|Submitted||Aug. 17, 2015|
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PS Note that I previously made this request to the FL Supreme Court for such a public record in Dec 2013, but did not receive any reply from the person I wrote to at the FL Supreme Court. See below.
Judicial Assistant to Justice Barbara Pariente
The Florida Supreme Court
500 South Duval Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1925
Re: Query re general information on a procedure (not involving any case)
Dear Brenda Williams, Judicial Assistant to Justice Barbara Pariente:
I found your contact information online here:
I am not writing about any specific case; rather, I have a general question I hope you
can answer, or Justice Pariente can answer or some other Florida Supreme Court
justice can answer.
I am a law-abiding citizen and a former FL certified teacher (1997-2012) now residing in
I would like to know the answer to this question:
What does a law-abiding citizen do when faced with high level corruption by
high level officials of the Florida Bar, depriving the citizen of access to this arm of
the Florida court system?
I keep reading the FL Bar is an arm of the Florida Court. In light of that, is there
a method the Florida Court has by which a citizen can submit evidence of corruption
by high level Florida Bar officials directly to the Florida Supreme Court?
I am asking these questions because I timely evidenced to the Florida Bar
a legitimate complaint about a corrupt Florida attorney in Collier County.
The Florida Bar Staff Attorney engaged in unlawful acts with respect to my complaint.
I then made a timely new complaint in June 2013 about the unlawful conduct of this Florida Bar
Staff Attorney to the Florida Bar.
The Florida Bar responded to my new complaint about the unlawful conduct of this Florida Bar Staff Attorney by: refusing to acknowledge the existence of my complaint.
Instead of acknowledging my June 2013 complaint against this Florida Bar Staff Attorney, the Florida Bar
pretended: I had made a request to re-open my initial complaint against the Collier attorney,
when in fact I made no such request. My submission was clearly a complaint against a Florida
Bar Staff Attorney.
I have written to numerous high level administrators at the Florida Bar.
They have ignored my correspondence (see my last two emails below to the person at the Florida Bar in charge of supervising the Florida Bar Department of Regulation, John Berry, with a cc to the current FL Bar president and the ).
Since I am being wrongly deprived of access to the court via this arm of the court (the Florida Bar),
I would like to know the answer to my question to Justice Pariente [or any other judge at the FL Supreme Court]: is there
a method the Florida Court has by which a citizen can submit evidence of corruption by high level Florida Bar officials
directly to the Florida Supreme Court?
I am asking for no more than fundamental fairness and the right o be heard.
I have not experienced any fundamental fairness or the right to be heard through the
Florida Bar in this matter, despite the fact this matter is know to two presidents of
the Florida Bar, past and present (Ms. G. Young and Mr. E. Pettis), and despite
the fact I have written to all of the following officials at the Florida Bar about this
matter, and have yet to receive any acknowledgement of my 2013 complaint and evidence
from any of them:
The Florida Bar President
Eugene K. Pettis
Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm
John F. Harkness, Jr .
John T. Berry, Director
BRANCH OFFICES Lawyer Regulation
James N. Watson, Jr., Chief Branch Discipline Counsel
651 East Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300
I hope you can ask Justice Pariente [or any judge at the FL Supreme Court] my question and email a response to me.
I would like to submit my complaint and evidence directly to the Florida [Supreme Court] for a decision, since I am
being deprived of access to the court by the Florida Bar about the corruption that exists at the Florida Bar.
I would like my complaint about corruption at the Florida Bar by a Florida Bar Staff Attorney
to be heard and my evidence to be reviewed. and a determination made. . . .
6214 Lexington Ridge Drive, Lexington, MA 02421
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Susan Alyn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, Nov 9, 2013 at 8:56 AM
Subject: PS Very disappointed in you
Cc: email@example.com, "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
PS I am very disappointed in your failure to supervise and your decision to leave the public at risk of more wrongful conduct by corrupt Florida lawyers. It seems to me that several staff lawyers at the Florida Bar should have been fired by now, if you had any actual interest in protecting the public from corrupt lawyers. Instead, nothing was done, and I did not even receive the courtesy of a reply despite my emails sent to you in good faith evidencing the corruption.
On Sat, Nov 9, 2013 at 8:53 AM, Susan Alyn <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Mr. Berry --
I have not received any reply from either you or Mr. Watson on the matters I wrote to you
about in August 2013. It is now November 2013.
I did not receive any reply from you or Mr. Watson in response to any of my emails
about this matter.
cc: Mr. Watson
Mr. Pettis, President of the FL Bar
All Press Inquiries should be directed to:
Press Office (850) 414-7641, or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Seeking public record concerning remedy for misconduct by the FL Bar Dept of Lawyer Regulation
To Whom It May Concern at the Office of the Clerk, FL Supreme Court:
As the FL Bar Dept of Lawyer Regulation is part of the FL Bar -- which itself is an arm of the FL Supreme Court -- I am seeking from the FL Supreme Court a certified copy of any public record which exists and explains to the public what to do in this current and on-going situation, which has been happening since 2009:
The highest level attorneys and staff of the FL Bar are persistently failing to comply with their own procedures, rules and by-laws, violating procedures and rules, and refusing to answer questions, with respect to certain complaints filled by the public about the misconduct of certain FL attorneys.
