A JBB Exclusive: Dade Public Defender Settles Lawsuit for $200,000.00 + Attorneys Fees.!!
We scooped the Herald on this one: The JBB has learned that long time Dade County Public Defender Bennett Brummer has caved in and settled a federal wrongful termination lawsuit that arose out of his contentious re-election campaign.
The Scene: The annual Martin Luther King Day Parade cira 2003.
Dramatis Personae :
Assistant Dade County Public Defender Gabe Martin, who has announced his intention to oust his boss. Another young assistant Public Defender (Lonnie Richardson) supporting Gabe Martin.
At the parade the Assistant Public Defenders ( and soon to be Plaintiffs) marching in support of Gabe Martin- Lonnie has a mega-phone, and is yelling anti- Bennett Brummer slogans, like "We Need A Public Defender, Not a Public Pretender. "
Brummer, gearing up for his re-election fight was present and witnessed the spectacle.
Sometime thereafter, an enraged Brummer shows his dark side and orders his henchmen (in this case- we believe it was a hench woman) to fire the bunch.
A Federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination was filed, and as it proceeded towards trial Brummer and his legal team filed a motion for summary judgment before new Federal Judge Marsha Cooke. We haven't seen the ruling denying the motion, but we hear it was a real barn burner, with some very critical language of Brummer and his legal team. Meanwhile, to ratchet up the pressure, in conjunction with filing the motion for summary judgment, but before Judge Cooke's ruling, Brummer and his team of legal eagles makes an offer of settlement: that the Plaintiff pay $1,000.00 and write an apology. The Greeks have a word for this: Hubris. And if you have read any Greek tragedies, you know what follows: disaster.
Well, after they got up off the floor, the Plaintiff and his lawyer formally rejected the offer. Judge Cooke's blistering ruling followed sometime thereafter. We don't know the rest of the specifics but we feel we are on pretty firm ground reporting the following:
Brummer has parted with $200,000.00 PLUS legal fees, and didn't even get the gag order he wanted. The Plaintiffs Lonnie Richardson and Gabe Martin are free to talk and gloat about their victory.
First Greek Tragedy; then Hubris, now, Irony:
In 2002 Brummer was honored by the ACLU with the Nelson Poynter award. Named after the former crusading Editor and Publisher of the St. Petersburg Times, the Poynter award honors people who have tirelessly fought to promote and advance civil liberties and civil rights in Florida.
Here's the rub: Brummer was sued for wrongful termination and violating the FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS of his former employees , who were taking part in a peaceful march and were advocating their own political views during their own free time.
We have to believe that Poynter himself would have roasted Bennett's butt in a scathing editorial about Brummer's heavy handed anti-freedom of speech and expression tactics, if Poynter was still around. Poynter's gone, but the JBB is here to expose hypocrisy
when we see it.
Brummer can't be feeling too happy these days. On August 5, 2005, the Miami Herald (did we mention we scooped the Herald on this story??) reported that Brummer's top aid David Weed and another Public defender employee agreed to pay fines for violating Florida's Campaign Laws.
Campaign dirty tactics? Suppressing free speech? This is not Nixon's CREEP (the committee to re-elect the President) we are talking about. This is Dade's Public Defender.
We think ol' Brummer has built himself quite a little fiefdom over on 14th street. Plenty of cushy jobs and old time campaign cronies cashing big paychecks, while young PDs are forced to sign loyalty oaths and are fired if they don't vote the right way.
Bennet Brummer: ACLU Honoree or loser in a civil rights suit?
Public Defender..or Public Pretender?