Tag Archives: JQC

Broward Judge Candidate Tanner Demmery Doesn’t Want To Answer Questions About The Shady Voter Card Passed Out By His Volunteer

On the first day of early voting, Broward County judicial candidate did not want to answer questions about shady palm cards endorsing his campaign. When REDBROWARD caught up with him at the Northwest Regional Library in Coral Springs, Demmery cried “harassment” when asked about his appearance on the partisan card from the A Better Florida For All political committee. Demmery even asked a woman to call the police. As REDBROWARD exposed in January, the Palm Beach committtee is tied to controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.

The Holness-friendly group is using the palm card to promote Democrat candidates including Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson. Last week, Buddy Nevins at Broward Beat reported four non-partisan judicial candidates appeared on the latest card. They are Haccord James Curry, Stefanie Camille Moon, Jackie Powell and Tanner Channing Demmery.

“Partisan appeals judicial candidates’ ads are forbidden by the Florida Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct. Joint advertising by judicial candidates is also prohibited,” Nevins wrote.

On Friday, Omar Smith of A Better Florida For All told the Sun-Sentinel, “none of the candidates were picked because of financial ties to the political action committee or to any of Smith’s businesses, which perform campaign services.”

Demmery told the Sun-Sentinel, “[H]e had no idea why his name appeared on the Better Florida for All flier, though he did pay one of Smith’s contractors for campaign signs. Dennery said he was unaware of the connection between the contractor and Smith, and by extension the PAC, until after the flier began circulating in Tamarac.”

DEMMERY VOLUNTEER PASSING OUT CARD

By last Friday, Tanner Channing Demmery was fully aware of the legal and ethical situation surrounding the A Better Florida For All card. But this week, a REDBROWARD reader sent a photograph of a Tanner Channing Demmery volunteer passing out this very card at early voting. Wearing an official Demmery campaign t-shirt, the female volunteer is shown with the card at the African American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale.

Demmery is running against Corey Amanda Cawthon for Broward County Judge.

JQC Files Formal Charges Against Broward Judge Matthew Destry For Secret Deal With Controverisal Political Activist

Judge Matt Destry , left, is all smiles with Vicente Thrower at recent community event in Pompano Beach.

Just days before the August primary, the Investigative Panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) determined Broward County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Destry violated numerous judicial rules by meeting with a local political activist. JAABlaw first reported the formal charges against Destry. While he was soundly defeated in the primary, the severity of charges would have likely lead to Destry’s removal from the bench. As REDBROWARD exclusively reported, Barbara Duffy was Destry’s only opponent to vigorously question his actions and demeanor on the bench. Even though voters rewarded Duffy with the most votes, the number of candidates running against Destry guaranteed a November runoff.

Last year, Destry gained international scorn for his sentencing of Herbert Smith to sixty-years in prison.

Four years ago, Herbert Smith was found guilty of seven burglaries and thefts. He served two years in prison. While serving four years of probation, police stopped Smith for driving with a suspended license. According to the Sun-Sentinel, “Smith violated his probation in October by driving with a suspended license in a car with another convicted felon and an ammunition clip filled with .40-caliber bullets, the same judge who gave him a second chance in 2012 decided to send a stronger message.” The judge was Matthew Destry.

The Broward State Attorney wanted Smith to serve 13 years in prison. Destry sentenced Smith to 60 years in prison. “I think 13 is a bit much, but the law is the law,” said Smith’s attorney, Brian Greenwald. “The prosecutor was not being vindictive.”

Following the public outcry, Destry changed his mind. He suspended Smith’s sentence.“To go from 60 years in prison to being released that day — the takeaway is that justice is random in Broward County,” Howard Finkelstein of the Broward Public Defender’s Office tells New Times.“Destry did the right thing but for the wrong reasons.”

DESTRY CUT SECRET DEAL WITH POLITICAL ACTIVIST

According to the JQC, Destry changed Smith’s sentence after a secret meeting at a Las Olas restaurant. One week after sentencing Smith, Destry met activist Vicente Thrower and Rev. Alan B. Jackson at Mangos. “This meeting, …took place outside the presence of the State Attorney and Defendant, and without the knowledge of either party.” When questioned by JQC investigators in August, Destry was “evasive” about Thrower. Destry admitted Thrower had his personal cell phone number. “Only when pressed did [Destry] disclose that he was a political activist who had worked to generate community support for your first judicial campaign in 2010.”

