A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tom DeLay's "Birdcage"

The movie "Birdcage" is a beautiful depiction of the inherent dislike and discomfort between ultra right-wing conservatives and left-wing liberals. In the movie, Robin Williams plays the homosexual father of a son dating the daughter of an ultra-conservative republican U.S. Senator played by Gene Hackman. At the end of the movie, the Senator dresses up like a woman and dances in a gay club to avoid being spotted by the media, all with the necessary help of his hated homosexual new friend.

Ultra-conservative republican Tom Delay finds himself today, partnered with the type of people ultra-conservative republicans target as "liberal," and "anti-American," (because they defend the constitution and the bill of rights - which sometimes gets in the way of convicting "obviously" guilty defendants).

DeLay hired a criminal defense lawyer, assailed the same criminal justice system he helped to toughen, (If someone can find one vote where DeLay didn't agree with toughening some criminal statute or sentencing guideline - dinner's on me anywhere in Miami) and assailed the prosecutor for having the nerve to seek an indictment.

DeLay is mad, he is lashing out, and he is now living in a system of tough criminal statutes that he most likely supported throughout his career.

I love it!

I don't think DeLay is guilty of a crime, mind you. In the end he will probably be acquitted, and the country will have a great opportunity to see the filth that permeates our political campaigns. What Tom DeLay is accused of doing is taking corporate money and having it find its way to individual candidates to help them win so they could rewrite district boundaries, making it easier for republicans, like DeLay, to stay in power (and toughen already draconian criminal statutes and sentencing guidelines.)

Its kind of like moving the line closer to the basket so the ball can go in easier. It's otherwise known as cheating.

I don't think what he did was criminal, just dirty.

Tom DeLay now has to enter the criminal courthouse, not as a proud observer of the unfair and pro-government anti-defense system he helped create, but as a potential inmate, a criminal defendant.

Tom DeLay has no respect for the courts. He said this Spring "We set up the courts. We can un-set the courts. We have the power of the purse."

Tom DeLay's purse is now going to someone like me, a criminal defense lawyer.

I just hope when his outstanding lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, finds a "technicality" to throw out the case, that DeLay says, "no thank you, I don't believe in criminal defendants being able to get off on technicalities."

Ha Ha Ha.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Making Our Parks Safer

What can I say?

Woman Ticketed for Sitting on a Playground Bench with No Kids
(New York-AP, Sept. 27, 2005) - It's an only in New York story. A woman was given a ticket for sitting on a park bench because she doesn't have children.

The Rivington Playground on Manhattan's East Side has a small sign at the entrance that says adults are prohibited unless they are accompanied by a child. Forty-seven-year-old Sandra Catena says she didn't see the sign when she sat down to wait for an arts festival to start. Two New York City police officers asked her if she was with a child. When she said no, they gave her a ticket that could bring a one thousand dollar fine and 90 days in jail.
The city parks department says the rule is designed to keep pedophiles out of city parks, but a parks spokesman told the Daily News that the department hoped police would use some common sense when enforcing the rule.
The spokesman told the paper that ticketing a woman in the park in the middle of the day is not the way you want to enforce the rule.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Taxpayers Love for Drug Dealers

Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela is in custody in Miami's Federal Detention Center waiting for a visit from his new lawyer.

Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela is accused of participating in the cocaine trade and making a mere 2.1 billion in profit.

You hired his lawyer for him today, and you're paying for it as we speak.

Ninety-dollars an hour. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

That's what you want, right?

No, I'm not kidding. You can read about it on the popular blog of top-flight Miami criminal defense attorney David Markus at his ever-popular Southern District of Florida Blog

Federal Law prohibits criminal defendants from using money they made in their criminal ventures, for lawyers.

So I can't take money from a criminal client if the money was made through a criminal act.

You agree with THAT - don't you? Of course. It sounds reasonable.

Criminals shouldn't be able to make money illegally and then use that money to pay the lawyer to defend them.

YEAH! - "I'll show them!" you say."

Yeah, you're "showing" them.... showing them the money that is.

Think about it for a couple hours

(That's $90 per hour, times 2 hours, times how many criminal defendants in America with tainted money????????????????)

Ninety bucks could buy, I don't know, a few bags of ice........

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Florida's Governor Looks For A Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida Governor Jeb Bush is living the commonly heard phrase "everyone hates criminal defense lawyers, until their kid is busted for some minor offense, and then they want the best one they can find to correct an obvious huge injustice, and get him or her off on any technicality they can find."

John Ellis Bush, the youngest son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, was arrested (read story here) in Texas for public intoxication and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.

Big deal. He'll get some diversion program, like every other first time misdemeanor offender, pay a fine, and be able to seal his record.

But this is more important because of who it happened to, the son of a prominent "tough on crime" elected official.

In interviews following his son's arrest, Governor Bush became Jeb, the father of a kid in jail, and he acted as any typical father - who also happens to be governor of a state with 15 million people. He said: "It's a private matter. We will support him. We're sad for him. But I'm not going to discuss it on the public square with 30 cameras.

He deserves privacy. This arrest has nothing to to with Jeb as Governor. His 21 year old "kid" is a grown man and was 1500 miles away from the Governor's mansion when it happened.

So leave Jeb alone. It's really none of your damn business.

I just mention it because these are the times when people like the Governor have to step out of their political world, and live the reality of the effects of legislation.

I am sorry the Governor's son was arrested, but I do know that personal experiences with the reality of criminal statutes can't be a bad thing for someone who has to sign off on "tough on crime" legislation.

