Florida Judge Issues Shocking Order For Newspaper To “Unpublish” News Story

The_Palm_Beach_Post_front_pageCircuit Judge Jack Schramm Cox has made a rather ignoble entry into national news with a clearly unconstitutional order to the Palm Beach Post to unpublish material from its website. The act of prior restraint violates core first amendment protections and will achieve nothing since the information was part of a public filing. The utter lack of legal judgment (and knowledge) shown by Cox in this order is deeply troubling.

Cox ordered The Palm Beach Post to remove from its website transcripts of telephone recordings of Frederick Cobia, a jailhouse snitch who brags about his ability to elicit confessions from fellow inmates and how he scored a deal with prosecutors for a lighter sentence. The transcript was obtained by defense counsel and made part of a public filing. Despite the wide availability of copies of the filing and the later posting by the newspaper, Cox bizarrely ordered the Post to remove two paragraphs from the online version of the story.

The Post complied with the following note:

“EDITOR’S NOTE: Under the Nov. 30, 2015, order of Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jack Schramm Cox, The Palm Beach Post has removed transcripts of portions of recordings of phone calls made by Frederick Cobia while being held in the Palm Beach County Jail. Also removed from a previous version of this story are two paragraphs that included quotations from the transcripts. The Post is appealing Cox’s ruling.”

The Post has noted that the original version of the October story “continues to live on the internet.” Indeed, anyone can locate the original material on locations like this one. Moreover, this was lawfully obtained material that the newspaper is entitled to publish. In other words, there was even less practice than legal sense in trying to get this cat to walks backwards. While Cox believes that Cobia’s right to privacy was violated, this was the wrong part to address any such violation. Instead of curing the privacy violation, he added a serious constitutional violation.

Cox was appointed by former Governor Charlier Crist in 2008 to the 15th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida. He received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University in 1973 and his J.D. degree from the Cumberland School of Law in 1978.

36 thoughts on “Florida Judge Issues Shocking Order For Newspaper To “Unpublish” News Story”

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  2. H Skip Robinson:

    Jonathan Turley wrote an article a while back that also appeared in The Washington Post about changing the number of SC justices from 9 to 19. It was an excellent piece of how to enlarge the court of several administrations.

    You had some good ideas but James Madison also warned about the “Tyranny of the Majority” where the nation can be too democratic operating outside of the U.S. Constitution. Many times the courts rule contrary to the voters: women’s voting rights, African-American voting rights, interracial marriage, equal marriage rights and recently the U.S. Supreme Court expanded gun rights. In places like New York City or Washington DC it is likely the voters would have enacted a total ban on having a gun. Nationwide voters may go even further than the courts outlawing guns.

    Also money in both political and judicial elections have corrupted the system. The Brennan Center reported that judges imposed the death penalty in more cases right before an election – essentially appeasing the “Tyranny of the Majority”. It has also done great harm when prosecutors run for election.

    1. RB – I am also quite fearful of the majority. Just talk to the average person on the street and you will see why democracies have all failed over time.

      That is why my proposal requires an individual to get 50 to 100 signed affidavits as an appointment. This would keep out the undesirable riff faft like the John Smiths of the world. Lol

      Each person would have to go out and solicit registered voters to get an endorsement. The number could be formulated on the number of nationwide registered voters divided by the number of jurists desired. What we want to do is have enough jurists so that each issue raised has enough people to participate without burdening on one individual, since they would be participating on a voluntary basis to begin with. As an incentive, you could make it so that the more a person participates in the writing of the opinions and votes with the majority opinion, the more they could become paid Judges within the public sector, displacing the current highly political appointment and confirmation processes.

      Like John said, the big boys are not going to take such competition to their controls lightly but it would be interesting to set up such a system and socially challenge them in the arena of public opinion. It would have to be a truly grass roots efforts.

      I am not quite sure enough experienced attorneys have it in their blood to make such a noble effort because they would surely have to be a part of the effort. The majority knows very little about the alleged rule of law. We could do this under fairly tight security and privacy to begin with to protect those participants form retaliation.

