Update: Judge Hurley’s Toughness On Homeless Should Win Him Support





Broward County Judge John “Jay” Hurley just got a Holiday gift from an assistant public defender this week – more votes for his re-election.

Assistant Public Defender Dale Miller sparred with Hurley over a $1,000 bond for a homeless man charged with felony drug possession.

It was Fenton Ross’ third drug arrest in a little more than a year.




Judge John “Jay” Hurley


This time his alleged drug of choice was Flakka, a synthetic that can cause “delirium, paranoia, and hallucinations that can lead to violent aggression and self-injury”, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

The courtroom clash was over this:

  • Assistant Public Defender Miller wanted Ross in the so-called pre-trial program, which allows him out of jail.
  • Judge Hurley slapped a $1,000 bond on the accused felon Ross.

The bond set by Hurley triggered the following exchange.

Miller: “Judge, since we’re going to warehouse Mr. Ross for a while.”

Hurley: “Hold on. Hold on, sir. You know what? Your unprofessionalism and your smart-aleck…”

Miller tried to cut in.

Hurley: “Sir, don’t even try. You need to pick up your professionalism. You’ve taken a shot at the court. It’s unprofessional.”

Miller also said,”Being homeless should not be an impediment to being [released] pre-trial. As long as he stays out of trouble and reports properly, that’s all that’s required.”

But at issue here is not your average homeless.  This is a guy alleged to have dangerous drugs who has no home.  Having no home is key to the bond, which is relatively low.

A bond is specifically allowed by the law to guarantee a defendant show up for future court appearances.  If Ross is homeless, he has no place to be even officially notified of future court dates because he is out on the street. Thus, he could end up with an arrest warrant, further legal complications and more paper work for the court system without a bond being set.

Politically speaking, many in the public believe this community has too many homeless with addiction problems.

To these voters, Hurley is a hero. Some no doubt believe that Hurley should have set a bigger bond.

It is not Hurley’s job to solve the age-old problem of homelessness.  His real job is hard enough — balancing the rights of the everyone including the public.  The judge must insure a defendant show up for trial, while insuring that the public is protected.

I’ve got some homework for Dale Miller, who is running for judge in 2016. Watch the harrowing independent movie Heaven Knows What, about homeless drug addiction. Written by the young woman who lived the story, this distressing acclaimed film is a real portrayal of some of the homelessness and the petty crimes they committed to buy booze and drugs.

It could be argued that hard-core addicted homeless deteriorate our quality of life.

Hurley is a bulwark against this. That is why by acting tough on homeless drug abusers, he wins support.


32 Responses to “Update: Judge Hurley’s Toughness On Homeless Should Win Him Support”

  1. Elroy John says:

    “Hurley is a bulwark against this.”

    Yes, in that the criminalization of addiction puts the problem “out of sight,out of mind” for some. But that of course is not a viable long-term solution as the last three or four decades of the “War on Drugs” has so clearly demonstrated.

    For the “Many in the public” who “believe this community has too many homeless with addiction problems,” maybe we should try looking to actual empirical data to find what really works in addressing this problem. I doubt you’ll find “acting tough on homeless drug abusers” among the resulting best practices.

    I would think a member of the Broward judiciary, in particular, would be more sensitive in their approach to this issue.


    There frankly is no solution to the problem of some homeless drug abuse. You can offer them rehab — Florida surely does not have enough — but there is a small group of homeless who just want to get high and will continue with substance abuse.

  2. Sam Jones says:

    Hey Buddy Nevins, did you know that Hurley has no one running against him so I think this article is garbage. Hurley is trying to make a name for himself.

  3. Old Timer says:

    Judge Hurley sets the standard. Good for him calling out the PD.

