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

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Wishful Thinking for 2007

1. That every judge who takes the bench each morning hating their job, having "heard it all," and serving no purpose but to rubber stamp the government, resign.

2. That every prosecutor who believes that defense lawyers are the problem in the criminal justice system, not the defendants, resign.

3. That Mike Nifong, the sorriest excuse for a lawyer, much less a prosecutor, resign

4. That every police officer who has taken on the practice of screaming at, threatening, and jumping on each and every person they arrest, take a deep breath and know that recently in Miami, an officer came across a fugitive on a murder case who was in the courthouse for another case, quietly told him he would have to take him into custody, and calmly put handcuffs on him and took him to jail.

5. That every private defense lawyer in this practice solely to make money, go do something else.

6. That the prosecutor's "supervisor," (akin these days to the all involved manager at a car dealership) who tells his "supervisee" to "try the (crappy, stupid) case" instead of letting him/her offer the reasonable plea that he/she wants to offer, actually try the case, instead of running back to the office.

7. That the private defense bar cease behaving like this practice is to be handled like selling products at a flea market.

8. That the media stop saying that the defendant "cut a deal," or that a continuance of a trial date is "yet another delay," and that after an acquittal "the victim's family still has no justice." On that last one, an acquittal is justice, you in the media just don't get the post-sentencing jailhouse interview.

9. That every private defense lawyer practicing over 5 years, take a public defender to lunch, maybe a few times this year. And not to the sub shop, to one of those nice places we go with our "friends." Talk to them about their job, maybe it will remind you (and me) of a few things.

10. A little more g-d damn respect and professionalism, by and from everyone in that courtroom. You all know what I'm talking about.

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

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Disbar Mike Nifong

I hate to be profane, but are you f***in kidding me?

Here's the headline from the News & Observer in North Carolina:

Lab chief: Nifong said don't report all DNA data

We continue: "Brian Meehan, director of DNA Security of Burlington, said his lab found DNA from unidentified men in the underwear, pubic hair and rectum of the woman who said she was gang-raped at a lacrosse party in March. Nurses at Duke Hospital collected the samples a few hours after the alleged assault. Meehan said the DNA did not come from Reade Seligmann, David Evans, or Collin Finnerty, who have been charged with rape and sexual assault in the case."

On cross examination:

"Was the failure to report these results the intentional decision of you and the district attorney? Cooney asked.

“Yes,” Meehan replied."

From the North Carolina Bar Rules of Professional Conduct:

Rule 3.8 Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor

The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause;

(d) after reasonably diligent inquiry, make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information required to be disclosed by applicable law, rules of procedure, or court opinions including all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal;

Mr. Nifong needs to surrender his license. He is not worthy of the Bar, as a prosecutor, or any type of lawyer.

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is The Duke Rape Case Over - AGAIN?

DNA testing conducted by a private lab in the Duke lacrosse rape case found genetic material from several males in the accuser's body and her underwear - but none from any team member, including the three charged with rape, according to a defense motion filed Wednesday.

The information was not disclosed in a report on the testing prosecutors provided earlier this year to the defense.

Click the link above for the full story.

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

Ellis Rubin Dies

Within the last year Ellis Rubin represented a witness (picture above) in one of my cases. That was the only opportunity I had to meet and speak with him. Regardless of his reputation for flamboyant defenses and love for the media, he was a gentleman to me, and I am grateful for the few moments I had to share a courtroom and a case with him.

Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You Better Watch Out - Kid Arrested For Opening Present Early

From the AP:

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) -- A fed-up mother had her 12-year-old son arrested for allegedly rummaging through his great-grandmother's things and playing with his Christmas present early.

The mother called police Sunday after learning her son had disobeyed orders and repeatedly taken a Game Boy from its hiding place at his great-grandmother's house next door and played it.

He was arrested on petty larceny charges, taken to the police station in handcuffs and held until his mother picked him up after church.

"My grandmother went out of her way to lay away a toy and paid on this thing for months," said the boy's mother, Brandi Ervin. "It was only to teach my son a lesson. He's been going through life doing things ... and getting away with it."

Police did not release the boy's name.

The mother said that her son was found in the last year to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but that his medicine does not seem to help. (AND JAIL WILL?)

The boy's case will be presented to Department of Juvenile Justice officials in York County, who will decide what happens to him, Bollinger said. His mother hopes he can attend a program that will finally scare him straight. (ARE THEY MAKING A LIST AND CHECKING IT TWICE?)

"It's not even about the Christmas present," she said. "I only want positive things out of it. ... There's no need for him to act this way. I'd rather call myself than someone else call for him doing something worse than this."

I would have just told the kid that he better be good for goodness sake.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Criminalization of Life

Although I generally delete chain e-mails (especially those that ask me to send them to 5 people), I found this of interest:

Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1973.....Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.

2006 ......School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1973 ...Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.

2006 ......Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

1973 ........ Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006....... Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to school.

1973..... Mark shares headache medicine with Principal out on the smoking dock.

2006 ........... Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1973 ....... Ants die.

2006........... BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Arrests in Martin Lee Anderson Killing

After criticism of a slow investigation, yesterday, 7 guards and a nurse were arrested in Florida for aggravated manslaughter against a child in the beating death of 14 year old Martin Lee Anderson.

One autopsy determined he was suffocated by ammonia capsules shoved up his nose.

"It feels like a brick has been lifted off me today," said Robert Anderson, the dead boy's father.

Gina Jones, the teen's mother, wiping tears from her eyes, said: "I'm finally getting justice for my baby."

Panama City, Florida is a conservative place where law and order prevails. Let's see what a jury does.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for:

1. Families Against Minimum Mandatories (FAMM). A real organization, with real goals, and the most promise of achieving some of them.

2. Prosecutors who sincerely respect the role of the defense lawyer.

3. Prosecutors who don't sincerely respect the role of the defense lawyer and quit being a prosecutor to do insurance defense.

4. Judges who realize there is a whole world outside their courtroom. This world includes traffic, kids, vacations, clients waiting in the lobby, and trials that aren't ready to be trials, yet.

5. Cops who walk out of court after you cross-examine them and slap you on the back and say "good job."

6. Clients who appreciate, well, anything you do.

7. My kids, who don't see what I see everyday.

8. My wife, who loves what I do, because she loves me.

9. The fact that I do not have to advance an argument because "my supervisor" says so.

10. Any prosecutor who understands the gravity of their position.

11. Public Defenders

12. Public Defenders

13. Friendly clerks, bailiffs, and corrections officers.

14. Clients who have payment plans with their family, and pay you up front.

15. Any legislator, state or federal, who doesn't use the criminal statutes or sentencing guidelines as their focus for legislation, solely for the purpose of their re-election.