  3. John, also nice BS meme. “Try working within the system to solve it.” Yea, that’s worked out well for the the majority over the last 50 years. You need to spend more time talking to people in the middle and lower classes to see what our society has done to them instead of searching out conclusions within your own limited mindset. It’s quite obvious from a number of your posts you’re still stuck in the proverbial matrix. It a scam John, get out, at least mentally.

  4. Let me tell you why “anarcho capitalist” is a joke. First of all it is about the most oxymoronic term in the poltical lexicon. here is why. Rich men always control governments to one degree or another, or they try. Rich men find ways to use government to their advantage and it has been ever thus and it will always be so. ….The Rich “capitalists” are no more going to abolish government than they are going to give up their guns or money or any other tool at their control. So just quit dreaming these pipe dreams and get on with the dirty and hard business of trying to work with a system that we have and improving it, than sailing off to some nonexistent ideological paradise that will never happen.

    1. Don’t understand your comment on anarcho-capitlism. No one on this threat suggested such a nonsensical cure to today’s many problems.

      With that said you might want to spend sometime studying the Celts between 600 AD and 1600 AD. As the Romans society began to collapse it opened to door to the alleged dark ages for many regions. A period in which the ruling oligarchs hated.

  5. H Skip Robinson:

    Good points. “Performance incentives/disincentives” may be a good way to make government bureaucracies work better.

    For example: what if there were a financial incentive/disincentive for the Veterans Administration – if you pay veterans on time bureaucrats you are rewarded in their paycheck but if they are excessively late they have a mild paycut to their regular paycheck. Veterans coming back from war or previous wars can become homeless or have other irreversible harm just from a late check – wouldn’t pay incentives/disincentives make that bureaucracy work better?

    Also a way to minimize “mission creep”. Ronald Reagan once pointed out there were more government employees working in a farm agency than there were actual farmers being served (their customer).

    W. Edward Deming, the American bureaucrat/statistician that taught Japanese companies, including Toyota, in the 1950’s how to produce quality products also had a detailed plan for making bureaucracies work. Deming’s ideas were rejected by American leaders at that time. One idea he had was slowing or freezing government budgets and let the government employees keep the extra cash if they became more efficient (ex: extra pay, vacations, office parties, etc). In our new “War on a Tactic” after 9/11 without an end date, these ideas would help shrink some agencies while making us safer without harming government employees – minimizing mission creep.

    1. RB – No society has ever been able to restrain government except for a few times in history. The Celts between 600 AD and 1600 AD are probably the best example because it has the greatest available info to evaluate. One of the keys was that they appear to have privatized the judiciary.

      My proposal is interesting to me because it blends a private aspect with the existing public system. It allows for Supreme Court decisions to be overturned by a massive body that is appointed by the Citizens, everyone except those in the government judiciary participating on a voluntary basis, yet benefit the more they participate and provide majority rulings. It sounds complicated but it is not. Consider to be a jurist, one would have to go out in their communities and get a certain number of “Citizens”, say 50 or 100 registered voters, to appoint them by affidavits to the (SCRB) Supreme Court Review Board. If you as a Citizen and don’t like how your appointment voted on a specific issue, you could rescind your appointment forcing them to go get another. To review a SCOTUS decision, all that the Jurist would have to do is to get a certain number of fellow Jurists around the country to agree to challenge the decision. This would begin a random selection process of say 1,000 jurists from around the country that would be required to write the concurring and dissenting opinions and make a final vote on the issue. We would not longer be held hostage by 9 Judges with just 4 or 5 of them winning the majority vote. If you think about it, our system is kind of ridiculous in this nature.

      To me the only way to solve our current dilemma is to take the power from the few and get it in the hands of the greatest number of qualified people available. This would do it.

  6. Growing up during the Cold War, our teachers and other adults compared us to the Communist’s “Evil Empire” making a stark contrast between the evil doers that had an Iron Curtain, a secret police and domestic spying.

    They taught us kids that the United States wasn’t evil because we had a “constitutional democratic republic” with checks & balances to counterbalance power of the branches and levels of government. Most importantly they taught us that we had a constitutional “rule of law” (unlike the communists) where even a president wasn’t above the law or Constitution. Following Watergate that seemed to be somewhat true.

