Sheriff Donald F Eslinger
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In Seminole County Florida, all that you need to do in order to break certain State Statutes is to conspire with an attorney and follow your attorneys "legal counsel". How do we know that this statement is true? well, since September 16, 2010 we have been attempting to obtain the Seminole County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) issued email addresses as well as the department issued cell phone numbers of all Deputies in Seminole County not including those of undercover Deputies.

To refresh your memory go to our article "ABOVE THE LAW". We attempted to have the issue mediated to which Sheriff Eslinger declined. We then requested criminal prosecution by the Office of Norman Wolfinger for violation of Florida State Statutes concerning Public Records laws on February 18, 2011. We requested the State Attorney of the 18th Judicial Circuit of Florida to investigate our complaint and to enforce our laws against Sheriff Donald F. Eslinger, Christy Peters (Custodian of Records) and April Kirsheman (General Counsel SCSO).

In response to our request for criminal prosecution we received a written reply from the Chief of Operations Assistant State Attorney Robert Wayne Holmes on March 18, 2011. While we appreciate the reply from Mr. Holmes, his reply is off point, to use a fancy legal term. Mr. Holmes advised:

"this office would not be taking any action upon your public records complaint against the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office as that agency was acting upon advice of legal counsel."

If you will review the complaint, nowhere was it requested that action be taken "against the Seminole County Sheriff's Office". The complaint was against three natural persons who are employed at the SCSO. We are grateful to Mr. Holmes for explaining why the Office of Norman Wolfinger would not be taking action.

While Mr. Holmes' reply attempts to justify why Sheriff Eslinger and Christy Peters would not be prosecuted it does not explain why April Kirsheman was not prosecuted. Could it have anything to do with the fact that April Kirsheman once worked for the Office of the State Attorney? Based on Mr. Holmes' reply, if two or more persons get together and decide to not follow the public records laws and then these persons get together with an attorney and the attorney advises those persons to violate the law then everything is ok.

Mr. Holmes after advising that his office would not be taking any action again advised that we could initiate a civil complaint in civil court to force the production of the public records. Our legislature believed that our public records laws were so important that in the law it allowed a civil action against any public servant which violated the Public records laws. The problem is that you first have to pay an attorney approximately $5,000.00 first to take on the case. The law only allows you to be paid for legal expenses which go to the attorney. While this is a good law you have to spend money in order to force your public servant to do their job and obey the law.

In this article we allege that they broke the law. Everyone has an opinion so we waited until we received proof that they had broken the law.

On April 20, 2011, seven months after our request for the Public Records, we received the proof from Christy Peters Custodian of Records SCSO. The proof was in the receipt of the list of e-mail addresses of the SCSO Deputy Sheriff's. While the list is a public record we do not intend to publish it on this site. The whole purpose of the initial request for the public records was to prove that not everyone receives the "same kind of service" that was afforded to Sheriff Eslingers wife. Nor would we publish the cell phone numbers.

On May 6, 2011 we received yet another response for "the SCSO cell phone numbers of all SCSO Deputy Sheriff’s". In this reply Christy Peters advises that,

"these records are exempt from public disclosure pursuant to F.S. 119.071(2)(d), F.S.S. 119.071(3)(a), and 119.071 (4)(d)1.a."

While these references sound very official, we looked up these statutes. As a very wise President once said, "TRUST BUT VERIFY". The problem with her reply is that the references apply to the private cell phone numbers of the deputies and not the agency issued numbers. But do not take our word for this , please review the Opinion of the Florida Attorney General dated July 17, 2003, Subject: Law Enforcement Officers, cellular telephone numbers. If you still do not believe that the department issued cell phone numbers are not exempt we suggest that you go to various web sites associated with the SCSO and you will discover that deputies have posted cell phone numbers. Or the next time you run into a SCSO Deputy just ask them for their department issued number. The deputies know the law even if the Sheriff does not.

Both of these written responses verify that all three persons violated our public records laws. If the email addresses could be provided seven months later then they should have been produced upon the original request. Even the reply dated May 6, 2011 was mandated upon the original request. Even if the statutes which Christy Peters is attempting to hide behind does not apply.

Our intent in attempting to obtain these public records was to reveal the truth about how persons within the Seminole County Sheriff's Office do not believe that they have to obey our laws. The purpose of our public record laws are to provide the Citizens of Florida with a means by which we can keep an eye on how our Public Servants perform their jobs.

The really great news is that no one has to worry about our State Attorney prosecuting any of these people. So the next time that two or more of you want to violate a State Statute here in Seminole County Florida, at least hire an attorney to go along with you. And we are "sure" that the average citizen, visitor or business owner will be afforded the equal treatment before the law as is being given to our public servants.

We are not attorneys, so we suggest that you get your attorney to put their "legal counsel" in writing. Just to cover your ……..

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
-Edmund Burke