When Angela Corey, a University of Florida graduate, became State Attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court, which includes Jacksonville, her hometown, in 2008 she became the first woman ever to hold the position. Angela Corey majored in marketing before deciding to pursue a career in law.  This background probably aided her in her run for office and will continue to aid her as her political career evolves.  She started out in medical malpractice lawsuits before becoming certified in criminal law.  She became an Assistant State Attorney in 1981 under Ed Austin and then under Harry Shorstein.  During her 26 years as a prosecutor, she has tried hundreds of cases.  In 1996, her primary responsibilities shifted to the homicide division and supervising lawyers in the felony division.  In 2005, State Attorney Harry Shorstein (1992-2008) moved Corey from the Gun Crime Unit, where she was the director, to the County Court, which handled misdemeanors and trained new prosecutors.  The next year, presumably unhappy with her new director job, she announced her candidacy for State Attorney.  Her working relationship with her boss, Harry Shorstein, unsurprisingly deteriorated quickly and he terminated her a few months later.  Shorstein cited a complaint against her as the reason; Corey publicly called it “politically motivated”.  She then moved to the office of State Attorney John Tanner (7th Judicial Circuit) and worked homicides.  Shorstein then retired and did not run for re-election against his previous employee.

CBS quoted, in 2012, Jacksonville defense attorney Mitchell Stone, a former colleague from 1988 to 1991.  He said Corey’s reputation for being tough is earned.  She also is very close to law enforcement.  She is “tenacious, dedicated, and set in her ways.”

“If she sees things a particular way and she believes the evidence confirms her suspicions, it will take an awful lot to get her to back off,” says Stone.

Stone also said that he was defending a woman in 2012 charged by Corey’s office with slashing a man whom she said attacked her.  Corey didn’t believe her and proceeded with charges, but the judge dismissed the case finding that Stone’s client had acted in self-defense.

People laud Corey just for her being the prosecutor in the Zimmerman case.  They admire her for stepping in after being appointed by the Governor of Florida.  They like her merely because she agrees with them.  The facts are far from this image.  She is a woman with a history of long sentences with no compassion, a heavy hand on troubled juveniles, and silencing her critics.  Some people like a “take no prisoners” philosophy, but I don’t believe that a black-and-white view of the world helps anyone.

STATE ATTORNEY ANGELA COREY’S CONTROVERSIES:

  • The Case of Chad Heins (Is He Innocent?)
  • Florida vs. Cristian Fernandez (12-Year-Old Boy Charged As An Adult Faces Life in Prison Without Parole)
  • Angela Corey’s Fight with Alan Dershowitz

Mandatory Minimum and Stand Your Ground Controversies:

  • Marissa Alexander
  • Ronald Thompson

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA’S CONTROVERSIES:

  • The Death of Neil Southerland (Justified Police Shooting?)
  • Jose Baez Was Not Held in Contempt
  • Taxpayer Pension Fund Scandal (Should Prosecutor’s Be Able to Reallocate Office Funds to Their Pension?)

THE CASE OF CHAD HEINS

During her election bid, the case of Chad Heins plagued her a bit, but not nearly as much as it should have.  Angela Corey had been the prosecutor in the case of Chad Heins.  Heins was convicted in 1996 of first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery.  He was sentenced to life in prison.  On the night of April 17, 1994, Tina Heins was brutally stabbed to death in the Mayport, Florida, apartment she shared with her husband, Jeremy Heins, and Jeremy’s brother Chad Heins.  Jeremy Heins was away in the Navy and Chad Heins had just moved to Jacksonville and was waiting for his fiancée to join him.  Chad had returned home at 12:30 a.m. that night, two hours before his sister-in-law, and went to bed.  He woke up around 5:45 a.m. to find three small fires burning in the living room and kitchen, one on the very sofa where he slept. After putting out the fires and disarming the smoke alarm, he discovered Tina Heins in her bedroom; she had been stabbed 27 times.  Besides his presence in the apartment, there was no evidence implicating Chad Heins in the murder—no blood on his clothes or under his fingernails, no scratches or scrapes on his body, and no murder weapon.

A forensic analyst testified that DNA testing performed before Heins’ trial on three hairs collected from the victim’s bedroom showed that the hairs came from one person, and that person wasn’t Chad or Jeremy Heins.  There was testimony about Chad Heins being drunk that night as a reason why he would not have woken up during the commission of the crime.  However, despite the biological evidence of an unknown attacker prosecutors charged Chad with the murder on the theory that he killed Tina in a jealous rage and the hairs were merely transfer from the previous owner of the mattress.  Two jailhouse snitches also testified at his trial that he had spontaneously confessed his guilt to them, and he was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery on December 20, 1996, and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2003, the Innocence Project and Robert Beckham, Heins’ pro-bono attorney, filed for DNA testing from the scrapings under the victim’s nails.  The DNA test results showed that male DNA under Tina’s fingernails did not come from Chad or Jeremy Heins.  Additional testing showed that the DNA under the fingernails matched the three hairs found previously and they were all consistent with an unknown male.  Also during the appeals process, attorneys for Heins learned that a fingerprint had been discovered before trial on the faucet of the bloodstained sink in the Heins’ bathroom, where it was undisputed that the perpetrator attempted to clean up after the murder.  The print information was never told to the jury.  Heins’ conviction was vacated in 2006 based upon new DNA evidence.  He was moved from a Florida state prison to a county jail to await retrial.  While preparing for retrial, even more DNA testing was done on biological evidence found at the scene.  It matched the unknown male and not Chad Heins.

Essentially, an unknown male’s DNA was found in the form of biological evidence, hairs, and fingernail scrapings and the fingerprint left on the faucet is also most likely his.  The DNA profile was entered in convicted offender databases but did not yield a match.  In 2007, State Attorney Angela Corey dropped all pending charges against Heins.  Heins was incarcerated for 13 years (10 years in prison and 3 years awaiting a retrial).

In 2008, even though charges had been dropped, Angela Corey stated that if she were elected she would review the evidence and see what has changed.  She also indicated that she would re-charge him with what she knows now.  She reasoned that the jury knew about the unknown assailant theory and rejected it.  Her opponent, Chief Assistant State Attorney Jay Plotkin, said although the case remains open and Heins is a suspect,

“people deserve better than prosecution by politics.”

He went on to say that arguments Corey made to jurors in 1996 about stray hair being transferred from a used mattress couldn’t be made now in light of the additional evidence.  It was quite an odd strategy for Corey, threatening a basically exonerated man with a retrial as her campaign slogan.  I guess that’s being “tough-on-crime”.  And apparently exactly what the voters wanted.  Corey defeated her opponent in the election, but only got 64% of the votes.  Upon taking office, she completely overhauled the office.  She fired 10 prosecutors, 50% of the investigators, and 48 other employees.

FLORIDA V. CRISTIAN FERNANDEZ

Angela Corey might be known by the media and her colleagues as a “sticks to her guns” kind of person.  The victims’ advocate who will stop at nothing until justice is done, but others know her quite differently.  Corey is also known for her long sentences for first-time offenders and her refusal to negotiate reasonable plea-bargains.  Presumably, this is one of the reasons why Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed her to the George Zimmerman case, a PR nightmare for Sanford, Florida.  Reality is that sometimes people’s lives and our equal justice are reduced to political fodder and fixing government image.  She also has a “lock up the kids and throw away the key” attitude toward juvenile crime.  In 2010, the Florida Times Union reported that the number of juvenile felony cases being tried in adult court has doubled under Corey.  Some might argue this approach is effective in solving a community’s crime problem, but studies have painted a much more grim picture of our next generation’s future under prosecutors like Corey.

In 2009, the University of Texas at Austin released an analysis of the practice of trying children as adults.  The authors of the study wrote,

“The practice of treating children as adults for criminal justice purposes also poses serious risk to the individual child. The research unequivocally shows that children prosecuted as adults are more likely to re-offend and to pose a threat to society.”

This is only logical; the child is now growing up in an adult prison.  What lessons will they learn?  Values?  Rehabilitation in adult prisons is basically non-existent on our current budgets, judicial philosophy, and addiction to incarceration.  She quite frankly stated that she was angry that people would ask for lenience for 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez, who had been charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old brother.

“Quite frankly, I resent people who don’t know anything about this case espousing opinions without knowing all of the facts and circumstances,” said Corey, “They’re looking at it as a social issue. But my obligation is clear: I am the chief prosecutor on this circuit and it is my job to enforce the laws that exist on this book…”

Initially, Corey promised that “no one’s ever talked about life in prison” and expressed that a plea deal would be reached that was fair to Fernandez.  This supposed plea agreement (which is supposed to be a compromise of sorts) would have required Cristian to live the rest of his life with a guilty plea to murder.  Obviously, this would make his life in society much more difficult.  He would probably not be able to find employment or a place to live.  The state of our society here in America even subjects people who are acquitted to the stigma of guilt.  His life would be worse than prison in many ways.  As you can see, for these reasons as well as others, Fernandez’s attorneys rejected the deal.  Corey proceeded to go back on her earlier indications.  Not only did she begin adult prosecution of a 12-year-old, she added charges.  One can only assume that she understood this would have the appearance of vindictiveness.

Cristian Fernandez had an extensive history of being abused, which thankfully was documented.  Obviously, the system failed Fernandez and his siblings and Corey continued that cycle.  It doesn’t end there.  Angela Corey made a completely erroneous and false statement to the media about this case, in 2011:

“In the juvenile system, we can only incarcerate or have him contained for not even two years, and that is not an option to protect the community.  However, we understand at his young age he deserves a chance at rehabilitation. The plea deal we have offered would combine those two things.”

Now either State Attorney Angela Corey was elected without fully understanding the law or she actually believed that people would think that juveniles could only be held in state custody until the age of 14.  The Southern Poverty Law Center attempted to set the record straight and help out Corey on the law in Florida:

“Cristian Fernandez is a twelve year old child facing charges of homicide and aggravated child abuse in the adult criminal justice system.  If convicted, Cristian will receive the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Many child advocates have urged the State Attorney, Angela Corey, to handle Cristian’s case through the juvenile system…so that he will not face life in prison without parole or be forced to accept a plea deal…that would profoundly damage his ability to lead a productive life once he is released…[referencing her statement about only being able to incarcerated Fernandez for 2 years]…But this is just not true.  Florida law grants the juvenile system broad discretion to handle the treatment and rehabilitation of children…including the power to detain a child as long as necessary…The juvenile system can retain jurisdiction over children until the age of 21…Given Cristian’s history of trauma and very young age, he should be granted the opportunity for individualized…disposition aimed at providing rehabilitation…Florida’s children…deserve nothing less.”

Simply put, this means that if Cristian Fernandez had been charged as a juvenile and adjudicated delinquent, he would have faced at minimum 9 years.  So why did Angela Corey mislead the public? Why is she making false statements to the media? More importantly, why is the media printing this information without providing readers with the facts?

Fernandez was able to reach a plea deal earlier this year.  He will be sentenced as a minor for manslaughter and will remain in a juvenile facility until he is 19.  Fernandez was the youngest person charged as an adult with first-degree murder in Florida history.  Fernandez also pled guilty to aggravated child abuse and will serve 8 years of probation after his release from a juvenile facility.  His conditions of probation are as follows: he cannot commit a crime, he cannot see his siblings unless they want to see him, and he cannot be left alone with anyone under the age of 16 unless he gets prior approval.  He also must look for a job.  A judge can terminate the probation after five years if Fernandez, who would then be 24, adheres to the conditions.

Despite wanting to proceed with an adult trial, Corey alleges she never intended to have Fernandez serve life in prison and that she hopes he gets the treatment and counseling he needs to keep from re-offending.  If not, she and prosecutor Mark Caliel warned he will be arrested and prosecuted.  Hank Coxe, who was on a team of private attorneys representing Fernandez said:  the whole thing was  an injustice.

“Don’t forget you’re indicting a 12-year-old for first-degree murder when you, the state, know he didn’t intentionally kill his brother,” Coxe said. “What are you thinking?”

The plea agreement came less than a month before Fernandez’s trial was set to begin.  Even if Fernandez had been tried as an adult and convicted, his mandatory life sentence would more than likely never withstood appeals.  Supreme Court rulings state that children cannot be given mandatory life sentences without a chance for parole.  Life sentences for a juvenile must take into account many different mitigating factors that are not taken into account in a mandatory sentence.

Corey strongly defended her office’s controversial decision to have the preteen indicted in light of what she called the “brutal infliction” of injuries on his brother.  Angela Corey holds that the death of the boy was “not an accident” while the defense maintains it was.  Biannela Susana, the mother of both boys, was charged with aggravated child abuse.  She pled guilty.  In May, she was appointed new legal counsel while awaiting sentencing.  Susana had left Cristian Fernandez with his 2-year-old, half-brother, David Galarraga, alone.  Fernandez slammed the boy into a bookshelf.  Susana waited 8 hours to take the boy to the hospital, where he died.

ANGELA COREY’S FIGHT WITH ALAN DERSHOWITZ

State Attorney Angela Corey, not being one to like people disagreeing with her, lashed out at well-known criminal and civil liberties lawyer and professor Alan Dershowitz when he criticized her arrest affidavit.  She reportedly called the Dean of Harvard Law School to complain about Harvard’s employee Mr. Dershowitz after he had published criticisms of her.  She was transferred to the Office of Communications and then engaged in a 40-minute rant in which she threatened to sue Harvard, file charges of libel and slander, and complain to the Bar Association about Dershowitz.  The Office of Communications attempted to explain to Corey that Dershowitz had a right to express his academic opinion and that Harvard did not control him, she persisted.  She explained that she is prohibited by her rules of professional conduct to respond to his “attacks” (I guess those press conferences and public statements she has been making across her career, all the political grandstanding, that she has interwoven into the justice system doesn’t count).

Dershowitz had criticized Corey for filing a “misleading” affidavit that omitted all information having to do with Zimmerman’s injuries that were witnessed by officers.  She denied having an obligation to include any information favorable to the defense.  She insisted that she was allowed to submit an affidavit from her point of view to establish probable cause and it did not need to tell the judge everything, as long as she subsequently provides the defense with all exculpatory evidence.  Dershowitz’s beef was that an affidavit is a sworn document.  When Corey submitted it, she took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Dershowitz believed she did not and Corey all but admitted to not including all information that was relevant.  Before she submitted the probable cause affidavit, Corey was fully aware that Zimmerman had sustained serious injuries to the front and back of his head. The affidavit said that her investigators “reviewed” reports, statements and “photographs” that purportedly “detail[ed] the following.” It then went on to describe “the struggle,” but it deliberately omitted all references to Zimmerman’s injuries which were clearly visible in the photographs she and her investigators reviewed.

“The judge deciding whether there is probable cause to charge the defendant with second degree murder should not have been kept in the dark about physical evidence that is so critical to determining whether a homicide occurred, and if so, a homicide of what degree.”

“That’s not the way the system is supposed to work and that’s not the way prosecutors are supposed to act. That a prosecutor would hide behind the claim that she did not have an obligation to tell the whole truth until after the judge ruled on probable cause displays a kind of gamesmanship in which prosecutors should not engage. The prisons, both in Florida and throughout the United States, are filled with felons who submitted sworn statements that contained misleading half-truths. Corey herself has plausibly prosecuted such cases…”

“If Angela Corey doesn’t like the way freedom of expression operates in the United States, there are plenty of countries where truthful criticism of prosecutors and other government officials result in disbarment, defamation suits and even criminal charges. We do not want to become such a country,” Dershowitz said in his response to her response to his criticism.

MARISSA ALEXANDER

Many people believe that Marissa Alexander was a victim of domestic violence.   On Aug. 1, 2010, a fight between Alexander and her husband, Rico Gray, 36, left her cornered in the couple’s home. She fled into the garage to escape but was trapped behind a jammed door, she stated in court documents. She said she grabbed the gun she kept in the garage, returned to the house and, when Gray threatened to kill her, fired a single shot to ward him off.  Gray ran out of the house with his two sons and called the police. Alexander was arrested and charged. She unsuccessfully invoked her right to stand her ground in court.  It took the jury 12 minutes to render their guilty verdict.

Gray admitted in a deposition to abusing “all five of his babies’ mamas except one,” and to hitting Alexander.  This included a 2009 incident that put Alexander in the hospital after being shoved into a bathtub.

“The way I was with women . . . they had to walk on eggshells around me.”  Two of those woman “got hit in the mouth” by Gray because in his own words, they “just wouldn’t shut up.”  On the night of August 1st, Gray admitted to prosecutors that he told Marissa he’d kill her if she ever cheated on him, and that on that night he said to her, “if I can’t have you, nobody going to have you.” He admitted he was “in a rage,” and said he told her that he knew people who could “do his dirt for him.”  Gray said he blocked her from leaving the bathroom, and when asked if he pushed Alexander into the bathroom door hard enough to crack it, he answered, “probably.” Asked whether he put his hands around her neck, Gray answered “not that particular day.”

He has since changed his account several times, including claiming that it was Alexander who had a violent nature and he was afraid of her.  Angela Corey did not dispute the domestic violence claims, but said that they only resulted in “minor bruising” and never any “serious bodily” injury.  Gray’s two children initially backed up that their father was a victim, but the son testified that he was never in fear, contradicting his original account.  “The fact that nobody got hurt has to be balanced with the fact that someone could have gotten hurt,” Corey said.

Angela Corey prosecuted Marissa Alexander.  She was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 20 years in prison.  She fired a gun into a wall near where her husband and his two children were in their Jacksonville home in 2010.  Alexander has maintained that she wasn’t trying to hurt anyone and that she was standing her ground against a man who had over the course of nearly a year punched and choked her on several different occasions. Alexander says that she believed she was protected that day under the state’s Stand Your Ground Law.

Another issue that came to the forefront in Alexander’s case was the devastating, unforgiving, cold reality of mandatory minimum sentences.  Marissa Alexander had no criminal record, but because of Florida’s 10-20-Life laws, she was given 20 years.  According to Florida’s 10-20-Life statutes, anyone who pulls a gun during a crime receives a mandatory 10-year sentence. Firing a gun during the commission of a crime equals a mandatory 20-year sentence. Anyone convicted of shooting and killing another person during a crime is sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

“Florida’s mandatory 10-20-life gun law forced the Court to impose an arbitrary, unjust and completely inappropriate sentence,” said Greg Newburn, Florida project director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a group that fights to repeal such laws.

Even Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed his rebuking of mandatory minimums in a 2003 speech to the American Bar Association,

“Our resources are misspent, our punishment too severe, our sentences too long…In too many cases, mandatory minimum sentences are unwise or unjust.”

These types of injustices are common in our justice system, and it is essential for everyone with any sense of right and wrong or compassion to stand up and condemn these so-called legislative remedies.  Corey defended herself.  Angela Corey said that justice was indeed served and that Alexander was angry and reckless, not fearful, on the night of the shooting. Just because no one was harmed in the incident doesn’t make the shooting any less a punishable crime, Corey said.

“I feel like when someone fires a loaded gun inside of a home with two children standing in the direction where the bullet was fired, we have to have tough laws that say you don’t do that,” Corey told HuffPost. “Justice, with the laws of the state of Florida, was served. But I don’t believe her supporters will ever believe that.”

At Alexander’s sentencing, her family addressed the court.  Alexander’s daughter, Havelin, 11, read from a letter she’d written and questioned, “how my Mom could be beaten but she’s the one arrested.”  If Alexander’s future appeals are unsuccessful, and she serves her full 20-year term in prison, her twins will be 31 years old when she is released. Her youngest will be 22.  Ironically, Angela Corey, a career prosecutor and now politician, was quoted as saying, when she was asked about the outcry of unfairness, “I just don’t understand where just the one-sided story has come out.”  .

The facts in the Alexander case are a matter of “he said, she said”.  As to the massive sentenced on a woman with no criminal history, Corey said that Alexander could have just admitted it was malicious and gotten a plea bargain.

“She didn’t have to get 20 years, because I took into account their prior domestic history and her lack of a [criminal] record, and we offered her the three year mandatory minimum…”

“I understand domestic situations are volatile, and they’re complicated,” said Corey, “But the bottom line is she fired a loaded weapon directly at a man and his two sons and we cannot allow that as a way to solve domestic disputes.”  When asked about how people lament about Marissa Alexander not seeing her children grow and how they have lost their mother, she blames it on Alexander, “…she took it out of our hands when she chose to go before a jury…”

Corey dismissed speculation that the Stand Your Ground law has been applied unfairly, making it unavailable as a defense for black defendants.  “We consider every case on its own merits, not on the race or gender of the defendant or the victim,” she said. “It’s not part of what we analyze when we’re filing cases. But I can tell you this, I have exercised my discretion in a number of cases for African-American defendants.”  She cited one case, in which an “older African-American gentleman pulled a gun on a much younger and much bigger African-American man…I went ahead and asked that he be put on probation…”

THE CASE OF RONALD THOMPSON

In 2009, Ronald Thompson, a 65-year-old Army veteran fired two shots into the ground to scare off teenagers demanding entry into his friend’s house in Keystone Heights, Florida.  His case didn’t receive much outcry like Marissa Alexander’s case, but it should have.  Corey prosecuted Thompson for aggravated assault, and after he refused a plea agreement with a three-year prison sentence, won a conviction that would carry a mandatory 20-year sentence under Florida’s 10-20-Life statute.  Sound familiar?  This is exactly what happened in the Alexander case.  However, in this case, Fourth Circuit Judge John Skinner called the 20-year sentence “a crime in itself” and declared the 10-20-Life statute unconstitutional.  He sentenced Thompson to 3 years.

Angela Corey didn’t like that decision, so she appealed, won, and sent Thompson to prison for 20 years.  Thompson’s case isn’t over yet, however.  He got lucky and in June 2012, Fourth Circuit Judge Don Lester granted Thompson a new trial, ruling that the jury instructions had been flawed in his original trial.  Had there not been a legal error, Thompson would most likely be serving out his entire sentence currently.  But, he still faces the mandatory sentencing scheme if convicted.  He is currently awaiting Angela Corey’s office’s decision on whether to move forward with the retrial.

BERNIE DE LA RIONDA’S CONTROVERSIES

THE DEATH OF NEIL SOUTHERLAND

Angela Corey’s right-hand-man, Assistant District Attorney Bernie de la Rionda isn’t without his controversies either.  In 2011, Sgt. J.T. Carey was cleared of all wrongdoing after he shot and killed unarmed 30-year-old Neil Southerland.  Police stated that Southerland was drunk at 3 times the legal limit when he ran from police.  He allegedly rammed a cruiser twice with a trailer he was using to haul a lawn mower in the low speed pursuit.  In one of the instances of backing up into the police cruiser, the trailer went onto the hood.  Officers P.J. Doherty and R.S. Holmquist then proceeded to break out the driver’s window of the pickup and restrain Southerland.  Sgt. J.T. Carey called out to them and asked them to back away from the vehicle.  Carey then fired seven shots into the vehicle killing Southerland.  Southerland had no weapons anywhere on him or in his vehicle.  No officers were injured at all.  Craig Henley doesn’t understand why police had to shoot his friend.  “He was just a real good guy,” Henley said.

The fatal shooting happened about 3 a.m. in the 3400 block of Loretto Road, a few minutes after police said they got a 911 call about Southerland vandalizing a car in a nearby neighborhood.  Southerland and his girlfriend were fighting that night at a home on Hood Landing Road and he had deflated her tires before taking off.  His family stated that he didn’t ram the police cruiser on purpose; he was backing up his pickup to drive down Acosta Street where he lived at the time.  “He had to have been scared, trying to get home to his dad to see if his dad could help him or something,” Henley said.

The justification given for the shooting was that a 21-year-old female citizen was participating in a civilian ride-along and the officer was concerned for her safety.  It wasn’t the first shooting that Officer Carey was involved in.  He used deadly force when he was in a struggle in 1999 with an 18-year-old who was suspected of stealing cigarettes.

JOSE BAEZ WAS NOT HELD IN CONTEMPT

De la Rionda even falsely stated late last year, that Jose Baez had been held in contempt of court during the Casey Anthony trial to viewers during a publicly televised hearing in the George Zimmerman case.  Understandably, Baez was upset.  He sent a letter to Judge Debra Nelson informing her that de la Rionda should get his facts straight before accusing people of things publicly.  De la Rionda needs to stop “recklessly attempting to tarnish any other members of the Central Florida legal community.”  Baez went on to say that he felt it was his duty and oath to inform the court of the truth and clear up the matter.  In reality, the judge in the Casey Anthony case told Baez he could be held in contempt.

