Saturday, May 20, 2006
By Bob Hurt, 20 May 2006
Yesterday (Friday, 19 May 2006) district federal court judge Richard A. Lazzara gave Tampa Bay Lawman James Enright a hosing, one that may cost James $172,000. That’s the amount IRS Agent Ashley (an “authorized” pseudonym) claims James owes in unpaid federal income tax. And, by the time the IRS gets through with him, Agent Ashley might claim he owes much more.
Although it did not seem to matter much, except to annoy the judge, James did not appear alone in court. Aside from two family members, 10 other Lawmen (see http://lawmenamerica) showed up to support him. Those twelve occupied the church pews in the gallery. I was one of them. We witnessed the spectacle with some astonishment and chagrin.
James, an entrepreneur, works hard at his job every day. The job apparently provides him with a decent income. For years, James felt convinced that he didn’t owe the IRS a penny because the implementation of a direct, unapportioned tax of individuals violates the constitution. So he stopped filing tax returns in 2000.
Using available information like 1099 forms submitted by others with whom James did business, the IRS calculated that James owed taxes for several years since then. They filed 1040 income tax forms on his behalf. Then they issued an assessment, slapped liens against his name and property, and summonsed him to bring his books and records so they could figure out how to collect the delinquent tax.
James showed up in their office, asked whether the information against him could be used in proceedings intended to deprive him of life, liberty, or property, and when Agent Ashley said it could be, he cited his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself, and refused to supply the information they wanted. They must have expected it because the day after the meeting, he received a subpoena to appear in Tampa’s US District Court to testify as to why the judge should not order him to give the IRS the records.
During the IRS’s efforts to get returns from James, James bought the book Cracking the Code from http://losthorizons.com, read it, and did his best to implement its suggestions. Accordingly, he filed his returns, stating zero tax due on them, based on the fact that he did not fit the definition of employee as defined in the IRS code (that is, a government employee or corporate officer), and so does not fall under the code’s definition of “taxpayer.” However, James did not enter those forms into the court record, and he did not bring them to court with him, so as far as the judge was concerned, they did not exist.
James’ defense had been carefully planned in advance:
1. Challenge the court’s and IRS’s territorial jurisdiction based on Article 1 Section 8 Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution, US Attorney’s Manual section 664, and by U.S. v. Lopez 514 US 549, 115 S.Ct 1624 (1995).
2. Challenge subject matter jurisdiction based on lack of substantive regulation for enforcement provisions of IRS code (Title 26 sections 7402 and 7604) as required by the Administrative Procedures Act and supported by Chrysler v. Brown and State of Ohio DHS v U.S. DHHS.
3. Invoke Fifth Amendment rights – By supplying all the information requested, James would be incriminating himself because it would or could be used in criminal proceedings against him.
4. Move for disqualification of the judge by reason of prejudice.
James was not prepared to argue against the content of the petition itself.
After the Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) claimed the IRS wanted the information in order to collect delinquent tax, the judge asked James to explain why he shouldn’t grant the IRS what it wanted.
James launched into his well-rehearsed arguments. The judge interrupted and said “I will not declare the income tax unconstitutional! This court has territorial, subject matter, and personal jurisdiction, and so does the IRS!” Thus, in one swoop, Lazzara wiped out strategies one and two.
The judge noted that James had invoked the fifth in his pleading, and brought out a case in which another judge had ruled that an in camera inquiry could determine, point by point, whether providing the requested items would tend to incriminate the IRS victim. So, he cleared the courtroom of all but the participants, and conducted the inquiry. When all were allowed to return, the judge ruled that none of the information would incriminate. He ruled that James’ pleadings had no merit. Good-bye strategy three.
James asked the judge to disqualify himself. The judge refused. James said he would appeal. Lazzara pointed out that he was free to do so, but meanwhile, he’d better show up at the IRS office and deliver the information or he’d be found in contempt and the overworked federal marshal would arrest him and throw him in jail. Adios strategy four.
Then he asked James for any other reason why he should not order James to deliver the requested material. James replied that he had submitted his tax returns. Opposing counsel claimed ignorance of them. The judge asked James for copies. James did not have them. The judge asked for any other reasons why he shouldn’t place the order.
Having no other answer, James said no, and Lazzara issued the order accordingly. While others drifted out into the hallway, James went to the front and paid the court reporter $257 for the transcript, then most of us drove to a restaurant for lunch and a postmortem discussion.
James concluded that he should have taken a seasoned attorney to court with him. Others commented at lunch as to what they might have said in response to various remarks by the judge or opposing attorney. Some said he might be able to do something yet to avoid giving up his records. One said he should destroy all records. Another said he should show up with the requested info then ask if any of it could lead to a charge of income tax evasion, and if the answer was yes, to invoke the 5th anew. Several agreed he needed an expert to go over the transcript with a fine-toothed comb so as to glean evidence for the next leg of his defense. One said he should have challenged the AUSA’s contention that he was a taxpayer. Another said he should have demanded to see the IRS agent’s driver’s license so as to ascertain her true identity on the basis that he has the right to know who his accuser is (most IRS agents use a fictitious name to reduce the likelihood that their victims will hunt them down and kill or harass them).
In the end, I wanted to help but was as useful as a blade of grass under cow plop. And I concluded that any such defendant should do the following (but this is not intended to be legal advice):
1. Prepare by intense study of all tax honesty documents available, including those available through sources like the following. You will have to decide for yourself which is most correct in various areas because they differ with each other, and the government is very active at finding ways to defeat every tax honesty argument propounded by the tax honesty movement).
a. Supreme Law Firm (http://supremelaw.org) – see comments below,
b. Lawmen (http://lawmenamerica.com),
c. We The People (http://givemeliberty.org),
d. To Congress (http://tocongress.com),
e. Cracking the Code (http://losthorizons.com),
f. Otto Skinner (http://ottoskinner.com),
g. David Bosset (http://bosset.com),
h. People’s Awareness Coalition (http://pacinlaw.org),
i. Family Guardian (http://famguardian.org).
2. File motions for a jury trial, even for the simplest of hearings that might result in loss of rights, for declaration that all rulings will be based only upon law and facts entered into evidence, not by rumor, and that the court will follow the constitution as the supreme law.
3. Have an expert counsel (not necessary an attorney) sitting along side as a coach
4. Prepare to challenge every possible comment - demand an explanation or justification for everything the opposing counsel or judge says that tends to classify or categorize the defendant, or that presumes anything not entered as fact-based evidence with a corroborating document or testimony of some kind.
5. Rally a support group like the Lawmen.
I believe James stood victim to a “Kangaroo Court”. The judge overreached his constitutional authority, and stomped all over James rights. James was not experienced enough to tear into and defeat the remarks of the judge and opposing counsel. He should have:
• Challenged the identity of the IRS agent
• Challenged the assertion that he was a taxpayer.
• Challenged the judge to show him the proof of jurisdiction by showing how the constitution was wrong.
• Come prepared to explain in detail how the order to reveal his financial records, phone number, business contacts, customers, and so on, constitutes a serious incrimination in violation of his 5th Amendment rights, and more vigorously defended his 5th and 4th Amendment rights (non-incrimination and privacy).
• Entered his tax forms into evidence.
He should have, but he didn’t. He did bravely follow his strategy, and now he can appeal the case. He might discover numerous challengeable points in the transcript that will help him in the appeal.
And if he does show all the requested information to the IRS, they might discover that they overlooked a lot of things, and amend the returns they wrote for him so as to assert that he owes two or three times what they say he owes in delinquent taxes. And because James did not do what he should have done, he faces the horrifying possibility of financial ruin and a career in federal prison. Certainly, if he does not show the IRS his private papers, he faces possible imprisonment under a contempt ruling.
Does James live in 2006, or has he returned to the days of 1750 when King George’s tax collectors invaded hearth and home and pillaged at will?
One citizen at a time, the IRS works to destroy the liberty and fortunes of individual Americans. We must work more furiously and effectively in support groups to educate ourselves and our fellows, and to turn all of our neighbors, families, and friends into activists against the evil and illegal IRS.
We supporting Lawmen did not seem to do much good James’ case, but his case is not over, and we are growing in number and wisdom with each passing week. Let the lessons we are learning from James’ case stimulate us to ever greater action, particularly in recruiting and training more members from our communities.
I learned a lot sitting in that court room, my first time in a federal court. I was sad for James, but scared for myself. Only good luck and the Grace of God have kept me out of his shoes. I know that what happened to him can happen to anybody who enters a court as defendant or “respondent.” And as those of you who’ve followed Mark Adams’ story know, it can happen even to an attorney for a plaintiff.
Bottom line, our judiciary is corrupt from top to bottom. I fear it. So should we all.
That fear should not leave us cowering and quaking in the corner of a dark closet. It must drive us into action to expose and terminate government corruption by whatever lawful means are available to us, lest someday we are driven to be outlaws in defense of our rights.
P.S. I sent a brief summary of the above to Paul Andrew Mitchell (http://supremelaw.org), and he replied. Here’s the interchange:
On 5/19/06, Bob Hurt wrote:
I sat helpless and watched a skilled federal judge skewer the respondent to IRS petition to order respondent to show books and records for collection.
Judge trounced over all jurisdiction and 5th amendment issues, and determined from in camera interview that nothing in the info requested would incriminate the Respondent. J said R ought to have had a lawyer, and ruled R better show up at IRS office with requested records.
I suggested he talk to an attorney, as Dave Bosset's approach wasn't followed well because of pressure.
I mentioned you. Somebody else mentioned Joe Izen.
Does this case interest you?
Paul Andrew Mitchell answered:
The judge can order the respondent to appear with books and records, but the judge cannot compel the respondent to be a witness against himself, nor can the judge compel the respondent to surrender his books and records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Therefore, at the IRS summons hearing, respondent should appear with his books and records, but should then take the Fifth in response to every single question, e.g.:
Q: What is your name, please?
A: I decline to answer that question, because I cannot be compelled to be a witness against myself.
Q: Stand up, raise your right hand, and repeat after me.
A: I have not been ordered to be sworn in, and I cannot be compelled to be a witness against myself.
This is the proper way to invoke the Fifth Amendment.
The basic issue here is the Fourth Amendment, in point of Law, however. See this winning brief here, for detailed authorities:
Also, do investigate the judge to make sure he has all 4 of the credentials required of every federal judge: e.g. Clerk of Court must have legal custody of his APPOINTMENT AFFIDAVIT, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 2906, 3331:
http://www.supremelaw.org/rsrc/commissions/index.htm (database of missing credentials statewide California).
Joe Izen didn't do much for Lynne Meredith, now did he? See BOP's Inmate Locator, and search for "Bonita Lynne Meredith #24001-112"
The worst that can happen is that the respondent is ordered so show cause why he should not be held in contempt: in reply, he will state under duress that he attempted to comply by appearing with books and records, but he properly and timely invoked his fundamental Rights not to be a witness against himself, and to privacy of his books and records.
Meanwhile, he should have submitted a proper FOIA request to DOJ for the judge's COMMISSION, which should be in DOJ's custody (see cites above). And, that FOIA request should be entered into evidence in his court record, by way of Rule 201(d) of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
FOIA requests raise a federal cause of action, and the judge is necessarily a material witness to the existence, or absence, of his required credentials; therefore, he cannot preside on any hearing(s) to compel their disclosure. 28 U.S.C. 455.
If the "robe" turns up withOUT any one of the 4 required credentials, he should be formally charged with impersonation for violating 18 U.S.C. 912:
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/912.html (a federal felony).
See also 18 U.S.C. 4, which creates a legal obligation to report such a felony.
Such impersonation necessarily implicates mail fraud too, so another remedy is to sue this impostor in State Court using Civil RICO remedies at 18 U.S.C. 1964:
(all opposing party(s) fell totally silent in all cases)
/s/ Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S.
Private Attorney General, Criminal Investigator and
Federal Witness: 18 U.S.C. 1510, 1512-13, 1964(a)
All Rights Reserved without Prejudice
# # #
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Yesterday afternoon Juan, Chuck, and I accompanied our friend Mark to
On my way back I stopped to chat with the Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy. He was guarding the door to make sure nobody brought in a bomb or other destructive weapons, including a pen knife for cleaning one’s fingernails and opening mail. The obese deputy was nice enough but as the conversation proceeded, he began to look downright uncomfortable, and perhaps ill.
I asked him if he was a regular deputy or special one. He said regular. I asked if he served as a bailiff. No, he didn’t (as though the job were beneath him), and he was doing this door guard thing as a side job. I asked if he had the power to arrest people he witnessed violating the law. Yes, he did, so long as it was a law of the State of
So far, so good. The deputy seemed in reasonably good spirits and willing to talk. But that was not to last.
I asked if he could arrest someone violating a federal law. No he could not.
“Really?” I asked. “Seems like everybody has to swear an oath. You have to swear an oath to become a registered voter. In your oath didn’t you swear to support the Constitution of the
The deputy put his head in his hands as though I was giving him a headache. Presently he looked up at me.
“Yes,” he said.
“So,” I asked, “how can you support the constitution of the
Silence. Long silence. But I was patient, and stood silently, expectantly waiting for the revelatory answer.
More silence. Finally, I asked ”So, if you witnessed somebody violating the U.S. Constitution you are sworn to support, could you rightly arrest that person?”
“Probably,” he answered. I hid the smirk I was beginning to feel.
“So, what if you witnessed a District Court Judge violating the law or the constitution of the State or the
“Oh, no,“ the deputy demurred as he held up his hands. I almost expected a crucifix and wreath of garlic bulbs to materialize in his hands, as though warding off a blood-sucking vampire. “I’d have to call the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement),” he said.
“Why,“ I wanted to know. “Isn’t the Sheriff the top law enforcement person in the county?”
“Yes, but a judge swears him in.” he replied with self-assurance, as though that explained everything.
But apparently he hadn’t fully convinced himself. I see sweat beading on his corpulent countenance. This has made him feel uncomfortable. Or he has the flu.
“So?” I asked, not convinced myself.
“We WORK for the judge!” he exclaimed. “We can’t arrest him.”
“But,” I ventured undaunted, “if the Sheriff is the county’s top law enforcement officer, and he’s elected by the people, not by a judge, and you work for the sheriff, then how can you be working for a judge?”
Silence. Face in hands. Audible moaning. More sweat. The deputy looks utterly miserable. Clearly he’s tired of this light-hearted banter.
“Every situation is different,” he answered patiently as though explaining the intricacies of the chain of command for the county’s top cop to a child.
I drove my wooden stake home to the vampire heart of his ignorance, without mercy:
“Does it make sense to you that the U.S. and state constitutions don’t apply to judges, and that if you see a judge violating either of them, you should look the other way and let him off the hook, or pass the buck to the FDLE?”
“So what’s the worst that would happen to you if you did arrest a judge you saw depriving a defendant of the assistance of effective counsel, or of the right to subpoena witnesses in his defense, or of the right to a fair trial by an unprejudiced judge?”
“Probably nothing,” he said with his head in his hands.
It sounded like it was coming from deep within a cave, weak and distant.
I concluded I’d given the deputy enough of a beating and I should show him a little mercy. It wasn’t his fault he’d been lied to and deceived by customary practice of treating judges as though they are gods. I knew, as he did that he was probably wrong. If he arrested a judge, his career would be over, simple as that.
I thanked the deputy for his kindness in talking with me and walked back into the Clerk’s office to share the story with my friends.
About 5 minutes later we walked back out into the lobby. I noticed the deputy was missing.
“Oh no,” I said to the girl behind the counter, and pointed to the empty chair.
“He wasn’t feeling too well and went to the bathroom,” she said. “I think he’s sick.”
Small wonder. Maybe he had caught a flu bug.
“Tell him I hope he gets to feeling better,” I said as we headed past the x-ray machine and out the door.
The girl at the counter puzzled over our fading laughter as our figures smalled in the distance. Most people leaving the courthouse feel no urge to laugh.
# # #
Monday, May 01, 2006
Your City, State, Zip
Your Email Address
Florida 6th Judicial Circuit
545 First Avenue North
Room 400St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Re: Case #CTC97-32728-MMANO, State of Florida versus Jesse Toca
Florida Constitution Article II Section 24 and Florida Statute 119 entitle me to a physical copy of the recording of court proceedings in the form requested. I therefore demand a copy of the official public record document of the courtroom proceedings for the above listed case for the following hearing in its original electronic form:
March 29, 2006
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Pinellas Criminal Justice Center
Judge David Seth Walker
Provide this electronic public record on DVD or CD copied from the original CourtSmart digital audio recording. Note that a written transcript is not sufficient for my purposes, and that I am demanding an electronic recording copied from the original.
Within ten (10) days of receipt of this request, please send an invoice for the fee to me at the above physical or e-mail address.
I have discovered a systematic conspiracy in the 6th Judicial Circuit to deny constitutional rights to the public in the matter of obtaining audio recordings of court proceedings. The laws of the state command the courts to provide audio records to public who request them. I requested them of Public Information Officer Ron Stuart who denied them, then I requested again, and Judge Demers denied them. Both cited an administrative order that Demers wrote a couple of years ago that neither denies nor allows the audio recordings. In so doing, both support one another in violating the law. That justifies my allegation of conspiracy.
I know what you’re thinking. “Come on, say something that moves me. Tell me about a judge who watches porn at work and sends salacious emails to attorneys, or spends half his time fishing when he should be working, or pulls drunken panty-raids on business junkets. Who cares about audio recordings? You can order a transcript. Isn’t that good enough? “
You’re missing a crucial point if you think that.
The public can determine and prove what really happened in the court room only with a reliable audio and video recording of the proceedings. The state legislature thought it so important that they used the constitution and statutes to command court officials to make court room records available in whatever form the public wants them, and to do so with a spirit of facilitation.
Written transcripts cause lots of injustice because they so often inaccurately reflect the truth. Sometimes they don’t reveal many minutes of important comments. Judges can tell the reporter to lose a couple of pages, and if the reporter does, no one will know. In fact, judges and prosecutors can and do pull all kinds of shenanigans in the courtrooms, and in the end they always stomp on defendants’ or the public’s rights. A tamper-proof audio / video recording provides the only means of verifying that the transcript accurately reflects the spoken words.
And it does even more than that. It reveals tone and timbre of voice, emotion, tension, drama, body language, placement of people and exhibits, and things that happen which one can only see or hear and which one cannot obtain from a written transcript.
Judges don’t like anyone invading their domains or snooping on them, and they seem to hate the presence of recording devices in the peanut gallery. They routinely deny the public’s right under rules of judicial administration to bring and use audio and video in the courtroom. For example, I sat in Judge David Seth Walker’s court on 29 March 2006 and watched him deny a member of the press the use of any electronic recording devices.
Why do they do this? Just to be high-handed? I don’t think so, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I believe they do it because they want to hide the truth from the public, and they want to control what goes into the record so nobody can get evidence to submit against them in a complaint to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Fortunately, all Florida State Courts use an audio and video recording and compression system called CourtSmart that saves the recordings onto a hard drive and makes the recordings available via the court’s computer network to interested parties in the courthouse, but not to the general public. It is reasonably tamper-proof – a person would have to be a computer programmer to alter the recordings in any undetectable way.
Unfortunately, it has two glaring deficiencies:
The court reporter can turn the recorder off and forget to switch it back on. Judges occasionally ask them to do this so they can go off record for sidebar discussions.
A court reporter can omit areas of commentary when transcribing from the recording to the typewritten copy. Just because the reporter “certifies” it does not mean it will necessarily be accurate, particularly if the reporter knows the judge will not let anybody listen to the recording subsequently.
Bottom line, Chief Judge Demers now engages in clearly illegal behavior by denying public access to the audio recording. He has done it for years, and he will keep on doing it for years unless there is a public outcry against his egregious violation of our right to obtain copies of audio recordings. Or, unless he is hauled before the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
This is a serious charge of a serious injustice. By violating the constitution, Chief Judge Devers also violates his oath of office, and in that respect engages in rebellion against the government, and deprives himself of jurisdiction.
Right now, I am waiting for Judge Demers to tell me he will relent and order the clerk to hand over the audio recordings I have requested. I have asked him to change his administrative orders so as to require the clerk to provide copies of audio recordings when the public requests them. I believe he will continue to obfuscate.
I also have requested and now wait for him to produce his oath of office and his surety bond. Without them he is an imposter lacking judicial authority. That might explain why he works to defeat the very constitutions he allegedly swore to support, protect, and defend.
US Constitution, Article VI, Clauses 2 and 3
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Florida Constitution, Article II, Section 5(b)
Each state and county officer, before entering upon the duties of the office, shall give bond as required by law, and shall swear or affirm: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the state; and that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of (title of office) on which I am now about to enter. So help me God.", and thereafter shall devote personal attention to the duties of the office, and continue in office until a successor qualifies.
My issue with Judge Demers forms just the tiny tip of an enormous iceberg of systematic and unlawful denial of access to public records, in particular the audio and video recordings, and unlawful denial of public’s right to make its own electronic recordings of court proceedings. God only knows what other systematic flouting of the law a diligent investigator will turn up. I see myself as indeed fortunate that I have not had to appear before a judge in the 6th Judicial District, for I know that my rights would be stomped mercilessly into the dust at the very time I most desperately need a righteous judge to uphold them.
In view of the rising swell of public outrage over the public servants’ high-handed deprivation of and disregard for citizens’ rights, I consider this issue much more important than judges flirting with attorneys. I’m guessing you do too. I ask that you investigate and write a series of articles exposing this systematic corruption in the 6th Judicial Circuit. I shall help you in any way I can. If you’re not the right writer for this, please pass it to the right one.
I have attached the correspondence between me, Ron Stuart, and David Demers for your reference. I believe Jose Cardenas is writing about the case of Jesse Toca (see attached article on Travesty of Justice). Although I discovered the records violations while researching violations of Toca’s rights, the records issue seems of greater importance than Toca’s case because it affects every defendant who appears in the circuit’s courts. Thus, the separate matters deserve separate treatment in the news.
May 1, 2006
Ron Stuart, Public Information Officer, Circuit Court of Florida 6th Judicial Circuit
14250 49th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33762
727-453-7176 (Phone), 727-453-7166 (Fax), email@example.com (E-mail)
Re: Audio record of courtroom proceedings, Case #CTC97-32728-MMANO, State of Florida versus Jesse Toca.
Dear Ron Stuart:
I have recently become interested in the proceedings of the above case, and I wish to obtain the audio recordings made of the courtroom activities for the below dates, in accordance with my rights under the laws of the State of Florida.
If this request does not sufficiently comply with the law and I must fill out any specific forms or follow any other procedures, please let me know what law applies, and tell me what I must do to obtain the recordings.
I want the audio recordings in order to corroborate written transcripts, and to understand the emotion and various other elements of the proceedings that transcripts do not reveal.
I want the recordings for these dates:
Day-Month-Year-Title-Name of Judge
30-June-2005-Sr. Judge-Gerard O’Brien Jr.
9-November-2005-Sr. Judge-David Seth Walker
22-November-2005-Sr. Judge-David Seth Walker
9-January-2006-Sr. Judge-David Seth Walker
29-March-2006-Sr. Judge-David Seth Walker
Please provide me with the full names and contact information of any and all State Attorney, Assistant State Attorney, Judge or other person who orders you not to provide these recordings to me, or who obfuscates or encumbers the process in any way other than by requiring me to follow procedures according to law and pay any cost of duplicating the records. I shall consider any such effort as an attempt to violate my rights, and I shall proceed through proper channels to ensure my rights are protected and the law is enforced.
Sincerely, Bob Hurt
Administrative Office of the Courts
The Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida
14250 49th Street North, Suite 2000
Clearwater, Florida 33762
Fax: (727) 453-7166
Gay Lynne Inskeep
Trial Courts Administrator
Public Information Office
April 3, 2006
Re: Request by e-mail for audio record of courtroom proceedings
Dear Mr. Hurt,
I am responding to your e-mail correspondence requesting" Audio recordings of courtroom proceedings, Case #CTC97-32728-MMANO, State of Florida versus Jesse Toca."
The release of official records of court proceedings is governed by The Sixth Judicial Circuit's Administrative Order 2004-18.That administrative order does not authorize the release of electronic recordings. If you would like to review that administrative order, here is an Internet link:
The official record of any court proceeding "is a transcript produced by the Administrative Office of the Courts or other qualified independent contractors obtained by the AOC." We will be happy to produce a transcript of the proceeding at the normal rate charged for such transcriptions. A form for ordering a transcript can be accessed at this Internet link:
Public Information Officer
My Response to Ron Stuart via firstname.lastname@example.org on 5 April 2006
I can tell from your reaction to me and the issue at hand that you are really fed up with the case. You didn’t need to threaten to have the bailiff throw me out of your office because I merely wanted to get some answers from you to my questions. I still insist that I be allowed access to those audio recordings, and I think you are holding them back in violation of my right of access.
Your behavior did not please me, even though I can understand your being infected by the attitudes of prosecutors and judges over the past 8+ years of litigation of Jesse’s case.
Here’s my problem. I personally know of cases wherein the judge told the reporter to omit information from the official record, and knowing the history of Crockett Farnell’s attitude and behavior toward Jesse, such monkeying with the official record would not surprise me. Only the audio record, much more difficult than a reporter’s record to doctor up in reaction to a whispered aside from the judge, can by comparison with the official reporter’s record show the truth, in the event of any doubt. And since this issue concerns the integrity and honesty of the judges and prosecutors themselves, no judge should prevent the public from having access to the audio recordings.
Naturally, I don’t want to embroil someone innocent like you in a dispute over access to public records, but when the state attorneys and judges make themselves unavailable for direct questioning, you are the next most likely person for me to talk to. That’s why I appreciate direct and informative answers, not a summary brush-off, from a public servant like you.
I’ll continue my efforts to get the audio recordings. I see them as crucial in verifying the accuracy of the court reporter’s record. I believe denying access to such public records as the audio recordings of court proceedings oversteps judicial authority and violates constitutional rights of the public to know what goes on in courtrooms.
This is particularly true in a case like Jesse Toca’s. Jesse knows the law and argues his position much better than do typical defendants. For that reason, the criminal case against him seems to go on forever. Why? Because the legal system, as implemented in Judicial District 6, tends to resemble a kangaroo court system, and so many egregious violations of defendants’ rights occur that a savvy defendant is bound to make the prosecutor and court look ridiculous.
Maybe you think this is none of your business. I think it is the business of everyone who works in your building. Everybody, without exception. It is also the business of the Florida Attorney General, Governor, and Supreme Court.
I want you to know that you have no obligation to obey orders from your seniors that violate the law or overstep legal authority for the convenience of judges. I intend to hold people in your building personally accountable for any such violations I detect, regardless of who commits them.
Thank you for spending the few minutes you did with me today. I know you’re busy, and I appreciate your graciousness, to the extent you were able to express it.
CIRCUIT COURT, SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, STATE OF FLORIDA
DAVID A. DEMERS, CHIEF JUDGE
J DENNIS BRIGGS JUDICIAL ASSISTANT
545 - FIRST AVENUE NORTH, ROOM 400
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA 33701
April 11, 2006
Mr. Bob Hurt
Re: Request by e-mail for audio record of courtroom proceedings
Dear Mr. Hurt:
I have received your April 1, 2006 and April 5, 2006 e-mails to Ron Stuart, the public information officer for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. In those e-mails you request digital recordings of various court proceedings in the case of State of Florida v. Jesse Toca.
The production of the records you have requested is governed by Rule of Judicial Administration 2.051. That rule provides:
The custodian shall be solely responsible for providing access to records of the custodian's entity. The custodian shall determine whether the requested record is subject to this rule and, if so, whether the record or portions of the record are exempt from disclosure. The custodian shall determine the form in which the record is provided.
I have determined that as a general rule, the form in which the record of court proceedings will be provided is an official transcript. In his April 3 correspondence to you, Mr. Stuart correctly pointed out that release of official records of court proceedings is governed by Administrative Order 2004-18. That administrative order outlines procedures for requesting official written transcripts, the form in which records of court proceedings are generally provided.
For most proceedings – including the ones you have requested – any citizen could have attended the hearings. And any citizen can secure all of or any part of the proceedings in the form or a written transcript, upon proper designation to the court reporter and financial arrangements being made for payment of the transcripts.
I have on occasion authorized the release of the electronic record when specific circumstances have justified deviating from the general rule that only the transcript will be released. I do not find any basis in your correspondence that would justify release of the electronic record.
Your correspondence contains provocative statements concerning judges, prosecutors and other officials of the Sixth Judicial Circuit. When a matter before the court is decided in a way that is unfavorable to a party in that proceeding, it does not indicate "egregious violations" of anyone's rights. Lawyers and judges are sworn to uphold the law, and their commitment to this principle is evident each day. If a party does not agree with the ruling of a trial court, that party may appeal that ruling to an appellate court.
Administrative Order 2004-18 provides: "the official record of the proceeding is a transcript produced by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) or other qualified independent contractors obtained by the AOC." The written transcripts for the proceedings you requested will be made available to you upon proper designation to the court reporter and financial arrangements being made with the court reporting office.
(signed) Chief Judge David A. Demers
April 13, 2006
Ron Stuart, Public Information Officer, email@example.com (E-mail)
David Demers, Chief Judge, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com (E-mail)
State of Florida 6th Judicial Circuit Court
14250 49th Street North
Clearwater, FL 33762
Re: Third request for audio record of courtroom proceedings, Case #CTC97-32728-MMANO, State of Florida versus Jesse Toca.
Dear Ron and David:
On 1 April 2006 by e-mail and hand delivery I from Ron the audio recordings for the below proceedings of the subject case, and I now reiterate that request.
Day-Month-Year-Title-Name of Judge
30-June-2005-Sr. Judge-Gerard O’Brien Jr.
9-November-2005-Sr. Judge-David Seth Walker
22-November-2005-Sr. Judge-David Seth Walker
9-January-2006-Sr. Judge-David Seth Walker
29-March-2006-Sr. Judge-David Seth Walker
I told Ron:
“…provide me with the full names and contact information of any and all State Attorney, Assistant State Attorney, Judge or other person who orders you not to provide these recordings to me, or who obfuscates or encumbers the process in any way other than by requiring me to follow procedures according to law and pay any cost of duplicating the records. I shall consider any such effort as an attempt to violate my rights, and I shall proceed through proper channels to ensure my rights are protected and the law is enforced.”
On 5 April 2006 I received Ron’s response by mail and hand delivery. The letter denied my request, saying:
“The release of official records of court proceedings is governed by The Sixth Judicial Circuit's Administrative Order 2004-18. That administrative order does not authorize the release of electronic recordings. If you would like to review that administrative order, here is an Internet link:
I immediately emailed a protest and second demand to Ron, explaining that the above AO in question does not prohibit him from providing the audio recording, and that state law entitles me to it. He did not respond to me.
On 15 April 2006 I received David’s response by mail. The letter denied my request, saying:
“I have on occasion authorized the release of the electronic record when specific circumstances have justified deviating from the general rule that only the transcript will be released. I do not find any basis in your correspondence that would justify release of the electronic record.”
David also saw fit to scold me for making provocative statements about “sworn” officers of the court. I had claimed that I knew of past instances wherein a judge told a reporter to remove some text from the record, and an audio recording is necessary to validate the written transcript. David said:
“When a matter before the court is decided in a way that is unfavorable to a party in that proceeding, it does not indicate "egregious violations" of anyone's rights. Lawyers and judges are sworn to uphold the law, and their commitment to this principle is evident each day.”
It so happens that I, not you, David Demer, was in the court room on 29 March 2006. I watched and heard the prosecutor push the judge vigorously to deny Jesse Toca’s rights, demanding that the judge “take control of his courtroom.” I watched and heard the judge deny the public its right electronically to record the proceedings, and deny Jesse Toca’s right to assistance of counsel, an inviolable right guaranteed by the 6th amendment to the Constitution of the United States. So, I’m not a party to the proceedings, but I witnessed that with my own eyes and ears, and so did upwards of two dozen other witnesses.
As to whether other sworn officers of the court might be corrupt, Jesse Toca told me that in 1997 when attending a Bar association convention, Judge Crockett Farnell approached him and told him if he ever saw Jesse in his or his wife’s courtroom, “I’ll bury you.” And as it so happens, on 28 March 2006, Farnell denied any opportunity for Jesse to subpoena or call witnesses in his defense, or even to mount a defense.
In fact, for 10 years, next month, the court and its sworn officers seem to have conspired to deprive Jesse Toca of his rights.
- To begin with ASA Mogliare got the judge to order Jesse to answer questions about himself under the protection of immunity from prosecution, then Mogliare used the information he received to build a case against Jesse, thereby violating the whole principle of immunity, in flagrant violation of his rights against self-incrimination under the 5th amendment of the US Constitution.
- And the lengths to which the prosecution has gone in dragging out the case for nearly 10 years clearly shows a violation of Jesse’s 6th amendment right to a speedy trial and to have compulsory process for witnesses in his favor.
- In fact, the most recent two proceedings were all about denying Jesse’s constitutional right to call witnesses. The prosecution worked prodigiously to get the judge to quash Jesse’s subpoenas for witnesses that would prove his public defenders were either incompetent or in collusion with the prosecutor (yes, collusion – the most recent P.D. actually gave Jesse’s confidential information to Migliore). Farnell immediately granted the motion to quash, and the next day the prosecutor badgered both the judge and Jesse so horrendously, and they argued so extensively over the judge’s denial of Jesse’s motion to continue till he could get a competent public defender, that the court never ruled on the next motion to quash. Basically, they beat Jesse down and virtually forced him to plead guilty to probation violations.
- And let’s not forget that the prosecutor wanted to throw Jesse in jail for 4 years for 4 counts of violating probation. How did Jesse violate probation? The court tried to force Jesse to violate his 5th amendment rights again by ordering him to turn over private financial records and other data to the prosecutor. Knowing their history, Jesse refused on 4 occasions, so Migliore charged him with violating probation. Like I said – Kangaroo Court.
- Let’s also not forget that Jesse’s first attorney, a “sworn officer of the court,” failed to defend him properly and, after trying to extort Jesse’s mother into giving him Jesse’s car while Jesse was in jail, and abandoning Jesse during preparation for his appeal, was found to be a hard-core abuser and user of cocaine, as was his live-in girlfriend. So much for the integrity of “sworn officers of the court.”
In other words, David, the 6th Judicial Circuit seems to be running a systematic, apparently well-orchestrated array of highly prejudiced and corrupt Kangaroo Courts. Thanks only to Jesse’s ability to think on his feet and use the law in his favor (lauded by Judge Walker), Jesse is not rotting in jail like so many less-skilled victims of prosecutorial and judicial abuse have over the years. I do not say all officers of the court are corrupt, but I believe in my heart, and my eyes and ears testify to the reality, that some certainly are.
Now, on top of that, you chime in by asserting I don’t have any entitlement to the audio recordings so as to determine whether the corruption runs all the way into the written transcripts. Apparently you are not so familiar with the state law you are supposed to uphold in your circuit.
From Florida Statute Chapter 119 :
(1) It is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by any person. Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.
(2)(a) Automation of public records must not erode the right of access to those records….
(2)(f) Each agency that maintains a public record in an electronic recordkeeping system shall provide to any person, pursuant to this chapter, a copy of any public record in that system which is not exempted by law from public disclosure. An agency must provide a copy of the record in the medium requested if the agency maintains the record in that medium, and the agency may charge a fee in accordance with this chapter.
Surely you know the above law. You have not cited any law that exempts the record from public disclosure. Your implication that the written transcripts accurately reflect the audio recordings proves that the transcripts have already disclosed those records. Therefore, the law binds you to prepare and deliver the copies of the audio recordings, as I requested.
I remind you that you and other officers of the court are bound by oath and bond to loyally fulfill your duties to uphold the law, administer it fairly, and defend the rights of the individual people of our state when they appear in your courts.
You have violated that oath by drafting an Administrative Order and issuing an interpretation that unlawfully and high-handedly seeks to deny my rightful and lawful access to the audio recordings I requested. As a result you, David, stand in jeopardy of bond forfeiture, disciplinary action by the state ethics commission, and prosecution. And you, Ron, knowing the law, also stand in jeopardy if you continue to violate it.
Now, therefore, I repeat my request for the above listed audio recordings, and I encourage you to consider this request a very polite, respectful, and firm demand:
Please give me a total of the charges for making the copies, and give me a delivery time within the 30 days after receipt of this letter.
Also, please note that I am sending this by e-mail. I know that you, Ron, receive them, and that you ensure the parties hereto (specifically, David) receive them. I do not consider it necessary to send such letters by registered mail, for if I had to in order to prove I sent it, that would mean the judiciary and its staff really is corrupt and is doing its best to deny my rights.
Accordingly, I expect an acknowledgment from you, Ron, by e-mail, within one business day after my date of transmission.
No answers received from Ron or David as of 2 May 2006