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The Courts IT Politics

Whistleblowing IT Director Fired By FL State Attorney 569

An anonymous reader writes "Ben Kruidbos, the IT director for the Florida State Attorney's Office who'd spoken up when important cellphone evidence he'd extracted from Trayvon Martin's cellphone was withheld by the state from the defense, was fired by messenger at 7:30 PM Friday, after closing arguments in the Zimmerman case. He was told that he could not be 'trusted to set foot in this office,' and that he was being fired for incompetence. Kruidbos had received a merit pay raise earlier this year. The firing letter also blames him for consulting a lawyer, an obvious sign of evil."
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Whistleblowing IT Director Fired By FL State Attorney

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  • Do good ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fewnorms ( 630720 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:16PM (#44272179)
    ... get fired. I see a trend here.
    • Re: Do good ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jythie ( 914043 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @08:58PM (#44272713)
      Pretty much. Employers generally do not trust people who question them doing something illegal or unethical. Loyalty is prised over all, at least going up. Loyalty going down is communism.
  • So sue 'em. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:17PM (#44272189) Homepage Journal

    Hope he does. it's obviously not incompetence and blaming for seeking legal advice is just stupid to use as reasoning for incompetence.

    "that if they feel like there is wrongdoing,” they should not disclose it or seek legal guidance from a private attorney.
    “If they do speak to an attorney, then they are dead,” he said. “The State Attorney’s Office will do whatever is necessary to not only terminate them, but destroy their reputations in the process.”

    coming from state attorneys office that's actually pretty funny. saying it like that covers also seeking advice on illegal working conditions and what have you..

    • Re:So sue 'em. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:57PM (#44272419)

      I hope he does sue, and that he wins. It may be an uphill battle though. Prosecutors have tremendous discretion in how they conduct cases, and enormous protection under the law, although it looks to me like this is well over the line. Besides suing, he should consider bringing a complaint before the Bar. Not turning over possible exculpatory evidence would seem to be an ethics violation.

      I can't say this is surprising though since the prosecution appears to be motivated more my politics than the actual legal situation.

      In Audio Recording, Department of Justice Official Urges Protesters to Seek ‘Justice’ for Trayvon Martin []
      Branco Cartoon – Fanning the Flames []
      Racial politics supported by State power come down on George Zimmerman []

      • Re:So sue 'em. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @08:16PM (#44272511) Journal

        Besides suing, he should consider bringing a complaint before the Bar. Not turning over possible exculpatory evidence would seem to be an ethics violation.

        Close. The ethics violation is a relatively minor issue.

        Yes it is an ethics violation, but more importantly it is also a violation of both the US Constitution and the Florida State Constitution.

        It is an unfortunate trend, but prosecutors and police across the country have been facing ever-increasing claims of withholding evidence. Really, the defense should be given access to all information.

        Even in this case there was a tussle about the evidence being actually withheld, and the judge agreed that they withheld it and demanded everything be handed over ... but no penalty was given to the state for their violation.

        Sadly violations are usually discounted as being accidental oversights and punishments against prosecutors are non-existent. It ought to result in immediate disbarment of the lawyers involved since the violation fundamentally destroys justice, but there is no incentive for the "good old boys" club to change.

        • Re:So sue 'em. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @09:43PM (#44272939)

          "It ought to result in immediate disbarment of the lawyers involved since the violation fundamentally destroys justice"


          My view is that it should be "an eye for an eye". In other words, people caught deliberately corrupting justice, by testifying falsely, or withholding evidence, etc. are putting others in danger of anywhere from jail to even the death penalty. So... the punishment for doing so should be exactly the same punishment faced by the defendant.

          When a policeman on the witness stand could face life in prison unless they tell it straight... watch them start telling it straight.

          I think that would be an excellent solution to this problem. Ethical and just. People who deliberately put others in jeopardy should face exactly the same jeopardy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The main issue is that the Prosecution withheld material information from the defense, denying the accused a "Fair Trial" which means they now have legitimate grounds to apeal and overturn any conviction made. In fact, if the evidence that the prosecution failed to provide to the defense shows a clear case of innocence, the prosecution can be sanctioned by the court for failing to abide. Keep in mind that judges do not like their time wasted by some witch hunt and if that is the case, the prosecution is goi

