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Prison Legal News v. Geo Corporation, Complaint, Public Records. 2005

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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE
FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF
FLORIDA, IN AND FOR PALM BEACH
COUNTY, FLORIDA.
CIVIL DIVISION
CASE NO.

PRISON LEGAL NEWS,
a not-for-profit
Washington Corporation
Plaintiff(s),
vs.
THE GEO GROUP, INC.
Defendant(s).
__________________________/

COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, Prison Legal News (hereinafter “PLN”), sues THE
GEO GROUP, Inc. (hereinafter “GEO”) and alleges:
l.

This is a complaint for temporary and permanent relief

demanding access to public records as defined in F.S. 119.011 (11)
and within the jurisdiction of this court F.S. 119.11.
2.

Plaintiff

Prison

Legal

News

(PLN)

is

a

non-profit,

charitable Washington corporation under IRS Code 501(c)(3) with
its office in Seattle, Washington.

PLN publishes Prison Legal

News, a monthly journal of prison news and analysis.
3.
Legal

Plaintiff is a publisher of a monthly magazine, Prison
News,

and

distributor

of

books

and

other

materials

pertaining

to

legal

affecting prisoners.

rights

of

prisoners

and

the

conditions

Prison Legal News is comprised of writings

from legal scholars, attorneys, inmates and news wire services.
PLN has over 4,600 subscribers in the United States and abroad,
including subscribers in prisons in all 50 states.

Plaintiff has

numerous prisoner subscribers in the Florida state correctional
system,

including

facilities

operated

by

the

Defendant,

GEO.

Subscribers to Prison Legal News also include The Florida State
(legislative) Library,

attorneys, judges, journalists, academics,

and

an

others

magazine.

who

have

interest

in

topics

included

in

the

The purpose of PLN is “to educate prisoners and the

public about the destructive nature of racism, sexism, and the
economic and social costs of prisons to society.”
4.

Defendant, GEO, is a Florida for profit corporation with

its corporate offices located in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County,
Florida.
5.
Florida,

Defendant, GEO, is a contractual party with the State of
Department

of

Corrections,

and

other

governmental

agencies in Florida acting on behalf of the Florida Department of
Corrections and/or the other governmental agencies and subject to
the Public Records Law, F.S. 119.01(1) and 119.011(1).
completely

assumed

the

Department

of

Corrections

GEO has

governmental

obligations to incarcerate and provide rehabilitative services to
duly sentenced felons committed by circuit court judges throughout
the state to the Department of Corrections.

Said obligation is

performed in most other correctional facilities by the Department
2

of Corrections.
6.
the

GEO owns and/or operates, pursuant to a contract with

Department

numerous

of

Corrections

correctional

contract,

GEO

has

or

other

facilities
completely

in

governmental

Florida.

assumed

the

entities,

Through

this

Department

of

Correction’s or other public entities’ governmental obligations
and GEO has been delegated the Department of Corrections or other
public

agencies

incarceration,
health

governmental

rehabilitation,

services

of

detainees

functions

educating,
or

regarding

medical

sentenced

felons

and
at

the
mental

numerous

facilities in Florida and is a public agency as defined in F. S.
119.011 (2).
7.

The Defendant, GEO, is required to produce any public

records requested pursuant to its contract with the Department of
Corrections or other public entities.
8.

PLN,

by

specific

written

requests,

copies

attached

hereto and incorporated by reference as exhibits, have requested
certain public records kept in Palm Beach County, Florida, as
defined in F.S. 119.011(11) from GEO: as set forth below (all
exhibits incorporated herein by reference):
I.

Exhibit "A", letter from PLN to GEO dated April 6,

2005 by certified mail, incorporated herein by reference.
II.
Carrillo,

Exhibit

dated

May

"B",
6,

letter

2005,

to

from
PLN,

GEO's

attorney

incorporated

Louis

herein

by

reference.
III.

Exhibit "C", letter from PLN to GEO’s attorney.
3

Louis

Carrillo,

dated

September

22,

2005,

by

certified

mail

incorporated herein by reference received by GEO on September 26,
2005.
9.

GEO has not stated any exemption to PLN’s public records

request, F.S. 119.07(1)(c).
10.

PLN has retained the undersigned attorney and has agreed

to pay him a reasonable fee and costs.
11.

Time is of the essence for these requests.

12.

The Plaintiff is entitled to accelerated hearings and/or

a trial on all counts pursuant to F.S. 119.11.

COUNT ONE

13.

Paragraphs

1

thru

12

inclusive

are

realleged

by

reference herein.
14.

The initial public records request, Exhibit "A", was

sent to the GEO corporate headquarters, in Palm Beach County,
Florida, by certified mail on April 6, 2005, and received by GEO
on or about April 11, 2005.
15.