16. Anyone in government or the courts who believes we have gone WAYYYYYY overboard with minimum mandatory sentences, and is willing to do something about it, other than shake their head.

17. Defense lawyers who are in this business for something other than money.

18. Judges who exercise the independence they so covet.

19. Members of the public who think protecting the constitution is a noble profession even if they think the police "can search my house anytime, I've got nothing to hide."

20. Practicing the only law that really matters.

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

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

First Muslim In Congress Is A Criminal Defense Lawyer

Big buzz about the newest member of Congress from Minnesota being a Muslim.

He's also a criminal defense lawyer.

Read about Representative Keith Ellison.

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

Friday, November 10, 2006

Take That!

An accused rapist in India is getting slapped in the face 51 times as his "sentence." They can't prove the case because the woman is a deaf mute.

The story is here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not A Very Happy Halloween For This Lawyer

A lawyer in Maine has been arrested for, get this, "criminal threatening," for dressing up as Bin Laden and waving a fake gun.

Anyone looking for a client to represent in Maine?

You can read about it here

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rush Limbaugh Calls Duke Prosecutor Nigfong "Hack"

Rush Limbaugh, pictured at right of course, is angry, not at liberal left-wing democrats, or tax and spend republicans, but of all people - prosecutors!

On his radio show today (10/30) he blasts Mike Nifong, the elected district attorney prosecuting the Duke Lacrosse Players, for his statements in court last week that he has not yet interviewed the alleged victim.

Rush called Nifong a "hack prosecutor" and blamed him for ruining the lives of these players solely to protect his election.

Guess politics does make strange bedfellows.

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 go to www.tannebaumweiss.com

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wesley Snipes Committing Tax Fraud, Helping Terrorists

Contrary to popular belief, we criminal defense lawyers support the war on terror. Seriously. We don't want bombs blowing up our buildings and airplanes, and killing our people.

But the problem is that our government has found a way to relate every crime known to man, to terrorism. As an example, we, the criminal defense bar, know that warrantless wiretapping can lead to the capture of terrorists and thwarting of terror plots, but it's also being used to aid in the war on drugs, which is part of the war on terror, of course. The sale of drugs aids terrorists.

The FBI defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

What's also part of the war on terror - the sale of fake purses.

And then there's the Indictment of actor Wesley Snipes yesterday for tax fraud. (Review the tax return in issue) The U.S Attorney said this: Those who intentionally and unlawfully harass the IRS through deceit, trickery and fraud undermine the collection of revenue that is vital to every aspect of the operation of our government, including defense, the war on terror, health care, law enforcement and education,"

And so therin lies the rub, our government's attempt to define every single criminal act as aiding terrorism.

You see, the definition of terrorism is broad, and allows tactics used to find terrorists, to be used in our everyday enforcement of criminal law.

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.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Keith Olbermann's Powerful Statement On Lying

A special comment about lying
Keith Olbermann on the difference between terrorists and critics
By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'

While the leadership in Congress has self-destructed over the revelations of an unmatched, and unrelieved, march through a cesspool ...

While the leadership inside the White House has self-destructed over the revelations of a book with a glowing red cover ...

The president of the United States — unbowed, undeterred and unconnected to reality — has continued his extraordinary trek through our country rooting out the enemies of freedom: the Democrats.

Yesterday at a fundraiser for an Arizona congressman, Mr. Bush claimed, quote, “177 of the opposition party said, ‘You know, we don’t think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists.’”

The hell they did.

One hundred seventy-seven Democrats opposed the president’s seizure of another part of the Constitution.

Not even the White House press office could actually name a single Democrat who had ever said the government shouldn’t be listening to the conversations of terrorists.

President Bush hears what he wants.

Tuesday, at another fundraiser in California, he had said, “Democrats take a law enforcement approach to terrorism. That means America will wait until we’re attacked again before we respond.”

Mr. Bush fabricated that, too.

And evidently he has begun to fancy himself as a mind reader.

“If you listen closely to some of the leaders of the Democratic Party,” the president said at another fundraiser Monday in Nevada, “it sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is — wait until we’re attacked again.”

The president doesn’t just hear what he wants.

He hears things that only he can hear.

It defies belief that this president and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they could wallow.

Yet they do.

It is startling enough that such things could be said out loud by any president of this nation.

Rhetorically, it is about an inch short of Mr. Bush accusing Democratic leaders, Democrats, the majority of Americans who disagree with his policies of treason.

But it is the context that truly makes the head spin.

Just 25 days ago, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this same man spoke to this nation and insisted, “We must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.”

Mr. Bush, this is a test you have already failed.

If your commitment to “put aside differences and work together” is replaced in the span of just three weeks by claiming your political opponents prefer to wait to see this country attacked again, and by spewing fabrications about what they’ve said, then the questions your critics need to be asking are no longer about your policies.

They are, instead, solemn and even terrible questions, about your fitness to fulfill the responsibilities of your office.

No Democrat, sir, has ever said anything approaching the suggestion that the best means of self-defense is to “wait until we’re attacked again.”

No critic, no commentator, no reluctant Republican in the Senate has ever said anything that any responsible person could even have exaggerated into the slander you spoke in Nevada on Monday night, nor the slander you spoke in California on Tuesday, nor the slander you spoke in Arizona on Wednesday ... nor whatever is next.

You have dishonored your party, sir; you have dishonored your supporters; you have dishonored yourself.

But tonight the stark question we must face is — why?

Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?

Why have you chosen to go down in history as the president who made things up?

In less than one month you have gone from a flawed call to unity to this clarion call to hatred of Americans, by Americans.

If this is not simply the most shameless example of the rhetoric of political hackery, then it would have to be the cry of a leader crumbling under the weight of his own lies.

We have, of course, survived all manner of political hackery, of every shape, size and party. We will have to suffer it, for as long as the Republic stands.

But the premise of a president who comes across as a compulsive liar is nothing less than terrifying.

A president who since 9/11 will not listen, is not listening — and thanks to Bob Woodward’s most recent account — evidently has never listened.

A president who since 9/11 so hates or fears other Americans that he accuses them of advocating deliberate inaction in the face of the enemy.

A president who since 9/11 has savaged the very freedoms he claims to be protecting from attack — attack by terrorists, or by Democrats, or by both — it is now impossible to find a consistent thread of logic as to who Mr. Bush believes the enemy is.

But if we know one thing for certain about Mr. Bush, it is this: This president — in his bullying of the Senate last month and in his slandering of the Democrats this month — has shown us that he believes whoever the enemies are, they are hiding themselves inside a dangerous cloak called the Constitution of the United States of America.

How often do we find priceless truth in the unlikeliest of places?

I tonight quote not Jefferson nor Voltaire, but Cigar Aficionado Magazine.

On Sept. 11th, 2003, the editor of that publication interviewed General Tommy Franks, at that point, just retired from his post as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command — of Cent-Com.

