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Showing posts from August, 2008

SFL Friday -- Labor Day Edition

So that was some speech last night, huh? I mean the power, the intensity, the enthusiasm, the stagecraft, I think good people from both sides of the aisle can agree that Senator Dick Durbin quite simply NAILED IT.

Oh, you mean someone else spoke, too? He wasn't bad either, I guess.

Anyways on to a fruitful and exciting weekend. Thanks to that little Kraut Hurricane now swirling to our southwest, conditions do indeed look positive for a simply spectacular weekend, windsurfing-wise.

I do hope you all have a safe, peaceful, and enjoyable holiday, wherever the winds may take you.

BREAKING -- Charles Canady Newest Florida Supreme Court Justice

Charles T. Canady gets the nod:
Canady, 54, is Crist’s first appointment to the state’s high court. He will fill the vacancy left by Justice Raoul G. Cantero III, who resigned earlier this year.“I consider this to be one of the most important decisions I will make as governor, because the Supreme Court justices make precedent-setting decisions that affect the lives of all Floridians for generations to come,” Crist said.Canady has served on the 2nd District Court of Appeal since 2002. He also served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1984 to 1990. He was general counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush from 2001 to 2002.“It is an honor to be appointed to such an important post,” Canady said. “I am grateful to have the confidence and support of Gov. Crist, and I will work to uphold the Florida Constitution and our justice system.”Let's look at some of the highlights. He helped lead the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. He voted yes to ban gay adoptions in DC. He voted a…

DMX Engages in Sexy Pillow Talk With Judge Schwartz

They say the guy has a way with words, and he sure did show it at his bond hearing in front of Judge Schwartz yesterday:
On Wednesday (August 27), X (real name: Earl Simmons) pleaded guilty to his Florida charges of attempted purchase of cocaine and marijuana and was sentenced to time served and a $483 court fine, lawyer Bradford Cohen told MTV News. Had the case gone to trial, he could have faced six years in prison. But because X's most recent arrest was for missing a pretrial hearing for an Arizona drug case, he will remain behind bars while Arizona authorities have 15 days to extradite DMX to their state, where he'll post bond and be released. If Arizona officials fail to pick him up within that time, he will be released, Cohen explained. Prior to the plea deal, Judge Lawrence Schwartz denied the rapper's request for bond on Tuesday. When Schwartz set an October 3 court date for the now-closed case, the rapper curtly replied, "I ain't coming back on f---ing Oct…

3d DCA Watch -- When Granny Gets Mad, Run for the Hills!

Hi folks, it's that time of the week, so let's dive right in and see what our merry band of appellate judges to the south are up to in this week's edition of 3d DCA Watch:

Weiss v. Courshon

Hooray! Judge Salter is back, he's sick of crappy pro se pleadings, and he's not afraid to say so in the utmost polite, classy and professional manner that stands in stark contrast to certain cranky more senior judges that shall remain nameless but which have last names that rhyme with "warts."

Specifically, in a longstanding estate battle that SSD's Alvin Davis has been handling since he put on his first bow tie several decades ago, Judge Salter removed the pro se appellant's case from the oral calendar, found her arguments to be frivolous, and affirmed the lower court's dismissal for lack of prosecution with this lovely send off:
Weiss’s intemperate briefs in this case, as in prior cases, urge us to believe her and not the record. She expects this Court to b…

Vote, You Plebs!

Being high-information consumers, and given that there are judges up for election today, I hope you all don't need to be reminded to vote.

But remember to let your employees out early so they can get to the polling precinct, and maybe all you smart lawyers can even become part of the polling process for November to help make sure the election runs as smoothly as possible -- given the reality that the election is ultimately in the hands of Miami-Dade County officials.

On the various judicial candidates, I take the long view. There are always qualified and less-qualified candidates, and as a practitioner it seems change comes in increments, and even then only in spurts, and that all assumes the change is positive. Can you turn a cruise ship on a dime?

To paraphrase my pal Rummy, you go to the polls with the candidates you have, not necessarily the candidate you want. Either way, go to the polls.

