Update: Squabble Has Prosecutor, Asst. Public Defender Acting Like Babies

BY BUDDY NEVINS

Browardbeat’s readers are wonderful. But they are not going to be happy with me.

In answer to my request concerning evidence in this dispute between the prosecutor and assistant public defender, I was flooded with documents. 

None of those documents changed my opinion — both the prosecutor and assistant public defender have been acting unprofessionally in the case I wrote about below.

One key item sent to me by several readers was an audio tape of an October 23 deposition. That deposition degenerated into fracas between Asst St. Atty. Michelle Boutros and Asst. Public Def. Gustavo Martinez. 

Michelle Boutros

After listening it appears to me that Boutros was needlessly argumentative and ridiculously over-aggressive. She baited Martinez, repeatedly cutting him off.

Essentially, Boutros was bullying him.

Martinez was no angel.

He asked questions that appeared to have little connection to the case. Even to a non-lawyer like me, it appeared he was improperly framing some questions, which frustrated Boutros. He also baited Boutros, calling her “ma’am” after she requested he stop. 

(I am not a lawyer, but I have been on the witness stand several times in my newspaper career, including once being called before the Grand Jury. I have also witnessed many trials and depositions as a reporter covering the courthouse. I’ve seen good lawyers, terrific lawyers and bad lawyers and I can tell the difference.)

 The key allegation — that Martinez threatened Boutros with his fist while “making a face” — is ridiculous. Based on the audio I don’t believe Martinez intended to make any threatening gestures.  

Two witnesses split on whether a threat was made.

The court reporter said he saw no threat. 

The police officer being deposed said he saw Martinez bare his teeth in an “aggressive manner” while holding his fist in front of his mouth. The officer said this happened “approximately seven times.” 

Gustavo Martinez reenacting the alleged threat

Is baring teeth and holding a fist in front of mouth really a threat to a hardened prosecutor like Boutros? 

Give me a break. 

Martinez putting a fist in front of his mouth may be a repetitive behavior rather than a threat. Repetitive behavior no more threatening than someone pulling on their ear or chewing their thumb.

Browardbeat also received numerous documents concerning Boutros and Martinez’s past. Browardbeat is going to stick to what happened in this case. It is their conduct in the current case that has the courthouse buzzing.

Regardless of what may have occurred in their past, it must be remembered that Boutros and Martinez have held onto their jobs.

After examine the evidence generously sent by Browardbeat readers, I’m going to stick with my opinion that both lawyers have been acting unprofessionally in this case. I know that partisans on the side of Boutros or Martinez will not be happy with that opinion.

But any neutral observer — which Browardbeat is — would see that Boutros and Martinez’s conduct is what is expected in a school yard rather than a courtroom.

MY PREVIOUS STORY STARTS HERE:

A Broward prosecutor and an assistant public defender have the courthouse buzzing by their repeated courtroom scrapes punctuated by obscenities and threats.

It has gotten so bad that a police report was filed for an alleged threat in court.

The fighters in this match should know better. Both are veterans.

In one corner is Assistant State Attorney Michelle Boutros.

In the other corner is Assistant Public Defender Gustavo Martinez, the defense attorney.

Some lawyers call their shenanigans nothing more than zealous advocacy. 

Those of us outside the bubble of the courthouse would call Boutros and Martinez’s conduct something you might see in elementary school 

Squabble Gets Out Of Hand At Broward County Courthouse

The case they are clashing over is serious. A career criminal with a lengthy arrest record including homicide is on trial for attempted murder.

The case is limping through the usual endless depositions and motions. It is during this pre-trial routine that nastiness has surfaced. 

Bountros and Martinez clearly do not like one another. 

Check that.  They probably hate one another. 

Why else would their bad behavior drag in their bosses, judges and even the cops?

