This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
If there are questions or concerns with the content please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Haynie: Returning to the Office of Mayor?
Is there a chance she’s coming back, a possibility she’ll be Mayor again???
You bet there is!!!….Not only a possibility but one with a ‘fair’ degree of probability!!!
Criminal Justice is so much more complex than the television images of a Perry Mason drama or the sound bite complexities of a Law and Order episode….
In a criminal matter, the accused enjoys the presumption of innocence until the State proves guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. The ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard is applied when the accused chooses to participate in a trial on the facts of the case and the law applicable to those facts. Court records for Ms. Haynie’s trial has assigned Case # 50-2018-CF-0038755-AXXX-MB.
The case is now positioned to move forward in two ways:
- Trial by Jury by one’s peers to a verdict of guilty or not guilty; or,
- Trial without a jury of one’s peers with the presiding judge acting as the trier of fact and the arbitrator of applicable law.
So far, there is no indication which of these two methods Ms. Haynie will elect as her strategy of choice. However, since her arrest date of April 24, 2018, there are some indications as to what may be a strategy to achieve the ‘no felony conviction’ outcome needed either at trial or by plea.
This possible scenario has Defendant Haynie preserving her right to a ‘speedy trial’. ‘Speedy Trial’ guarantees the accused, Ms. Haynie, to a trial within 175 days of the arrest unless she specifically waives this right. Without such a waiver, Defendant Haynie’s trial must begin within the time frame or risk discharge.
As noted above, the arrest date was April 24th. To date, Court records do not show any waiver of Speedy Trial. However, there are three items of significance contained in the case file;
- A Notice of Appearance by Criminal Defense Attorney Leonard Feuer;
- A Notice of Arraignment, the first in-court appearance for Ms. Haynie, scheduled for May 24th at 8:30 A.M. in Palm Beach County Courtroom 11F with Judge Glenn Kelley presiding.
- A Notice of Discovery filed by Attorney Feuer on April 26th which ‘requests’ the State of Florida disclose to the defense all the evidence the prosecuting attorney may be presenting at trial. Such ‘request’ is to be fulfilled within 15 days of receipt; in this case by May 11th, 2018
As stated, there is no ‘waiver of speedy trial’ which suggests that the prosecuting attorney, right now, is under the obligation to be ready for trial on or before mid-October 2018; 175 days from the arrest unless a demand for trial is made by the defense.
Not waiving speedy trial provides the defense with a distinct advantage in a criminal case and is a tactic employed to rush the State’s trial preparation or, in the alternative, negotiate a plea with the State acceptable to the defense and to the Judge.
In most cases, defendants waive speedy trial to prolong the process to find other viable outcomes. In this case, it is to Ms. Haynie’s advantage to not waive speedy trial if her objective is to go to trial and win by acquittal. Until and unless Ms. Haynie waives speedy trial, she maintains advantage over the prosecuting attorney; generally an attorney with several other serious felony trials active at any given time.
So what should we, the public, be looking for?
At her May 24th hearing, Ms. Haynie will be required to enter a plea; to wit: guilty or not guilty. Most likely, she will plead ‘not guilty’ and since the demand for discovery has already been received by the State, the defense will be fully aware of the current evidence and the witness list expected to be presented at trial.
From then on, without the waiver, both the state and defense will proceed in the discovery process; including but not limited to taking depositions, preforming accounting reviews, preparing expert witnesses, filing pre–trial motions, as well as other available tactical maneuvers. All this activity having to be completed before the time line expires.
This is the ‘chess game’ that may be played out by the defense with their opening gambit to push for the jury trial but with a fall back posture of offering to plead guilty to a deal that drops all felony charges for a plea of guilty to one or more of the charged misdemeanors. Such a negotiated plea may perhaps be justified because the State might not be fully prepared to try the case and rather than risk losing at trial, take a sure plea bargain preserving the conviction ratios that State Attorneys are often heard too cite.
To justify such a plea deal, the State could conclude that proving the felony charges ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ is in doubt.
Here is where the layperson’s skepticism of the system may be justified. For instance, according to the arrest affidavit (see attached), Ms. Haynie, amongst other items, is charged with one count of perjury, lying to an investigating officer while under oath; a charge that seems open and shut to the lay person. However, often times, trials are not about truth, but rather about truths allowed into the proceeding through the prism of Florida’s Rules of Evidence and the attorneys’ pre-trial motions argued to the judge with the objective of limiting or excluding information from being heard by the trier of fact.
My opinion is that such a ‘no felony conviction’ outcome is not only possible but may actually have a fair degree of probability given the high profile nature of the political players involved; the aggressive defense tactic of not waiving speedy trial; and, the close relationships amongst the individuals involved in this case.
BocaWatch will follow this criminal proceeding closely and bring to your attention the manipulations and maneuvers employed by both sides in this criminal matter.
Note the timeline…
The special election for Mayor is scheduled for August 28th. Deputy Mayor Singer will have filed his notice of intent to run for the Mayor seat. He will also have filed the ‘resign to run’ statement required by Florida law for City Council Seat A; a seat Mr. Singer won in the March 2017 election. With these filings, the City Charter will require a special election to fill the Council vacancy.
After declaring himself “Mayor”, not merely the Acting Mayor; after an unnecessary ‘swearing in’ ceremony on May 7th instead of simply ascending to the seat by virtue of the Mayor’s suspension; after running a vigorous campaign and assuming victory; after taking the office with the expectation of filling the seat for the remainder of the Haynie’s current term (March 2020); Scott Singer may have once again outsmarted himself…
Mayor Haynie may be found not guilty in a trial or she may plead to one or more misdemeanors without any felony conviction. Given either of those scenarios, Mayor Haynie’s suspension will be lifted; she would return to office and Acting Mayor Scott Singer would be required to step down.
But….step down to what???
The Council A seat’s vacancy will have been filled, preventing Mr. Singer from returning to the Council; he would actually step down to becoming a resident without a public office; an eventuality that is more than possible but actually with a fair degree of probability; an interesting outcome considering that Scott Singer has never actually demonstrated himself to be a risk taker, a gambler with his political ambitions and future.
Stay tuned; stay informed….
Please always remember,
Your vote is your voice; let your voice be heard at the ballot box in August….
REFERENCE: the Susan Haynie Arrest Affidavit.