You're Not Helping Me, Howard: 11th Circuit Weighs in on Retaliation Claim Involving Broward Judge!

According to the allegations of the suit before Judge Graham, longtime Broward PD Howard Finkelstein didn't like one of his forensic psychologist vendors testifying at an ethics proceeding in support of Broward Judge Cheryl Aleman (sadly, now deceased):
Although Finkelstein was not present during the Aleman hearing, he testified that he was “surprised” and “extremely disappointed” upon learning of Brannon’s testimony. Shortly after the Aleman hearing, Finkelstein ran into Michael Gottlieb, a private attorney who worked with Brannon. Gottlieb testified that Finkelstein “expressed dissatisfaction” with Brannon’s testifying on Judge Aleman’s behalf because Finkelstein felt, as Gottlieb put it, that nobody from the defense community should “support such a person who was essentially a prosecutor in a robe.” Gottlieb testified that “people thought of Judge Aleman as an evil witch,” but he did not ascribe this statement to Finkelstein. According to Gottlieb, his conversation with Finkelstein was centered on “how could anybody testify on behalf of that evil witch.”
The plaintiff claims he started to lose testifying work as a result:
On July 7, 2009, in response to Brannon’s concerns, Finkelstein told Brannon in an email that Brannon was included in the wheel rotation system. On the same day, however, Finkelstein sent an email to one of his top assistants stating that Finkelstein wanted Brannon to professionally suffer “death by [] 1000 invisible cuts. [W]ithering on the vine, pinned and wriggling on the wall with no target or issue or martyrdom for him to seek sanctuary.”
Nice turn of phrase, but which is it -- is Brannon supposed to "whither on the vine" or "wriggle on the wall"?

Turns out all parties will be whithering or wriggling in district court a little longer:
We believe that, based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable fact-finder could find that Finkelstein was subjectively motivated to reduce and did reduce Brannon’s work because of his Aleman hearing testimony. On the other hand, a reasonable fact-finder could, but would not be required to, find that Finkelstein would have reduced Brannon’s work in any event because of the Office’s budget reductions. See Smith, 532 F.3d at 1279 (holding that summary judgment was appropriate where a jury “would have to find that the defendants would have [taken the adverse conduct] even in the absence of the protected conduct” (internal quotation marks omitted)). With two permissible views of this evidence, summary judgment was improperly granted to the defendant.
Should be an interesting case to follow.


  1. The guy from Channel 7 is the PD for Broward County!!!

  2. Surprised that Mr. F would choose to send an internal email saying something like that.

  3. lapse in judgement, perhaps he needs a court appointed psychologist. i know of one with little work who is available

  4. SFL: All 3 front page stories from the Daily Business Review today were first broken on your blog!

  5. This isn't the first time for Finklestein. Anyone who was present in the Broward Courthouse when he took over remembers the legion of people in that office and out that he targeted personally and professionally with similar surreptitious schemes.

  6. You made a few fine points there. I did a search on the matter and found most people will go along with with your blog.
    Rules of court


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