Costly Arbitration Is Cheap and Efficient

That seems to be the message from the continuing money pit that is the Americatel arbitration debacle:
Americatel El Salvador won an arbitration against Compañía de Telecommunicaciones de El Salvador -- or CTE -- to allow greater access to the Salvadoran market. It also got the green light from a federal judge in Miami to collect some $12 million in compensation.But CTE didn't stop fighting. The company has appealed the arbitration decision all the way to the Supreme Court in El Salvador and is taking the U.S. bout to the federal appeals court in Atlanta.Riding on the outcome is more than just prying open lucrative Central American telecommunications markets.The CTE-Americatel matchup is a test of the growing practice of binding arbitration, the very purpose of which is avoiding lengthy and costly litigation. Contracts increasingly contain clauses pledging parties to submit to binding arbitration. Americatel versus CTE is not the first arbitration case to drag on in regular courts,…

Richard Williams Needs to Speak With His "Electronic Billing System" Manufacturer.

I assume everyone saw the fire fee ruling by Judge Rodriguez, right? The DBR story is here. But the real meat is in the Court's order, which you can review here.

In summary the Court reduced the requested multiplier (which was five) to two, and slashed attorney Richard Williams' lodestar by more than half, finding that many of the verified time entries were not supported by competent evidence. Here's what the Court said:

In addition, during his testimony Mr. Williams testified that the program he was using to enter his time spent on this matter, which he referred to as "an electronic billing system, did not contain any of the data that he had put into it." Therefore, as stated by Mr. Williams, "my fee statement is based on, for the most part, my reconstruction." It should be noted that this fact is not mentioned on any page of the verified fee statement or the affidavit filed by Mr. Williams nor is this fact mentioned to the Court in CLASS COUNSEL…

3d DCA Watch -- Wishing and Hoping

I just can't quit you, 3d DCA!

Even though the cupboard has grown increasingly bare over the last few weeks, I turn instinctively to your significantly improved website each Wednesday, hoping for something -- anything -- that could be construed as mildly entertaining or even informative. Alas, the pickings are slim. There have been fewer well-reasoned Judge Salter opinions, less slightly off base Judge Shepherd bon mots, and almost no intemperate outbursts from you-know-who. What fun is that?

So it is with no small amount of sadness that I must regretfully announce that we have finally hit bottom. Yes kiddies, those coffee-slurping silver-tongued robed devils have finally produced a week with not a single meaningful opinion on any topic. Flatline central.

How is that possible, you ask? Well as you know I make it a rule to ignore any opinions with the word "State" in them, so that takes out three opinions right there. Well, four if you count the glorified PCA that in…

DMX Likes to Shop At NMB Wal-Mart, Apparently Is Also Handicapped.

Well, that was fun!

I guess now we have to go back to our practices, listen to other lawyers, judges, clients, witnesses, actually talk to people in business settings, you know, all that crap. If you all have any good stories about what your firms did during the storm, pass them on.

Still, things could be worse.

Can someone tell me what DMX was doing at aWal-Mart, I guess the one in North Miami Beach:
The twisted saga of DMX's legal woes continues to get more bizarre and impossible to follow as the days go on. But even as multiple law-enforcement jurisdictions across the country vie to get the first shot at the rapper (born Earl Simmons), one thing seems certain: The next few months, and possibly years, of DMX's life will likely find him either sitting in a cell or putting in hard time to get his once-multiplatinum career and chaotic personal life back on track. The rapper missed another court date on Tuesday (August 19) in Arizona, where attorney Charles Kozelka, the public def…

And I'm Not Missing A Thing. Watching The Full Moon Crossing The Range....

Hi kiddies, well Tropical Storm Fay is upon us like some wet juicy French Kiss, shutting downtown office buildings completely, closing the courthouses, messing up depositions, court filings, travel plans, schools, you pretty much name it. She's like that!

I hope you all are ridin' the storm out safe and sound, snuggled in and hunkered down.

Me, I suddenly found some free time and excellent surf conditions on my hands, I think you can pretty much take it from there....

Ed Moss and Metrorail. What Am I Missing Here?

