From the American dream to a nightmare: Black female lawyer forced to sue the Florida Bar for defamation and discrimination
By Roger Caldwell
MOUNTY DORA, FL —There is a history of racial discrimination in the Florida justice system that spans over 100 years. Whenever a Black lawyer exposed injustices in the system, their license was suspended or revoked. This has gone on for decades; judges, lawyers, and court clerks who are responsible for making decisions in our state’s highest courts, can manipulate the lawyer’s “regulation system.”
Marie Henry is a single mother who is a veteran, worked extremely hard in college and law school, and was living the American Dream, before it turned into nightmare. On March 31, 2015, her dream job and her six figure income was stolen from her, because she stood up for her and her daughter’s rights.
“I filed an ethics complaint against a state attorney, and I filed a motion for disqualification against a circuit judge who presided in my daughter’s juvenile case,” says Henry. “Filing an ethics complaint and a motion for disqualification are lawful protected activities that could not, and should not have resulted in any action against me or my license.”
For the last year, Henry has not worked in her chosen profession, because her law license was suspended for “violation of rules of conduct.” According to Henry, she was never given a definitive legal explanation concerning which laws were broken, and why she was unfit to practice law.
At this point, Henry is living off her savings, and everything that she was taught to believe is turning into a nightmare, and a bunch of lies. The treatment that she has received from the Florida Bar has been despicable since Henry filed the ethics complaint, only after she consulted with the Bar. Instead of the Florida Bar working to investigate her complaints, its agents and employees initiated a system of harassment, retaliation, and unlawful conduct.
In Lake County, there is a history of racial discrimination and segregation. On 2009, Henry’s daughter was arrested for walking up a private street with a group of minority youth, and refusing to give her name to the police. The Florida juvenile law was not followed, and Henry was not immediately informed that her daughter was arrested, and the daughter was not allowed to make a phone call.
Once Henry found the location of her daughter, she filed a citizen’s complaint against the officers who arrested her child for excessive force and false arrest. Instead of the system working to resolve the issues, Henry was treated as if she was wrong for complaining about the treatment of her daughter. From the very beginning, Henry only wanted justice for her and her daughter, but there is a dysfunctional justice system in Florida.
“All I ever wanted was to hold the government to the standard that every single American is entitled – transparency, ethics, and accountability,” explained Henry. “But blowing the whistle only works when you have political and economic power.”
Public records show that the citizen’s complaint and an email from the arresting officer of Henry’s child became part of the Florida Bar actions against Henry that ended in the suspension of her license, and the loss of her career.
Henry sued the city of Mount Dora and its officers on behalf of her child, and also filed a federal lawsuit. Her license was suspended by the Florida Supreme Court without finding of facts, or explanation of the law that permitted the suspension. It takes courage to demand justice and fairness in a system that is broken and corrupt. For more information or an interview, contact On Point Media Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or (407) 421-5453 and ask for Roger.