Tallahassee, FL—According to reports, on December 8, 2014, Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Charles A. Francis ruled in favor to show that Governor Rick Scott violated public records laws when he used his personal Google mail account to communicate state business. Chief Judge Francis’ ruling has allowed Tallahassee attorney Steven R. Andrews, to move forward in his lawsuit against Governor Scott.
Also accused of violating public records laws is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. One of the responsibilities of Attorney General Bondi is Chief Custodian of Florida State Sunshine Laws. In an earlier report, Attorney General Bondi acknowledged some documents were inadvertently missing from Mr. Andrews’ records request.
Between December 2011 and December 2013, the mother of DeShon Thomas repeatedly reached out to Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi in regards to laws being violated by Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs. In responses, both Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi repeatedly insinuated that they could not get involved in on-going criminal prosecution.
In early 2011, DeShon Thomas was a 17-year-old full-time freshman at Tallahassee Community College. DeShon also worked over thirty-five hours a week at a local fast-food restaurant. On January 27, 2011, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office began investigating a double homicide. One of the victims were DeShon’s ex-girlfriend, Laqecia Herring, who was 20-years-old and was about 21 weeks pregnant. The other victim was Ms. Herring’s 17-year-old brother, Sterling Conner Jr. In their haste to make an arrest, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell charged DeShon with the murders and State Attorney Willie Meggs assigned Sheriff Larry Campbell’s son, Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell, to prosecute the case. The father/son—investigative/prosecution team—brought about enormous immoral, misconduct and violations of laws on both sides of the courtroom—DeShon’s private paid defense attorney, Gregory Cummings showed his loyalty to the Campbell Klan.
In mid-2013, in one of many letters directly mailed to Governor Scott, DeShon’s mother outlined how for over two years Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson had violated many of DeShon’s constitutional rights—including the “Right to Due Process,” Circuit Judge Hankinson was immediately removed from presiding over DeShon’s case. However, in a letter to DeShon’s mother, Governor Scott continued to state that he could not get involved in on-going prosecution.
DeShon who entered pleas of “Not Guilty,” on all charges, was the only defendant in the double murder case. Sheriff Larry Campbell was not seeking a co-defendant. Despite paying DeShon’s private attorney Mr. Cummings nearly $30,000, Mr. Cummings refused to discuss or make available the victims’ autopsy reports. After DeShon had been in the Leon County Jail for nearly two years awaiting trial, the District Two Medical Examiner’s Office was directly contacted by DeShon’s mother in regards to obtaining a copy of the victims’ autopsy reports. DeShon’s mother was told that State Attorney Willie Meggs’ Office had not released the victims’ autopsy reports citing “on-going investigation.”According to Advisory Legal Opinion on Attorney General Pam Bondi’s website, there it states, “…investigatory records and files compiled by the state attorney’s office prior to trial of a criminal case (said records and files including copies of law enforcement investigative reports) public records within the purview of Ch. 119, F.S…” (Chapter 119, F.S. is in regards to public records.) In addition, the Advisory Legal Opinion states, “With specific regards to autopsy reports, however, this office has held that they are not within the “police secrets” rule and, hence, are public records and must be made available for inspection.”
State Attorney Willie Meggs withholding the victims’ autopsy reports from public records is a violation of public records law.
When DeShon’s private attorney, Mr. Cummings failed to disclosed information to DeShon, DeShon’s mother told DeShon to fire him. At the time of DeShon firing Mr. Cummings, DeShon was now 19-years-old. DeShon’s case default back to the court to appoint counsel. Nancy Daniels, who is over the Public Defender’s Office, immediately filed a Motion to Withdraw. DeShon’s case was sent to District Regional Counsel Jeffery E. Lewis’ Office. Mr. Lewis was appointed as Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel for the First District Court of Appeal in 2007. He was re-appointed by Governor Scott in 2011.
Two attorneys from Regional Counsel Lewis’ office were assigned to DeShon’s case—both attorneys filed Motions to Withdraw. In the second year of DeShon’s case process, one of the attorneys abruptly resigned from Regional Counsel Lewis’ office. Like Mr. Cummings—the attorney did nothing to build a defense for DeShon. At the time of the attorney resigning, another attorney with Regional Counsel Lewis’ office was assigned to the case—he too filed a Motion to Withdraw. However, his motion was denied (Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson was still presiding over the case at the time.)
Regional Counsel Lewis’ office refused to hire an investigator to assist on the case. In addition, they refused to allow DeShon’s mother to hire an investigator to assist on the case. Furthermore, Regional Counsel Lewis’ office refused to make the victims’ autopsy reports public record. All in all, Regional Counsel Lewis’ office refused to build a competent legal defense to keep DeShon from being convicted.
Having the father/son team—investigating/prosecuting DeShon—a conviction was inevitable—but not without conspiracy and many violations of DeShon’s constitutional rights. Where does a defendant turn when he’s being played by everyone in the courtroom? Though DeShon was too young to know what was really going on, DeShon’s mother clearly saw the mess. And despite Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi’s responses about not getting involved in on-going prosecution, they saw the mess too.
In the letters and emails sent to Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi, DeShon’s mother (among other things) mention the possibility of Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell having a detective working as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective who was not a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective—yet, a wealthy personal friend. Also, DeShon’s mother begged for a special prosecutor to be assigned to the case–to no avail.
In October 2013, with Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford presiding—DeShon’s trial lasted for five days. As DeShon’s mother expected, Leon County Sheriff’s Detective and others committed perjury. Turns out, Mr. Odham—was not a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective. But that did not stop Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford from allowing him to be identified as such.
DeShon’s mother has filed several complaints with several agencies in regards to misconduct and violations of laws committed by officials. DeShon’s mother does not recall ever reading on any agencies website where an attorney was needed in order to file a complaint. As a matter of fact, when DeShon’s mother contacted attorneys asking them to file complaints on her behalf, attorneys told her that she could file complaints on her own.
When DeShon’s mother contacted Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office to report Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford allowing perjury to go to the jury, the response she received was stunning. In an email response, Attorney General Pam Bondi’s advised that she get an attorney.
As the nation is starting to look more and more at the operations of the Criminal Justice System, people on both sides of the spectrum are paying more attention to relationships within judicial proceedings. The only relationship that can be cozier in courtroom proceedings other than a father/son relationship—is a mother/daughter relationship. While Florida legislators may not see anything wrong with this “judicial relationship,” surely it is this relationship that led to State Attorney Willie Meggs’ office violate public records.
Governor Scott’s failure of transparency—a promise that he made to the citizens of Florida—has fallen just as short as the “Promise of Gideon” in the case of State of Florida vs. DeShon Thomas.