  4. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Broward County is already infamous for its “homeless hate” laws. While the decision to require a $1,000 bond in this instance seems reasonable under these circumstances (3-time repeat offender within the current year, using a very hard drug which often results in harm to both the user and others who happen to be be nearby), the perception of insensitivity here is something that Hurley certainly should have made far more genuine and diligent efforts to overcome. http://homelesshatelaws.blogspot.com/

  5. Marc Dickerman says:

    Go Get em John. I am proud to call you my friend

  6. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Drug abuse treatment like mental illness and rehab of veterans with wsr wounds are three great tragedies the public refuses to deal with by proper funding n programs. We have become a society of day traders real estate flippers n skeazy lobbyists in various guises. If you have substantial wealth you have 10 to 100 times better a chance to beat drug addiction mental illness or grave phtsical disabilities after milutart service.
    When was the last time the Ft Lauderdale City or Broward County Commissions devoted intellectual time as opposed to posturing time on these issues while spending hour after hour n dollar after dollar on luxury housing projects upscale shopping n massive development projects lower the quality of life n decrease affordable housing n small business and lower paying nobs. Dont blame Judge Hurley for society’s ills n let’s be honest Mr. Finkelstein is a left over Hippie who thinks he’s a cross of zBoss Tweed n Mother Teresa

  7. Concerned Citizen says:

    It’s funny how shortsighted Howard is. This is exactly the same as his campaign to make sure Di Pietro never made it to the bench, which almost certainly convinced Governor Scott to appoint her.

    He speaks in sound bytes. Sound bytes never helped anyone. Good lawyering does. Not banging the podium and making snide remarks like Howard wants his PDs to do. It’s unprofessional.

  8. A reader says:

    No one, absolutely no one can make a person do what they do not want to do unless a weapon is pointed at their head. The homeless drug abuser in this case is just like everyone else. He has made his choices. The consequences kick in according to his decisions.

    Yes, he needs help. He must be willing to accept the help.

  9. Chaz Stevens, MAOS says:

    Remember, when dealing with the issue of substance abuse, we’re not trying to make bad people good, we’re trying to make sick people healthy.

    Buddy, you are right … there are those who just want to get high, more than get clean.

    What to do in that case? Well, you didn’t get them stoned, and you can’t get them sober.

    So, follow the Al-Anon rule of “walk over their dead body with love.”

  10. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I disagree w/ the Judge .He was using his title as a judge to bully this public defender. The public defender’ job is to get his/her client out of jail or @ least a reasonable bond. So we lock this guy up, who pays we all do. Hurley doesn’t care but its the taxpayer that should be concerned. Order mandatory rehab etc, so let them rot in jail. #5-be very careful several of us are watchin you. Another one w/ waaay to much time on his hands-how about you get a job(seiler’ buddy)…

  11. Barack Obama says:

    Help is there for those who want it. A lot of these guys don’t want it.

  12. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    A Judge is the center of our Democracy n the Rule of Law; disrespect the Judge n you dispect the Law. The APD should get a course in manners.

  13. So says Chaz says:

    The minion who confessed on this very blog that he is an alcoholic, just about 2 years ago.

  14. Howard the Moron says:

    The APD behavior is what is expected from a Help me Howard mutt. A complete embarrassment. Good luck running for judge…NOT.


    APD is the abbreviation for assistant public defender.

  15. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    The confrontation described is a symptom of a larger problem — specifically, we do not have enough programs to house and treat so many thousands of homeless people, many of them chronic and in need of deep-end professional services. That’s why they end up in jails which is precisely the worst place to send them. They can’t be helped in jails.

    We do not have enough shelter beds, indeed, unforgivably, there’s a move away from creating more program beds, there’s a disguised move toward “creating more housing” but when you study that plan, it amoungs to a levitation act. A slight of hand, a puff of smoke going nowhere. What’s real? More homeless on our streets than ever before. That’s real.

    I speak to folks about this issue all the time, and there’s almost a sense of denial among some that we’ve got more homeless people living unhelped on our streets. It’s like, so much more convenient to just deny that we’ve got more homeless than ever before. And in Broward we’ve become so numb to it that we don’t even notice.

