Florida Supreme Court Rules Against Scott Israel
Florida Supreme Court Rules Against Scott Israel
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel became a household name, one that might go down in infamy, after last year’s Parkland school shooting. Few except Israel himself were surprised when Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the sheriff earlier this year. Unwilling to accept responsibility for his role in the events that led up to the Parkland shooting, Israel sued to get his job back. Thankfully, the Florida Supreme Court got it right and ruled against him.
Score one for the good guys.
Very few of us will ever forget the scenes from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that played out on our television screens Feb. 14, 2018. Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school, opened fire, killing seventeen and injuring another seventeen. In the subsequent investigation, it was revealed Cruz had been suspended from the school on at least one occasion and showed “a pattern of disciplinary issues and unnerving behavior”.
Gov. DeSantis suspended Israel in January, after the investigation into what happened. DeSantis blamed Israel for allowing the shootings to happen. He also “criticized Israel’s leadership during a mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport in early 2017.”
Not an inspiring track record for the county’s chief law enforcement officer, is it?
Initially, Isreal appealed his suspension to the state senate which has the ultimate responsibility of either firing him or reinstating him to office. That appeal was made moot when he moved the issue into the court system. He claimed DeSantis was making “an executive power grab.” The basis for this claim was an allegation that DeSantis was interfering with the public’s right to choose their elected officials as well as preventing him from doing his duly elected duties.
Just as with the U. S. House Democrats, Israel forgot one pesky little thing: DeSantis had the law on his side.
‘While a suspended officer may seek judicial review of an executive order of suspension to ensure that the order satisfies that constitutional requirement, the judiciary’s role is limited to determining whether the executive order, on its face, sets forth allegations of fact relating to one of the constitutionally enumerated grounds of suspension,’ Justice Barbara Lagoa wrote for the court.
‘Therefore, “the factual allegations in an executive order of suspension must satisfy only a low threshold under the judiciary’s limited, facial review,’” she continued. ‘
While Israel’s attorney continues to spin this into a case of DeSantis trying to overstep his bounds as governor and prevent a duly elected official from carrying out his duties, the truth is much simpler than that. DeSantis was within his rights as governor to suspend the sheriff (and I use that term loosely). It is up to the state senate to determine whether or not the suspension remains in place.
At the time of his suspension, Israel took to the media to plead his case. Imagine how the families and friends of those injured and killed in the Parkland shooting felt when he told the world that he served “honorably” did nothing wrong.
The real question is what the citizens of Florida will allow to happen. After hearing all they have about the events leading up to that tragic day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, are they going to sit back while Israel does all he can to return to office?
Will they sit still as he tries to return to office so he can “protect” their children as he did those teens and adults who died that terrible day?
Remember, it was under Israel’s leadership that the school resource officer, a deputy in Israel’s office, had not gone into the school to stop Cruz. That is damning enough, even though a number of departments around the country have policies in place requiring officers to await backup before going in to confront a suspect.
What is more damning is what came out during the investigation. Isreal’s officer received–and discounted–calls in 2016 and 2017 warning that Cruz was a potential school shooter. They discounted this despite the fact the office had approximately 20 encounters, or contacts, with Cruz while he was still a juvenile.
And yet, despite that history, the Israel-led sheriff’s office discounted warnings about Cruz. Common sense tells you that decision is a direct reflection on the leadership of Israel.
Is there any wonder why DeSantis suspended him?
If there is, DeSantis’ reaction to yesterday’s decision says it all:
‘Today’s Florida Supreme Court opinion leaves no doubt of my authority as governor to suspend a government official for neglect of duty and incompetence,’ DeSantis said in a prepared statement. ‘Scott Israel failed in his duties to protect the families and students of Broward County, and the time for delay tactics is at an end. I look forward to the Florida Senate resuming the process of formal removal.'”
In this case, both the governor and the state supreme court got it right. Now the question is if the state senate will as well. Will it follow the governor’s example and terminate Israel for failing to carry out his duties in a reasonable manner or will it cave under the fear of yet another law suit?
Here’s hoping it sticks to its guns and shows Israel the door. It is only too bad that step wasn’t taken before Feb. 14, 2018.
Featured image Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Original source: Broward County Sheriff’s Office obtained via Wikimedia. This work was created by a government unit (including state, county, and municipal government agencies) of the U.S. state of Florida. It is a public record that was not created by an agency which state law has allowed to claim copyright and is therefore in the public domain in the United States.