Polk Law Blog

Commentary from Polk County, Florida attorney Kemp Brinson

If you are looking for my law practice, visit brinsonfirm.com

Polk Law Blog is moving on…

I have decided to stop updating Polk Law Blog. Instead, I will start creating content at Polking Around, a new site I have created. My latest post there is “Welcome to Ku Klux Klan Park”, about Polk County’s new parks sponsorship program.

I’ll still write about legal issues from time to time, but on Polking Around I’m giving myself more freedom to write about other things, too.

It’s been a great run, and I have enjoyed this experience immensely. Thanks for reading. I’ll leave this site up as-is indefinitely.


James Goetz Sentencing Postponed – Assisting With Investigation

James Goetz, the one-time Lakeland City Commission candidate, has had his sentencing for federal fraud charges postponed again, this time until September 18, according to court records.

His sentencing hearing has been delayed several times. The reason, according to an affidavit filed in May by his attorney, is because he is actively assisting authorities with another investigation in another federal court district. The case and defendants are not identified in the affidavit.

Mr. Goetz was a candidate for Lakeland City Commission in 2009, who eventually dropped out of the race after concerns surfaced about the legal status of his home. He pleaded guilty to fraud charges in October, 2013, and one of the terms of his plea agreement requires him to cooperate with other investigations.

Vote No on 2 Responds to Marijuana Amendment Analysis

The Vote No on 2 Campaign has responded to my analysis of the the legal “loopholes” they cite in the proposed Constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Give it a read for the other side:

Vote No on 2 Response

Much of their commentary reads as a PR piece that does not address my actual arguments, but they do make a couple of new points that directly address my analysis. They were also helpful in responding to a few follow-up questions I had for them. I will address their counter-arguments in a future post.

I appreciate the Vote No on 2 Campaign for including me in the public dialog in good faith. Part of the goal of this space is to elevate public discussion into the realm of reasoned discourse. I consider it a privilege to be able to host a reasoned opposing viewpoint.

A Legal Review of the Marijuana Amendment

Support for medical marijuana in Florida is overwhelming. Amendment 2, which will be on the ballot in Florida in November, would legalize medical marijuana use in Florida, at least under state law. A 60% “yes” vote is required for passage, and recent public opinion polls range from 57%-88% in favor.

The Florida Sheriff’s Association, of which Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is President, recently launched a campaign called “Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot“, which seeks to influence voters to vote “no” on Amendment 2. (Side note: www.dontletfloridagotopot.com is an unfortunate domain name choice. Someone needs a new marketing consultant.)

A similar effort was funded by St. Petersburg developer Mel Sembler called “Vote No on 2“. (Source: Tampa Bay Times). There is some cross-pollination between the two groups — for example, Sheriff Judd appears in a Vote No on 2 video.

The Amendment is championed by attorney John Morgan and the group he heads up, People United for Medical Marijuana. (Yes, that John Morgan.) His motivations are widely seen to be less about the merits and more about getting liberals to vote in droves in the mid-terms, to give Charlie Crist the best chance against Rick Scott. Regardless, the campaign gets both John Morgan and Grady Judd some press coverage. That’s a win-win if I’ve ever seen one.

I think the opponents of this are pretty scared it’s going to pass. Support for the principle of medical marijuana is high, pun intended, so arguing directly against the idea of medical marijuana is probably a loser. Instead, they are focusing on the legal details of the amendment. They claim it has some serious flaws. Do their claims hold up to legal scrutiny? Read the rest of this entry »

Judge Harlan’s “Retirement” A Lose-Lose


Tenth Circuit Judge Beth Harlan has given up her judicial seat after reaching a deal with the State Attorney’s Office to drop all charges pending against her (The Ledger). She faced charges associated with allegedly helping her judicial assistant falsify time records. In a previous post, I was critical of the State Attorney’s Office for not seeking appointment of a special prosecutor. The charges against the judicial assistant remain pending.

This development raises some troubling concerns. Our system is based in fairness. It should not matter whether someone is an elected official, blue collar trades-person, homemaker, homeless, or a member of the law enforcement community. Justice should be blind to your station in life, or the office you hold. Read the rest of this entry »