Archive for September, 2018

 

Sunshine State News

Janet Cruz

Cruz Continued Campaign Claims:

Deceitful, Deplorable, Desperate

 
 
 

Did Judge Miriam Valkenburg Contribute to the Miscarriage of Justice by Scheduling a Hearing Date Two Weeks After an Emergency Motion for Release from Custody was Filed on behalf of a JAILED Defendant?

By Michelle D Lambo

A miscarriage of justice is defined as a legal act that is clearly mistaken, unfair or improper.

The Defendant was placed on probation in December 2017 and ordered to wear the SCRAM CAM Ankle Monitor. On January 10, 2018, the Defendant was released from the Hillsborough County Jail and began her probation.

On March 25, 2018 at 11:50pm and into the early morning hours of March 26, 2018, the SCRAM Ankle Monitor detected alcohol. (See Emergency Motion for Release without Hearing).

On March 27, 2018, the Defendant reported to Roche Monitoring that she consumed a salad after work and later in the day voluntarily reported to the monitoring service provider and submitted to a random urine screen.

On April 2, 2018, Roche Monitoring Services emailed Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Probation Officer Pierre Pujols requesting a phone call prior to any violations being submitted to Judge Miriam Valkenburg. (See Exhibit B of the Emergency Motion for Release without Hearing).

On April 4, 2018, Probation Officer Pujols submitted an affidavit for a violation of probation to Judge Valkenburg requesting a warrant be issued for the Defendant’s arrest. (See Violation of Probation Affidavit)

Officer Pujols alleged that the Defendant violated probation by:

1. failing to complete 100 community service hours, noting 39 hours were completed;
2. failing to complete substance abuse treatment;
3. failing to pay fines and court costs of $1512.00;
4. failing to refrain from consuming alcohol, noting an alcohol consumption event on
3/25/18 to 3/26/18, per the Alcohol Monitoring Activity Report.

Judge Miriam Valkenburg

On April 5, 2018, Judge Miriam Valkenburg signed the no bond warrant for the Defendant’s violation of probation. (See Violation of Probation Warrant).

On April 12, 2018, the Defendant reported to probation as instructed and was arrested. On April 13, 2018, the Defendant appeared in preliminary presentation court however, the Judge assigned would not address bond. The Judge transferred the matter back to Judge Miriam Valkenburg (the sentencing judge).

On April 13, 2018, an Emergency Motion for Release without Hearing was filed and Judge Miriam Valkenburg’s Judicial Assistant was contacted for an emergency hearing date. (See Emergency Motion for Release without Hearing). Attached to the Emergency Motion was a letter from Roche
Monitoring Service explaining that the low levels of alcohol detected, coincided with a food being consumed that contained alcohol. (See Exhibit A of the Emergency Motion for Release without Hearing).

On April 13, 2018, Officer Pujols then submitted an Amended Affidavit of Violation of Probation to Judge Miriam Valkenburg (which was signed by her on April 16, 2018) alleging the following violations:
1. probationer failed to pay fines and court costs totaling $1512.00
2. Failing to complete 100 community service hours, noting 52 were completed as of April 13, 2018,
3. Failing to refrain from consuming alcohol, noting an alcohol consumption event detected on 3-25-18 at 11:20pm per the continuous alcohol monitoring activity report. (See Amended Affidavit)

The Emergency Hearing Date was scheduled for April 26, 201814 DAYS AFTER THE DEFENDANT’S ARREST. Judge Valkenburg did not set a bond and the Defendant was forced to sit in jail until her hearing date. The hearing was ultimately moved to April 23, 2018, and Judge Miriam Valkenburg set a $2500 bond and imposed the SCRAM CAM Ankle Monitor as a
condition of release.  Therefore, the Defendant sat in jail with no bond for 11 days until Judge Valkenburg heard the matter, and then two additional days until she was able to bond out and obtain the monitor which occurred April 25, 2018.  A total of 13 days in jail.

Officer Pujols’ Violation of Probation Affidavit

Officer Pujols did not provide all the factually accurate information in the allegations contained in the violation report. As a result, the Defendant was forced to sit in jail for 11 days before Judge Miriam Valkenburg would hear the matter.

The Defendant was ordered to complete 100 community service hours at a rate of 10 hours per month. She was completing community service hours above and beyond the court ordered minimum. (See Conditions of Probation Hillsclerk)

The court ordered the Defendant to complete a median number of community service hours and pay no less than 40% of all fees, restitution, fines, and costs by the midway point ( of her court ordered probation. (See Order Placing Defendant on Probation).

