TAMPA BAY PRISONS STILL FAIL TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE MEDICAL CARE, SAFETY, FOOD & CLOTHES FOR INMATES

When the Pinellas County Sheriff recently hired a company to take over the medical needs of the Clearwater jail, he chose the same company that runs the medical staff of the Hillsborough County Jail. This might seem reasonable but for the fact that under that company’s medical care an inmate suffering a stroke was misdiagnosed as drunk and died an excruciating death. One thing is certain, it’s not about the quality of medical care to be provided, it’s about saving money.

Clearly the health, safety and rehabilitation of inmates in the Florida prison system is not the first priority with local decision makers. In fact Tampa Bay jails have a notorious reputation for not providing and protecting for prisoners

Anyone arrested has the right to adequate care and even those convicted must be treated in such a way that the punishment is not cruel. The Pinellas Jail often houses federal prisoners. It’s one way that the over-crowded jail makes money. Other ways include selling music, clothes, phone time and food to inmates at extreme markups. 

As a Tampa Bay federal defense attorney I’ve heard many complaints from federal clients about the terrible food at the jail, which often needs to be supplemented with food bought at extraordinary high prices in the prison canteen. The failure to provide proper food, soap, shampoo and even underwear to inmates unless they buy the items makes life in the jail more difficult not only for those unfortunate inmates who can’t afford these ‘luxuries’ but for the prison guards who find themselves degraded when their livelihoods subject others to inhumane conditions. 

Yet it’s one thing to be cheap, much worse to risk lives by providing improper medical care in Florida jails. Press reports note that the Tampa family of the man who died of the misdiagnosed stroke received a significant financial settlement of as much as $700,000. Wouldn’t it have been far wiser, cheaper and more effective in the long term, not to mention more humane, to have simply spent that money toward making our prisons safe, clean and healthy?

WHAT INCENTIVES DO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS HAVE TO COMMIT PERJURY IN CRIMINAL CASES

Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Lawyer has watched with bated breath in numerous criminal trials as hundreds of officers have lined up one by one to testify against my doomed clients. Upon taking the witness stand having sworn to tell the truth they’ve done everything possible to convince those once fair and impartial jurors to convict. Were those officers always telling the truth?

Manet painting of wight. The man in the painting looks like a law enforcement officer who has just committed perjury in Tampa Bay criminal courtroom B under cross-examination
Manet, Considering Perjury, 1875

It’s not uncommon to know that an officer is committing perjury especially when other evidence directly establishes that the officer is simply lying. 
Should the Jury, well and truly try and true, believe that libelous video that seems to show the officer beating all hell out of my client or the trustworthy officer’s testimony? And yet the prosecutor will always ask the jury this, “Why would a law enforcement officer ever risk his career to lie under oath about a criminal case?” 
A recent editorial by Michelle Alexander in the New York Times addresses the issue of why officers lie under oath giving some good reasons as to why it happens more often than we think. The article quotes the San Francisco Police Commissioner as follow:

“Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”

The article mentions the unrelenting pressure to make ever greater numbers of arrests as a significant cause of police perjury. In many police departments the quality of an officer’s work is judged based on the number of arrests he makes. 
Here in Tampa Bay the Largo Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol have the reputation of going to extraordinary lengths to persuade their officers that the only path to advancement is with high arrest numbers causing some officers to speak up about the unrealistic pressure of the quota systems, even as the police agencies deny there is a quota system.
A second cause could be called the War on Drugs Syndrome. This seems to be what has long afflicted the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa Bay, Florida who broke the law during investigations of significant drug cases, such as manufacturing marijuana.
The internal thinking of officers must be something along the lines of, “It’s a war after all. It’s us versus them. They’re violating the law. We’re the good guys.” And the next thing you know Deputies are acting like criminals themselves lying under oath, lying to gain entry into a home or even destroying evidence.