And amid his quaint defenses of the then-nagging absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or the continuing freedom of Osama bin Laden, General Franks said some of the most profound words of this generation.

He spoke of “the worst thing that can happen” to this country:

First, quoting, a “massive casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western World — it may be in the United States of America.”

Then, the general continued, “the Western World, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years, in this grand experiment that we call democracy.”

It was this super-patriotic warrior’s fear that we would lose that most cherished liberty, because of another attack, one — again quoting General Franks — “that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass-casualty-producing event. Which, in fact, then begins to potentially unravel the fabric of our Constitution.”

And here we are, the fabric of our Constitution being unraveled, anyway.

Habeus corpus neutered; the rights of self-defense now as malleable and impermanent as clay; a president stifling all critics by every means available and, when he runs out of those, by simply lying about what they said or felt.

And all this, even without the dreaded attack.

General Franks, like all of us, loves this country, and believes not just in its values, but in its continuity.

He has been trained to look for threats to that continuity from without.

He has, perhaps been as naïve as the rest of us, in failing to keep close enough vigil on the threats to that continuity from within.

Secretary of State Rice first cannot remember urgent cautionary meetings with counterterrorism officials before 9/11. Then within hours of this lie, her spokesman confirms the meetings in question. Then she dismisses those meetings as nothing new — yet insists she wanted the same cautions expressed to Secretaries Ashcroft and Rumsfeld.

Mr. Rumsfeld, meantime, has been unable to accept the most logical and simple influence of the most noble and neutral of advisers. He and his employer insist they rely on the “generals in the field.” But dozens of those generals have now come forward to say how their words, their experiences, have been ignored.

And, of course, inherent in the Pentagon’s war-making functions is the regulation of presidential war lust.

Enacting that regulation should include everything up to symbolically wrestling the Chief Executive to the floor.

Yet—and it is Pentagon transcripts that now tell us this—evidently Mr. Rumsfeld’s strongest check on Mr. Bush’s ambitions, was to get somebody to excise the phrase “Mission Accomplished” out of the infamous Air Force Carrier speech of May 1st, 2003, even while the same empty words hung on a banner over the President’s shoulder.

And the vice president is a chilling figure, still unable, it seems, to accept the conclusions of his own party’s leaders in the Senate, that the foundations of his public position, are made out of sand.

There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But he still says so.

There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida.

But he still says so.

And thus, gripping firmly these figments of his own imagination, Mr. Cheney lives on, in defiance, and spreads—around him and before him—darkness, like some contagion of fear.

They are never wrong, and they never regret -- admirable in a French torch singer, cataclysmic in an American leader.

Thus, the sickening attempt to blame the Foley scandal on the negligence of others or “the Clinton era”—even though the Foley scandal began before the Lewinsky scandal.

Thus, last month’s enraged attacks on this administration’s predecessors, about Osama bin Laden—a projection of their own negligence in the immediate months before 9/11.

Thus, the terrifying attempt to hamstring the fundament of our freedom—the Constitution—a triumph for al Qaida, for which the terrorists could not hope to achieve with a hundred 9/11’s.

And thus, worst of all perhaps, these newest lies by President Bush about Democrats choosing to await another attack and not listen to the conversations of terrorists.

It is the terror and the guilt within your own heart, Mr. Bush, that you redirect at others who simply wish for you to temper your certainty with counsel.

It is the failure and the incompetence within your own memory, Mr. Bush, that leads you to demonize those who might merely quote to you the pleadings of Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

It is not the Democrats whose inaction in the face of the enemy you fear, Sir.

It is your own—before 9/11 - and (and you alone know this), perhaps afterwards.

Mr. President, these new lies go to the heart of what it is that you truly wish to preserve.

It is not our freedom, nor our country—your actions against the Constitution give irrefutable proof of that.

You want to preserve a political party’s power. And obviously you’ll sell this country out, to do it.

These are lies about the Democrats -- piled atop lies about Iraq -- which were piled atop lies about your preparations for al Qaida.

To you, perhaps, they feel like the weight of a million centuries -- as crushing, as immovable.

They are not.

If you add more lies to them, you cannot free yourself, and us, from them.

But if you stop -- if you stop fabricating quotes, and building straw-men, and inspiring those around you to do the same -- you may yet liberate yourself and this nation.

Please, sir, do not throw this country’s principles away because your lies have made it such that you can no longer differentiate between the terrorists and the critics.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

Instant Message from Republican Congressman Mark Foley: I Resign

From now resigned Republican Congressman Mark Foley's website:

"he has supported a host of measures to strengthen the ability of law enforcers to do their jobs. Many of the bills would allow law enforcers to clamp down on child abusers, drug dealers, rapists, slave traffickers, illegal aliens and Internet pirates"


You can read about his resignation here

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Since 1972, Florida Has Never Executed A White Person for Killing a African American

A story in today's St. Pete Times reports that an ABA study on Florida's Death Penalty finds the need for "substantial reform to make it more fair and accurate"

According to the Times, the eight-member team assembled by the American Bar Association said in a 403-page report released today that the state should create a commission to study wrongful convictions and recommend methods to protect the innocent.

Florida leads the nation in exonerations, with 22 death row inmates released from prison since 1973.

According to the Times, the team took no stand for or against the death penalty but compared the state's procedures against 93 ABA standards and found Florida in compliance with only eight.

Members called for a new requirement of unanimous jury verdicts for death sentences, (author's note, this was the subject of a bill in Florida that failed this past legislative session) since Florida is the only state that allows a jury to decide by mere majority.

The report also recommended the state adopt standards ensuring a convicted person will have qualified attorneys who receive adequate payment during the appeals process; create statewide standards determining who can be charged with a capital crime; and establish new rules forbidding death sentences and executions of those with serious mental disabilities.

One of the team members says he "hopes the state takes the report's recommendations seriously and enacts changes so "innocent people are not put to death."

Not a bad idea.

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

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Conservative Media Hypocrisy and Nancy Grace

The buzz is that this woman who's kid went missing, shot herself after being grilled by Nancy Grace about whether she was the killer of her own child. The story is here.

Highly possible.

I've spoken before about Nancy Grace. ("Your Objection is Overruled") who I think does nothing more than irresponsibly play into the mob mentality of Americans who think the criminal justice system should operate without defense lawyers, and without a constitution.

But honestly, I'm not ready to blame her for this woman's suicide. Maybe after the interview the woman came to terms with the fact that she killed her kid. I don't know, and either does anyone else. The only two people who know are her, and her kid, and they're both dead.

My interest in this story is with the conservative media pundits who jumped on the "how dare she" bandwagon last night. Even Joe Scarborough, whom I happen to like, was talking about the story with the phrase "Nancy Disgrace?" on the screen.

