Sunday, July 14, 2024

Judicial Section Details

Milton Hirsch

  • Division: Circuit Criminal
  • Section: F014
  • Court Location: Richard E. Gerstein Justice Bldg.
  • Address: 1351 N.W. 12th ST Miami, FL 33125
  • Phone: (305) 548-5728
  • Email: F014@jud11.flcourts.org
  • Room: REG 713
  • Judicial Assistant: Gomez, Sofia


Division 14 Zoom ID: 977 8172 0114

Courtroom: 7-4



Non-evidentiary matters may be heard via Zoom.  Counsel are reminded, however – and are directed to remind their clients and others appearing with them – that someone who is in court via Zoom is in court.  Courtroom attire (e.g., suitjacket and necktie for men) and behavior are required. 

Division 14 Zoom ID: 977 8172 0114

Motions Practice Generally

To request that a motion be placed on calendar, send a courtesy copy of the motion to chambers.  Judge Hirsch will review the motion, and chambers staff will then contact the attorney.

Trial calendar will be sounded 11 days before trial, i.e., two Thursdays before the Monday trial.  All pending motions must be resolved at or before time of sounding in order for counsel to make a good-faith (i.e., professionally ethical) ready-for-trial announcement.  If all motions are not resolved, counsel must either withdraw the motion or seek a continuance.  This applies to all motions, including motions in limine.

Motions in Limine

The essence of a motion in limine is that adverse counsel is likely to offer at trial some particular item of evidence; that the rules of evidence and of criminal procedure do not expressly address the admissibility or not of that evidence; that when the evidence is actually offered it will be found inadmissible; but that an after-the-fact objection to the evidence (and a judicial instruction to the jury to ignore the evidence) will be inefficacious; and therefore a pretrial ruling excluding the evidence is required.  The rules of evidence and of criminal procedure, which reflect the experience and wisdom of untold generations of lawyers and judges, prescribe the outcome for the overwhelming majority of evidentiary disputes that could arise in any case.  The likelihood that a given trial will feature something for which the rules have made no provision, and that therefore must be hashed out by a pretrial motion in limine, is slight.

Because motions in limine deal with those interstices in the law, those rare situations for which there does not exist a settled rule of law, they would be merely repetitive, and therefore inappropriate, in a context in which the applicable rule of law is well-settled.  To take a silly example: A motion in limine asking that opposing counsel be ordered not to lead on direct examination (except in those situations in which the law provides for leading on direct examination) would not be well-taken.  Such a motion in limine is not needed, because such an order in limine is not needed.  The law already provides, in plain terms known to all lawyers and judges, that leading questions are generally objectionable on direct examination.

Motions to Suppress

At a hearing on a motion to suppress physical evidence, the burden of proof is allocated by operation of constitutional law: if the search and seizure resulting in the evidence was the product of a warrant, the burden of proof is on the movant; if the search and seizure were conducted in the absence of warrant, the burden of proof is on the prosecution.  See United States v. Longmire, 761 F. 2d 411, 417 (7th Cir. 1985); see also State v. Setzler, 667 So. 2d 343, 345 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995). But the burden of production (i.e., the burden of going forward) is allocated to the movant by operation of Fla.R.Crim.P. 3.190(g)(3) (“If the court hears the motion on its merits, the defendant shall present evidence supporting the defendant’s position and the state may offer rebuttal evidence”) (emphasis added).  Typically, one of the first witnesses the defense will call is the lead detective or police officer involved in the search and seizure.  Although the defense calls the witness on direct examination, defense counsel may examine by leading questions as on cross.  Fla. Stat. 90.612(3) (leading permitted “[w]hen a party calls ... a witness identified with an adverse party”).


A lawyer can file a motion for absolutely anything for which there is support in fact and law.  A lawyer can file a notice only when there is a statute or rule providing for that notice.  No statute or rule provides for a “Notice of Unavailability” or “Notice of Vacation.”  The lawyer who wants a continuance must move for a continuance.


Attorneys often indicate their desire to enter a plea of no contest.  Such  plea requires leave of court, Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.172(a), which of course means that there must a good reason for it.  More often than not, what the lawyer really wants is an Alford plea, see North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970); see also United States v. Tunning, 69 F.3d 107, 109-112 (6th Cir. 1995), for which leave of court is not needed.  Generally, all of Judge Hirsch’s pleas are Alford pleas, in that he does not ask a question such as, “Are you pleading guilty because you are actually guilty?”

Voir Dire

Florida law favors attorney-conducted voir dire of the jury venire. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.300(b).  The voir dire, however, must be about the case to be tried – not about imagined facts in imagined cases.  Thus attorneys may not ask about a law making it a crime to wear a red necktie on Tuesday.  Attorneys may not ask about a pilot announcing that he thinks he can land the plane in the fog at O’Hare.  Attorneys may not ask about the “elements” of a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, or about what laws a venireman would enact if he were king of his own island.  Objections to questions of this ilk will be sustained, and counsel will be admonished in front of the venire.

It is entirely proper for attorneys to question potential jurors about their ability to follow the law.  If an attorney wants to ask questions about a particular statute or jury instruction, best practice is for the attorney to inform the court a day or two before the commencement of trial.  When the attorney wants to voir dire about a statute or instruction, he or she should ask the court to read that statute or instruction.  The court (having been put on notice a day or two in advance) will do so, and then the attorney may voir dire about the law just read.  

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