ABUSIVE & DEMEANING SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES SHOULD BE FIRED IN TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA

What happens to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy who is demeaning and abrasive to citizens while failing to properly investigate DUI cases? Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyers might think he’d be lucky if he wasn’t fired. But instead he was merely assigned to be a bailiff. And he isn’t happy about it. Now he’s appealing that decision so that he can investigate DUI cases again. 
According to press reports the Pinellas County Deputy : 

Clearwater law enforcement officer in 1950, a Clearwater Criminal Lawyer thinks they should still honor the uniform & the badge
Honoring uniform & badge, 1950

According to an inter-office disciplinary memo, Hubbard was also suspended for 160 hours and had to undergo a fitness-for-duty evaluation…Internal affairs officials investigated 38 arrests … In 24 of those cases, the investigation found, the DUI charge was either dropped or reduced because either the suspect’s blood-alcohol content was barely at or under the legal limit of .08 or the driver refused the tests after interacting with Hubbard…“Upon review of videos relating to several of your DUI cases, you were found to be demeaning and abrasive towards citizens,” Hubbard was told in a disciplinary memo…

Would you want that Deputy investigating you? This Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Blog has noted that there is plenty of misconduct in Tampa Bay law enforcement such as Sheriff’s Deputies destroying evidence, police officers caught doing crimes, and Pinellas Deputies using fake subpoenas to obtain evidence


When his conduct is compared to some of the others in local law enforcement this Deputy must believe he is an example of rectitude, discipline and excellence within the force. At least one Clearwater Defense Criminal Attorney would set the standards for police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Tampa Bay at a higher level than not being caught in felonious conduct by firing – not reassigning – officers who don’t respect citizen’s rights.

DON’T LITTER – LITTERING LEADS TO MURDER CHARGE IN CLEARWATER FLORIDA

A man arrested man in Clearwater should have learned to never litter, because as Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys will tell you littering is often just the first small step to a murder charge.

Munch SelfPortrait with BurningCigarette...in Clearwater, Largo, St. Petersburg & Tampa, Florida a disgarded cigarette can be used to match DNA
Munch, Self-Portrait with Cigarette, 1895

 During a recent Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) investigation into a grisly rape and homicide case police found DNA evidence on the victim’s body as well as the mattress of her bed despite the fact that the perpetrator had cut out part of the bed sheet in an apparent attempt to remove incriminating evidence. The Sheriff’s office even found a prime suspect, linked to the victim by videotape at a bar, but they had insufficient evidence to make an arrest. 
Was the DNA found at the crime scene a match for the suspect’s DNA? 

To find out the Sheriff’s Deputies followed the suspect. And finally while driving only a few blocks north of the apartment where the senseless crime occurred the Defendant made a mistake. He flicked his still moldering cigarette out the window. Deputies picked it up. Experts tested it and found a match to the DNA found on the victim. As your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer would happily tell you while drinking your best wine, no search warrant is necessary for personal objects which someone throws away because the act of discarding something shows that the person has forfeited his ownership interest in the property.

CELL PHONE RECORDS & PERSONAL INFORMATION ARE NO LONGER PRIVATE IN AMERICA & TAMPA BAY FLORIDA

Almost 90% of adults in America own a cell phone. Cell phones not only contribute to the loud braying at your favorite restaurant, but they are leading to the end of personal privacy as we’ve known it, since cell phones hold an incredible amount of personal information which is readily accessible by law enforcement without proper warrants. Yet lately Tampa Bay officers have come under attack for giving false information in warrant requests to Judges in drug cases. Worse, much of the information being given to law enforcement is ‘dumped’ from cell towers including all of the thousands of cell phone users whose personal information happens to be logging thru at the moment, making police privy to vast quantities of private information without any court’s intervention, beyond the scope of judicial review and free from any objections for its use from Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys.

now we all have cell phones but no privacy
“I want a cell phone!”

Recent reports show that police in the United States obtained over 1.3 million cell phone records, call location, GPS tracking, text messages and call history information in the past year. This obtrusive tracking of citizens is what one might expect in a totalitarian country rather than in America.
How many cell phone information requests were made by local law enforcement? How many of the requests result in arrests, prosecutions and convictions in Tampa Bay? Who supervises the propriety of the cell phone requests to phone companies at each law enforcement agency?
Is it really too much for a Clearwater Criminal Lawyer to ask that the Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough Police Department, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department, the Largo Police Department, the Clearwater Police Department and the St. Petersburg Police Department give an accurate accounting for the number of requests they have for cell phone information? As Americans we demand transparency to protect our privacy rights from each local Tampa Bay law enforcement agency.

FIND OUT IF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD FIREWORKS DISPLAY RESULTED IN AN ARREST IN CLEARWATER, LARGO & TAMPA BAY FLORIDA

Ever wonder if those pyromaniac friends of yours fondly known in your neighborhood for their incredible 4th of July fireworks displays, have been arrested when the explosions threaten to burn down your house, at least one Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney does wonder and I’ve decided to help you in your quest for arrest information.