What's the deal? Is even the conservative right tired of her espousing hate for the criminal justice system? I thought you guys all quietly loved her.

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

Monday, September 11, 2006


It's not even a date anymore, it's a historical term, like only one other date - July 4th.

The two of course have opposite meanings. One means freedom, and the other, reminds us how fragile our freedom has become.

Fragile, like the sand sculpture my daughters made for me on a recent vacation that was broken in two places by Homeland Security, looking for drugs in the name of terrorism. At least like the good citizen who hits a parked car, they left a note.

Everything is terrorism today, and anti-terrorism. Those fake purse round-ups, are now anti-terrorism efforts. All drug offenses, can be "traced to Bin Laden." ID Theft, terrorism. All financial crimes, fund terrorism.

I support strong anti-terrorism efforts, and I have no problem with searches at airports, or having to show my ID a bit more in this country, but I do wonder if we have our eye on the ball sometimes.

Take a look at this report by TRAC, that details the criminal terrorism enforcement efforts of the United States in the five years since 9/11.

Interesting Stuff.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Practice of Criminal Defense Law

I recently met with a majority of the Past Presidents of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL) where a discussion erupted about the "way things used to be," and the way they are now.

The "older" lawyers spoke of a time when criminal defense lawyers had no sentencing guidelines to argue over, there were a small number of criminal lawyers in the community in which they live, and criminal defense lawyers were more willing to fight for the rights of their clients, not so concerned about the "business" of practicing law.

Now, some say, the newer breed of criminal lawyers are less passionate about rights and the constitution, much less willing to "fight" the government whether it be in state or federal court, and are more concerned about paying overhead.

I see this.

I do not advertise, send out letters to people who get arrested offering my services, or walk in to court hoping to g-d I don't get "caught" in a trial. When I started on my own, I built my practice on referrals. It was difficult. My friends were doing "mailers" and getting clients at a nice clip.

I see many young lawyers practicing criminal law because they view it as "easy," and it can be a good "cash flow" type of practice, unlike Personal Injury. There is not a small group of criminal lawyers here in Miami, there are hundreds, and we eat our own when it comes to getting cases.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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

Friday, August 18, 2006

Ramsey Suspect "Had Me At Hello"

And then he kept talking. And talking. And talking.

Now, it appears that within several days the media may be announcing that John Mark Karr is nothing more than a publicity seeking psycho.

Check out a timeline of his life.

His ex-wife calls him a "threat," but also provides an alibi, saying she "was with her former husband in Alabama at the time of JonBenet's killing and she does not believe her former husband was involved in the homicide."

His confession doesn't match the basic facts of the case.

Big arrest.

Big announcement.

Big much to do about nothing, it appears. At least today.

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

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Patsy Ramsey Isn't Dead?

That was my first thought when I heard that they had a suspect in the killing of JonBenet Ramsey.

Patsy Ramsey killed JonBenet, right? Or was it her father John?


Dead kid, no suspect, parents hire lawyer - THE PARENTS DID IT!!!!!!!!

Right, people? Right, media?

What do we say today?

I'm angry and thrilled all at the same time.

And I'm lucky today, because I'M a criminal defense lawyer. I get to say "TOLD YA SO!"

I think we all bow our hears in shame at the fact that we also learned through this story that the presumption of innocence, is dead.

Just like Patsy Ramsey, may she rest in peace, like no one else.

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

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hop On The Bus Gus

I'm a big fan of creative sentencing.

It allows judges to be judges, and can provide for a meaningful punishment that may change the behavior of the defendant.

In the latest idea to address teen traffic violators (which affect us all in insurance rates and safety) an Indiana judge is sentencing teen traffic violators to ride the school bus and not allowing their parents, under threat of contempt, to drive them to school.

Why does the judge think this works? Apparently the first teen he sentenced to ride the school bus, cried outside the courtroom.

Interesting. Any other ideas out there?

And I'm looking for creative ideas, not the typical "throw away the key" stuff.

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

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cuban Criminal Law

In the wake of Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro turning over his power to his 75 year-old younger brother Raul, I wondered what the criminal laws looked like on this island 90 miles south of Florida.

Check out Florida State University's Rule of Law and Cuba site for a comprehensive look at the dissidents and their sentences, the Cuban Constitution, and Sentencing Documents.

Here is a link to the Cuban Penal Code partially translated into English

It is so vague that reading this stuff may give you a headache.

All these web pages are in Spanish and can be translated into English by right clicking the mouse and clicking "Translate Page Into English."

Interesting stuff.

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

Thursday, July 13, 2006

State's Opening Statement - "His Name is Coors!"

We are just finding out that Pete Coors, President of Coors Beer, was arrested in May for suspicion of drunken driving.

The story is here

So who's got the best defense for, uh, Mr. Coors?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

AGAIN - Another Innocent Man Freed By Innocence Project

YAHOO! News reports that a New York judge ordered the release of a man who served 22 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of rape, assault and robbery.

Alan Newton, now 44, is now free due to the work of the Innocence Project.

Read on their website about how he spent 12 years fighting for access to the evidence that would eventually exonerate him, and show that someone else committed the crime.

"I'm just glad to be home," Newton said.

I'm glad you're home too Mr. Newton.

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

Monday, July 10, 2006

NEWS FLASH - Congress Not Above The Law

Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan made a stunning assertion today: members of Congress are not above the law.

Let me catch my breath. Did he also say it is Monday? That the sun will set tonight? It is pathetic that he had to make this statement, but he did, because the only argument that the search was illegal is that Congress is above the law.

I love this, the Judge went on to say that Jefferson's theory of legislative privilege "would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime."

The issue was whether the speech and debate clause of the Constitution, which protects elected officials from being questioned by the president, a prosecutor or a plaintiff in a lawsuit about their legislative work, applied here.

It doesn't, because accepting a bribe is not considered "legislative work."

No, I'm not kidding, it isn't.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem Meets Criminal Defense Blog Host

Dont know if he's a fan of the blog, but he was gracious enough to pause for this picture with me and some friends at this post-championship golf tournament.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Duke Rape Case: Does The Truth Matter?

A couple weeks ago I was listening to The Abrams Report on MSNBC.

Dan Abrams had obtained the statement of Kim Roberts Pittman, a woman who was with the alleged victim the night of the alleged rape. The statement refuted the alleged victims allegations, and created serious questions about the credibility of this case.

When presented with Ms. Robert's statement, Florida Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi, a frequent commentator on the show said the following:

"...in this case and probably what the prosecution has been doing is going, how can I present my case without calling Kim Pittman or Kim Roberts or whatever her name is."



The prosecutor in the case may be considering how to present the case without calling this witness?


Because it blows their case?

Is she telling the truth?

