Much has happened on the Jack Thompson front Since GamePolitics broke the news last week that Judge Dava Tunis had recommended to the Florida Supreme Court that the controversial attorney be found guilty on 27 counts of professional misconduct.
With a sanctions hearing scheduled before Judge Tunis on June 4th in Miami, Thompson has been tirelessly pushing his position that Tunis has no legal authority due to an issue with a forged loyalty oath (but not forged by Tunis – more on that below).
Thompson also tried to subpoena 33 people for next week’s hearing, including Take Two Interactive Chairman Strauss Zelnick, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Judge Ronald Friedman, who presided over the notorious Bully case in 2006. Judge Tunis denied that motion, however, citing procedural errors made by Thompson’s side.
And, with federal lawsuits already pending against the Florida Bar and Florida Supreme Court, Thompson has filed yet another suit in U.S. District Court, this time naming the State of Florida as defendant. In the new case, Thompson yet again invokes the loyalty oath issue and seeks to block the Bar from proceeding against him.
In a separate federal court filing, Thompson refers to the June 4th hearing as a kangaroo court and vows not to attend unless U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard strikes down a Florida Supreme Court order which bars Thompson from filing anything with the Florida Supreme Court unless signed by another attorney.
Finally, in a just-issued filing with Judge Tunis, Thompson seeks a stay of next week’s sanctions hearing while demanding a mental health exam. Thompson complains in the document that he "has put up with this ‘Jacky is whacky’ charade long enough."
So that’s the recap… What follows are some details regarding the loyalty oath issue.
While Thompson has sought to cast Judge Tunis in a highly negative light by saying that she was the "beneficiary" of a forged loyalty oath, an investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office indicated that a clerk apparently signed the oath without the knowledge of Tunis and two other judges. GamePolitics has received these comments from Eunice Sigler, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Courts:
There are two separate and distinct documents being addressed. One is called the Oath of Office and the other is called the Oath of Loyalty. The Oath of Office is a document which, when properly executed, allows a judge or any other constitutional officer in the State of Florida to act in their official capacity in office.
First and most significantly, when Judge Tunis was appointed to the County Court bench in 2000, re-elected for a term beginning in 2003, and elevated to the Circuit Court bench in 2005, she properly executed the Oath of Office each time, as required by section 5, Article II of the Florida Constitution, before beginning her duties as a judge. These documents, provided by the Governor’s Office, were found to be in order by the Department of State as well as the Division of Elections for the State of Florida, and are not required to be notarized. That Oath of Office includes the promise to “support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the Government of the United States and of the State of Florida,” which incorporates the less specific Oath of Loyalty specified in section 876.05, Florida Statutes.
The second document, called the Oath of Loyalty, applies to all public employees and elected officials of the State of Florida and has no effect whatsoever on any judge’s authority or jurisdiction to act and therefore has no legal consequence as to the decisions made by any judge while serving on the bench.
When new judges as well as all new state employees begin their employment, they are given certain documents to sign. If those individuals are employed within the court system, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) provides them with a packet of documents to sign. When Judge Tunis received this packet at the beginning of her service on the bench in 2000, the Oath of Loyalty, required by section 876.05, Florida Statutes, was not provided to her for her signature. However, it appears that several days later, this Oath of Loyalty was completed with a forged signature and improperly notarized by a former AOC employee, then placed in the judge’s file without her knowledge.
When Judge Tunis first became aware of this on January 31st, 2008, she immediately executed the Oath of Loyalty, which has been properly filed.
As stated before, the Oath of Loyalty has no effect whatsoever on any judge’s authority or jurisdiction to act and therefore has no legal consequence as to the decisions made by any judge while serving on the bench.
The Eleventh Judicial Circuit takes any prohibited act by a court employee very seriously. Accordingly, a request has been made that the State Attorney and Inspector General investigate the forgery and the actions of the former AOC employee, which have unfortunately victimized Judge Tunis and other judges.
Indeed, the State Attorney’s investigation into the loyalty oath issue found that Judge Tunis committed no wrongdoing whatsoever.
GP: While Thompson is pulling out all the stops to either remove Judge Tunis or postpone next week’s sanctions hearing, neither appears likely to occur. Thus, the wheels of justice are moving inexorably toward the June 4th court date. At that time, it is expected that Judge Tunis will recommend penalties against Thompson that could include disbarment. From that point, it will be up to the Florida Supreme Court to issue a final ruling.