A Florida court has sentenced civil rights activist Nancy Jo Grant to 15 years probation, with no possibility of early termination, for practicing law without a license. Grant, 55, was also ordered to pay $30,315 in court fines by December 30, 2007, or her driver?s license will be suspended until the fines are paid in full.
A dental assistant who has no formal, training, Grant decided during a visit to her son in the DeSoto County Jail that some prisoners were not receiving proper legal representation. Grant formed the Florida Pro Se Bar Inc. to tackle the problem. That non-profit corporation presumably had the purpose to inform prisoners of their rights and to encourage pro se litigation.
Grant claimed many prisoners had been incarcerated without a hearing or a trial. She began ?preaching? to prisoners that their speedy trial rights were ignored and their constitutional rights violated. Grant began distributing an ?emergency motion for release? prepared by her paralegal friend, telling prisoners how to fill out the form and file it.
The 29 counts of unlicensed practice of law were predicated on Grant?s encouragement that prisoners fire their lawyers, either retained or public defender, because they were rendering ineffective assistance of counsel. Because she donated her time and resources, Grant claimed at trial, acting pro se, that she did nothing wrong.
In furtherance of her defense, Grant said she was not giving legal advice, she was only typing and performing ?courier services? to act as a conduit to transmit legal papers from the jail to the court and to ?share information.? The jury thought otherwise, convicting Grant on 19 of the 29 charges. As part of her sentence, Grant was ordered to not communicate directly or indirectly with any person incarcerated in a jail or prison or the Florida Civil Commitment Center.
An appeal is planned by Grant. ?This is going to blow up in their faces,? said Grant, who feels the prosecution lost. ?He lost because I didn?t go to jail?they sentenced me to 15 years probation and fined me $30,000. That?s a buncha money.?
Prior to visiting her son in jail, Grant already had an activist bent towards the judicial system. She is the ?Jailer-In-Chief? of Florida JAIL4Judges, an activist group that seeks to act as a Grand Jury, indict judges, and take them to trial if their rulings are undesirable. Because Grant used Florida Pro Se Bar Association to practice law without a license, the judge ordered her to sever all ties and communication with the corporation.
The question now is will Grant comply with probation to avoid jail or will an indictment and trial issue first that would allow her to jail, under supervision, the trial judge that sentenced her?
Sources: Charlotte Sun; The North Country Gazette
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login