Ex-Marine Seeks Judicial Reform
January 19, 2007
Being a Marine and fighting in Vietnam for his country was nothing compared to Allan Heuton's current battle.
The Lakeland resident and Winter Haven property owner is now trying to show others about the corruption he says is going on in the judicial system.
"Everything I fought for in Vietnam was not true," Heuton said. "In my own country, I have no rights. We don't see the corruption going on in our government until it slaps us right in the face."
Heuton is the primary director of the Polk County branch of Florida Jail4Judges. He wants to be the first point of contact to help people who are seeking "true reform" of the judicial system in Polk County.
Heuton was embroiled in a domestic case that cost him several thousands of dollars in legal fees. He was charged with an offense, but the case ultimately was dismissed, he said.
"It is our goal to seek out those members of the judiciary who are committing crimes against our neighbors and family members and bring them to justice," Heuton said. "This can only be accomplished by changing laws that allow those corrupt judicial members to dishonor and malign the intent of the law and Constitution for the United States of America. The Florida Legislature has recently passed a new requirement that new initiatives seeking to be placed on the next election ballot need to collect 611,000 signatures from registered voters. Last year, it was roughly only half of that. Lately, I have collected more than 100 signed petitions at the Polk County Courthouse, but we need more."
According to Heuton, most people think their only resource when they are in legal trouble is to hire an attorney. Part of the mission of Jail4Judges is to show residents that many of the attorneys in the system don't abide by the laws they should be held accountable to and that people need to be more aware and informed. Heuton also wants to provide an organization people can turn to if they have experienced corruption in the judicial system and refuse to remain powerless.
Heuton is backing a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution called the Florida Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (JAIL). The JAIL initiative is a movement that first emerged in California on the heels of judicial scandals that saw many judges and lawyers indicted for corrupt practices.
The JAIL proposal would create special grand juries to investigate complaints against judges. These grand juries would have the power to discipline judges by levying fines, removing them from the bench and, where appropriate, subjecting them to criminal proceedings before special trial juries.
Under current law, Heuton said, the judiciary is entirely self-regulated, and this has led, in many instances, to intolerable abuses of judicial discretion. These have involved conflict of interest, denial of due process, withholding of evidence and other violations of individuals' constitutional rights, including arbitrary and unjustified fines, sanctions, seizure of property and detention, he said.
"I saw other Marines die when we were at war," Heuton said. "I stood right there while they took their last breath and were put into body bags. They gave their lives so that we could live in a country that upheld our rights as citizens. I'm going to fight this battle right here on our soil until changes are made."
United under the banner of Jail4Judges is a broad coalition of people, from all backgrounds, professions and political persuasions, who are dedicated to the mission of reforming the judiciary. By means of petition, voters in Florida can compel the state Legislature to place the JAIL proposal on the ballot for voter approval.
"We'll be having a protest outside the Polk County Courthouse on March 19," Heuton said. "There will be hundreds at that gathering standing up for their rights and calling attention to the corruption in our system. My own daughters and many college students will be attending because they want a different system for their future. It is the first step in letting our government know that we do have power and we are going to use it to see that the corruption stops."
Those with questions, those who want to become involved and those with evidence of judicial abuse or corruption may contact Heuton at 863-651-9297 or go on the Web to wwwjail4judges.org.
Copyright 2007, News Chief
From: News Chief, Winter Haven, Florida, January 19, 2007, http://polkonline.com/stories/011907/ communitynews_marine.shtml (remove space), accessed February 3, 2007. Diane Nichols can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.