Former United States Chief Assistant Attorney for the Department of Justice Northern District of Florida James C. Hankinson and Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs; Corrupt Predators At Large

Tallahassee, FL—According to former United States Chief Assistant Attorney James C. Hankinson’s biography, he is currently a Second Judicial Circuit Judge presiding over cases within the Leon County Courthouse located in downtown Tallahassee. Prior to Hankinson’s employment with the Department of Justice– Northern District of Florida, Hankinson was employed as an Assistant State Attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit under State Attorney Willie Meggs. Hankinson’s judge’s chamber is located steps away from the Second Judicial State Attorney Office, where Meggs has been overseeing since the early 1980’s.

Both Hankinson and Meggs have earned a reputation in Tallahassee as being “arrogant” and “tough” in their handling of criminal cases. During pre-trial hearings, Hankinson directs bailiffs to bring in the “prisoners” in such a preconceived manner. Despite the majority, if not all, of the inmates being Leon County Jail inmates.

Meggs and about forty-two of his Assistant State Attorneys/Prosecutors serve six counties in Florida’s panhandle—mostly rural counties. The State of Florida is the major employer in that area of the panhandle (143 miles—I-10 east and west). There are a lot of people who commute into Florida from the State of Georgia State in order to work. One misstep with law enforcement, before inmates have their trial before a jury of their peers—according to Hankinson—they’re prisoners—and Hankinson shows his support to his former boss, State Attorney Willie Meggs, by catering to Meggs and Meggs’ Assistant State Attorneys/Prosecutors– State Attorneys/Prosecutors who blatantly withhold exculpatory evidence and the defense counsel is too afraid or whatever to present a descent defense for their clients. Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell stated that he (Campbell) has told judges what court appointed defense counsels to assign to cases of indigent defendants—and the judges abided by their order. For more than ten years, Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell prosecuted cases in that his dad, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell was investigating.Leon County Sheriff’s deputies committed perjury and violated other laws to ensure both Campbell’s came out on top. In the case of State of Florida vs. DeShon Thomas, Hankinson violated several of DeShon’s civil rights for nearly 3 years as DeShon sat in the Leon County Jail awaiting trial, before abruptly being replaced (or whatever) by Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford. During trial, it was learned that a wealthy friend of the Campbell, named Donald Odham, who was a non-certified law enforcement officer–a non-employee of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office had been provided with a badge and a patrol car was allowed to perform the duties of a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective. Several cases in which Mr. Odham played a role, including one in which Mr. Odham was assigned lead detective, the families of the victims and the defendants have reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent investigation. Meggs’ Office filed documents with the Leon County Clerk of Courts identifying Mr. Odham as a detective. This misrepresentation of Mr. Odham is fraud. Mr. Odham was allowed to testify in many criminal cases as a detective, in that Mr. Odham was presented to jurors as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective. Mr. Odham did not have the certification or the credentials to be a detective, but with the support of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Meggs’ State Attorney’s Office, the failure of court appointed defense counsel to depose and expose Mr. Odham’s credibility, and the judges idled tongues, Mr. Odham proceeded the courts system with confidence–know that he was an impostor.

In Tallahassee, the median household income is less than $32,000. Most defendants qualify for court appointed counsel. Many local attorneys are registered with the State of Florida to represent indigent clients when there is a conflict of interest. These are the attorneys in which Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell is on video boasting about—as he is telling Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford what attorney to appoint in a case where the inmate, Dawuan Williams, robbed two banks in Tallahassee and fled to Tifton, Georgia. On the video, Fulford acknowledges that she can’t just pick an attorney to assign to cases—stating that the clerk assigns them. However, after a sidebar with Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell and Public Defender Nancy Daniels, Fulford assigns the attorney to that Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell instructs her to assign. And sadly, the video shows the court appointed attorney for Mr. Williams seemingly not wanting to have any part of the case. The attorney tells Fulford (the court) that he is registered with the state to represent only capital cases (Mr. Williams’ case was not a capital case). Then when nobody objects—not even Thomas’ court appointed Regional Conflict Counsel Daren Shippy, the attorney goes on to tell Fulford that he won’t be in town on the days in which Mr. Williams may need an attorney (the days of the trial in that Mr. Williams was to testify as a witness), yet and still that did not stop Fulford from appointing the attorney. Why? Because Assistant State Attorney/Prosecutor Jack Campbell instructed her to do so.

(Imagine all judges in the United States being told how to run their courtroom by their local District/ State Attorneys/Prosecutors. Now imagine not being able to afford to take your family on a three day vacation because you don’t have the money.)

According to a recent article in the Miami Herald by Mary Ellen Klas entitled, “The Cannibalizing of Florida’s Prison System, she states, “Unlike the state-run prisons, the contracts with the private companies guarantee them a 90 percent occupancy rate, pay them per inmate, per day, and allow them to charge more for extra services and programs.”

