July 7, 2001
Everyone is encouraged to tune in to J.A.I.L. Night Radio
today, Sunday, July 14th starting a 8:30 through 11pm PST. Our
guests will be Della Tarpinian, our Kentucky JAILer-In-Chief who is
fighting with the Kentucky State Bar, and Connie Tschantz, the Lt.
JAILer-In-Chief of Kansas, with Allen Raymond as host. You may tune in via your
computer at http://www.soundwaves2000.com/media/truthradio1.ram
Miami Newspaper Exposes
Attorney Alberto Batista, a
Florida JAILer, is principled enough to hold the honor of being one of Judge Cindy
Lederman's "blacklisted" attorneys
Although lengthy, it is informative and
by Miami New Times March 23, 2000
©2001 New Times, Inc. All rights
Judge Cindy Lederman, champion of
justice and advocate extraordinaire, bends the rules on the
By Tristram Korten
Miami's austere courthouses, such as the Flagler Street tower or
fortresslike behemoth on NW Twelfth Street, the sprawling Juvenile Justice
Center on NW 27th Avenue has all the dignity of an elementary school. And form
speaks to function. In the adult courts, both civil and criminal, grownups
suffer the consequences of their actions under the harsh glare of reason. But in
the juvenile system, emotion threatens to swamp every minute of every day. In
delinquency court, where kids are tried for criminal acts, red-faced parents
drag their youngsters before judges who try to determine whether transgressions
are the result of youthful ignorance or the first buds of a blossoming life of
To control a juvenile courtroom, a judge
must be decisive and firm. Judge Cindy Lederman, who oversees the place, goes
one step further. In the hallways she is known to be downright draconian.
Dwarfed by her high-backed chair, Lederman glares through large glasses at
defendants and at times barks that they should sit down and shut up. One
defendant, who declined to give her name for fear of retribution, recalls
Lederman announcing to no one in particular: "I don't like this family. This is
problem family." Indeed Lederman recently threw an
mother into jail just because the judge suspected the girl
had lied about writing a letter to the court. "This judge is incredible; she
hates our family," says the girl's mother, Valeria Howard.
... at least eight lawyers and
court officials who regularly work in
dependency court contend Lederman
illegally blacklists attorneys from taxpayer-funded cases. Critics believe she
rejects those who advocate too aggressively for their clients or successfully
challenge her rulings. The claim is corroborated by two years of monthly
activity reports on the wheel, minutes from meetings of a committee that
considers lawyers' complaints, and the accounts of thirteen others who work at
the court. Only five lawyers would allow their names to be used in this story.
Others interviewed would talk only on condition of anonymity, largely because of
Lederman's reputation for vengefulness.
If Lederman blacklists lawyers,
it could be construed as interference in
the administration of justice,
possibly a violation of the judicial code of conduct. The ultimate victims of
such action would be clients who do not receive solid defense. "Everybody's
terrified that one day they'll be too aggressive in court in front of her and
lose their appointments," says a lawyer who has practiced in juvenile court for
more than a decade. "Believe me, when I disagree with her in court, my sentences
are filled with, 'respectfully, judge,' and, 'with all due respect, judge,' just
to let her know I've got a job to do here. I haven't been blacklisted --
Adds another counselor, who has practiced in dependency court more
than five years: "Personally I have not been blacklisted, but it affects
how I do my job. I don't have the freedom to strongly advocate for my client,
because I rely on these cases for my livelihood."
"It's a culture of
fear," says still another.
Lederman denies blacklisting lawyers or doing
anything improper. She
acknowledges excluding three lawyers, Virginia
Stanley, Karl Hall, and Alberto Batista, from her courtroom during the past two
The first complaints surfaced two years ago.
At one point a committee
associated with the court even prepared a letter of
complaint to Lederman's boss, Chief Judge of the Eleventh Circuit Joseph Farina.
But before the missive could be delivered, the committee was disbanded.
Committee members (including Stanley) believe Lederman orchestrated the
At five feet three inches tall, Cindy Lederman appears unlikely to
inspire fear in anyone. But her diminutive size conceals a formidable, even
fierce, intelligence. Lederman has been a government lawyer for nearly her
entire career. Although such experience could dull a less-ambitious mind, she
has thrived. During the past 21 years she has honed savvy political instincts
and networking skills to become one of the most well-known judges in Miami.
In a bit of poetic justice, the system Lederman
allegedly subverts was put in place five years ago as a corrective measure
following one of the most notorious scandals to hit the Miami-Dade court
In 1991 the FBI concluded a massive sting on courthouse
corruption known as Operation Court Broom. By its end three former judges, one
retired judge, and eleven lawyers had pleaded or been convicted of various
misdeeds. With the help of an informant, federal agents used marked $100 bills
to prove some judges could be bribed to assign cases to lawyers, return seized
property, and order evidence suppressed. The last defendant in the case, former
Judge Alfonso Sepe, pleaded guilty to racketeering only this month. The delay
occurred after he was acquitted of 29 counts in his original 1993 trial and then
retried on five remaining counts.
As a result of Court Broom, Leonard
Rivkind, the former chief judge of
the eleventh judicial circuit, ordered the
creation of committees to explore ways to safeguard against such abuses. In
juvenile court a team of experts (including allegedly blacklisted lawyer
Stanley) studied the issue. The result was administrative order 94-27,
establishing a system to blindly assign private lawyers in publicly funded
To ensure that the
wheel remains fair and impartial, the court established the Juvenile Court
Dependency Standing Committee in 1994. It was to include seven attorneys who
monitor the system's fairness. The committee was to certify that lawyers had
sufficient experience in juvenile court. It also was to review payment when
lawyers' bills topped $500. And finally, the committee was to hear complaints
about lawyers and judges.
