(The following text is out of a paper entitled Law and Science: A Necessary Partnership that I delivered to University of Florida College of Law Dean Richard Matasar on 9/17/96 during a sit-in in his office in which I was arrested protesting the legal system.)
On 3/26/96, I was arrested and accused of threatening to blow up the Lee County Attorney's Office. It is not an objective here to argue the merits of the case but rather to discuss the aspects of it that appear crooked or unethical whether or not the case has merit otherwise. for, I am of course more familiar with the case than any other, and many of the problems of this case are being repeated in many other cases.
On 3/23/94, I hand delivered a ten page paper entitled "Notes on Institutional Corruption in the Lee County Attorney's Office" to the Lee County Attorney's Office and than to Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah with a cover letter addressed to Commissioner Judah dated 3/22/94. The paper accused the County Attorney's Office of deliberately falsely interpreting the law regarding funding for a road I was interested in and in a three page section entitled "My Argument Against Corruption" I described historical, economic and philosophical problems associated with corruption, quoting such well known historical figures as Aristotle, John Locke and Machiavelli.
Although I had never heard of any militias at the time, the paper anticipates the militia movement as well as such events as the Oklahoma City bombing. As part of the discussion I included a few paragraphs of how easy it would be for me or anyone to build a pipe bomb, and it was this that was employed to accuse me of a bomb threat. For my part, I make no apologies for the paper but to the contrary I think it is one of the best Lee County Government has received in defense of mainstream democratic and economic principles warning that their corrupt ways were bringing on anarchy and revolution.
The cover letter stated I was proceeding to expose the false interpretation of the law by going to other counties and academia for a correct reading. At the time, I did not know who in the County Attorney's Office had issued the opinion but when I delivered the paper to commissioner Judah, to my great surprise he invited me back to the County Attorney's office (in another building) to see an Assistant County Attorney, David Owen, who I learned had issued the opinion. It was 5:30 PM when I left Owen's office so I delivered copies of the cover letter and paper to the remaining four commissioner's executive assistants the following day.
The case did not go to trial until June 22, 1996, resulting in a hung jury. At the trial it was brought out that Owen had been on the Tampa police force for 7.5 years before going to law school and had then served in the Lee County State Attorney's Office for 3.5 years followed by 9.5 years in the Lee County Attorney's Office. Thus he had both a motive to prevent me from proceeding to expose his false interpretation of the law and the background in both police and legal procedures as well as the connections to have me arrested on a bomb threat charge in order to discredit me thus blocking me from exposing him should he have cared to do so.
In delivering the cover letter and paper, I knocked on the door to each of their respective offices and hand delivered an envelope to each of the commissioner's assistants. The next day, each of them was asked to write an unsworn statement of everything they could remember about the incident and only one of them said anything about knowing anything about a discussion about bombs in the paper; and she did not suggest she was frightened about it. These papers are in the discovery file and it is clear in reading them that there is nothing to make a bomb threat out of and it would appear that the State Attorney's Office must have found this to be the case also because they did not go back and get any sworn statements from the assistants, as would have been required to support a charge against me.
The only sworn statements taken were from the two office workers who I delivered the paper to in the County Attorney's Office and David Owen.
I was arrested on Saturday 3/26/94, and the following day an article appeared in the Sunday News-Press, the area's largest news print media, characterizing my paper as nothing but a bomb threat quoting two county lawyers who as far as I know had nothing to do with the matter but who falsely sensationalized the story and characterized me as dangerous and mentally unstable. Thus I lost most of my friends and business contacts overnight while I was in jail unable to do anything about it.
About three weeks later, the charges against me in the form of an Information were filed of which I was not given a copy for several months. The first two charges were for a written and verbal threat to Commissioner Judah and the last two were the same thing by David Owen. There was an affidavit stating that there were sworn statements supporting all four charges but in fact they did not get one from Commissioner Judah so the affidavit was falsified and the charges were false. I did not learn this for a certainty until about two years later when Commissioner Judah was asked about it by Fort Myers News-Press reporter Bob Norman even though I had been arrested twice in the State Attorney's Office demanding my discovery file, where the sworn statement would presumably have been, and which they refused to give me although I had the right to have it.
About three months after my arrest, entirely unknown to me, the Information was replaced by an Amended Information. In it, the two charges concerning Judah were replaced by two more charges which were also false; one count (count 3) having the same problem that it was not supported by sworn statements, having a falsified affidavit as did the previous one, and the other, (count 4) did not even meet the requirements for a charge, being just phony legalese intended to mislead me into thinking it was a valid charge.