Neighborhood Fireworks Display may lead to arrest  which Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Hambrick will Defend
My Neighborhood Fireworks Display

First, this blog has already described in detail how to find out if there is an active arrest warrant for someone in Florida. I’ll show you how to find out if the warrant resulted in an arrest and if someone has ever been arrested in Florida for anything else. Remember that this is only for Florida arrests.
You can find out if someone has been arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail by checking the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Inquiry Form which gives accurate information including the charged offense for every booking arrest into the Jail since November of 2005 and includes the cities of Largo, Clearwater & St. Petersburg, Florida. If you’re not noisy but more of the nosey type and are checking up on someone in Tampa you’d look to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Inquiry Form. For information for an arrest anywhere within the entire state of Florida, you can check the FDLE criminal history information web page, here’s hoping your own name doesn’t show up. 
Of course if the person was arrested but was smart enough to hire your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer for his defense attorney it’s possible that he was never convicted or that he plead to a reduced charge something I’d do for your noisiest neighbor and even for you if you ever need help fighting a charge.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS MISCONDUCT INVESTIGATION OF PINELLAS SHERIFF’S NARCOTICS DIVISION LEADS TO DETECTIVE’S RESIGNATION

Rather than testify under oath a Pinellas Sheriff’s Deputy and Detective of the Narcotics Division resigned in shame yesterday when confronted with thousands of pages of internal affairs evidence of his misconduct and possible criminal actions. Other Deputies are also being investigated by internal affairs for numerous violations of Florida law in Tampa Bay, which leads your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney to wonder who the real criminals are when law enforcement at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department is so corrupt that it investigates itself. This blog noted months ago that undercover detectives were accused of using fake subpoenas and donning the gear of utility men to gain entry into homes as well as committing possible felonies such as armed trespass and burglary. 

Tampa Bay Detective in Clearwater resigns in shame
Goya, Shame, 1814



It shouldn’t take a former prosecutor and Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer to state the obvious: more than internal scrutiny is necessary to clean up this mess. A Grand Jury should be convened to investigate local law enforcement’s failure to abide by Florida law. Indictments should follow for any illegal activity. If the Pinellas State Attorney’s office doesn’t have the stomach to properly investigate crime at PCSO with the guidance of a local Grand Jury, then Governor Scott should convene a Grand Jury that will look into the systematic corruption within the criminal justice system in Pinellas at a higher and presumably more effective level to root out corrupt law enforcement. As citizens of Florida we have the right to expect that our law enforcement officers will abide by the same laws that we must follow because the law applies equally to all of us.

PINELLAS COUNTY DEPUTIES USED FAKE SUBPOENAS AFTER OBTAINING EVIDENCE IN CLEARWATER & PINELLAS DRUG CASES

New investigations of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office reveal that narcotics officers gained inappropriate access to private electric power bills from Progress Energy.  Later the Deputies used fake state attorney subpoenas to cover their tracks according to the Tampa Bay Times. The narcotics officers are also accused of telling lies to gain entry into homes, of giving false testimony under oath to obtain warrants and of using secret video feeds to spy on shoppers at a store in order to gain investigative information for marijuana grow house cases in Pinellas County, a part of Tampa Bay where your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney warily lives a day to day existence.


Currently sixteen separate internal affairs investigations of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Narcotics Division are moving forward with six new investigations  launched within the past week as the newly anointed Sheriff, only in office for a few months, heads into election. Is the Sheriff throwing the narcotics division “under the bus,” as his recent, now resigned, former head of the narcotics division believes. Or is the Sheriff somehow an innocent bystander just trying to clean up the mess?


 “You know what you are doing is wrong and you are covering yourself on the backside,” Sheriff Gualtieri said. “You don’t fully inform the state attorney and have them go through hoops to get information on something you already have.


Here is a Training Bulletin for Police from a Jacksonville Florida Law Enforcement agency which clearly balances the rights of citizens to have personal information protected against the need of Law Enforcement to conduct appropriate criminal investigations as does this bulletin from FDLE. Should PCSO need help I know a Clearwater Criminal Drug Attorney who’d happily talk to the Deputies about the need for a proper balance if they’ll promise not to frisk me first.