The story is outlined in a series of he-said, she-said letters exchanged by the two lawyers’ supervisors —Martinez’s boss, Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and Boutros’ boss, Chief Assistant State Attorney Jeff Marcus

Finkelstein alleges in his November letter that:

  • Boutros called Martinez a “‘fucking douchebag’ in open court before Judge (Martin) Fein on April 11, 2019.”
  • Boutros asked that “the record reflect that Mr. Martinez’s questions were the ‘most ridiculous’ she had ever heard in her 20 years of practicing law.” This allegation occurred during an Oct. 21, 2019 deposition.
  • Boutros had to be escorted out of the Public Defenders’ Office secretarial area because of her disruptive behavior at that same Oct. 21 deposition. She continued to be disruptive in the lobby and “create a scene.”
  • Boutros “became enraged” when challenged during an Oct. 23 deposition. She continued to interrupt Martinez by “talking over him and raising her voice. She chastised and demeaned Mr. Martinez in the presence of the witness by mockingly referring to him as ‘ma’am.’”
  • Boutros at the same Oct. 23 deposition made “false allegations against Mr. Martinez, claiming that he threatened her” when he was only “resting his chin on his hand.”
  • Boutros filed a complaint with the police about Martinez’s alleged threat. The report apparently went nowhere after an officer interviewed a witness who said Martinez never made a threat, according to the Public Defender’s Office.

Marcus alleges in his November answer to Finkelstein that: 

  • Martinez was not resting his chin on his hand, but “clenching his fist at Assistant State Attorney Boutros with the clear intention of intimidating and threatening her.”
  • Martinez refused to stop calling Boutros “ma’am” despite being asked to do so. 
  • Martinez did not answer calls from Boutros for days and then left her “waiting in court for over three hours.” She then “expressed her displeasure by refusing to shake his hand due to his blatant unprofessionalism by being unresponsive and tardy.”
  • Martinez reacted to not having his hand shaken by “kneeling down aggressively and breaching her personal space. In response to this breach of personal space, Assistant State Attorney Boutros reacted by quietly and privately calling Assistant Public Defender Martinez a ‘douche bag.’”
  • Martinez has an “alarming” reputation among “assistant state attorneys in our office the majority of whom are female. There doesn’t seem to be anyone in the (prosecutors) office that doesn’t share some concern for Assistant Public Defender Martinez’s conduct.”
  • Martinez exhibited “alarming” behavior in front of Marcus “some years back. I have also been advised that your office has been warned of his conduct by member of the Sheriff’s Office.”

Finkelstein and Marcus’ comments are allegations. They are not proven. One person’s “alarming” behavior is another person’s aggressive defense of a client. 

“I’ve seen lawyers over the years deliberately try to get under the others skin,” Finkelstein told Browardbeat. He doesn’t know why this case got so out of hand.

However, if even half of what is alleged about these two lawyers is true, their conduct is more suitable for a WWE wrestling ring than a professional courtroom. 

Aren’t there any adults in the State Attorney or Public Defenders Office to tell their lawyers to cool it? 

Hey, Boutros. 

Hey, Martinez.

When you act like naughty children, you should be treated like naughty children.

You both need to sit in the time out chair….until you can act like grown ups.



35 Responses to “Update: Squabble Has Prosecutor, Asst. Public Defender Acting Like Babies”

  1. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    What on earth has gotten into these attorneys? May I remind everyone they are OFFICERS OF THE COURT, MEMBERS OF THE BAR., and PUBLIC SERVANTS PAID BY US THE TAXPAYERS.

  2. A board certified criminal trial lawyer says:

    I have worked against Michelle Boutros on at least three occasions and I found her an absolute pleasure to work with. She is one of the few prosecutors at that office that doesn’t hide the ball, makes reasonable plea offers and has empathy and compassion. She is one of the best trial lawyers I have ever seen and is a credit to the State Attorney’s Office. Check out the jaablog. There is a whole bunch of stuff posted about Martinez and his prior job in another county where he was fired by the PD’s office.

    FROM BUDDY:

    I would never use anything from the comment section of JAABlog without checking it out…probably twice. My belief is the comments are largely from government employees at the courthouse — many might be in the State Attorney and Public Defenders Office or even judges — who have way too much down time. Also, some of the people writing comments appear to me to be mentally unbalanced and/or have extreme hidden rage. Maybe it’s good they have an outlet to they can vent, but I don’t have to believe it verbatim.

