Dominican Police Find Wreckage of Small Drug Plane

first_imgBy Dialogo February 01, 2012 Human remains and plastic objects commonly used to wrap shipments of cocaine were found by Dominican authorities at the site of a plane crash, according to the country’s National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD). The small plane, apparently carrying cocaine, crashed in the rugged terrain of the rural community of Barahona, in the southwestern part of the Caribbean island, and its occupants died when the plane caught fire. Roberto Lebrón, a spokesperson for the anti-drug agency, stated that the same small plane had been chased in early March 2010. On that occasion, he said, six individuals who were preparing to receive a drug shipment at a clandestine airstrip were arrested. The men were subsequently released by a Barahona court on grounds of insufficient evidence. “We’re sending wrappings and objects to INACIF [the National Forensic Sciences Institute] for the required tests, the same as parts of the human remains to Forensic Pathology,” the spokesperson explained.last_img read more

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Operação Martillo – Ensaio fotográfico

first_imgBy Dialogo July 06, 2012 Navio da Guarda Costeira dos EUA participou de quatro interceptações de embarcações, inclusive uma em parceria com a Marinha da Nicarágua. Tripulante do cúter Valiant, da Guarda Costeira dos EUA, examina um contrabando interceptado em 31 de março cujo teste deu positivo para cocaína. (Cortesia da Guarda Costeira dos EUA). A Guarda Costeira dos EUA apreendeu 1.205 kgs de cocaína, no valor de US$ 32,5 milhões, num barco no Mar do Caribe em 31 de maio. (Cortesia da Guarda Costeira dos EUA) A fragata de mísseis guiados USS Nicholas colaborou com a Marinha colombiana na interceptação de uma lancha que transportava mais de US$ 59 milhões (R$ 114 milhões) em cocaína no oeste do Mar do Caribe em 6 de maio. (Cortesia da Marinha americana) Uma lancha com uma carga de 2.200 kg de cocaína foi interceptada por forças navais americanas e colombianas no oeste do Mar do Caribe em 6 de maio. (Cortesia da Marinha americana) Um semissubmersível de autopropulsão foi interceptado no oeste do Mar do Caribe em 30 de março por tripulantes dos cúters Decisive e Pea Island, da Guarda Costeira americana, e pela Marinha hondurenha. As tripulações de perseguição dos cúters americanos interceptaram a embarcação e detiveram quatro supostos contrabandistas. O semissubmersível afundou a milhares de metros d’água durante a operação. (Cortesia da Guarda Costeira dos EUA)last_img read more

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Colombian Air Force Begins Training to Participate in UN Peace Keeping Missions

first_imgBy Marian Romero/Diálogo August 30, 2016 The Colombian Air Force offers its broad experience in combat operations as a valuable asset for its potential involvement in peacekeeping operations. Last June, Colombian Air Force (for its Spanish acronym, FAC) officers began their training with the seminar “Using Air Power in Peacekeeping and Crisis-Management Missions” with the aim of furthering Colombia’s bid to join the United Nation’s Peacekeeping Forces. Experts from the Canadian, U.S., Uruguayan and Argentine Air Forces attended this event to share their logistical perspectives and experience as part of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. Seventy people, including doctrine management officers and commanders of specific units of the FAC, took part in this annual academic event designed to improve the technical capacities of the different units and commands. The theme of the tactical doctrine seminars changes each year, according to the FAC’s direction and needs. General Fernando Losada, chief of the FAC’s Air Education Command, stated that “at this time, the FAC is moving toward a focus on peacekeeping in the international arena. We have developed a broad spectrum of abilities and skills that could be very useful for peacekeeping missions. This is the first time that the FAC has concentrated on peacekeeping scenarios in its doctrine and has channeled its efforts towards possible international management”. Colombia takes steps toward the international arena The initiative began with an accord signed in New York on January 26th, 2015, by the UN and the Colombian Government regarding contributions to the UN agreements on reserve forces for peacekeeping operations (PKO). In order for the accord to come into force, Colombian authorities added Art. 122 on cooperation agreements for international missions and peacekeeping operations to 2015’s Bill 164 within Colombia’s National Development Plan for 2014-2018. Since then, many members of the FAC have participated in courses and training in Canada and at the UN with the aim of becoming Staff Officers of the UN Peacekeeping Forces. “The first steps to joining this select group of Peacekeeping Forces are to begin an effective training that enhances our current capabilities and gives us a chance to gain relevant knowledge. We also need political backing via the enactment of Bill 164,” Gen. Losada explained. “We are heading in the right direction. Rather than rushing forward, we want to be ready to fully achieve our goal. This seminar ratifies the best practices we want to institute at the FAC to facilitate its integration with the UN Peacekeeping Forces. The FAC will continue to carry out its constitutional mission to maintain the integrity of its national territory, defend the nation, and provide support for internal crises. At the same time, it will share with the world the experience it has gained over several decades of conflict in Colombia.” Colombia’s vision The tactical doctrine seminars draw on the relevant experience of other countries, such as this year’s guests from the United States, Canada, Uruguay, and Argentina. The seminar also featured a presentation by an expert from Colombia’s Ministry of Defense about the connection between this strategy and the National Development Plan, the budget, as well as competency planning. Additionally, the FAC’s experts took a forward-looking approach. Gen. Losada spoke of the potential security challenges they may face in the future. Participating countries’ experience Uruguay has more experience in peacekeeping operations than any other Latin American country, which makes its perspective on systematization, associated risks, and management relevant to Colombia. By mid 2015, Uruguay had more than 1,500 Troops deployed in peace keeping missions in Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Kashmir, the Ivory Coast, and the Multinational Force of Observers in the Sinai Peninsula. According to a 2015 statement from Dr. Gabriela González, general director general of Defense Policy for the Uruguayan Ministry of Defense, “Uruguay ranks 21 among 122 world countries contributing Troops and police forces to UN peacekeeping operations.” For its part, Argentina has become an academic leader in Latin America for combined peacekeeping operations. The Joint Forces Staff College of the Argentine Armed Forces led the course on staff officers and joint planning. The course focused on operational strategy and joint military planning and was designed for chief officers of the Air Forces of Argentina and other countries. Canada also has a long history of involvement in peacekeeping operations, crisis management, and humanitarian support. According to Commander Lori McAllister, from Canada’s Joint Operations Command, Canada’s greatest strength has been perfecting logistics for joint and combined operations, making its operations in other countries more efficient. The U.S. Air Force’s contribution to the seminar centered on the origin and operation of the Joint Air Operations Command and Control Center. According to U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Atilio Usseglio’s presentation, the center was created in response to the perceived need to coordinate all commands in a unified manner, following a single chain of command when forces are deployed. This ensures that operations are carried out in an orderly way and eliminates the possibility of overlapping objectives between units. “This working approach, used by the United States since the ’80s, is very valuable for coordinating combined operations and preventing duplicated efforts. At the FAC, we apply all of these lessons learned through experiences such as the seminar,” Gen. Losada said. Potential FAC contributions to UN peacekeeping missions The FAC has developed other capabilities not directly related to combat, including firefighting experience and Integral Action operations, which involve the coordinated efforts of multiple government and private agencies working to achieve a humanitarian goal. These actions focus on reconstruction, law enforcement, and governance, key elements for maintaining peace in any given territory. “The FAC is a successful organization, battle-tested for a conflict like the one we had in Colombia. We have the experience needed to participate in combined operations, provided we receive training on international standards,” concluded Gen. Losada.last_img read more

