Thank you for all the birthday wishes and the private messages -- three years running! Some of the more connected members of the Gator Nation prefer to be discreet, but hey, no worries. I know who my friends are and I appreciate all the warm wishes. I'm glad to see such a great response for Frank's Q&A -- it was long overdue.
Expect more Q&A's, GDI-tv, giveaways, and posts in 2009! As for now, I'm getting ready to head out for my birthday dinner and then back home for some good ole' studying. Hope you're all doing well.
In the coming days I will be posting updates on Grapski - who's been in jail for over a month now. Below is an official update from Grapski Defense, which I received:
NEWS UPDATE - NOVEMBER 8, 2008
For more information contact: email@example.com
ACTIVIST CHARLES GRAPKSI HELD WITHOUT BOND IN ALACHUA COUNTY JAIL, GRAPSKI SAYS HE IS BEING DENIED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND BLACKMAILED INTO CUTTING A DEAL WITH PROSECUTOR
Gainesville, Florida --- Charles Grapski is being held without bond in the Alachua County Jail, where he has been incarcerated since his arrest on October 12 for two misdemeanor charges. Claiming he has been denied due process and the right to counsel, Grapski says his continued imprisonment constitutes political persecution by the state attorney's office.
"I'm being denied my constitutional rights, and it feels like I'm being blackmailed into cutting a deal," Grapski said, referring to his pending trial on 2007 felony charges. (See Background on 2007 Police Assault and False Arrest, attached below.)
Grapski insists he will not consider pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit, even if it means staying in jail, and he will fight for his right to a jury trial on the 2007 charges. "The misdemeanor charges should be dropped, and my original bond reinstated, since the complainant has told the prosecutor he doesn't wish to press charges, " he said.
Grapski has already spent a month behind bars for the trespassing and criminal mischief charges, which resulted from a late night misunderstanding at a friend's house following Florida Gators football team home game celebrations.
Grapski's bail on the October 12 misdemeanor charges was originally set for $100 for each charge, but before he could post bail a series of actions by a Circuit Court judge and a hostile prosecutor have kept him locked up, perhaps indefinitely.
Since the October 12 arrest, the person who filed the complaint has informed the State Attorney's office on several occasions that he does not wish to press charges against Grapski. Unfortunately for Grapski, the State Attorney's office appears to be using his continued incarceration without bond as a means of extracting a plea bargain on unrelated 2007 felony charges, which are pending trial.
The October 12 misdemeanor charges, rather than being dropped, were assigned to Geoffrey Fleck, the same prosecutor who is prosecuting Grapski's 2007 felony charges. Fleck also prosecuted a previous felony charge against Grapski, following another politically motivated and baseless arrest in 2006, also involving Alachua city officials. That charge was summarily dismissed by a Circuit Court judge only minutes before Grapski's jury trial was scheduled to begin, when the judge heard arguments on Grapski's Motion to Dismiss.
Grapski had posted a cash bond in August 2007 and was released pending trial on trumped up felony charges slapped on him by Chief Robert Jernigan of the Alachua Police Department, marking the third time Jernigan has been directly involved in politically motivated felony arrests of Grapski in Alachua.
Circuit Court Judge Phyllis Rosier raised Grapski's bond on the October 12 misdemeanors from $100 each to $5000 each. This was done without holding a bond hearing and without notifying the defendant. Also without a bond hearing, and without notifying Grapski or his bondholder (a friend had put up the cash), the judge then unilaterally revoked Grapski's cash bond on the 2007 charges, on the grounds that the misdemeanor arrest violated the conditions of his bond. Judge Rosier was the same judge who had originally set a bond of $60,000 for Grapski in the 2007 charges, before the bond was reduced to $1,500 by another judge.
Charles Grapski is still being held without bond on the 2007 charges, just as if he were a dangerous rapist or murderer. Since his 2007 bond was revoked several weeks ago, Grapski has been trying to get a bond hearing set, but without success. After being held virtually incommunicado and without contact with legal counsel for almost two weeks, Grapski finally spoke by telephone with John Stokes, his new court-appointed attorney, and requested that a bond hearing be set as soon as possible. Another state-appointed attorney assigned to his defense in the 2007 charges had recently resigned, citing a conflict of interest, and Stokes was new to the case.
Grapski reports that John Stokes told him that he had spoken with prosecutor Geoffrey Fleck, and he informed Grapski that a plea bargain arrangement had been discussed. According to Stokes, Fleck had offered a deal that would get him out of jail and "keep him out of prison." Grapski insisted he was innocent of the charges and told his attorney that he wanted his day in court.
Grapski claims that when he told Stokes he would not consider pleading guilty to a crime he didn't commit, his court-appointed attorney attorney became angry and hung up on him, saying he wouldn't be filing a motion for a bond hearing. As of November 8th, a bond hearing has not yet been set, and so far Grapski has not been able to speak again with Stokes. According to Grapski, Stokes turns out to be a personal friend of Alachua City Manager and Police Commissioner Clovis Watson (who has been involved in all three felony arrests), and has even represented Watson in legal matters.
Charles Grapski is currently locked in a jail cell and is being denied his basic constitutional rights, including his right to due process, his right to a bond hearing, and his right to prepare a competent defense.
Grapski is essentially being told that the way to get out of jail is to plead guilty to crimes he did not commit, thus sparing the state-appointed attorney the challenge of preparing a proper defense, and also sparing the State Attorney's office the embarrassment of having to prosecute the Alachua Police Department's trumped up felony charges before a jury of Grapski's peers.
Charles Grapski's friends and family are concerned for his health, and are seeking to expose the violation of his rights to counsel and due process. The immediate goal is to get him released once again on bond. Since it appears that his third court appointed attorney has a blatant conflict of interest (the first two resigned for that reason) and is clearly not willing to prepare a vigorous defense on his behalf, Grapski is in urgent need of a criminal defense attorney, preferably from outside Gainesville and the Eighth Judicial Circuit, where "good ole boy" politics prevails over justice and the rule of law.
To send a message to Grapski in jail, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (It will be read to him over the phone) or mail it to the jail.
For more information see this week's High Springs Herald article (more HSH articles attached below):
Grapski continues to be held in jail without bond following October arrest
By Rachael Anne Ryals, Staff Writer
High Springs Herald | November 7, 2008
Alachua County Jail 352-491-4460 http://www.alachuasheriff.org
State Attorney's Office: 352-374-3670 http://sawww.co.alachua.fl.us