    I spent a good deal of my working life in a newsroom. Some of this time was before the era when security keep people out. Thus, we periodically had nutty people wandering in with all types of wild stories. Reporter also got anonymous, often foolish tales by phone all the time. I have a large folder of crackpot snail mail addressed to me that I kept. These experiences made me very suspicious of anonymous allegations and smears spread without solid proof.

    That said, I still believe that Bill Gelin and JAABlog has performed a true service by offering an outlet to expose wrongdoing at the courthouse.

    Any one having proof of what was written in the JAABlog comment section on this (or any) incident. Documentation. Like, something in writing that would stand up in court. Something I could back check. Send anything to Browardbeat@hotmail.com.

  3. Chaz Stevens, Pain in the ass says:

    Buddy;

    How many elementary schoolers back in your day broke out “fucking douchebag” to settle a squabble?

    Come to think of it, did they even have elementary school back in your day?

    ***

    Breaching her personal space? Someone get this woman an avocado sandwich STAT!

    FROM BUDDY:

    If a kid spoke like that in school, they would have been severely punished back in my day. You would be surprised what kids today say, both in school, at home and in public.

    That said, the point I was making is the letters portrayed both as acting like children…as I wrote at the end.

  4. Defense Attorney says:

    Boutros is one of the few good ones at the state attorneys office. Sounds like there is a lot more to this story then reported.

    FROM BUDDY:

    There probably is more. There always is.

  5. Ha Ha Ha says:

    ASA Boutrous seems to be well over 90% of the problem here. APD Martinez is just reacting to her seriously dysfunctional misbehavior. The allegations from Marcus mostly amount to throwing shade in a bogus attempt to divert attention from Finkelstein’s legitimate complaints.

    What did Judge (Martin) Fein have to say about all this?

    FROM BUDDY:

    Fein had nothing to say to me.

  6. Courthouse Employee says:

    Usually your content is on point but you really missed the mark on this one Mr. Nevins. The defense lawyer never did any “bad behavior.”

    There have been many crazy incidents with that prosecutor over the years but the one you’re referring to occurred at a deposition not in court. This is kind of old news.

    After that deposition that prosecutor made up an assault out of thin air and went to the cops. There is an audio recording of the deposition which probably half the courthouse has heard by now. Most people at the public defenders office have heard it, and apparently a good chunk of the state attorneys. I can tell by this article you must not have heard it. Its basically an hour of the prosecutor screaming like a psychopath at the public defender during the deposition while the public defender is begging for her to stop.

    This isn’t an immature squabble like you make it seem. It’s more of an unhinged lady who is crazy and known for this type of stuff. You should probably talk to the reporter who typed down the deposition, I hear he saw the whole thing. You should also probably listen to the recording too and perhaps edit the article or rewrite another one.

    FROM BUDDY:

    I just reported on what is in the letters from the State Attorney and the Public Defender.

    Indeed there is an audio tape that was circulated, I am told, by Assistant Public Defenders. They refused to make it public despite admitting that (1) half the courthouse has heard it and (2) it may shed a different light on the story. The PD Office’s excuse for keeping the tape private: The criminal case involved in the dispute is still pending.

    Hmmmmm

  7. Line ASA says:

    I’m a line prosecutor at the courthouse. For obvious reasons I’m not going to identify myself. Only to say that I know both individuals and that my co-worker, Michelle Boutros, is known for…(her)behavior. This public defender is no baby he’s respectful and professional and even though he’s on the other team he’s always a straight shooter.

  8. Prosecutor says:

    #8 Line ASA

    I know from your comment that you are most certainly not a prosecutor.

  9. Buddy says:

    FROM BUDDY:

    In an answer to one of Browardbeat readers I asked for evidence of the claims on the Internet about the prosecutor and assistant public defender featured in the above story. I received some evidence and I will be posting something about it in the future.

