Serving Clients During COVID-19. Learn More »

Articles Posted in Legal Issues

jumpstory-download20200923-124937-300x200What I’m listening to right now: When The World Was Round, Ian Hunter.  The lyric that grabs me every time is “there’s too much information but not enough to go on”.

Too much.

Too much stimulus.  What do we do with all this cheap, ever-flowing stimulus?  How many people do you hang out with who don’t look at their phone while you’re together?  Is all this stimulus affecting our brains somehow?

Often, our visual cortexes are getting so much stimulus that coming off of it may manifest withdrawal symptoms like a drug addict detoxing.

Hopefully, we can learn ways to maximize the time between a stimulus and our response to it.  As a side note, some neuroscientists have seen a response in our brains to a stimulus–before the stimulus is presented.  Spooky, and a story for another day.

In a half-hearted effort to segue here into the law, this highly technical article should serve as a break from your day of high stimulus.  Actually, I get really excited over technicalities like today’s real-life case of Donofrio v. State, 292 So. 3d 510 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020). Continue Reading

jumpstory-download20200917-173915-200x300These days, lots of court hearings are done virtually.  Virtual court comes in several flavors, you can either appear by video conference on an app like MS Teams, or you can appear by phone.

Some virtual hearings are video only, others permit phone calls.  How a judge wants you to appear for court will depend on the type of hearing involved.  If the hearing is just a pretrial, for example, some judges will permit everyone to appear telephonically.

If you’re going to enter a plea virtually, most judges will not allow your client to appear by phone.  Many judges want defendants to appear on the screen, visually, for a plea.  And, there’s a minority of judges out there that still won’t allow for any sort of virtual plea–they want the defendant physically in the courthouse.

don-julios-e1598486690892-300x124This may come as a shock to some of you, or sound like a bit of shameless self-promotion–but as a criminal defense attorney, I solve problems. Dig deeper into most legal problems, and you’ll find a few addiction issues and mental health issues.

The question that keeps coming up is: do you want to get better, or do you want to feel better?

When it comes to solving addition problems or mental health problems, feeling better is always a good thing.  It doesn’t last. The hard work comes in trying to get better, and this takes time. Unfortunately, I’ve had clients in counseling hoping to fix their underlying issues, only to discover that these counselors are more interested in making my clients feel better than they are in making them get better.

Anyway, most of our resisting an officer charges, and most of our domestic violence cases begin with a somewhat vague call to 911.  The 911 caller has no idea what’s going on, except that they can see and hear a “disturbance.”  And, that’s what happened in our real-life case for today.   In Brown v. Statethe police were called to a motel due to a disturbance.  2020 Fla.App. LEXIS 9420 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020). Continue Reading

jail-e1589564822154-225x300If you’ve got to do a bit of time in jail, then it is essential to squeeze out every last drop of credit time served that is humanly possible.

And, if you find yourself in that unfortunate position of having to await transport from another state’s jail back to Florida you may be wondering, is any of that time in a “foreign jail” going to count?

Well, that depends.

In the recent case of Chimale v. StateChimale filed a motion to get an additional 97 days of additional foreign jail credit for time spent in an Argentina jail awaiting transport back to Florida.  2020 Fla. App. Lexis 5109 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020).  Argentina wasn’t holding him on any other charge, so most folks would assume that because the Florida case was the only reason he was being held–Chimale was entitled to that time served.  But, that’s not the law, and his request for that credit time served was denied.  Here’s why. Continue Reading

Memory is a funny thing.  It is not as accurate as we think.Photo_092808_0061-300x225

My mom had a better memory of my childhood than I.  She told stories that I believe happened, and I was there (obviously), but I don’t remember.  Some of these stories I’ve adopted, and I don’t remember whether I’m remembering what actually happened, or I’m just remembering the story my mom told me.

Other times, I remember parts of an experience.  A few days ago, it was cold in Orlando.   And, every time I walked outside “in the cold”, it reminded me of my trip to Berlin a few years ago.  The air felt just like Berlin.  It’s funny how something as simple as the temperature has a way of transporting you to places and memories.