I guess those commie-loving Greenpeacers over at SHB want everyone to go to work in some kind of Ed Begley-styled vegetable car or, worse yet, by public transportation:
Nearly 350 employees at Shook, Hardy & Bacon have signed up for bonuses under a program that encourages use of alternative transportation. But most are support workers rather than associates.Employees who participate in the new program get an extra $25, $30 or $45 a month, based on their level of involvement, ABAJournal.com previously reported. Bonuses are paid to those who walk, cycle, carpool or take public transportation to work.Shook chairman John Murphy tells the AmLaw Daily that nearly 350 employees in eight U.S. offices are participating in the program--and 92 percent are support staff. The rest are associates. Partners are not eligible for the program. “They can afford to take care of it themselves," Murphy told the publication.The firm estimates that the program reduced employee driving by about 180,00…

Scott Salomon Not "Evil" Or "Wicked," According to Scott Salomon

They say all news is good news, so by that standard Scott Salomon, Coral Springs attorney and former lawyer for Backstreeter Nick Carter, must be thrilled:

The state Supreme Court issued an emergency suspension. The Florida bar declared that Salomon "has caused and continues to cause great public harm."

"Have you told all your clients that you've been suspended as required by the state supreme court?" Burnside asked Salomon."We've done what was needed to be done, and other than that I have no comment," Salomon said.

"But the state supreme court said that you had to immediately notify all your clients. Have you done that yet Mr. Salomon?" Burnside asked."I have no comment," he said.

Salomon did comment in court papers, saying his suspension is "unconscionable," based on "trivial matters," "frivolous" and a vendetta by the bar. Clients need him, he said.

Clients who talked to NBC 6 said they remained myst…

Breaking -- Florida Supreme Court Nominees Announced! World Yawns.

OK this list made me weep and not in a good way, but again all I can say is it could have been a whole lot worse:
For Cantero's vacancy, the commission choose: Judge Charles Canady, 54, Lakeland, Second District Court of Appeal; Judge Kevin Emas, 50, Miami, 11th Judicial Circuit; Edward G. Guedes, 44, Miami, attorney; Judge Jorge Labarga, 55, West Palm Beach, 15th Judicial Circuit; and Judge Vincent G. Torpy Jr., 52, Daytona Beach, Fifth District Court of Appeal.For Bell's vacancy, the commission choose: Judge Ricky L. Polston, 52, Tallahassee, First District Court of Appeal; Judge Waddell A. Wallace, III, 55, Jacksonville, Fourth Judicial Circuit; Judge Peter D. Webster, 59, Tallahassee, First District Court of Appeal.So all women applicants were rejected, and Frank Jimenez.

Ok, that didn't come out right, but you know what I mean.

3d DCA Watch -- You Say Apodictic, I Say Apoplectic, Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

I was tempted to skip this week's Third DCA Watch simply because the pickings were so slim and because I'm bored out of my wits. Still, because I am dedicated to you, dear readers, I put in the long, hard slog and actually read this week's opinions.

Four or so cafecitos later, amidst a dreary discussion of the standards and differences applicable to a petition for administration of a will and a petition to establish a lost or destroyed will in probate, I was jolted in my chair by this sterling example of legal writing from none other than Judge Shepherd:
As to the former, it is apodictic that matters dehors the four corners of a complaint or petition may not be considered on a motion to dismiss.Do tell --why you sweet-talking robed jurist, you! It is axiomatic that a judge who can interject both "apodictic" and "dehors" into a single sentence deserves a modicum of a priori praise.

Great Minds Etc.

Hey it's weird how great minds sometimes come up with great ideas around the same time, isn't it? Like whoever independently came up with the idea of a lovable monster family sitcom, hence we had both The MunstersandThe Addams Family.

Reading today's paper brought to mind those wacky 1950s monsters with hearts of gold:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey conceded Tuesday that high-ranking Justice Department officials failed to stop illegal hiring practices that favored conservatives over liberals because of what he described as a ''systemic'' problem within the department.Two recent Justice Department watchdog reports found that department officials under Mukasey's predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, intentionally weeded out liberal-leaning applicants in favor of conservative ones for various jobs ranging from internships to prosecutor slots and immigration judgeships.Here's a bit more detail on that lovely tale:
An internal investigation concluded last month…

Less Gin, More Coffee?

Sure we drink lots of coffee over here at SFL because we're bored, it makes us "edgy" at depositions, and because many judges and senior partners prattle on and we would fall asleep otherwise, but apparently it has other positive attributes as well:
Probably the most important effects of caffeine are its ability to enhance mood and mental and physical performance. At consumption levels up to 200 milligrams (the amount in about 16 ounces of ordinary brewed coffee), consumers report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability . . . .Millions of sleep-deprived Americans depend on caffeine to help them make it through their day and drive safely. The drug improves alertness and reaction time. In the sleep-deprived, it improves memory and the ability to perform complex tasks.For the active, caffeine enhances endurance in aerobic activities and performance in anaerobic ones, perhaps because it blunts the perception of pain and aids the ability t…

Welcome, Contestants!

