Two of the three nominees to be South Florida’s next U.S. Attorney have violated a basic tenet of court administration by acting to hide court records from the public.
In 2002, U.S. Attorney nominee Daryl Trawick, a Miami-Dade Court Judge, instructed the clerk’s office to alter the public docket in a criminal case against defendant Salim Batrony. A secret docket was maintained to allow Trawick to track what was actually happening in the case.
What the public saw in Batrony’s case were 10 phony docket entries that made it appear the felony drug money laun-dering charges against him had been dropped. In actuality, Batrony had pleaded guilty to the charges and was secretly cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Committee (JQC) found no evidence of wrongdoing, but by the time the JQC investi-gated the phony docket, the false entries had been deleted from the public record. The JQC never asked to view the fake entries on the non-public side of the electronic docket maintained by the clerk’s office.
U.S. Attorney nominee David M. Buckner, a Miami lawyer, was involved in the detainment of Mohamed Kamel Bella-houel in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. PLN previously reported on this secret docket case. [See: PLN, Dec. 2003, p.1]. Buckner was an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the time, but the level of his involvement in the Bellahouel case is unknown as it is still shrouded in secrecy.
In addition to Trawick and Buckner, the federal nominating commission selected Assistant Miami-Dade County Attor-ney Wilfredo “Willy” Ferrer as a nominee for the U.S. Attorney for South Florida. Ferrer had served as Chief of the Federal Litigation section at the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office.
President Obama subsequently nominated Ferrer, who was confirmed by the Senate on April 22, 2010. At least the president decided to appoint someone who had not already betrayed the public’s faith in an open and transparent justice system.
Sources: Broward Bulldog, www.justice.gov/usao/fls
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