Some songs are attached to memories.  I heard a great obscure song the other day, and it reminded me of my days as a college DJ at KSLU.  Five seconds into this song, I’m back in a DJ booth with turntables and carts everywhere (song, Postcards from Paradise by Flesh For Lulu–told you it was obscure–yes, a  shameless display of my alternative credentials, almost as unauthentic as telling people to be authentic…).

There are plenty of things I want to remember, but I just can’t.  Here’s an odd one, and maybe you can answer this question.  First, some background.

My significant other and I were big fans of Pleasure Island (PI).  For those of you unfamiliar, think back to a time when Disney was at the peak of their powers, no competition in sight.  They decided to create an adult playground full of dance clubs, beach bars, and comedy clubs.  At midnight, they celebrated New Year’s.  Fireworks.  Dancers.  Every night.  It was a sight to behold.

But parties aren’t meant to last. Continue Reading

Mark-Twain-Quote-e1568495858450-300x168How hard is it to predict the path of a hurricane?

We have computer models.  We have Satellite 4000 Radar Plus scanning the skies.  We have people with Ph.D.’s and wind sensors and thermometers and atmospheric pressure sensors and still, no one can tell you where this storm is going to land.  

A hurricane was heading our way a couple of weeks ago, Dorian.  Every news channel had 9 different “models” showing the storm heading in nine different directions.

Or, as Yogi Berra would say, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

And yet, many folks want to know what’s going to happen if they lose at trial.  I would want to know this if I was accused of a crime.  And, I want to answer this question.  I’m tempted to answer this question.  Some lawyer marketing people insist that the amount of confidence I exude when I answer this question may determine whether or not I get hired.

If you ask me what’s going to happen if you lose at trial, here’s my first question.

Who is your judge?

As the saying goes, a good lawyer knows the law but a great lawyer knows the judge. Continue Reading

referee-300x200I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I’ll watch when the St. Louis Cardinals are in the playoffs (and, they usually are).

Like many pro sports, baseball permits the players to argue with the umpire–up to a point.  But, when a certain line is crossed, the umpire throws a weird hand jester pointing to the exit–and the player is ejected from the game.  Even if you know nothing about baseball, you’ll recognize when a player is booted from the game.

What sort of language gets you kicked out of a game?

There are lines in baseball that you don’t cross.  A player can say “Hey ump, come on, that wasn’t a strike”.   Or even,”that wasn’t a [explitive] strike.”

But, the player cannot say, “Ump, you are an [explitive].”  If you complain that the pitch was an [explitive] ball when the umpire thought it was a strike, that’s ok.  But if you complain that the umpire is an [explitive], you’ve crossed the line and you’re getting thrown out of the game.  Even calling the umpire’s mother a bad name may get you ejected from the game.

Sometimes, a team manager may deliberately get himself ejected from the game, just to rally his players a bit.  The same cannot be said in my profession.  In criminal defense, saying the wrong thing may get your client convicted.   In our case for today,  a prosecutor said some things that got a conviction overturned.

Loucrucha Jeansimon was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking.  As you may have figured out by now, this sentence was overturned because the prosecutor said some things that shouldn’t have been said. Continue Reading

theft-300x225Think back to middle school or high school for a moment.

Remember that sinking feeling when you’d get called to the principal’s office?  Even the vice-principals office would give you that same feeling, right?

Ok, so this only happened to me.

If school administration never needed to pull you out of class, good for you, but I’m sure you’ve had other “uncomfortable talks.” How about those times when your significant other mentions five vague words like: “Honey, we need to talk.”  Hum, what could that be about?  I’ve done nothing wrong.

A serious talk with a doctor can change your whole outlook on life.  As I sit here typing this on a Monday afternoon, my week doesn’t seem that valuable.  Yes, I take things for granted I suppose.  But, my tune would change if a doctor told me that I only have another week to live.  How much would I pay just to have another day?  Just to have another week?  Every day would be priceless at that point.  (some folks visualize the worst possible thing every morning, wife and kids dying, what-have-you, in order to set up gratitude to last the rest of the day.  I can’t stomach that.)

