"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Times Union Headline: "Oops! State Attorney's Office inadvertently destroys subpoenas related to First Baptist blogger"

I don't normally comment here on my blog about the ongoing litigation and discovery process in the First Amendment lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville, but in today's Florida Time's Union there is an article about a tiny portion of what has been determined through the discovery process that I thought I'd share with my readers, especially those who might not read the Times Union.

As a part of the discovery process in this lawsuit, my lawyer has deposed State Attorney Angela Corey, scheduled for next week, and apparently a motion was filed on her behalf recently in an attempt to keep her from having to give her testimony. The information about the "inadvertant destruction" of documents in this case was revealed when Stephen Seigel was deposed in May, and apparently this information was revealed in my lawyer's response to Corey's motion. Thus, it's in the paper this morning.

Here's the article:

Headline and link: "OOPS!! State Attorney's Office inadvertently destroys subpoenas related to First Baptist blogger."

The article from the newspaper:

"The State Attorney's Office disclosed it inadvertently destroyed investigative subpoena requests and copies of subpoenas related to a formerly anonymous blogger who was critical of leadership at Jacksonville's First Baptist Church.

According to a federal court motion filed on behalf of State Attorney Angela Corey, the files were inadvertently destroyed during an office relocation, along with similar documents in other cases from October to December 2008.

The motion, seeking to keep Corey from being deposed, was filed in a lawsuit filed by Tom Rich, who sued authorities and the church after an investigation revealed his identity. A Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective who attends First Baptist used subpoenas signed by an assistant state attorney to discern Rich's identity in 2008.

The documents were destroyed when Corey, who took office in 2009, moved the special prosecution division from the Eddie Farah Building on Adams Street into the State Attorney's Office on Bay Street as a cost-saving measure.

Corey was unavailable for comment this afternoon, and Chief Assistant State Attorney Dan McCarthy said he was unaware of the inadvertent destruction. He said he hasn't been directly involved in the Rich litigation.

"There's been no issue that I'm aware of that's arisen out of inadequate files being transferred over from special prosecution," McCarthy said.

Rich's attorney, Mike Roberts, noted in a response filed this afternoon that Assistant State Attorney Stephen Siegel told jacksonville.com after Rich's lawsuit was filed last year that the supoena requests had been destroyed after 90 days according to office policy. Siegel was the prosecutor who signed the supoena requests. Roberts said the detective's files also have been destroyed.

"These are central documents that just don't exist anymore," Roberts said. He said he is contemplating a motion for sanctions for intentional destruction of evidence.

Robert said he was told the filed were being moved and were inadvertently placed in a group of documents that were to be destroyed. "
I have sat in on every deposition given thus far in the case over the past 2 months (over 20), and there are more scheduled. The discovery process is still on-going, and probably will continue through July.

I am assuming the judge in this case will very soon issue a ruling on the motion to keep Corey from testifying, as Corey's deposition is scheduled for next week. I'll update with any additional news that is put in the newspaper.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would think those who were served would have their copy!

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that all documents were scanned whereby they could be instantly retrieved by any officials. Not having documents scanned and protected leaves a lot to be desired.

Anonymous said...

The key word is "inadvertent". Prior to allowing that to stand, the State Attorney's Office should have performed an investigation, with outside participation, to document exactly how and why the documents were destroyed and whether it was inadvertent or otherwise.

Destruction of official investigative records is a crime in some jurisdictions and failure to maintain certain records can be an ethical violation for attorney's in others, with the license to practice at risk. This deserves more than a toss off response from the official in charge.

Thy Peace said...

It reminds me ...

SNL > The Church Lady, who says "How con-VEEN-ient!".

Anonymous said...

Oops, Not Believable!

Documents should be scanned & those who were served would most certainly have their own personal copies.

FBCJ has to many politicians & city council members, former judges, present judges, former city concilmen & the list goes on for those who all have connections to the political field.

Everyone knows they are members of FBCJ only because it's the largest church in town and where they can count on people voting them into office.

"Inadvertently Destroys Subpoenas"
more than likely came about because of the legal suggestion of the FBCJ lawyers. This was no accident.

Thanks FTU for staying on top of this story. Another top story about the Brunson mess - no wonder he travels so much!

Lydia said...

I am confused. I thought we were told it was policy to destroy the subpoena requests and investigation after 90 days if the investigation brought out nothing.

So what documents were destroyed that were not supposed to be?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

To clarify: part of the documents destroyed were "suboena request forms", internal documents, that would have been filled out by the detective, given to the ass't state attorney, requesting and providing a justification for the subpoenas.

