My trial this morning was continued for a later date because the Miami-Dade Police Department, specifically Major Nancy Perez, refused a court order to provide my attorney with the basic Standard Operating Procedures dictating how police should interact with the media.
Perez, who heads the department’s media relations division, should have these guidelines at her fingertips, not only to educate herself but the other officers she supervises.
But she refused to turn this information over to my attorney despite three requests, including a verbal request during her deposition as well as a request made through a motion and eventually a request my attorney made through a subpoena.
Obviously, she is not too concerned about being held in contempt of court.
When the issue was brought up in court today, Perez told the judge that she would have gladly provided him a copy, except that he was refusing to pay the $17 fee.
My attorney, Arnold Trevilla, said he was never told there would be a cost and was never sent an invoice, which is the customary practice a government agency goes through when fulfilling public records requests.
In fact, I picked up a copy of the Standard Operating Procedures on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before my trial, and only because a request was made by First Amendment specialist Robert Chandler.
And the only reason that request was fulfilled was because Chandler had threatened to sue the police department over a public records violation.
But even then, Perez was trying to charge us almost $80 for these guidelines because she claimed it would have taken her three hours to find it.
But Chandler wasn’t born yesterday, so he sent the following email to Bill Lyons, a legal adviser for the police department, who has been working with him in obtaining these records.
I would like a copy of her entire personnel file. Please let me know how much of a deposit is needed and I will pay with a money order. Please show me the statute that allows for charging for redaction. Fees are governed by 119.07(4) and I see no subsection that expressly allows for the charge of redactions. To my knowledge, this has not yet been challenged in the judicial system. My reasoning is that by virtue of 119.01(1) “Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.”, therefore part of that duty is to protect confidential information while still providing access to the public. Essentially, redacting records is a ministerial duty as “custodian”. I am more than happy to hear your thoughts on this issue. I see too often cost for redactions being used to keep records from the public through excessive fees.
I also received a letter today from Major Perez informing me that the cost for the MDPD SOP manual in a digital format will cost $79.56 for 3 hours of research time. I challenge your agency to explain this. She is telling me that the SOP manual took 3 hours of research to find. How can the MDPD expect to follow the SOP if it takes the PIO 3 hours just to find it. She asked me to contact Captain Bibiana Santana if I had any questions. I am still trying to run all my requests through you directly, as you requested.
Ergo I am making a subsequent public records request about my request.
(1) Please provide to me the salary of the lowest paid employee (or volunteer) that could have searched for the records.
(2) Provide to me a copy of the time sheet or any other documents of the employee documenting the 3 hours of search time to find the responsive records.
If the records exist in electronic format, provide them as such. If the cost of production is to exceed $1.00, provide a written estimate prior to production.
I ended up paying $25 for the Standard Operating Procedure, which goes to show you there really isn’t any consistency as to what they are charging for public records.
I leafed through it last night before handing it to my attorney this morning and it’s obvious why she didn’t want us to see it because it proves she was acting completely out of policy when she arrested me that night.
I also paid $343 for Perez’s personnel file, which I have still not obtained because they claim they are still redacting information off it.
And we also have a pending request regarding her cell phone records, including text messages, from the days following my arrest, for which I will eventually be billed.
And we are discussing making further requests, even if they only end up being used in the civil suit I plan to file once I get past this criminal charge.
This is a costly process, not only because of the public records fees, but because of attorney fees and the cost to obtain copies of the depositions he has conducted of other officers who witnessed by arrest.
So any donations towards my legal defense fund, which can be made below, will be welcomed.
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
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