Saturday, February 16, 2008

Back From A Break: The Bench, My Friend Ben, And Bond

I haven't blogged here since Christmas Eve. I've been sitting back, and watching our system continue to deteriorate into a circus of bad clowns and elephant crap.

The Bench

During my break I noticed a lot of terrible things coming out of the judiciary, both locally and nationally. These robes must have some effect on otherwise normal human beings, or more likely they were never normal, and the robe brought it out.

I read about a first time offender sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison after a trial where the prosecutor offered no jail pre-trial, a man denied bond on a misdemeanor for absolutely no reason, a man be told he cannot talk publically about his acquittal, an appellate judge at a cocktail party who responded to an acquittal in a terrorism trial by stating "well, some cases just shouldn't be tried to juries, and the best, a female cancer victim lawyer told she must take her hat off her bald head in court.

Nice.

My Friend Ben

Ben Kuehne was indicted by the "we don't target Miami criminal defense lawyers" DOJ. He was indicted for money laundering. Actually, he was indicted for providing an opinion to another criminal defense lawyer as to whether the money was clean. DOJ didn't like the opinion, and now they want Ben to go to prison.

Most people with a Bar card who know or know of Ben, are shocked, angered, and fully supportive. Others, can't get out of their own miserable world. You know, the "the Government is entitled to their day in court" folks? My opinion: the Government has enough days in court, they can skip this one. The fact that they didn't give Ben the benefit of the doubt is sickening, and will for a long time affect their standing at least in the South Florida legal market (both civil and criminal) and across the country.

Additionally, if you're one of those very few criminal defense lawyers who are saying "let's wait and see the evidence," keep walking when you see me. It's time to stand up and be counted in our profession, period. (See Resolution in support of Ben Kuehne by the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers)

As my friend Milt Hirsch said upon Ben's indictment: "It's official, it is now a crime to be a criminal defense lawyer."

Bond

Happy to report nothing ever changes in this business. Today I was continuing my audition in a federal case at a pre-trial detention hearing. The main issue was whether someone died as a result of some prescribed medications. This fact increased my client's sentencing guidelines from 5 years to over 20 years minimum. After a lengthy hearing the judge found the prosecutor did not meet his burden on that issue but that he may be a flight risk and reset the hearing to next week after announcing "I am going to set a bond." Next week she wants the family there to pledge assets.

Of course after the hearing I was fired.


So now I'm back, fully pissed off, and ready to resume writing.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com