Normally a felony defendant is offered a plea bargain about three months after his arrest. However I was not offered one until I had been in jail for 10 months in January of 1995, and I only got a copy of the Amended Information in the same letter offering me the plea bargain; and it was there only because I had seen it in my public defender's file shortly before being offered the plea bargain; and had asked for it. My public defender had refused to respond to me about the case for many months while I was in jail and I had gone on a 19 day hunger strike in jail trying to get information about it I had the right to have. Also it was impossible for me to do much about avoiding a foreclosure of my real estate in jail so it went on sale in December, 1994. These circumstances suggest I was being held in jail either for the foreclosure (property with a net value of over a million) to go through, or make me desperate enough to get out of jail that I would sign a plea bargain. Typically, a felony defendant waits about three months to be offered a plea bargain; in my case it was ten months before I was given the first offer.
About six months after I was arrested, without my knowledge or permission, my public defender took about twelve depositions. This time however, miraculously, all four of them remembered a frightening discussion about bombs. Thus it appears the State was getting increasingly desperate to get a conviction or favorable plea bargain and either the assistants changed their stories knowing it was expected of them or someone, most likely a county or state lawyer induced them to do so. The one who had originally stated she had read about the bombs testified for the state in the trial.
The two receptionists that I delivered the paper to at the County Attorney's Office also testified at trial that they were frightened about the bomb threat. Although it is possible they could have read it, it wasn't their job to screen mail as I presume it was the job of the commissioner's assistants and they would have had to read through five pages of very heavy reading to get to it during the short time I was there and they were very busy with chores as well; suggesting the possibility they may have been coached on what to say as well.
As for David Owen, there were two charges in both the Information and Amended Information charging me with verbal and written threats. At trial my own attorney testified that Owen had told him on the phone a day or so after I delivered the paper that he (Owen) did not consider it a threat. It was also brought out that when I returned to Owen's office about 4:30 PM for a discussion with him until 5:30 PM, he simply put me on the elevator from his office on the sixth floor and, not knowing whether or not I was still on the elevator or in the building and not contacting building security to see if I had left the building, he simply left his office for another hour until 6:30 PM before leaving, with for all he knew nobody else on the floor because the work day ended at 5PM; all suggesting he had no concern about violence from me of any kind.
I drafted a letter dated 12/27/95, discussing these and other crooked dealings about the case. Subsequent to that date, the wife of the Assistant State Attorney that had drafted the Information with the falsified affidavit and false charges took the case over and was the trial attorney for the State. Thus it would appear she would have a motive other than representing the people of Florida -- that of trying to bury her husband's crooked dealings by getting a conviction.
Very little of the above facts and circumstances were brought before the jury at the trial because my court appointed attorney is very reserved to do things that would embarrass prominent people in the legal system, including the State Attorney's Office.
While in jail I drafted a declaratory judgment action and when I requested a judge to assist me in filing it, he ordered it placed in my bomb threat felony file. When I attempted to appeal this to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland, the Notice of Appeal disappeared from the file with the circumstances suggesting my public defender removed it (illegally) from the file to block the appeal. When I got a copy of it later from him and tried again to appeal, this time the Clerk quite illegally refused to process it.
Finally much later when I was out of jail I filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus with the 2nd District Court of Appeal to get the appeal processed. Although it is discretionary for the court to do so, the Court accepted it and it was processed but I do not understand what the outcome was, except that nothing seemed to be accomplished. The purpose of it, in part, was to attempt to get counsel that would address the crooked dealings of others in the legal system regarding my case and that problem remains.
I could discuss many other aspects of the case but this is sufficient to give an idea of the nature of the various problems I have encountered with the criminal justice system. I believe there is an ethical canon of the legal and judicial professions that any lawyer or judge who knows about crooked or unethical dealings has an obligation to report them to the authorities. In my case, any number of lawyers and judges in Lee County as well as a number of law schools that I have contacted and the 2nd District Court are familiar with various aspects of the crooked or unethical dealings but as far as I know, none have done anything.
The general public has the perception from such cases as the Simpson case that criminal defense lawyers go overboard to defend their clients but in my case nothing could be further from the truth; and this perception undoubtedly hurts at trial for I have had four consecutive defense attorneys who have all withheld important information about crooked dealings of lawyers and judges from me and refused to bring it out at trial. Attempts to raise the issue are characteristically met with accusations of mental problems and other means of discrediting the accuser rather than addressing them. If I could afford to pay an attorney possibly I could get one that would be willing to address these things.
ROLE OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES:
In this case, it has been my objective to get the problem examined and documented objectively by the legal profession before proceeding to examine its psychological, sociological and economic meaning. To this end I have tried to obtain a law faculty member to take this case both to defend me and to document the problems; for taking the case and handling the defense is obviously far the best way to document the problems. To this end I have written to the deans of three law schools several times looking for such representation and for counsel to address other problems discussed in this paper but without success. So the issues of this section still await objective analysis and documentation from the legal profession in order to proceed with a discussion of how the social sciences may be employed to address it.
Again the issue goes back to the fundamental point that the public gave the legal profession its very privileged position in our society and in return has every right to expect it to address objectively its problems and employ all resources available to it to give the public the best service it can in return. Throwing a man in jail for ten months without regard for numerous legal rights scarcely accomplishes this, and my cause is by no means unique.