A recent article and editorial in the Florida Today claim the Clerk's Office is under fire for our inability to achieve certification from the State for our Criminal SRS reports, primarily due my alleged leadership failures. Summary Reporting Statistics (SRS) are post-action submittals to the State of court events. As after the fact reports, they have no effect on overall court administration, scheduling, distribution of money, or docket management. This is an error
repeated from a prior Florida Today. The case filings “which are a barometer of the Circuit Courts workload” are accurate and available. It’s untrue we have been unable to submit them. The data issues still being worked are the various actions occurring in court during the case, how those actions should be counted, and the data entered properly. The State Office of Supreme Court Administration (OSCA) has been receiving SRS case data since October, 2003 and we have worked diligently with them and the vendor to try to resolve the remaining issues.

Tiburon bought out the original developer, Progressive Solutions, before I came on board, contrary to the statement “it was Ellis himself who hired Tiburon to improve the computer system.” FACTS software is proprietary, meaning no firm other than the vendor can work on the software. To date no urban county in Florida has a turnkey commercially available system which could be used to replace FACTS, and it makes little sense to bring in an unproven system to potentially end up back at square one.

Our office has worked hard to recover from the initial disaster. The post-action reporting of statistics could not logically be a higher priority then overcoming operational shortcomings, eliminating large work backlogs, rebuilding the financial books and properly distributing millions of dollars, dealing with over 50,000 unpaid citations and associated driver license suspensions, and providing effort to recoup millions of dollars for the County through a
Collections Agency and a Pay-Or-Appear program that created thousands of monthly court appearances. Those obstacles behind us, we applied senior staff to work with OSCA to try to achieve an accuracy of data whose standard we believe other counties are not even being held to. Interviews of employees and customers of the Clerk’s Office would get honest feedback on the alleged four years of miserable, inexcusable failure.

I make no apology for investigations into the Sarno Landfill’s $6 million windfall, million dollar no-bid contracts of questionable need, contractual irregularities, excessive overtime payments, the random use of non-conforming county facilities as Hurricane Hiltons, and fighting through the Courts to attempt to save the Tax Cap. It ‘s our job.

Chief Justice Pariente was queried on the article in a meeting with State Senators. The Judiciary Cocmittee was told the material in the newspaper article was blown way out of proportion and there were no intentions of removing anyone from office. It is unclear from the Florida Today story whether the issue of removal from office was initiated by OSCA or the Florida Today itself. The clever editing of the story and the virulence of the editorial leads me to believe the outcome had already been decided before the first person was interviewed, or as the Queen spoke to Alice, “Sentence first, Verdict later.”