Prison Legal News v. Geo Corporation, Complaint, Public Records. 2005
Download original document:
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
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 8 and