LOCAL CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION FILES
MISCONDUCT COMPLAINT AGAINST FLORIDA JUDGE
By Jimmie Martz
Bakersfield CA. January 31, 2017
CIVIL RIGHT ORGANIZATIONS ALLEGE
BLATANT UNCHECKED CORRUPTION
EXISTS IN THE FLORIDA COURTROOMS
By Mitch Owens, Investigative Journalist
October 28, 2017
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review of your complaint in the above matter and has determined, at its most recent meeting, that the concerns you have expressed are not allegations involving a breach of the Code of Judicial Conduct warranting further action by the Commission, but are matters for review through the normal court process.” “Not so,” says John Wells, President of Extend a Hand For Justice, the Bakersfield California advocacy group, “it’s a clear cut case of the ‘Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop.’ If a reviewing Judicial Commission condones the acts as alleged, without a proper investigation, Judges are systematically immune from improper behavior.” The actions didn’t go over very well with other Civil Right Organizations when they heard the news. “What? Said Jason Phelps, a member of Oakland California Citizens for Check and Balance, “That kind of ruling contradicts logic. A ruling such as that could only be for a party to a specific litigation, not a separate outside party. Had the complainant, Extend a Hand For Justice, been a party in a legal court action, and received an adverse ruling by a judge that involved Judicial Misconduct, then their recourse would be to appeal said adverse
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anything about that. Unbelievable. You couldn’t find a better example of collusion between the court and the law firm,” stated Marc Evan, the Executive Director of another California based advocate known as United For Justice. “We don’t have this type of situation here in California because we have groups that watch what is going on in our courtrooms,” stated Jay Phelps of Oakland California based Citizens for Check and Balance. All 3 groups can’t believe what is going on in the Florida Courts and don’t understand why there is no watch groups in Fort Myers questioning the illicit activities.
This reporter could not find any listings for any advocacy groups or civil right organizations in the southwest Florida area. It also appears that the local media, News-Press, Cape Coral Breeze, NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX have dropped the ball in being the government’s watchdogs. “It’s sad,” said Wells, “the citizens of south Florida are being denied true justice in their courts by unscrupulous and unethical judges who are more concerned about appeasing prior associates than maintaining the integrity of the court. Many judges today, especially in the 20th Circuit in Florida, forget that they are bound by constitutional requirements and cannot contain the appearance of influence or impropriety. Our Organizations are going to attempt to disclose to the people of Florida what is going on in hopes of correcting the misconduct and deception that currently exist, even if the local media continues to be silent”
According to the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, “A judge is an arbiter of facts and law for the resolution of disputes and a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law.” It is this requirement that the organizations are most concerned about. They all claim that this is not being performed as required, and they claim they will do whatever is necessary to force the judges of the 20th Circuit Court in Fort Myers Florida to abide by his important rule, or they will seek the removal of those judges that don’t comply.
A conglomerate of civil rights organizations recently concluded that blatant unchecked corruption within the courtrooms of Al Capone’s old hangout has become epidemic. Reports are surfacing of gross judicial misconduct and unethical behavior of judges in Florida’s 20th Circuit Court in Fort Myers. They claim that the activities have been unchecked for sometime with little or no media coverage and no one is speaking out. They Claim that many of the judges sitting on the benches in this City of the Palms are run by and controlled by the large attorney firms operating within Lee County. Complaints of impropriety are adversely “covered up” by a Judicial Commission that appears to be bent on protecting their fellow jurists to a point where they actually look the other way or nix complaints being alleged against any of their peers. So say members of United for Justice, Extend a Hand For Justice, and The Citizens for Check and Balance, who have recently banded together in speaking out. It’s ironic that Capone used to reign there during the winter months, and had a lot of clout in the courts. Well, he’s gone now, so members of the groups want to know who is now pulling the strings, and why justice is no longer available in the courtrooms.
