By TONY ERWIN HOWARD
This information is provided to the Brothers and Sisters particularly from Duval County/Jacksonville’s 4th Judicial Circuit where my people have been hoodwinked into the Florida Prison/Correctional system and into the false belief that they are felons. Yes! That’s right! If you have been through the Duval County Court of judicial system within the past thirty years and think that you were convicted or adjudicated guilty of a felony offense…you are dead-ass WRONG! I’m gonna show you in this article that every word that I am telling you is the truth, but the remedy is that we’re gonna have to work together to bring this issue to light and get our rights back along with possible compensation. (Reparations!)
To prove my contention(s), I’m gonna make reference to certain Rules of Court and Legislated Florida statutes. I looked at my so called judgment form/sheet and Commitment to Custody Order for years and intuitively knew that something was wrong with them both, but couldn’t figure out precisely what was wrong until I discovered and read the Rules and Statutes I’m about to disclose to you. Once I compared what I read to my actual court documents…I then discovered that I – and thousands of others – had been hoodwinked into prison under the false assumption that I was a convicted felon.
Florida statute 921.241 (2) prescribes what the judge MUST do when he adjudicates a defendant guilty of a felony. The judge must “render” a judgment of guilty in open court, the rendered judgment must be in writing, and then signed by the judge. This is important because if he does not sign it, the judgment of guilty has not been “rendered” and you have not been adjudicated guilty. The judge must then have your fingerprints placed on the judgment form, in his presence, in open court, and them he must sign (again or a second time) a certificate indicating that the defendant’s fingerprints were taken in open court, in front of the judge, on the day that the judgment was rendered. This process or procedure is mandatory. It is called a ministerial duty of the judge.
Well, lo and behold, I found in my studies and research that for the past 30 years or so, no judge has ever signed the first portion of the judgment forms coming out of Duval County’s Circuit or felony courts. If you’ve ever been subjected to or been made a victim of this judicial process, check your paperwork (judgment sheet) and you will find that what I am telling you is true! Check Rule 3.986 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and you will see exactly how a Judgment form is supposed to be signed. This rule is made by the Florida Supreme Court and it must be obeyed. If your fingerprints do not have a judicial signature ABOVE it…then you were never adjudicated guilty!
The courts, lawyers, prosecutors, and clerks of court know that there is a deficiency in their forms and the judgment procedure, however, they are hoping like hell that you don’t find out! This deficiency is extremely important to you because these bogus felony judgments are holding us back. We are being falsely labeled as “felons” or “convicts,” being denied jobs, voter registrations, licenses, public housing, parental rights, and other civil liberties. Moreover, many brothers and sisters are squandering in prisons with enhanced sentences based on prior felonies which never existed! That’s right! This affects the Habitual Offender laws and other enhanced sentencing laws. If you don’t challenge it, then it goes over as being legitimate. Our people suffer from a lack of knowledge! I've personally challenged these judgments and the Duval County Clerk of Court won’t answer me. They've become eerily silent. The Florida Department of Corrections are detaining thousands of prisoners without a rendered judgment of conviction, which makes the sentence “illegal” or otherwise…”unlawful”. The absent judicial signature makes the judgment incomplete, and the law-(section 944.17(3)(a) and (5)-commands the Florida Department of Corrections not to receive nor accept a person into the state correctional system unless there is a conviction, and the commitment documentation is “completed”.
The strange and sad thing is that so many Black newspapers, politicians, and other civic and religious organizations have been complaining about the disenfranchisement of Black people in Florida, the felonization of Black men, in particular, and the implementation of the New Jim Crow, yet, after I have written and alerted them about this fraudulent process, they won’t do nor even say anything about it! Apex Coture Magazine-Digital is the first to do so. This issue is the best kept secret in all of Jacksonville, Florida, and even those who know about it are scared to say anything to the powers that be. What happened to our courage and sense of struggle?
Well, you want to read more about the tricks the Duval County Court House Crew and The Florida Department of Corrupt – I mean- Corrections use to HOODWINK us into felonies, prison time, disenfranchisement and the rest … then look out for my new book entitled HOODWINKED! If you want to start a movement on behalf of our people to undo these unlawful practices, sentences, and get reparations for time unlawfully spent in the penitentiary, or on parole or probation, then contact me at Tone.firstname.lastname@example.org. Be … and stay AWARE. Power concedes to nothing but a DEMAND! Love and Peace Always ….
Tony E. Howard