Dale Landry: Bondi creates conflict
Dale R. Landry
Written by Dale R. Landry | My View
On Oct. 26, the Tallahassee Democrat published its endorsement of Judge Josefina Tamayo for the 2nd Judicial Circuit judge’s race. We the NAACP do not endorse in any individual races; however, we will speak out on issues that we believe directly impact our communities and the people we advocate for.
The Democrat acknowledged its concern regarding the “overt support” given to Judge Tamayo by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and the need to “avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest.” Though that warning from the Democrat was right on target, it was a day late, as that “horse is out of the barn” and too late to pull it back.
Judges of the 2nd Judicial Circuit rule on cases brought against state government by various groups representing citizens who disagree with legislation, rules or actions taken by governmental entities. Representing the state in most (if not all) of these cases is Florida’s attorney general.
Bondi has defended the state on numerous issues that have (or could have) negatively impacted Florida citizens — especially government employees and, to a large extent, citizens of the 2nd Judicial Circuit community. Nowhere was this more evident than Bondi’s zealous efforts to reverse Judge Jackie Fulford’s position regarding privatization of prisons. Representing Florida’s Department of Corrections, Bondi asked the appellate court to overturn Fulford’s ruling. The appellate court refused, and the DOC chose not to appeal that decision. However, Bondi then took it on her herself to intervene on behalf of the Legislature to attempt another appeal, again failing in her attempt to support privatizing prisons.
Given the pattern of disregard for the middle class by Florida’s executive and legislative branches of government, coupled with the AG’s zeal in defending these egregious actions against the people in the 2nd Judicial Circuit courts, the wins by the people can be attributed to maintaining the independence of the judiciary and keeping politics out of our courts.
Given Bondi’s position on prison privatization and her zeal to help enact it, citizens of Jefferson, Liberty, Franklin and Wakulla counties should be concerned, since DOC prisons are a part of the economic base in each county. This is especially critical given that Jefferson County’s prison was on the block last year and DOC made it clear that this will be revisited again during the 2013 legislative session.
We are concerned. Let’s continue to protect our 2nd Judicial Circuit court.
Dale R. Landry is president of the Tallahassee Branch NAACP, 4th vice president of the Florida State Conference NAACP and chair of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Committee for the Florida State Conference. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.