Wednesday, September 26, 2007

FL Assistant Attorney General Joslyn Wilson

I've pasted in the text of the letter, dated September 25, 2007, that I received from AAG Joslyn Wilson this afternoon below in response to formally reporting illegal electronic surveillance to AG Bill McCollum.

September 25, 2007
Dear Mr. Keegan:

The Office of Attorney General Bill McCollum has received your letter requesting this office to investigate the actions of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department. You state that these agencies are guilty of official misconduct and the illegal interception of wire, oral and electronic communications. You also accuse the State Attorney of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit and one of his associates of official misconduct by refusing to investigate your charges and the evidence you provided to that office.

Florida’s state attorneys are independent constitutional officers; they operate independently and are not a part of the Attorney General’s Office. Moreover, it is the elected state attorney in each judicial circuit, not this office, that is responsible for prosecuting crime at the local level. See Article V, section 17, Florida Constitution, providing in part that the state attorney for each judicial circuit “shall be the prosecuting officer of all trial courts in that circuit…”, and section 27.02, Florida Statues. Thus, the prosecution of offenses rests with the state attorney’s office in the judicial circuit where the offense occurred. The state attorneys operate independently and their decisions regarding whether or not to prosecute a criminal case are not subject to the authority of this office. It is within the responsibility of the State Attorney’s office to exercise prosecutorial discretion based on a review of the evidence, the applicable law, and the available resources of that office. See generally State v. Cotton, 769 So. 2d 345, 350 (Fla. 200) (absent a compelling equal protection argument, the exercise of such prosecutorial discretion is not generally subject to judicial review).

While the Governor has the authority to review the actions of a state attorney for malfeasance or misfeasance in office, such review does not generally extend to the state attorney’s exercise of his or her prosecutorial discretion. The Governor, however, under Part II of Chapter 27, Florida Statues, has the authority to issues executive orders assigning “special prosecutors,” which are state attorneys assigned to handle criminal matters outside of their particular circuits. See section 27.14, Florida Statues. If you believe that the state attorney in your judicial circuit has a conflict regarding this matter, you should contact the Governor’s office at the following address: Executive Office of the Governor, PL-05, The Capitol, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001.

In addition, this office does not have specific authority to enforce the provisions of the Public Records Law. As you are aware, this office operates a voluntary mediation program pursuant to section 16.60, Florida Statutes. However, as the program is voluntary and it appears that the state attorney’s office is not interested in participating in the program, this office has no authority to proceed. There are various civil remedies that may be brought by a private individual under the Public Records Law. You may wish to consult a private attorney to discuss your options.

I trust you will understand this office’s lack of statutory authority to become more directly involved in this matter. Thank you for sharing your concerns with the Attorney General’s Office.

Signed by
Joslyn Wilson
Assistant Attorney General

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