May 26, 2017
The City of Homestead has a torrid reputation, and a pattern of willfully refusing to comply with the public records law. Homestead is a little town at the southern end of Miami-Dade County, rarely receiving the scrutiny it deserves as a cesspool of public corruption and maleficence.
I have used the records request process, as a pre-discovery method for investigating my civil rights claims. Homestead has failed to comply with the public records law on the majority of the nearly one hundred requests I have filed.
Homestead has a pattern and practice of unlawful noncompliance as it relates to the records law including but not limited to: excessively overcharging for records, claiming inapplicable exemptions, creating automatic and/or unreasonable delays in production, claiming incriminating records do not exist, falsifying records and destruction of records.
Florida has some of the strictest public records laws in the nation. The records law is thoroughly explained in the Government in the Sunshine Manual (GSM), and the city owns several copies. Yet, you could be easily fooled into thinking otherwise, based on the behavior and actions of Homestead and their attorneys.
I hope the information provided herein, while extensive by nature, will educate the readers on the public records law and how some public entities create costly issues.
PINAC published the original story of my abuse by Homestead officer Alejandro Murguido, beginning in 2012. I was falsely arrested in April 2013, after attempting to file a complaint, and charged for simply asking my neighbor to not speed and recklessly drive his city owned police car, in our community. Children regularly play in the street, and Murguido had previously asked me to contact him directly versus filing a formal complaint with his department.
I met with Homestead Chief of Police Alexander Rolle to file a complaint in February 2014. All false charges against me had been dismissed shortly before the meeting.
Rolle brought IA Detective Antonio Aquino into this meeting, after being presented evidence Aquino and Murguido had colluded against me. I wisely recorded the meeting, and Rolle subsequently destroyed the documents given him, documented here. Rolle’s subsequent perjury and defamation while being investigated in his and Aquino’s second felony records destruction was recorded here and here.
The Miami Herald reported on Rolle and Aquino’s first documented records destruction. Rolle and Aquino had gone after good cops, now they going after me.
Rolle and Aquino refused to allow me to file a complaint against Murguido for his false criminal allegations against me. Aquino claimed Murguido was off duty acting as a private citizen, therefore they had no control over his actions, part of his explanation can be heard here. Rolle claimed that too much had happened and that he could only deal with things going forward while falsely promising I would suffer no more retaliation, part of which can be heard here.
I had sent Rolle a letter, and Aquino a letter. Aquino subsequently sent an email, copying Rolle shortly after this meeting, claiming Murguido filed a complaint as a citizen, not as a Homestead officer. Rolle and Aquino blocked my complaint forcing the filing of a defamation law suit against Murguido in his individual capacity, NOT as a police officer.
Then Homestead began paying for the attorneys defending Murguido, using the law firm of Weiss, Serota, Helfman… (WSH) on the tax payers’ dime. WSH is contracted to be Homestead’s city attorney.
WSH attorney Eric Stettin, pictured above, claimed in his motion to dismiss that Murguido has absolute immunity against defamation, simply because he is a police officer. However, Murguido wasn’t acting is his official capacity. Stettin’s motion has been shot down now twice by the same honorable judge. I even beat him when it was my first time pro se in court, to be honest I was not impressed.
THE FIRST PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST
Homestead’s improper defense of Murguido lead me to file a first records request for the documents relating to the City’s decision to defend Murguido, as well as the related financial records. I knew Rolle had to be involved in the decision.
Homestead deputy clerk Patricia Sullivan responded to my first request five weeks later, which is an unlawful delay by itself (pages 150-152, GSM), but it was not her fault. Homestead creates unlawful automatic delays, by sending my request to WSH. WSH works diligently to find creative new ways to block my request, giving their clients improper legal advice after stalling the request.
WSH Attorney Sam Zeskind, pictured below, provided the flawed reasoning that all requested records were exempt under attorney-client privilege and/or attorney work product. First, attorney-client privilege (FSS. 90.502) does NOT apply to Florida’s Public Records Law. Second, for the attorney work product exemption to apply to a record at a minimum it would have had to have actually been prepared by an attorney, or at an attorney’s express direction. Further, public billing records do NOT fall under this exemption (page 116, GSM).
Zeskind’s improper advice, spawns into unethically generated revenue for his firm, where he is getting paid to litigate his own flawed legal advice. Homestead then places the financial burden upon their Citizens. Zeskind and Homestead are literally wasting tens of thousands of tax dollars, only to deny me records which I already have, or ones I do not care about.
Homestead can then seek cover for their nonfeasance of statutory duties, claiming to be acting under advice of counsel. WSH can then claim they are not government employees, and were only giving advice to a client. However, the actions of WSH attorney Sam Zeskind, pictured below, cloud expose him and his clients to possible civil and/or criminal liabilities.
Homestead and WSH unabashedly continue their deliberate violations of the public records law. I have repeatedly brought this to their attention (see videos here and here as well as immediately below), to no avail. [READ MORE]