    Today the United States throws people in prison without charge, without trial and without guilty verdict. In the electronic age we actually have a quasi-Iron Curtain that censors and intercepts our emails, phone calls, faxes, etc. Today we even have a secret police that enforces SECRET law, since it’s secret we don’t know if we violated it or not. The courts don’t check & balance the other two branches for constitutionality. We also assassinate people without constitutional due process.

    Jonathan Turley wrote a landmark article a few tears ago “10 Reasons …” And today we have judges rewriting published news articles. Americans have total apathy!

    1. RB – I agree with you 100% with the exception that Americans are totally apathetic. I see the voluminous number of commenters on numerous sites rightfully condemning the various branching of government for their constant usurpations of rights and unlawful abrogations to the Constitution.

      But never do I see a reasonable and workable proposal/solution to stop them without violence. We have reached a point in which the tax consumers out vote the tax producers. The revolution and Constitution only slowed down the usurpations for a while.

      The first ad valorem tax here in Florida was 1/2 cent per acre for 1st class properties and 1/8 cent per acre for 3rd class properties. Now we are one again as we did during the 1st depression, taxing people out of their properties and many people are forced to accept government jobs and become tax consumers to meet the high tax demands.

      This is one of the best and most competent blogs on the web and I do not see any discussions on this topic. I have a proposal that still needs much work but somebody would need to start a threat on the issue. I call it “Repairing the Scales of Justice”. I believe that if you are able to achieve fair and equatable justice in a society, all other aspects of a civil society will fall in place. As an example, we have regulations because the Judiciary is not able to secure equitable justice for those being harmed and thus government tries to correct the problems by adding regulatory guidelines. What we don’t tend to realize is that most legislation is really designed to benefit special interests at the expense of everyone else under the guise of some altruistic meme.

  7. “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

  8. He is typical for the Judges here in PBC. One of my attorney friends calls the court system is Miami/Dade “lawless”, giving me examples, one after another of some of the things the Judges are doing and saying.

    Nick, some of the old timers brought to the polling booths were so old and decrepit they couldn’t push the punch pin all the way through the cards. Some of them it appeared to me didn’t know where they were or what they were doing there. They were even counseling them on who to vote for and trying to show them the pattern they needed to vote in. It was a big Democratic push to get out the vote that year. I kid you not. It was after that, I started researching why all democracies and democratic republics have failed, that I soon became an anarcho-capitalist. Checking the voting records by Cities, I was amazed but not shocked to find out that the Infamous Town of Palm Beach, the winter home of the eastern seaboard so called “elites” were a majority Democrats. The so called Party of the working class. There is notion elite about these folks, their just white collar thieves, like all socialists.

  9. Wasn’t Palm Beach County where we learned about “hanging chad” in 2000?

  10. And where is this any different than any other half-baked legal decisions from other judges. Constitution be damned!

  11. Oldest fact in the book that jailhouse snitches arent credible witnesses. but the system wants to keep the truth from the people. the constitution is just another clever plan by rich men to set up the system that will maximally provide for THEIR freedom. the US is not that different than any other nation in history, just more hypocritical. and a more effective system of social control.

  12. Palm Beach is in Florida is it not? Why is that state always popping up on the blog for some lame brain governmental agent action? Does anyone from Florida blog in on this blog? If so please give us some answers as to why so many in that state are lame brain. One guy here in the bar in New Orleans says that much of the East Coast of Florida is populated by ex New Yorkers.

  13. If he’s really that incompetent, should he not be reported to their judicial commission or whatever it’s called in California?

  14. I thought they were recorded even when speaking to their attorneys. This is the kind of decision you would expect from Harvard.

  15. Where the frig is the Cumberland University Law School?
    The judge needs to be removed from office. The Tinker team in that town needs to show up on the courthouse steps with signs and flyers demanding his resignation. He needs to go practice law as a divorce lawyer and perhaps bankruptcy lawyer since can’t put two and two together and his notions of the constitution are bankrupt. The newspaper ought to find a lawyer to represent them who is outside the state of Florida– which is in a state of disrepair.

    Can someone find and then post the judge’s website so we can send him some caselaw to digest in his old age?

  16. A jail house snitch has privacy concerns? I thought all prisoners were recorded unless they were speaking with their attorneys. What’s up with this judge.

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