Lawyer article about how we all live in fear every day in our practices:

"Our firm is ruled by fear," said Steve. "Hell, the whole profession is about fear. Fear of not billing hours, fear of not bringing in business, fear of losing business. Fear of not making partner. Fear of being in trouble with my wife for working too much, and, of course, fear of being in trouble with the partnership for not working enough." He stopped for a moment, letting his own words sink in.

"And it started in law school. The whole thing runs on fear. I'm sick of being afraid all the time."

Steve was talking about one of the unspoken realities of life in law.

Law practice is the military, and lawyers are the combatants. Some are pure strategists, poring in hushed offices over the contested terrain. They press their buttons at high altitudes and drop bombs on people they may never, personally, encounter.

Others are negotiators who bring differing factions together.

And others are plainly, clearly and undoubtedly foot soldiers whose job it is to do hand-to-hand combat.

Whatever level of engagement a lawyer has with The Other Side, he knows that this is win or lose, sink or swim, live or die. A lawyer's slightest misjudgment may be the beginning of the end.

Quite naturally, lawyers live in fear.

I think the author is exaggerating to make a point. Yes, there is an element of risk in our daily practice, especially for us litigators. And we do "go to combat" with our fellow lawyers to some degree, and we are worried about billables, collectibles, overhead, client relations, judges, and all the other stuff we worry about before we even begin to think about such things as spouses, children, money woes and -- for some of you numb nuts -- certain elegant, regal Canadians.

But, for many of us, there is a certain complacency and, dare I say it, even some inertia that sets into our professional lives, especially for those of us working in the bigger firms. The comfort level, the perks, the Gevalia coffee -- all of that -- takes the edge off of the fear level on a daily basis. Heck, I would even argue that for many of us it blunts that edge, makes us too complacent, and some of us even rebel against that dying of the light by forming new firms, new relationships, new practice areas, even new blogs....

More Mold in the Old Federal Courthouse

The drips, drabs, and bad headlines that I predicted would flow from the government not aggressively moving to resolve former Magistrate Judge Ted Klein's imminent wrongful death case are here, in a fresh installment:

A lawyer for the family of late U.S. Magistrate Theodore Klein released a critical report Tuesday that says Miami's historic federal courthouse is plagued with dangerous mold spores, citing the evidence as a basis to sue the government for his death.

''I think it certainly may have contributed to his pulmonary-related illness and pulmonary complications that led to his death,'' said the family's lawyer, Alan Goldfarb.


A wrongful death lawsuit could be filed as early as this summer by Klein's adult son and daughter against the federal government and possibly private contractors involved in past efforts to remove the courthouse mold spores, he said.

A U.S. Public Health Service study published in January also found mold throughout the 166,000-square-foot David W. Dyer Courthouse. In general, public health experts have linked mold to asthma, allergies and respiratory, skin and eye problems, as well as lung infections.

Klein, 66, died in September 2006 at South Miami Hospital after battling a lung ailment that family members at the time said may have been caused by mold spores in his Miami home -- not his now-sealed courtroom. Klein, a longtime criminal defense lawyer who was appointed as a magistrate in 2003, fell ill in late 2005 to the surprise of many because he had followed a healthy lifestyle.

Goldfarb called the family's initial response to his death a ''human reaction'' that did not take into account a series of recent public health studies by the government and his experts that reached the same conclusion: Hazardous mold spores are still prevalent in the 1933 Dyer building, especially in the basement, air conditioning system, Klein's courtroom and other areas.

''It should be noted that these results come after efforts have been made to remediate the building,'' Goldfarb said. ``Clearly, the inference is that the problem was much worse prior to any cleanup. It is our hope that the appropriate steps will be taken to correct this situation.''


Administrators shut down Klein's courtroom in 2006. Goldfarb's experts, in their report, did not recommend closing the Dyer building. But they recommended that federal officials repair all water leaks, reduce interior humidity levels, and clean or remove any materials or furniture affected by mold.

Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno declined to comment about Goldfarb's report, undertaken in February by the Georgia firm Materials Analytical Services.

Moreno said the General Services Administration, which is the courthouse landlord, has commissioned health studies and cleanup efforts.

''If anything still needs to be remediated, we will push GSA to do something about it,'' Moreno told The Miami Herald.

As a precaution in February, Moreno closed a few parts of the courthouse, including the basement that houses court records and a stairwell for judges.

''The new steps we are taking may in fact be premature without further microbial testing, but nonetheless we intend to err on the side of caution,'' Moreno wrote to court personnel in a Feb. 22 memo, which cited the Public Health Service study.