The Defendant was enrolled in substance abuse treatment and complying with the imposed treatment plan. According to the Emergency Motion for Release without Hearing, Officer Pujols did not submit the additional information from Roche Monitoring Services regarding the Defendant submitting to the voluntary urine screen or the additional information regarding the alcohol alert due to food consumption.

The Defendant had to sit and wait, knowing that she did not consume alcoholic drinks. She took the necessary steps of calling the monitoring company as well as submitting to a urine screen to show why the SCRAM Monitor detected a low level of alcohol. She was meeting with her counselor for treatment and completing her community service hours, all the while working and reporting to probation.

How Hillsborough Predecessor Judges Handled Misdemeanor Violations of Probation

In County Court Criminal Division A, prior to Judge Miriam Valkenburg becoming the assigned Judge, Defendants could obtain a hearing date for a motion to set bond, withdraw a warrant, or release on recognizance without sitting in jail for weeks. Misdemeanor violations of probation cases could be dealt with while the Defendant remained in the community and continued to work
and report to probation, however this is no longer acceptable.

Pursuant to Florida Statute FL Stat 948.06(b), any committing trial judge may, in lieu of issuing a warrant for arrest, issue a notice to appear so long as the Defendant has never been convicted of committing and is not currently alleged to have committed a qualifying offense as defined in this section. (See )

How Other Florida Jurisdictions Handle these Cases

In Pinellas County, the misdemeanor probation officers typically submit the affidavit for violation of probation to the trial court judge and the trial court judge then instructs the clerk of court to issue a notice to appear with a scheduled court date to Defendants accused of violating
probation. Other jurisdictions will typically issue a warrant for a misdemeanor violation of probation, however, upon request the court will set a hearing date for a misdemeanor violation of probation and not require Defendants to turn themselves into the jail first.

This allows for Defendants to continue working and continue reporting to probation pending the resolution of the violation. This means Defendants can keep their jobs, not worry about missed bill payments and/or continue parenting their children. Misdemeanor violation of probation are typically due to nonviolent technical violations relating to monetary obligations or obligations
related to an inability to pay the costs of a condition.

Is this acceptable? Was this a miscarriage of justice?

The Defendant who appeared before Judge Miriam Valkenburg did everything correctly and was forced to sit and wait because Judge Miriam Valkenburg did not address the emergency motion prior to April 23, 2018.

The county criminal courts have the ability to improve this system. It costs approximately $127 per day to house an inmate in the Hillsborough County jails.  This is a cost that is passed onto the tax payers.   This cost passed on in this particular case, $1,651. The courts have the authority to issue notices to appear to Defendants and should be utilizing this option. The misdemeanor probation officers should be filing correct and accurate affidavits. The probation officers are swearing that the information contained in the affidavits is true.

A miscarriage of justice is defined as a legal act that is clearly mistaken, unfair, or improper.

  1.  Did Judge Miriam Valkenburg Contribute to the Miscarriage of Justice by Scheduling a Hearing Date Two Weeks After an Emergency Motion for Release from Custody was Filed on behalf of the JAILED Defendant?
  2. Did Probation Officer Pujols allege accurate and factually correct information in the affidavit and amended affidavits for the Defendant’s violation of probation?

Florida You Judge!

 Do you have a tip for Florida You Judge? We’d love to hear from you, info@floridayoujudge.com.  

Judge Miriam Valkenburg was elected to the bench in August 2016 and took office in January 2017.  Judge Miriam Valkenburg is up for reelection in August 2022.

Michelle D. Lambo is a criminal defense attorney with her office located in Tampa, Florida. She was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. She attended St. Petersburg Junior College, the University of South Florida and graduated from the University of Florida with her bachelor’s degree. She graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2003. She practices criminal defense throughout North and Central Florida. www.MichelleLamboLaw.com.  She is a
contributing editor to Florida You Judge and has co-hosted several Florida You Judge vlogs. In her spare time she is an avid dog mom and runner.

 
 
 

2018 Pinellas and Pasco 6th Circuit Judicial Race Results

AUGUST 28, 2018 RESULTS for Florida’s 6th Circuit (Pinellas and Pasco Counties) Judicial Races

GROUP 4: DAVE ELLIS AND ROXANNE FIXSEN in RUNOFF

GROUP 9: CHRISTINE HELINGER, CONGRATULATIONS

GROUP 36: DONEENE LOAR, CONGRATULATIONS

GROUP 40: TOMMY MINKOFF, CONGRATULATIONS

GROUP 45: REBECCA HAMILTON

Special mention and congratulations goes to EVAN FRAYMAN who ran in group 45 and was the better candidate in this race.  Congratulations Mr. Frayman on running an honorable campaign with class, integrity, and complete transparency.

PASCO GROUP 7 RACE: KENT COMPTON, CONGRATULATIONS

 

 
 
 

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