Archive for February, 2010

Carmel on the Case: Seidlin Lawsuit

February 28, 2010

The exploitation lawsuit brought by an elderly woman against former judge Larry Seidlin and several others is making its way through the legal system. At a recent deposition, there was a stand off when Seidlin tried to get close to the woman suing him.

Barbara Kasler is 84 years old. She has health issues and spends much of her time in bed at her Las Olas condominium.

Carmel Cafiero: “Is there one thing you’d want people to know?”

Barbara Kasler: “Well, look over your bills more carefully.”

Carmel Cafiero: “To pay more attention to how your money is being spent?”

Barbara Kasler: “Yes.”

The Seidlins aren’t the only ones being sued. In all 15 individuals and business are named as defendants in the case everyone from Mrs. Kasler’s former accountant to a former attorney.

[Kasler’s attorney] Bill Scherer: “They weren’t looking out after her interests.”

So, when Mrs. Kasler recently sat down for her very first deposition in the case you can imagine how many lawyers gathered to hear what she had to say.

The wealthy widow is at the heart of a civil lawsuit that alleges she was exploited by former Broward judge Larry Seidlin, his wife and her parents. Earlier, a criminal investigation cleared Seidlin in connection with more than half a million dollars in gifts and property, Barbara Kasler gave to his family.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Carmel on the Case: Seidlin Lawsuit

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The Seidlin Family Circus

February 28, 2010

On one side, you have the politically connected Bill Scherer and his law firm, and on the other, you have Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, former state Sen. Skip Campbell, and Florida Bar President-Elect Scott Hawkins.

Welcome to the civil suit involving former Judge Larry Seidlin, who became a national celebrity/clown during his tearful handling of the Anna Nicole Smith case, and the elderly neighbor who is claiming that Seidlin exploited her to take a sizable chunk of her multimillion-dollar fortune.

Hawkins, Seiler, and Campbell form the core of Seidlin’s defense team, representing the judge; his in-laws, Oren and Barbara Ray; and family friend Dorothy “Danni” Coletto, respectively. Hawkins just took over for Russ Adler, who was knocked out after his law partner, Scott Rothstein, was implicated in a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Scherer is representing the widow, Barbara Kasler. Also involved is Lyn Evans, who has been working with the Kasler family for some time and has most recently been working as an investigator for Scherer in his suit. Evans is also a part-time researcher for the Daily Pulp and provided the video.

Full Article and Source:
The Seidlin Family Circus

See Also:
Cryin Judge Seidlin Turns Author

No Raise for Probate Judge Tommy Crosslin

February 28, 2010

Colbert County commissioners passed a resolution opposing a bill that would have increased Probate Judge Tommy Crosslin’s salary by more than $50,000 a year.

The decision is likely unnecessary because the bill in its current form is unconstitutional and will not be introduced, State Sen. Bobby Denton, D-Muscle Shoals, said.

“As far as I know right now, there wouldn’t be any need in pursuing this issue,” Denton said. “I’d be foolish to introduce a bill that would be unconstitutional.”

[State Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia] said any effort to increase Crosslin’s pay should be based on the duties of his office and have the input of the county commission, which pays his salary and employee benefits, including retirement.

Full Article and Source:
Judge’s $50,000 Raise Dead

A Most Disorderly Court:

February 28, 2010
Scandal and Reform in the Florida Judiciary

In the 1970s, justices on the Florida Supreme Court were popularly elected. But a number of scandals threatened to topple the court until public outrage led to profound reforms and fundamental changes in the way justices were seated.

One justice abruptly retired after being filmed on a high-roller junket to Las Vegas.

Two others tried to fix cases in lower courts on behalf of campaign supporters.

A fourth destroyed evidence by shredding his copy of a document into “seventeen equal” strips of paper that he then flushed down a toilet.

As the journalist who wrote most of the stories that exposed these events, Martin Dyckman played a key role in revealing the corruption, favoritism, and cronyism then rampant in the court.

A Most Disorderly Court recounts this dark period in Florida politics, when stunning revelations regularly came to light. He also traces the reform efforts that ultimately led to a constitutional amendment providing for the appointment of all Florida’s appellate judges, and emphasizes the absolute importance of confidential sources for journalists.

Source:
Borders.com

Note: This book is also available through other retail outlets, including Amazon.com

Rothstein’s Wife Still Controls Properties

February 27, 2010

Bankruptcy lawyers handling the financial fallout from Scott Rothstein’s mega Ponzi scheme are taking issue with the way federal prosecutors are dealing with the convicted felon’s multimillion-dollar properties.

Of particular concern: Rothstein’s wife Kimberly is still managing some of the houses and is living rent-free in one of them, the attorneys wrote in court filings.

“It has recently come to the attention (of the lawyers) that the government has apparently delegated its duty to properly manage and safeguard certain of the property subject to forfeiture to Scott Rothstein’s wife — Kimberly Rothstein,” wrote Paul Singerman, one of the attorneys handling the case for the bankruptcy trustee.