The only certain thing is that laws may have been broken. When a law enforcement officer falsely swears under oath or steals personal information, that officer should be prosecuted just like anyone else would be. A GRAND JURY should be convened to investigate possible criminal acts as well as any systemic corruption within the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office and the Pinellas State Attorney’s Office, which is somehow still moving forward with the marijuana grow house cases despite the lies and illegal activity. All of the cases involving these dishonest Deputies should be re-evalutated.
  

Pinellas Sheriff Discovers Fake Subpoenas even while bathing…
Jacques-Louis DavidThe Death of Marat, 1793

SOMEWHERE ORWELL IS SMILING: SECRET VIDEOS MADE BY THE PINELLAS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE WERE USED IN SEARCH WARRANTS BASED ON WHERE PEOPLE SHOP IN LARGO FLORIDA

Imagine a dark Orwellian world where everything you do is on video and everything you do is closely examined in the hope it can be used as evidence against you in the future.

Well, if you live in Pinellas County, Florida you don’t have to imagine that world anymore, as your Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office secretly put hundreds of customers under video surveillance for over a year at a plant store called Simply Hydroponics. Law enforcement then used identifiers of the customers, such as the tags on their vehicles to track them, spy on them and to obtain search warrants which contained at best highly unlikely information.

This should make every American angry and even makes your favorite Clearwater Defense Lawyer despair for the future of our country.
In one case law enforcement officers placed a plant store customer’s home under surveillance then swore under oath in a search warrant that they could smell the marijuana plants and heard the distinct noise of foliage being broken from within what they designated as a suspected marijuana grow house. Our intrepid detectives found a single marijuana plant upon forcing their way into the home.
If there’s one thing all of us as Americans should be against it’s unbridled government surveillance and the destruction of our privacy rights. Yet we should also agree that the inherent corruption which resulted in officer’s telling lies under oath must also be rooted out.
The surveillance, the lies, the misinformation and the failure of law enforcement to abide by basic American standards of Justice should result in the immediate investigations of every law enforcement officer and every prosecutor involved as prosecutors routinely draft, prepare and take the search warrants to Judges for signatures. 
A Grand Jury should immediately be convened by the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate he highest positions at the Sheriff’s Office and at the State Attorney’s Office, to find who was responsible for placing the video equipment near the store, to find what other stores or public areas are secretly under surveillance and to bring to justice all of those who did this or allowed this to be done under their watch.

Here are a few excerpts about smell as possible probable cause from the St. Petersburg Times Article: Young plants don’t emit an odor, but if a person were growing “hundreds” of mature plants in a structure that wasn’t properly sealed, it’s “possible” an officer very close to the home would notice the smell…James Woodford of Chattanooga, Tenn., an expert on the topic of marijuana odor, said a large operation vented directly outdoors could generate an occasional “whiff” of marijuana detectable up to 25 to 30 feet away [i.e., less than half the distance between the sidewalk and Underwood’s “alleged grow room”]….Law enforcement officers commonly use the smell of marijuana to establish probable cause.
Drug Crimes Trial Lawyer & Criminal Defense Attorney in Clearwater, FL
Times Editorial: America shouldn’t be a surveillance society
Video Surveillance – Are Hidden Cameras Legal?
933.07 Issuance of search warrants.
(1) The judge, upon examination of the application and proofs submitted, if satisfied that probable cause exists for the issuing of the search warrant, shall thereupon issue a search warrant signed by him or her with his or her name of office, to any sheriff and the sheriff’s deputies or any police officer or other person authorized by law to execute process, commanding the officer or person forthwith to search the property described in the warrant or the person named, for the property specified, and to bring the property and any person arrested in connection therewith before the judge or some other court having jurisdiction of the offense.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, based on grounds specified in s. 933.02(4)(d), may obtain a search warrant authorized by this chapter for an area in size up to and including the full extent of the county in which the search warrant is issued. The judge issuing such search warrant shall conduct a court proceeding prior to the issuance of such search warrant upon reasonable notice and shall receive, hear, and determine any objections by property owners to the issuance of such search warrant. Such search warrant may be served by employees or authorized contractors of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Such search warrant may be made returnable at any time up to 6 months from the date of issuance.

933.04 Affidavits.The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable seizures and searches shall not be violated and no search warrant shall be issued except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation particularly describing the place to be searched and the person and thing to be seized.

From Orwell’s novel 1984, The three slogans of the Party on the Ministry of Truth Building.