Karl Hall is a sandy-haired man with a
predilection for blue blazers and
chinos. But his prep school image blurs the
fact that he's worked in juvenile court for ten years, first as a prosecutor for
the state, then, beginning in 1997, as a defense lawyer. He contends that while
in private practice, he has never been appointed to a case by Judge Cindy
Lederman, a statistical impossibility if the system is being correctly
"It's common knowledge in the juvenile-court building that there
number of attorneys who are blacklisted, including myself," Hall says.
"The blind appointment system is designed to ensure the judiciary doesn't
interfere with the right to counsel by selectively picking attorneys to handle
certain cases.... Even my five-year-old daughter understands that
Alberto Batista, a stout lawyer with a bushy black beard and an
eccentric demeanor, has practiced in juvenile court since the late 1980s. Like
Hall, he says Lederman has blacklisted him. "Judge Lederman has violated the
whole spirit of the administrative order, establishing a blind
system," says Batista, who complained two years ago about
by both Lederman and fellow dependency court Judge Jeri Cohen in
a letter to Cohen. Lederman promptly filed a bar complaint against him in July
1998 for violating the code of professional responsibility.
Times first confronted Lederman with the accusations in early
response was, "You've got to understand; what we're dealing with here is the
most basic right of parents: to parent their children. Parents who find
themselves before this court are entitled to the best representation possible.
It's my job and my duty to make sure the best representation is afforded them."
When pressed on whether that meant she was blacklisting certain attorneys, she
responded, "No, that's clearly not true." ....
Beginning in 1998
the blacklisting complaints of Hall, Batista, and about eight other lawyers
filtered to the Dependency Standing Committee, the group that certifies lawyers
for inclusion on the wheel. There they fell upon the receptive ear of committee
chairperson Virginia Stanley, a 53-year-old
Miami native and highly regarded
juvenile-court lawyer. In 1988 Stanley
founded the Juvenile Justice
Attorney's Association, the equivalent of the bar association for lawyers
practicing in juvenile court. She also co-wrote the report recommending the
wheel system in the wake of Operation Court
Broom. Stanley says she was well
acquainted with the issue of blacklisting. ....
During the committee's March 3, 1999, meeting, Stanley
subject. "Judge Lederman better do something about this before
she reads about it in the papers," she said, according to several people
present. Stanley declined to comment about that meeting.
"Yes, she said
that," committee member E. Joseph Ryan recalls. "She wasn't the first attorney
to say that. The issue [of blacklisting] had been brought up by a lot of
attorneys over the preceding year." Ryan, who says he is not blacklisted by the
judge, was taking the minutes for the session. He made a note: "Memo to be
drafted re: selective appointments by judges." The memo was to be sent to Chief
Judge Joseph Farina. A rough draft of the memo reads in part: "Over the past
several years, committee members have received repeated complaints that the
Administrative Judge, Cindy Lederman, has engaged in a pattern of 'blackballing'
and 'handpicking' attorneys. The past several months the committee has been
grappling with a means to address this problem."
But on March 9, 1999,
before the memo could be sent or the committee
could again meet, it was
disbanded suddenly and without warning. The order terminating members' tenure
was signed by Farina. But as administrative judge, Lederman was in charge of the
group. "Nothing happens over there without her okay," one lawyer says.
Ryan, Stanley, and others believe the
dissolution was a direct result of the fact their preparing to raise the issue
of blacklisting with Farina. Lederman then appointed a new committee.
Critics of Cindy Lederman say she is winning.
The attorneys she dislikes
are leaving. Alberto Batista recently withdrew his
name from the wheel. He still practices in juvenile court, taking only private
Virginia Stanley, in many ways the doyenne of juvenile court's
attorneys, recently announced plans to move to Maine and write books.
"I'm getting the hell out of Dodge," she says.
Lederman, meanwhile, faces
re-election this November.
Thanks to Sherree Lowe for sending J.A.I.L. this article to
us, and to Attorney Bastia, or J.A.I.L. attorney, for standing on his
This article tells us, "As a result of Court Broom, Leonard Rivkind, the former chief
judge of the eleventh judicial circuit, ordered the creation of committees to
explore ways to safeguard against such abuses." It is always in the light
of public exposure that government creates "another committee" to
"investigate." The problem is that these committees are but another layer of
corrupt politics in government, which require another committee to investigate.
Here in Los Angeles, the voters
created a new commission called "The Ethics Commission." While it was still new
a few years ago, I chose to sit in on the Ethics Commission. After observing it
for a while, and the floor being made open for public comments, I took the seat
at the table up front and stated that the way they were running things they
could soon anticipate the public questioning the ethics of the
Ethics Commission. The chairman quickly responded to my comment without missing
a step, "They're already doing that."
The reason commissions, such
as the State Commission on Judicial Performance never work is because they
are but politic hacks of the system. This is the very reason JAIL4Judges
establishes a Special Grand Jury of citizens drawn by lottery that is entirely
rolled over every year with change to its face monthly to avoid politics. People
need to learn that politics will never result in ethics, but JAIL4Judges
will force the issue. It's time everyone jump on board the J.A.I.L. Victory
Train for a turn-around in this country! -Ron
J.A.I.L. is an acronym for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law
very informative website is found at www.jail4judges.org
JAIL proposes a
unique new addition to our form of government.
JAIL is powerful! JAIL is
dynamic! JAIL is America's ONLY hope!
JAIL is spreading across America like a
fast moving wildfire!
JAIL is making inroads into Congress for federal
JAIL may be supported at P.O. Box 207, N. Hollywood, CA
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