No one would have copies of these, except for the assistant state attorney, and the detective. They are internal documents.

Unfortunatley, all copies were destroyed.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Lydia - in the state attorney's office, what was destroyed were the subpoena request forms that the detective would have completed and given to the ass't state attorney to get his subpoenas.

The detective destroyed all documents related to the case in his file. So the only place we could have gotten the forms he filled out was the state attorney's office, but they inadvertantly destroyed them.

Lydia said...

"The detective destroyed all documents related to the case in his file. So the only place we could have gotten the forms he filled out was the state attorney's office, but they inadvertantly destroyed them."

Thanks. I get it now.

So, no matter how you slice it, you are looking at total incompetence or a diabolical thumbing their nose at the governing process in a CYA manuever.

Considering the reach of tentacles from most mega's, from my experience, I will go with the CYA manuever.

I hope some poor clerk working the move will not end up taking the fall for this one. But that is what usually happens.

Anonymous said...

"The detective destroyed all documents related to the case in his file."
===============================
I have my doubts that the detective destroyed all documents as I'm sure he probably tucked away "one" in his personal home files just for himself. After all this detective is a member of FBCJ - for sure I don't think he destroyed his own!

Anonymous said...

What happened to the ones the Judge signed? Obviously a Judge had to provide his signature on these documents. I did not think the subpoenas were even valid without the judges' signature and date placed on them. Otherwise we don't need judges!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. This sure makes Detective Hinson, Asst State Attorney Siegel, First Baptist church, and Mac and Debbie Brunson ALL look bad. I mean what are the odds that they felt threatened, and when their deacon Hinson took official action, now, when they desperately need documentation to support the action they took, NOTHING is available to back them up! I mean, you would think Hinson and the SAO would have produced a file several inches thick to support their actions against Mr. Rich. But they have NOTHING! Wow. Talk about a home run for Mr. Rich and his lawyers.

It will be hard for Ms. Corey and Mr. Rutherford to defend this with press releases. It now seems that what Mr. Rich alleged, and no one really could believe happened, did happen, and perhaps, maybe, a cover-up has been exposed.

I can't wait to read reports of those other 20 or so depos you mention.

Anonymous said...

I have my doubts that the detective destroyed all documents as I'm sure he probably tucked away "one" in his personal home files just for himself. After all this detective is a member of FBCJ - for sure I don't think he destroyed his own!

June 22, 2010 10:37 AM


I would think just the opposite. I would think he would want them destroyed. I believe the State Attorney's office wanted the same thing.

Remember the REASONS given for wanting the subpeona's in the first place! It was a pack of lies.

I wonder if the powers that be in Fla are starting to see that the Brunsons are more trouble than they are worth. I think they may have called in their last chit with those people in the future.

The coverup is always as bad as the crime. It causes many more to be involved in the lie and for going along without checking the veracity of the claims. Be careful whom you trust. Especially celebrity pastors.

Anonymous said...

"I have my doubts that the detective destroyed all documents as I'm sure he probably tucked away "one" in his personal home files just for himself. After all this detective is a member of FBCJ - for sure I don't think he destroyed his own!"

And perjure himself? I think not.

Johnny D. said...

Yes, well, what do you know.

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Quite a bit in corporate-owned, Ponzi-scheme America. Let me clarify.

While FBCJ is not a corporation in the sense of a BP, or a Citibank, it is an extremely powerful institution. That should have been evident when they revealed cousin Tom in the first place. Money and power are the chief aim of the church hierarchy down at FBCJ. Just the real-estate alone down there is worth many more times than the combined worth of all of us "little" bloggers here in blog land. You have to look beyond your Christian-innocent view of the world, folks. There really are people in positions of power that don't care what you think, and they don't care if you know that. And it matters not if they have "Reverend" in their title, or "Detective" or "Judge" or "State Attorney." In Bailout America, the rackets run everything, and gigantic, well-heeled churches are just part of the casino that is raping regular Americans. The wealthy and powerful will fight for their right to rape and pillage and control you. They will ignore you ala Ergun Caner and LBTS. Everything in America is ALWAYS about money and power. EVERYTHING.

So, now we have destroyed documents. Documents which should have detailed the "whys" and "what-fors" of the FBCJ and the JSO's dirty dealings with Tom. They are gone. Typical, and I'm not surprised. Cousin Tom will not be allowed to upset the rackets they have running downtown - that much is clear.

But take heart, my fellow good, honest, regular, sane citizens. This country is rapidly unwinding, and soon we will be given the opportunity to reform our government and our institutions. The people running the rackets and rents downtown, and in our state and national governments will be exposed for what they have done. They will be held accountable for their crimes against what was once the middle-class.

