Good Lawyers Know the Law - Great Lawyers Know the Judge

Today I attended a Judicial CLE Luncheon presented by the Hillsborough County Bar Association with the Criminal Felony Bench.

The title of the event was "Motions: How to Present, Persuade and Defend in Motion Practice." The luncheon was held at the Chester H. Ferguson Law Center in Tampa, FL.

These Judicial CLE Luncheons really give the criminal defense bar a wonderful chance to see the judges in a more relaxed setting. The seminars give us a unique glimpse into how the different judges make decisions in different types of pre-trial motion hearings.

It has been said that good lawyers know the law and great lawyers know the judge. Attending a seminar like this really drives that point home. Almost all of the judges on the criminal bench in Circuit Court in Hillsborough County participated including:
  • Judge Tom Barber; 
  • Judge Lisa D. Campbell;
  • Judge Kimberly K. Fernandez;
  • Judge Ronald Ficarrotta;
  • Judge Gregory P. Holder;
  • Judge Christopher C. Sabella;
  • Judge Michelle Sisco;
  • Judge Caroline J. Tesche; and 
  • Judge Samantha L. Ward.
Topics for the discussion included:
  • Motions for Bond or Bail

    • The importance of listing facts to cover each of the statutory factors in the motions.
    • The benefits of using the Pretrial Global Positioning System ("GPS") House Arrest Program managed by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office when the person accused is released on their own recognizance ("ROR") in lieu of posting bond in serious violent felony cases and protecting the safety of the community is the primary concern.
    • Factors the different judges find most important in setting the bond amounts and pre-trial release conditions.
  • Motions to Dismiss under Florida Rule 3.190(c)(4)

    • Tips for the criminal defense attorney including clearly explaining what facts are disputed and undisputed, and why the disputed facts are not material to a prima facie case.
    • Tips for the prosecutor including the difference between the traverse and the demurrer.
    • Reasons to file motions to dismiss in possession of controlled substances cases involving knowledge / intent and dominion / control problems.
    • Recent cases discussing when judges can grant the Rule 3.190(c)(4) motion to dismiss and when defense counsel should opt for a bench trial when a judgment of acquittal is appropriate.
  • Motions for Speedy Trial

    • The statutory vs. constitutional provisions for a speedy trial. 
    • Strategies when filing for speedy trial or the notice of expiration of speedy trial while still preserving the right to litigate pre-trial motions. 
    • How judges view the motions for speedy trial and expiration notices.
  • Motions for Suppression of Evidence

    • The importance of being thoroughly prepared.
    • Why judges like it when you attach the case law to the motions.
    • Stipulating when facts are not in dispute and sticking to relevant evidence.
    • How the Standard Operating Procedures of Tampa Police Department impact inventory searches after an arrest
  • Stand Your Ground Motions

    • Recent appellate decisions that influence how judges are making rulings in these cases; 
    • Important distinctions between Florida Statute Section 776.012 and 776.013 on "engaging on unlawful activities" factor.
    • Strategies in determining whether your client should testify at the hearing.
The Hillsborough County Bar Association works hard to put together these Judicial CLE Luncheons. The criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors here are lucky that the judges participate in these quality CLE seminars. Hopefully, the HCBA will have a few more of these throughout the year.

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