After meeting with them for an hour, “Mr. Thrower and Rev. Jackson convinced you to reopen the matter, arguing that their community had not been adequately heard on Mr. Smith’s sentencing, and they wanted a chance to speak on his behalf. You have admitted that while meeting with Mr. Thrower and Rev. Jackson you committed to setting a hearing to reconsider Mr. Smith’s sentence, and invited Mr. Thrower and Rev. Jackson to attend and be heard regarding the matter.”

According to the JQC, Destry admitted to the improper meeting at a Sun-Sentinel editorial board meeting. “You also acknowledged this meeting between yourself and Mr. Thrower and Rev. Jackson during an interview with the editorial board of the Sun Sentinel newspaper. Your comments were tape-recorded, and witnessed by other judicial candidates as well as newspaper staff. You further acknowledged to the Commission that, after this meeting, you were aware that Mr. Thrower began urging members of his community to support your current re-election campaign.”

Since prosecutors and defense lawyers were not told about the meeting, investigators determined Destry’s meeting with Thrower constituted an ex-parte meeting, a huge no-no for judges. Destry conceded it was ex parte, but tried to argue it fell under an “emergency” or “scheduling” exception.

Following the meeting, the JQC stated Destry scheduled a new hearing on his own accord to discuss his sentencing. Neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers had made a motion regarding sentencing.  JQC investigators stated Destry failed to give lawyers adequate notice, but he, “personally phoned Mr. Thrower to inform him of the date and time of the hearing, and again invited him to be present.”

Finally, the JQC stated, “Taken together, your actions create the appearance of a quid pro quo exchange of political support for favorable judicial action, and further constitutes inappropriate conduct in violation of Canons 1, 2(A), 3B(2), 3B(7), 3B(8), 3B(9), 5A(2), 5A(3), 5A(4), of the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

 

Judge Destry Latest Broward Pol Violating Florida Campaign Laws

Matthew I. Destry is a Criminal Division judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida. He was appointed by former Governor Charlie Crist on November 21, 2007 to replace retired Judge Larry Seidlin. He was re-elected on November 2, 2010 to a 6 year term that ends on January 2, 2017

Judge Matthew Destry

Circuit Court Judge Matthew Destry is the latest Broward politician violating Florida elections laws. Florida Statute Section 106.09(1)(a) states, “A person may not make an aggregate cash contribution…to the same candidate or committee in excess of $50 per election.” According to the law, anyone who accepts more than $50 in cash, “commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.” Accepting more than $5000 is a felony. On November 11, 2015 Judge Matthew Destry deposited $1,000 cash into his campaign account.

In a December 10th letter to the Florida Division of Elections, Destry’s campaign admitted its mistake. “In filing the report it was learned that no more than $50 in cash may be accepted for any campaign contribution including the funds of the candidate. While we were aware of this regulation we were unaware that it included the candidates own personal funds as well as funds of others.” The campaign issued a refund to Destry and he gave a check to the campaign.

Last May, REDBROWARD exposed how Judge John “Jay” Hurley accepted campaign contributions before filing for re-election. He refunded the money. However, the refund may not save Hurley from the wrath of the Florida Supreme Court. In April, the Florida Supreme Court issued a public reprimand against an Indian River County Judge for doing the same thing.

In August, REDBROWARD revealed Broward School Board Member Rosalind Osgood has violated Florida elections law, twice. On July 9, 2015, Osgood loaned her campaign $100 in cash. Two weeks later, Osgood contributed $1,000 in cash.

In June, REDBROWARD showed Florida House candidate Roxanne Valies listed three contributions made by Valies herself. Two cash contributions of $50 each and one $150 check. In May, Valies loaned the campaign another $300 from her own funds.

Also in June, REDBROWARD exposed how Broward Sheriff “Mystery Man” candidate Edison Jules gave his own campaign $500 in cash.

Last week, REDBROWARD reported Broward County Circuit Court candidate Lea Krauss may have violated Florida Statutes and Code of Judicial Conduct. Krauss admitted to attending a partisan political fundraiser. She said she paid to attend the Hollywood Hills Democratic Club event.

Why can’t Broward politicians follow the rules?