Anonymous said...

watchdog...what effect is that going to have on your case?

Anonymous said...

I just read this in the times news link...what about spoliation of evidence?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - no idea. We've known about the "inadvertant destruction" by the SA office for over a month, as it came out in the Ass't State Attorney's deposition in May. It only made it into the newspaper, apparently, from the recent attempt of the lawyer from the Attorney General's office in Tallahassee seeking to get Angela Corey out of having to testify under oath in deposition.

What effect will it have on the case? Who knows. It's still early, discovery continues.

Anonymous said...

"Just the real-estate alone down there is worth many more times than the combined worth of all of us "little" bloggers here in blog land. "

This brings up a very interesting question. When the mega's die......what happens to the money from buildings and land when they are sold?

Anonymous said...

"It will be hard for Ms. Corey and Mr. Rutherford to defend this with press releases. It now seems that what Mr. Rich alleged, and no one really could believe happened, did happen, and perhaps, maybe, a cover-up has been exposed."

I think just the opposite. It will be Rich's word against the powers that be.

the powers that be have made a devilish pact. What can prove them wrong...unless they start turning on each other which is a real possibility.

Anonymous said...

"...attempt of the lawyer from the Attorney General's office in Tallahassee seeking to get Angela Corey out of having to testify under oath in deposition. "

I can imagine she does not want to testify. Could be sticky for her since it is real convenient YOUR documents were destroyed. Do you have a date for when they were supposedly destroyed by accident? In other words, is the timing convenient?

Anonymous said...

12:54 PM: "what happens to money from bodg's and land etc."

I have been asking this question for years. No one answers it. Who really "owns" the physical property of FBCJ? If it or part of it is sold who gets the money? I know there is a corporation/group of officers. Do they get the money? And who gets to handle the sale? Will that person/group or what ever get a "$$fee$$" for such? Interesting isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I believe you could dispose both parties who know all about the words placed on said documents. You could have them rewrite them just like the originals and them ask specific questions concerning said documents. That would be ONE way of re-introducing them as evidence!!!

Anonymous said...

"This brings up a very interesting question. When the mega's die......what happens to the money from buildings and land when they are sold?"

Maybe the better question is:

When the mega's are taken home at the sound of the trumpet......what happens to the money from buildings and land when they are sold?"

I heard it is being left to the anonymous bloggers who are left behind.

Ben Patrick

TIC - of course

Richard said...

Does anyone know how tight Angela Corey is with A. C. Soud, the retired judge who was the one who called Watchdog a "coward" in a newspaper article? Ms. Corey was not the SA when these subpoenas were issued so on the surface she should have no reason to be concerned about testifying under oath.

Soud's name hasn't been brought up in quite a while, but I still think he's up to his neck in this whole situation. Could the SA be trying to cover for HIM?

Anonymous said...

To address the question of the money from the buildings: Most churches are non-profit corporations that exist with or without their facilities. As such, when the buildings are sold, the funds go to the corporation. In a closeout, it would first, technically, go to satisfy any outstanding debts, then be distributed as directed by the terms of closing down the corporation. Most church incorporation documents have the wind-down rules in them.

Of course, however you're handling business as a church can greatly adjust it. Ultimately, it would fall to the church trustees or corporate board to dispose of the money. If the trustees didn't hold it tight, it could go anywhere. If the church, based on its own rules, encumbered itself with an outstanding debt, such as severance/termination pay, that debt would have to be satisfied.

So, you can guess where this is headed...

In a lot of the "frontier" areas of the SBC, the churches were founded with the legal obligation that if they fold, the local association or state/regional convention get the surviving assets. This is because of the massive investment typically put in by those organizations. I know of a Michigan church that actually had a clause on the incorporation/ownership that if they ever leave the state Baptist Convention, the building goes to the state.

So, for FBC Jax, who knows what would happen?

And keep in mind, the property's only worth what you could sell it for. And unless you're in a bankruptcy, there is no (I think) duty to ensure you get the best price like a share-owner corporation has. In other words, the trustees, if receiving authorization to sell the property without any parameters, could sell the place to the Watchdog for a buck, and no one could stop them.

However, if there were outstanding debts, such as a lawsuit judgment, the physical assets could be encumbered by a lien to slow down most sneakinesses.

John

FBC Choir Member said...

"I have been asking this question for years. No one answers it. Who really "owns" the physical property of FBCJ? If it or part of it is sold who gets the money? I know there is a corporation/group of officers."

