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* * * A Touching Letter From a Judge * * *

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  • jail4judges
    J.A.I.L. News Journal _____________________________________________________ Los Angeles, California July 27,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 27, 2003

      J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles, California                                                   July 27, 2003


      A Touching Letter From a Judge

      (By Judge Matt Mc Millan - Florida JAILer)


      Mrs. Mc Millan, wife of Judge Mc Millan, prefaces the below document with a separate email with the following words,  "I've attached a letter my husband wrote to the local paper immediately after his removal was ordered, which happened to coincide with 9-11.  The paper agreed to print the letter, but once the editor read it, he refused, saying he did not want to give the judge a chance to 're-argue his case.' .... I love my husband, his heart is pure and unselfish, and I was sickened by the corruption that led to his removal.  .... I feel rather hopeless about our justice system."


      It is rather significant when a publicly elected Judge, and his wife, have arrived at the ugly conclusion that corruption and evil is so entrenched in our nation's judiciary that they feel America's justice system is literally hopeless. Although the local newspaper that promised to publish Matt's side of the story reneged on their promise, we now proudly publish Matt's side of the story. Judge Mc Millan has now joined our nationwide effort at bringing about judicial accountability. I now present to you Judge Matt Mc Millan:



      The following column was written prior to the tragedies of September 11th.  Truthfully, the decision of the Florida Supreme Court regarding my case seems rather insignificant at this time compared to the threat facing our great nation and the suffering of so many people. 


      Nonetheless, Mr. Klement has been kind enough to allow me this opportunity to respond to the Court’s findings, and so I will do that.  However, my comments are not meant to add divisiveness or partisanship at a time when we truly need to pull together.  I remind my supporters that while it is important to decry injustice when we see it, and to hold our elected officials accountable at every turn, right now it is more important to the focus on and strengthen our common bond as Americans.


      It is with mixed emotions that I comment to the citizens of this county on the decision of the Judicial Qualifications Commission and the Florida Supreme Court;  a sense of sadness, a sense of relief, and a profound sense of gratitude. 


      The Ruling


      First, in order to put the events surrounding this decision in its proper perspective, one must take note of the following quote of Mr. Curtis Richardson, a lay member of the Judicial Qualifications Commission  who sat on the very panel which filed the charges against me.  In reference to my case, he publicly stated in the September 15, 2000 edition of the Florida Bar News, 

      "We've had two instances where current judges ran against sitting judges and they won. And I almost felt like there was an unwritten rule that you don't run against a sitting judge.  My personal opinion is the judges on the [JQC] panel are helping send that message: `We're going to support our fellow [sitting] judges.'"


      Apparently, Mr. Richardson was not comfortable with the JQC’s interpretation of the evidence or its motivation in my prosecution.  Neither were many of the citizens who observed my trial, many of whom I had never met, some who joined over 1000 others in signing onto Amicus Curiae petitions filed with the Supreme Court in my defense, and others who drove to Tallahassee in protest. 


      I will not use this opportunity to point out the evidence which stands in direct conflict with the Court’s ruling.  The testimony and Court records verifying the legitimacy of my campaign assertions and the efforts of my staff and myself to be accurate are part of the official court record, outlined in briefs filed on February 23rd and March 26th.  The overwhelming evidence on file of the tactics of pressure, intimidation, and threats utilized throughout the campaign as well as the testimony of every attorney called to the stand regarding my consistent fairness, lack of bias, impartiality and unquestionable fitness for office is also of record, detailed in my Motion for Rehearing filed on August 26th. All documents are available for inspection at the Florida Supreme Court or posted on its official website.  I  will merely say that perhaps it is time for the voters to take note of Mr. Richardson’s concerns and to question the wisdom of such a powerful political system basically policing itself. ....


      The Decision to Appeal

      When the Supreme Court issued its opinion on August 16th, I had no intention of filing a Motion for Rehearing.  It was only after I was besieged by e-mails, cards, and phone calls from Manatee County residents and citizens across the country who had been following my case, that I was convinced to file.  Over and over a theme emerged in the pleading and encouraging messages I received:  While I viewed my judgeship as simply an opportunity to improve the lives of citizens affected by crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, and violence, many of you viewed the loss of my judgeship as a defeat of the common citizen at the hands of the elite, as a surrender of cherished freedoms, and as loss of the voters’ rights to an all –too-powerful judiciary. 


      In the wake of such entreaties, I filed an unorthodox motion, asking for my case to be heard before an unbiased panel of citizens, knowing that it would probably be denied and that the local media would revel in the opportunity to continue their frenzy of criticism.  Yet I hoped to give concerned Floridians food for thought: the current system of judging judges is broken; the-fox-guarding-the-hen house approach is neither fair to the judges on trial nor to the citizens who wish to have their grievances redressed.  Until the secretive investigations are made public and those with a vested political interest are removed from controlling the outcome, this system will remain broken; protecting some judges while crucifying others, depending upon the political realities of the case.