This situation not only protects certain FL attorneys from being subject to any discipline (including attorneys employed by the FL Bar engaging in misconduct), but also chills the speech of the public, as it discourages additional complaints about other attorneys engaging in violations of FL Bar Rules.
Thus, pursuant to Florida's Sunshine Law (Fla. Stat. secs. 119.01 to 119.15 (1995)), again, I hereby request the following records: a certified copy of any public record which exists and explains to the public what to do and what remedy exists as provided by the FL Supreme Court in this current and on-going situation, which has been happening since 2009.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I would request your response within ten (10) business days.
I have checked with our Clerk’s Office and our General Counsel’s Office, and they advise me that there are no records here responsive to your request.
Public Information Office
Thank you for your message, but -- kindly explain what this means in terms of the public. Does your message mean when the FL Bar's uppermost staff and attorneys are deliberately engaging in misconduct and violating Rules of the Bar, then: there is no remedy provided by the FL Supreme Court to the public to investigate or stop this misconduct? What is the public supposed to do to remedy this situation if no public record exists as to procedure?
Here is the response from our General Counsel’s Office:
The Florida Supreme Court does not have records responsive to your specific request. However, The Florida Supreme Court is not the custodian of records for The Florida Bar. To get copies of records from The Florida Bar, you should direct a request to The Florida Bar.
The complaint process outlined in the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar is the appropriate procedure to follow. Beyond this reference, we cannot give legal advice. If you need more specific advice, we recommend you consult with an attorney.
Public Information Office
Mr. Waters, I appreciate your efforts, but the reply from the General Counsel completely ignores my question, which is simply this:
As your 8/17 reply states: "there are no records here responsive to your request" does this mean: although the FL Bar is in fact an arm
of the FL Supreme Court (as surely the general counsel knows), are you saying there is no way to hold accountable those employed at
the FL Bar who are deliberately engaging in misconduct and harming the public? (Because I did file a complaint with the FL Bar
against a FL Bar staff attorney, and the only result was: more corruption, as again procedures were not followed and Rules were violated.)
So, again: There is no way in existence that the FL Supreme Court holds the FL Bar accountable? No public record which explains how?
I already made a website about corruption at the FL Bar which you can show the general counsel: http://istheflbarcorrupt.blogspot.com/
Other states -- where the bar is an arm of the court -- do have procedures whereby the public can go directly to the court to hold the bar
lawyers accountable, as I understand.
But you are saying: No accountability exists in FL, with respect to the arm of the FL Supreme Court known as the FL Bar? Because if the FL Supreme Court does not hold the FL Bar accountable for its corruption, then, who does?
Ms. Alyn, here is the response of our General Counsel and Clerk of Court:
Dear Ms. Alyn,
I understand you are displeased with decisions and actions of the Florida Bar, but the process has apparently reached its end. Our office would normally advise you to contact the President of the Florida Bar if you were displeased with their handling of a matter but it appears you have already done that and are dissatisfied with their response, or alleged lack thereof. From the information you have provided to this office, it appears that your concern regards the vindication of a specific private grievance. The purpose of The Florida Bar’s attorney disciplinary proceedings is the protection of the public, not the vindication of private rights. See Tyson v. The Florida Bar, 826 So. 2d 265, 268 (Fla. 2002) (quoting from In Re Harper, 84 So. 2d 700, 702 (Fla. 1956).
I regret that I am unable to be of further assistance.
John Tomasino, Clerk
Tad David, General Counsel
Re: "From the information you have provided to this office, it appears that your concern regards the vindication of a specific private grievance. The purpose of The Florida Bar’s attorney disciplinary proceedings is the protection of the public, not the vindication of private rights. "
I think the above statement completely misrepresents both my complaints and my current concern. My original complaint was against not a private attorney, but an attorney employed by a public school district and the matter concerned public records -- so my complaint involved two matters of public concern, a school district and public records, and that attorney's deliberate misconduct. My next complaint concerned the FL Bar staff attorney who mishandled that complaint, and the way the FL Bar deliberately violated its own procedures with respect to that complaint.
So, there is no "private" grievance here, and there is no attempted "vindication" of any "private" grievance. These are all matters of public concern:
how a public school district attorney violates public records laws, and how a bar which is the arm of a court system protects that type of corruption through the mishandling of the complaint, and then the subsequent cover-up of a complaint about that mishandling.
Since "protection of the public" is indeed what is at stake here, is there any law you can cite which points to procedures of the FL Supreme Court in a supervisory capacity over the FL Bar? And any thus provides the public record I am seeking herein? A public record explaining what remedy and procedures exist for the public when the highest level officials of the FL Bar are deliberately failing to follow their own procedures, depriving citizens of the right to appeal, and refusing to protect the public from corrupt lawyers? Instead of protecting the public, they are protecting corrupt lawyers, including corrupt lawyers on their staff. Is there really nothing the FL Supreme Court does in terms of an oversight function for the public?
