Tallahassee, FL—What does The Florida Bar have to gain for ignoring the complaint from a Black male juvenile defendant against his White male attorney? In the 2013 Florida Bar complaint filed by DeShon Thomas against Tallahassee Defense Attorney Gregory Cummings, among many other violations of The Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, DeShon states that Gregory Cummings “swindled his way onto his case.” In Gregory Cummings rebuttal to DeShon’s complaint, Gregory Cummings admits to not informing DeShon that the court had appointed him a conflict attorney. The breakdown in communication came about due to Second Judicial Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson, along with State Prosecutor Jack Campbell and the Office of Regional Counsel conspiring against DeShon. Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson was conducting case events outside of DeShon’s presence and was withholding Motions from the Leon County Clerk of Court.
DeShon Thomas was seventeen-years-old when he was being investigated by the Leon County Sheriff’s office in relation to Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder in January 2011. DeShon, was a full-time freshman at Tallahassee Community College and worked at Taco Bell. When the Leon County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at DeShon’s co-worker’s one-bedroom apartment, Sheriff’s Detectives located five pots of soil with marijuana stems sprouting from them. DeShon and his co-worker were charged with Cultivation of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Three times DeShon went in front of a juvenile court judge due to lack of probable cause. On the third time, the Probable Cause was anteed up, and on February 2, 2011, Assistant State Attorney Eric Trombley direct filed. DeShon was charged as an Adult and placed into the Leon County Jail. As DeShon was awaiting compliance for GPS monitoring, on February 7, 2011, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office charged DeShon with Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder. DeShon was being represented by the Public Defender’s Office. However, once DeShon was charged with the murders, the Public Defender’s Office stated that they were withdrawing from DeShon’s case due to a conflict of interest. As the Public Defender’s Office explained it to DeShon’s mother, the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel’s Office would represent DeShon. As of March 9, 2011, there was no record of what attorney with the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel’s Office was representing DeShon. DeShon’s mother called both the Leon County Clerk of Court and the Office of Regional Counsel’s Office requesting the name of DeShon’s attorney—no one had a record. DeShon was not present for any of the events occurring on his case. On March 9, 2011, Chief Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman obtained an Indictment from the Grand Jury charging DeShon with Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile Delinquent. Still, no one could provide DeShon’s mother with the name of DeShon’s court appointed attorney. On March 9, 2011, Gregory Cummings contacted DeShon’s mother berating Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson and State Prosecutor Jack Campbell. Gregory Cummings told DeShon’s mother that he believed DeShon was INNOCENT. Gregory Cummings promised to save DeShon’s mother money in legal fees if she hired him. Gregory Cummings was well aware of DeShon’s mother’s repeatedly trying to get the name of DeShon’s court appointed attorney but was not able to get a name of the attorney. Out of DESPERATION, DeShon’s mother hired Gregory Cummings.
In August 2012, when DeShon and his mother fired Gregory Cummings for a number of reasons, DeShon’s mother looked at DeShon’s Court Docket on Case Process and noted the DECEPTION by Circuit Judge James C. Hankinson that had been occurring on DeShon’s case since DeShon was charged with the murders. DeShon had two attorneys assigned to his case that neither DeShon, his mother, the Office of Regional Counsel nor the Leon County Clerk of Court had on record prior to hiring Gregory Cummings.
Why has The Florida Bar not taken any action against Gregory Cummings?
Judith Hawkins, a Black woman, was a Second Judicial Circuit Judge that the Judicial Qualification Commission found to have violated judicial rules of misconduct for operating a non-profit ministry from her courtroom. On September 25, 2015, the Tallahassee Democrat published an article entitled, “Former Leon County Judge suspended from practicing law.” In the article by Jennifer Portman, senior writer with the Tallahassee Democrat, states, “She was removed from the bench by the court in December and the Florida Bar subsequently filed a complaint against her license.” The Tallahassee Democrat also highlights the “abundance of character witnesses who provided testimony about Hawkins “outstanding” character.” Further noting Hawkins as, “being the first black female judge elected to the Second Circuit in a contested election.”
It was in December 2014, as to when the Florida Supreme Court removed Mrs. Hawkins from the bench. And in nine months the Florida Bar is seeking her law license. Fortunately, Mrs. Hawkins will be allowed to keep her law license. Unfortunately, Mrs. Hawkins has had to shut down her practice. Mrs. Hawkins’ law license was suspended for 30 days.
In April 2015, the Judicial Qualification Commission began investigating Second Judicial Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford for three violations of misconduct. Jackie Fulford, a White woman, had violations that dated as far back as 2010. In one instance, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford had asked a favor of an attorney in regards to a criminal case. The attorney stated that he feared for the outcome of his client if he did not act. In October 2013, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford allowed trial testimony of a “Fake Cop” to go to the jury as a witness for State Prosecutor Jack Campbell. In February 2015, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford was presiding over a Death Penalty case. Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford’s attorney filed a Motion to Dismiss the charges, but the Judicial Qualification Commission denied the motion, charging that she showed a “pattern of misconduct.”
WTXL posted an article entitled, “Judge Jackie Fulford Recommended for Involuntary Retirement.” In the article states, “According to court documents they are recommending she retires because of a permanent disability that they say seriously interferes with the performance of her job.”
It appears as though Jackie Fulford will not have to face the allegations of “pattern of misconduct” that may have hurt or help the outcome of case to that she was under investigation for having imposed.
Will the Florida Bar go after Jackie Fulford’s law license—considering an attorney stated that he was in “fear” in the presence of Jackie Fulford’s courtroom?
As the country attempts in so many ways to bridge gaps between races—the Florida Bar does not fall short of showing what direction their plans fall.
IGNORING A BLACK CHILD DOES NOT MAKE THE FACTS GO AWAY!