So it appears the new steps were not premature, and the mold problem has not gotten any better. I know governments like to do nothing, react slowly, and that institutions as a whole tend to get in a defensive mode and waste taxpayer money defending lawsuits that should have been settled a long time ago. Just ask Bobby Gilbert.

But here we have a smart, benevolent Chief Judge, who one would like to think can move this process from an adversarial mode to a collaborative, problem-solving one. Do we need more of these headlines? Is there not a way to mediate this in a less public manner, so that there can be an amicable resolution that all the parties can accept? Whoever is in charge of dealing with this -- assuming there is someone who clearly accepts responsibility for dealing with the impending lawsuits -- please step up and move this thing forward.

Note -- photo above not of courthouse, simply what I think jurors will imagine if this case goes to trial.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Mistakes Were Made."

Oops! You gotta love the old "clerical error":

Allstate's 1,100 insurance agents in Florida are still in business, thanks to a mistake by a Florida appeals court.

Less than an hour after issuing an order denying Allstate's appeal of a state-ordered suspension, the 1st District Court of Appeal withdrew it late Monday afternoon.

In a terse statement withdrawing its order, the court said it was issued due to clerical error. The original order would have prevented Allstate's agents from writing new business in Florida, but would not have affected existing policies.
How does this compare to Chief Judge Moreno's recent clerical error?

These poor overworked, underpaid clerks, none of the glory and all of the blame....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Time Is Passing Us By

So, how was your Passover dinner?

There's nothing like having your family and friends together, celebrating the horrific tale of murder and death that is Pesach.

Oh yeah -- it does have a happy ending (for some).

But isn't this year flying by? Things are moving so fast sometimes it is hard to catch up with it all. Bilzen pays top dollar for new digs, Robert Zarco wants you to know he only stays in five-star hotels, I guess things aren't all that different after all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Windsurfing Time

I am informed by my windsurfing pals that the next few days look pretty good for those who only lawyer only as an excuse to windsurf (you know who you are, and there are more of us than you think).

So unless the weather changes I'm cancelling some depos, moving a court date, and ignoring a request to schedule a mediation for the next couple of days so I can hang on the Key, get loaded, and windsurf my arse off.

If the winds die down I'll drop in on you all but otherwise enjoy the rest of the week.

Loquacious Pat Gonya Now Speechless

Just a few days ago Pat Gonya was happily explaining to the press how, in these tough economic times, you have to be very careful when you fire someone so that they could have no possible legal recourse. Ok, he didn't say that exactly, but you get the idea.

But today Pat has absolutely no comment:

Lueron Dixon, a retired nurse, suffers repeated skin rashes and must take breathing treatments every night to clear her lungs.

The longtime resident blames her health problems on toxic dust she says blew into her home during construction of a nearby warehouse a few years ago.

"I had nosebleed," she said. "Right now I have a lot of mucus. I cough so much at night, I've almost choked on my own mucus." Worse, she said, her brother, Eddie Fairchild, who shared her home, "right now has colon cancer, he has liver cancer; he has lung cancer. His concern is to live."

Dixon is one of almost 100 neighbors in a predominantly black community suing Lauris Boulanger Inc., which developed the Dania Distribution Centre at Dania Beach Boulevard and Southwest 12th Avenue. The suit also names as defendants the warehouse itself and the Dania Distribution Centre Condominium Association.

The plaintiffs, including former construction-site workers, complain of breathing difficulties, skin rashes, itchy eyes and nosebleeds. They are seeking compensation for bodily injury, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of income and earning capacity and medical expenses.

They say they are trying their best to hang on, but their attorney says many have no health insurance and can't afford needed medical care.Their suit, filed in Broward County Circuit Court two years ago, is far from being resolved.

"We're trying to get this done in the most expeditious way possible," said Noel Johnson, an attorney with Clyne & Associates, of Coral Gables.

Still, he said, the complex case could take a long time because of the laborious task of testing the soil and collecting evidence at the 15-acre site. Patrick Gonya, attorney for the Dania Distribution Centre, said he had no comment because "our general firm policy does not permit us to comment on pending litigation."
Hoo boy, that's a case, from the defense perspective, that does not have a lot of jury appeal. Hasn't this been the subject of at least three John Grisham novels?

BREAKING -- Mistrial (Again) in Liberty 6

Yet another mistrial for the prosecutors in the Liberty 6:

After 12 difficult days of deliberations, a federal jury on Wednesday deadlocked in the second trial of a Miami group accused of plotting with al Qaeda to overthrow the United States -- an unprecedented outcome in the government's legal war on domestic terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks.

''At this juncture it is clear to me this jury is unable to reach a verdict,'' U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard said in declaring a mistrial. The decision came after the jury's third note to the judge indicating the panel was unable to reach a verdict.