And if there is no public record or law you can cite explaining any oversight remedy of the FL Supreme Court for the public in matters of great public interest, then what? Again, this is not in any way a "private" grievance nor does it concern "vindication" of a private grievance. A public school district attorney who is corrupt, and a bar which is the arm of a state court which is corrupt, could not possibly be more of a public matter of great concern to the public and worthy of action by the FL Supreme Court to protect the public.
I am very shocked there is no public record providing a clear remedy for direct address by the public to the FL Supreme Court in such a situation. But that is what it sounds like you are telling me: No remedy for the public exists in any public record at the FL Supreme Court -- no procedures, no remedy, no redress is available nor explained in any public record. Is that correct?
According to what this US Supreme Court Justice said, an integrated bar (one that is an arm of the court, such as the FL Bar), runs the risk of becoming nothing more than "goosestepping brigades" that "serve neither the public nor the profession."
Without any remedy on a public record available to the public to report to the FL Supreme Court that the "goosestepping brigade" is in full force and effect, it seems to me no one at the FL Supreme Court is seeking to stop such from happening and no one is heeding this judge's warning.
..."Two years prior to the issuance of the ABA McKay Report, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held in Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 US 1 (1990), adopting in effect the prescient minority Justices' dissents in Lathrop v. Donohue, 367 U.S. 820 (1961), that integrated state bars must not venture into political and ideological waters but stick with the narrow, legitimate functions of integrated state bars. To do otherwise these bars would become, as Justice Douglas pointed out in Lathrop, "goose-stepping brigades" that serve neither the public nor the profession. ..."
From Lanson v The Florida Bar, Case No. 9:08-80422-Civ
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
It seems to me that someone at the FL Supreme Court should care about the public being crushed by a goosestepping brigade.
I see there is no reply to the concern expressed above in my previous reply, quoting from the US Supreme Court, as they warned that an integrated bar (such as the FL Bar, which is an arm of the court) could turn into a: "goose-stepping brigade that serves neither the public nor the profession."
That seems very wrong to me that such should happen -- and such did happen and is on-going at the FL Bar.
Yet, according to the FL Supreme Court here in response to my request for a public record of a remedy: there is no public record of any remedy to stop this goose-stepping brigade.
Journalists, take note.
Here is the response from General Counsel Tad David:
The Florida Bar is an arm of the Supreme Court of Florida, and operates under such authority. The Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, especially Chapters 1 through 4, would appear to be generally responsive to your request. The rules are easily available on The Florida Bar’s internet website. These rules, and the statutory authority regarding the organization of The Florida Bar, provide the appropriate procedure to follow in matters such as yours.
As previously stated, any advice beyond this reference would potentially constitute giving legal advice, and we cannot give legal advice to individual, private citizens. If you need legal advice regarding your specific circumstances, we recommend you consult with an attorney.
Here is my response to the General Counsel Tad David:
I know the FL Bar is an arm of the Supreme Court of Florida, and is operating under such authority. I asked what remedy does the FL Supreme Court provide to the public when the FL Bar highest level attorneys are corrupt?
There is no remedy, and no public record from the FL Supreme Court for any such remedy is the answer I received from you.
I then pointed out this leaves the public with a "goose-stepping brigade" as already warned by the US Supreme Court,
and you now claim in response the remedy is with the FL Bar.
There is no remedy at the FL Bar to root out its own corruption is what I am telling you. The FL Supreme Court, if it is providing authority, should
have a remedy for the public -- but does not. That is why my public records request here has now been marked as : NO RESPONSIVE DOCUMENTS.
A very sad situation, in my opinion.
Again -- Journalists, take note.
PS Mr. David, With all due respect to you and the FL Supreme Court, what I am trying to tell you is this: the public needs a remedy from the FL Supreme Court, whereby the public can directly petition the court when FL Bar staff attorneys are not following their own procedures and violating the rules of the bar.
There needs to be oversight from the FL Supreme Court.
I thought such oversight might exist, and all that was necessary was for a member of the public to find out the procedures from the FL Supreme Court.
But now I see: there is no oversight, no remedy provided by the FL Supreme Court. The public can not petition directly the court when the public discovers corruption at the FL Bar. Some of the corruption involves failing to provide documents necessary to appeal or review.
Thus, the FL Bar attorneys are free to violate their own rules and protect corrupt attorneys as they wish -- and, to do so when corrupt politicians ask them to do so, for political reasons. And that is in fact what the FL Bar has done in the past.
They are indeed a goose-stepping brigade. With no remedy available from the FL Supreme Court for the public. That is the situation which exists, FYI.
Ms. Alyn, our General Counsel Tad David advised me to notify you that we have responded to your requests and that we will not respond to further correspondence unless it regards new and unique issues.
Yes, I agree: this matter has ended. There were no responsive documents. Agreed.