“More specifically, the (lawyers) have learned that the government has permitted Kimberly Rothstein to live rent free in one of the forfeited properties and to continue to rent out other properties to tenants,” Singerman wrote.

Full Article and Source:
Scott Rothstein’s Wife Still in Control of Properties

See Also:
New Website Tracks Scott Rothstein Bankruptcy

Judge Chops Lawyers’ Fees by $1 Million

February 27, 2010

Executives tired of paying big legal bills can take solace in this: North Carolina Business Court Judge Albert Diaz recently cut attorneys’ fees in a class-action case by $1 million because he thought lawyers had charged too much per hour and spent too much time working on the case.

Judges typically don’t get involved in fee arrangements between clients and their attorneys. But class-action cases are an exception because most members of the class don’t have an opportunity to negotiate a fee arrangement with the attorney that ends up representing them.

For that reason, judges have the power to act as a guardian or fiduciary for the class, says Press Millen, a Womble Carlyle attorney who was not involved in the Wachovia case but has experience with such issues. Judge Diaz, in a Feb. 5 order, exercised that authority and reduced the plaintiff’s attorneys fees down to just $932,622.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Chops Lawyer Fees by $1M

Bill Moyers: Justice for Sale

February 26, 2010

How would you feel if you were in court and knew that the opposing lawyer had contributed money to the judge’s campaign fund? This is not an improbable hypothetical question, but could be a commonplace occurrence in the 21 states where judges must raise money to campaign for their seats — often from people with business before the court.

Though many states have elected judges since their founding, in the past 30 years, judicial elections have morphed from low-key affairs to big money campaigns. From 1999-2008, judicial candidates raised $200.4 million, more than double the $85.4 million raised in the previous decade (1989-1998).

According to retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, of all the fallout from the Citizens United decision, the most dangerous may be in judicial elections.

This week the JOURNAL revisits “Justice for Sale,” a 1999 documentary about the impact of money on judicial elections in three states — Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana.

Full Article and Source:
Justice For Sale

See Also:
Watch Video

Read Transcript

•DANNY’S DIARY•

February 26, 2010
When every word and action is scrutinized, we must find a place within ourselves, within our spirit, that is our spine and our own personal declaration of independence. It is here we determine our words and actions and, coupled with the truth, all things false will fall by the way. This place in our soul, in our conscience, is the constant reminder of who we are, what we stand for and what we believe. With this spine, one can stand strong against any foe, any false claim, any errant wind. And, by faith, you will endure.

Source:
FreeDannyTate.Wordpress.com

See Also:
Danny Tate, Sandbagged!?

"Irreconcilable Differences"

February 26, 2010

An Upper Darby woman who admitted to bilking an elderly, partially blind Lower Merion woman for whom she worked as a home health aide apparently needs a new lawyer.

Aretha Wellington, who is awaiting sentencing on charges she stole more than $140,600 in cash and jewelry from the elderly woman, and her lawyers Gregory Noonan and John L. Walfish have developed “irreconcilable differences,” according to papers filed Friday by the defense lawyers in Montgomery County Court.

Walfish and Noonan claimed Wellington has represented that she is unhappy with her present lawyers. The lawyers indicated they cannot continue to represent Wellington “under the present circumstances.”

The lawyers have asked Judge William J. Furber Jr. for permission to withdraw from the case.

Furber has not yet scheduled a hearing on the matter.

Last May, Wellington, 33, pleaded guilty to felony charges of theft by unlawful taking and access device fraud, or credit card fraud, in connection with incidents that occurred between August and September of 2006.

Wellington, who remains in jail without bail pending sentencing, faces a possible maximum sentence of seven to 14 years in prison on the charges.

Full Article and Source:
Home Health Worker Who Bilked Elderly Client Needs New Lawyer

Michael T. Conahan Claims Immunity

February 25, 2010

Former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan claimed he has “judicial and legislative immunity” from the latest in a series of lawsuits filed in the aftermath of the Luzerne County kids-for-cash scandal.

Conahan, acting as his own attorney, asked to be dismissed from a lawsuit filed in December in which a former juvenile defendant claimed he was sentenced to six months at a private detention facility based solely on the number of birds perched on the ledge outside the courtroom.

Conahan, who served as the county’s president judge from 2002 to 2006, said he was acting “legislatively” when he forced the closure of the county-owned detention center in 2003 and asked county commissioners to fund an exclusive agreement with the private facility.

Conahan and the former judge who allegedly issued the bird-brained sentence, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., have already been hit with civil-rights claims from hundreds of other juveniles and a 48-count racketeering indictment for allegedly pocketing $2.8 million in kickbacks from the backers of the private facilities.

Full Article and Source:
Conahan Claims Immunity in Latest Kids-For-Cash Suit