    • Re:So sue 'em. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chewbacon ( 797801 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @08:10PM (#44272473)
      Florida is a Right to Fire... erm, Hire state. I always confuse the two words because whenever I hear the phrase, it's always used in the context of firing people. Anyway, incompetence is a Florida-based employer's way of firing you simply because they don't like you. If you don't cross enough T's and dot enough I's it is grounds for incompetence.
    • by b4upoo ( 166390 )

      Florida governor Rick Scot is a nightmare from the right wing. He had no business ordering a trial or arrest of Mr. Zimmerman. The county sheriff refused to arrest Mr. Zimmerman as it was clear that no crime had taken place. The county prosecutor had no interest in causing an arrest of an innocent man. The sheriff was fired and the governor assigned a special prosecutor. A criminal investigation is already under way and there is a serious violation of Mr. Zimmerman's civil liberties. Governor Scot belongs

  • Loud and clear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:18PM (#44272195)
    The US government is sending a message: "We don't like whistle-blowers".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:19PM (#44272201)

    It sounds like the Florida State Attorney's Office has some s'plainin' to do. Withholding evidence from the defense is really, super unethical; I wouldn't be surprised if you could be disbarred for it. This is a highly politicized case, and it's not surprising that the state really wants to win it to save face, but really guys? Doing that kind of shit under the color of public authority is fucked up. Like Nifong (see Duke lacrosse) fucked up..

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Also firing someone for whistleblowing is against whistleblowing laws.
    • by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:41PM (#44272323)

      A Brady violation is a big, big deal. And it's usually NOT a good idea to piss off the guy who has proof of wrongdoing - they just ensured that he will be a quite eager witness at their disbarrment proceedings.

    • by tmorehen ( 2731547 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:49PM (#44272369)
      There was no evidence withheld from the defence: The raw data file had already been given to the defence. The IT fellow's analysis was prosecution work product, nothing more. As well, the pictures and text he found were irrelevant to the case: the girl and the gun were not at the scene nor did Martin have any marijuana on him. As well, Kruidbos had an obligation to keep information about the cases he works on confidential, particularly since he didn't raise any concerns with anyone else in the office. Consulting with a lawyer is probably ok, but not when that lawyer is a disgruntled former employee who breaks privilege by running off to the defence.
      • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @09:25PM (#44272867) Homepage

        So when it comes down to it, the case against Zimmerman hinges in no small way on intent. To show intent, they bring out character issues. Okay. I get that. So what about the defense's right to defend their case? The defense's case hinges in non small way on Zimmerman being attacked by a violent person. To prove that case, the character of the assailant is relevant evidence. At every turn, however, the evidence of character of the assailant has been blocked. It is EXTREMELY important and denies Zimmerman a fair trial when his defense case is self-defense. How can anyone prove it if they can't easily show that he was being attacked by a violent person? Lots of evidence shows that, but it wasn't allowed. Why?

        Obligation to keep it confidential? When a miscarriage of justice is being perpetrated, it is a citizen's duty to report it. And suppression of evidence is a serious crime. The government is not "priviledged." If you think so, it's a problem. And there is no indication he gave evidence to anyone. It would seem he only reported that it exists.

        Additionally, evidence of being a drug user was certainly important. 1. It was in his system. 2. He was not carrying "Iced Tea" he was carrying two ingredients for making "Lean." That's huge. Once again, proving the character of the assailant is key to the defense's case. It's the nation's legal responsibility that all charged receive a fair trial.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @08:38PM (#44272635) Journal

      It's worth knowing that the "evidence" is comprised of the personal photographs of the victim of the crime:

      described some contents of his report such as a photo of an African-American hand holding a gun, a photo of a plant resembling marijuana and a text message referring to a gun transaction.

      Are you saying that someone holding a gun is "evidence" even though there was no gun belonging to Trayvon Martin found at the scene? Or is the fact that he's a young black man holding a gun prima facie evidence that Trayvon must have really been a thug so he deserved to be killed for walking down the street with an iced tea and pack of Skittles? And, "a text message referring to a gun transaction"? Again, what would any of this have to do with the fact that George Zimmerman shot an unarmed person?

      What exactly is any of this "evidence" of? What are you trying to say, son?

      • I will say that photographs of a kid holding a gun and text messages telling him to not get into any more fights is evidence that it is not just some kid with a pack of skittles.

        The prosecution was trying to present this as if Trayvon was some innocent 5 year old with a box of candy who was gunned down by a racist while minding his own business. The complete picture is that this kid was 17, more then capable of fighting, more then capable of putting Zimmerman in a position in which he feared gross bodily ha

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:25PM (#44272223)

    Seriously, I think the state had a pretty good manslaughter case against Zimmerman, but with all the antics they've been pulling, they are just asking to get an acquittal or an overturn on appeal. You can't go and give a guy a good performance eval and a raise, and then suddenly fire him and claim that he's a bad employee when he reveals that you may have been messing with evidence.