In the State of Florida, where public schools are closing down left and right. Teachers’ morale is down and has been down for years. The State of Florida cannot guarantee parents that 90 percent of their child’s FCAT scores will be recorded properly, but they can guarantee private prisons 90 percent occupancy rate. Is this unbalanced priority the infrastructure of Florida’s ‘School to Prison Pipeline’? Governor Scott pushes ‘Let’s Get To Work’—Yeah, put the parents to work while the children are failing in school and judges and state attorneys are blatantly violating the rights of children—charging them as adults–in order to guarantee 90 percent occupancy in private prisons. It’s no wonder why Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson and Second Judicial State Attorney Willie Meggs are PREDATORS AT LARGE!

Taxpayers don’t win if they don’t extract corrupt officials from their government.

On November 5, 2014, thanks to RepresentUs, a Massachusetts based organization, the city of Tallahassee became the first city in the United States to enact an Anti-Corruption Amendment to stamp out corruption in their local government via the ballot box. The citizens of Tallahassee passed the amendment by an overwhelming vote of sixty-seven percent (67%).

Taxpayers don’t win if they don’t extract corrupt officials from their government.


Not Just Ferguson, Missouri: Florida’s First Judicial District–Second Judicial Circuit –Funding for Florida’s Prison System is a Far Cry From a ‘Charitable’ Organization—Senator Don Gaetz

