PROBLEMS WITHIN THE FLORIDA JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS COMMISSION
Is The JQC Process Too Secretive?
Does Corruption Hide Within These Secretive Shadows?
September 18, 2017
The Blanket Of Confidentiality
We (VolusiaExposed.Com) would like to advise you of the judge's name - and of the alleged corruption reported - but per the rules of the Judicial Qualifications Commission and the Florida Constitution - we are apparently forbidden to even acknowledge the existence of the complaint. (the particulars of the complaint - the who, what, where & how)
(The above mentioned complaint is NOT regarding the alleged judicial misconduct of Judge Robin Lemonidis that transpired on March 27, 2017 - which is later discussed in this article)
We can tell you this - upon notice by the JQC - the judge DID correct his / her offending behavior. However, the JQC opted NOT to file FORMAL action against the judge - thereby insuring that the complaint never becomes a public record.
In short - if the Florida JQC opts not to file FORMAL charges against the offending judge - the complaint NEVER loses it's confidentiality status.
While we can somewhat appreciate the need for judicial complaints to remain "confidential" during the JQC investigative process - we (VolusiaExposed.Com) believe that upon completion of the investigation - the complaint against the judge should be open to public inspection - regardless if the JQC opts to file formal charges against the judge.
Further - and as noted in our OPEN LETTER (see scroll box to the right -->) to the Florida JQC - we have concerns that the JQC manipulates the complaint process by attaching perpetual confidentiality to viable allegations of judicial corruption - by simply opting not to file FORMAL charges - while steeling themselves (JQC) into a false sense of morality - that they took some type of informal corrective action against the offending judge.
It's our opinion that in many cases - the manipulative actions of the JQC is more contemptuous to the sanctity of the judiciary - then the original misconduct of the offending judge.
Recently, Michael Schneider - Executive Director & General Counsel to the Florida JQC sent VolusiaExposed the following reponse to our open letter (see scroll box to the right -->)
Allow us to first focus on Mr. Schneider's statement that - "The judicial disciplinary process is not an appropriate vehicle to collaterally attack court proceeding with which one disagree. The Commission, as well as a judge, should not be influenced in its actions "by partisan interest, public clamor, or fear of criticism"".
In June 2014 - Brevard Judge John C. Murphy was alleged to have physically attacked a public defender during court proceedings. This incident was captured on courtroom video - and that video has been incorporated within this article (see upper right of this web page). Judge Murphy then immediately violated the United States Constitution by proceeding with the criminal defendants' court proceedings without their attorneys being present.
This incident - and the supportive video - cause MUCH public clamor and criticism worldwide. Eventually, the Florida JQC filed FORMAL CHARGES against Judge Murphy.
With the filing of FORMAL CHARGES - the JQC and Supreme Court case / records regarding Judge John C. Murphy became public record - and is currently available for review at this web link (Click Here).
A few months ago (Summer 2017) - one of our VolusiaExposed representatives engaged Alex Williams - the Assistant General Counsel to Florida's JQC in a telephone conversation regarding the functionality of the JQC. During this telephone conversation, Mr. Williams used the disciplinary action applied against Judge Murphy as his example of how the JQC effectively stamps out judicial corruption. Judge Murphy was removed from the bench by the Florida Supreme Court, but not per the recommendation of the JQC.
But here is the truth of the matter surrounding Judge Murphy. The JQC had ONLY recommended the following regarding Judge Murphy's misconduct - a public reprimand - 120 day suspension - paying a $50,000 fine - and continuing mental health therapy. Click here to read the JQC recommendation.
As per the linked Supreme Court decision - the Florida Supreme Court rejected the JQC recommendation - and removed Judge Murphy from the bench.
Therefore, absent the JQC filing of "formal charges" - thus opening the complaint to a review by the Florida Supreme Court - Judge John C. Murphy would most likely still be on the Brevard County bench.
