After spending nine straight days working on my appeal, including two days at the University of Miami law library, not to mention several sleepless nights and forgotten meals, I finally filed my appeal.
With barely a second to spare.
The deadline was Monday and I filed it at 5:02 p.m. After sprinting a half-mile from the court reporter’s office where we were still printing and binding transcripts at 4:45 p.m.
I really have to hand it to the guys at Absolute Video, Inc. They went out of their way to transcribe portions of my trial at the last minute to ensure I would be able to file my appeal on time. I should take them out for a beer some time.
I also want to take Cigar Mike out for a beer because he never refrained from coaching me along the way. Unlike many lawyers who talk a big game, Cigar Mike backs up his words with actions.
As it turned out, I had to file a “corrected brief” on Wednesday to address a few formatting issues, but as I learned, that is common practice in the world of legal filings and courtroom wranglings. The important thing is, I made my deadline by filing the original brief by Nov. 24th.
It also turned out that the courthouse remains open until 6 p.m. but the appeals window closes at 4 p.m., which means I had to endure a snotty lady telling me I had to come back the following day to file the bulk of papers in my arms.
I told her there is no way I’m leaving this courthouse without filing my appeal, so she directed me to Window 3, where I inadvertently cut off a line of people in an attempt to file my appeal before 5 p.m.
I was ordered to the back of the line, which I had just noticed for the first time, and managed to file my appeal shortly after 5 p.m., only to learn that this particular window remained open until 6 p.m. I didn’t have to sprint across town after all.
Now it’s up to the State Attorney’s Office to respond to my argument within 20 days of my last filing. And then it’s up to me to respond to their argument within 20 days.
And finally, it will be up to a panel of three judges to determine whether to reverse, remand or affirm my conviction of resisting arrest without violence.
Yes, it’s only a misdemeanor and most people would not bother fighting it, but why should I have that on my permanent record if I did not resist arrest?
Why should I have that on my permanent record if these cops did not even have probable cause to arrest me in the first place?
Why should I have that on my permanent record if it was proven in my trial that these cops were giving me unlawful orders to leave an area where I had every right to be?
Florida case law says I shouldn’t have that on my permanent record:
“A person is not justified in using force to resist arrest by a law enforcement officer who is known, or reasonably appears, to be a law enforcement officer, but nonviolent resistance to an unlawful arrest is no crime. In fact, a lawful arrest is an essential element of the offense of resisting arrest without violence.”
That is only one of many interesting tidbits that I came across during my research at the UM law library. This one is specifically from a book titled Florida Jur 2d, Criminal Law, §4124, which cites Sims v. State, 743 So. 2d 97 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 1999) and Huntley v. State, 575 So. 2d 285 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 1991).
In the end, I filed a 30-page brief that contains three strong arguments and cites 15 cases and was accompanied by an appendix that contains 18 exhibits, including seven excerpts of transcripts, some as long as 40 pages, as well as my arrest affidavit, photos and evidence that my attorney tried to enter but was denied by Judge Jose “I’m shocked at your lack of remorse” Fernandez.
On Monday, as I sprinted through the streets of downtown Miami from Absolute Video, lugging my loaded briefcase and panicking that I would not make it to the courthouse by 5 p.m., all I could do was think of that scene from Rocky where he runs through the streets of Philadelphia and up the stairs of the Museum of Art, especially when I ran up the stairs to the Dade County Courthouse.
Yes, I know it’s a little corny, but I needed something to keep me going. In fact, during that week of intense research and writing, when I felt I could go no longer, when my body was screaming for me to go to sleep and my brain was muddled in a haze of legalese, I would play Going the Distance for motivation, to keep that drive going, to keep that fighting spirit alive in order to finish this brief which I believe will ultimately prove my innocence.
All Rocky wanted to do was go the distance, the 15 rounds to prove he was worthy of his boxing gloves, or in his own words, to prove he was “not just some bum from the neighborhood”.
And all I want to prove is that justice prevails, even if you have to go the distance, And even if you are just some guy from the neighborhood.