Some 100 Sheriff's deputies conducted raids in February and March 2015 on a home where medical marijuana was being grown, with a permit allegedly issued to the Yandells by a law firm.
Sheriff DAVID BERNERD SHOAR f/k/a "HOAR" allegedly engaged in an orgy of civil rights violations, including massive prejudicial pretrial publicity on an unprecedented scale, accusing the Yandells of planning to sell marijuana to schoolchildren. Not one newspaper reporter or television bubble head was in the courtroom to cover the news. But I was there.
The fact pattern could make for interesting law review examinations in Criminal Procedure or in Constitutional Law (in which SHOAR's personnel records show he received an "A" at the University of North Florida in undergraduate school).
SHOAR apparently ordered the arrests after a false police report of shots being charged (since resulting in a criminal charge against a former client), all in possible retaliation for First Amendment protected activity in filing internal affairs complaints and a federal court lawsuit, and speaking out about Sheriff's Department abuses, including trashing the home, pouring dirt in computers and breaking windows. Jacksonville Electric Authority cut off electricity and the St. Johns County Code Enforcement claimed there were "hazardous materials" present without legal authority or proof, the Yandells allege in federal court.
The Sheriff's Fourth Amendment violations are on videotape and will be entered into evidence in a jury trial.
The office of controversial State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA has offered the defendants, Scott and Marsha Yandell probation, which if accepted, could easily result in revocation of Marsha Yandell's nursing license, which she has held for some 25 years. Judge Traynor inquired of the probation officer about the possibility of probation after Mrs. Yandell candidly told the Court she is currently using medical marijuana, for which she has a prescription; the Yandells now live in Oregon. The probation officer was dubious of the possibility, because he said federal law still prohibits medical marijuana.
Marsha Yandell suffers from fibromyalgia and other ailments, ameliorated by marijuana prescribed by physicians. Marsha Yandell was a prevailing party in a Federal False Claims Act qui tam action joined by the United States Attorney's office after she blew the whistle on Medicare fraud by Advanced Home Care LLC.
The hearing in front of Judge Traynor today pitted defense attorney Michael Minardi against Assistant State's Attorney Travis Drew Eden Mydock (University of Florida Levin College of Law, 2009).
The two lawyers seem equally matched. Arguments were at the bench, and no cameras were available to show courtroom spectators their demeanor on the two large televisions. Judge Traynor was intent, focused and questioning the State's Attorney throughout the hearing.
During the hearing, present in the jury box, looking on, in uniform, was St. Johns County Sheriff's Detective JESSICA HINES, one of two detectives botch the investigation of the September 2, 2010 shooting of Michelle O'Connell in the home of Deputy JEREMY BANKS, a story reported by The New York Times, PBS Frontline, NBC Dateline, and Dr. Phil.
Detective JESSICA HINES was the officer who laughed and joked with Deputy JEREMY BANKS the night of the shooting about his alcohol consumption the night of the shooting ("Bud Light® -- four big ones"), treating JEREMY BANKS then and later like a respected colleague, not a murder suspect, never inquiring how JEREMY BANKS gained access to the investigative file.
St. Johns County Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Traynor heard the attorneys' positions on motions for return of property seized in the raid, much of which the State's Attorney claimed was "paraphernalia" or evidence of their (undisputed) control of the rented house, near SR 210 and I-95.
The lengthy hearing included oral and written arguments by ASA Mydock about whether or not the State of Florida should not turn over office supplies, automobiles and motorcycles, computers, fans, extension cords, Epsom salts, propane tanks, identification, a wallet, tax and business documents, golf balls, golf clubs, Rayban sunglasses, money, coin collections, a "cock cage" and other things unrelated to any criminal enterprise or marijuana.
Sandbagging the defense and Judge Traynor, ASA Mydock filed a response on Friday, not received by the Court or the defense attorney until today. In the late filing, Mydock conceded the return of numerous items, including automobiles.
Pushing a large cart full of files and evidence after the return of property hearing, having run out of red herrings, SAO7 ASA Travis Drew Eden Mydock.looked defeated, looking like he was longing for a trip to Hawai'i (where Maydock also has a law license).
More motions are expected to be filed by prosectors and defense lawyers, including motions in limine (to keep evidence in or out before trial).
There might also be possible motions to dismiss for Fourth Amendment violations, prejudicial pretrial publicity, and reliance upon advice of counsel (Jacksonville attorneys allegedly under investigation by the Sheriff's office and State's Attorney for selling licenses to use medial marijuana prescribed by physicians).
Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Traynor will set a trial date at the November 30, 2015 docket sounding, IF the case is not dismissed by nolle prosequi before then.
The St. Johns County Circuit Court jury trial will place in sharp repose the alleged retaliation and corruption of the St. Johns County Sheriff's office, something that was denied the Michelle O'Connell family (although the FBI Corruption Task Force is now investigating).
Embarrassed 2009 UF law graduate Mydock (licensed in Florida and Hawai'i)(below) candidly told Judge Traynor, "there's no telling what our strategy's going to be at trial, Judge."