Tuesday

Berkman Strikes Again...

Huge hat tip to Blonde Justice for sending me this priceless story about one of our favorite judges--Carol Berkman. For those of you who read INDEFENSIBLE, the name might sound familiar. She was the one who, at a bench conference many years ago, told me that if I asked one more question, she'd make my life a living hell. Of course it was also Judge Berkman who sentenced Darius McCollum to prison.

So what's she doing now?

Threatening to hold a legal aid lawyer in contempt...
And to think she herself was once a legal aid lawyer.

17 comments:

j. said...

Couple of things:

1. Laura Miranda isn't Legal Aid.
2. Berkman is batty, yes, but, please, it's wildly irresponsible to go awol on the eve of a homicide trial. Without advance notice to the judge. From what I recall, she didn't even notify the court until the day after the trial was to begin.

Indefensible said...

A correction and apology:

If Laura Miranda isn't at Legal Aid, I apologize. I am almost certain she was, but I have no idea if she's left. From my reading of the reports (and I can claim no inside knowledge here) she did fax a notice before trial saying she wouldn't be ready, and had also said she wouldn't be ready well before not showing up.

If J has, as I suspect appeared before Berkman (as I have) he or she will, I think agree that she's hardly easygoing on scheduling matters and that a little flexibility on her part probably would have avoided this whole thing...

Anonymous said...

I am fairly sure that Laura Miranda is currently a private attorney. Her own website (http://www.lawmiranda.com) lists her practice as a professional limited liability company. Her lawyers.com listing (http://www.lawyers.com/New-York/New-York/Law-Offices-of-Laura-M.-Miranda-2658521-f.html) says that her practice accepts credit cards and gives free initial consultations.

Regarding Berkman's inflexibility on scheduling matters, it should be noted that Laura Miranda has gotten the trial date delayed at least once. I believe the trial date got pushed back fairly early on though I am not sure. However, I do know that the trial was originally supposed to start sometime before the anniversary of the murder. About two months ago Peter Casolaro told Berkman at a pre-trial hearing that he was ready for the trial to start while Miranda asked for another extension. I believe Miranda originally asked for the trial date to be moved to February but Berkman ruled that a speedy trial was necessary and that the case would start in January.

Apologies for the post being anonymous but I don't feel like setting up an account for just this. Hope my comments help.

Indefensible said...

Thanks, Anon.
They do and I'm grateful.
It is certainly true that my view of Berkman is colored by my own interactions with her and my memories of the regular complaints of others about her inflexibility, particularly on things like this.

Anonymous said...

Just read the story attached to this blog -- by the way, in all the months I was working in her office I never heard her mention her mother even being alive. She only mentioned her father.
She notoriously cares for only herself - not even bothering with a pet because its too much responsibility.
That load of crap she fed the judge was just a pattern of lies she has always told them.
Typical.

Ivette said...

Laura Miranda may not be legal aid but she certainly didn’t merit being paid as a private high priced lawyer either. Her defense of Paul Cortez was lackluster at best. But in defense of Laura, when she was in Judge Berkman’s courtroom in November she plainly stated she would be able to go to trial as long as the prosecution precluded everything that was still in their possession. Then the prosecution gives Laura hundreds of pages of documentation just two weeks prior to jury selection. In the months of pretrial motions, first with Thomas Klein then Laura Miranda, the prosecution had one excuse after another as far as to why they were unable to hand over requested documents / evidence to the defense. Judge Berkman was always amenable to the prosecution’s request for an extension, not so the other way around. During the thirteen months that I have sat in Judge Carol Berkman’s court room to hear the various motions on my son’s case I dreaded to know that she would sit at my son’s trial. Judge Berkman has no patience for defense attorneys. She has made one defense counsel lament that he wished that she would grant the same considerations to defense counsel as she does for the prosecution. On another occasion she screamed at a defense attorney, “I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to hear it” while he tried to plead for his client. Once she ranted and raved that she was “too old” to have to hear one particular defense counsel’s motions for his client, therefore rescheduled the case for two months in the future and smiled at them as if she was sending the poor accused to a resort spa rather than prison to await for his next trial date. I firmly believe some type of review board should sit in on Judge Berkman’s courtroom and evaluate her behavior.

Prior to trial, during jury selection, my son’s lawyers were not available. Judge Berkman made it a point of letting the court know this was not the first time Paul’s lawyer, Laura Miranda, has attempted this ploy. This set the tone of hostility all throughout my son’s trial. During the course of my son’s trial Judge Berkman denied almost every one the defense team’s motions while at the same time granting the prosecution just about every one of their motions. In one particular episode even the jurors were tired of Judge Berkman’s obvious bias when the prosecution moved to keep my son [who was on the witness stand] from answering the defense’s question, Judge Berkman sustained the motion by saying the jurors already heard the answer but three / four jurors in unison claimed they did not. Judge Berkman backed down and let my son answer the question. When Paul’s defense team asked the testimony of a woman that claimed to see my son and Catherine arguing in the street be suppressed, Judge Berkman refused although the woman was never able to identify Paul when she saw him previously in court. Judge Berkman also refused to allow the text message of the deceased in which she stated to my son, “I love you”, just days prior to her murder to be shown to the jurors and submitted into evidence. I know I am of limited education but it does not seem morally right to me to have a bias judge overseeing a trial while corrupting jurors with her opinions; I thought a judge is supposed to be neutral to both sides. When Judge Berkman had the never to claim during trial, “I’m a neutral arbiter of the law…” there was snickering in the jury box.