      Fortunately, our Florida Constitution allows for amendments. And these very issues are addressed in a ballot initiative entitled the “Judicial Accountability and Integrity Law” now pending in 43 states, which proposes using independent juries of citizens to try and sentence Judges accused of misconduct.  This is an amendment worthy of serious consideration. As I stated in my Motion for Rehearing, I will stand before an independent jury of citizens any day, and abide by their findings without further appeal.


      The Voters’ Rights


      I recognize that while my opponents celebrate my removal as a victory for justice, my supporters were counting on me to break through the powerful Good Old Boy system which still operates both county and statewide.  I am sorry I was unable to do that, and I am saddened for those who chose to elect me at having their voices negated and their vote overturned.  Let us all remain suspect of those who tell Americans they lack the savvy to choose their elected officials on their own.  If I am unfit, the voters should make that decision and vote me out of office during the next election.  The removal of this sacred right from the electorate is a slippery slope.


                  Certainly, those who fought to do away with judicial elections altogether in favor of appointments have achieved their goal.  Even though their amendment last November was soundly defeated by the voters, the outcome is the same:  No lawyer will dare challenge an incumbent judge in this community again.  And if he does, he will not dare to criticize the incumbent, the system, nor promise reform.  My case has effectively and permanently chilled this right of free speech. ...  My critics will accuse me of paranoia and blame-shifting; but they protest too loudly.  Rest assured that a growing number of Americans recognize the political realities inherent in the judiciary and the merit of my concerns.


      The Positive


              That being said, I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve the citizens of this county.   It has been a rewarding experience to be in a position to affect the lives of so many people in a positive way.  My tenure has proven, without question, that a judge can make an extraordinary difference if he has a mind to do so.  I was able to affect some remarkable improvements in the system that even this newspaper found worthy of coverage. (Judge Puts Own Spin on Passing Sentence:  Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys agree Judges Approach has Merit;  Blood A Real Service: The Sentencing Approach Makes Sense.) ....


              When I served in the Civil Division, I made sure, to the best of my abilities, to communicate to the citizens in this county that this is their courthouse --  not some grand Taj Mahal designed to pay homage to the judiciary -  and that it matters not who they are, who their lawyer is, what their connections are, or what their cause might be, that justice will be even-handed and fair. ....


      During my cross examination at my trial, Bonnie Booth, a lay member of the JQC panel which convicted me, stated the following on the record:

      “Judge McMillan, I just – I think you realize that different people have different styles of doing their jobs.   And I’m wondering – you know, it’s just so commendable.  And I’m just wondering if you expect every judge to be as zealous and as creative and to work as hard and as many hours as you do, or are you always going to be an exception?”


      Perhaps I was the exception, but despite this turn of events, it is my hope that the expectations of the citizens of this county will remain high.  If anything positive has come from my election to the bench, as well as the sound defeat of the November 7th amendment asking voters to do away with judicial elections altogether, let it be the message the voters have sent to the judiciary.  We all must move forward while we continue to demand accountability of those in office.


      There are real families whose lives are affected every day by the decisions judges make.  As our society becomes increasingly violent, as drugs and alcohol continue to destroy more and more lives, as domestic violence and child abuse rip apart a growing number of families, our judges are our most critical line of defense.  They must seize the opportunity to break the cycles of addiction and violence, even if it means extra training and educational courses or longer hours in the courtroom.  I have won no friends for the positions I have taken and the statements I have made.  I expect a vicious backlash from the newspaper, my political opponents, and possibly the Florida Bar; I will be portrayed as a liar, a thief, and a kook.  But I make no apologies for the statements printed here, for I believe public service should truly be just that…unselfish service to the public.




              Finally, my family and I wish to thank the citizens for the tremendous support they have shown us over the past 3 years.  I have been overwhelmed by the thousands of people who have gone out of their way to ensure that their votes for me were respected by arranging rallies, writing letters, signing petitions, filing briefs, staging demonstrations, attending hearings, and continually urging me to not give up.  My heart has been gladdened by the many cards and thankyous from the victims, defendants, and their families whose lives I have had the privilege to touch.  All of you have bolstered my faith in this community and solidified my commitment to serve you in the manner in which I did.  I have no regrets; it was an honor.  And it is for all of you that I have fought.


      Now in the aftermath of the recent national horror, I intend to appreciate each and every moment with my precious  family and extraordinary friends.  I have no bitterness in my heart, and I ask my supporters to have none either.  For those of you who have expressed concern over my next step, I feel confident that I have walked the path the Lord has directed me to walk, that He will take care of me, and that something positive for this community will result from my judgeship. 


      While we continue to struggle as a community and a nation over issues such as judicial accountability and elections versus appointments, let us not lose sight of what is truly important – our freedom, our families, and the opportunity to live in the greatest country on earth.


      Those wishing to contact Judge Matt Mc Millan and commend him for his bold stand, costing him his elected position as judge, and the subsequent additional cost of being wiped out of practicing law, you may do so by writing;  Sssswm@....
      I would further recommend that everyone who has their own email list to further republish this letter, that the words of Judge Mc Millan may bounce off the wall of the mighty El Capitan, echo through the Grand Canyon, and reverberate in the Capitol of Tallahassee, Florida.

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