THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
MIN MANS ........... CAN'T LIVE WITH THEM ... CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT THEM
More than a few times on this BLOG, our founder, Horace Rumpole, has written on his feelings about minimum mandatory sentences. You can read those posts here and here and
here and here and here and here and here and even as far back as July 30, 2010 found here.
On Wednesday, Governor Scott and the Florida Cabinet held their quarterly Clemency Meeting in Tallahassee. The Clemency Board is made up of Governor Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.
The Governor and members of the Cabinet collectively are the Clemency Board. Clemency is an act of mercy that absolves the individual upon whom it is bestowed from all or any part of the punishment that the law imposes.
Article IV, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution provides that an executive order granting clemency requires the signature of the Governor and two members of the Florida Cabinet.
So, to be clear, nobody can receive clemency in Florida without the support of the Governor.
For those interested in reading the Rules of Executive Clemency, you can find them here.
On Wednesday, Orville "Lee" Wollard, sought clemency from Rick Scott. In short order, Gov. Scott denied Wollard's request without the other three members of the Board even having a chance to weigh in on the matter. Wollard was sentenced to 20 years in prison, under the 10-20-Life law, for committing an Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, (and discharging that Firearm), but hitting nothing more than a wall, in his home. The case was dubbed the "Warning Shot" case.
Lee Wollard was a family man who was living with his wife and two teenage daughters in Central Florida. He worked for Sea World. He was educated, earning an AA, a BA, and then a Masters degree in Business Management and Organizational Behavior, all the while working full time and attending night school. On the date of the crime, Wollard's daughter's boyfriend attacked his daughter giving her a black eye. He then attacked Wollard. He left the house, only to return and confront Wollard again. This time Wollard got his gun, and told the boy to leave his home. The boy punched a hole in the wall and came at Wollard. At that point Wollard, instead of shooting the boy, fired a warning shot into the wall. You can read the entire history of the case here.
As for the Clemency case, it was covered by the Tampa Bay Times: "Wollard, 60, of Davenport, a former human resources specialist at Sea World, is almost midway through a 20-year term for firing a warning shot at his teenage daughter's boyfriend at his Polk County home in 2008 after the youth attacked him and tried to tear off his stitches. Under sentencing laws -- since changed by Scott and the Legislature -- the crime of aggravated assault with a firearm carried a minimum mandatory term of 20 years."
The article went on to say: "The Legislature last year cited Wollard's case when it rewrote state law to provide criminal immunity in cases of the threatened use of force. But the law was not retroactive, so it doesn't apply to Wollard's case. Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, said Wednesday that he didn't understand why prosecutor Hill was so adamant about keeping Wollard imprisoned when he had offered him a plea deal of five years felony probation."
Yes, you read that correctly. The plea offer in the case was Five Years Probation. But, when Wollard rejected the plea offer and took his chances with the jury, his gamble did not pay off. They found him Guilty as Charged and the sentencing Judge had no choice - he had to sentence Wollard to the mandatory 20 years in prison.
You can read the entire sad story here.
Governor Scott had the ability to right a wrong here, but chose instead, the easy way out. He showed no mercy to Lee Wollard.
ELECTION CENTRAL UPDATE .....
As I reported in the Comments section earlier this week, a new candidate has filed to run for Judge in 2016. He is Luis Perez-Medina. He has been a member of the Florida Bar for nine years. He has filed to run for Circuit Court Judge. He has filed in Group 34, a seat being vacated by the retirement of Judge Gill Freeman. Two other candidates have already filed to run in that Group including Renee Gordon and Denise Martinez-Scanziani.
UPDATED: We apologize for getting Mr. Perez-Medina's name wrong. FYI, Mr. Perez-Medina was a DC in Cueto, Sigler, and Hendon. He is currently assigned to the Public Corruption Unit.
Who is Luis Perez-Medina? If you know anything about this veteran of the State Attorney's Office, please chime in.
Currently there are five contested elections including four in Circuit Court and one race in County Court. There are also four sitting Circuit Court judges up for reelection in 2016 that have not yet filed indicating their intention to run again. They include Judge Scott Bernstein, Judge Rosa Rodriguez, Judge Nushin Sayfie, and Judge John Schlesinger. We have communicated with three of the four judges, all but Rosa Rodriguez, and each of the three judges have told us that they intend to file for reelection. In County Court, incumbent judges up for reelection in 2016 that have not yet filed include Judges Wendell Graham, Judith Rubenstein, and Fred Seraphin. Only Judge Graham has confirmed to us his intention to run; we have not yet heard back from the other two judges.
CAPTAIN OUT .....