The judge set a status conference for April 23 for federal prosecutors to decide whether to try the six defendants for a third time.'

'The United States will announce its position on this matter at that time,'' said Alicia Valle, special counsel to the U.S. attorney in Miami.

I am sure David Markus will have an analysis when he gets a chance to digest it all.

Young Scotty Dimond in Today's DBR

Before all you haters start in, let me preface this by saying Scott and his firm are great and I have a lot of respect for those guys.

But Scotty, you're about to be photographed for a big story about your case involving auction-rate securities, which I previously noted here.

Incidentally, that raises a question: does every local paper have to cover this case? Who's next -- Entertainment Schmooze for Jews covering the ruined bat mitzvah angle? Sheesh, who the heck is your press person?

Anyway, this is serious stuff. You have a very good case, and you are an excellent attorney.

Yet that picture makes you look like you are about 18 years old! Was this taken at the local high school? At least borrow your Dad's tie! Come on, man, this is a chance to really make an impression. Didn't someone have a jacket available to loan you for the photo shoot?

Here's what I do. When talented DBR staff photog A.M. Holt is on the way over, I slip on the extra tie and jacket I keep in my office. That way I LOOK LIKE A LAWYER, not like I'm about to run some papers over to Shook Hardy.

I tell you, the kids today....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Picking A Jury

I guess all the bitter gun-lovin' anti-immigrant Bible-thumpers that Obama has been going on about showed up en masse in Bobby Gilbert's courtroom yesterday. Can someone explain to these kind folks that Bobby is actually trying to help homeowners get relief from an illegal government taking:

There was no shortage of opinions on the first day of jury selection in the class action lawsuit brought by some 60,000 Broward homeowners against the state of Florida for destroying their citrus trees.

''A shameless money grab,'' was the way one juror described the lawsuits.

Others said they question spending money for tree reimbursement in tight times, when schools, medical issues and public safety concerns are pressing.

Another juror said she didn't think it was fair the state destroyed so many trees. When asked whether she could be a fair and impartial juror, she said no.

The issue is whether jurors feel they already have their minds made up.

On Monday, one juror called the process a 'waste of time and taxpayers' money.'' Later, when plaintiffs' attorney Bobby Gilbert compared the taking of a tree to the taking of 15 feet of property, the juror acknowledged that he'd ``have to think about it.''

Gilbert repeatedly made the point that the U.S. Constitution requires citizens to be paid for their property taken by the government, whether it is property for a roadway or citrus trees.

The waste of time and taxpayer money is the State's refusal to come to the table and settle this case on a reasonable basis. Suing governments is always the same -- no one wants to run it like a business, make an assessment, and come to the table for a negotiated compromise that is in everyone's best interests. Instead, they have government lawyers who can bill endlessly with no consequences, and they are playing with funny money -- our taxes.

U.S. Constitution? Oh Bobby!

Bobby Bobby, come on -- that moldy old document? You might as well throw in that quaint musty Geneva Convention treaty in there too, who gives a crap about any of that anymore?

Monday, April 14, 2008

The World According to Pat Gonya

Dashing Pat Gonya in today's DBR, explaining in today's tough times that companies should be careful when they terminate employees:

But defense employment attorneys say some companies can avoid layoffs if they are careful and judicious.

“You really need to cross your T’s and dot your I’s before you start terminating employees,” said Patrick Gonya Jr., a partner in Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod’s Miami office.
What a business. Unfortunately, we frequently make more money when clients don't take our good advice.

Raoul Cantero, Welcome Back

Some of us have known about Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero's possible decision to leave the bench and return to Miami, but now that it is public it is a loss for the Florida Bar and the public in general.

A smart, careful jurist, Raoul's decision was undoubtedly difficult but understandable. We welcome you back.

Any ideas for who Governor Crist will pull for his replacement?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kevin "Bo" Dennis Doesn't Like It When Tourists Get the Crap Beat Out of Them

Just what kind of pansy town does Dennis think we have here? I said the bill was $700. Written receipt? My arse. Now let's go the club's office so you nice college fellas can be assaulted -- allegedly -- by eight of the meanest bouncers this side of Roadhouse:

The surveillance video shows what looks like and an argument between one of the University of Delaware students and staff at the Mansion night club. The argument turns physical, quickly.

One of the men was drug off and thrown down. According their attorney, the men were beaten and stomped on while on the ground.

"It's a deplorable situation you have three young men that come down for spring break expecting to have a good time," Attorney Bo Dennis said.

Later the video shows another student being dragged from a back room. He seems to be pleading with night club staff and at one point when he tries to stand and is pushed down by security.