All church property is owned by the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, a non-stock, non-profit corporation. Non-stock corporations have members instead of stockholders. The members elect officers as stated in the bylaws, which I have read in the church library.

Anonymous said...

In the eyes of a judge, FBCJ is a corporation. He will want to know whether or not FBC operated in keeping with its bylaws when the WD was served with papers---and, I suppose, whether or not the WD was, as well; except that, as I recall, no one was able to get copies of the revised bylaws---or, at the least, it was made extremely inconvenient by church officials for any members to obtain copies of the bylaws (if I were the judge, THAT definitely would come into my consideration).

Anonymous said...

Property of megas when they die: when nonprofit entities incorporate these days, their certificates of formation (articles of incorporation) must include clear statements regarding their specific purpose for existing and disposition of property purchased by (potentially) tax-deductible (in any case tax-exempt) contributions over the years. It isn't possible to file successfully with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) corporation without both. If FBCJ revised its bylaws recently and filed the update with the state, my guess is the statements are in place.

Thy Peace said...

What a contrast!

Grace and Truth to You [Wade Burleson] > The Wade Burleson Family and My Views on the Southern Baptist Convention.

We love those who disagree with us, and we encourage freedom for all to disagree, even with church leadership.

Anonymous said...

I am confused by all of this because I have never seen it.

Copies of the subpoenas could be obtained from those served.

Other documents, to the extent the defense intended to rely on them, are not available to help prove their case. That is not good for them.

Of course, many are supposing that there was some document that said, "Dr. Brunson called and wants me to find the person who is operating this blog and to use or say anything necessary to get that information."

No one prepares a document like that - or any document that will incriminate them later.

Again, I believe the "loss" of documents will help the plaintiff.

Louis

Scott said...

From what I'm gathering,

Tom will have this blog and its archives to submit on his behalf. There's also the legal documentation submitted to the companies which host his website and the others mentioned and their records. No company lawyer ever throws anything away and no company lawyer wants to look complicit in this age of cynicism directed at any company.

If everything that Tom Rich says turns out to be true, then I hope justice is served and that a resounding message is sent loud and clear to pastors all over the country, regardless of denominational traditions.

We shall see.

WishIhadknown said...

If this was you or me, we would be tried for evidence tampering and obstruction of justice!

WishIhadknown said...

Churches are not covered under IRS code section 501(c)3. They are covered in another section of the code and protected under the Constitution as part of the free exercise clause. Additionally, churches do not file a Federal tax return and in most cases do not file with the States' charitable solicitation authority.

Someone brought up BP and Citibank. These companies will have adopted something that churches have not. Do you know what it is? A code of ethics.

Given the recent spat of abuses by certain church officials, maybe a code of ethics for churches and church officials would not be such a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, many are supposing that there was some document that said, "Dr. Brunson called and wants me to find the person who is operating this blog and to use or say anything "

Really, who believes this, Louis?

Of course there is SOME reason one wants a subpeona which is documented. And of course, the result is documented.

They had to connect something to the blog to get the subpeona.

How are things on the SBTS foundation or whatever it is you are working with YET clearly said on this blog you have no anticipation of working with the SBC in any capacity. In other words, you lied.

I think you fit right in on an SBC related board

Anonymous said...

Ms. Corey was not the SA when these subpoenas were issued so on the surface she should have no reason to be concerned about testifying under oath.


Was Ms Corey SA when the documents were "inadvertantly" destroyed?

Bennett Willis said...

Regarding Anonymous 7:42 above:

It amazes me that changing your mind when circumstances change constitutes lying--but somehow (in blogs and comments) any change in your conclusions or behaviors is lying. Maybe this is why very few people ever give any evidence of changing their minds--they would then be called liars. And I thought it was just because they were stupid and stubborn. :)

This is not to be confused with coming up with a new and profitable story to take advantage of a national tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Churches fitting the legal definition of "church" are tax-exempt as such without filing for 501(c)(3) status, but most churches incorporate in their states for protection from potential liabilities arising from their existence/operations. When they incorporate (at least, in the state where I live), their certificates of formation (or articles of incorporation) must include the clear statements about purpose for existing and disposition of property. It isn't possible to obtain 501(c)(3) status from the IRS without filing the specific---and very long---form or first incorporating; the form states specifically that the purpose and disposition statements must be in place---or, essentially, "Don't bother mailing in this form." My point yesterday in this thread: FBCJ's revised documents probably include the disposition statement.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Readers: the magistrate ruling on the Attorney General's motion to stay Angela Corey's deposition, ruled in favor of the AG and Angela Corey will not have to give her deposition in this case.