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bieramar

Civil rights preserved, in spite of SJCSO

Federal judge finds St. Johns County detectives violated man's rights

By Jim Schoettler
July 19, 2012
Copyright 2012 The Florida Times-Union

A federal judge has ruled the secret recording of a suspect's conversation with his attorney at the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office violated his constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure and a federal wiretap law.

The 2009 case involves Joel Keith Studivant, then 43, and his conversation in an interview room with defense attorney Anne Marie Gennusa. The conversation occurred before Studivant was charged with violating a domestic violence injunction in June 2009.

Studivant, of St. Augustine, eventually entered into a pre-trial intervention program in the case.

Gennusa and Studivant filed a lawsuit alleging the detective involved in the interview, a supervisor and Sheriff David Shoar, as head of the agency, violated the Fourth Amendment and the Federal Wiretap Act.

The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs were entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy that was violated when detective Thomas Marmo left them in the interview room without telling them they were being secretly recorded. There were also no postings about such recordings. The lawsuit argues that the act violated attorney-client privilege.

It also accuses Shoar of knowingly allowing such secret interviews as a policy, practice and procedure of his agency. Shoar at the time called the lawsuit the "most frivolous" he'd ever seen.

"It is cases like these that cause members of the public to be very critical of the effectiveness of our civil justice system in America," Shoar said at the time.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan ruled Tuesday that Marmo and supervisor Brian Canova were responsible, but that the plaintiffs didn't prove their case against Shoar. While Gennusa and Studivant asked for actual and compensatory damages, punitive damages and payment for attorney's fees and costs, Corrigan's order said they could only seek the latter.

Attorney John Jolly Jr., representing the defendants, said an appeal is being considered. He declined to comment on Corrigan's ruling.

Jacksonville civil rights attorney Bill Sheppard and his partners, Matt Kachergus and Bryan DeMaggio filed the lawsuit.

"This is an important case because it preserves the attorney-client privilege, which is essential to our system of justice," Sheppard said.

One of several issues that came up as part of the interview involved Studivant, with Gennusa present, writing a statement of his version of the injunction violation. He began writing that statement while Marmo was still in the room and continued when the detective left.

At one point, Gennusa left the room and learned that Studivant was going to be arrested. She then returned to the room, folded up the unfinished statement and put it under her palm on a table.

"Defendant Marmo became visibly disturbed and demanded that Ms. Gennusa give him the statement," the lawsuit states. "As defendant Marmo demanded the statement, he stood blocking the doorway and plaintiffs were not free to go."

He then "forcefully ripped the piece of paper containing Mr. Studivant's statement out of Ms. Gennusa's hand ... with such force that he broke the fingernail on Ms. Gennusa's left ring finger."

Studivant was then arrested, handcuffed and booked into the jail.

Marmo filed a complaint with The Florida Bar, saying Gennusa "tampered with evidence, hindered a police investigation and acted outside the scope of her authority as an attorney for her client."

A ruling from the Bar's Grievance Committee found that Gennusa "remained professional ... and sought legitimate means to resolve the matter. The evidence provided does not support your allegations that [Gennusa] acted unethically."

Corrigan dismissed allegations of excessive use of force in the lawsuit.

Along with monetary damages, the lawsuit sought to have the Sheriff's Office stop secret audio and video recordings of attorney-client conversations.

The agency posted signs that recordings were being made after the suit was filed.
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jim.schoettler@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4385
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The lawsuit, as filed:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/1005247...-Johns-County-Sheriff-David-Shoar
auntmartymoo

This has to be your second most obnoxious thread title of all time.

One cop screws up and the entire SJCSO's office is against civil rights?  Your prejudice is showing.
bieramar

auntmartymoo wrote:
This has to be your second most obnoxious thread title of all time.

One cop screws up and the entire SJCSO's office is against civil rights? Your prejudice is showing.


The video-taping and audio-taping of the attorney-client conversations without the knowledge or consent of the attorney or client weren't just some spur of the moment thingie by one deputy sheriff.  It was policy, or at least practice, condoned of by SJCSO.

And the comments of the head of SJCSO, Sheriff Shoar, when interviewed after Gennusa filed suit, show not only prejudice, but disregard for the rule of law and constitutionally-guaranteed civil rights:

"Absolutely unbelievable (said many times). This may be the most frivolous lawsuit I have ever encountered in my career. It is cases like these that cause members of the public to be very critical of the effectiveness of our civil justice system in America."

