‘It’s not fair’: The florida guardian service says it’s not being fair
FLORIDA GENTLEMEN’S COURT: A judge says a state court judge has ordered the guardianship service, which manages guardianship for thousands of Floridians, to return millions of dollars to a man who was arrested last year for allegedly threatening to kill a judge.
Michael J. Johnson was arrested in August 2014 on charges of making terroristic threats, battery on a public servant and making threats against a public official.
Johnson was sentenced to a year of probation and fined $500 for the harassment charge, but he appealed and has since been released on bond.
In his decision released Thursday, Circuit Judge Robert F. DeGraff said Johnson should not have been released.
The judge said he was disturbed that Johnson’s attorneys had sought to have his case dismissed on the grounds that it did not meet the “strict scrutiny” of the Florida statute of limitations.
“The court concludes that Mr. Johnson’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was unsupported by the record and that there was no credible evidence that his counsel’s efforts to protect him from harm were successful,” DeGraf wrote.
DeGraff also ordered Johnson to pay $3.5 million in restitution.
He ordered Johnson’s defense to reimburse $1.1 million and to pay a $1,000 civil penalty.
State Supreme Court Justice Brian J. Dube Jr. has been a critic of the state’s guardianship system, calling it overly complex and lacking in due process protections.
Last month, DeGrafs order to return Johnson’s funds was the second time he has directed the guardians’ service to return money, the second such order this year.
But Dube has repeatedly sided with Johnson’s lawyers in court, saying that he did not find sufficient evidence that Johnson threatened to harm a judge or harm his girlfriend, and that Johnson had waived his right to a speedy trial.
According to court documents, Johnson told a judge in November 2014 that he would kill a former Florida Supreme Court justice who had criticized the state court system, saying he would “shoot her down.”
The next day, an arrest warrant was issued for Johnson, who was charged with threatening a judge and battery on the same person.
He was arrested the following day in Miami Gardens, Fla., and was charged in a Florida court with aggravated assault and resisting arrest.