  10. Brandon Anderson says:

    It is unfortunate that this situation has gotten the way it is. However, as someone with knowledge of the situation, I can tell you that Mr. Martinez has never acted inappropriately. This is not two babies fighting Mr. Nevins… the whole time the public defender has handled himself with class and professionalism. Sir, please check your email (and junk folder, just in case). It is my hope the materials I sent you will assist you. Thank you.

  11. Somebody Who Knows Better says:

    Buddy, this story is clickbate at best. Attacking Ms. Boutros for merely standing up for herself in the face of a disgusting bully is beyond reprehensible. Instead of blasting her, you should praise her for not taking it, and fighting back against her attacker. Might be time to retire, sir.

  12. Nobody likes a bully says:

    Talk about elementary school, this “article” is both substantively and grammatically on par with a 4th grader. Not only does it contain petty and school-age content, it is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors as well.

    Bully-like behavior has made its way from the schoolyard into the courtroom and this ASA should be commended for standing up to opposing counsel. Well done, Ms. Boutros.

  13. MICHELLE BOUTROS OUT OF LINE: says:

    Not everything in life should be split down the middle in the name of political correctness. Most of the PD office has heard the recording or has witnessed the incidents in court. Michelle Boutros’s behavior has been beyond unacceptable. And only her’s. Period.

    Mr. Martinez has never done anything in this entire situation that was remotely unprofessional or inappropriate.

    Mr. Martinez shouldn’t even be mentioned in all of this. She should not be permitted to drag his name down with her. Classifying both of them as “unprofessional” is a gross mischaracterization of this situation!

    FROM BUDDY:

    I received as many comments and emails defending Boutros, so it is not as clear cut as you believe.

  14. Ma'am????????? says:

    Seriously!? Martinez “baited Boutros, calling her “ma’am’ after she requested he stop.”???

    Since when is referring to someone as “Ma’am” considered baiting? Is “Sir” baiting too? Seriously, this is ridiculous.

    Wait wait. So let me see if i get this. Martinez was “no angel” because he referred to her as “Ma’am” and asked questions which you as a non-lawyer didn’t like? LOL. This is a joke.

  15. Elementary School!! says:

    With all due respect Mr. Nevins, the only one behaving like an “Elementary” child is you sir:

    This “article” reminds me of middle school children in the late 90s and early 2000s, running home to trash talk on Aol Instant Messenger or on a chatroom.

    What you’ve basically done is take a situation that you know nothing about and try and create a gossip column. This isn’t journalism. This is immature rumor spreading.

    All you’re doing is trashing people’s reputations. I think you are the one who needs to sit in the “time out chair” until you remember what being a reporter is truly about.

    And please don’t delete this comment simply because I’m criticizing you. I thought you and your website were better than this.

  16. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    #15 ., I agree n furthermore cant believe in a so called world class city a ‘lawyer’ ‘officer of the court’ would be so uncouth and ignorant as to believe ‘Ma’am’ isnt an English n Southern.term of respect.

  17. The Recording says:

    Why don’t you post the actual recording? Let’s let the whole world hear it….

    Gus was simply trying to do his job….

    Post the recording. Or post a link to it. Let the whole courthouse listen to it and judge for themselves.

  18. The Truth says:

    A “Squabble” by definition is a “noisy quarrel or dispute about something petty.” A “dispute” is a “disagreement, argument or debate. These are basic dictionary definitions.

    This is not a so-called Squabble or a Dispute of some sort. This is one individual, Michelle Boutros, who is known for behaving in a nasty manner and being super vulgar with people, behaving like she typically does. Cussing in court, yelling insults at a deposition, and causing trouble.

    Martinez is not the one cussing a storm in court or whining like a 2 year old at a deposition. And above all Martinez is not the one who went to the cops to report a fake crime!!! Also Martinez is not the one digging up Boutros’s past like a crazy stalker.

    You can’t even compare the two. This isn’t a squabble. This is harassment and unstable behavior by Boutros.

