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

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