Florida Bar Joins Howard Finkelstein’s Fight To Reform Criminal Justice



The Florida Bar has joined Public Defender Howard Finkelstein’s fight to make the criminal justice system fair for minorities.

Finkelstein contends a large number of minorities are unneccessarily jailed for nonviolent crimes. The “Help Me Howard” Channel 7-Miami TV legal commentator in addition to his public defender’s job, Finkelstein has made equality in the criminal justice system a lifetime goal.

The Public Defender asked Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis earlier this month to join him in  “efforts to restore balance, equality and fairness to the criminal justice system.”

Apparently, Pettis took notice.

Here is the e-mail Finkelstein distributed to his office staff Wednesday morning. It is a reprint of the influential JAABlog courthouse blog from Tuesday:


From: Howard Finkelstein
Date: March 12, 2014 at 7:36:19 AM EDT
To: Chiefs
Cc: Sheldon Gusky
Subject: From courthouse blog.  A start.


Off and running – Gene Pettis and Howard Finkelstein are pulling together as a team.  As previously reported, the President of the Florida Bar requested something in writing from Broward’s Public Defender concerning the wildly disproportionate rates of minority occupancy in the State’s jails and prisons due to non-violent crimes, and boy did he get it.  Finkelstein’s letter, found here,** went out on March 4th, as first reported by Buddy Nevins.

Pettis, who was traveling last week, caught up with us today.  He’s already spoken to Miami’s David Rothman, Chair-elect of the Bar’s Criminal Law Section, who Gene says immediately agreed “there’s a problem“.  Finkelstein’s letter will shortly be in all the Section members’ hands, with the goal of raising the issues together with informed suggestions to the Board of Governors.

Here’s what else Gene had to say:

We’re looking for a solution, or at a minimum, improvement in the system.  It’s obviously an issue, there’s no question, not a lot of debate.  Look at the demographics, the types of infractions getting people into jail.  Attorney General Holder’s position is enlightening, and I am looking forward to those that are experts in that arena to give us some guidance on the problems at hand.  This is what needs to be done.

So there you have it.  As Gene says, this isn’t rocket science.  The Drug War is a dismal failure even to casual observers, while a tremendous human price is still being exacted on a daily basis in our most vulnerable communities.  Certainly most prosecutors and judges are sick of it too, but until an official body like the legislature or the Bar supports them, they will unfortunately almost always enforce the status quo.  And that’s why this is such a big deal.  A blue ribbon panel of prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges making up the Bar’s Criminal Law Section is being asked by their president to take notice of the sick elephant in the room, with the chance to make a real difference on a statewide basis, and perhaps nationally as well.  Quite simply, it’s unprecedented, and with Republicans finally joining the call for reform, the future is brighter than it’s ever been.

Definitely a wait, see, and pray the mainstream media takes notice …

** The Public Defender also sent Chief Frank Adderley this letter  back in February, regarding the legal harassment of Fort Lauderdale’s African-American citizenry.

9 Responses to “Florida Bar Joins Howard Finkelstein’s Fight To Reform Criminal Justice”

  1. Chaz Stevens, Festivus says:

    The Drug War.

    Another reason we can all be thankful (pun!) for those eight years of Ronald Reagan.

  2. modeengunch says:

    Wasn’t it during those Reagan years that Finkie had his little drug problems?

  3. Abolish the BOCC says:

    What a little putz.

  4. Chaz Stevens, Festivus says:

    But Howie got sober, whereas we’re still dealing with Reagan’s nonsense.

    At least Finklestein admitted he had a problem and did something about it … some 25 years ago.

  5. Sam The Sham says:

    It would surprise me if Finklestein or Chaz could remember the Reagan years.

  6. Chaz Stevens, Festivus says:

    I remember all of you Republican dumb fucks ecstatic over the election of a half-witted actor.

    A dude that nearly caused WWIII.

    Yeah, I remember that with crystal clear clarity.

  7. modeengunch says:

    To Chaz;

    Hope you realize how dumb you sound. Course you don’t.

  8. Howardtheduck says:

    Help me Howard was a drug addict? I never knew that…I just thought he never met a camera he didn’t like…I didn’t realize he was the Jordan Belfort of Broward ….cheers Howard


    You use the name “Howard The Duck.” That’s a good name, because the film makers behind “Howard The Duck” gauged the public about as accurately as your comment. The 1986 film was one of the most famous flops of its era.

    Any connection between Howard Finkelstein and Jordan Belfort, the fraudster in “Wolf of Wall Street”, is spurious.

    Howard Finkelstein has never hidden the fact that he had an abuse problem. He got elected despite of this past problem.

    He has fully recovered and now works to help the underprivileged.

  9. wrong year says:

    …Howard the Duck came out in 1986


    You are right. I fixed it.