Take for example a recent disclosure that arose out of an unlawful SLAPP lawsuit filed in the local court by the City of Cape Coral against a small Religious Community, The Nelsen Residence Inc., who was operating a small senior and disability complex called the Haven of Divine Love. After false claims of what they perceived as an abusive, overzealous, and aggressive Code Inspector, Marilyn Buck, who admitted that she was not knowledgeable about construction, that a stairway of their private residence was “unsafe,” Nelsen fought back with a slew of protest letters objecting and challenging the wrongful allegations, sending copies to every City Council members, managers and legal staff. The City became
decision or ruling in an Appellate Court. “It doesn’t really matter who the litigants are or what case it is,” said Wells, “as an outside party who observed the activities, we have sufficient documentation and evidence to corroborate our claims.”
Evidently, according to the records on file*, Extend a Hand filed their complaint against Judges Jay B. Rosman, John E. Duryea Jr, and Alane Laboda of the 20th Circuit Court in Fort Myers, Florida as an independent and separate party to any litigant in the case, and would not have any recourse to have illicit and improper actions of the judges reviewed in any way through the normal court process. According to the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, “Reports of misconduct by judges must be made to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.” It doesn’t indicate that only litigants in a case can make complaints against judges. The Code further requires that “A Judge Shall Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary.” That would pertain to all Florida judges, including the judges of the Judicial Commission and the Investigative Panel.
See Twists PG.6)
PANEL TWISTS LEGAL LOGIC TO PROTECT JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT
Oakland, CA October 27, 2017
In a unprecedented move, the Florida Judicial Commission ruled that their investigative panel of the Commission had determined that complaints lodged against three Florida Judges for judicial misconduct, judicial deception, intentional violations of due process of law, dishonesty, unethical behavior, deliberate acts of retaliation, and the overall conspiracy and collusion between the Judges were not a breach of the Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct but were matters for review through normal court process. In a letter by attorney Alexander J. Williams, the Assistant General Counsel of the Commission, sent to a California the civil rights organization, who filed the complaints, stated that “The Investigative Panel of the Commission completed its
(THE FACTS, INFORMASTION, DOCUMENTATION, AND EVIDENCE IN THIS MATTER IS SO VULUMINOUS THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO WRITE ABOUT IT ALL IN THIS SHORT ARTICLE. HOWEVER, I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND, IF YOU WISH TO VERIFY WHAT I WRITE, CHECK OUT THE WEB PAGES)
Nelsen again fought back and filed a cross complaint for the numerous civil right violations of The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, and countless Constitutional violations implemented by the City. Enters attorney Robert Shearman and the law firm of Henderson Franklin Starnes & Holt, the largest locally based legal firm with their 180 attorneys. The new “Al Capone” of the area. Their job was to squash Nelsen and financially cripple them, a feat easily done by initiating continuous and constant Petitions and Motions, and the deliberate hampering of discovery and process, not to mention the intentional attempt to discredit Nelsen’s religious practice. Attorney Shearman appears on local NBC 2 TV, in collusion with their reporters, Bryan Anderson and Annie Hubbell, stating that "They're trying to wrap themselves in a cloak of protection for religion," said Bob Shearman, attorney representing the city in the case, effectively tainting any future jury pool and discrediting Nelsen in the Court. Notices to the Court, and Judge John E. Duryea Jr., a reputed past associate of Henderson Law Firm, are ignored, and subsequently Duryea issued an adverse ruling in favor of the City and against Nelsen. Objections and complaints are filed, including a complaint with the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. Duryea disqualifies and rescues himself. Enters Judge Alane Laboda, a past partner in the Henderson Law Firm. Laboda appoints Judge Jay B. Rosman, another past associate of the Henderson Law Firm, who subsequently dismisses the Civil Rights claims of Nelsen against the City. No trial, no hearing, and adequately denies the ability of Nelsen to properly present their documentation and evidence and present their dispute. “A slam dunk case riddled with gross judicial misconduct in the first degree,” says John Wells, President of California based Extend a Hand For Justice. “A Church is condemned and religious practice is interfered with, an unheard of thing in the United States of America, and nobody, including the judges overseeing the claims, does
A California Civil Rights Organization, Extend a Hand For Justice, has filed a formal complaint with the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission alleging “Gross Judicial Deception and Gross Misconduct which defies and violates the public trust” against three Florida judges and seeks their removal from the bench. The complaint, filed in August 2017, was made against Judges John E. Duryea Jr.; Alane Laboda; and Jay B. Rosman of the 20th Judicial Circuit Court in Fort Myers, Florida. The complaint further alleges overall conspiracy and collusion between the judges and the local law firm, Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A. The complaint pertains to activities surrounding court cases between The City of Cape Coral and The Nelsen Residence Inc., a Lee County Religious Community that has challenged improper conduct by city personnel. The City, represented by Attorneys Robert Shearman, Richard Aiken & Tracie McKee with the Henderson Law Firm, apparently has a direct contact with Judge Laboda, who was a prior partner in the Firm. It was also alleged that the Henderson Law Firm participated in both Judges Duryea’s and Rosman’s prior elections, and was instrumental in the election of Laboda.