And does it matter to this prosecutor, if in fact he's thinking what is predicted by Ms. Bondi?

The full transcript of the show is here

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Prosecutor vs. Judge - Case Dismissed

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the judge dismissed the case against a man accused of raping a girl six years ago because the prosecutor was 45 minutes late to trial.

The story is that Judge Eileen Gallagher told the prosecutor to be in court at 1 p.m. and then dismissed the case when Prosecutor Mark Schneider had not shown up by 1:45 p.m.

The other side of the story is that earlier in the day, the prosecutor asked the judge to remove herself from the case, saying the judge said last year that she thought the accuser had credibility problems.

Sounds like a pissing match.

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

Monday, June 12, 2006

Drugs Drugs Drugs, Oh Uh , And, Murders Robberies and Rapes

Sitting in criminal court watching possession of cocaine case after possession of cocaine case, I heard a faint voice today: Violent crime is up.

You can read about it here

According to the FBI, violent crime in the U.S. posted its biggest one-year increase since 1991. AP reports that "nationally, murders rose 4.8 percent, meaning there were more than 16,900 victims in 2005. That would be the most since 1998 and the largest percentage increase in 15 years."

According to AP, "Some criminal justice experts said the statistics reflect the nation's complacency in fighting crime. Crime dropped dramatically during 1990s, and some cities have since abandoned effective programs that emphasized prevention, the putting of more cops on the street, and controls on the spread of guns."

Hmmmmm. Prevention? More cops? Gun Control?

Why do that when you can just build more prisons?

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

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Civil Lawyers Being.....Civil?

This order from the Middle District of Florida is flying around the internet today.

Criminal lawyers will laugh and shake their heads. For all the criticism we get, we just don't behave like this:

Case No. 6:05-cv-1430-Orl-31JGG

d/b/a Avista Plex, Inc.,





This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to designate location of a Rule
30(b)(6) deposition (Doc. 105). Upon consideration of the Motion – the latest in a series of Gordian knots that the parties have been unable to untangle without enlisting the assistance of the federal courts – it is ORDERED that said Motion is DENIED. Instead, the Court will fashion a new form of alternative dispute resolution, to wit: at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, June 30, 2006, counsel shall convene at a neutral site agreeable to both parties. If counsel cannot agree on a neutral site, they shall meet on the front steps of the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 North Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida 33602. Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of “rock, paper, scissors.” The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11-12, 2006. If either party disputes the outcome of this engagement, an appeal may be filed and a hearing will be held at 8:30 A.M. on Friday, July 7, 2006 before the undersigned in Courtroom 3, George C. Young United States Courthouse and Federal Building, 80 North Hughey Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32801.

DONE and ORDERED in Chambers, Orlando, Florida on June 6, 2006.
United States District Judge

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Why Everyone Should Have A Fire Extinguisher

From the Sun Sentinel:

Miami-Dade man reports fire, arrested when officials find pot lab in home

A man who reported a fire at his Miami-Dade home was arrested Monday when emergency officials discovered a marijuana hydroponics lab, authorities said.

Roy Diaz, 31, reported the fire about 6:45 a.m. in the house he shared with his wife and child in the 26000 block of Southwest 192nd Avenue, said Detective Nelda Fonticiella, spokesman for the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Firefighters quickly put out the flames and discovered 53 mature marijuana plants worth about $400,000.

Diaz was treated for smoke inhalation and then arrested on charges of trafficking in marijuana, grand theft of electrical power and child endangerment. Authorities have not determined the cause of the fire.

But I'm sure it smelled funny.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Is Jail Always The Answer?

CNN.com reports that jail and prison populations rose 2.6 percent last year.

The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group, reports that the U.S. incarceration rate in 2004 was the highest in the world, at 724 per 100,000 population. Second was Russia, at 532 per 100,000.

From the story: "More than 1,000 inmates were added to the nation's prisons and jails each week from June 2004 to June 2005, according to a report issued Sunday by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Two-thirds of the nearly 2.2 million total inmates were in state or federal prisons, and the rest were in local jails.

Other statistics released in the report include:

The population in federal prisons rose nearly 3 percent, to 184,484 inmates, in the 12-month period;

In the past 10 years, the nation's prison and jail population has risen by more than 600,000;

The increase of 33,539 jail inmates over the 12-month period was the largest increase since 1997;

At mid-year 2005, nearly 60 percent of offenders in local jails were racial or ethnic minorities, a statistic that has not changed in the past decade;

At mid-year 2005, nearly 4.7 percent of black men, nearly 2 percent of Hispanic men, and 0.7 percent of white men nationwide were in a prison or jail.

Female inmates represent about 13 percent of the jail population, a 2.5 percent increase over the past decade;

So where are we going?

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 go to www.tannebaumweiss.com.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Couple Arrested For Asking For Directions

What can I say?

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore City police arrested a Virginia couple over the weekend after they asked an officer for directions.

WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team reporter David Collins said Joshua Kelly and Llara Brook, of Chantilly, Va., got lost leaving an Orioles game on Saturday. Collins reported a city officer arrested them for trespassing on a public street while they were asking for directions .

"In jail for eight hours -- sleeping on a concrete floor next to a toilet," Kelly said.

"It was a nightmare," Brook said. "I was in there thinking I was just dreaming and waiting to wake up."

Collins reported it was a nightmare ending to a nearly perfect day. He said the couple went to a company picnic and watched the Orioles beat Kansas City. It was their first trip to Camden Yards and asked two people for directions to Interstate 95 South when they left.

Collins said somehow they ended up in the Cherry Hill section of south Baltimore. Hopelessly lost, relief melted away concerns after they spotted a police vehicle.

"I said, 'Thank goodness, could you please get us to 95?" Kelly said.

"The first thing that she said to us was no -- you just ran that stop sign, pull over," Brook said. "It wasn't a big deal. We'll pay the stop sign violation, but can we have directions?"

"What she said was 'You found your own way in here, you can find your own way out.'" Kelly said.

Collins said the couple spotted another police vehicle and flagged that officer down for directions. But Officer Natalie Preston, a six-year veteran of the force, intervened.

"That really threw us for a loop when she stepped in between our cars," Kelly said. "(She) said my partner is not going to step in front of me and tell you directions if I'm not."

Collins reported the circumstances got worse. Kelly pulled 40 feet forward parking next to a curb and put his flashers on while Brook was on the phone to her father hoping he could help her with directions. Both her parents are police officers in the Harrisburg, Pa., area.

"(Brook's father) was in the middle of giving us directions when the officer screeched up behind us and got out of the car and asked me to step out. I obeyed," Kelly said. "I obeyed everything -- stepped out of the car, put my hands behind my back, and the next thing I know, I was getting arrested for trespassing."

