Subject Information Request for IRS CID SAIC Victor Lessoff
To Victor Lessoff, Special Agent in Charge,
IRS Criminal Investigation Division
9450 Kroger Blvd
St. Petersburg, Florida 33702
Telephone 727 568 2552
To recap some of the events of today, 26 June 2007, I arrived at 9450 Kroger Blvd this morning shortly after 9 AM and saw about 15 people in the lobby, including you and several of your armed associates. Only Agent Daley visibly showed a badge and name, and some kind of weapon that looked like a can of mace or pepper spray on his belt. I did not know but a few of those in the lobby, and could not determine which ones worked for you or the IRS. I began to record the confabulation on video tape. Agent Daley told me to stop. I refused, demanding that he show me both his authority to give me any such order and the law prohibiting me from recording the events on video tape. While you stood and watched, Agent Daley refused both requests, and said he would show his pocket commission later. When I refused to stop taping, Agent Daley accused me of creating a disturbance. I did not create any disturbance. He did, as you witnessed. You ordered him to escort me out of the building. He took hold of me by my left arm, and another of your minions took hold or me by my right arm, then they forcibly walked me out of the building and pushed me away from the door so I could not re-enter. During the confrontation, I carried my oxygen tank, which I must use in order to breathe sufficiently to remain ambulatory. Neither you nor your agents showed any concern for my health.
The St. Petersburg police arrived almost immediately and came to interview me. I demanded to know the identity of the second agent who forced me out of the building. Agent Daley lied to me and the police when he said he did not know. Agent Daley refused to show me his pocket commission. Three other agents stood at various times near the door to keep me out of the building and two of them refused to let me enter. One rather tall and slender agent had a brown tweed jacket and short blondish thinning hair, and the other, a heavier man with dark hair wore a black short-sleeved shirt that looked to me like a golf shirt. Both appeared to have concealed weapons beneath their outer clothing. They both refused to give me their identities and refused to show me their pocket commissions.
I wrote and signed under penalty of perjury the pertinent facts regarding the above matter in a formal complaint to the Officer Kokotek of the St. Petersburg Police, report number 07-39125.
I have not seen any law that prevents me from video taping the events in the IRS building. The Internal Revenue Code requires only advance notice of recording the events, and I gave that notice by showing the camera. Neither you nor your agents made any effort to show me the law that prohibits recording of events, and no law that authorizes you to eject me from the building when I created no disturbance, but merely minded my own business and challenged proof of authority when ordered contrary to my intentions and contrary to the law by you and the other agents.
Before I left the parking lot, an Robert Courtenay (telephone (813) 315-2274), agent for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration arrived to take our complaints. I do not know who called him, but he drove over from Tampa with some sense of urgency. I and others told him of the abusive treatment we received under your orders, and we told him that we believed you violated
I called you to express appreciation for your genteel manner, for, even though you violated my rights and ordered other agents to do so, you behaved respectfully and with dignity otherwise, which I appreciate.
I advised you during the phone call that you and your fellow agents violated my and other people’s constitutional rights to assemble peaceably and to petition for redress of grievances. Under color of law you and your agents oppressed me and others to no good end and no benefit to anyone, in violation of those rights. You and they attempted to force me and succeeded in forcing me not to record an IRS hearing on video tape, and forced me out of the building as I described above. My friend Robert M invited me to attend the hearing and to record it, and so you had no authority to order others to stop me from recording it.
I advised you during the phone call that the behavior of you and your fellow agents violated federal law. I have included some below (citations taken from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/ ):
United States Code TITLE 26 > Subtitle F > CHAPTER 75 > Subchapter A > PART I > § 7214. Offenses by officers and employees of the United States
(a) Unlawful acts of revenue officers or agents
Any officer or employee of the United States acting in connection with any revenue law of the United States —
(1) who is guilty of any extortion or willful oppression under color of law; or
(2) who knowingly demands other or greater sums than are authorized by law, or receives any fee, compensation, or reward, except as by law prescribed, for the performance of any duty; or
(3) who with intent to defeat the application of any provision of this title fails to perform any of the duties of his office or employment; or
(4) who conspires or colludes with any other person to defraud the United States ; or
(5) who knowingly makes opportunity for any person to defraud the United States ; or
(6) who does or omits to do any act with intent to enable any other person to defraud the United States ; or
(7) who makes or signs any fraudulent entry in any book, or makes or signs any fraudulent certificate, return, or statement; or
(8) who, having knowledge or information of the violation of any revenue law by any person, or of fraud committed by any person against the United States under any revenue law, fails to report, in writing, such knowledge or information to the Secretary; or
(9) who demands, or accepts, or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly as payment or gift, or otherwise, any sum of money or other thing of value for the compromise, adjustment, or settlement of any charge or complaint for any violation or alleged violation of law, except as expressly authorized by law so to do;
shall be dismissed from office or discharged from employment and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both. The court may in its discretion award out of the fine so imposed an amount, not in excess of one-half thereof, for the use of the informer, if any, who shall be ascertained by the judgment of the court. The court also shall render judgment against the said officer or employee for the amount of damages sustained in favor of the party injured, to be collected by execution.