    Newsflash. These are human beings experiencing a huge personal crisis they cannot on their own overcome. One in five is a US military veteran. One in ten is a woman. 60% display signs of addiction and/or mental illness. For all of them, the longer they live on the streets the harder it will be to help them get off the streets and the more trouble they will cause for society.

    We send out teams to help runaway dogs as well we should. But a human being left to live on the streets, we can ignore? What the hell is that all about?

    The public defender is correct, we cannot warehouse homeless people in jails responsibly.

    They judge is correct, the court cannot discharge a person charged with a crime but to a proper location and while jail does NOT fit that bill, they have to go someplace. Releasing a homeless drug addict back to the streets is the same as helping them to fall deeper into their addiction.

    There must be alternatives!!!

    It falls to government to provide the alternatives and we have failed to do that in light of so many in need.

    A continuum of care has components that cannot be ignored yet the “homeless services” people of this decade have totally forgotten what a continuum of care is. Perhaps they should ask those who were around when that concept was invented.

    We’d tell them.

    You MUST have sufficient emergency shelter capacity to take most if not all homeless people off the streets. You MUST have transitional housing that can provide programs and services that help homeless people stabilize, regain their dignity, and prepare to re-enter independent living. You MUST have permanent housing and aftercare programs, with employment placement, so that the formerly homeless person can move on with their lives independently.

    Not one of those, three. Not two of those three. All three. As in a “continuum.” One won’t work, two won’t work, all three are needed and in the right amounts to meet the homeless problem.

    We don’t need new homeless strategies. We need them to follow the ones they never followed before. Homelessness won’t be solved except through a combination of housing and services, offered in strategically organized ways to undo a person’s homelessness. That’s it. Stop trying to recreate the strategy. Simply do what the continuum requires.

    We can’t blame public defenders for standing up for the dignity of human beings, they’re doing their job. We can’t blame judges for sentencing homeless people to jails when they’d happily sentence them to help if that help existed. They’re doing their jobs. It is government that isn’t doing the job. Government has to confront the problem of homelessness and in Broward we are failing to do that yet again.

    If we’re going to point fingers, let’s at least point in the right direction. The criminal justice system cannot solve homeless, but it can and should point at the government human services structure responsible for managing homelessness and say with a very clear voice.

    Do your damned job so we can do ours.




    You are correct, Angelo. There aren’t enough public drug rehab or mental health services.

    That’s not the issue here. The issue is whether Judge Hurley a defendant with no home and charged with felony possession of a drug can be trusted to return for future court hearings. That is the only issue before the court, not society’s problems. The bond is set when there is a question whether the defendant will show up in court.

    As far as the resources to treat the homeless, that is an issue for the Broward County Commission, the state Legislature and Congress. Realistically, there will never be enough government money for all the drug rehab and mental health care necessary. Realistically, there will always be homeless folks no matter what government does.

  16. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    I agree with 12. The issue was Miller was disrespectful, and Judge Hurley was correct in telling him to be more professional. Different judge could have found Miller in contempt, and have Miller sit in jail for a couple days to think about what he did.

  17. rightwing says:

    its a tough problem with no winners.doubt that the county commissioners will want any part of this. throwing 85 million at a hockey team that can’t even draw flies is their priority.pre trial only works for those with an established residence and phone #. there are so many more like this man. visit the 4th floor detox unit at the main jail. flakka, heroin, Xanax, and booze mixed with homelessness. a potentially lethal combination.or drive down broward blvd and see the homeless on park benches or makeshift cardboard mattresses.NO ONE in this country deserves to be homeless.can’t fault miller who has a thankless job day after day.

  18. Chaz Stevens, MAOS says:

    1 in 13 American adults struggle with alcohol.

    According to some statistics, less than 3% of folks who enter treatment will be sober a year later. Only 5% will be sober five years later.

