Monday, March 05, 2018

Complaints spark investigation of Palm Beach County prosecutor (Palm Beach Post/WPEC-CBS12)

Three cheers for Palm Beach County State's Attorney Dave Aronberg. He takes complaints about prosecutors seriously.

Unlike our local yokel State's Attorney in St. Johns County, Dave Aronberg is a hands-on manager, who cares about people.

Seventh Circuit State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, in sharp and marked contrast, refuses to follow or distribute the National District Attorneys' Association National Prosecution Standards, or explain why. LARIZZA a/k/a "LaLIZARD" has delusions of adequacy. In 2016, he was re-elected without opposition -- not even on the ballot -- because no attorney in four counties dared run against him. LARIZZA/LaLIZARD is President of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys' Association, with 82 attorneys and a multi-million dollar budget. LARIZZA and his pal, Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, run the criminal injustice system in St. Johns County like Louche Lords of All They Survey.

Both are dull Republicans.

Under fire

Complaints spark investigation of Palm Beach County prosecutor
Under fire

One of Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg's top assistants is being investigated after numerous internal complaints about his management style.

Several people have complained about Brian Fernandes, according to a Feb. 20 email sent by another attorney in the office. The email says that Fernandes' treatment of fellow attorneys "has detrimentally affected them."

Fernandes is the chief assistant state attorney in Aronberg’s office.

In the email, the prosecutor describes how Fernandes "does not engage in a reasonable or logical discussion about the issues he had with them." It also states the other attorneys are made to feel "undervalued, underappreciated and inadequate."

Among the claims, the attorney said Fernandes set out to make an example of a veteran homicide prosecutor who made a mistake. Fernandes spoke openly about how he was going to "punish" her by making her cancel a planned vacation to work on the weekend, according to the email. That eventually led the prosecutor to later resign.

In another case, Fernandes forced another prosecutor to take over all of the homicide mental health cases "without any input, discussion, or regard" for her workload, the attorney said in his email. The workload took a toll on her to the point where she suffered from some ailment that forced her to take a medication "she never had to take in the past."

"We cannot continue to work in an environment where we do not believe we are treated fairly," the attorney said in the email. "We are presumed to be wrong before there is a meaningful, professional discussion about the issues and worry about the next time we will experience that type of treatment from Brian."

Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis, another one of Aronberg's top assistants, is in charge of the investigation.

The State Attorney's Office released this statement:

State Attorney Dave Aronberg takes these matters seriously and has directed Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis to complete a thorough investigation. The State Attorney has taken preliminary action while Adrienne's review is underway.

WPEC-CBS12 is the news partner of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

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