    The worst part? Sounds like the evidence wasn't really relevant.

    I hope this guys successfully sues these idiots.

    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:35PM (#44272289) Homepage

      they are just asking to get an acquittal or an overturn on appeal

      What would be really disconcerting: What if they're trying to screw up the case? I mean, they weren't exactly enthusiastic about even arresting or trying Zimmerman in the first place.

    • by causality ( 777677 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:51PM (#44272377)

      Seriously, I think the state had a pretty good manslaughter case against Zimmerman

      While I think Zimmerman should have stopped following Martin once the police were contacted, following someone on a public street is not actually illegal in any way in Florida. Legally Zimmerman didn't do anything wrong there. Then he was promptly jumped and attacked by Martin. Had Martin used his fists alone I would absolutely want to see Zimmerman punished, but Martin didn't stop there. Martin was slamming Zimmerman's head into the pavement, something that can cause death or permanent disabling injury. He was, in effect, using the concrete as a deadly bludgeoning weapon. Zimmerman wouldn't have had a chance to try to flee considering he was on the ground getting pounded. That lead to Martin being shot. Correct me if I have any of that wrong (not liking it doesn't make it false...).

      I think it's a damned shame that Martin got himself killed at such a young age. If it were up to me there would have been no conflict, or the mere sight of a gun would have scared him off and it would have ended there, but let's be clear about this: if you want to violently attack a stranger who has not initiated violence against you, you are taking a risk. It's a poor choice to make and all the sadness in the world about what happened doesn't suddenly make this a wise move.

      Punishing Zimmerman doesn't change this reality, but it might make others who get attacked choose victimhood because they are afraid of the legal consequences of defending themselves. We already have states where homeowners hesitate to shoot a home invader because they might get in serious trouble, and all this does is lower the risk of burglarizing the law-abiding which in turn can only make burglers more bold. If being a violent criminal is a great way to remove oneself from the gene pool, I am absolutely fine with that. I have no sympathy for those who initiate violence. They live by the sword and sometimes they die by the sword. That's their choice. They are not victims. I reserve my sympathy for victims.

      The worst part? Sounds like the evidence wasn't really relevant.

      What is the value of refusing to let the jury hear this evidence? If it is truly irrelevant then it shouldn't influence their decision anyway. What damage could be done that the judge was trying to prevent by disallowing it?

      Incidentally it certainly can't be worse than the photos shown of Martin when he was twelve years old, an obvious attempt to make him look as helpless and childish as possible to further demonize Zimmerman rather than showing him as he actually was, big enough and strong enough to do some damage to another man and old enough to know better. When people have to resort to these kinds of emotional appeals and outright distortion and propaganda tactics to make their case, I have to assume it is because the facts are against them.

      • Zimmerman followed because the operator was asking specific questions about the person he was calling in about. He stopped following when told. What did he do wrong exactly?

    • by VinylRecords ( 1292374 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:53PM (#44272393)

      [i]The worst part? Sounds like the evidence wasn't really relevant.[/i]

      I watched the coverage gavel to gavel of the Zimmerman trial. What was on Trayvon Martin's phone is maybe the most damaging information of all to the State's case. It is incredibly damaging to Trayvon Martin and his family and introduces criminal findings against them.

      The State withheld evidence that Trayvon Martin was dealing and using drugs, dealing illegal firearms, and was in possession of an illegal firearm. And that Trayvon Martin was into fighting and beating people up and had punched someone in the nose earlier that month. And that he had assaulted a public bus driver and the police showed up but the driver was told to continue his route and not press charges.

      There is also significantly strong evidence that Trayvon Martin's father was working with his son to acquire illegal weapons and that his father's nickname 'Fruit' was used amongst organized gang circles. There are texts that mention buying and selling pistols. And even a photo of Trayvon holding an illegal pistol. The photo is all over the internet and is not hard to find. The State withheld all of this and forced the defending attorneys to run around in circles to obtain the phone data.

      The judge also ruled that none of the phone data on Trayvon Martin's phone was admissible. Why? Because there was no hard proof that Trayvon was actually the one operating the phone when those messages were sent and received. And that "anyone could have been operating Trayvon's phone at any time". The phone was DOUBLE password protected and took the State an entire year to crack. But the State said in court that even a "seven-year-old child could have cracked the phone and sent those messages". The judge agreed.

