Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Public Defenders or Criminals?

UPDATE VII:  Now the "Florida Bar [is] examining possible ethics violations."  Read the Pensacola New Journal, Owens' former top man being investigated.   

UPDATE VI:  "Former Public Defender James Owens 'blazed a path of cronyism,' 'wasted state assets' and oversaw a 'four-year blight on the Public Defender’s Office,' according to a Florida state attorney.

But Owens will not face criminal charges for the laundry list of accusations investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to a Wednesday letter from 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Glenn Hess of Panama City.

Hess’ strongly worded letter says the cloud Owens cast over the Public Defender’s Office has 'been cured by his removal from office.'"

Read the Pensacola News Journal, No charges for former Public Defender James Owens.

UPDATE V:  "The former local chief assistant public defender “engaged in a pattern of criminal conduct that renders him unfit for public employment” but will not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired, according to a Florida state attorney.

In a Dec. 18 letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Glenn Hess revealed that 'one of the more shocking allegations' against former defender Tony Henderson was that he impregnated a juvenile client he represented in 1993.

Henderson began having sex with the 14-year-old girl, calling her at home after hours, the letter says. In 1996, she gave birth, and Henderson has been making $800 monthly payments since then, 'presumably in child support.'"

Read the Pensacola News Journal, Former defender Tony Henderson allegedly had relations with teen client.

UPDATE IV: Unfortunately for the PD's Office, a picture is worth a thousand words. Read this 443 word editorial at the Pensacola New Journal, Editorial: Animal House, and enjoy this editorial cartoon:

UPDATE III: More lawyer problems at the local Public Defender's Office.

First, a "lawyer who was transferred out of the main Public Defender's Office in September because of a sexual misconduct incident is 'no longer with the office' after a weekend arrest on a noise complaint." Read the Pensacola News Journal, Assistant public defender loses job after weekend arrest.

Also, a judge granted a notorious defendant's "request for a new attorney instead of former friend, assistant public defender [name removed]. Tice alleged [the lawyer] is an 'alcoholic' who 'advised him to break the law.'" Read the Pensacola News Journal, The current case against "Cab" Tice.

UPDATE II: A local I told ya so:

You may remember we discussed this in November 2011 as well as other questionable conduct at the local PD's Office. A regular caller, Clint, who works at the PD's Office called to defend them. During the discussion I asked about Bud Day, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Vietnam. During the hotly contested election, Day endorsed James Owens. After winning the election, Owens hired Day, who was at least 80 years old. I specifically challenged Clint to describe what Day did at the Shalimar office, since it was widely rumored he did little.

Maybe someone was listening. Read the Pensacola New Journal, FDLE questions Bud Day's role at Public Defender's Office.

UPDATE: "IN Exclusive: Victim in Henderson scandal speaks out" and seems to deny key parts of the story in the Sunday paper. Read Rick's Blog, She’s not a stripper, pill-head or deadbeat.

When asked "who was behind this story going public" the alleged vicitm's boyfriend replied "Whoever is wanting to run against Owens is pushing this very hard."

It will be interesting to see if the Pensacola New Journal prints a retraction.

"The No. 2 attorney at the Public Defender's Office is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after a former client's accusation that he requested sexual favors in exchange for effective legal services.

Tony Henderson, whom Public Defender James Owens named chief assistant public defender following Owens' 2008 election, is accused of making harassing telephone calls and lewd comments to the woman he was representing in a prescription drug fraud case.

The FDLE has investigated allegations of sexual misconduct involving both Henderson and Owens on two previous occasions in the past 13 years, and the Public Defender's Office conducted another inquiry of Henderson with Owens as a supporting witness 19 years ago."

Read the Pensacola New Journal, No. 2 public defender faces possible misconduct probe.