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Brazil, Colombia, and Peru Reinforce Capabilities in Naval Exercise

first_imgBy Gonzalo Silva Infante/Diálogo September 26, 2018 In early September, the navies of Brazil Colombia, and Peru concluded BRACOLPER 2018, an annual, multinational naval exercise, after two months of training in the Amazon River. The exercise, in its 44th edition, began in Leticia municipality in the Colombian Amazon, continued in Iquitos, Peru; and ended in Manaus, Brazil. Hundreds of navy service members assigned to the Amazon, as well as marines and naval aviation aircraft of the three countries took part in the exercise. Brazil featured the Roraima and Raposo Tavares river patrol ships, as well as the Oswaldo Cruz hospital ship. Colombia set out with the ARC Arauca ship, while Peru deployed the BAP Castilla and BAP Clavero river gunboats. The objective of the exercise is to train personnel in combined riverine operations to fight narcotrafficking, which uses rivers and their tributaries to transport drugs. The exercise also seeks to increase forces’ capabilities to counter other illegal activities, such as illegal mining and trafficking of flora and fauna. “The BRACOLPER operation represents an effort from the Brazilian, Colombian, and Peruvian navies to maintain naval collaboration in the Amazon,” Peruvian Navy Vice Admiral Silvio Alva Villamón, commander of Amazon Operations, told Diálogo. “It evolved progressively, from basic combined riverine operation activities to procedures and doctrine developed to facilitate more complex exercises, adapting to the threats of illegal activities and expanding spaces and mechanisms for information exchange.” Interoperability BRACOLPER 2018 participants conducted landing, sailing, transit, river control, shooting, and communications exercises. In addition, units participated in rapid-response operations and tactical maneuvers, simulating scenarios featuring the most common crimes troops face. “The main scenario comprises the combined work of the three navies during river control in the Amazon basin to counter criminal action, as well as the combined marine landing and the naval fire support exercise,” Peruvian Navy Commander Roy Pino Huamán, commander of the Amazon Riverine Units Fleet, told Diálogo. “The main challenges were the river control maneuvers and rapid response exercises due to the river’s conditions—current strength, shallow waters, and weeds.” During the exercise, naval aviation teams simulated an air assault with helicopters and a counterattack response by riverine units. The exercise also evaluated crews’ capabilities in immediate response procedures. “The threats that armed forces face in the Amazon involve criminals of different kinds who travel through vast areas,” Vice Adm. Alva said. “[These threats demand] of the armed forces a high degree of collaboration, coordination, and intelligence exchange, and sometimes require direct support from neighboring countries’ armed forces to close off spaces, continue with chases, make interventions, or facilitate means for medical evacuations, among others.” The exercise is an opportunity to conduct combined training to confront common situations, and exchange knowledge and experiences that strengthen interoperability. The collaboration also reinforces ties of friendship among neighboring countries. “Participants in this process know how to keep up with the pace of integration,” Vice Adm. Alva said. “The integration and communication bridges developed at every level of command, and personnel are essential for the trust achieved and contribute every year to the great expectations of this exercise.” Uninterrupted BRACOLPER 2018 took place in three phases, including coordination meetings to hone the final details before carrying out the exercises, and debriefings. Critical evaluations not only highlighted the participants’ achievements, but also contributed beneficial ideas for the three countries—such was the case in the second phase, which focused on rapid-response exercises with marine participation. “When this phase was over, service members held a debriefing to evaluate the river control methods each navy carried out, and each navy gave a presentation about the capabilities of its marine corps,” Cmdr. Pino said. “It was recommended that we study the possibility of conducting professional exchange visits to marine detachments of participating nations.” The annual exercise is held without interruption since 1974, when the tri-border navies opted to combine their efforts to counter regional challenges. The exercise also serves as a cause for celebration, as its three phases coincide with the independence days of Colombia, July 20th; Peru, July 28th; and Brazil, September 7th. Upon completion of the exercise, the navies started to plan for BRACOLPER 2019, with teleconferences and in-person meetings. According to Vice Adm. Alva, the planning is assigned to the Brazilian Navy’s Ninth Naval District, the Colombian Navy’s Southern Naval Force, and the Peruvian Navy’s Amazon Operations Command. “We developed channels of ongoing communication at the command, operations, and intelligence levels,” Vice Adm. Alva said. “We are aware that border areas are porous, allowing for a flow of all kinds of crimes, and combined patrols, information exchanges, and mutual support [consolidate] each country’s operations.”last_img read more