      This case is disgusting. It is clear from top to bottom that it was rigged. When you have even the President of the United States deliberately poisoning the jury pool by commenting on the situation without knowing any discovery evidence years before a trial begins it is unreal. The State of Florida is out of control. This entire affair was a political theater event designed to win some elections.

      • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @08:19PM (#44272521)
        But, wasn't, like, unarmed kid shot and killed ?
      • I don't really understand what you're trying to say. Even if the guy was the antichrist and his favorite hobby was raping babies, how does it change the facts?

        There was an overzealous "watch" guy stalking an unarmed man coming back from the store. At no point did the victim ever do anything that warranted harassment or stalking. Zimmerman is the one who initiated the confrontation, the one who caused it and the one bearing full responsibility for the events that followed.

        The fact that the victim might have

  • by arthurh3535 ( 447288 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:27PM (#44272243)

    Oh, look. They want to pay him and his attorneys a lot of money! Great 'retirement' option!


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:40PM (#44272315)

    Obama hired Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon so he wouldn't have to pay child support.

    Trayvon didn't just "look like" his son...

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @07:47PM (#44272353)
    Is nothing more than a dog and pony show to convict Zimmerman. I don't care either way what the verdict is - but lets call a spade a spade. The political push to prosecute him from the President down doesn't surprise me that the state was hiding evidence to support their case.
  • You knuckleheads couldn't resist, could you? Perfectly good discussion of "when do you, as an IT person, have a moral and possibly legal obligation to intercede when unethical shenanigans goes on with your area of expertise," and you turn it the Twitter feed on Nancy Grace about an unremarkable trial in some shithole in Florida.

    I remember when /. wasn't /b/

    They should have never let you AOLusers on the real internet, just kept you in the box pink dialup sandbox.

  • Show Trial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damicatz ( 711271 ) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @09:45PM (#44272949)

    The Zimmerman trial has been nothing short of a farce from the get go. It is reminiscent of Soviet-era show trials because the race baiters have turned this into a witch-hunt.

    1.The original probable cause affidavit was so riddled with mistakes and inaccuracies that even a 1L (first year law student) wouldn't make such a mistake. To put speculations in an affidavit and then to swear, under of penalty of perjury, that they are facts is perpetrating fraud upon the court. Affidavits are not places where you speculate or state what your gut feeling is or what you think might have happened. It is a place to state facts. In addition, deliberately omitting evidence from the affidavit that is exculpatory in nature is unethical. Even Alan Dershowitz, who is about as left as you can get, blasted their handiwork.

    2.The media has been doing their damnedest to make this about race. Every thing from inventing new terms, like white hispanic, to altering Zimmerman's photo to make him appear whiter and only showing pictures of Trayvon Martin when he was much younger to make him appear more angelic and innocent. In addition, they have been working tirelessly to plant the idea of having riots into peoples minds by continuously bringing it up.

    3.The prosecution's entire side was a joke. I mean, Rachel Jeantel changed her story so many times that you would need an entire notebook to keep track of all of them. It was also painfully obvious that she had been coached by the prosecution. The other "witnesses" weren't much better.

    4.There is no evidence for murder and the prosecution knows it. Even if the jury convicts (most likely, out of fear for their life or just plain idiocy since jurors are picked based on their emotional susceptibility rather than their intelligence), it will be overturned so fast on appeal that they won't even know what hit them. The case for manslaughter isn't much better and introducing that AFTER the defense has rested is highly unethical on the part of both the judge and the prosecution.

    5.Speaking of the judge, she is a life long democrat and has demonstrated very clear evidence of bias. When George Zimmerman refused to testify, she disparaged and criticized him. A defendant has the right not to testify and it is highly unethical for a judge to browbeat a defendant for that because you are not allowed to make a negative inference from an exercise of the 5th amendment.

    6.Now we get evidence that the prosecution is, once again, withholding exculpatory evidence. To go after the whistleblower, who blew the whistle on their unethical and illegal activities, just demonstrates how truly execrable the prosecution is.

    Regardless of what you think of George Zimmerman, regardless of what you think of Trayvon Martin, regardless of who you think is to blame, regardless of whether you think George Zimmerman was racist, you should not be supporting such a mockery of justice. Everyone accused of a crime deserves their change to have a proper, fair, and just trial. This is nothing of the sort; it is a show trial and a political witch hunt.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger