Friday, July 6, 2012

No charges filed against Florida State Supreme Court judges

Michael Dorstewitz
July 6, 2012

A prosecutor has decided not to file charges against the the Florida Supreme Court judges who used their own court staff to notarize campaign forms.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation revealed that three Florida Supreme Court justices had state employees notarize their election forms during working hours in order to meet filing deadlines. According to State Attorney Willie Meggs, the act of notarizing the forms was so insignificant that it did not rise to the level of violating Fla. campaign election law.
As reported in this morning’s Miami Herald:

"It is well established that the law does not concern itself with trifles," Meggs said in a letter to FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. "No charges will be filed and this matter should be closed."
Meggs acknowledged that FDLE's investigation of justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince, showed the judges had apparently run afoul of the statute. But he wrote that "common sense should be used in deciding cases."
"In this case, notarizing a signature is a minor act which was likely accomplished in less than a minute," wrote Meggs, who is based in Tallahassee.

However, the fact that thew state attorney has decided not to file doesn’t keep the three jurists completely off the hook.

A separate legal action aimed at keeping the judges off the election ballot has been filed in Leon County court by a conservative Atlanta-based legal organization, the Southeastern Legal Foundation.

The incident hasn’t escaped the attention of Fla. Gov. Rick Scott.

In a statement issued Thursday, Scott said he would await a decision by the Leon County court.
“According to FDLE findings, it appears using state employees to complete and file campaign forms and other documents is ‘common practice,’” he said. “Now this case is before the courts where a determination will be made as to whether this ‘common practice’ is legal. Whatever the ruling, we will accept it and act accordingly.”

The entire Miami Herald article can be read here.

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