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Trinidad and Tobago Fosters Gender Integration in the Military

first_imgBy Geraldine Cook/Diálogo March 08, 2019 The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) integrated women into its ranks for the first time on July 1, 1980. Since then, the military organization promotes gender diversity through integration, education and a focus on equity. “To be a woman in TTDF means that we have an opportunity to make a difference,” said Trinidad and Tobago Regiment Major Jozette McLean, the first female commander of the Support and Service Battalion and the first female commandant of the battalion’s Army Learning Center, to Diálogo. “We’ve shown we can stand toe-to-toe with the men; we’ve also shown that despite having to embrace the traditional roles of women, we are still able to transition into military professionals and keep pace with everything.” After 23 years in the military, Maj. McLean feels TTDF gave her the same opportunities as her male counterparts. “TTDF allows women —once they meet the standards— to be employed in any job,” she said. “It’s even better now, because we have female commanders, females at the highest levels making a lot of decisions. We’re fully integrated.” Women in TTDF compromise 13.60 percent of the troops. Of those, 7 percent are female officers and 93 percent are enlisted. They have progressed from administrative and support roles, such as cooks, to pilots, ship captains, and other high-ranking positions. “There are no barriers for women in regard to their contribution in any area or specialization they may choose,” said TTDF Rear Admiral Hayden Pritchard, chief of Defense Staff “I have seen the effectiveness of an organization that has removed barriers to the participation of women. It’s more useful and effective to utilize the talents and energies of all elements of the military in an integrated way.” Making a difference Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Kele-Ann Bourne, in charge of logistics, training, and medical services administration, remembers one of her first challenges as a new soldier in 2002. “I didn’t fit right in the uniform. A lot of the uniforms back then were not tailored or custom made for women, but it didn’t matter,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure I was achieving our objectives.” TTDF made organizational and logistics adjustments to uniforms, accommodations, policies, and procedures to better integrate women in the military. “The main benefit of being here is to serve our country and be able to see the men and women developing under our command […]”, said Lt. Cmdr. Bourne. “You have subordinates that look up to you, and you’re to provide guidance and mentorship that a lot of them don’t have in their homes,” she said. For Trinidad and Tobago Regiment Warrant Officer Class 1 Nadine Pompey, command sergeant major, being a soldier is rewarding. “As a female soldier, we have to be willing and able to perform not as a female, but as a soldier,” she said. “Even though we are women in traditional roles —being mothers and so forth—, we are expected to stand alongside with our counterparts, our brother soldiers, to perform as they do, and even better.” WO Pompey joined TTDF in 1992. “The biggest challenge for women in the military is to balance work and family life. Sometimes it’s challenging for a woman to continue to play the traditional role and be a leader within the organization,” she said. “However, I think that within everything we do, we have done quite well.” Twenty-seven years later, she has no regrets and is convinced she made the right choice. “We were very small in numbers then. I was a clerk. From then to now, women have grown tremendously in terms of what we do,” said WO Pompey. “We have continued to strive, to achieve alongside with our male counterparts, and to grow as a part of TTDF.”last_img read more

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Colombian Forces Destroy Massive Cocaine Laboratory

