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FDLE: Justices won't be prosecuted for asking state employees to notarize campaign forms

From the Associated Press:

Gov. Rick Scott won't soon be getting a chance to replace three Florida Supreme Court justices after a prosecutor said Thursday that no charges files would be brought against them for having state-paid employees notarize their campaign forms.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said that an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows the justices had campaign forms notarized by state employees during working hours to meet an April filing deadline. But the prosecutor said common sense says notarizing a signature would not constitute furthering one's campaign.

"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.

Scott, a Republican, has been a critic of the high court. All three justices were appointed by the late Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, although Quince's appointment was endorsed by then-incoming Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican.

FDLE's investigation determined that the other four justices also used court personnel to notarize financial disclosure forms — a practice largely for convenience.  State Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, had asked Scott to have FDLE investigate whether laws were broken when the justices had forms notarized just before the deadline. The governor then requested the FDLE review.

In Florida, appeals judges and Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor. But instead of running for re-election, they are subject to an up or down merit retention vote.

Last week, Scott said the justices should follow the law and he wouldn't answer whether he'd vote to retain any of them.

In 2010, the state Supreme Court removed from the ballot three constitutional amendments pushed by the GOP-controlled Legislature including a "health care freedom" amendment sponsored by Plakon that would have made it illegal in Florida to have a health insurance mandate. Legislators in 2011 reworked the amendment and placed it on this year's ballot.

A conservative Atlanta-based legal organization, the Southeastern Legal Foundation, filed a complaint last week for declaratory and injunctive relief and asked a Leon County court to prohibit Secretary of State Ken Detzner from placing the three Justices on November's statewide ballot. The group said the justices may have violated ethics rules because they raise money to urge voters to keep them on the bench.

A message for comment from the foundation was not immediately returned.

In a statement, Scott said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Commissioner Gerald Bailey and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for diligently reviewing the possible violations by Florida Supreme Court Judges. According to FDLE findings, it appears using state employees to complete and file campaign forms and other documents is ‘common practice.’ 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.”

Comments

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whasup

And we're brought this rear nugget about some grandiose absurdity about trifles and the law by none other than Herr Villie Meggs, the Chief Petty Tyrant of the 2nd Judicial Circuit ...

Who knows a thing or two about legal trifling ... or not ...

Such that he manufacture's novel, yet absurd and ineffective legal theories of crime ... simply to scare legislators into not cutting the prosecutors' budgets any more!

Nobody, but not nobody, in the contemporary era ever gets to hold their Hindnesses on the high courts accountable ...

... unless it's like Judge Chrome-Dome Hawkes out on the 1st DCA bench, who made all the black-robed grand-high Muckity-Mucks look like greedy buffoons with the Taj Mahal building ...

(even as the judiciary was whining about their overspending and lack of money)

... in which such cases of profoundly self-serving behavior as judges may from time to time undertake brings their collective backsides into a bad public relations eddy ...

when the JQC, the corrupt public-private partnership 'twixt the bar and courts, acts against the El Noblios.

Nobody, but not nobody--outside the guild of lawyers-- holds judges, especially not the Ewoks on the Supreme Court, to account.

Ain't it grand when one "profession" so well controls the 3rd ("equal"? -- my muscular buttocks!) branch of government?!

It's past time we, the people, cast a few of them down from their lofty perches, just on principle--the one that says "no one is above the law" (not even if they all violate it).

amigay

Rick Scott is admonishing the judges to follow the law? HAHAHAHHHAHHHAHAHHHHAHAHHHHHH LMFAO

Anti-Tallahassee

That was a great rant whasup. Too bad it made NO sense. The only people sitting on their high and mighty perch are Rick Scott and the Republicans. I voted Republican my whole life until the 2010 governor's race. Now I will NOT vote for one Republican at the state level in 2012. Florida Republicans are ideological scum, and they have been in power in Tallahassee for TOO LONG.

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