Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 09:08 PM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note: All of the opinions expressed below are solely those of the author, Bob Smith. Any imagined relation between the characters described and actual people is imagined (didn't I say that, already?).

While it is true that many murder defendants like to smoke marijuana, the Sheriff's Office frowns upon people who smuggle drugs into the county jail. I have no opinion on this policy but I have never had a problem following it. On the other hand, I have known a couple of people who have.

One Saturday morning, I wandered into the courtroom on the first floor of the Palm Beach County Jail and, looking at that morning's female defendants...arrested the day before for one thing or another...I recognized Ricky Romano's girlfriend (note: Ricky was never my client). Ricky had been arrested for stabbing a young girl to death in her apartment. His girlfriend decided that Ricky needed some marijuana to smoke in jail.

I walked up front when they called her name and...standing there in my I'm-just-here-to-see-my-clients-locked-up-upstairs-weekend-shorts, I volunteered to the duty Judge that I knew her and that she seemed like a nice girl and I pointed out that...having failed once at smuggling...she was unlikely to do it again. The Judge gave her a low bond and she got out later that day.

But, today's story is really about a former secretary-working-as-my-investigator, Gisela (real name) and Kirby Bilwer (a name made up mostly by rearranging the letters of his actual name---I can't use a fake name because there are so many lawyers, now, that whatever name I use, some lawyer really does have the name and I'll get sued).

My client, Roberto Martinez (made up name), had been convicted of first degree murder for shooting and killing a security guard. We were up to the sentencing phase...the jury would decide whether Roberto got life in prison or died in the electric chair. Gisela was getting paid by the county to be my investigator ( you might can get more information sometimes with a good looking, young Cuban woman than you can using a middle aged white former cop...unfortunately, none of the information we got particularly helped Roberto). Kirby was doing most if not all of the work on the sentencing hearing. He and Gisela were about to go to the county jail to see Roberto and here is what happened:

Roberto's brother delivered a large manila envelope to my office. I can remember seeing him drop it off with the receptionist as I left the office on some other business. The envelope was open and in it were two things:
1) Reports and legal papers that we had given to Roberto previously and that he had asked us to let his family see.
2) A pack of Newport cigarettes.

Gisela took the package and headed off to the jail where she met up with Kirby. They went up to Roberto's floor and the jailers brought out Roberto. They gave Roberto the envelope and, after they conferred for a while, Roberto left to go back to his cell. He was stopped by the jailers who took the envelope, examined the Newports, and saw that they were stuff with marijuana. Deputies with the Sherriff's Internal Affairs unit were waiting for Gisela and Kurb and they took them each to an interview room to, I guess you would say: ask them a few questions.

Kirby didn't know anything about the envelope and that, coupled with his being around town for about 15 years and his having managed to visit clients in the jail hundreds of times without smuggling marijuana to any of them got him off the hook. Gisela took a little longer.

It turned out that the reason the jailers had taken envelope and the cigarettes from Roberto is that they had noticed that he had marijuana in his possesion in the past and they wondered where he got it from. Eventually, they realized that he hadn't gotten it from Gisela...or, if he did, she didn't know about it.

So, they let Gisela go, too...but they banned her forever from coming to the jail. The conclusion to this entry is probably obvious to everyone, but, let me take you through it anyway:
1) At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the Clerk read the Jury's verdict: "Life in prison", the Clerk said.
2) At that moment, the jury foreperson, a thin, middle-aged African American woman literally jumped up......"No", she said, "we all voted for death."
3) One of Gisela's friends (did I mention that she was very good looking?) the time...a Lieutenant in the Road Patrol division of the Sheriff's Office. We all decided that we should have lunch and that the Lieutenant should bring with him a Captain from the Jail. At lunch, Gisela wasa very apologetic about having smuggled marijuana into the jail. Of course, all was forgiven (did I mention that she was very good looking) and she was officially unbanned from the jail (did I mention that this was about 20 years ago when the world worked in a way that made sense and where rules that needed bending could be bent).
4) Roberto's Judge...who I will call Jim Carlisle (because that is his name and I like and respect him)...made a mistake. You see, according to Florida law, he had to write an order sentencing Roberto to death at the same time he sentenced him to death. And, not surprisingly when you think about it, he was supposed to write the order without one of the prosecutors on the case in his office at the time he wrote it. I have to rely here on my recollection which, at times, isn't so good......and this is my recollection:
-Somehow it came to light that a prosecutor was with him in the room while he wrote the order, and,
-He wrote it either too early or too late...
So, Kirby was able to get the death sentence overturned on appeal.

A cynical man might believe that Judge Carlisle was too good a Catholic to sentence someone to death without being sure that he had made enough mistakes in the sentencing to ensure that the sentence, on appeal, would be commuted to life.........

But, on the other hand, a cynical man might believe that if Gisela hadn't looked like Gisela she might really have been banned forever from the County Jail.......maybe even arrested for smuggling........


Editor's Note: Bob Smith writes for the blog from his cabin in Northern Wyoming. To aspiring lawyers, law students and others interested in the profession, Bob says: "Dental school...think about it."
add comment ( 11 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 2.4 / 9 )

<Back | 1 | Next> >>