Anonymous said...

Judge Berkman is absolutely a defense attorney's worst nightmare. She makes states highly inappropriate from the bench, and has no understanding that human lives hang in the balance.

I would never want to find mysoef in Berkman's Court ever again, whether on the side of the prosecution or defense. A police officer was prosecuted in that courtroom in 1996, and her conduct was outright strange. I thought it was due to her expected bias against police officers, but I could see that she hated anything that had to do with defense. As a cop, I think she should not be on the bench.

Anonymous said...

I think its utterly ridiculous that any human being on this planet lets their stupid job go to their head, to the point of forgetting they are human beings, created equal to every other human being on the planet regardless of education, job or economic status.

This judge is one big walking EGO who has lost sight of not only her humanity, but her reason for being on that bench.

Its just a damn J-O-B, she is no better than anyone else for the job she does -- this notion might infuriate her, but that's just her ego talking ----- but she will surely wind up in a box underground like every other person at the end of her days and regardless of her religion will simply cease to exist like us all -- and before that will spend some time as an elderly person perhaps getting her diaper changed in a nursing home. She will wind up like every one else -- why? cuz she is human like us all -- something she has forgot.
The sad thing is that she won't be able to say at the end of her days that she touched every human life she came in contact with in a compassionate, fair, spiritual, humanistic and loving way. She will leave this planet with some lives ruined because of her antics, with people talking badly about her behavior and injustice and ego, and the justice system she swore to uphold will be no better for her existence.

This holds true for all of us -- including all the egoic lawyers out there who think their sh** doesn't stink -- HELLO! That too is just a J-O-B, no big deal in the whole scheme of life -- try swallowing the fact that you are no better on a human level than the people you defend or prosecute (a fact you simply can't swallow because your egos won't let you, I'm sure). You may not like the behavior of some people, but as humans they are still created equal. This I spent years in spiritual practice learning.
Anyhow, just my 2 cents.

ESBGhost said...

I know this is like super late in terms of what happens. I just saw the June 7, 2008 48 Hours piece. It's funny, I came home at about 10:35, turned on the T.V. and left it on channel 2 (WCBS in NY). As I got into bed I was surprised to see Ms. Miranda. I was most pleased at the ending, wherein she states that she would feel responsible for Mr. Cortez' conviction after the interviewer tells her that two of the jurors may have hung the jury BUT FOR the video that Ms. Miranda provided to show the footwear Mr. Cortez was wearing (which backfired on Ms. Miranda).

I tell you it does not suprise me that Ms. Miranda didn't show up. I knew her personally, and know for a fact that she has used the illness of a friend or relative on more than one occasion as an excuse.
She is a former legal aid attorney, and is now a private attorney. It's a shame she is charging clients and giving them the same work a legal aid attorney would (no slight to legal aid attorney's, its just that I know you are all VERY busy and cannot in all circumstances give clients the time and attention you would desire). Poetic justic.

Anonymous said...

Poetic justice? Perhaps if a young man wasn’t sacrificed in the bargain and is now serving 25 years to life for a crime he did not commit. www.FreePaulCortez.org

Anonymous said...

Poetic justice? Perhaps if a young man wasn’t sacrificed in the bargain and is now serving 25 years to life for a crime he did not commit. www.FreePaulCortez.org

KRYSS said...

Judge Berkman remanded me to Rikers Island 2 years ago. I can't stand her.

Anonymous said...

I'm a civil attorney who used to do criminal defense. Berkman is off her rocker. They almost removed her from the bench ten years ago, but the Manhattan DA intervened in her defense. She is the prosecutor. How they continue to allow her on the bench mystifies me.

Anonymous said...

Judge Berkman's bail restrictions are insane. She is unjust and unfair. Where is the law when a judge plays with someones life based on her personal feelings

Anonymous said...

young man that needs a chance...
jugde burkman remanded a youngman that was 2 credits aways from getting his diploma.

Anonymous said...

Judge Carol Berkman...twitchy and vicious...according to GARY GOLDSTEIN. I read his book Jew in Jail, and she certainly added two extra years to Goldstein's time in jail.

Anonymous said...

I was just found NOT GUILTY in Judge Carol Berkman's courtroom. I pity anyone who has to be heard before Judge Carol Berkman. She is unfair to say the least. Her eye rolling and facial expressions say it all. How unprofessional can a person who is suppossed to have an unbiased opinion be? Judge Berkman wouldn't allow my attorney to get a word in. She favors the prosecution and belittles the defense. Judge Berkman should remember that we are all innocent until proven guilty!