Jeb believes in longer sentences, more prison beds, and making the job of criminal defense lawyers tougher and tougher.

Except in one particular case.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

W Pleads Guilty

So he should of done it a couple days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

I don't care - he did it, and it was the right thing to do.

Today, September 13, 2005 President George W. Bush said the following:

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right.............,


Way to go Mr. President! Way to go.

He said - that he wants to find out if the nation is capable of dealing with another storm or a severe attack. I'd like to know that also.

He said, "I want to know what went right and what went wrong." So do I.

Republicans and Democrats have one unique goal - to prove that the other party should not lead. Republicans may be wincing that the President blatantly took the heat, and Democrats may be preparing their "gotcha" soundbytes, but this is not a time for either, regardless of whether you love, or hate him.

This is a time for every elected official around the nation to take a lesson from the countless criminal defendants around the nation - sometimes, you have to plea guilty.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tragedy: People Starving, Dying, and Most Importantly.....Looting?

You love to say you'll "kill for your family." But would you really? Who knows at this point in time? I now know that there are many who would do anything for their family, except loot.

All these idiots yelling and screaming about the looting after Hurricane Katrina need to take their moral compass and shake it a bit.

Looting is stealing during an emergency, and it is a crime. Whether someone steals a plasma TV, VCR, radio, toilet paper, toothpaste, meat, milk, or baby formula and diapers.

But let's get a grip people, a strong, tight grip on reality.

If I, and my wife and kids are stranded after a natural disaster, I will steal food if I cannot get any. I will steal diapers and milk for my kid and personal items that will keep me clean and sane.

I'd rather be guilty than dead.

I agree that no one in the hurricane ravaged area had any use for a TV, VCR, or other electronic item, but let's understand crime for what it is.

Remember that there is murder, and there is a killing in self-defense. In both scenarios, someone is dead. But we excuse self-defense, so let's excuse looting for food and other essential items.

Now let's move on.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"Our Fellow Man" Much More Important Than 2 Men

Big news today in the criminal justice system. One we're trying very hard to care about, and the other, we are barely hearing about.

The Chief Justice of The United States Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, who was on the Court for 33 years, died Saturday, September 3 of Thyroid Cancer.

Joran van der Sloot, the lead suspect in the disappearance of Alabama resident Natalee Holloway from her Aruban vacation, was released from jail, making the case even colder than it has been. You remember Natalee Holloway is missing, right?

These would normally be colossal stories on any given day, but today, the big news is that the New Orleans Superdome and Convention Center are empty.

We're looking upward, not at heaven hoping Chief Justice Rehnquist is resting in peace, but at the sky hoping more helicopters are plucking people off their roofs in flooded New Orleans.

News broke of Rehnquist's death with split screens continuing to show the devastation in New Orleans, and the news of van der Sloot's release I read on the internet.

I think the lack of focus on these stories is a good thing. It shows a simple fact of American life - although statistics may show different, when our fellow man is suffering, we find it difficult to focus on anything else.

I think the Chief Justice is resting in peace knowing this.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina: There's Even Sympathy For The Lawyers

Are you watching this stuff on the news? Of course you are - how can you not? You just stare and ask the same question everyone's asking - "What if this happened to me? Selfish? No - just a great question that helps you appreciate the colossal catastrophe that has occurred.

While some are asking who's fault this is, when the power will return, and what will be the future of the Gulf Coast, I have but one question: WHY ARE VICTIMS OF A NATURAL DISASTER, IN AMERICA, WAITING FOR FOOD AND WATER? That's my only question. I will ask no other. Can someone answer that for me please?

Today, I was honored. I was asked to participate in what turned out to be the best and worst telephone call I've ever experienced.

I was asked to join representatives of the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in a conference call to discuss the short and long term needs of the criminal defense bar.

In the first few minutes of the conversation I joined the millions of helpless people around the world unable to do anything. I listened to the Louisiana lawyers ask each other if they've seen some of their colleagues, or know where they are.

They're looking for people. Lawyers, Judges. "Anyone heard from the public defender? someone asked.

Then they discussed other mundane issues, like the fact that they have no work, their files are destroyed, they have no office, they don't know where their clients are, and the ones in jail are being moved.....somewhere. They need a phone, a safe place to send their kids for a while, and things that we don't even think about, ever.

"When will the courts open?" I thought I heard a slight chuckle at that question.

Then the discussion of money came up. Time for me to chime in and discuss how I could.....send emails asking for money. I apologize to the starving people there, but that's about all I can do - ask for and send money.

But that's short term help. What these lawyers need now, is jobs. No one's getting arrested, no one's going to court, no one needs them. In fact, most people don't need anyone right now except someone with something to eat or drink.

Dear Anonymous

I would love to respond to you, all of you who choose to remain "Anonymous." But I cannot.

First, there is no reply option to answer your questions. Comments left on the blog can only be replied to by posting another comment on the blog, and I choose not to fill the blog with answers to individual questions.

Second, and more importantly, as you know, I am a criminal defense lawyer. Many of the so called "anonymous" posters are either defense lawyers or prosecutors. In fact, I am able to see the domain names from which the comments come, so I actually know who most of you are, but respect your "perceived" privacy.

I welcome all of your comments. But I will not respond to someone who does not disclose who they are. I do not do this in any forum, as I am sure you do not either.

You are welcome to go to "My Profile" and click the e-mail option. I'd be happy to respond to you individually.

Thank You.