Judicial Nominees for Lee County Vacancy Announced

The JNC recently released the list of nominees for the County Judge position that was opened when Judge Hayes was elevated to the Circuit bench. The nominees are Jay Brizel, Zachary Gill, Darrell Hill, Gilberto Perez, and Steven Wetter. Brizel, Hill, and Wetter have all been nominated on previous occasions. I wish them all the best of luck as they move forward with the nominating process.

Here’s the Story from NBC regarding Surveillance Cameras I was Quoted

me nbc2b

Atty Spencer Cordell on NBC-2 [Who Dey]

The link is up from last night’s NBC-2 follow-up story regarding use of surveillance cameras. The law is a little unclear, but there’s no doubt the best practice is for law enforcement to get a warrant when they are going to use the cameras: even the guy from the camera company recommends it. And everybody, prosecutors and defense attorneys, agree that when video surveillance is used, it needs to be disclosed when a case goes forward. My friend Rene Suarez, who is quoted at the beginning of the story, makes a great point: if the use of video cameras is not disclosed, it shuts the judicial system out of the analysis regarding the legality of the tactics. That’s eliminating judicial oversight. If nothing is being done inappropriately, the investigators should have nothing to hide.

Here’s a link to the story, I will try to embed it, below.

NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida

And here’s a link to our story yesterday.

Is Law Enforcement Hiding Video Evidence?

NBC-2, which has been doing several pieces on the use of video cameras by law enforcement, continues to examine concerns about the practice in SW Florida. They ran a story yesterday that indicates that video surveillance is being used, and not disclosed, in the course of certain investigations. The story told by former prosecutor Stephanie Hoffman in that article was especially troubling: law enforcement did not reveal the use of video cameras until the middle of a trial of a drug dealer. The late disclosure meant not only a discovery violation, but that the prosecutor had to reduce the charge and offer probation instead of the mandatory prison sentence because she was afraid if she had gone forward with the trial, that the case would have been thrown out of court.

NBC-2 spoke to me about the story, so watch for the follow up, tonight. I have the benefit of the perspective of having been on both sides since I was a prosecutor before I was a defense attorney. My take, from either side of the aisle is, if there is video being taken, it should be disclosed. The Supreme Court has made it very clear that the government doesn’t just get to use the good evidence and pretend the bad evidence doesn’t exist. The accused has an absolute right to see evidence that may suggest their innocence, known as “Brady Evidence”.

And if I was a prosecutor, and there was video of narcotics traffic at the house of an accused drug dealer, you’re darn right I’m going to want to know about that evidence, too! All evidence that gets collected needs to be disclosed, otherwise we lose confidence in the fairness of the justice system: which is bad for everyone.

Prison Beating Coverage Wins Pulitzer for Charlotte Sun

Congratulations are in order to the Charlotte Sun, specifically writers John Hackworth and Brian Gleason, for winning the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished editorial writing. They won for a series of editorial pieces regarding the beating and death of prison inmate Matthew Walker at the hands of prison guards. We discussed the incident, which was deemed by the ME to be a homicide, and the failure of the SAO to return an indictment against any of the responsible parties, here on Crimcourts a few months ago. The pattern of inmate death at CCI is troubling, and kudos are well deserved for the Charlotte Sun for fighting to bring them to light.

The headlines from the editorial articles are sobering: including, “Lies, cover-up block charges in prison death“, “Another day, another dead inmate at CCI” and finally, “Walker’s killers mostly still work at local prison“. It’s sobering to read through them, especially to realize how little has changed, in spite of these writers’ best efforts. Especially troubling is how the SAO failed to get an indictment that would have had a chance of bringing some justice, memorialized by this headline, “Prosecutors torpedo the grand jury“. Sobering stuff.

Pulitzer.org has links to all of the editorials from the winning series, it’s definitely worth a click-through to check out…

Convicted Former Judge Tracie Hunter Keeps Trying to Run Again

Tracie Hunter

Former Judge Tracie Hunter

Tracie Hunter was convicted of a felony for misuse of documents while she was a judge: and subsequently removed from the bench. Her conviction was upheld on appeal, and she has a jail sentence hanging over her head unless the Ohio Supreme Court overturns the conviction. On top of that, she has been suspended from the practice of law: a requirement if she were to sit as a judge. She is further ineligible as a felon with a pending jail sentence.

In spite of all these things, she thinks she should still be a judge. She feels so strongly that she has applied to run for a judge seat in the upcoming election. She has applied not once, but twice. The first application to run as a Democrat was rejected, and she recently filed to run a second time, this time as an independent. The disqualifying factors still apply, so there’s no reason to think she’d be eligible to run. But file she has, with thousands of petitions to get on the ballot.

 

Burglar Drowns in Canal When He Flees

A Collier man caught a possible burglar trying to break into his car earlier this week. He confronted he man, who ran away, and tried to escape into a canal. Officers later found his body in the canal: presumably drowning is the cause of death, but the investigation continues.

So, This Happened in Charlotte County

charlotte jail car.jpgMy attorney friend P.J. was at the jail, and snapped a photo that appears to be a Charlotte County Sheriff’s vehicle caught under a garage door at the Charlotte County Jail. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know any details, but was kind enough to share the picture. It certainly seems that a Sheriff’s Office vehicle got caught by the garage door trying to come out of the Sally Port. The jail sally doors slide down really fast, so it’s probably not an uncommon occurrence… but, the picture is kind of funny.

Somebody had a bad day…