A Florida prosecutor just censored an active duty Navy Reserve Corpsman – on Memorial Day – for criticizing her frequently disparaged record.
Katherine Fernandez-Rundle has been Miami-Dade’s State Attorney since 1993 when she succeeded Janet Reno who became the longest serving US Attorney General in history.
She hasn’t charged a police officer for an active duty killing in 24 years.
But she censored Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Suarez, an outspoken police accountability expert and Miami City Commission candidate.
On Memorial Day.
Daniel Suarez spent over six years on Miami’s Civilian Investigative Panel which reviews the city’s police complaints.
This Memorial Day morning, Suarez quoted a tweet – that is he published his own comments with the State Attorney’s tweet displayed below – and criticized Fernandez-Rundle’s record on police accountability issues.
— Daniel Suarez (@SuarezMiami) May 29, 2017
The State Attorney blocked the 27-year old Corpsman and active duty reservist from following her on Twitter without any warning or due process.
He found out tonight.
Here’s the tweet she didn’t want him displaying inside his comment about “bad apples,” which refers to law enforcement officers who break the law:
— Kathy Rundle (@KathyFndzRundle) May 29, 2017
A Google search of the Miami-Dade SAO’s website didn’t turn up a social media policy, nor did the prosecutor’s Twitter profile have one posted, so it appears that Fernandez-Rundle may have violated Suarez’s constitutional right to due process by the Fifth and 14th Amendments by arbitrarily deciding to block him, which is an act of censorship.
The Miami-Dade SAO does have a comment policy on Facebook, but nowhere does it mention the process to completely block aka censor any users for any reason.
Her actions violated Petty Officer Suarez’s First Amendment guaranteed rights of the freedom to petition members of the government for redress of grievances, as applied to a state officer through the 14th Amendment.
“Accountability is very important, especially in Miami,” said Suarez when interviewed for this story, “and then there are those who do not want the public to know the facts.”
Criticizing this particular State Attorney is not a highly unusual thing unusual right now either.
Members of Fernandez-Rundle’s own party (see disclosure) have been debating a forceful resolution asking for the Prosecutor’s resignation and will do so again tomorrow night according to the Miami Herald.
The reason is Fernandez-Rundle’s decision not to charge any of the four Florida state prison guards involved in Darren Rainey’s untimely demise in a prison shower.
Trapped in the shower for over 90 minutes, Rainey expired.
His body temperature was 109 degrees when found.
Miami-Dade’s Medical Examiner declared the death an “accident.”
The Miami-Dade prosecutor’s team has been dispatched to her party’s meetings – where they cried ‘fake news’ and accused the Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown of a “false narrative” in her coverage of the case of Darren Rainey.
Brown has won journalistic awards and accolades from lawyers for her investigation into the death of the schizophrenic inmate who was in the care of four prison guards at the Dade County Correctional Facility, which itself is owned and run by the State of Florida.
The Miami Herald’s most recent report by Brown described the inmate’s death in graphic detail, with equally graphic autopsy photos:
The photographs of Darren Rainey’s body are difficult to look at: skin curling from nearly every part of his body, from the top of his nose to his ankles. Large swaths of exposed body tissue, some of it blood red, and other portions straw yellow. Skin blistering on portions of his face, his ears and his neck. Deep red tissue exposed on his chest, his back, a thigh and an arm. Yellow tissue exposed on his buttocks and left leg.
About the only portion of his body not affected are his feet.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office made their files on Rainey publicly available and have published extensive talking points – the disclosure of which probably forecloses any possible chance of a federal case against the prison guards – and which may hurt the family’s chances of success in their civil lawsuit.
With no means to appeal the decision, Corpsman Suarez was also summarily prohibited and banned from any further participation in political issues or other matters without any meaningful explanation.
The only way this Navy sailor can contest the State Attorney’s censorship acts now is in a court of law.
He’ll face a severe disadvantage there, fighting not only a seasoned member of the Bar but also a Constitutional Officer who wields great power and sturdily in possession of the cloak of qualified immunity for her acts.
PINAC columnist Eric McDonough has done just that, and his First Amendment lawsuit against the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office has lasted years, and only recently went to the 11th circuit federal court of appeals for oral arguments.
Ironically, Petty Officer Suarez specifically discovered that he was blocked by the State Attorney during the airing of a local radio program I hosted, where he discussed the lack of police accountability in Miami.
Hopefully, this will be the last time the Miami-Dade State Attorney censors anyone, let alone an active duty reserves member of the armed forces on Memorial Day.
Intervew with Corpsman Suarez about police accountability starts at minute seven:
Author’s Disclosure: I am a voting At-Large member of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.