(b) Interest of internal revenue officer or employee in tobacco or liquor production
Any internal revenue officer or employee interested, directly or indirectly, in the manufacture of tobacco, snuff, or cigarettes, or in the production, rectification, or redistillation of distilled spirits, shall be dismissed from office; and each such officer or employee so interested in any such manufacture or production, rectification, or redistillation or production of fermented liquors shall be fined not more than $5,000.
(c) Cross reference
For penalty on collecting or disbursing officers trading in public funds or debts of property, see 18 U.S.C. 1901.
United States Code TITLE 26 > Subtitle F > CHAPTER 77 > § 7521. Procedures involving taxpayer interviews
(a) Recording of interviews
(1) Recording by taxpayer
Any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service in connection with any in-person interview with any taxpayer relating to the determination or collection of any tax shall, upon advance request of such taxpayer, allow the taxpayer to make an audio recording of such interview at the taxpayer’s own expense and with the taxpayer’s own equipment.
(2) Recording by IRS officer or employee
An officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service may record any interview described in paragraph (1) if such officer or employee—
(A) informs the taxpayer of such recording prior to the interview, and
(B) upon request of the taxpayer, provides the taxpayer with a transcript or copy of such recording but only if the taxpayer provides reimbursement for the cost of the transcription and reproduction of such transcript or copy.
(1) Explanations of processes
An officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service shall before or at an initial interview provide to the taxpayer—
(A) in the case of an in-person interview with the taxpayer relating to the determination of any tax, an explanation of the audit process and the taxpayer’s rights under such process, or
(B) in the case of an in-person interview with the taxpayer relating to the collection of any tax, an explanation of the collection process and the taxpayer’s rights under such process.
(2) Right of consultation
If the taxpayer clearly states to an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service at any time during any interview (other than an interview initiated by an administrative summons issued under subchapter A of chapter 78) that the taxpayer wishes to consult with an attorney, certified public accountant, enrolled agent, enrolled actuary, or any other person permitted to represent the taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service, such officer or employee shall suspend such interview regardless of whether the taxpayer may have answered one or more questions.
(c) Representatives holding power of attorney
Any attorney, certified public accountant, enrolled agent, enrolled actuary, or any other person permitted to represent the taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service who is not disbarred or suspended from practice before the Internal Revenue Service and who has a written power of attorney executed by the taxpayer may be authorized by such taxpayer to represent the taxpayer in any interview described in subsection (a). An officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service may not require a taxpayer to accompany the representative in the absence of an administrative summons issued to the taxpayer under subchapter A of chapter 78. Such an officer or employee, with the consent of the immediate supervisor of such officer or employee, may notify the taxpayer directly that such officer or employee believes such representative is responsible for unreasonable delay or hindrance of an Internal Revenue Service examination or investigation of the taxpayer.
(d) Section not to apply to certain investigations
This section shall not apply to criminal investigations or investigations relating to the integrity of any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service.
18 USC § 4. Misprision of felony
Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
18 USC § 242. Deprivation of rights under color of law
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
18 USC § 241. Conspiracy against rights
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
I have highlighted in yellow the offenses of interest. As you can see, I had the right to record the interview, and my presence with the camera and stated intention, along with the stated intention of Bob McMillian made during the confusion in the lobby to make a video-record, constituted sufficient advance request. No regulation or procedure can lawfully impose any specific time requirement for advance notice because the above code does not empower such a regulation.
From what I can determine, you and your confederates made no attempt to ascertain the validity or lawfulness of my efforts to record the proceedings, and as a consequence, you deprived me and my friend Bob McMillian of our rights under both the Constitution and the law, as I have shown above.
You should know from the above code that you have no authority to prevent people entering your IRS building from recording the events there leading to, including, and following the interview, for an interview consists of any and all confrontations with IRS employees in the process of bringing the interview to fruition.
I do not write to you merely to complain to you, but also to educate you and prepare you for future situations involving a number of supporters attempting to attend the interviews.
First of all, by way of education, you should know that employees of the IRS notoriously, incessantly, adamantly, and incorrigibly refuse to comply with the following simple requests:
Where is the law and substantive regulation that together make me liable for or subject to an income tax for revenue purposes?
Where is the form 23-C Assessment Certificate signed under penalty of perjury by the duly authorized Assessment Officer that shows anyone has assessed a tax against me?
