Moran Touting Judicial Inquests; but Other Officials Balk, Saying Current Process Works Fine on Its Own

By Bauerlein, David | The Florida Times Union, March 16, 2011 | Go to article overview

Moran Touting Judicial Inquests; but Other Officials Balk, Saying Current Process Works Fine on Its Own


Bauerlein, David, The Florida Times Union


Byline: DAVID BAUERLEIN

Jacksonville mayoral candidate Audrey Moran says the return of judicial inquests for police shootings would help restore trust between police and the community by presenting the evidence in a public courtroom.

But State Attorney Angela Corey and the head of the police union say the current system works well and doesn't need changes.

Moran said as mayor, she would ask Corey to use judicial inquests in which a judge hears evidence in open court and determines whether a police officer was justified in using deadly force. Moran said those judicial inquests were useful when she was a prosecutor for State Attorney Ed Austin from 1986 to 1991.

"Unfortunately, with crime and with living in a very large city, there will be police shootings and many times those police shootings result in distrust and anger and concern in the community," Moran said. "I believe a judicial inquest process where every police shooting is vetted in open court before a judge, just to get the facts before the public, is a great way to show that trust."

But Corey said there is no reason to alter the process "when in point of fact it can be done thoroughly and comprehensively" with the system in place. Prosecutors review the evidence and decide if there are grounds for filing criminal charges. Corey said after the decision is reached, the records of the investigation become public for anyone who wants to examine the evidence.

"I think all of us who have been prosecutors long-term and have a detailed understanding of Florida statutes agree with the process as it currently exists," Corey said.

Nelson Cuba, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Jacksonville, said he would oppose judicial inquests. He said police enjoy widespread support from Jacksonville's residents, so judicial inquests would not address an actual problem.

"There isn't a loss of trust," he said. "That's her [Moran's] opinion."

He said he has "full faith and trust in our current state attorney that she will do the right thing, and I think Angela's record is strong." He added he felt the same way about former State Attorney Harry Shorstein, who served before Corey and didn't use judicial inquests. …

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