first_imgBy Myriam Ortega/Diálogo June 11, 2020 In late April, the Military Forces of Colombia, with support from the Office of the Attorney General’s Technical Investigation Corps and the United States, found a large complex for the production of cocaine in a rural area of ​Nariño department, in the Pacific coast of Colombia. The complex, consisting of eight structures scattered over a ​​1 square-kilometer area in the San Sebastián district, Tumaco municipality, had the capacity to produce 6 tons of drugs monthly.During the operations, troops from the Pacific Naval Force’s 4th Marine Corps Brigade and the Army’s Counternarcotics Brigade dismantled a solid and liquid materials warehouse, laboratories to process coca base paste, and a crystallization plant for cocaine hydrochloride, said the Navy in a press release.The troops found 3,575 gallons of liquid materials, as well as 390 gallons of coca base paste in process and more than 1 ton of cocaine hydrochloride in the complex. (Photo: Colombian Navy 4th Marine Corps Brigade)“Service members found more than 4.3 tons of solid materials and 3,575 gallons of liquid materials in the complex, as well as 390 gallons of coca base paste in process and more than 1 ton of cocaine hydrochloride,” Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo said on Twitter.According to the Navy, the organized armed group United Guerrillas of the Pacific, a dissident group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, operated the complex — the largest found so far in 2020.The Military Forces have dismantled 29 narcotrafficking facilities and seized more than 50 tons of cocaine in the Colombian Pacific from January to mid-May 2020, said the Pacific Naval Force. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2020 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the Colombian Armed Forces destroyed more than 4,200 cocaine labs and seized about 378 tons of cocaine nationwide in 2019.The operation“The operation began after we received naval intelligence indicating that there was a cocaine hydrochloride production center in the general area of the San Sebastián district,” Colombian Navy Rear Admiral Hernando Enrique Mattos Dager, commander of the Tumaco-based 72nd Poseidón Task Force against Narcotrafficking, told Diálogo. “During the planning process, conducted with the Counternarcotics Brigade, we had the support of the DEA [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration], which provided us information about the area through satellite photos, which helped us do the planning.”With the information gathered, the military troops left Tumaco to carry out reconnaissance of the area. In four days, the units deactivated 19 grenades and two cylinders loaded with 35 kilograms of explosives before locating the structures, the Navy reported.During reconnaissance activities, service members captured five armed individuals who were guarding the area and rescued two minors who also helped to alert the narcotraffickers, Colombian Navy Colonel Nelson Ahumada Ojeda, commander of the 4th Marine Corps Brigade, told Diálogo.“One of the key outcomes of discovering this mega crystallization plant is that we prevented 6 tons of cocaine hydrochloride from being commercialized in U.S. and Central American markets,” Rear Adm. Mattos said. “This represents a loss of about $198 million for the illegal organization.”“What is complex about this operation is seeing how narcotrafficking is able to build this kind of structure in such a remote place, and secondly, seeing the forest and environmental damage that narcotrafficking activities cause,” Col. Ahumada concluded. “We also found that many of the people who work in those areas do not get paid; at this point, they are essentially working to be able to consume psychoactive substances.”last_img read more

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Florida courts brace for budget fallout