And here they are. Some good, some bad, some in between:

Applicants to replace Justice Raoul Cantero III include three judges from the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami: Angel Cortinas, Juan Ramirez Jr. and Leslie Rothenberg. Applications also arrived from Miami-Dade Circuit Judges Gisela Cardonne Ely, Kevin Emas and Israel Reyes.

Other applicants from South Florida are Palm Beach Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga, who blocked a recount in the 2000 presidential election; Frank R. Jimenez of Miami, general counsel of the Department of the Navy and former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jeb Bush; Manuel Farach, former Palm Beach County Bar Association president; Greenberg Traurig shareholder Edward Guedes of Miami Beach; Florida International University law professor H. Scott Fingerhut of Miami; Paul C. Regensdorf, a Fort Lauderdale shareholder with Stearns Weaver Weisler Miller & Sitterson; and Fort Lauderdale solo practitioner Michael D. Gelety.
Leave your potshots and comments after th…

They Write Letters

Carlos Concepcion explains how you can be a hero:
Why pay my employees to take time off from work to assist voters? Because poll workers do not work for political parties or candidates. They take an oath to leave their political opinions and partisan leanings at home.A poll worker serves all of the voters of our community to make sure that they can exercise their right to vote. Poll-worker service, like jury duty, is the highest form of civic service.With the change in voting technology that has been receiving so much media attention, business owners, and particularly attorneys, have a responsibility to share their wealth. We have talented employees who read and speak more than one language; energetic people who are accustomed to dealing with the public; people who are computer literate and technology savvy, who can handle stressful situations. These are precisely the people who make the best poll workers.Carlos, great letter and I completely agree. It's about time you sent Frank …

Please Governor, Don't Pick A Whack Job. Is That Too Much To Ask?

Now that Charlie Crist is getting everything in order in case new BFF John McCain decides to make him his number two, I'm starting to get a little worried about his Florida Supreme Court picks.

Before Charlie made his swoon, I actually thought he's been a pretty good Governor. And I still think that.

But then he starts having BBQ with McCain in Sedona, taking that wrinkly old dude out to the Everglades, and the next thing you know he reverses himself and now supports drilling off our beaches. Worse yet, he's even getting married! Talk about desperate.

I don't mind a middle-of-the-road Republican, just not some nasty partisan pick to prove yourself to Poppa McCain. The DBR has more on the selection process:

Applicants for the two high court vacancies include some with obvious political connections, starting with 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Clay Roberts.

He was Crist's chief deputy in the attorney general's office and one of his first judicial appointments…

SFL Friday -- Bring On the Pain.

So it's Friday, the Dolphins start up tomorrow, and apparently we found an old Jets quarterback to save our team. Welcome back, Ray Lucas!

Meanwhile, although our County can afford to hand over hundreds of millions in taxpayer money to the failing Marlins organization, we apparently can't afford a decent school system, court system, road system -- hail, with gas prices going through the roof it's apparently the perfect time to cut one of the few successful examples of mass transit in South Florida:
If you take the shuttle to get to Miami Dolphins games, you’re going to have to find another way to get there.After 30 years, Miami-Dade Transit announced Wednesday it will no longer provide park-and-ride shuttle services to Dolphins football games, starting with Saturday’s game.MDT blames the decision on budget constraints and a new Federal Transit Administration rule that prohibits transit agencies from charging special fares for shuttle services to local events. Makes sense to …

Akerman Lawyers Ponder World Free of Milk, Other Partners

The indignities keep on piling up. First, possibly forced to drink coffee using some type of non-dairy creamer! Oh the sorrow.

Now this:
Merger talks between Wolf Block and Florida-based Akerman Senterfitt have hit a snag, according to a statement Wednesday by leadership at the two firms. "The chairmen acknowledged that there are issues under continued discussion in this process and that, among them is a client conflict that cannot be discussed publicly, because of client confidentiality," according to the statement issued on behalf of Wolf Block Chairman Mark Alderman and Akerman Senterfitt Chairman Andrew Smulian. "They said that in business prudence, this was all that the firms were prepared to say about the matter at this time, and that when there was something concrete to say, an appropriate announcement would be made."Alderman wouldn't comment on the extent of any client conflicts or on any other rumors surrounding why a vote by both firms' partnershi…

3d DCA Watch -- "I'll Take A Recusal on Rye, Your Honor."