Extend a Hand is no stranger to filing complaints with Judicial Commissions in numerous parts of the country. Last April, Extend a Hand filed a complaint with the same Commission against Judge Duryea for his unusual findings in favor of a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Henderson Attorneys. When a valid protest was made for the collusion and improper ruling, Judge Duryea disqualified himself. Judge Laboda, acting as the Administrative Civil Judge, assigned the cases to Judge Rosman. In May 2017, Extend a Hand filed another complaint with the Commission, notifying them that the majority of the Judges sitting on the 20th Circuit Court, intentionally omitting biographical information of prior education, experience, and the associations of law firms they worked for. Apparent hearings or investigations by a “secret” Investigative Panel of the Commission, declined to take any action of the complaints. After numerous Freedom of Information requests for the names of the “secret” Investigative Panel, the Commission refused to disclose the names.
“It used to be that many ‘Mafia Godfathers’ would brag on how many judges they held in their pocket. Now it’s the large attorney firms who brag and now control what goes on it the courtrooms of America.” said John Wells, President of Extend a Hand. “Because most local Judgeships are ultimately, non-contested, it's easy for a large
(See Judges, pg 5)
Judges continued from pg 2
law firm to hand pick one of their attorneys or partners to run for the open judge positions. Once in, the ex-employee or ex-partner of the law firm, now a judge, can easily rule on the firm's cases before him/her. It's a slam-dunk situation often giving un-ethical rulings in favor of the ex-partner’s firm.” The web site for the 20th Circuit Court of Fort Myers, http://www.ca.cjis20.org/home/lee/leejudges.asp did in fact show that the majority of the sitting judges had no biographical information posted as to who they are, what their education and experience was, or who they were affiliated with prior to becoming judges. “There is no proper check and balance of the judiciary of the 20th Circuit,” stated Wells. “The can do whatever they wish, and the Judicial Qualifications Commission will not investigate the wrongdoings that exist, or disclose who is actually nixing the allegations. For all I know, the ‘secret’ Panel could be the actual judges being complained about”
“When an injured party, or a person who challenges improper behavior of a government entity, is subjected to unfavorable treatment by a discriminatory or colluding judge, it defies the ability to obtain justice,” says Marc Evans, the Executive Director of United for Justice, another California Civil Rights Organization. “Using favoritism in the courtroom, as indicated by the substantial documents and evidence in this situation, only undermines the integrity of our courts. On top of that, when a Judicial Commission fails to properly oversee judicial misconduct, it destroys the trust of the public at large” Evans added.
The case filed in the 20th Circuit Court of Lee County pertained to gross violations by the City of Cape Coral of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act and a previous filing of a Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, (SLAPP)***, by the City against The Nelsen Residence Inc., a local Religious Community that provides low cost housing for indigent parties. Nelsen, doing business as The Haven of Divine Love, was originally a convent for nuns, but now operates as a Religious Community of both male and female members. After hanging a “Heck No!, We won’t Go” banner on their Chapel and making a formal “Declaration of War” against the City in response to the City’s “anti-poor” policies and procedures, The City in retaliation, turned off the Community’s electricity and water effectively condemning their house of worship. “To be denied Due Process of Law and the ability to pursue our claims by local Judges is in fact a travesty of injustice, and a mockery of the court system,” says Jerome Valenta, The Nelsen’s President and Chairman of The Board. “We’ve been, pardon my pun, SLAPPED into submission by a very unethical group of Judges”
Although the complaint with the Judicial Commission and subsequent appeals in the Appellate Court are still pending, it appears that the real losers in this instance are the disadvantaged and low income residents of Cape Coral who have suffered from their actions.