"By this time, I was completely in tears," Brook said. "I said, 'Ma'am, you know, we just need your help. We are not trying to cause you any trouble. I'm not leaving him here.' What she did was walk over to my side of the car and said, 'Ok, we are taking you downtown, too.'"

Collins said the couple was released from jail without being charged with anything. Brook is now concerned the arrest may complicate a criminal background check she's going through in her job as a child care worker.

Collins said police left Kelly's car unlocked and the windows down at the impound lot. He reported a cell phone charger, pair of sunglasses and 20 CDs were stolen.

Baltimore City police said they are looking into the incident.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Duke Rape Case - Who's On Trial? EVERYONE.

Rape cases have become a lightening rod for victims rights advocates and defense lawyers alike. Because they are often a "he said-she said" fight, the question is - who's on trial?

Defense lawyers say that the credibility of the victim is essential and therefore everything about the victim's character should be admitted into evidence for the jury to decide whether the truth proves guilt. Victim's rights advocates and prosecutors want to limit "bad character" evidence because, frankly, it can be pretty damaging.

Like this little piece of news: The accuser in the Duke rape case, filed the same charges 10 years ago against others. The link is here.

In order for the jury to discover the truth, they need to know this.

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

Friday, April 14, 2006

Duke Rape Case - The Circus Has Come To Durham

The now public three-ring-circus, former serious rape investigation against players from the Duke Lacrosse Team, is a lesson in, well, just a lot of things not to do.

For example, when defense attorneys like myself are exclaiming my client's innocence, you, Mr. District Attorney, Mr. Mike Nifong up-for-election-in-a-tough-race-for-your-job, should not be saying anything until......let's say the DNA results come back and you've heard all the police dispatch tapes from the night of the alleged incident.

DNA in this case? (hear the Jeopardy buzzer that sounds when time is up.) "Sorry Mike, the answer is "what is - it doesn't exist? Thanks for playing.

And we're learning so much more. There's a nice op-ed piece on Yahoo! News about the unraveling of the whole case. Sports Illustrated.com also has a story about all the inconsistent pieces of evidence now being brought to light.

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

Friday, April 07, 2006

President Bush Should Remember Wilford Brimley's Comment On Leaks

In the 1981 movie Absence of Malice, starring Paul Newman and Sally Field, Wilford Brimley plays a United States Attorney investigating the disclosure of a criminal investigation that was published in the fictional "Miami Standard" newspaper.

When Brimley is told that the disclosure was a "leak," he responds in classic Brimley form: "A leak? You call what's going on here a leak? Last time we had a leak like this, Noah built himself a boat."

Over at the White House now there appears to be another leak. The story has only begun. Today the news via Reuters is that the White House is not denying that the President authorized Lewis "Scooter" Libby to disclose intelligence on Iraq in 2003.

If American Idol was not down to the final 8 contestants, this story would be a lot bigger.

Someone would actually be questioning whether the behavior of the President was criminal.

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

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Immigration Is The New Abortion

No, I don't mean that ending a pregnancy under the question of when does life begin is the same as debating whether to allow illegal aliens to stay in the United States, but I do believe that the debate is equally dividing the country.

And the solution is the same - there is none.

Congress has an idea though - House Resolution 4437 would make it a felony to be in the country illegally or to help an undocumented person stay here.

That's what the government does when they have a problem - make it a crime to be part of the problem, or to assist in the problem. Congress' solution is short term, criminalize the issue.

There is another solution, but it is as complicated as the debate. The solution is to tighten our borders, and figure out a way to deal with the people who are already here. America needs to continue to have open arms, but as we frequently say, "I only have two hands." We can't handle all these people. We just can't.

Time Magazine devotes it's cover story this week to what they refer to as the "Immigration Divide"

But the world watching us kick out millions of illegal aliens is not good press, or a good practice.

Neither is finding another reason to put people in prison. Isn't there ever another solution?

You have one, or two?

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jack Abramoff's Memorandum In Aid of Sentencing And Letters

Today's Miami Herald.com has the full text of Jack Abramoff's Memorandum In Aid Of Sentencing and Index of Letters that were sent to Judge Huck for tomorrow's sentencing.

Click the link: MiamiHerald.com

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

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Case To Watch - Girl "Missing" 10 Years Found With..... Security Guard?

The headline leaves little to say.

The story is here.

Let's watch this one.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jack's Back - Abramoff To Be Sentenced

Where's the frenzy?

Now that Abramoff has entered his guilty plea (DOJ Press Release) Jack Abramoff will be sentenced this week, Wednesday, March 29th, 2006, at 1:00 p.m. before The Honorable Paul Huck, United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida. (Appointed by President Clinton, 1990.)

I mention that he was appointed by President Clinton for biographical purposes, but don't get any ideas. Huck is a by the book, down the middle, rules are rules, jurist.

Since there are no cameras in federal courtrooms, here's a snapshot of what will happen:

The 10th floor mahogany laden courtroom will be filled with Abramoff supporters, prosecutors Lawrence LaVechhio, Paul Schwartz, defense lawyers Neal Sonnett (know as the "dean of the Miami defense bar) and Abbe David Lowell of Washington fame.

The defense may again seek a continuance, which will be denied as quickly as it is requested.

Judge Huck will then discuss the Pre-sentence investigation Report and any objections filed by the defense. Judge Huck will try to resolve the objections and determine the "Guideline Range" pursuant to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Then we'll hear from Abramoff supporters, and Abramoff. Yes, this will be the first time we actually hear a statement from Abramoff. He will apologize, seek forgiveness, and a light sentence.

Look for Judge Huck to sentence Abramoff within the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and make no long statements about Abramoff's conduct.

He will not take Abramoff immediately into custody, but require him to self-surrender when the Federal Bureau of Prisons designates him to a facility.

Then Abramoff will walk out of court, and say nothing.

Look for a post-sentence statement from Interim U.S Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, R. Alexander Acosta, who will most likely be at the sentencing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Second Opinion: Martin Lee Anderson Was Murdered

The second autopsy of beaten-to-death Martin Lee Anderson, shows that he did not die of natural causes. As Gomer Pyle used to say "Surprise, surprise, surprise!"

In fact, the confirmation that young Martin didn't die from a, excuse me, "blood disorder," came from........Prosecutors! Sounds like my criminal defense brothers and sisters in the Florida Panhandle should be getting some phone calls real soon.

According to the Associated Press - "A noted pathologist who observed Monday's 12-hour autopsy on behalf of the family said it was clear that Martin Lee Anderson did not die from sickle cell trait, as the medical examiner in Bay County had determined, or any other natural causes."

That noted pathologist was the world famous and former chief of the New York City Medical Examiner's Office Dr. Michael Baden, who opined: "He died because of what you see in the videotape."

I thought that too.....