    I can’t imagine anyone reading this who doesn’t have a close family, friend, colleague, or perhaps themselves who battle addiction.

    My very public disclosure of my own battle, as pointed out a few comments ago, shows that you can work yourself into, and then out of your mess.

    When it comes to drinking or sobriety, there isn’t anything special about my problem … my stories were common, my issues common, and my path out common.

    I once drank and drugged, now I don’t. If you expect me to find shame in that, well I do… It was shameful the hurt I caused family and loved ones, shameful the damage I did to my life, shameful the damage I did to my health.

    Alas, people make mistakes, we ask for forgiveness, and move on. That’s how it works in America.

    Unless you’re like Bob Norman’s boner … as he can’t seem to stop thinking about me.

  19. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    May I say I AGREE with 99 per cent of the complaints Commissioner Casillo says BUT ALSO 100 percent of what Publisher n Executive Editor Nevins says THEY BOTH LEFT OOT TWO VITAL FACTS which defeats homeless efforts on Miami Beach which has homeless programs as well as Key West n here in Broward County:

    we have a warm client so homeless people in colder parts of the country for obvious reasons come her

    America is a FREE country n we CANNOT TELL PEOPLE WHERE TO GO

    Even if you housed 100 percent of Ft Ft Lauderdale’s homeless – goal I think the people of Ft Lauderdale including our City Commission n Admi istration n myself – I know from my experience including as assistant Secretary of Area Board 4 in Manhattan you have X homeless, get plan fund X units u find 3 to 6 months another “new” homeless indiduals n families who moved into the district from an area without a homeless program or less quality programs.

    As long as the homeless population is nomadic not static Mr Nevins becomes 100 percent sadly correct

  20. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @15 – Commissioner Angelo Castillo – that has got to be the very best BrowardBeat post you’ve ever written – although I’ve been one of your sharpest critics on other occasions, I have to really congratulate you today for this very well-written perspective.

    @15 – Buddy – are you referring to the same Broward County Commission that just flushed another $86 MILLION dollars down the “Florida Panthers” toilet?!?

    Quoting Wikipedia: The Panthers’ 2014–15 home opener on October 12, 2014, set a team record for the lowest attendance at a home opener, with only 11,419 spectators in attendance. The team’s next game against the Ottawa Senators marked the team’s lowest attendance ever, with only 7,311 in attendance.

    Broward County Commissioners have $86 MILLION to throw at this money-destroying fiasco (they’ve been burning tons of our tax money on this altar for 17 YEARS now!!) and yet they can find not a single penny more for the homeless?!?

    Many homeless people are good citizens who have always “worked hard and played by the rules” but who still became homeless due to circumstances beyond their control.

    While it may not be possible for government to completely solve homelessness in each and every case, government should set (and reach) a reasonable goal: fully implementing Angelo Castillo’s “continuum of care” for every homeless person who is able and willing to be cared for in a way that enables them to once again live in their own self-sustaining, “humble but happy” home.

    To see decent people, law-abiding citizens, on the edge of survival, while County Commissioners deliberately weaken ethics rules and then shovel taxpayer’s cash into the pockets of wealthy team owners instead of caring for their fellow human beings – I honestly don’t know how some of these “County Commissioners” can live with themselves.

  21. Gustav Schmidt says:

    It’s an absolute joke that we continue to consider non-violent drug crimes to constitute felonies, which can be punishable by imprisonment of a year or more. Great deal for the privatized prison industry though…

  22. Howard the Moron says:

    Lets put a huge South Florida homeless treatment facility in Pembroke Pines….right next door to hypocrite Castillo’s house. Good job to Judge Hurley and the cheap election attention from Miller, since he is running for judge, should be addressed by the Bar. I know..they are useless too.

