TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Tampa Bay Times reports that Willie Meggs has conceded to a judge "that he accepts full responsibility for the release of grand jury testimony of ex-House Speaker Ray Sansom and former college president, Bob Richburg." The prosecutor in the case, Meggs, admitted to providing 16,000 pages to the news media and claims that he "inadvertently included transcripts of Sansom's and Richburg's testimony," according to the article. C. Scott Bailey, a spokesperson for the Coalition for Honest Prosecution, believes that this error is important for taxpayers to be aware of. In fact, it is alleged that Meggs' reckless actions may cost state taxpayers, including those located in Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Franklin and Gadsden Counties, over $817,000, especially since Sansom has filed a motion to recover the attorney's fees he accumulated over the course of the dropped case. Bailey notes that there are considerable questions over Meggs' decision not to prosecute himself. Allegedly, he is taking advantage of the power that his elected office affords him.
The leaking of the grand jury testimony is in direct violation of three Florida statutes, including 905.27, 905.24, and 905.26. The previously cited article in Tampa Bay Times explains that, after the documents were provided to defense lawyers, they were posted on the website of the St. Petersburg Times. Meggs contacted Alex Leary and asked him to take the testimony down. Bailey takes note that the confession Meggs provided to Tampa Bay Times is flippant in nature—and something that should worry potential voters. The article quotes: "'If the judge wants to hold me in contempt, I will take the punishment,' Meggs said as he sucked on a piece of hard candy. 'I did it. I did it inadvertently... I can't unring that bell. I apologize to the court. I didn't intend to do it. I'm not perfect. I can't even spell the word 'hangar' correctly [referring to the spelling 'hanger' used in court documents]."
Although leaking these documents is a major offense, it is just one in a string of actions allegedly performed by Meggs throughout the prosecution of Sansom. Bailey explains that records show that Meggs did not have the evidence necessary to prosecute Sansom, and that he continued to file one motion after another, regardless of the fact that he could not support his case. These unnecessary court proceedings racked up over $817,000 in court fees that Sansom is looking to recover now that his case has been dropped.
"This whole situation is positioned to be forefront in this election," Bailey comments. "There are records that show Meggs had no evidence against Sansom, yet the court system was still engaged. It is starting to look as if taxpayers will pay for it. But Meggs' move not to prosecute himself is equally as worrisome."
In the transcript of a hearing from July 29, 2010, case number 2009-CF1229A and B 2009CF1744, Meggs states, "It's a matter of discretion of the prosecutor, and I don't choose to prosecute myself for it, nor do I intend to prosecute the St. Pete Times for having it, because they didn't intend to do it either."
Bailey believes that while the leak might have been inadvertent, the oversight is an issue, as efficiency and accuracy is important to the work completed by the State Attorney's office.
The Coalition for Honest Prosecution is a Florida-based organization dedicated to upholding and protecting the rights of Florida voters registered with the Florida Division of Elections.
SOURCE Coalition for Honest Prosecution