12 January 2014

Florida News– Officialdum


by Leigh Lundin

Florida postcard
Not Just California

Last month, I wrote about a California kid who, after killing four people in a drunk driving accident, was deemed too rich for prison. A reader brought to my attention that something very similar happened not so long ago here in Florida. Jewelry scion Ryan LeVin killed two British visitors with his Porsche 911, then fled the scene and later attempted to blame a friend for the deaths. Apparently, LeVin paid off the widows and, instead of a thirty-year term, a judge sentenced him to two years home confinement in his parents’ ocean-side homes. (That’s homes, plural.) As The Pulp reported at the time, "He got grounded."

Get-Out-of-Jail Card

You may have read about convicted murderers Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins who used law library-forged release papers to walk out of prison. To further the deception, they actually registered as ex-felons at the Orange County Jail.

This was not the first time it's happened in Florida. In fact, the mastermind behind the escape, Nydeed Nashaddai, engineered his own short-lived escape five years earlier.

Icy Day in Hell / Hellish Day in ICE

With multiple airports and seaports, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expend a lot of resources in Florida. Unfortunately, some agents are open for business.

Pay-Your-Own

I nearly missed a re-election footnote and plan to write more about this later. One out of every 14,600 citizens of Duval County is on death row, the highest of any county in America. Like other counties around the nation with staggering death penalty prosecutions, this court district also has high incidence of prosecutorial misconduct.

You may not have heard that Florida elects public defenders, yet Matt Shirk ran for (and won) re-election with three planks in his platforms: (a) pledging not to take a confrontational stance with law enforcement, (b) cutting public funding for the defender’s office in a district in a state with one of the highest number of capital cases, and (c) billing defendants who are acquitted for legal services. In other words, the state prosecutes an innocent person and then sends that person a bill if they’re not guilty. And if a defense attorney isn’t supposed to challenge authorities, who is?

But Matthew Shirk did one thing more. One of his first acts in office was to fire attorneys who’d exposed public corruption. I might express dismay, but it’s a bit overshadowed by our dear governor.

From the Governor’s Office


It’s ironic the man who committed the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in history worries about welfare fraud. No one wants to give hand-outs to drug addicts, but the Florida governor and legislature decided it would be a fine idea to skip probable cause and make pay-in-advance drug-testing mandatory for welfare recipients. Politicians intimated they would weed out at least 20% and possibly more than 50% of recipients. If you’re indigent, you might not have a spare $25-45 to pay for the test, even though the governor promised to reimburse those found drug free, which turned out to be a much greater amount than insinuated.

When opponents weren’t able to defeat the bill, they moved to make drug-testing of candidates for state office mandatory. Politicians and drugs? Oddly enough, lawmakers and the governor decided testing politicians was not a fine idea. One legislator said requiring him to pee in a cup like everyone else would violate his constitutional rights.

The much ballyhooed double digits figure of drug-infested welfare queens turned out to be less than 2%, far below the average population (8.9%) and 18-to-25-year-olds (21.5%).. A U.S. District Court has now ruled the law unconstitutional. Naturally, the governor will waste more money in appeals.

8 comments:

Janice Law said...

I can see where Florida writer Carol Hiaasen gets his wild plots

Louis A. Willis said...

Another interest article on Florida, where the more things seem to change, the more they remain the same.

A Broad Abroad said...

The unjustness and unfairness of all this is too distressing. (I prefer your funny updates about FL's dumb petty thieves.)
Florida is not alone in voting for corrupt officials more interested in feathering their own nests than seeing to the needs of their constituents.
In South Africa we have a State President who recently had $21 million of tax-payers’ money spent on upgrading - not building from scratch, mind you, but upgrading - his home, about which he claims to have no knowledge or involvement.
(Maybe his messages were transmitted via our internationally-acclaimed sign-language interpreter!)

Leigh Lundin said...

Janice and Louis, you're right. A resident writer never need run out of crazy things to write about. But the downside is that some are more unbelievable than fiction.

ABA, point taken! I started writing one Florida-based article and realized it was much more involved than I'd left time for.

Dixon Hill said...

I love that his name is Matt Shirk ... as in Shirk his responsibilities. LOL

Leigh Lundin said...

Ain't that the truth, Dixon. Pity the innocent defendant who depends on him.

Eve Fisher said...

Nothing quite like charging you money for being found innocent. That takes gall.

Leigh Lundin said...

Eve, I've been reading that some of the highest numbers of prosecutions and convictions come from counties with no public defenders' office. I hadn't realized any but the smallest counties might not have PD offices, but apparently that's not uncommon in Texas and surrounds. Apparently there's a move afoot to dissolve the public defender's office in Maricopa County, Arizona. Lack of a PD office means there's no support team and no on-staff investigators, plus the defense must beg for every dollar of reimbursement.