  23. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    #18, chaz-I get it now. So you have substance abuse issues . So we as a society gave you a second chance,acceptance, but yet you cast judgement etc. on others. Yes, you do. You have issues , me on the other hand just tryin to get from one day to the next. I work, I help my fellow man etc. Faith w/out works is dead(you). I’m assuming you practice a 12 step program. Who is your higher power?. Let people be people Chaz. Someone wants to put up a Christmas tree etc, manger, etc. What do you care. My father was an addict, oh I know you all suffer sooo much. The truth shall set you free,but at first it will make you miserable(how true in your case). Yes my father, oh I tried getting him sober etc. Drugs ,loose woman(I mean really), adultery, you name it. I was an enabler(would have given him the kitchen sink to shut him up). He was something else. Th e life of th e party, Mr.saturday night. So my point is Mr.Stevens who are you to judge us, ridicule are faiths etc. Yes, religion does not belong in gov’t but religious practices are. What tax payer money are we blowing? Judge Hurly should have sentenced this man to rehab, 30 day lock down. Maybe you are right Chaz less than 10% will make it, my father chose to be an addict. Me I wa s to busy selling every knock off hand bag under the sun just to keep us goin(I was good @ it). I wish I could go to rehab, and profess my vices(none), nooo I’m to busy earning a living, and keeping out of jail. So enjoy the holidays people, screw the drunks…..

  24. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    A stay in broward or Palm Beach rehab was quoted to me three years ago as costing 33 000 a month based on standard treatment Broward Cities’ employees received under their health plans – not luxury accomadations!

    How many working class or middle class families can kept relatives in rehab at 33 000 a month?


    That’s a ridiculously high amount.

  25. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    I took the weekend to think about the presumed fact that there will never be enough money to help the homeless. Gave it more thought than you might imagine.

    And I decided that such a view must be rejected in favor of demonstrating basic, decent respect for humanity.

    If we can find money to do lesser things, however important, then we can find money to save human lives from the shattering and dehumanizing misery of being forced to live on our streets. We should care enough about people in Broward to be that community that refuses to tolerate that outcome.

    It is a question of self-definition, how we confront our priorities, how we stack them, and then ascribing seriousness to those priorities when budget time comes.

    I’d like to suggest that there’s no priority greater than making sure we’re all safe and free from dehumanizing or dangerous threats. Off hand, I can’t think of any priority that’s more pressing.

    Look, let me take you back to 1998. Buddy will remember this.

    I had just been appointed human services director in Broward. We had a homeless tent “Tent City” it was called, standing right next to the bus depot off Broward Boulevard with 400 individuals living there. I was asked to close the tent down and most people thought it could not be done.

    I never had a doubt. We put together a team and an action plan and indeed we closed it in two weeks never to reopen again. No issues. How?

    Well, let’s break it down. There were 400 people there. 100 were deep end, chronic homeless people. We sent each to programs that could provide them with the help they needed.

    100 were out of towners who came here on vacation or looking for work. They started doing drugs here and didn’t leave. We contacted each of their families and worked with 100 of them to get them back home to where family was waiting for them. We followed up after their arrival to make sure they got there. That left us with 200.

    Half of those had places to stay in Broward, simply, they couldn’t drink or drug there. So we sat with them and family, forming re-unification plans. We created “social service contracts” that said the family would take the person back if they agreed to participate in outpatient substance abuse programs.

    The rest went into homeless shelters to find work or get back on their feet, a handful were immigrants needing to return to their countries, all manner of issues, but we got them off the streets to where they could get help.

    The tent went down in two weeks and everyone was placed. This was not possible without having a continuum of care in place that allowed for a variety of placement types.

    Not one of them was ready to go into permanent housing. Not one, and that’s not surprising at all.

    The notion that people are ready to go directly into their own apartment after having survived on the streets for months, years or longer, without any social service programming at all, flies in the face of everything we’ve learned about homelessness.

    In fact, the suggestion is insulting to the homeless. It has absolutely no credibility and no chance of success.

