From On Point Media Group
A mother and daughter’s four year experience with the Florida Juvenile Justice System and the Florida Bar has compelled this reporter to expose the inherent injustices in both systems. The events that occurred to this family in Florida demonstrate that there is a comprehensive abuse of power, and a callous indifference to their civil and human rights. There is a history in the state of discrimination and racist behavior toward African Americans, and the treatment of this family has escalated to a “hate crime.”
This four year ordeal began on a warm 2009 Halloween evening, in Mount Dora, Florida at a festival called “Ghost Walk.” The group consisted of the mother’s thirteen year old African American daughter, and 10 to 14 youths of diverse racial and gender backgrounds. They were leaving the event and walking down the street to call their parents to pick them up.
Daughter did not give name abused taken to jail
As the youths are walking down the street, they are detained by the Mount Dora police, and told they are not free to leave. They are accused of “throwing rocks,” and alleged to have committed criminal mischief. The teenagers are shocked with these allegations, because all evening things were peaceful, and they were on their best behavior. As the police began to press the youth for information, a hostile crowd from the community gathers around to see what was happening, and the youth are called “hoodlums.”
The police began to ask the minority group for their names, to cross-check their information against a criminal data base. They also call for back-up from Lake County Sheriff Department. The mother’s daughter refuses to give her name, and she is slammed to the ground, hand cuffed, and her breast exposed to the public. To further victimize the kids, a track dog was called on the group, and the entire time the youths had done nothing wrong, and had broken no laws.
Two of the youths are arrested on the scene, not read their “Miranda Rights,” and interrogated without a parent or legal representation. At this point the daughter supplies the police with her biographical information, and asked to make a call, but she is refused. It is getting late, so the mother is worried about her daughter and calls one of her daughter friends. She informs the mother, that her daughter has been arrested, so she calls 911 to get additional information.
The mother (Marie Henry) finds out from 911, that her daughter has been arrested, and taken to Mount Dora Police Department, even though the child was not a criminal and did nothing wrong. The daughter is charged with “Resisting an Officer without Violence,” and the mother, who is a lawyer, filed a complaint with a sergeant on duty. The mother and child do not leave the police station until approximately 3 a.m. the next morning, when the child is finally released to her custody.
Illogical and misrepresentation at Daughter’s trial
Over the next couple months, the Mount Dora Police Department Internal Affairs investigates the complaint from the mother, but it appears the conclusion is predetermined. Finally, after hearing nothing from the police department, a Petition for Delinquency was served to the mother, charging her daughter with a criminal violation. The daughter is charged with “Resisting an Officer without Violence,” and a three day trial ensues.
At the trial, the Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) called multiple witnesses to testify about throwing rocks, with leading questions that bordered on false testimony. The absurdity of this tactic is not only illegal and unethical, but is the classic definition of “racial profiling.” There was no probable cause to arrest, because none of the witnesses could identify anyone throwing rocks.
The conduct of the criminal justice system is a travesty of justice. These children had a legal and Constitutional right to be where they were, and the idea that the police and other government officials can simply snatch people’s children off the street, and bring them into the criminal justice system in violation of established law is truly troubling.
As a result of the juvenile proceedings, the trial Judge placed the child on probation until she is 19. In subsequent proceedings, the daughter has been handcuffed, shackled, forced to wear an orange jumpsuit, and held in a secured detention, because it was alleged that she “absconded probation.”
There is no evidence to substantiate that claim, and as a result of her treatment, the daughter has a permanent back injury, and a host of other mental and physical ailments. But the story does not end with the false imprisonment, harassment, and dehumanization of the daughter, because the mother who is a lawyer starts to demand answers for the mistreatment of her child.
Harassment and violation trial of mother
The mother is extremely upset with the Florida Juvenile Justice System, and is positive that her daughter’s rights have been violated. She filed a citizen’s complaint, and it is dismissed. The officer is hailed as a hero and cleared of any wrongdoing. As the mother begins to write letters to the governor, the attorney general, our two Florida senators, and the state bar alleging a willful violation of the law, there appears to be a cover-up.
After seeking guidance from the Florida Bar, the mother files a verified complaint against the prosecutor, who retaliates and files his own complaint against the mother. The Florida Bar issued a closure letter stating that the prosecutor had done nothing wrong, and then filed eight charges against the mother. This set off a chain of events that were retaliatory and comprehensive in their scope and size.
On January 30, 2013, the Florida Bar scheduled a conference call with the mother, the Seminole County Grievance Committee, and the investigating attorney. The mother thought this would be a non-adversarial call, but she underestimated the power and arrogance of the justice system. At this conference call, the investigating attorney instructed and scolded the mother on what she should have said and not said in her motions concerning the entire legal proceedings.
Eventually, the mother was brought up on trial, on rules regulating the Florida Bar. The trial lasted for two days on November 12, 13, 2013. The trial emanated solely from a motion to disqualify the trial judge, and an ethics complaint filed against the prosecutor. During this trial, the Florida Bar not only reproduced her daughter’s entire trial transcript, but obtained all of her confidential juvenile records from the Department of Juvenile Justice, the police department, and the court.
At the trial the prosecutor expressed a deep dislike of the mother and the daughter, which he articulated at length. This was all a violation of clearly established law, and including any information of the daughter’s trial in the mother’s bar trial is unconstitutional.
The mother was convicted on six of the eight charges. In further proceedings, the Bar Attorney asked the court to suspend the mother from the practice of law for two years. Because the mother filed a number of complaints, there appeared to be a personal vendetta against the family. The prosecutor called the mother “diabolical and mentally deranged,” and once again there was no regard for the rule of law.
Conclusion and where does the family go from here
Both the mother and daughter have been found guilty in predetermined court proceedings, where the Florida Justice System had decided to punish a family who had broken no laws. Florida has a history of racism, where the system is designed to protect those in power. The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the conduct of these government officials against this family rises to the level of a”hate crime.”
There is a need for a federal investigation where the truth is exposed in fair and transparent proceedings. From the very beginning, the mother, a veteran and her daughter have only sought justice and to be treated as first class American citizens. They both did nothing wrong and they broke no laws. There is a systematic unseen hand, where the agenda is adverse to the treatment of African Americans in the state of Florida.
Clearly the entire system that was supposed to protect this family failed, because it was never meant to protect them. It is time that we make this system accountable and protect this family and all Americans. Write or call Governor Scott, Pam Bondi, the Mount Dora Police Department, the Florida Bar, the Department of Justice, and express your outrage of the treatment of this family.
For interviews and more information email, or call On Point Media Group at Jet38@bellsouth.net or (407) 421-5453.