    FROM BUDDY:

    I am told that The Florida Bar may end up being the arbitrator in this and other matters involving these attorneys.

    Please remember that Browardbeat was sent allegations about Boutros too. Somebody has been looking into her past.

  19. Finkelstein v. Satz says:

    Why are the lawyers being criticized as the children? The letters were apparently written by the bosses at each office. Is this a rivalry between 2 lawyers? Or is this old vendettas between two offices who hate each other? Shouldn’t the offices be criticized here instead of the individual lawyers?

    FROM BUDDY:

    Absolutely!

    State Attorney Mike Satz and Public Defender Howard Finkelstein can be partially blamed for letting thier feud get out of hand. There is an acrid atmosphere between the two offices.

    I bet most of the lawyers in the SOA and the PDs just want to do their jobs, not snipe at one another.

    The overriding and indisputable fact is that attorneys in the SOA and PDs are burdened with crushing case loads. Many have huge college debts and are paid way too little to comfortable cover the payments. Blame the Legislature. Blame the SOA and PD bosses. Whatever. The truth is that these attorneys are under appreciated by society despite their vital function in the criminal justice system.

  20. Confused says:

    I’m confused. So the prosecutor cursed in court calling the other attorney a “fucking douchebag.” She “bullied him” at a deposition as you stated. And apparently she lied to the police? What has the other lawyer done? Call her Ma’am? Kneel aggressively lmao? And she calls him Ma’am too isn’t that childish as hell if he’s a man? I’m not seeing what the defense lawyer did wrong but lying to the police and using F bombs in court sounds pretty serious.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Language and crowding into ones personal space can be interpreted as aggression.

  21. time for change says:

    This article sums up why we need a new State Attorney and Public Defender in 2020 with no ties to either previous administration.
    That is why I am voting for Josh Rydell for State Attorney and Tom Lynch for Public Defender. It is time to wipe the slate clean of the old and start anew

  22. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Public officials are NOT paid to fight each other BUT TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE.

  23. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Both #15 and #17 make excellent points.

    #18 is absolutely correct. That tape is newsworthy, and we the taxpayers paid for its production. Release it!

    @20 Buddy – The PDs are underappreciated for sure. Some of the ASAs are. Other ASAs – certainly not.

    @21 Buddy – Awww, did some obnoxious bully get her poor feelings hurt? Remember: “Sticks and stones”…

  24. Stormwatch says:

    … I remember years ago some prosecutor pulling that shit on one very politically connected lawyer, so he called her “Madam Prosecutrix” and the judge laughed. The guy was so connected she couldnt do shit about it.He got her all off-tilt and wiped the floor with her.

  25. Female attorney says:

    What I find frustrating is that whenever women stand up to bullies they are labeled “crazy” “sensitive” or more pejorative terms. Women need to continue to stand up for themselves even if it is not easy, even if they get called “childish” . It is usually older men that take the most issue with it. Keep your head up Boutros and keep standing up for yourself.

  26. Lawher says:

    I’m not going to be as nice as female lawyer. Gus Martinez is one of those lawyers who treats witnesses and prosecutors like crap as a tactic in defense of his clients. He is that asshole who still calls you ma’am when you ask him not to. He is that lawyer that stands too close to you so you will be intimidated. He has been reported on several occasions and the pds office does nothing. When we report this kind of behavior the bar does nothing. Then we get sexist morons like you buddy who attack us and call us childish because we stood up for ourselves and our clients. Thanks for continuing to thicken up that glass ceiling.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Just note that I worked for female bosses for much of my life. They were the best journalists and the best supervisors — tough, knowledgeable and fair.

  27. This is about politics? says:

    Oh and by the way time for changes comment is not lost on anyone. You don’t care about this issue. This is about you helping Lynch and Rydell. Neither boutros nor Martinez are on that race so its not right for you to bring them into it. When will you start putting the political disclaimer on here.

  28. Bully?? says:

    To #25 “Female Attorney”. Except the sao Boutros didn’t stand up to any bully. It appears SHE was the bully. Being a female is not an excuse to cut off the attorney over and over as described in the article…I understand apparently she didn’t like some questions or apparently didn’t like being called ma’am but that’s still no excuse. I’m sorry but I don’t see this as a case of a female hero standing up for herself.

  29. this was unnecessary says:

    Buddy we love you but #27 Mr. “This is about politics?” makes an excellent point. You shouldnt have brought Boutros or Martinez into this. You should maybe consider deleting this one Sir….

  30. How Dare He Call Her Maam!!!! says:

    Reading these comments is disheartening. What have we come to as a society that calling a woman “Maam” makes you a sexist!?

    #26 Lawher: Buddy Nevins has had an amazing career in journalism and continues even at his age to write and write well! For you to pull the “glass ceiling” card and for you to insult him as a “sexist moron” is not only inaccurate but a dirty tactic. I want you to know that everyone sees right through it. So what are you saying that a female is above being criticized? You cant cry “sexism” everytime you dont like something. It seems Boutros did some very bad things and Buddy has a right to write about them without being labeled sexist.

  31. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Where except in WACKO leftwing minds ‘Ma’am’ is an insult?

    FROM BUDDY:

    Again, it is wrong to call someone anything — ma’am, mister, junior or even “buddy.” — after they asked you not to is wrong. It distinctly appears to be deliberate intimidation by the assistant public defender.

  32. Why are you censoring? says:

    Why did you not post my previous comment??? ….

    FROM BUDDY:

    I have all the documents on both lawyers in this dispute. I am sticking with what happened with this incident. Their supervisors should examine this stuff and act accordingly.

  33. Rumifications says:

    I am not a journalist, but I have a longtime subscription to the Washington Post, and the NY Times, both of which I read daily. I also read Time Magazine, and The New Yorker regularly, along with various other publications. I’ve seen good journalists, terrific journalists and bad journalists and I can tell the difference. I’m sure you too have been around a vast array of journalists, probably even rubbed elbows with some of great journalistic integrity. But I can forgive you for showing none of that quality, after all you are not a journalist, you are a blogger. And much like other bloggers, such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and the Kardashians, why let facts and investigation get in the way of a pious and disingenuous opinion.
    Your original summation was nothing short of a character assassination of young attorneys, based on innuendo and rumor. What real facts did you have? And your revision? Based on your investigative prowess? No, it was the kindness of contributors, who I’m sure were completely neutral, and uninvolved. And even then, with more specific information, did you write a retraction, or possibly apologize for your shortsightedness? Of course not, instead you wrote a tepid addendum to the facts, while doubling down on your original opinion. Calling them “naughty children”, and likening them to “WWE” performers, this makes you the adult in the room? You come across as on old ” get off my lawn” man, trying desperately to stay relevant. Your attacks toward Mr. Martinez are irresponsible, demeaning and completely misplaced. Considering your newly enlightened thoughts, based on newly acquired facts, it should be abundantly clear to you. How does that make you any better than Ms. Boutros, with her personal, and caustic attacks? And anyone who claims she was standing up to a bully has no knowledge of the actual events….

    I’ve been told you actually are a man of great integrity, but this supermarket tabloid piece does not serve such a reputation. You need to fix this, make it right. If you are a man of character, if you do wish to be moral in your endeavor to write such stories, if you wish to be respected, and considered fair and just, then rectify this matter. You claim to have the audio, go back and listen again. Really listen, be in the room. There is a young man’s reputation, and possibly his future at stake. Don’t help create an albatross that he has to carry, there are enough others in this story trying to tear him down.
    Thank you for your time!

  34. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    As a PUBLISHED research historian I know ‘today’s’ NEW YORK TIMES is full of MORE FACTUAL ERRORS THAN BROWARD BEAT while the Washington Post’s anti Semitic campaign bashing Israel made their paper questionable on foreign affairs

  35. Anonymous says:

    So what happened with the police investigation?

    FROM BUDDY:

    It went nowhere. The witnesses to the event were split on what happened.