Trevor Costello, Sean Sweeney and John Merrymen received numerous cuts and bruises.

"As a tourist to go into a club such as the Mansion expecting to have a good time and to basically be accosted twice; once for money for the 700 dollars to pay it, to be strong armed and then second to be beaten up. It's deplorable." Dennis said.

The entire incident occurred when the students where asked to pay a $700 tab, after spending time in the club's VIP area. The students disputed the amount and asked to see a written bill.

According to their attorney they where then escorted to the clubs office and assaulted. Eight bouncers are now accused in the beating and three other club employees may also face charges.
"We've got entirely too many troublemakers here. Too many forty-year old adolescents, felons, power drinkers, and trustees of modern chemistry."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gabrielle D'Alemberte Joins Bob Parks

Finally, some good news coming out of that office, after criticism of Parks for his role in the Sharper Image litigation. Congrats Ms. D'Alemberte!

Anyone know what happened to that proposed settlement? With the company in bankruptcy I have to think it's a loss-loss all around.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

City of Miami To Employ "Belts and Suspenders" Legal Approach. HA HA HA HA HA HA

No it's not April's Fools, but new City of Miami attorney Julie O. Bru -- apparently with a straight face -- claims the City will adopt a "belts and suspenders" legal approach to fending off Harley Tropin's attack on the bullcrap, I mean, global rebuilding/Marlins Assistance Act boondoggle that they ramrodded through without public vote or even comment:
In his lawsuit opposing the pact, auto magnate Norman Braman claims the city violated its own notice laws for the Dec.13 vote.
City code requires items for commissioners to consider be circulated five days before a meeting.
The city gave notice of the global item first as a discussion, but commissioners later voted on a resolution allowing City Manager Pete Hernandez to make the agreement with the county — meaning the resolution itself was not circulated prior.
City Attorney Julie O. Bru maintains case law and precedent back the action but to "moot the issue" and avert legal fees, commissioners will be asked April 24 to ratify the vote, she said, calling it "the belt and suspender kind of approach."
Let me see -- the City of Miami's legal team vs. Harley Tropin. This is a battle of the wits in which one side is unarmed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lawyers Don't Read Adhesion Contracts Either

The next time you big-firm wankers have to recycle boilerplate in a brief about how some poor schmuck should be bound by an absurd, ridiculous adhesion contract that no one read, let alone understood, try to remember that you too are a victim of bullcrap contracts filled with nonsensical and unenforceable clauses:

What's scary, funny and boring at the same time? It could be a bad horror movie. Or it could be the fine print on your Internet service provider's contract.

Those documents you agree to -- usually without reading -- ostensibly allow your ISP to watch how you use the Internet, read your e-mail or keep you from visiting sites it deems inappropriate.

Some reserve the right to block traffic and, for any reason, cut off a service that many users now find essential.

The Associated Press reviewed the ''Acceptable Use Policies'' and ''Terms of Service'' of the nation's 10 largest ISPs -- in all, 117 pages of contracts that leave few rights for subscribers.

'The network is asserting almost complete control of the users' ability to use their network as a gateway to the Internet,'' said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group. ``They become gatekeepers rather than gateways.''

But the provisions are rarely enforced, except against obvious miscreants like spammers.

Consumer outrage would have been the likely result if AT&T took advantage of its stated right to block any activity that causes the company ``to be viewed unfavorably by others.''

Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University, said this clause was a "piece of boilerplate that is passed around the corporate lawyers like a Christmas fruitcake."

Passed around like "Christmas fruitcake"? You foppish Brit!

He meant these crappy clauses are passed around like tres leches on Noche Buena.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Dick Corp.

What can I say, I didn't pick these guys as contractors.

But is it just me or are we about to create another mold-filled federal courthouse:

The building still has work to be done, however, and only a temporary certificate of occupancy has been issued. Still to be dealt with are a flooded basement tunnel for transporting prisoners to the Federal Detention Center next door, a broken air conditioning system in the marshal's firing range and an electrical system that has failed numerous inspections.
Flooding? Broken AC? And this is in South Florida, right?

Rain, Storms, Hip Brickell Tweeners, and $540 an Hour

Hi folks! How's your wet, dreary drive in to work today? Or are you one of these hotshot hipsters who inhabit Brickell's newly chic haunts, according to this overheated Miami Herald article? Then I guess you just take a quick shower and saunter over to to Greenberg, after a late late night at Segafredo Cafe.

I'll believe the hype when they reopen Firehouse Four, how's that for a blast from the past?

And what do you know -- Richard Sharpstein makes $540 an hour!

It's gonna be a good Monday after all.