According to a December 2015 report filed by the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to the Florida Legislature - the Florida Supreme Court rejected several of the JQC's disciplinary recommendations - mostly applying a more severe sanction than what was recommended by the JQC.
This OPPAGA report also indicates that the JQC receive approximately 600-700 judicial misconduct complaints a year - with ONLY about 4 to 9 of these complaints becoming FORMAL complaints filed by the JQC. Remember - without a complaint rising to the level of a "FORMAL COMPLAINT" - the complaint NEVERS loses it's "confidentiality" - thus never becoming a public record. The OPPAGA report also presented other criticisms / questions regarding the JQC process.
So - in any given year - somewhere near 600+ JQC complaints will NEVER become known to the public. Based solely on the decisions of a Judicial Qualifications Commission that the current Florida Supreme Court has on several occassions found to be too lenient. Think on that for a moment - and see if it keeps you up late at night.
JQC Criticisms Fair?
In our OPEN LETTER to JQC Director Michael Schneider - we were very critical regarding our suspicions that the JQC has manipulated the JQC disciplinary process in order not to file "formal charges" against judges - thus avoiding a Supreme Court review of the alleged judicial misconduct.
We will NOW add these following suspicions - first, we highly suspect that complaints filed by judges and attorneys carry more weight with the JQC - than complaints filed by your average non-legal citizen(s). There is no way to confirm this suspicion - due to the confidentiality issues attached to the JQC investigative process - and how convenient is that to the administration of the JQC?
Second, regardless of Mr. Schneider's assurances - we HIGHLY suspect that the JQC are influenced by "partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism". Imagine this - lets say that Judge Murphy's video triade was never picked up by the local professional media - therefore - it (video triade) never came to the attention of the worldwide media. Do you imagine that the JQC would have filed "formal charges" against Judge Murphy? We submit the opinion that the trirade would have been handled "informally" and Judge Murphy would still be on the bench today.(The video of Judge Murphy's triade is available for review - see upper right of this web article)
In support of our opinion - we now offer for your review the March 27, 2017 video triade of Brevard County Judge Robin Lemonidis. This video triade NEVER was published by the professional media - never made the world wide media. Only a few small local web based media outlets published anything regarding this judicial triade. (The video of Judge Lemonidis' triade is available for review - see upper right of this web article)
Now - we challenge our readers to review Judge Lemonidis' judicial rant against a member of the public - and two of our representatives. Our representatives were merely taking press notes - something the Court administration had told us in advance that we could do. The United States Constitution instills everyone charged with a criminal offense - with the right to a public trial - and further grants our country with the well founded priniciple of the freedom of the press. Apparently, on that particular day - in that particular Brevard County courtroom - these constitutional principles did not exist ---- at least in the mind of Judge Robin Lemonidis.
When Judge Lemonidis was sworn in - she sworn to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. So - the question may be just this simple - when a judge ignores constitutional principles - does that conduct equate to judicial misconduct? And shouldn't the public be notified?
TO THE FLORIDA JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS COMMISSION
(Scroll Down Within Box To Review Entire Document)
Click Here To View Letter In PDF Format
Unlike the public defender in the Judge Murphy incident - our representatives were not physically attacked by Judge Lemonidis. But our representatives were threatened with six month jail sentences - were encouraged, under the threat of arrest, not to return to the court room after the lunch break. But most disturbing, is that shortly thereafter, Judge Lemonidis had a private meeting with the jury pool telling them that problems had developed over lunch - that these problems had to be worked out - therefore she was releasing them for the remainder of the day - at least that's her (Lemonidis) story. (see our below linked May 15, 2017 article for additional details - video footage)
MORE ON JUDGE LEMONIDIS
According to on-line Court records, that were posted shortly after our representatives were judicially threatened - the ONLY problem documented over lunch was Judge Lemonidis' threat to hold our representatives in direct contempt. It is of extreme interest - that within these very same court minutes / records - the names of the prospective jurors were listed. The very same jurors' names our representatives were almost sent to jail for - for merely including in their press notes.
