J.A.I.L. News Journal
_______________________________________________________
Los Angeles, California                                            December 22,, 2003

 
A Judge With Salt,
Takes a Stand!

FREE TRADE MEETING
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/7538538.htm
Dec. 20, 2003

Judge: I saw police commit felonies

A judge who said he witnessed some of the anti-free trade protests
complains in open court about how police handled the demonstrations.

By AMY DRISCOLL
adriscoll@herald.com

A judge presiding over the cases of free trade protesters said in court
that he saw ''no less than 20 felonies committed by police officers''
during the November demonstrations, adding to a chorus of complaints
about police conduct.

Judge Richard Margolius, 60, made the remarks in open court last week,
saying he was taken aback by what he witnessed while attending the
protests.

''Pretty disgraceful what I saw with my own eyes. And I have always
supported the police during my entire career," he said, according to a
court transcript. "This was a real eye-opener. A disgrace for the
community."

In the transcript, he also said he may have to remove himself from any
additional cases involving arrests made during the Free Trade Area of
the Americas summit. ....

CIRCUIT JUDGE

Margolius, appointed to the bench in 1982, retired as a circuit judge in
2001 but said he still hears cases 15 to 20 weeks a year when courts are
overburdened.

On Friday, he chose not to elaborate on the remarks he made from the
bench Dec. 11.

''I can't comment on pending cases," he said. "It was inappropriate for
me to make the comments I made. A reasonable person could question my neutrality because of statements I made in open court."

The judge did not single out a police department. More than three dozen
agencies were part of the FTAA security effort. The Miami Police
Department coordinated most police operations. ....
During the Dec. 11 hearings, the judge asked an assistant state attorney, "How many police officers have been charged by the State Attorney so far for what happened out there during the FTAA?"

None, the prosecutor replied.

''None?" asked the judge. "Pretty sad commentary. At least from what I
saw."

The judge also wondered aloud how much the ''whole episode'' had cost
taxpayers.

''I know one thing. There were police officers from every agency -- I
couldn't believe the sheer numbers," he said. ....

Two citizens' panels plan to hold a joint meeting Jan. 15 to hear
comments and complaints about police conduct during the FTAA, and both Miami-Dade and Miami police are conducting internal reviews. ....
 
Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.
 


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