first_img November 1, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Florida courts brace for budget fallout Florida courts brace for budget fallout Senior Editor With a prediction of poorer and slower services to litigants and fewer services for children caught up in the court system, Florida judges, prosecutors, and defenders are bracing for the outcome of the special legislative session to address the state’s budget shortfall. The session began October 22, as this News went to press, and was scheduled to end no later than November 1. But even before the session, called to address an estimated $1.3-billion revenue deficit, courts and related agencies were cutting back and planning for possible further budget reductions. In a September 26 memo to chief judges, Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Wells ordered a halt to all hiring, except for judicial assistants, and a moratorium on purchases of equipment and office furniture. In turn, Wells was asked by the House and Senate appropriations committees to identify how the court budget could be cut by five percent. Trial courts also began coping with cutbacks in state programs that affect their operations, such as not having probation officers in every courtroom. And state attorneys and public defenders are grappling with the real possibility of furloughing employees and not being able to handle their caseloads. The problem, say many court officials, is their budgets are mostly salaries with little other spending, and any cuts mean reductions in service. “We don’t have much wiggle room,” said Skip Babb, Fifth Circuit public defender and president of the Florida Public Defenders Association. “We don’t anticipate a five or seven or 10 percent cut in arrests or informations filed or people charged with capital crimes and facing the death penalty. Our caseloads are already overloaded. We’re in quite a dilemma. We have a constitutional responsibility to do this work, and we’re already busting at the seams.” The budget problems began last summer when the nation’s economic sluggishness led to a decline in state income. Gov. Jeb Bush sent out letters to state agencies, including the courts and related agencies, asking them to begin finding ways to cut spending. The September 11 terrorist attacks put a further dent in state revenues, because of a decline in sales taxes collected from tourists. State experts estimated on October 15 that the shortfall would be around $1.3 billion for the current budget year and $1.7 billion for next year. Aside from Bush’s efforts and his call for a special session, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Fiscal Responsibility Council sent letters to all state departments, including judicial branch agencies, asking them how they would cut their budgets by five percent. A spokesman for the Senate committee said that is not an indication the legislature will make an across-the-board five-percent cut, but the information will help lawmakers figure out where to make cuts, both in the special session and in next year’s regular session which will draw up the 2002-03 budget. “I see no alternative but to impose a hiring freeze on all positions in the branch, with the one exception of judicial assistants,” Chief Justice Wells wrote in his memo to chief circuit judges. “Additionally, I am imposing a moratorium on the purchase of equipment or furniture. I also encourage you to make every effort to limit travel in your court and to curtail other routine expenditures.” Circuits where that imposes an undue hardship can apply to Wells for an exception. “I know these measure are difficult and will impede normal operations, but we have no other choice until we have a better understanding of what the reductions will be,” he wrote. While that memo was going out, Wells was also working on the reply to the legislative budgeting panels on how the courts could cut five percent of their budgets. His letter noted that the courts have a constitutional duty to provide access for all people to “a functioning and efficient court system.” “[M]y first response to you is that the judicial branch cannot meet your target of a five-percent reduction in the recurring current budget without serious harm to the courts’ constitutional responsibility,” Wells wrote. He recommended that no judgeships be cut and that none of the judgeships approved by the legislature earlier this year effective January 2 be delayed. Meeting the five-percent goal, Wells added, would require these cuts: $453,500 from the Foster Care Citizen Review Panels in seven counties; almost $1.2 million from the Juvenile Alternative Sanctions Program; $692,636 from Dade County’s Voices for Children program; almost $4.2 million from the guardian ad litem program; almost $1.7 million from the attorney ad litem program in Orange and Osceola counties; $200,000 from a Dade County truancy program; $90,262 from a guardianship monitoring program in Broward County; $992,760 from the indigency examination program; $325,000 from pre-indictment witness expenses; and $10,500 from the Drug Court Steering Committee. “We emphatically state that these trial court items should not be cut,” Wells added. “All but four of these items directly relate to children, which we all believe have to be a priority even in difficult fiscal periods. If we do not pay for these kinds of children’s services now, it is our definite experience that we will pay much more later. Certainly, the guardian ad litem program should be a priority.” Wells said if any of those programs were cut, it should be ones that benefit only local areas and statewide programs should be spared. He went on to say there were savings that could be made in the court budget by forgoing new funding in the 2001-02 budget and curtailing other programs. Those include: $72,382 in Supreme Court operating cost reductions; $454,365 in service reductions from the Office of the State Courts Administrator; $288,258 in cost reductions for the district courts of appeal; $1.2 million by not spending new funding for the guardian ad litem program; not spending $760,000 for improvements in the Pinellas and Brevard counties drug court programs; $371,796 from the foster care review programs in Clay, Duval, Nassau, Marion, and Manatee counties; and $200,000 from the children’s advocacy program in Hillsborough County. The chief justice concluded that while he wanted to be frank on why it would be harmful to cut five percent from the courts’ budget, “I want you to be expressly assured that I am committed to restricting funding requests to the activities necessary to provide services essential to the people of this state.” Among the circuit courts, the budget crisis has had a variable impact, depending at least somewhat on what programs are funded locally and which depend on state dollars. For example both Broward (17th Circuit) and Palm Beach (15th Circuit) counties have court psychology programs to which judges can refer parties when determining visitation in divorce cases and in dependency and delinquency cases. The state-funded Broward program has been cut, while the locally funded Palm Beach program is continuing. Seventeenth Circuit Chief Judge Dale Ross said the termination of that program has had two effects on the court. The psychological services have to be sent to outside sources at a greater expense, which means indigents can’t afford the services, and it takes longer to get the services and therefore slows the handling of cases. The circuit