    The theory toys with the lives of our most vulnerable without offering any proven track record. Besides, relying on housing stock for placements that do not exist is silly. In every respect, this notion is an empty suit.

    That strategy known as “Rapid Rehousing” is a collossal failure and predictably so. For the few placed in housing, very soon there will be neighbor issues causing citizens to hate homeless programs. It’s just incredibly ill conceived except perhaps for homeless families, who need precisely that kind of help. Homeless individuals is a very different business than homeless families.

    Only the continuum of care offers homeless individuals and some portions of the families promise and the proof is no further than your nearest park or street corner. Broward has more homelessness than we have in a very, very long time.

    Now, I regret if some find these suggestions unwelcomed but I think the more important consideration is getting the job done for those we are under oath to help. I also think that these momentary discomforts pale in comparison to spending just one night living on our streets deprived of all human dignity.

    We do not endure unchecked homelessness on our streets because we lack money. We endure it because we fail to ascribe the degree of seriousness to the problem that it deserves.

    We know how to solve our homeless problem. We know how to make our community safer for all residents. We just need to stop making excuses and do it.


  26. Zowie says:

    I have nothing against Judge Hurley, but I’ll save my praise for judges who go after the rich and powerful, rather than those who jail the weak and poor or silence the lawyers who represent them.

  27. Chaz Stevens, Atheist says:

    And Shitty Activist;

    So, you’re an adult child of an addict?

    That also explains much.

  28. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    An additional angle I neglected to mention are the legal standards under which homelessness is viewed.

    I’ve always believed that homelessness should be seen by the courts as a serious personal crisis that in most cases requires professional intervention to avoid harm to self or others. There should be a per se presumption that unaddressed homelessness inevitably leads to danger to self or others. Because it does.

    In fact, if one is homeless, living on the streets, and meets a certain criteria — such as not having housing for over a month, and also having any form of substance abuse or mental illness (there may be additional criteria) I think that person needs to be considered a threat to self or others and brought under care.

    The fact that this is NOT the law causes much more homelessness than there should be. This is a bad and imprecise way to look at homelessness. That view trades humanity for a warped sense of civil liberty, and homelessness is an inherently dangerous thing in a wide variety of ways.

    This simple, common sense change in interpretation would END homelessness once and for all because then there would have to be a place for every person. The problem would have to be confronted, avoided in the first place, managed seriously. That extreme form of misery would be eradicated from the American experience. I happen to think that’s a good thing.

    We would rescue any animal that was homeless, as well we should. But a human being in the same condition we ignore. It simply does not compute.


  29. Angelo is a joke says:

    Let’s put the a homeless facilities in your neighborhood, comissioner. What you’re advocating for is a massive infringement on liberty. You’re so busy being paternalistic that you don’t realize most of these homeless want to be left alone. They don’t want help. The government shouldn’t be forcing it upon them.

    What about the lack of resources for everyone else? Why should you have to be homeless to receive government benefits?

    Honestly anyone who wants to get out of that situation should have a ladder out, but we shouldn’t be forcing this stuff on people. It’s hilarious you view people’s individual choices to remain homeless as needing to be “reprogrammed”— here’s a thought. Most are junkies or criminals. Ask people in Victoria park how they feel about homeless. What about all the property owners in this county or honest hard working floridians who are quite frankly sick of it?

    Homelessness is a problem in broward. Here’s a solution: bus tickets. Plane tickets. One way, anywhere in the continental US. Seeya!

  30. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Dear Mr Nevins

    I am packing for Maine Friday but will try to dig out the facilitys name before I leave. It is the Broward n Palm Beach Counties provider under one of Broward Countys contracts. I will Confidently mail you the details but cannot give details as a person’s privacy n medical history is involved. I was flabbergasted too when they quoted it between Seotember to December 2013.

  31. Actually Chaz says:

    It is you who is always mentioning Norman.

  32. Scowl says:

    Public Defender’s Office first to complain but WORST on the law yet again.