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Will Grady Judd save Polk's 10th Circuit from "consolidation" in Orange/Osceola's 9th?
A harebrained scheme to make judicial circuits huge and reduce your right to vote for prosecutors who fit your community is racing toward a critical moment. It could also cost Brian Haas his job.
Sooner than you think, Polk County (along with Hardee and Highlands) may no longer control who acts as its State’s Attorney, Public Defender, etc. Voters in booming Osceola and giant Orange will instead.
That’s right, 10th Circuit State’s Attorney Brian Haas may soon lose his job and Jerry Hill his retirement gravy train for reasons that have nothing to do with Leo Schofield, Rick Nolte, or the merits of performance.
Believe it or not, I think:
That’s a very bad thing — although not the gravy train part.
I suspect only Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, the tiresomely big-talking “anti-woke” politician, can stop it. I hope he does.
“Circuit consolidation” is a bland way of saying “more state power grab” and dismissal of local self-government
Here’s a quick explainer on the “circuit consolidation” study the Florida Supreme Court recently ordered because Ron DeSantis, through his Speaker of the House lackey Paul Renner, directed it to. Nothing like this happens in Florida now unless the tiny, pudding-fingered dictator dictates it; and the Florida Supreme Court always just obeys.
The Committee doing the study, which includes Polk Clerk of Court Stacy Butterfield, is supposed to submit recommendations by early December.
I’ve asked Judd’s spokesman Scott Wilder for the sheriff’s position on folding the 10th Judicial Circuit in the Orange/Osceola’s 9th Circuit. After several days, he still hasn’t provided it. And I’ve yet to see Judd take any position. That probably means he supports consolidation. Grady Judd, like DeSantis, is far more revealing in his silences than his mind-numbingly repetitive crime porn press conferences.
Wilder is welcome to publicly correct my perception at any time. But silence generally means assent for Grady, in my experience.
And what does 10th Circuit State Attorney Haas think about losing his circuit? To be blunt, neither Ron DeSantis nor Paul Renner care what Haas thinks. But here is Haas’ position anyway, from another recent article.
“With the incredible increase in our state’s population, the increasing complexity of our cases and the expanding functions of our trial courts … consolidating our judicial circuits just does not make sense to me,” 10th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brian Haas, whose circuit includes Polk, Highland and Hardee counties, told the panel.
I agree with Haas. You should, too. Because I assure you this excerpt from one of the stories linked above is nonsense:
The speaker of the Florida House, Republican Paul Renner of Palm Coast, has asked the state Supreme Court to reduce the number of courts, as a way to make the system more efficient and cut costs.
Efficiency is the last thing these incompetent state grifters care about. This “study” has much more to do with some harebrained, DeSantis-campaign motivated, nonsense vision for forever purging “woke” prosecutors.
But I’ll be the first to admit that wasting $5,833 per month on Jerry Hill’s second pension, — errrr, parole “consulting” — doesn’t help me or Judd save Haas’ job. If you work in the 10th Circuit, Hill’s money-grubbing arrangement with Haas has made you more vulnerable to the arguments of consolidation. Don’t shoot the messenger. You should talk to Haas about it.
A blow to local public safety that delivers no efficiency
But again, efficency and savings are not what this whole effort is about.
It’s about consolidating the incompetent and corrupt Florida state government’s power to dictate how local communities enforce the law — or more specifically, it’s about the state politicians being able to say how they brought local communities and their elected officials to heel when they go on Fox News or whatever.
Here’s another excerpt:
Larry Basford, state attorney in the 14th Judicial Circuit, told the committee Florida has the nation’s lowest ratio of circuits per resident. Basford’s Northwest Florida circuit encompasses Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties.
“We’re not talking just about numbers. We’re talking about making the justice system work. … Taking away citizens’ ability to elect their local judicial officials in these rural areas — and that’s the way this (effort) has been perceived — will erode the public trust and confidence in our judicial system,” said Basford, who was among 10 state attorneys who participated in Friday’s meeting. “Bigger does not mean better.”
The outcome of consolidation will be far reduced efficiency and public safety as these enormous, understaffed bureaucratic justice machines struggle to function at great distance from the communities they serve. It’s also about diluting the voting power of local communities.
This is a solution in search of a problem — which is far more problem than solution anyway. If someone is going to punish Brian Haas for his performance, it ought to be the Polk voting public, not distant state dictator-wannabes.
In fact, I bet “consolidation” will be followed by a move to get rid of elections entirely for state’s attorney and public defender and maybe even judges. The tiny dictator wants to dictate every community’s prosecutor, which is why he’s already canceled the will of the public in the Hillsborough’s 13th and Orange/Osceola’s 9th so he can run against Bonesaw Jesus (and fail completely) as the “woke” killer.
Orange/Osceola’s 9th is the only place for Polk’s 10th to go
For reasons specific to the guidelines of the “study,” the Orange/Osceola 9th is the only place for Polk’s 10th to go. That’s where we would be consolidated if it happens.
If getting rid of “wokeness” in Polk is your goal, that move is dumb.
Yeah, sure, the governor could just appoint Haas or some other more “anti-woke” DeSantis do-boy to run the consolidated circuit. (Haas’ office isn’t even all that “anti-woke,” actually, if you really pay attention.)
But Orange and Osceola are quite actively “blue.”
Over time, that cultural and political pressure will exert influence and gravity; and redder Polk voters will not matter — or matter much, much less — in the political choices made about criminal prosecution and defense in the super circuit.
Moreover, I think we’ve already seen the peak salad days of the tiny DeSantis dictatorship. After what Bonesaw Jesus has done to him in the presidential campaign — and the impotence DeSantis has displayed in response — I think some long knives are going to come out for DeSantis in the years ahead. Pre-emption and local control stuff is a good way for Florida’s weak politicians to actually grow a spine — or at least act on the ambition to become the new tiny dictator.
So, again, I wonder what Grady Judd thinks about even the medium-term implications of collaborating with a “blue”-county leader as his red county’s state attorney. Whatever he thinks, even a diminished and shrinking Grady remains the only local dude not named Barnett with the potential DeSantis/Renner juice right now to say: Nope, Polk’s not going anywhere.
He could put a fork in the whole thing. Will he?
I hope so; but he’s just a politician. And not a very brave one. So I doubt it. His silence on a massive public safety issue, with huge impacts on his own agency, suggests he either supports consolidation or is unwilling to cross the Tiny Dictator and his Renner. That’s the type of weak calculation I’ve come to expect from late career Grady, who has become a very small man. He should retire, not run again.