Obviously, we have concerns that during this private meeting with the prospective jurors - Judge Lemonidis advised the jurors of the near contempt findings against our representatives - and even if she (Lemonidis) did not - that fact (reason for the day's recess) would have been the ONLY one available to the jurors via a simple internet search of the Clerk's website of http://www.BrevardClerk.us.
Given that the criminal defendant's participation in her website of http://www.BrevardsBestNews.Com was heavily attached to her prosecution - and given that her (defendant) website had re-posted several VolusiaExposed.Com articles critical of Judge Lemonidis - we feel that Judge Lemonidis' private meeting with the jurors could have biased the defendant's right to a fair and impartial trial.
So - are our concerns and criticisms of the JQC well founded? Well - given that the Florida Supreme Court has questioned several recent JQC disciplinary recommendations - and given the critical review of the OPPAGA report - we suspect our suspicions and concerns really are not that far fetched - what say you?
Here are a few other questions for your consideration. Should we even bother to file a JQC complaint regarding Judge Lemonidis' March 27, 2017 triade? And if we do - do you imagine that it will be one of the approximately 4 to 6 complaints that the JQC will file a FORMAL complaint on for 2017? And worse yet - could a JQC complaint cause the 5th District Court Of Appeal to retaliate against criminal defendant, Dana Loyd. Judge Kerry I Evander - from the 5th DCA - is the current JQC Chairperson. Yes - we do also have concerns regarding Judge Evander - that goes beyond his mere assignment to the JQC & the 5th DCA - we suggest reviewing our concerns within the below web link.
Our Concerns Regarding Judge Kerry I. Evander
YEAH IT'S THAT BAD
So - now - how much faith do you have in our (Florida) Judicial Qualifications Commission? If you have very little faith - we encourage you to read further - there may be a solution.
According to some reports - the citizens of Georgia had lost faith in the veracity of their JQC oversight process.
Last year (2016) - the citizens of the State of Georgia voted on whether to repeal and replace their JQC. The repeal and replace initiative passed.
We (VolusiaExposed.Com) believe it is time to consider a "Florida Initiative" in order to restore credibility to our (Florida) Judicial Qualifications Commission.
In Georgia - at least according to their website (copyrighted in 2017) - a JQC complaint loses it's confidentiality status upon the filing of formal charges OR "until the complaint in question is otherwise resolved or closed".
VolusiaExposed.Com forwards the opinion that Florida JQC complaints should also lose their confidentiality status if "the complaint in question is otherwise resolved or closed". The days of perpetual confidentiality within the Florida JQC need to end.
Why should judges be afforded special protections. If a Florida law enforcement officer comes under an internal affairs investigation - the investigation / complaint only holds a confidentiality status during the investigative process. Once the investigative process has been completed - the complaint - and the records attached - are available for public record release - with some statutory exemptions / redactions (officer's birth date, address, etc).
If a citizen is arrested - the prosecutor may decide not to file formal charges against the citizen - thus negating a criminal prosecution. But that citizen's name and criminal charges will still appear in the local newspaper - and be available for review on the local Clerk of Court's website. That citizen will forever have to check the YES box on any employment applications when asked if they have ever been arrested - regardless that the prosecutor NEVER FORMALLY filed a criminal charge. So again we ask - why should Florida judges be afforded special protections against allegations of corruption?
If you agree - that the Florida JQC could use a courtesy flush - then we encourage you to write an email - in your own words - to the legislative aides of the Florida elected officials that have the authority to flush that corruption toilet. Let's stand together and get the law changed - that in the end makes all complaints against Florida judges public records. Feel free to incorporate (cut and paste) this VolusiaExposed.Com article's weblink into your email.
Don't expect justice for youself - until you are prepared to demand & defend justice for others.
Stand by to stand by --- we anticipate that there is more to come ......