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Meeting Between Corey And Pastors Ended Before It Began

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Rhema Thompson
/
WJCT

It was supposed to be a meeting between the State Attorney Angela Corey and members of the Jacksonville Clergy to address the county’s civil citation track record. But it didn’t last for long.

“We had a meeting scheduled for today at 2 o’clock,” Corey said Tuesday afternoon. “And we fully intended to answer questions.”

But the brief exchange between Corey and members of the Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment—or ICARE—outside the Duval County Courthouse Annex that afternoon did not leave much time for questions or answers.
 
At issue was a press release sent out by ICARE earlier this week. The release states that Jacksonville Clergy planned to assemble at Duval County Courthouse Annex to ask Corey about her stance on civil citations.

Civil citations are used as an alternative to arrests for youth who commit first-time, non-violent misdemeanors.

Citing a statistic from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, ICARE’s press release stated that only 31 percent of eligible Duval County youth receive civil citations.

According to state department numbers, about 34 percent of eligible youth received the citations statewide between March 2013 and February 2014.

Earlier this month, the Jacksonville City Council introduced a resolution calling for the increased use of civil citations for misdemeanors. Council members pointed out that Miami-Dade County by comparison uses citations in 86 percent of cases. The resolution is expected to go before the full council next week.

Thursday surrounded by press, Corey said she was under the impression she was at the annex to address other issues—not civil citation. However, she did not specify the other items she'd planned to discuss.

She also took issue with the statistics being cited.

“Thirty-one percent are being diverted,” ICARE Co-President Kent Dorsey stated at one point.

“No sir, that’s not what that says,” Corey replied. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry you think that’s what it says. It says that they’re issued a civil citation. It doesn’t cover notices to appear. It doesn’t cover at-large diversion. It doesn’t cover arrests that are then diverted.”

Dorsey questioned Corey about the youth who did not receive citations.

“If 31 percent are receiving (citations) what about the other 69 percent?” he asked.

“Well, those 69 percent, could be for various reasons,” Corey said. “(If) a victim doesn’t agree—also their eligibility requirements may cover batteries which we’re not going to do because of our constitutional obligation.”

In a letter to council members last week, Corey said her office did not support citations being used for battery misdemeanors because of the rights of the victims involved.   

“A victim has the right to consult with the State Attorney’s Office prior to our decision on whether to file or divert charges against a suspect, receive restitution, or seek any other proper remedy,” the letter states.

“Crimes involving victims should always be reviewed by prosecutors before being automatically diverted with a civil citation.”

Corey and the clergymen met for about ten minutes Thursday before parting ways.

ICARE members said part of the purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to invite Corey to attend the ICARE Nehemiah Assembly next Monday, which expects to see about 3,000 people in attendance. The group said they would like Corey, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford and Chief Judge Donald Moran to attend.

Corey attended the assembly last year, but she indicated she does not plan to attend this year.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.