"I'm just glad the truth is out," said Gina Jones, mother of Martin Lee Anderson.

So the hell am I.

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

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jim Morrison Wanted Behind Jail Cell "Doors"

I wish I could tell you I remember this day (March 5) in history in 1969, but it was about 4 months before I was born when an arrest warrant was issued for Doors lead singer Jim Morrison (December 8, 1943 - July 3, 1971) for his behavior on-stage at a concert here in my hometown. A detailed post about the concert is here.

According to historychannel.com, "When Morrison first got word of the charges for lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent exposure, profanity, and drunkenness, he thought it was a practical joke.

Morrison rejected a plea bargain that included the Doors playing a free concert in Miami." and proceeded to trial August 12, 1970.

As historychannel.com goes on to report, "virtually every witness was somehow connected to the police or the district attorney's office. There was some question as to whether the popular singer had ever actually exposed himself on stage. But there was little doubt that he was so drunk that he had been able to do little more than mumble during the show."

A great article written at the time of the trial is here. An article written by one of the trial witnesses, photographer David E. LeVine, with pictures of the trial, is here. A recently published article about the entire case, with a color photo of Morrison being led out of the courthouse to jail is here.

Morrison was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine. Morrison died in Paris (in a bathtub) before he could serve the sentence." A great post about the last days of his life is here.

I'd love to hear from anyone who was in Miami during the trial.

SIDENOTE: I recently went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, where they have a fascinating exhibit of Morrison's life, including a letter from the Florida Probation and Parole Commission District Office to Morrison's Father, asking for his input at sentencing, and the letter written in response by Morrison's Father, evidencing a great strain in their relationship. You can read the text of those letters here. A list of the items in the Jim Morrison exhibit is here.

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

Monday, February 27, 2006

Martin Lee Anderson - A Criminal With Bad Parents

I've never written about a comment that someone wrote in response to one of my posts. Most of them are thoughtful disagreements that raise the merits of the opposite point of view.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I expect many to disagree with my views on fairness and justice. We are surrounded by "Law and Order" types, and not just the 37 shows a week on TV by the same title. Most believe the problem with crime, is that we are not making enough people criminals, and putting them in prison for the rest of their lives.

I believe in the First Amendment, and it's broad protection of even thoughts like the following comment on my post about Martin Lee Anderson:

Unfortunately this boy was guilty of much more than just stealing his grandmother's car. I know that when Leon County Boot Camp was still in existence the juveniles it housed were averaging 12-13 crimes before intake. Factor in percentage of times they committed crimes before they were actually caught and you're racking up quite the record. As for the State of Florida taking care of her son, do you not attribute any of this to poor parenting skills and the inability of the mother to place her son in an environment conducive to success? I am truly sorry that this boy is dead, and I don't think he "got what he deserved", but you can't say that they murdered him. The juvenile had an illness and the coroner ruled it a natural death. If anything, there was poor screening prior to intake. The only physical contact made to the juvenile were legitimate leg sweeps and arm bars. They were also consistently bringing water to the juvenile. This boy went through nothing different than any other juvenile in the system, he just happened to have a disease. Poor upbringing and the ineffectiveness of a functional family could be considered factors in the juvenile's death more than the fault of the officers.

I cant tell you who wrote this, because of course, they were too much of a coward to post their real name.

Any comments?

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

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Miami Lawyer Goes To Arkansas

I just returned from Little Rock where my client took a plea in the largest computer theft indictment in U.S history. The victim was Acxiom. The main defendant received 8 years in prison. The story is here.

Here's some answers to your initial questions:

1. Miami lawyer in a Arkansas federal courtroom? How'd the judge treat you?

Like a lawyer.

2. How many times did you hear "we don't do things like that here?"


3. What are Arkansas federal prosecutors like?


4. Courtroom staff make your life miserable?

Best I've ever dealt with.

5. FBI Agents, Marshals, probation officers, courthouse security?

Couldn't be more respectful.

It was the first time in a long time I walked into a courtroom and felt that all parties involved had total and complete respect for the function of a criminal defense lawyer.

And I appreciated the experience.

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 go to www.tannebaumweiss.com

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Martin Lee Anderson, A Boy, Killed In Boot Camp

To the "tough on crime" tunnel vision morons, Martin Lee Anderson was a boy who committed a crime and "oh well," died in boot camp.

To those with working brain cells, two hours after arriving at boot camp, Martin Lee Anderson was murdered by law enforcement officers charged with the duty of rehabilitating him for, yeah, "stealing" his grandmother's car.

"Sorry Grandma," Martin's probably crying from heaven.

Here's the video, judge for yourself. If you usually need glasses, don't worry, you won't need them here.

And here's the press release from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

To Martin's mother, I am so sorry you could not rely on the State of Florida to take care of your son, and I hope you get every bit of justice available to a human being, both in civil AND criminal court. You have great lawyers in Parks and Crump.

And I want to say that I NEVER want to hear again from a prosecutor, police officer, government official, or any other "they're criminals and they get what they deserve" type person who blindly goes through life either in denial, or ignorance - that this type of brutal, disgusting, criminal behavior doesn't exist everyday in our local jails, state prisons, and juvenile boot camps.

Wake up!

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

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Judge's Legacy: Jailing A Lawyer

I often wonder if judges think about their legacy.

Sometimes I walk in a courtroom and it becomes clear to me that there are judges who could care less about their legacy. We in Miami criminal court recently lost Judge Manny Crespo. People were downright emotional. His legacy? One of the nicest guys on the planet. Oh yeah, he was tough on defendants, but just a sweet, sweet man. No one remembers how many cases he cleared from his docket, or how many motions he granted or denied, just that he was a wonderful man.

That's his legacy.

Ft. Lauderdale Judge Cheryl Aleman will also have her legacy, having already earned the following press during her tenure:

"Aleman earned the lowest marks among the candidates in a recent Broward County Bar Association poll. Almost half of the attorneys responding deemed her "not qualified."

And then there's this:

"Florida Judge Refuses Early Release For Inmate Dying of Aids"

Judge Aleman recently won a new 6-year term in 2004, or as they like to say in political circles, "is on the fat side of 6."

Judge Aleman made a decision this week that will surely be a part of her legacy, and be discussed for years to come; she jailed a criminal defense lawyer for not appearing for trial for the second time in a month on the same case.

The newest headline for Judge Aleman:

"Controversial Broward Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman had Adam Katz handcuffed and jailed without bond after finding him in contempt of court when he failed to show up, for the second time in a month, for the trial of a client accused of felony driving with a revoked license."

The sentence? A night in jail? A weekend? No, 60 days.

In Aleman's defense, this lawyer has done this before, and been ordered to undergo an evaluation for substance abuse by another judge.

