Florida seems to have more than its share of unethical judges. There have been news reports of judges' meetings where they compared notes on litigation involving their friends, judges going through other judges' desks after hours, plagiarism, letting criminals walk on technicalities and, of course, sex with their staff. Their partisan behaviors during the 2000 elections made Florida a laughing stock of the whole world.
and sentenced Terri Schiavo to death
is at it again!
And then there is the Terri Schiavo case! On March 21, 2005, Congress passed a law which directed the federal court to go back to square one and examine the actual merits of the Terri Schiavo case. Congress authorized the federal courts to retry the case from scratch -- "de novo" is the legal term. (View the law.) The very next day, Judge James Whittemore (813-301-5880) of the Tampa federal court defied the clear meaning of the law passed by Congress and instead rubberstamped an old decision by his good friend, Judge George Greer, to remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. I'm not taking sides in the Terri Schiavo case. What really troubles me is that Congress did pass a law. Judge Whittemore was bound by his oath to obey that law. But Judge Whittemore saw fit to not obey that law!
I recently filed a lawsuit against the Patent Office. It is partly a Freedom of Information Act fee waiver lawsuit and partly alleges negligence by several employees there. (View lawsuit.)
Judge Whittemore was assigned as the presiding judge. Apparently you can't teach an old dog new tricks. In my lawsuit, just as in the Schiavo case, Judge Whittemore continues to have a problem obeying the law. He is defying several Supreme Court rulings. And he is also defying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
I brought the lawsuit against the government without using a lawyer. I am 68 years old, living on social security and couldn't afford the luxury of hiring a law firm. However, the Supreme Court has made a number of rulings to assist the unrepresented litigant. For example, we are to be afforded "special solicitude" and our pleadings are to be held to a "less stringent standard," are to be given a "liberal construction" and are to be taken "as true."
Also, the high court has ruled that a person who brings a lawsuit on his own (the legal term for this is pro se) is to be given "the opportunity to offer supporting evidence." (View headnotes.) I have advised Judge Whittemore of this ruling several times but the judge doesn't seem to feel bound by Supreme Court decisions, because he has ruled that only the Patent Office will be allowed to submit evidence. I've seen the evidence package that the Patent Office will present. It's just 64 pages long and was selectively, and dishonestly, put together to help the Patent Office and hurt me.
All aspects of a lawsuit and trial are controlled by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which Congress wrote. Apparently Judge Whittemore likes to play fast and loose with the Federal Rules (just as he did with the Terri Schiavo law). For example, the rules spell out exactly how lawsuit documents are to be "served," i.e., given to the other parties. The rules generally allow service by first-class mail. They also allow service by email provided that the recipient has agreed ahead of time.
When a lawsuit is brought against a federal agency, the local federal court conducts the trial and the local District Attorney becomes the lawyer for the defendants. In this case the DA is Warren Zimmerman (813-274-6030). The DA waited until the evening of the deadline to write a particular document. Then, rather than stopping on his way home to mail the document first-class as required by the Rules, he emailed it to me without my prior permission. (View details.) According to the Federal Rules, I have never been served with that document. Congress wrote the Federal Rules to be obeyed. When I asked Judge Whittemore to sanction the DA's behavior, he wrote that there was no "appropriate basis" for a sanction against his fellow federal employee. Well, so much for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure!
In my lawsuit, just as in the Schiavo case, Judge Whittemore has ignored the laws that Congress wrote. In fact, he may have set a major precedent, i.e., that the federal government doesn't have to abide by the Federal Rules. And what's really ironic about this is that the Judge has warned me several times that I'm to obey the Federal Rules - but he has yet to issue a similar warning to the DA.
The junior judge assigned to this lawsuit is Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Jenkins. She too is surrounded by ethics problems. She owns stock in at least six different corporations that have substantial intellectual property rights in the form of patents and that have substantial dealings with the Patent Office, who is one of the defendants. These corporations include General Electric, Intel, Atlantic Data Service, Microsoft, Texas Instruments and Symbol Technologies. More and more, the Patent Office is accommodating the wishes of large corporations to the detriment of lone inventors - like in the administration of maintenance fees. It is to Magistrate Jenkins' financial advantage that her corporations get preferred treatment from the Patent Office over those of a lone inventor, such as myself.
Magistrate Jenkins was an Assistant District Attorney before joining the court. The defendants' counsel in my lawsuit is the District Attorney. That's like the person who would have been her "former boss." How's that for conflict of interest? And to show her bias for her "former boss", she warmly embraced his suggestion that I should not be allowed to present evidence, while totally ignoring the Supreme Court's rulings to the contrary.
Florida courts and Forida judges have a pretty bad reputation. To start to repair that repuation I'm surprised that there isn't a standing order in the Tampa Division that Magistrate Jenkins is to be recused (removed) from all lawsuits which involve her "former boss" as the lawyer for one of the parties. I've just filed a motion to recuse Judge Jenkins from my lawsuit. (View motion.) As in any motion to recuse, I recite all of my concerns about her wrongdoing. Given Judge Whittemore's past performance, I doubt that he'll be able to recognize her wrongdoing. When a judge judges another judge in Florida, the outcome will probably be the same as if a jury of murderers was judging another murderer.
I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think Judge Whittemore has the integrity to obey the Supreme Court rulings concerning my presentation of evidence and to recuse Magistrate Jenkins. Time will tell! If I'm wrong, I will personally apologise to Judge Whittemore and on this website. However, don't bet the farm on his doing the right thing!
Courthouses are often adorned with a statue of Lady Justice with the blindfold and a set of scales. When it comes to Judges Whittemore and Jenkins, it's almost as if Lady Justice is peeking out from underneath her blindfold to see who's filing what - and then adjusting her scales accordingly.
In the process of growing up, one says the Pledge of Allegiance thousands of time. The last four words of that Pledge are "and justice for all." I have become so cynical of Judge Whittemore's and Judge Jenkin's behavior that as a personal protest, I no longer utter the last four words of the Pledge of Allegiance.
If you are a member of the press, you are free to quote the material on this page and to contact me.
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