Isn't state court a hoot? Motion practice can be like waiting in line at the old Corky's or Pumpernik's, lawyers and court reporters stuffed in and around the small hallways, fighting to be heard, listening for your number, hoping/praying the judge has read your brief or at a minimum has the file on her desk.

This opinion today from our coffee-drinking robed brethren to the south epitomizes the sometimes surreal world down on Flagler, in this week's nostalgic edition of 3d DCA Watch:

The trial judge denied the petitioners’ motion to disqualify as legally insufficient, and we agree that the grounds asserted in the motion did not require the trial judge’s disqualification. However, after ruling on the petitioners’ motion to disqualify, the trial judge addressed the merits of the motion and stated her reasons for the ruling. Accordingly, prohibition disqualifying the trial judge is required. See Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.330(f) (stating that after deeming the motion to disqual…

Welcome to 1905 -- Bakers' Right to Contract Protected!

This is an old-fashioned Lochner-era beatdown:
No matter how beautiful a condominium complex looks in the brochure, it might behoove any buyer to look at the fine print in the contract based on a ruling by a federal judge.

The brochure showed a 56-story elliptical-shaped building on the water with a nearby marina. The illustration omitted surrounding high-rise buildings. The one- and two-bedroom units were priced from $200,000 to $800,000.

“It is well settled that a contracting party may not as matter of law reasonably rely upon prior written or oral misrepresentations expressly contradicted by a subsequent written agreement,” Seitz wrote in her 10-page order.

The decision is a victory for developer Tibor Hollo and may influence hundreds of similar lawsuits against other condominium builders. Most of the lawsuits aim to recover condo unit deposits under the federal Interstate Land Sales Act and the Florida False Advertising Statute.

Both laws were passed to fight fraudulent Florida swampla…

"His Was A Life Well Lived."

What a moving and deeply affecting service today at Temple Beth Sholom in loving memory of Steve Chaykin. Several hundred legal glitterati were in attendance to mourn, grieve, and celebrate the larger than life personality that was Steve. I saw judges, lawyers, lawmakers, and other leaders of our community, all in solidarity at the untimely passing of a great lawyer, father, brother, son, husband, and community leader.

Steve's younger brother Robert shared tearful remembrances of growing up in North Miami Beach, and running away at age 9 to the nearby Royal Castle and 163rd Street Mall, playing in a local band, and even getting into a sibling squabble or two.

Steve's younger sister Robin perhaps is a secret Dylan ranter, as she quoted the lyrics from "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go":
But I'll see you in the sky above,
In the tall grass, in the ones I love,
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.UM President Donna Shalala ended her eloquent tribute to…

Sue Me, Sue You Blues

What's the cure for lawsuit blues? Sue your attorneys:
Now filling dozens of boxes stacked in the dining room and garage of their suburban Boca Raton home, the legal fight has destroyed the Lansons' lives.Meryl Lanson wants to prove the legal system -- attorneys, judges and other professionals -- conspired against them.She sued her former attorneys for malpractice. She filed complaints with the Florida Bar and the Judicial Qualifications Commission. She wrote letters to former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Charlie Crist and copied the missives to the entire Florida Legislature. She has created websites, decrying the legal system and what it has done to her family.Last month, she filed another federal lawsuit, accusing Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen of violating her rights to represent herself in a still-unresolved lawsuit that was initially filed in 1999.`A HORROR'''Get on with your life? How do you get on with your life?'' she asks, mocking the advice m…

Swingers and Alan Kluger -- SFL Friday

So it's a slow news day, it's Friday and I'm bored. Is this thing on? Where the hail is everybody -- the roads are clear, the usual nutjobs at the circuit courthouse don't seem to be around, and I can almost walk down Flagler without having to see anybody that I dislike or think is a jerk.

Almost.

A-Rod fanatics, you can see Alan Kluger's "she signed a prenup" filing here. Pretty clean, I think, but what happened to Ira? A haimisher mensch like Ira you want in your corner, believe me. Just ask Shaq. Of course, those who like a different type of swinging will be here.

I know what I'll be doing, how about you? Whatever it is, have a great weekend.