Tampa Bay Times reported that Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Samantha Ward has ordered prosecutors to release government records of a Tampa law enforcement tipster, Rita Girven. As a result of Judge Ward’s ruling, which the government was not too happy about, tax payers will get a glimpse of how their public servants manage informants and how this aspect of police work is carried out.
According to the TBT report,
“Ward ordered the disclosure not only of Girven’s formal paperwork as an informer, but of material including officers’ notes about contact with Girven, records of payments or promises of preferential treatment she received and information about the specific officers who recruited and managed her.”
Ms. Girven’s attorneys said that the documents were requested to see if any criminal immunity was promised to their client. Prosecutors and police were quoted in the TBT report saying that the request by defense attorneys to disclose this information was just a “fishing expedition” to “uncover police misconduct” and look for “any potential deficiencies.” Am I missing something? Wouldn’t that be a good thing if police misconduct and deficiencies were detected should they exist? Attorney John Fitzibbons is quoted as saying that, “It will be interesting once those records are released to see if there’s some dirty laundry that’s contained in them.” Good for the citizenry that a judge, despite government opposition, is opening the government blinds and letting in the sunshine, plus makes for a great time to go fishing when the sun is out.