Where is the authenticated evidence signed under penalty of perjury that I earned any income from any activity for which Congress has enacted a law imposing an income tax for revenue purposes?
We cannot get the answers to the above questions from ANYBODY. We demand to see the assessments, and the IRS agents show us piles of related non-authenticated computer printouts that make no sense and that do not comply with the requirements of assessments. Without due process, in violation of rules of procedure and evidence, and without a shred of proof that the alleged taxpayers owe any tax, United States District Court judges routinely threaten alleged taxpayers with imprisonment for contempt if they do not attend a books and records meeting with the agents. We cannot get justice or remedy, and YOU and your minions constitute a major element in the criminal behavior of the courts and the IRS. You do not obey your oaths of loyalty to the Constitution. You SHOULD tell the agents that you will not enforce any request for assistance in the IRS hearings unless you first lay eyes on the form 23-C Assessment Certificate signed under penalty of perjury (as required by 26 USC 6065) by a duly authorized Assessment Officer. Why? Because without that ALL collection efforts amount to fraud, extortion, and racketeering. The courts and collection officers get away with their crimes because YOU don’t do your duty to America and our Constitution.
Therefore, I, on behalf of myself and my friends, petition you to do this:
1. Obtain answers for me to those questions, and
2. Require the collection officers in your facility to answer those questions forthrightly and truthfully, even if not asked, or discontinue their collection efforts.
As you saw today, Bob McMillian needed far more than two witnesses in the interview room, and yet the agent in charge of the interview denied him those witnesses. He needed at least 8 or ten. Why? Because you and your agents bodily ejected two of us, and some of the witnesses had to attend to us so as to document the behaviors of your agents, the police, and others. That left only two to attend to the actual hearing.
The judge who ordered Bob McMillian to attend the books and records interview ordered him to attend it only with Andra Kullman OR designee, but not both. And he did not order the giant CID agents Green and Williams to stand with intimidating presence in the room, as reported to me and others by Bob McMillian. And yet, Kullman, her supervisor, Green, and Williams all insisted on remaining in the interview, allowing only two of Bob McMillian’s witnesses in the room. Bob ordered the “excess” IRS people from the room, but they ignored him. From my understanding of the matter, your two agents violated the judge’s order and Bob McMillian’s rights by remaining in the room. The IRS has the responsibility for providing a secure environment for interviews, but not the authority to put giant agents like Williams and Green in the room to frighten the alleged taxpayer out of his wits. And you know that such intimidating presence has the effect of frightening people. I see that not as your effort to protect agents like Kullman, but to intimidate alleged taxpayers. I see that as a flagrant violation of 26 USC 7214 (a)(1). You and your agents should know better.
I want to address the issue of armed force. As I see it, you and your confederates constitute an intimidating show of force where none seems needed. We people know from the stories of government agents in Waco and Ruby Ridge that the public cannot trust gun-bearing government agents to respect constitutional rights or laws. From this apparency it seems logical that any alleged taxpayer should resist attending interviews in the presence of armed agents, and refuse to divulge any information under such circumstances circumstances to IRS employees, for one cannot know what attitude, behavior, or agent’s whim will provoke the agents to use the weapon in a lethal manner against the alleged taxpayer. Now, I only presume that you have the purpose to protect the IRS agent from the alleged taxpayer, but not to protect the alleged taxpayer from the IRS agent. Frankly, I don’t know. Maybe you can enlighten me about that. Your CID agents today seemed poised to draw their weapons and use them against innocent, unarmed, alleged taxpayers and their associates.
I do not intend ever to approach any IRS person or facility with any kind of weapon on my person. At the same time, I cannot help wondering why we unarmed people have to suffer the intimidation and humiliation of engaging in interviews with IRS collections officers while heavily armed, gargantuan CID agents stand intimidating, deadly serious, possibly fearful, and apparently ready and willing to use lethal force on unarmed, non-threatening, non-disruptive Citizens of our state. I expect such situations in a police station of a police state, but not in a government office building of the “land of the free”.
And that brings up more questions I want you to answer.
What proof do you have that the IRS constitutes an “agency” of the government of the United States of America ?
2. What proof do you have that any act of Congress has authorized the IRS to operate an office inside the non-federal zone territory of Florida or any other union state, in accordance with 4 USC § 72. Public offices; at seat of Government. Which says “All offices attached to the seat of government shall be exercised in the District of Columbia , and not elsewhere, except as otherwise expressly provided by law. “
What proof do you have that any law entitles you to put agents with weapons inside an IRS hearing to intimidate the alleged taxpayer and innocent people attending at the taxpayer’s request to serve as witnesses to malfeasance and / or crimes by people posing as having authority, including employees of the IRS?
Why do you not demand that the IRS provide interview rooms where the agent sits in an area protected by bulletproof glass so that no intimidating CID agents need justify their presence allegedly to protect the IRS employee from harm by the alleged taxpayer and witnesses?
