STATE OF FLORIDA
COMMISSION ON ETHICS
In re FRED PEEL, )
Respondent. ) Complaint No. 91-42
) Final Order No. COE 92-14
FINAL ORDER AND PUBLIC REPORT
This matter came before the Commission on Ethics on the Recommended Order rendered in this matter on May 19, 1992, by the Division of Administrative Hearings (a copy of which is attached and incorporated by reference). While the Commission Advocate's exception to the Conclusions of Law was timely filed, the Respondent's exceptions were not filed with the Commission until July 16, 1992 and no transcript of the hearing was filed. At the hearing of this matter before the Commission, the Respondent moved to withdraw his exceptions from consideration by the Commission. Respondent's motion was granted. The Hearing Officer's Recommended Order recommends that the Commission find that Respondent, as Sheriff of Washington County, did not violate Section 112.313(6), Florida Statutes: (1) by failing to have a complaint review procedure in place in his office as required by Section 112.533(1), Florida Statutes; (2) by attempting to intimidate Mr. Hinson into leaving the Washington County Sheriff's offices without receiving a copy of his arrest report; and (3) by attempting to charge $5.00 for a copy of the arrest report.
The Commission's Advocate excepts to the language contained in the Hearing Officer's Conclusions of Law at page 21 of the Recommended Order and urges that it be amended to read as follows:
The evidence also failed
to prove that Sheriff Peel's actions in response to Mr. Hinson's request to
file a complaint against him were done "corruptly" or with any intent
to avoid Mr. Hinson's complaint. At
worst, the evidence proved that Sheriff Peel lost his patience with Mr.
Hinson. by the time that Mr. Hinson
indicated that he wanted to file a complaint, both men had lost their tempers
and neither man would "back down."
It is possible for the corrupt intent required by the statute to be
formed instantaneously, and a premeditated plan for securing a special benefit
is not required by the statute. Even a
reflexive reaction may rise to the level of corrupt intent, depending on the
circumstances. However, the
circumstances of this case indicates that Sheriff Peel's response was not taken
with an intent to secure a calculated benefit.
If anything, Sheriff Peel's response was a reflex reaction,
not one taken with any intent to secure any calculated benefit. His response was not made with any wrongful
intent. The evidence did not prove that
Sheriff Peel's response was intended to provide "the emotional
satisfaction of demonstrating that the Sheriff could not be challenged on his
The Commission Advocate argues that the Hearing Officer's language suggests wrongly that actions taken on the spur of the moment or reflexively are incapable of being supported by the corrupt intent required by the Section 112.313(6), Florida Statutes. The Advocate argues further that Section 112.313(6) requires intent, not premeditation, and such intent can be formed on the spur of the moment. While Sheriff Peel may not have had the requisite corrupt intent, as found by the Hearing Officer, a case could exist where a respondent forms the requisite intent instantaneously, the Advocate argues. We find that the Advocates argument is well taken and we adopt the Hearing Officer's conclusions of law as modified with the Advocate's suggested language. Respondent is not opposed to the Advocate's exception.
Having reviewed the Recommended Order and the Advocate's Exceptions to the Hearing Officer's Recommended Order, the Commission hereby approves and adopts the findings of fact, the conclusions of law as modified, and the Hearing Officer's recommendation to the Commission that it dismiss the complaint. Accordingly, the Commission on Ethics finds that the Respondent, Fred Peel, as Sheriff of Washington County, did not violate Section 112.313(6), Florida Statutes, as alleged in the complaint, and hereby dismisses this complaint with the issuance of this Final Order and Public Report.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on Friday, July 17, 1992.
July 22, 1992
Stephen N. Zack
YOU ARE NOTIFIED THAT YOU ARE ENTITLED, PURSUANT TO SECTION 120.68, FLORIDA STATUTES, TO JUDICIAL REVIEW OF AN ORDER WHICH ADVERSELY AFFECTS YOU. REVIEW PROCEEDINGS ARE COMMENCED BY FILING A NOTICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL WITH THE APPROPRIATE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL, AND ARE CONDUCTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FLORIDA RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE. THE NOTICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL MUST BE FILED WITHIN 30 DAYS OF RENDITION OF THE ORDER TO BE REVIEWED.
cc: Mr. William E. Powers, Jr., Attorney for Respondent
Ms. Virlindia Doss, Commission Advocate
Mr. Timothy Hinson, Complainant