has also lost a guardianship investigator from its probate division and may lose a general master that is part of its family court plan, he said. Any further cuts could be catastrophic, Ross said, adding, “As you well know, the court doesn’t have programs. Ninety-six percent of the court’s budget is comprised of the judges’ and the assistants’ salaries; everything else is four percent. There’s really no room to cut.” If there are cuts, there will be “loss of service to the public and caseloads will back up,” Ross said. “What I hope doesn’t happen is when you have a single mother who desperately needs that child support that it doesn’t trickle down so she’s without that child support.” Fifteenth Circuit Chief Judge Edward Fine said cuts to non-court programs can have an impact on courts. He noted that a Department of Corrections pretrial intervention program that kept 1,800 people out of jail has been cut, which could place a greater burden on the courts. And he’s concerned the current budget crisis is the precursor of a much bigger problem when, under mandate of a constitutional amendment passed in 1998, the state is required to pick up a larger share of court funding no later than July 2004. He said the 15th Circuit has gotten a variety of private and federal grants and county funding for programs that not only help the courts function more efficiently but also improve services to residents. Those include such things as a two-year, $400,000 grant to create an elder court center to serve the county’s 300,000 people who are 60 or older, a federal grant to set up a drug court, and a county-funded program that has a social worker/certified mediator meet with divorcing couples who are having difficulty over child custody. “People come in,” Fine said of the latter program, “and she’s been able to resolve 80 to 90 percent of the problems right on the spot. That takes zero judge time.” Most circuits similarly have a variety of specialized programs, many with non-state funds, to meet unique local needs that might not be funded, not because of a tight budget but because the legislature might not even notice them, he said. “My worry is not that there is a budget cut; it’s more that we’re going to be below their radar screen on things that if they knew about, they would fund, even with a budget cut,” Fine said. “We’re rooted a lot deeper into the community than just adjudicating cases. The legal system is a lot more involved than even people who work in it everyday are aware of. We have all of these little specialized programs. They’re not just do-good things, they serve important social needs.” Aside from direct reductions that could come in court funding, Fine said some cuts to other state agencies have affected the courts. He noted the Department of Corrections has reduced the number of probation officers, which means that officers are no longer in every court. Consequently, he said, when a judge sentences a defendant to probation, an officer is not always there to immediately process that person. In some cases, the defendant has been ordered to report on his own to the probation office for processing. Judge Charles Mitchell, acting chief judge of the Fourth Circuit, said the hiring freeze had been implemented there, but the budget crisis had not otherwise affected court operations. Like Judges Fine and Ross, he was worried that the legislature’s cuts would hit support programs like the guardians ad litem or the drug court. “We are concerned about the support programs we have worked very hard over the years to get in place and work very well,” Mitchell said. “It’s very difficult to cut our budget because we cut programs if we do.” The situation may be even more critical for state attorneys and public defenders. Of their state budgets, 95 percent or so goes directly to salaries. “We have been affected,” said Third Circuit State Attorney Jerry Blair, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. “Our [association] Education Committee met last week and we have eliminated some seminars. “Virtually every state attorney office has implemented a policy limiting travel for training and other purposes,” he said. “For all intents and purposes, out-of-state travel has been eliminated by all of the offices.” Further cuts “are ultimately going to have to come out of dollars that were intended for salaries,” Blair added. “That will come either from furloughs or layoffs.” The timing, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, also couldn’t be worse, he said. “With all of the emphasis on public safety, I don’t think local law enforcement agencies will be cutting back on their activities. Most of these cases are going to be in the state system, and we’re going to be allocating fewer state resources to deal with them.” Babb, the Florida Public Defenders Association president, agreed. He said with U.S. attorneys offices likely devoting more time to anti-terrorism cases, other cases are likely to wind up in state courts. “We have 95 percent of our budget statewide in salaries,” he said. “And we anticipate if we have to take substantial cuts, we’ll have to tell people on our staffs, ‘Here’s the work and it’s increasing, but we don’t want you to come to work a couple days a month.’” Like state attorneys, public defenders have also cut training costs, and Babb said he’s concerned that, with ever more complex laws, there will be more errors that will lead to appellate courts ordering new trials. Another worry, Babb said, is last year, with Gov. Bush’s support, the legislature approved salary boosts for public defender and state attorney staff. That was important because of high attorney turnover as private sector pay rose and public sector compensation failed to keep pace. Those increases are scheduled to go into effect in January — unless they are cut as part of the budget crisis. Those incentives, Babb said, helped both recruit new attorneys and retain existing ones. “We are anticipating that if that is. . . withdrawn, the legal staffs in public service are going to see a mass exit,” he said. “And that affects public safety.” The crisis could also affect county governments. Babb said public defenders, if they have inadequate staff to provide competent representation, must withdraw from cases, with counties picking up the bill. That already happens in five circuits, he said, the most notable being Miami-Dade County which pays the salaries for 82 attorneys in the 11th Circuit Public Defender’s Office. “If everybody else is put into that situation, then counties are in somewhat of a predicament because these costs are unexpected and unbudgeted, and some counties are already at the cap in their millage,” Babb said. “How are they going to pay for this if they haven’t anticipated it was coming?” Babb has communicated these and other concerns to Bush in letters responding to requests to find savings. In an August 10 letter, he summarized the situation as: “Since this time last year, our workload has been increased by the certification and funding of 36 new judges, by more Jimmie Ryce cases, and by the 10-20-Life and prison release reoffender laws, just to mention a few of the factors. Our attorneys’ caseloads remain dangerously overloaded, but we were not granted any new positions last session. In short, because our work continues to grow along with the responsibilities attached thereto, we simply cannot identify budget cuts without compromising our ethical and professional responsibilities.”last_img read more