GEO

has

responded

to

this

public

records

requests

through counsel by e-mail, see Exhibit “B” on May 6, 2005.
16.
of

public

GEO only provided a public record on a single category
records

PLN

requested.

requests were ignored.
4

The

other

public

records

17.

PLN,

in

an

attempt

to

resolve

this

matter

without

litigation, put its final request for public records request in
the letter, Exhibit "C" sent to the GEO attorney on September 22,
2005.

GEO

has

ignored

this

written,

certified

mail

request,

received by GEO on September 26, 2005.
18.

That it is GEO's duty to produce these public records

immediately upon request is clear.

There is no doubt that GEO is

an agency within the scope of F.S. 119.011 (2) and it is subject
to this public records request.

GEO has no "good faith belief" it

is not subject to this request.
GEO has stonewalled the majority of PLN's public records

19.
requests.
this

The Defendant has made no effort whatsoever to bring

matter

before

the

court

for

a

judicial

determination

regarding this public records request.
20.

GEO has failed to respond to PLN’s written requests for

public records, Exhibits “A” and “C”.
21.

The date given for a reply to the final public records

request was October 22, 2005.

Nothing has been received from GEO,

in response to the requests at the time this suit is filed on
December 2, 2005.
22. The denial of access to the requested public records by
the GEO is illegal, malicious and willful; without basis in law
and it is designed to delay PLN from obtaining the public records
because

they

are

critical

of

the

operations

of

the

prison

facilities operated by GEO, including but not limited to, sexual
harassment

allegations,

disturbances,
5

GEO

staff

on

prisoner

attacks and other injuries, prisoner on prisoner attacks, and
other

altercations,

verdicts,

settlements,

sanctions,

contract

sanctions and penalties and the excessive profits obtained by GEO
as the result of a poorly written contract for the operation of
this facility at the State's (taxpayers') expense.
23.

The contracts for the operation of the DOC’s facilities

and other privatized governmental services as approved by state
agencies

and

encouraged

by

the

Governor

and

the

Florida

Legislature are extremely profitable for the Defendant.

Without

the Defendant's public records, the Plaintiff cannot determine
whether or not the taxpayers and the prisoners at GEO facilities
are receiving a fair return and the services required, based on
the contracts and/or whether the monies are being appropriately
allocated for the prisoners’ services needed.
24.

The

requested

records

would

allow

PLN,

other

media

entities, circuit judges, defense attorneys, incarcerated persons,
their families and citizens of Florida access to information on
the operations and profits of GEO.
the

people

comments,

of

the

State

suggestions

and

of

The access would allow PLN and

Florida

arguments

to

prepare

for

the

their

changes

public
in

the

operation, contractual provisions and/or the contractor for the
operations of correctional facilities by GEO.
25.

Any delay or precondition prior to the production of

public records is illegal.
26.

The denial of access to the requested public records by

GEO is illegal, malicious and willful; without basis in law and it
6

is designed to prevent PLN from reviewing the original records
because they are critical of the GEO operations.

Access to the

original requested public records would allow PLN, the public,
circuit judges, attorneys, other media entities and citizens of
Florida

access

to

information

on

the

operations

of

the

GEO

facilities paid for by the taxpayers of Florida.
27.

Access to the public records requested would allow PLN

and the people of the State of Florida to prepare their public
comments,

suggestions

operation

and/or

the

and

arguments

contractor

for

for
the

the

changes

operation

of

in

the

the

GEO

facilities with the Department of Corrections and other Florida
governmental entities.

RELIEF

28.

The Plaintiff in this count is entitled to the following

relief:
A.

An order advancing this case on the docket and/or

the issuance of a rule to show cause to require the Defendant to
produce the records.
B.

Temporary

and

permanent

relief

as

deemed

appropriate by the Court including a final judgment in favor of
the

Plaintiff

requiring

the

production

of

the

that

the

public

records

sought by the Plaintiff.
C.

A

finding

by

Court

GEO

and/or

their

employees have unlawfully, maliciously, willfully and knowingly
7

violated the Public Records Law.
D.

A finding by the court that the Plaintiff and/or

its representatives can review the GEO records where they are
normally kept or in an electronic format, pursuant to the Public
Records Law.
E.

An

order

awarding

the

Plaintiff

costs

attorney's fees, F. S. 119.12.
F.

Any other relief the Court deems proper.

FRANK A. KREIDLER, ESQUIRE
Attorney for Prison Legal News
1124 South Federal Highway
Lake Worth, Florida 33460
Telephone: (561) 586-6226
FAX No: (561) 585-0795
FLORIDA BAR NO. 163092

F:\F\CI_A\Prison Legal News\COMPLAINT
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