Court upholds absurd contempt sentence for juror but calls it `harsh':

When Broward Circuit Judge Eileen O'Connor sentenced a prospective juror to four months in jail last year for failing to reveal he had been arrested, her decision provoked allegations of racism and double standards in the judicial system. And rightly so. (see my prior posts on this subject here, here and here...)

Unfortunately, last Wednesday, the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach backed the judge and upheld Stacey Forbes' conviction for criminal contempt of court.

The appellate judges said that because the jail sentence was within the legal limits, they could not overturn it. However, they said it was 'harsh under the circumstances' and, listing cases where misbehaving jurors got lesser punishments, they suggested the judge could reduce the sentence.

She won't though.

For this and other loathesome misdeeds, Judge Eileen O'Connor in fact makes my list of worst judges--a subject, I'll be discussing tonight on Catherine Crier Live.

Stay tuned.


Brian I. Simon, Esq. said...

Hello all,
Lawyer stuck in Broward County. AKA Hazzard County. Begrudgingly I must confess, the $th DCA got it right. The letter trumped the spirit of the law. Ahh...The law is a fickle mistress. No abuse of discretion. Dicta was harsh.


This is one helluva fight I've got on my hands and any input would help this street lawyer! Enron attorney's are on board to help! This is a gross violation of constituional rights and a massive class action under 1983 is underway.

Help out if you can!!! CASE LAW Anything?


Brian I. Simon, Esq. said...

Missed Crier. What happened?

Brian I. Simon, Esq. said...

Taking the BS out of BSO

Well, the internet article morphed overnight somewhat. BSO is backpedalling now. After BSO admits to mass taping, they claim to have only taped one attorney. ME. I'm going to take the B.S out of B.S.O. Specifically, look at BSO's PR reps (Elliot Cohen) comment. They forgot to flip the switch? What the magical mystery make the attorney dissapear switch? I forgot how far technology has advanced! Are you kidding me? Indefensible... More to come tommorrow!

BSO sued over taping calls
A civil rights lawsuit contends that the Broward Sheriff's Office interfered with the rights of inmates to have private conversations with their lawyers.
Read the lawsuit
A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the Broward Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Ken Jenne and others, alleging that BSO illegally recorded privileged attorney-client conversations at the Broward County Jail.
BSO recorded two weeks of inmate-attorney calls before an attorney filed a complaint on July 20, and BSO's jail telecommunications system was shut down the same day. BSO is no longer recording inmate-attorney conversations, and officials explained that the recordings were the result of a glitch in the system.
The recordings were first reported by The Miami Herald on Sunday.
Stuart Davidson, a Boca Raton attorney, filed the suit Monday on behalf of two inmates and others for unspecified damages. He is seeking class-action status in the lawsuit.
The telecommunications company, T-Netix Telecommunications Services, is also named as a defendant. T-Netix company officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
BSO officials said the suit had not been reviewed and declined to comment about it.
The suit contends that BSO recorded conversations between Joseph Sawchuck and his lawyer, Brian Simon. The other plaintiff, Richard Spencer, contends in the suit that because of the tapings, he refused a call from his attorney knowing that it would have been recorded.
'BSO knowingly and illegally electronically recorded attorney-client privileged communications initiated by its inmates held at BSO's detention facilities, thus hindering or completely destroying the inmates' right to effective counsel and their ability to communicate with their counsel with candor. . .'' according to the documents.
The glitch with the phone system happened when BSO was installing an advanced recording system that will enable the agency to listen in on almost every inmate phone conversation, including suspects who are awaiting trial and haven't been convicted.
Simon, who represents Sawchuck and Spencer, heard the warning that his privileged conversation with his client would be recorded if he accepted the call, but said heaccepted it anyway because his client was suicidal.
''You have an inmate facing life-and-death issues who can't speak openly with his attorney,'' Davidson said. 'This is a situation where the sheriff is supposed to enforce the law -- not suspend it and play `Mother, may I?' with the Bill of Rights.
``We're on solid ground, and the Constitution is on our side.''
BSO says the system was never designed to record conversations between lawyers and clients, and just the opposite was supposed to happen.
BSO set up a database of attorney phone numbers so that the system would automatically shut down when an inmate calls an attorney. But not all the numbers were entered when the system started up, and for about two weeks if someone accepted a call, they were recorded.
''What happened was that someone flipped the switch on before all the numbers were entered into the database,'' said BSO spokesman Elliott Cohen.
''We're only aware of one attorney being recorded,'' Cohen added. ``And he had an option -- he didn't have to accept the call. Before the call will go through to Joe Citizen or anyone else, they have to physically push the button that accepts the call.''
While the practice of taping inmates' calls is legal, since they are informed prior to accepting a call, the suit states that BSO's taping policy ``had a clear and demonstrable chilling effect on the ability of attorneys and BSO inmates to speak candidly, confidentially and freely with each other and severed a major artery for attorneys seeking to communicate with their clients.''
Davidson and Simon are also asking that the phones tapes not be destroyed so that they can be reviewed to see if any other attorneys were recorded.

posted by Brian I. Simon, Esq. | 12:45 PM | 0 comments

Brian I. Simon, Esq. said...

Today, an attorney buddy of mine was stuck in a triple co-defendant robbery/agg bat trial with Judge O'Connor.

Apparently, she questioned a juror because she was smiling at the defense attorney(s). From what I'm told, she was considering removing the juror for smiling. I wonder if the juror was scowling at the defense whether the same type of inquisition would have ocurred? NOT. She left the juror on after a few lawyers (including your's truly) entered Her Honor's Pleasure Dome.

The juror remained. Verdict -- NOT GUILTY. Although afterwards at sidebar I am told she was going to file a bar complaint or something to that effect against one of the defense attorneys because he argued in closing that the alleged victim was under the influence of a controlled substance. Considering the alleged victim already admitted to drinking that night, and, not knowing what information the client gave him, I would think The Court would err on believing he had a good faith basis to argue as much.


Brian I. Simon, Esq. said...

A new organization to uphold the Constitution is underway and help with matters like this and David Feige's arguments with regard to Judge O'connor. The orginization is JAAB. You can get to their site here.

Anonymous said...

judges are corrupt and full of bs. their power corrupts.

Matthew said...

enough said.