Judges’ signatures found to be forged, Curt Baggett involved.
Judges’ signatures found to be forged,
but no charges will be filed Miami Dade Herald
May 21, 2008
By: Billy Shields, Writer
Photo of Dava Tunis
Article starts here:
The state attorney’s office has concluded the signatures of three Miami-Dade
judges were forged on their 2000 loyalty oaths,
but no criminal charges will be filed. Web Extra:
The identity of the forger remains a mystery, and the statute of limitations has
expired for any possible prosecution, according to a closeout memo issued
Friday by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office. The report was signed by ….
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Chief Assistant State Attorney Jose Arrojo and public corruption division chief Joseph Centorino.
The forgeries of signatures by Circuit Judges Dava Tunis and Orlando Prescott and County Judge Linda Singer Stein came to light after Coral Gables attorney Jack Thompson complained about Tunis’ signature.
“There is no evidence that any of the judges involved, Tunis, Prescott or Stein, had any prior knowledge of or involvement with the forgeries,” according to the prosecutors’ memo . “There is no conceivable criminal motive for a judge to have participated in a forgery of his or her own loyalty oath.” Tunis is the referee overseeing a Florida Bar disciplinary case against Thompson, and he has tried unsuccessfully to get her removed from his case. Tunis issued a report Thursday recommending he should be found guilty of 27 Bar rule violations.
A sanctions hearing for Thompson is set June 4.
Thompson, a crusader against pornography and violent video games, challenged Tunis’ authority to serve based on differences in the signatures on her 2000 loyalty oath and oath of office.
When the issue was raised in February, court spokeswoman Eunice Sigler said the judge’s authority wasn’t in dispute because her power as a judge flows from the oath of office rather than the notarized loyalty oath.
The state attorney’s report did not address that issue.
“The issue of what, if any, legal consequences flow from the absence of a properly signed loyalty oath by a judge is beyond the scope of this memo,” it said.
Chief Circuit Judge Joseph P. Farina referred the issue to the state attorney’s office for investigation. The closeout memo was the first indication the investigation affected other judges.
Miami-Dade Circuit general counsel Linda Kearson previously reported former clerk Syed A. Shah admitted notarizing the judges’ documents but denied forging their signatures.
“It is unlikely that the identity of the forger could be conclusively determined through forensic handwriting analysis or other investigative means,” the state attorney’s report read. “Even if a criminal offense by the subject could be proven, prosecution of the subject would be time-barred by applicable statutes of limitations.”
The memo noted that Thompson filed a complaint with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission against Tunis regarding the loyalty oath and that the conclusions of the state attorney’s office would be shared with the JQC.
Thompson called on the JQC and Farina to remove Tunis from the bench after receiving the closeout memo.
“The consequence for me is that she’s not a judge and doesn’t have the authority to act as a judge,” Thompson said. “All of her actions as referee are void, and I’ve told The Bar they have to start over again.”
Jack Thompson, Attorney said : In fact, a judge’s authority does not flow from the oral oath taken.
It flows from the loyalty oath. This is set out in Florida Statute 876.05, et seq. Ms. Sigler, quoted above, apparently is not familiar with the statute and the case law that mandates removal from office for what Tunis has done, which includes not only benefitting from a forger oath but also failing to execute valid oaths every time she assumed a new judicial post. Tunis acknowledged that by, in a panic, executing, finally, a real oath in February 2008, but the statute makes it clear that she was too late and her judicial authority is a nullity by this statutorily-defined failure.
Further, three Florida Attorney General Opinions have stated that failure to precisely follow the loyalty oath statute, which Tunis has failed to follow now three times, requires removal from office. The Florida Supreme Court in the Byington case agreed, as did the US Supreme Court which addressed the Florida loyalty oath statute.
Tunis was challenged about this months ago in my motion to recuse, and she pretended that her oaths were in order in response to the motion to recuse. Now we know she knew otherwise, per the SAO report. This was judicial deception at its worst. She will be in trouble with the JQC for this deception and should be. Tunis will be removed from office. She is a defendant in a quo warranto action right now in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Case No. 08-23065. A judge who won’t or can’t perform the simple function of executing a mandatory loyalty oath has no business throwing citizens in jail. She lives in a glass house, throwing stones. Jack Thompson, Attorney (and will remain one).
Here’s what the statute says. Ms. Sigler has no idea what she is talking about. : 876.05 Public employees; oath.–
(1) All persons who now or hereafter are employed by or who now or hereafter are on the payroll of the state, or any of its departments and agencies, subdivisions, counties, cities, school boards and districts of the free public school system of the state or counties, or institutions of higher learning, and all candidates for public office, except candidates for federal office, are required to take an oath before any person duly authorized to take acknowledgments of INSTRUMENTS for public record in the state in the following form:
(2) Said oath shall be FILED with the records of the governing official … May 22 at 8:40 a.m.
Jack Thompson, Attorney
5721 Riviera Drive
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
‘Vice is a matter of so frightful mien, As to be hated needs but to be seen. Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.’ Alexander Pope
‘If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, as Mayor Koch once said, then a civil libertarian is a Republican who has been indicted.’ Jack Thompson