*** A Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, although illegal, is sometimes filed by government entities against parties who speak out against abusive conditions in an attempt to curtain or silence them into submission by enacting costly litigation that is so unbearable that the dissenting party has no choice but to give up.
SEE REFERENCES http://www.extendahandforjustice.org/news-articles.html
outraged and proceeded to engage in a slew of abusive and deceptive practices. How dare someone challenge the authority of the City? was their apparent mentality. The City initiate further attacks, sending out a building inspector, Keith Eric Liebegott and Fire Chief John Maher, who collectively, under the false pretense that Nelsen’s private residence was a commercial building, initiated a slew of false and wrongful allegations. Nelsen again fought back with another slew of objections letters of protest. The City became more outraged and vindictively turned off the electricity to the building in a blatant attempt to force Nelsen into submission. Nelsen stood their ground, posting a large banner, “Heck No! We Won’t Go!” on their building. The City reacted, and shut off the water, affectively condemning the building including Nelsen’s private Chapel and disrupted Nelsen’s religious practice. Hanging a new banner on the building stating, “GOD’S HOUSE HAS BEEN CONDEMNED BY THE CITY OF CAPE CORAL FLORIDA” was the last straw leading to the filing of the SLAPP litigation. Nelsen again reacted and DECLARES WAR ON THE CITY OF CAPE CORAL FL
CALIFORNIA CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP ALLEGES MISCONDUCT OF FLORIDA JUDGES
September 2, 2017
Judge John E. Duryea Jr. Judge Alane Laboda Judge Jay B. Rosman
JUDGE JOHN DURYEA
20TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
FORT MYERS, FL
A local advocacy organization, Extend a Hand For Justice, filed a open letter of complaint against a Florida 20th Circuit Court Judge alleging gross misconduct and improper ethics violations. Judge John Duryea came under fire after he made a ruling that conflicted the information and facts previously submitted to him. "We find this action to be deplorable and a serious dishonest act of Judicial Misconduct, and we intend on filing a formal complaint with your Florida Judicial Commission and will seek an investigation of your actions" stated the letter.
As a direct result of the allegation of misconduct, Judge Duryea recused himself by order of the Court Administrator's Office who reassigned the case to another judge. A formal complaint lodged with the Florida Judicial Commission is currently pending.
they would give the Commission time to correct and reverse their error, and if not, they are preparing to file formal complaints against both the judges and Commission with the Florida Governor’s Office and the Florida House of Representatives as required.
*Copies of the complaints and letters are posted on Extend a Hand For Justice web page.
(SEE LETTERS BELOW)
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Unfortunately, due to statutes pertaining to the Commission, the names of the judges of the Investigative Panel can not be disclosed, nor can it be determined how many of the 15 Commissioners made up the Panel, so this author can not ascertain which judges or individuals of the Commission were on the Panel and responsible for the ruling.
“This is absolutely unbelievable,” said Marc Evan, the Executive Director of another concerned civil rights organization, United for Justice. “Who ever heard or could possibly believe that judicial misconduct, judicial deception, intentional violations of due process of law, dishonesty, unethical behavior, deliberate acts of retaliation, and the overall conspiracy and collusion between the Judges are not violations of the Code and unethical in its entirety.” “We filed our objections to their improper ruling” says Wells, “and we can only see what they do before taking further actions. We strongly feel that the Investigative Panel of the Commission is attempting to cover up the illicit actions of the judges involved, and we will not tolerate that.” Wells said that
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THE FOLLOWING LETTERS WERE MADE TO THE FLORIDA JUDICIAL QUALIFICATIONS COMMISSION IN RESPONSE TO THEIR DENIAL TO INVESTIGATE JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT IN AN ATTEMPT TO COVER UP THE ILLICIT ACTIVITES