TAXPAYER PENSION FUND SCANDAL

In the as of yet unfinished discovery violation hearing for the Zimmerman case, it was brought out that the State Attorney employee who brought the matter to the attention of the defense had been accused of exposing the personal medical information of a prosecutor on an Internet blog.  Of course, with no proof Bernie de la Rionda and Angela Corey could not fire the man.  It was also revealed that they weren’t really sure who it was.  De la Rionda attempted to imply that the man had a vendetta against the office because of their accusation against him.  He hinted at the fact that the employee felt persecuted.  Well, who wouldn’t feel persecuted when accused of something they didn’t do.  The most important thing that came out besides whether or not the State violated the rules was that the employee said the office did not have a culture where he felt he could approach Angela Corey with concerns without possibly losing his job over it.  This admission goes along with a recent spat of resignations from Corey’s office.

In April of this year, Richard Komando, the Executive Director resigned without comment making him the fourth such high-profile departure in 12 months.  Chief Assistant State Attorney Dan McCarthy, former Executive Director Mike Weinstein and Nassau County Chief Wes White also resigned.  Some believe that these resignations are force outs by Corey in an attempt to uncover who told the media about her taking taxpayer money to pad her retirement pension.  It was discovered that both Angela Corey and Bernie de la Rionda’s retirement funds were receiving transferred taxpayer dollars, hundreds of thousands of them.  She took the money from her office budget.  According to Florida law, this is legal.

“…Whatever the law allows for career prosecutors is what we intend to do…,” said Corey.

Originally when Corey and De La Rionda were hired, 1.6 percent of their salary was paid into the pension fund each month. In 2001, the legislature said it should be at 2 percent. So, anyone who worked between 1987 and 2000 is eligible for that point 4-percent difference.  Corey and de la Rionda each had almost 14 years of service that could be upgraded. Doing so cost $108,439 for Corey and $126,653 for de la Rionda.  Who ever said prosecutors don’t get paid well?

Having said all of that, I do agree with one thing that Angela Corey has said,

“…There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says the public has a right to have a trial by Internet.”

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Comments
  1. edward says:

    I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

    Like

  2. Ian Nava says:

    When I was 19 years old, I was scrawny, not unlike Trayvon Martin. But I was trained in boxing and did not back down in a fight. I fought with a 16 years old once who is about 10 pounds lighter and two inches shorter. He whipped my ass. He had training in wrestling. I cannot imagine any 16 years old who is 40 pounds lighter can do any serious harm to a 24 – 26 years old. The bone development is such that a 16 years old is very likely not able to win a fight with a 24-26 years old, on an un-armed wrestling/scuffle like this. Has any check with martial art or boxing experts on this yet???

    Like

  3. Lon Spector says:

    The dumbest decision George Zimmerman made (Aside from following Trayvon Martin to begin with), was not opting for a bench trial.
    It’s a well known addage: “If you”re truly innocent opt for a (dispassionate) bench trial. If you’re truly guilty opt for a jury trial, where you can hope to sway one of 12 for political or ascetic (Appealing) reasons.
    The jurors know they had better issue the “proper” verdict. It’s either “good-bye George: or it’s Rodney King part 2.

    Like

    • I respect your opinion Lon, but in this case, I disagree with you. This is going to be a 6 person jury because it is not a capital case. I understand your point about people being worried about the race issue and the backlash of the community. Some of the prospective jurors have voiced these concerns. Personally, I don’t trust a judge with my future either. I would trust a jury more. Judges tend to be pro-prosecution because they used to be lawyers and most were prosecutors. Most tend to be so jaded from being on the bench so long that they believe so much in the idea of the “cold, letter of the law” that they have no compassion for the defendant. Jurors have a better chance of being more open-minded than a judge and they can relate to the situations in the case better because, unlike judges, they are not in the constant courtroom world. While juries have their issues, including being exposed to pro-prosecution ideas through the media, they are a better choice for unbiased analysis. I would risk picking a fair jury before I would risk picking a fair judge. I think you have a better shot that way.

      Like

  4. JanCorey says:

    Guess both prosecutors never saw the pictures after the beating […] Trayvon did to Mr. Zimmerman, the prosecution has no chance at all in this case if the jury follows the jury-instructions. Both prosecutors […] much like the two prosecutors in the Casey Anthony case where there was some people that thought for sure Ms. Anthony would be found guilty of murder that never happened.

    Like

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