Broward Criminal Defense Watch: The Ethics of Prosecutors & Judges

When mounting a Broward County criminal defense – regardless of the crime – criminal defense attorneys must trust that all parties, including police, prosecutors, jurors and judges, will act ethically.

Unfortunately, we know that’s not always going to be the case. That’s why it’s important when you hire an experienced defense attorney – someone who is able to call it out when they spot any violations of ethical and legal codes. Your freedom depends on it.

One such situation involved a death penalty cases and the relationship between a judge and a prosecutor.

In 2007, after the conclusion of a death-penalty murder trial, in which the defendant was convicted, it was discovered that the judge and prosecutor in the case exchanged nearly 500 text messages and 1,000 phone calls during the course of the case. While the two contend they never discussed the actual case, the issue went directly to their credibility, and ultimately, the integrity of the proceedings and the resulting verdict.

In the end, the conviction was overturned and the case tried again. The result was another conviction (although the defendant received life in prison, rather than the death penalty), but both the prosecutor and the judge face significant sanctions.

Following an investigation by the Florida Bar, a 10-page report was issued that indicated the two should have revealed that communication to the defendant’s attorneys. The fact that they did not was “prejudicial to the administration of justice.” The bar recommended a 1-year suspension of the prosecutor’s license. He is reportedly now in private practice.

The prosecutor has two months to make an appeal, which he reportedly intends to do. The state’s Supreme Court will make the ultimate decision.

As for the judge, she stepped down after the details of misconduct became public, and she also is now in private practice. She has a final hearing before the bar scheduled for next month. She may face even greater sanctions, given that the court holds her to an even higher standard of conduct.

What may also not work in her favor was that the state Bar has indicted the former judge took steps to mislead the Judicial Qualifications Commissions into thinking that her communication with the prosecutors was insignificant.

At the time of the trial, the pair were communicating outside the courtroom through texts and phone calls, an average of more than nine times daily.

While a number of people spoke as character witnesses on behalf of the prosecutor during his hearing, the Bar’s 10-page report said none of that provided any insight into the misconduct.

Always do your research when looking to hire a Broward criminal defense attorney. Make sure he or she has a proven record not only of success, but also that he or she has a reputation for upholding the highest ethical standards. Failure to do so could be detrimental to your case.

Port St. Lucie Assault Between Teens Lands Parents in Jail

A Port St. Lucie assault between two teen girls has landed one of the girl’s parents in jail.

Our Port St. Lucie defense attorneys understand that police claim the altercation was encouraged by the parents. They have been arrested on both felony and misdemeanor charges, though media reports have not indicated exactly what those charges are.

According to FL Statute 548.0065). That’s considered a second-degree misdemeanor.

And in Nevada recently, three mothers were arrested after investigators say they encouraged their children to fight – an incident that resulted in an all-out brawl that involved about 80 young people. In that case, they were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

That’s likely at least one of the charges that the parents face in the Port St. Lucie assault case.

Laws and penalties in every state are different, but in Florida, contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Port St. Lucie couple charged after encouraging daughter to fight another teen, By Will Greenlee, The Palm Beach Post

More Blog Entries:
Palm Beach County Juvenile Crimes Can Haunt, April 18, 2012, Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Palm Beach County Juvenile Crimes Can Haunt

When a child or teen is accused of a juvenile crime in Palm Beach County, there is sometimes the assumption that those offenses disappear from your record once you turn 18.

Our Palm Beach County juvenile defense attorneys know this is not the case – which is why it’s so important to have a skilled defense attorney before your child ever sees a judge. Having strong legal representation at the very beginning of the process will give your child his or her best shot of having those charges dismissed, reduced and ultimately expunged.

The issue of how a juvenile indiscretion can haunt someone into their adulthood was recently explored by Crimes come back to haunt young offenders in Florida, By Julius Whigham II, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

More Blog Entries:
Shooting in West Palm Beach Nets Arrest of 17-year-old, March 5, 2012, Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

Broward Criminal Defense: Pill Mill Operator Pleads Guilty

A Davie man, identified in media reports as a “pill mill magnate,” has pleaded guilty to a host of drug charges in Broward County, and could serve as much as two decades behind bars.

Our Broward County criminal defense attorneys know that federal, state and local officials have been on a war path when it comes to pain clinics across the state. A great deal of press has been given to the “epidemic” of prescription pain killer addiction, and officials have used the term “pill mills” to describe even legal clinics working to serve patients with legitimate pain issues.

While the patients themselves have been the target of many law enforcement efforts, the owners and operators of these clinics have also found themselves in the legal cross hairs of prosecutors.

In this case, a 43-year-old pain clinic operator has pleaded guilty to a host of crimes, including money laundering and tax fraud. In exchange for his testimony against other individuals in the case, prosecutors have agreed to a stiff, 20-year sentence, which could wind up being less depending on how useful his testimony proves.

Prosecutors alleged that among several clinics in Miami-Dade and Broward, he dispensed nearly 700,000 oxycodone pain tablets, raking in a profit of roughly $22 million between 2008 and 2011. In order to bring in patients, the operator reportedly purchased and ran some 1,600 websites. Customers were made to pay in cash, with a payment of $250 for the first visit and $200 for each subsequent visit. Patients who were coming in from out of state had to pay higher rates.

In some instances, patients were made to undergo MRI tests for between $100 and $500. These tests, according to prosecutors, weren’t medically legitimate, but rather a scam which would give patients VIP status in obtaining pills. It’s also alleged that staff at the clinics forged urine tests that would validate a patient’s need for the prescriptions.

The clinic operator reportedly posted advertisements for doctors on Craigslist, retaining only those who were on board with plans to prescribe large quantities of pills.

Defense attorneys had argued that the clinic operator rarely was involved with the day-to-day operations of the clinic, and had hired what he believed to be a capable management staff.

Many local municipalities and counties have passed recent legislation, limiting the number of pain clinics that can operate in a given area and restricting the qualifications for owners and the scope of the operation.

Then last year, the state legislature passed Pill mill magnate pleads guilty, will hand over $12 million, By Paula McMahon, Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:
VA Medical Center Raid Nets 17 Arrests for Drugs in Riviera Beach, Aug. 24, 2011, Broward Criminal Defense Attorney Blog

Fort Lauderdale Self-Defense Cases Impacted by Trayvon Martin Slaying

Will Fort Lauderdale self-defense cases suffer in the wake of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford?

That’s a concern of Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys. While the facts and implications of the case – which is still under investigation – have been combed through by analysts across the country, one aspect that hasn’t received much discussion is what the effect will be on cases in which there is a legitimate claim of self-defense.

While this case has become racially charged, the fact is self-defense is, and must be, a legitimate defense when a violent death occurs.

For anyone who may have been living under a rock the last month or so, here’s what we know about the Martin case: That Trayvon was walking home from the store with a bag of candy and iced tea in his pocket. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, called 911 to report a suspicious person, wearing a hoodie, cutting through yards. The dispatcher instructed him not to follow the suspicious person, but he did so anyway. A confrontation of some sort ensued, and Zimmerman shot Trayvon.

Initially, police declined to press charges against Zimmerman, citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, or Florida defense attorneys fear backlash in self-defense cases, By DAVID OVALLE, The Miami Herald

More Blog Entries:
Fort Lauderdale Police Arrests Put Criminal Cases in Jeopardy, Nov. 3, 2011, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyer Blog

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida Criminal Lawyers

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