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Stresslines: Meeting the challenge of balancing work and life

first_imgHow can you maintain balance in your work-life equation in a world that demands more and more of your time?How can you meet your clients’ needs without experiencing unacceptably long hours and debilitating stress?Is it even possible to find reasonable balance in a work world as heated up and competitive as ours is today?The answer is: Yes, it is possible. But it is a qualified yes. To gain that elusive sense of balance, a lawyer needs to take affirmative action and definite steps in furtherance of the change that he or she craves.For 17 years, I have counseled attorneys on their career quandaries, and for 17 years, lawyers have told me about the problems they encounter functioning as attorneys and assuming other roles they undertake outside of work.Being fathers, mothers, caretakers for aging parents, contributors to society — not to mention finding time for themselves — can create real problems.Over time, I have also seen the poisonous effect of stress on lawyers: compromised health, broken marriages, alcoholism, depression, and burnout. And I have helped many lawyers to craft a work-life that creates better balance.Some lawyers need to leave the law to find the balance they seek. But most lawyers do not need to abandon their careers in law to find a personally gratifying mix of work-life and personal life.To achieve balance, begin by identifying your personal mix of life “nutrients” and “toxins.” Then learn coping mechanisms that help you add more nutrition and avoid more toxins in your life. Finally, do rudder repair on the way you approach your work-life. I’ll explain.First, try this exercise. Make a list of the activities you need in your life to feel happy, fulfilled, and stimulated. These are your nutrients.Do you need more time for your family? Do you crave the opportunity to travel? Do you want to spend more time doing work that benefits the world in a meaningful way?Next, make a list of the activities you need to avoid if at all possible. These are your toxins. For example, do you want to avoid dealing with your overbearing boss? Do you loathe litigation? Would you be happy if you could avoid fighting all the time with opposing counsel?Once you have your list of nutrients and toxins, grade each item on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest in terms of how strongly you feel about needing to include or to avoid the activity in your life.Then go back over the list and grade your current work-life in terms of how close or far you are from achieving the items on your list.For example, many of my clients list “more time with family” as a 10, and grade their current work-life mix as a 2 or 3 when it comes to that element. Clearly their work-life flunks when it comes to ability to actualize that wish for more family time.You can learn a great deal about yourself from this simple exercise. It provides clear and convincing evidence for many of my clients that work-life is failing particular needs in specific areas.I like this exercise because it is a useful tool to illuminate the causes of dissatisfaction and highlight personal priorities. It forces people to identify what they want, rather than what the world of significant others wants from them.It changes the glasses through which we see the world. From your perspective are you getting what you need? If not, how, specifically, is your work-life failing to meet your needs?Having identified your priorities, the next step in furtherance of change is to vow to keep your needs in mind as you go through life.This is not so easy. You will have to work hard to maximize opportunities that satisfy your needs. Like the prince in the standard fairy tale, you will be beset by challenges and diversions that will conspire to keep you from achieving your goals.Every knock on the door, every phone call, every option presented to you should be scrutinized and critically assessed against your personal list of nutrients and toxins. Will engaging in this activity further your personal goals or take you further away from realizing them?Good appellate argument presentation provides a point of reference. In an appellate argument, you want to stay mindful of the main points you must make to the panel of judges before your time is up. As you make your points, the judges fire questions at you that distract you from your purpose.A good appellate lawyer gets back to his or her agenda and continues to assert the key points of his or her case. Your career advocacy should follow the same standard. Although you may be interrupted, always look for the chance to advance your overriding goals.To advance your goals you will need to be able to say no. Conquering overwork means drawing the line in the sand, setting limits for yourself and others, but doing so judiciously and diplomatically.An aspiring associate must be careful about refusing work from his or her partner on a routine basis. However, if your partner is disorganized and routinely throws you curve balls that spoil your weekend plans, you might need to change practice areas, work your way toward an alliance with a different partner, or move to a different workplace altogether.Whenever you must say no, remember to say it nicely. Show some authentic concern for the person you are disappointing. Try to make up for your transgression by doing something to help that same person at a future time.I have heard lawyers lament that good guys finish last. That is not what I have seen over the years as I watch countless careers unfold and evolve. What I see is that people who are considerate of others are recognized by their peers in their legal neighborhood.Everyone knows who is nice and who is not. The nice guys who are also capable attorneys have more career options over time and generally fare better in the lottery of life.So say no to overwork for the sake of self-preservation, your family, and your law firm, but try to be considerate of others in the process.What about saying no to clients? Many lawyers have trouble putting limits on overly demanding clients. Some clients are a lot like kids. They need you now. They need reassurance. They want you to work magic.Lawyers are often afraid to disappoint their clients because we live in the age of the better deal. If lawyers disappoint their clients, they may go elsewhere.But imagine what the world would be like if your demanding three-year-old child determined whether you would get a pay check. “Gimme the candy now or you won’t be paid!” In no time flat we would all be raising a bunch of spoiled brats.In effect, some lawyers have let overly demanding clients behave like spoiled brats. Many good attorneys seem to be unable to object to unreasonable demands made by clients.Instead of helping the client to be more realistic, attorneys succumb to client pressure to pursue fruitless legal avenues or nonproductive, ill-advised motions or other legal maneuvers. This course of action leads to more work than is necessary and adds to the imbalance of work and personal life.Good parents know that when a child’s perceptions are off base, he or she may respond to reassurance. If a child mistakenly believes that there is a monster under the bed, the good parent does not say, “I bet you’re right; let’s go get the judge to issue an emergency TRO to keep it from hurting you.”Ridiculous as that scenario sounds, many lawyers engage in acts of equal or greater folly to avoid disappointing powerful, overbearing, or fearful clients.Lawyers need to be able to set reasonable limits for clients. They need to set these limits with a thorough understanding of the ramifications of such advice for their clients’ cases. That ability to call the shots and manage the case is part of being a professional.For an attorney to have the courage to set reasonable limits for clients, he or she must have faith in his or her ability to attract new clients. A lawyer cannot be too fearful about whether the client will take his marbles and go play elsewhere. Business organizational and development skills are key.If you are able to attract many clients, you will able to assert your plan for case management with the difficult client without worrying that you and your family will starve. Portable practice can be an effective pass code to a more balanced life.Even if you establish a loyal base of clients, you still need to manage your practice with an eye to efficiency. Delegate to others by teaching them to do their jobs correctly. If their work-product is unsatisfactory do not infantilize them by redoing their tasks yourself. Reeducate them.Learn to be very organized. Put everything away at the end of the day. Force yourself to write down anything that might slip your mind, and put small scraps of paper into envelopes that are clearly marked. Then get those envelopes into the correct files. Keep a large appointment calendar to keep track of meetings and important due dates. Organization is a matter of habits.Procrastination is inefficient. If you are prone to procrastination, conquer it by figuring out what you are trying to avoid. Then create a strategy to eradicate it.Are you too much of a perfectionist? Do you avoid calling the confrontational lawyer on the other side because you do not want to deal with the emotions she or he creates in you? Do you despise your mental diet? Would you be a more successful lawyer if you were in a practice area that was more interesting to you?Lawyers are often assigned to practice areas that are not well-suited to their personalities or interests. Attorneys receive no counseling on this issue, and law firms routinely plug lawyers into areas where the firm needs the most help.For some attorneys, a mismatch of practice area and interest may eventually create or contribute to career problems. As a young lawyer, if you do not enjoy your practice area do not wait longer than two to three years to move to one that is more stimulating for you.Many lawyers have trouble fine-tuning their practice area because they hate to have to ask to be treated differently.Lawyers are troopers. They have learned that a boot-camp mentality is a likely predictor of success in the field.But that attitude can be self-defeating if it blocks you from hearing the little voice inside that Oprah would call your spirit, or a sense of well-being and personal satisfaction. That voice is an early warning system that may be trying to tell you trouble is brewing.Most reasonably insightful people would know a lot more about themselves if they would just listen to the little “inner voice” instead of turning down the volume.Finding balance in life is tricky and elusive but can be achieved if you identify your needs, advocate for yourself and like what you do. The bedrock of a balanced life is built upon work you enjoy.Small changes make a big difference over time. Even the QEII will turn around once the rudder is in the right position. So do the necessary rudder repair to achieve a more balanced life. Chicago attorney and career counselor Sheila Nielsen writes on personal fulfillment and redirection of careers within the law. She can be contacted at Nielsen Consulting Service, 155 N. Michigan Are., Chicago 60601, telephone (312) 616-4416. All names and situations depicted have been changed. This column is published under the sponsorship of the Quality of Life and Career Committee. The committee’s Web site is at www.fla-lap.org/qlsm . The Quality of Life and Career Committee, in cooperation with the Florida State University College of Law, also has an interactive listserv titled “The Healthy Lawyer.” Details and subscription information regarding the listserv can be accessed through the committee’s Web site or by going directly to www.fla-lap.org/qlsm May 15, 2002 Sheila Nielsen Regular News Stresslines: Meeting the challenge of balancing work and lifecenter_img Stresslines: Meeting the challenge of balancing work and lifelast_img read more

