My favorite judge gets appointed to the Circuit Court

Carlos Miller

Further proof that Florida Governor Charlie Crist is just another empty suit.

The republican turned independent appointed Miami-Dade Judge Jose L. Fernandez to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court – the same court that reversed my conviction for resisting arrest without violence on the basis that Fernandez abused his discretion as a trial judge.

This is what the governor had to say about Fernandez:

“As a lifelong Floridian and Miami native, Judge Fernandez has served the people of Miami-Dade County well while sitting on county bench, and I am confident he will serve the circuit court with the same level of integrity,” said Governor Crist. “In addition, his wide variety of legal experience ensures that he will review each case with impartiality and fairness.”

Integrity? Impartiality? Fairness?

This is the same judge who allowed improper evidence to be entered in my trial which led to my conviction of resisting arrest without violence, despite the overwhelming evidence – not to mention the acquittal of other charges – that I had not committed an arrestable offense.

This is the same judge that slapped me with a harsher sentence than sought by the prosecutor because he was “shocked” by my “lack of remorse.”

This is the same judge who had to recuse himself from the trial of my second arrest because he had proven to be biased against me during my first trial.

What else can you expect from a guy who spent four years as an attorney for the Professional Law Enforcement Association before becoming a county judge?

It didn’t help that the prosecutor in the case was the son of a veteran Miami-Dade police officer.

For those of you who are new to this blog, let me break it down for you quickly.

During the trial of my first arrest, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office did not have any actual evidence to convince the jurors that I had been standing in the middle of the street taking photos, which is for what I was supposedly arrested.

The picture in the header of this blog – the one I took seconds before they arrested me – shows the street behind the officers, making it impossible for me to have been standing in the street blocking traffic.

So the prosecutor decided to use my blog against me in the hopes that it would paint me as a cop-hater. The prosecutor even printed out one article I wrote where I referred to Los Angeles police officers as Gestapo because they had been caught on camera beating kids and journalists with billy clubs.

The prosecutor began telling the jury that I thought all cops were Nazis, which is why I got myself arrested.

My attorney immediately objected on the basis that it was completely irrelevant.

But Judge Fernandez agreed with the prosecutor, saying that the article I wrote proved I was bias against cops.

The jury was then treated to a long monologue about me hating cops so much that I purposely got myself arrested in order to start a blog dedicated to badmouthing them.

When I tried to explain on the witness stand the context behind the article, Fernandez would shut me up, ordering me to only answer “yes” or “no” to the questions. If you read the article in question, you would see that I even complimented NYPD. But the prosecutor never mentioned that and I was not allowed to explain.

This led the jury to believe that I had resisted arrest, even though they acknowledged that I did nothing illegal to get arrested in the first place because they acquitted me of refusing a lawful order and disorderly conduct.

When it came time to sentence me, the prosecutor recommended that I get 3 months probation and 50 community hours.

Fernandez turned around and slapped me with one year probation and 100 community hours.

And he based his sentencing solely on my lack of remorse.

Remorse? For taking pictures?

This is what the panel of Circuit Court judges had to say about that when they reversed the conviction in my appeal (the entire appeal decision is below).

“We see no reasonable basis that the inflammatory issues of Nazism and Gestapo, or the actions of Los Angeles Police Officers, should have been injected into this, a misdemeanor trial, involving the City of Miami Police.
We reject the State’s contention that Defense counsel had a reasonable opportunity to rehabilitate the witness. To do so would have required introducing and explaining the article, screening the referenced videos and other materiel taken of the Los Angeles melee, and including the contrite responses of the senior Los Angeles Police officials.
It would, in essence, have turned Miller’s misdemeanor trial int an examination of a violent, cross-continental incident. In that this evidence is more prejudicial than probative under these circumstances, we find the trial court abused its discretion and reverse the conviction.”

But Fernandez didn’t stop there. He continued to abuse the discretion of his judicial powers when he slapped me with a harsher sentence just because I maintained my innocence.

This what the Circuit Court had to say about that:

It is Constitutionally impermissible for a trial court to impose a sentence based upon a defendant’s assertion of innocence before, during and after trial.
The State contends this did not occur, stating”. . . the court reviewed the total trial evidence and entered its sentence with a mere passing remark on remorse in the context of a comment on the Appellant’s misbehavior and demeanor.”
On the assumption that we have reviewed the same transcript, we reject the State’s interpretation of the record.
As evidenced by the sentencing colloquy, the trial court’s concern, in large part, was for the “real” heroes at Arlington, for Miller’s supporters and for Miller’s “shocking” lack of remorse. The trial court’s comments were not so much passing references, but, instead, grounds for sentencing.
REVERSED with directions that defendant be tried and, if necessary, sentenced before a different judge.

The Circuit Court judges wrote this in December and made it official in January. Crist appointed Fernandez to the same Circuit Court in May.

Perhaps Crist should have Googled Fernandez before making his decision.

When I had to stand before Fernandez on the trial date of my second arrest in January, my lawyer asked him to recuse himself or else we would file a motion demanding him to recuse himself. He recused himself immediately, which allowed me to stand before another judge in March who dismissed the case when the cop didn’t show up.

It should be noted that earlier this month, a Los Angeles jury awarded a reporter $1.5 million in damages because she was brutalized by LAPD officers on that notorious day. So yes, they were acting like complete Nazis.

This is what Fox11 camerawoman Patricia Ballaz had to say about the verdict:

“May 1, 2007 is a day that I will never forget, it is a day that has changed my life forever,” she said. “My genuine hope is that this trial and its verdict will serve as a strong reminder to the LAPD to think twice about using excessive force in any kind of situation.
“Our free speech and civil rights are precious and if we can’t rely on the police to protect them, who can we trust?”

Not Fernandez. That’s for sure.

Here is five page decision from the Circuit Court that reversed my conviction.

Carlos Miller’s appeal victory


War on Photography