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Broward Clerk of Court Files Malicious Prosecution Against Local Blogger
Broward Clerk of Court Files Malicious Prosecution Against Local Blogger-Broward County Clerk of the Court, Brenda Forman earlier this month filed a Petition for Protection Against Domestic Violence, more specifically “Stalking“, against courthouse blogger and attorney, William (Bill) Gelin. Gelin publishes the JAABlog.
The Broward Clerk, in her initial complaint, followed by several witness statements does not allege that Mr. Gelin had even done anything illegal.
In the Clerks own words, and the sworn statements by witnesses, all the courthouse blogger did was try to ask her some questions and take some pictures of her.
“I stated you cannot take a picture of me and I turned quickly towards the opposite direction,” the clerk states in her complaint.
It would seem that Broward County’s Clerk of the Court Brenda Forman needs some schooling about the U.S. constitution, more specifically, The First Amendment.
Clerk Brenda Forman is an elected public official, who was at work conducting official county business, on public owned property. Anyone, under those circumstances, has the absolute right to photograph her, or video record her including audio.
Pretty dense of the clerk considering this issue was decided over eighteen years ago in the Federal Courts.
First Amendment considerations arise when you are openly recording the activities of police officers (or other public officials) carrying out their duties in public places.
A number of U.S. Courts of Appeals have held that, in such circumstances, the First Amendment protects the right to record audio and video regardless of whether the police/officials consent. This constitutional right would override any state or federal laws that would otherwise prohibit such recording.
Currently, the following U.S. Courts of Appeals have recognized the First Amendment right to record the police and/or other public officials:
Eleventh Circuit (with jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida and Georgia): see Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332, 1333 (11th Cir. 2000) (“The First Amendment protects the right to gather information about what public officials do on public property, and specifically, a right to record matters of public interest.”).
See also United States v. Hastings, 695 F.2d 1278, 1281 (11th Cir.1983) (finding that the press generally has no right to information superior to that of the general public).
For more information on this subject, visit our website
The Broward Clerk, and her top aid, Diane Diaz’s husband Broward County Judge Robert Diaz, are both frequent targets of criticism on Gelin’s blog, so there has always been some animosity between these three.
Judge Diaz was the subject of discipline by the JQC back in 2005, and did in fact receive a “Public Reprimand“, by The Florida Supreme Court.
THE CIRCUS BEGINS
In October, when Mr. Gelin tried to talk to the clerk and her aide Diane Diaz, with a question about a case for one of the attorney’s clients, the attorney addressed the clerk , Brenda Forman during the discussion as “Brenda”.
“She is Madam Clerk,” Diane Diaz shouted out, according to our sources. Diaz remember is the wife of Broward County Judge Robert Diaz.
After that exchange, the “you know what” hit the fan. This elected official claims you need her permission to photograph her in public, according to her complaint.
The petition was denied by Broward judge Mily Rodriguez-Powell.
That should be the end of it, but “Madam” Clerk is still insisting on a day in court and an injunction against Gelin to keep him from within 500 feet of the main courthouse where he himself works too.
What a big waste of time and money for Broward taxpayers to have to deal with a court clerk who obviously knows very little about the law.
This is actually the second frivolous action the clerk has filed.
The first being during her divorce with former Broward Clerk Howard Forman. She tried to have him declared incompetent, in a possible attempt to take his pension. Broward judge Mark Speiser saw through that attempt.
Now Miami-Dade county can deal with this waste of time.
Because this case involves the Broward Clerk, a witness who is married to a Broward judge, and also newly elected judge Jackie Powell as a witness, judge Michael Kaplan has recused himself from the case, and the Governor has assigned the 11th circuit, (Miami-Dade) to hear the case.
There will be more to this story to come in the near future, and we’ll keep you up to date. One thing is very interesting to us, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on it, is newly elected judge Jackie Powell.
The new judge has asked the State Attorney Generals Office for a “Protective Order” regarding this case.
Very soon the judge will be sworn in and taking an oath to uphold justice in Broward. Guess she doesn’t want to testify about something she witnessed. Not even in office yet, and already expecting “special” treatment.
That’s one judge we will be keeping an eye on for the next several years.
South Florida Corruption.com