Source:
http://m.staugustine.com/news/loc...-10/attorney-sues-sheriffs-office

The headline I wrote; "Civil rights preserved, in spite of SJCSO" is a statement of justice prevailed, not prejudice.
auntmartymoo

bieramar wrote:
The headline I wrote; "Civil rights preserved, in spite of SJCSO" is a statement of justice prevailed, not prejudice.


No.  It's a broad brushed smear on every member of the SJCSO...right down to the little grunt who has no say about disclaimers posted, or not posted, in interrogation rooms.  In your eagerness to take a shot at Shoar, you slammed the entire organization.  

I haven't had to read a ton of your posts to know that you tend to hold law enforcement officers in the St. Augustine area in very low regard.  What is your beef with local LEOs  anyway?  You've been gone a long time.  Are you carrying old prejudices from your past dealings with LEOs over into current times?  Or is it some kind of hippie thing...cops are pigs, etc.?  

I'm asking because it's out of character for you to paint your criticisms with such a broad brush...with no regard for the little guy.  It reeks of prejudgement.  Your ridiculous thread title implies that every member of the sheriff's organization is out to rob people of their civil rights.
bieramar

auntmartymoo wrote:
bieramar wrote:
The headline I wrote; "Civil rights preserved, in spite of SJCSO" is a statement of justice prevailed, not prejudice.


No. It's a broad brushed smear on every member of the SJCSO...right down to the little grunt who has no say about disclaimers posted, or not posted, in interrogation rooms. In your eagerness to take a shot at Shoar, you slammed the entire organization.

I haven't had to read a ton of your posts to know that you tend to hold law enforcement officers in the St. Augustine area in very low regard....

I'm asking because it's out of character for you to paint your criticisms with such a broad brush...with no regard for the little guy. It reeks of prejudgement. Your ridiculous thread title implies that every member of the sheriff's organization is out to rob people of their civil rights.


Implications? or inferences?

There is no "broad brush" implied in using the title of an organization when describing a policy or practice of the organization. That there may be "broad brush" inferences made by a reader about what the headline writer intended is not the responsibility of the writer.

It was the SJCSO which had the unconstitutional policy and practice, and its head is Sheriff Shoar - who went on the record as I quoted, instead of condemning the policy and practice immediately in 2009.

When a Justice Department policy or action during the Bush administration was criticized in a headline, there was no "broad brush" implication that every grunt in the Bush administration Dept. of Justice was being criticized. But that there were "broad brush" inferences and condemnations made by Bush-haters are reflections on the readers, not the headline writer.

Replace "Bush" with "Obama" and the same reality remains.

It is precisely those kinds of generalized inferences that I'm constantly railing against.

Readers know - or should know - that when "government" is criticised, it isn't every civilian worker or member of the military that is being criticized. That some categorize, collectively judge and infer otherwise is their problem.

Readers know - or should know - that "class warfare" is not implied when specific data about income and wealth distribution is headlined.

Readers know - or should know - that identifying ethnic heritage groups when specific data about unemployment, or wealth, or crime, or education, etc. is headlined is not implying a "race card" element.

Implications? or Inferences?

I don't hold law enforcement officers in St. Johns county or St. Augustine in low regard at all, let alone very low regard. Many of them are close friends, with whom I still am in contact. And overall both SJCSO and SAPD have fine to outstanding cops - but they also have had their share of bad eggs.

The fact that most are good cops doesn't mean I'm going to hide behind a Blue Wall and not criticize an individual LEO - including the sheriff and chief of police.

I've criticized Shoar before on specific actions and words - and also complimented him on others - publicly through the years. And I've always voted for him, as his plusses far outnumber his minuses. But in this case - in 2009 - he was simply wrong, as discussed and argued at the time on plazabum.com

I haven't read a comment on the court decision, and I hope he has reconsidered his opinion on the issue of attorney-client privilege and individual civil rights in the last few years.
tsiya

D.C. officers are directed to leave citizen photographers alone

Peter Hermann, Published: July 23

District police cannot interfere with citizens as they photograph or videotape officers performing their jobs in public, according to a new directive issued by Chief Cathy L. Lanier as part of settlement in a civil lawsuit.

The six-page general order, similar to one published by police in Baltimore in November, warns officers that a bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members in the public discharge of their duties.

More at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/loc.../23/gJQAYKcI5W_story.html?hpid=z3

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