But c'mon! This lawyer may have a substance abuse problem and this is what is done? How about probation, fines, community service, a meeting in chambers with a threat to send him to the Bar in 72 hours if he doesn't get help?

How about some damn compassion and fairness?

That would be a wonderful legacy.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Alleged Terrorists & Drug Kingpins in Miami Federal Court - So What?

Miami Federal District Court Judges Federico Moreno and Marcia Cooke, take a bow. ( I currently have no cases before either Judge.)

You have made it clear that justice in your courtroom begins with the word "equal."

These judges are insisting that the defendants before them, alleged Cali Cartel Founder Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela, and alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla, be treated like every other defendant.

Judge Moreno is angry that Rodriguez-Orejuela's attorney is having trouble meeting with him in the Miami Federal Detention Center.

Judge Cooke does not want Mr. Padilla shackled, because no other defendant is treated so in her courtroom.

It's nice to see Judges get passionate about fairness. Many speak of it, but these two have gone a step further, and insisted on it in cases of international interest where many could care less how these defendants are treated.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Public Defender Investigator Network

I just found a great site out there for criminal defense attorneys. (Ok, I found it because they link to my blog - thanks guys!)

It's the Public Defender Investigator Network

This site is one of the best I've seen for criminal defense information. It has tons of links to job openings in public defender offices throughout the country and links to just about everything else criminal defense related, with a great emphasis on death penalty information. For those who are smart enough to contact the public defenders office in jurisdictions that we've never practiced in, there is contact information to just about every office in the country.

The best part of the site is their new on-line store. Great t-shirts and other clothes and coffee mugs. The sale of all items goes to support this great site.

So take a look, read the link to "Being Poor" and don't be cheap - buy something before you leave.

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 click the link: http://www.tannebaumweiss.com

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Great Sentencing Debate

Fellow blogger David O. Markus has a great debate going on his highly acclaimed Southern District of Florida Blog on the issue of who should control a defendant's sentence.

Recently, a federal judge here in Miami announced at a defendant's sentencing that he was considering a sentence higher than agreed to by the prosecutor and defense attorney. Although all those who practice in federal court know that judges are the final word on sentencing, (state court judges have this discretion also, but almost always rely on the agreement between the prosecutor and defense) this particular pronouncement in this case has caused quite a buzz.

To join in the debate, go to sdfla.blogspot.com

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Guardians For ALL Children in ALL Courts

After a presentation on indigent defense the other day, a former President of The Florida Bar followed me outside to express his passionate concern about the lack of guardians for children who are tried as adults in criminal court.

I stood in amazement that a member of the civil trial bar went on and on about his concern over treating kids fair in criminal court.

I am a guardian to Michael Hernandez a child who is being tried as an adult. Another child in Miami, accused of killing his sister, was appointed a guardian. I testified in that proceeding, while the state argued against the appointment. They also objected to my appointment. Now a judge in Palm Beach is considering the appointment of a guardian in a case where a child is being tried as an adult.

What does your state do? Do we need a law in Florida making it mandatory for the court to consider the appointment of a guardian in cases where kids are tried as adults?

Love to hear from you.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Federal Prosecutors Protect OJ, But Not Criminal Defense Lawyers

Two prominent lawyers in Miami are under investigation by the Justice Department in relation to the legality of fees they received from a now convicted drug dealer.

We know this because a federal prosecutor disclosed the investigation of the two lawyers. I know these two lawyers. They are not just great lawyers, they are thorough lawyers, and pillars of the community. They did nothing wrong.

I didn't even want to write about this because I am disgusted at yet another investigation of South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers. Sickened.

But I found something, and now I am more sickened by the deliberate and mean-spirited leak of the investigation.

The US Attorney's Office in Miami, the same office commenting on this investigation, had this position on a possible investigation of OJ Simpson in 2002 according to an article in the Toledo Blade:

The U.S. attorney's office in Miami refuses to comment. "We just don't confirm investigations," said Barry Sabin, the chief assistant U.S. attorney in Miami.

Barry's gone, seems like the professionalism went with him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Prosecutor Alito

Confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito began yesterday. The word "abortion" came up I think 487 times. I lost count.

Before Samuel Alito was Judge Samuel Alito, he was a prosecutor, rising to the politically appointed level of United States Attorney.

Here's the word on his criminal bent:

From US News & World Report:

Alito's conservative stripes are equally evident in criminal law. Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who has known Alito since 1981 and tried cases before him on the Third Circuit, describes him as "an activist conservatist judge" who is tough on crime and narrowly construes prisoners' and criminals' rights. "He's very prosecutorial from the bench. He has looked to be creative in his conservatism, which is, I think, as much a Rehnquist as a Scalia trait," Lustberg says.

But check out Newsday:

In Samuel Alito's first year as U.S. attorney for New Jersey in 1987, the number of defendants his office prosecuted plunged 30 percent from the year before, with the biggest drop coming in drug cases, an analysis of federal criminal justice data shows.

By the way, he will be confirmed.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jack Abramoff Jack Abramoff Jack Abramoff

Memories of OJ are coming back.

Every day - "What do you think about OJ?"


Same question, except about Jack Abramoff.

Here's what I think.

The fallout will be like a semi-dud firework. It will go up in the air, flash slightly, and fizzle to the ground.


Proving the quid-pro-quo will be difficult.

I predict about 3-4 indictments from Abramoff's cooperation. Maybe a resignation or 2.

But this thought that there will be massive fallout?


For a good read on the rise and fall of Jack Abramoff, check out this Washington Post Article.

Monday, January 02, 2006

ABC's "In Justice" Guilty Of Some Truth

Bronx Public Defender David Feige, whose book about the criminal justice system, "Indefensible," will be published in June, beat me to a great piece about ABC's new show "In Justice." David's piece appears in the New York Times.

The show premiers Friday, January 6, but ran this past Sunday night. If you want to see it, don't wait.

It won't last.

Discussing the innocent is great for Starbucks and college campuses, but the general American public thrives on guilt. To them, the innocent is like walking by a dumpster behind a great restaurant.

David writes about our fascination with "Law & Order," (both the show, and the concept) and that the only other show that came close to portraying the truth about the defense side was David E. Kelley's "The Practice."

He's correct. The number one question I get at a cocktail party, besides how I do what I do, is "do you watch Law & Order?" I say "no," "The Practice (now off the air) is more realistic.

David makes a perfect assessment of television today. He says "Police dramas have moved from a presumption of innocence to a certainty about guilt. And as goes television, so goes America."

He keenly observes about "Law & Order" type shows, that "both on our televisions and in our courthouses, the focus of the criminal justice system became ensuring not the freedom of the innocent but the incarceration of the guilty."


So watch, before an angry America writes ABC asking "where are the guilty people?"

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 click the link: http://www.tannebaumweiss.com