Florida seems to have more than its share of unethical judges. Partisan behavior by judges during the 2000 elections made Florida a laughing stock of the entire world. And their inept decisions in the Terri Schiavo case will never be forgotten.
Inventor David Brown of Sun City Center, FL, recently filed a lawsuit-8:05cv2166 against the Patent Office. Tampa Judge James Whittemore (813-301-5880) is the presiding judge. He's the same judge who defied Congress's law that the court was to retry the Terri Schiavo case from scratch - he pulled her feeding tube the very next day.
Brown charges that in his own lawsuit, Judge Whittemore continues to act inappropriately. He has violated his judicial oath. He has defied Supreme Court rulings. He has failed to follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which controls the conduct of trials. And the judge has even condoned the improper behavior of his junior judge.
The 68-year-old Brown brought the lawsuit against the government without using a lawyer. The Supreme Court has made a number of rulings to assist the unrepresented litigant. For example, they are to be afforded "special solicitude," and their pleadings are to be held to a "less stringent standard," given a "liberal construction" and are to be taken "as true." Also, the Supreme 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." Brown has advised Judge Whittemore of this ruling at least five times. However, the judge allowed his junior judge to rule that only the Patent Office will be allowed to submit evidence, not Brown.
All aspects of a lawsuit and trial are controlled by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which Congress wrote. Brown charges that 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 lawyer for the defendants is the local district attorney, Warren Zimmerman (813-274-6030). He intentionally failed to serve a document according to the Federal Rules. (Instead he sent it by email hoping that Brown wouldn't find it among his spam.) When Brown asked Judge Whittemore to sanction the DA's behavior, the judge looked the other way. Well, so much for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure! In fact, Whittemore may have set a major precedent, i.e., that the federal government doesn't have to abide by the Federal Rules. Brown says that what's really ironic is that the judge has warned him several times about obeying the Federal Rules - but never once has the judge issued a similar warning to the district attorney.
The junior (magistrate) judge assigned to the case is Elizabeth Jenkins (813-301-5774). Her background and her actions to date also have a strong appearance of impropriety and conflicts of interest.
For example, the magistrate judge owns stock in a number of large corporations. Six of those companies have a substantial number of high-tech patents. They include General Electric, Intel, Atlantic Data Service, Microsoft, Texas Instruments and Symbol Technologies. They all have substantial dealings with the Patent Office who is one of the defendants in Brown's lawsuit. Judges are not allowed to participate in lawsuits in which they have a financial stake. The policies of the Patent Office favor patents filed by large corporations over those filed by individual inventors. Brown charges that 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 he is.
An even more serious conflict of interest is that Magistrate Jenkins was an Assistant District Attorney before joining the court. The Patent Office's lawyer is the District Attorney, Warren Zimmerman (813-274-6030). That's like the person who would have been her "former boss" is also now the lawyer for the defendants. How's that for a cozy conflict of interest?
And to show favoritism for her "former boss", she warmly embraced his suggestion that only the Patent Office, represented by her former employer, will be allowed to present evidence. Brown will not be allowed to present evidence. The Supreme Court has championed the cause of pro se litigants by ruling that they are entitled to present evidence. In addition, the Supreme Court has ruled that all pro se allegations are to be taken as true. By only allowing Patent Office evidence, Jenkins has, in effect, dismissed many of Brown's allegations.
The Tampa court is to base part of its decision on the content of Brown's website, www.PatentOfficeLawsuit.info. Since Jenkins has ruled that the court will only accept the Patent Office's evidence, the website will never be considered. The lawsuit is also about wrongdoing by several Patent Office employees. But since none of Brown's evidence about them can be considered, justice will not be served.
Brown finds it surprising that there isn't a standing order in the Tampa courts that Magistrate Jenkins is to be recused (removed) from all lawsuits which involve her "former boss" as the lawyer for one of the parties. Brown has filed a (motion) to recuse her from the lawsuit. However, Brown notes that: "Given the way that Florida judges protect each other's butts, the motion probably won't go anywhere. When a judge judges another judge in Florida, the outcome is probably going to be the same as if a jury of murderers was judging another murderer."
Courthouses are often adorned with a statue of Lady Justice with the blindfold and a set of scales. Brown quips that 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.
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You are free to quote the material on this page and to contact me.
Brown maintains a website, www.PatentOfficeLawsuit.info , which contains a lot of background material.
Whether it is crooked politicians, arrogant and incompetent federal employees or activist judges creating law or helping their friends, the press's public spotlight, powered by the First Amendment, has tempered their excesses. I hope that you will pursue and write about my lawsuit. The inventors in your area will appreciate it.