Florida State Attorney William Meggs says the state will not pursue charges against three Florida Supreme Court Justices accused of violating state law regarding the filing of campaign documents. Meggs announced his decision after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) concluded its investigation of claims the Justices violated state laws regarding their filing of campaign documents. Meggs conceded three Justices may have violated legal technicalities, but “the law does not concern itself with trifles,” Meggs told the Associated Press.
Last week, two Florida residents filed a lawsuit asking the Leon County Circuit Court to keep three Florida Supreme Court Justices off the November ballot. The lawsuit accuses Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince of failing to lawfully qualify for election during the statutory qualifying period. The suit, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by the Southeastern Legal Foundation, alleges the justices filed necessary certifications during their working hours in violation of state law. The suit also alleges the justices provided false and incomplete statements. The suit is not affected by Meggs’State decision not to pursue criminal charges.
The Justices “each thank both the FDLE and the State Attorney’s Office of the Second Judicial Circuit for concluding their work promptly, fairly, and impartially and for the professionalism with which they addressed these matters,” according to a statement released by their lawyers.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Commissioner Gerald Bailey and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for diligently reviewing the possible violations by Florida Supreme Court Judges,” said Gov. Rick Scott. “According to FDLE findings, it appears using state employees to complete and file campaign forms and other documents is ‘common practice.’ Now this case is before the courts where a determination will be made as to whether this ‘common practice’ is legal. Whatever the ruling, we will accept it and act accordingly.”