Talking with the police can land you in a similar spot.  Say the wrong thing, and you may be spending the rest of your life behind bars.  Fortunately for some, DNA testing has set free hundreds of people who have spent decades in prison–and these folks had confessed to their crime.

Yes, detectives are professional interrogators.  Just like a magician can make things disappear, detectives can make people say things that aren’t true.  False confessions occur for any number of reasons, and the phenomenon is scary.   But there is something you can do. Continue Reading

baggies-cu-e1563998786979-225x300I went to public schools through the eighth grade, but for high school, my parents sent me kicking and screaming to an all-boys Jesuit (Catholic) High School.  I grew to love the place, but leaving my old friends was tough (I’m pretty sure that’s what my parents had in mind.  It worked, by the way).

So, one cool thing about going to a school run by priests and nuns is that you get to know a few priests and nuns.  They’re interesting people.

This one particular nun really enjoy teaching testosterone-filled young men (redundant, as I suppose all high schools are chuck full ‘o hormones).   Prior to arriving at my school, she had been locked away in a monastery for the last decade.  No communication with the outside world.  No newspaper.  No phone.  No television.  no radio.  No nothing, other than the other nuns, of course.

The sequestered way of life seemed insane to me because in my youth, I was so wrapped up in the news cycle and current events  that I couldn’t imagine spending a decade without the news.  News is “important,” right?

I asked her once, “what if something important happened, how would you know?”

She said that “if anything important happened, someone in the town would walk up the hill, knock on the door, and explain what was going on.  And, that never happened.”

Basically, this nun survived a decade without one bit of news.  Not one TV show.  Nothing. How could she NOT know “what’s going on?”

Well, I now understand where this nun was coming from because I also no longer watch the news (as best I’m able).  It’s taken me over 30 years to get there, but I’ve arrived.  No, I’m not being some smug elitist that “only reads books”, I’m just saying that for me personally, the news cycle is not uplifting.  I’m happier without it.

Now for the hypocrisy, of sorts.  It brings me great joy to bring you some happy news. Continue Reading

Truth is a funny thing.IMG_5029-e1529527687928-300x73

Everyone thinks they’ve got it.

Scientists think they have it.  Every religion thinks they have it.   And, its a tad curious how psychedelic drugs cause their users to preach of new truths and perspectives.

For a hard core materialist, it won’t matter how believable an “experience” may be–its not real unless it can be scientifically verified.  (Side Note: there’s some really odd complaints these days about the fact that falsification of a scientific theory isn’t as important as it used to be–but this is a story for another day)

Anyway, speaking of materialism, love is tough to prove.  Even pain is tough to prove, doctors have to take your word for it.  For some, it may be that mathematics contains more truth than the probabilistic sciences can deliver (for you statistics fans, isn’t it true that all of science can be reduced to probabilities?).

So, if there is such a thing as “truth” floating around out there, what are some reliable ways to find it?

In our court system, the jury decides what is true.  We call them the “finders of fact”.  We attorneys obtain a Juris Doctorate degree just to better navigate the filtration of what the jury can–or cannot–hear.   the rule against presenting hearsay testimony, for example, keep rumors out of our quest for truth.

Florida’s criminal laws have lots of rules regarding confessions.  Again, if we’re on a quest to discover the truth, what’s better than a confession, right?  Well, it depends.  If the confession comes after spending 10 hours with a few cops, can you really trust that confession?   Our Supreme Court started laying down confession rules many years ago in  Spano v. New York.  360 U.S. 315 (1959).   Spano was suspected of murder but the cops couldn’t get him to talk, so they rounded up a close childhood friend, who then manipulated him into confessing.    Yes, his confession was thrown out of court.

Surely, that sort of thing doesn’t happen today, does it? Continue Reading