Tallahassee, FL—Recently the Miami Herald published an article titled, ‘The ‘cannibalizing’ of Florida’s Prison System,’ by writer Mary Ellen Klas. The article outlines how Florida prison system became so dysfunctional. In the article, Florida Senator Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican, is said to have ‘pushed to privatize state prisons, acknowledges prison funding is not politically popular.’ In addition, Senator Gaetz, is quoted to have said, “It’s awfully hard to advocate for more money for prisons. They’re not my favorite charity. It’s not going to get you any votes, but it is a government responsibility to put bad people away.” “They’re not my favorite charity.” “…but it is a government responsibility to put bad people away” There are thousands of men and women who work for Florida’s Jails and Prison System. Most of these men and women go through extensive training both physically and mentally in order to perform their jobs. Part of their correctional officer training consists of keeping themselves, their co-workers and inmates safe in a sometimes dangerous and chaotic—and most recently reported to the public—a deteriorating environment. Some of these correctional officers have notified the public of their fear for their lives and fear of losing their jobs due to their knowledge of abuse against inmates. Surely, correctional officers and their family members—who every day have to wonder whether or not if their loved one is going to make it home from work—don’t see the use of the word ‘charity’ as a means of providing a safe and healthy work environment. In 2008, when Senator Don Gaetz 26-year-old son, Matt Gaetz was charged with Driving Under Influence, the law enforcement officer who stopped Matt Gaetz did not do so believing that he was going to possibly send a “bad person” to a ‘charitable’ organization. The law enforcement officer was doing his job. It was reported at the time of Matt Gaetz being pulled over, he was driving his dad’s BMW. While Senator Don Gaetz may have seen allowing his son to drive his BMW as a charity (let’s face it—no one working for a Florida Prison is driving a BMW)—the use of the word ‘charity’ when discussing a financial obligation to provide a safe work environment just underscores the distorted perspective that government officials in Florida suffer when it comes to doing the right thing. The law enforcement officers who processed Mr. Matt Gaetz should be applauded for exercising their training—they just may have saved his life and the lives of others. There are a lot of people who don’t have political connections that are housed in Florida Prisons who have unintentionally caused the death of a family member or members, or a close friend or friends, or a stranger or strangers—while driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In 2014, Tampa Bay Times published an article, ‘Lawmaker’s talk of mug shot raises questions about DUI arrest,’ written by Michael Van Sickler. In the article, Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is a lawyer and now a state representative is quoted to have said, “I made bad decisions that resulted in an arrest, and that is sort of something that we all live with.” Many Floridians believe that Rep. Matt Gaetz political connections are what helped prevent him from being convicted—Rep. Matt Gaetz bad decision that resulted in his arrest made him a bad person—that night. “…something that we all live with.” In 2002, then Governor Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, were forced to repeatedly endure their 25-year-old daughter, Noelle, commit one criminal act after another. Noelle was charged with trying to buy drugs with a fraudulent prescription and it was reported that Noelle had possession of crack cocaine while she was in a drug treatment center. Eventually Noelle had to spend 10 days in jail. Jail facilities are steps toward prison facilities. Unlike Rep. Matt Gaetz and Noelle, some people who go through jails are completely INNOCENT. The only bad decision that they made was putting trust in the judicial system. It not always guilt that sends people to prison—it’s more like people who lack political connections. Not all inmates or members of their families are looking for charity from Florida government officials. In most cases, the only request that they have of Florida government officials is to uphold Florida Sunshine Laws and the United States Constitution. It’s unfortunate that such simple requests from defendants/inmates and their family members seems so simple, yet government officials struggle to abide by the requests and then struggle and complain about the government’s financial obligations to render it safe for inmates and correctional officers. Once again, according to the Miami Herald article, it states, “The prisons run by private companies have contracts that guarantee them a ninety (90) percent occupancy rate, pay them per inmate, per day, and allow them to charge more for extra services and programs. Two private-run Blackwater River Correctional Facilities in Santa Rosa County and Graceville Correctional in Jackson County.” (Note: these two facilities are located in Florida’s panhandle.) In the DUI case against Rep. Matt Gaetz, as Tampa Bay Times states, “…the prosecutor asked to be taken off of the case because his stepson was a friend of Matt Gaetz.” Fast-forward a few years, move over to a neighboring judicial circuit in the panhandle—to the Second Judicial Circuit—and a ninety percent occupancy rate in two prisons in Florida’s panhandle could be like a walk in the park for Second Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs and his assistant state attorneys who operate in Tallahassee—Leon County. Second Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs is responsible for six counties all located in Florida’s panhandle. Seemingly, over the years, State Attorney Willie Meggs doesn’t bat an eye when it comes to assigning his protégé, Assistant State Attorney John “Jack” Campbell to prosecute criminal cases that his father, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell has investigating jurisdiction. Many of Sheriff Larry Campbell (recently deceased) has deputies who are about in the same forty-year-old age range as Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell. Without a doubt, these deputies feel obligated to abide by Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell’s playbook—even it means smuggling contraband into the Leon County Jail—a jail that he father was elected to oversee for over fifteen years. Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell used a number of Leon County Sheriff’s Office employee as witnesses. A defendant’s defense attorney wouldn’t dare introduce professional witnesses to refute the testimonies of Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell’s witnesses—nor the medical examiner’s testimony—even when it was clear that the medical examiner was committing perjury. SN: Imagine this—a Florida government employee can lose his or her job for selling Girl Scout Cookies while on the job—while a Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy can get a promotion for committing perjury in order for Willie Meggs’ Assistant State Attorneys to win convictions. Now back to reality—this is not imaginary—Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell used a family friend as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective—as a lead detective in their Violent Crimes Unit. This family friend, Don Odham, has a history of unethical behavior. In addition, Mr. Odham executed search warrants on teenagers (minors) outside of the presence of their parents. There are legal documents filed with the Leon County Clerk’s Office identifying Mr. Odham as a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective—a seemingly common practice in order to gain the conviction of defendants who were facing charges being investigated by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Odham was also allowed to testify before jurors. All of this clearly known by the Public Defender’s Office, as well as counsel with the Regional Counsel’s Office, who chose not to conduct depositions of witnesses—and presenting an impromptu trial. A complete disrespect to not just the judicial system but to everyone—every wrongful conviction leaves the real criminal in the community. Forget a guaranteed ninety (90) percent occupancy rate—with Willie Meggs’ method of operation—with Willie Meggs’ oversight of six counties—with the assistance of the Public Defender’s Office, the Regional Counsel’s Office and the circuit judges being told what to do by Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell—a guaranteed one hundred (100) percent occupancy rate could be possible. In Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell’s own words, “I’ve instructed judges to appoint certain attorneys on cases.” SN: Imagine what Florida’s Prison System would look like if every circuit judge followed the instructions of Assistant State Attorney prosecuting cases—specifically instructing circuit judges what attorneys to assign to indigent clients. (A guaranteed one hundred (100) percent occupancy rate. Now that’s charity!) In January 2011, “Detective” Don Odham violated numerous Civil Rights of 17-year-old DeShon Thomas and DeShon’s mother inside of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. “Detective” Don Odham and Assistant State Attorney teamed up to charge DeShon with Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder. Because no other Leon County Sheriff’s Detective would support Mr. Odham’s probable cause which prompted DeShon being charged with the murders, Mr. Odham, who had never been deposed, was forced to testify during DeShon’s trial. It was at that time when DeShon and his mother learned that Mr. Odham was not an official member of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Odham did not have the credential to be a detective. Mr. Odham was merely a local businessman—a family friend of the Campbell’s—with so much time on his hands that he assumed the role of a detective. Mr. Odham was by all means an IMPOSTER with the authorization of government officials. (This website further outlines the different events that led up to DeShon being convicted—WRONGLY CONVICTED.) Not just government officials and law enforcement officers in Ferguson, Missouri… Florida’s government officials need to change their perspective—starting with guaranteeing any prison facility an occupancy rate. Just maybe Rep. Matt Gaetz and his dad, Senator Don Gaetz could work on prison reform. After all, Rep. Matt Gaetz is quoted as to having said what many people in prison say all of the time, “I made bad decisions that resulted in an arrest, and that is sort of something that we all live with.” Show some respect—it should be all about respect for one another—providing a safe, not cozy place—whether it’s a work environment, the place of an unfortunate inmate, or the place where an inmate needs to be—Florida’s Prison System is a far cry from a charitable organization.