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One-man show chronicles the life of Clarence Darrow

first_img One-man show chronicles the life of Clarence Darrow A 48-star flag, three dark wooden chairs, a table, and dramatic flair will bring legendary defense lawyer Clarence Darrow to life at the Bar’s Annual Meeting in Orlando.Actor Paul Morella plays Darrow in “A Passion for Justice: The Clarence Darrow Story,” by Jack Marshall and Terry Kester, as part of the Chester Bedell Memorial Luncheon sponsored by the Trial Lawyers Section and the Chester Bedell Foundation, on Friday, June 27, at the Orlando Marriott World Center. (See the May issue of the Bar Journal for registration information or The Florida Bar Web site: www.flabar.org.)“I like to think it’s the spirit of Darrow doing the show,” said Morella, taking a break in rehearsals for another performance. “I’m just the convoy he channels through.”Morella, son of an attorney, is no stranger to lawyer roles, having played attorney Jarreld Schwab opposite Julia Roberts in The Pelican Briefs, appeared as prosecuting attorney Horace Gilmer in the world premier of To Kill a Mockingbird, and received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for his performance as Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner’s epic, Angels in America. An MFA (acting) graduate of Catholic University, Morella, 46, also teaches persuasion techniques as part of the Trial Practice Program at the Washington College of Law.Morella said the idea for the show came when he was working with Marshall and Kester on the one-man Darrow play, initially made famous by Henry Fonda, to be performed in Washington, D.C. But at the same time a national road show of the play was on tour, and it exercised its option to prohibit any other performance of that script in Washington, one of its scheduled stops.“We said, ‘What would Clarence Darrow do?’ So we put together our own show,” Morella said. That included poring over books about Darrow, including his autobiography, and trial transcripts from all phases of his career. One of the books focused on Darrow’s celebrated defense of himself late in his career, when he was charged with attempting to bribe a juror in one of his cases. That book took the position Darrow actually attempted that act, even though he won his own acquittal.“He went through a sense of redemption and focus and decided to focus more on the individual and less on Clarence Darrow, and became a better person for that experience,” Morella said.Darrow is an compelling character, both for actors and lawyers, he said.“He has an incredible amount of material out there. He was a social philosopher, a reformer, a poet, a lawyer,” Morella said. “Law was the outlet he found to channel his gifts, his innate sympathy for his fellow man. If he found someone else in trouble, he couldn’t help but get involved. He would mesmerize juries for hours, sometimes speaking extemporaneously.”The performance, which can be tailored from about an hour to two hours, covers all aspects of Darrow’s career, from early labor cases to the Leopold and Loeb murder defense, to the Scopes Monkey trial to First Amendment issues.“I think the worst thing is his ego and his hubris, and in some ways that contributes to his best things. Because I think his enduring legacy is he had the uncanny ability to articulate what he wanted to say in the moment and yet recognize how it would resonate in future generations,” Morella said. “I don’t think you’d want to change a word in some of his summations.”Morella and his collaborators also tinkered with the form of the one-person play, which usually focuses on reminisces. For Darrow, he said the effort is to recreate parts of his illustrious career, with the audience becoming the jury as Morella is recreating a summation.Comments from those who have seen his performance in “The Clarence Darrow Story” have been glowing.“Impressive, absorbing.. . The material is legendary and Paul Morella plays Darrow impeccably; his fluidity in the role seems natural, almost effortless,” according to a reviewer from The Washington Post. “The presentation was truly great. The acclaim has been unanimous,” wrote John Hannah, Jr., chief judge of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, who hired Morella for a judicial program. One-man show chronicles the life of Clarence Darrowcenter_img June 1, 2003 Regular Newslast_img read more

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Children’s legal services grants available

first_img Children’s legal services grants available Children’s legal services grants available October 15, 2005 Regular Newscenter_img Applications for 2006 children’s legal services grants were recently distributed by The Florida Bar Foundation to legal assistance providers in Florida.The Foundation expects to distribute approximately $1,151,000.“Children in poverty in Florida have critical needs for legal assistance,” said John Thornton, chair of the Legal Assistance for the Poor Grant Committee. “Often children in foster care do not get the protection and services to which they are entitled unless they have legal representation. A child needing special education may not get that help without an attorney.”Thornton said these grants, although inadequate, help solve those problems.“A growing number of lawyers in Florida are making a difference for children by making contributions to the Foundation’s children’s legal services program and by performing pro bono work,” he said. “New funds from the Kids Deserve Justice license plate are a boost for this program. We are pleased to be able to increase our funding for children in 2006.”Currently, 15 programs receive children’s legal services grants, which assist low-income children with problems involving dependency, foster care, access to special education services, other educational issues, and access to health services.Applicants who are not current grantees must contact Foundation staff for information on submitting a concept paper prior to submitting an application.Grant application packages are available by contacting Andrea Horne at (800) 541-2195, or by e-mail at ahorne@ flabarfndn.org. Applications must be received by the Foundation by October 31 and the Foundation board will award the grants December 9.last_img read more

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