"Bar" Group Going After Local Blog

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The "re-elect" versus "retain" controversy appears to work out in Judge Jay Hurley's favor.

Speaking of courthouse controversies, have you heard about a local blog that's getting heat?

Seems the Broward County Bar Association (a voluntary group with no official connection to the actual bar) has decided it wants to go after JAABlog, the courthouse blog administered by local lawyer Bill Gelin. It started after Sentinel columnist Mike Mayo got an earful from a manic Chief Judge Victor Tobin, who was allegedly upset by anti-Semitic nonsense that appeared in the comments section of that blog.

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Llorente
Tobin comes across in the column as an off-the-handle loon, but make no mistake, this isn't about anti-Semitic idiots who post on blogs (we know better than anyone about that kind of thing). It's about trying to shut down JAABlog because it has helped to expose a lot of judicial wrongdoing in Broward County that used to be ignored. And now the powers that be, using BCBA President Carlos Llorente as its tool, are going after the messenger, claiming that Gelin doesn't meet its "professional standards," according to a piece in the Daily Business Review. You see, the association, which has no official authority whatsoever, forbids criticism by lawyers of other judges and lawyers. But it could create an actual bar complaint.

If you want to know how Llorente, who is apparently an insurance-industry lawyer (high calling, that), really feels about JAABlog, read the following email Llorente sent Gelin last week that I obtained over the weekend:

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From: Anya <Anya@BrowardBar.org>
Subject: Return Call
To: wgelin@yahoo.com
Date: Thursday, March 11, 2010, 9:29 AM

Mr. Gelin: 

I am responding to your voicemail left at my office yesterday. Professional courtesy and common courtesy dictate that I return the call.  However, I choose this medium for that return since the topic of your message is your jaablog.  Please understand I do not and will not comment or discuss any matters whatsoever with gossip writers, gossip columnist or shock writers/reporters.  In my opinion your writings and publications that I have observed, fit into one or

more of those categories. My self imposed restriction does not extend to legitimate journalist, reporters or investigative reporters.  Accordingly, some of the information you seek or topics you wish to discuss may be found in the Dailey [sic] Business Review, if reported accurately.

Of course I recognize that even this brief communiqué and its intended purpose is subject to being used and abused. For that reason I am referring you to The Rules of The Florida Bar, Rule 4-8: Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession, in its entirety.     
 
Sincerely,
 
Carlos M. Llorente, President
Broward County Bar Association 

E-mail: info@browardbar.org

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"Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession," he says. My question: What integrity? From what I've seen, the legal profession has less integrity than the oldest profession. Sure there are honest lawyers out there (somewhere), but the profession simply reeks. From Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler to Ana Gardiner to Dale Cohen to Tobin himself, it all reeks. 

Can't have that truth known, so the vehicles that expose the truth are vilified as gossip. And Gelin? Well, to use an old Pulp slogan, don't shoot the piano player. I'm sure Tobin and Llorente usually love America's freedoms, so long as they don't inconvenience them and their perverse sense of entitlement. Then the First Amendment be damned.

"In Broward County everthing is backward," Gelin said to me. "The judicial administration seems to protect judges who abuse the people's trust. It's always left to people like Howard Finkelstein or people who use the blog anonymously to point out the problems here. It seems to be only media exposure that brings these folks into line and everybody knows that Broward has much more than its fair share of officials thumbing their nose at people who elected them."

True that. 

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