What law and associated regulation make normal people subject to or liable for any income tax for revenue purposes?
How can you in good conscience assist the IRS in extorting money from people upon whom no act of Congress has imposed any income tax liability for revenue purposes?
Why do you not obey your oath of loyalty to the Constitution by protecting the people’s rights when called upon to do so?
Why do you not instruct your agents to identify themselves and their authority without making a big issue of it when people demand such proof of them?
Why do you not instruct your agents to familiarize themselves with laws like the above so they will know and understand the rights of the people and the obligations of government employees to SERVE the people, and obey the law, not to obstruct justice as we saw today?
What law and regulation entitles IRS agents to collect taxes without having in hand solid proof of claim, specifically the form 23-C Assessment Certificate signed under penalty of perjury by the duly authorized Assessment Officer?
Why do you and your juniors attempt to investigate and enforce collections when you have never laid eyes on such proof of the validity of the tax you attempt to collect?
Why do you believe it justified to send armed leviathans into IRS interviews with Citizens when the Citizens show no indication whatsoever of any inclination to violence or disturbance, but merely want an open, honest meeting without intimidation, for the record?
Who will protect the alleged taxpayer and associates from armed CID agents?
How can you guarantee us people that your agents will not run amok and violate our rights, pistol whip us into submission, manhandle us, pull out a pistol and shoot us, zap us with a Taser, or spray us with Mace or pepper?
Why should any alleged taxpayer in his right mind participate in an IRS books and records interview while over-eager CID agents standing ready, willing, and able to use their lethal weapons to murder him?
What are the names and badge numbers of your CID agents I described above who prevented me from re-entering the building and refused to identify themselves to me?
Did you and your minions all solemnly swear oaths to support the Constitution of the United States of America , as required by Constitution and law?
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution;” Article VI Clause 3 of the Constitution for the USA
‘An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” This section does not affect other oaths required by law.’ 5 USC 3331. Oath of office
What are the names and contact information for any attorneys or government employees who advised you as to how, whether, or to what extent to answer the questions in this message?
I believe the questions I have asked you should help you understand why so many people go to support others in their IRS hearings. Many of us see such hearings as the illegal and unconstitutional invasion of privacy, defeat of due process, and effort to impose involuntary servitude upon us, all in violation of the 4th, 5th, 13th, and 14th Amendments to the USA Constitution which YOU and your confederates swore a solemn oath of loyalty to support.
We don’t want threats or intimidation any more than you do, and we don’t want you or your confederates to manhandle or murder us. We want you to respect our rights, and in fact, to do your best to see to it that others respect our rights too.
We have rights, but we cannot count upon our public servants like you to protect them. So we MUST appear in quantity at such hearings so that we can witness the violations of rights, document them, file police reports against the perpetrators of crimes, and obtain authenticated evidence to use in the lawsuits for fraud, extortion, racketeering, rights violations, and other crimes against us and our friends.
I call your attention to the provisions of 18 USC 241. When you knowingly send armed CID agents into an interview with defenseless Citizens under the pretense of protecting anybody, you knowingly violate that important law. We have the rights under the Constitutions for Florida and for the USA to be left alone, to peaceably assemble, to petition for redress of grievance, to receive due process, and to enjoy privacy of our persons and papers. No rulemaking can abrogate the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. I present these Supreme Court rulings to make the point clearer.
"We find it intolerable that one constitutional right should have to be surrendered in order to assert another."
- Simon vs. U.S. , 390, 389, 1968
"The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime."
- Miller vs. U.S. , 239 F.2d 486 at 489
"Where fundamental rights under the Constitution are involved, there can be no rulemaking or legislation which can abrogate them."
- Miranda vs. Arizona , 380 U.S. 486 (1966)
"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void."
- Marbury vs. Madison , 5 U.S. (I cranch), 137, 174, 176 (1830)
"There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one because of his exercise of constitutional rights."
- Sherar vs. Cullen, 481 F.2d 946 (1973)
I encourage you to give these your careful and solemn consideration.
As for the future, I anticipate many more IRS hearings in the future, and many similar involvements of witnesses in such hearings, right there in your building. I ask you to make sensible plans that respect the rights of Citizens and that do not go overboard in alleged security the way you did today. I and many others intend to attend such hearings peaceably and without disturbance, and to record the proceedings without hindrance, as the law allows. We do not want to suffer the embarrassment or intimidation of excess people in the room, for that violates our rights. We do not intend to harass, threaten, intimidate, or upset any IRS employees for any reason. We do intend to assert our rights if challenged, intimidated, or prevented from their free exercise. We do not want stand-offs or confrontations with IRS CID bullies who carry weapons intended to maim or murder.
If you feel concern that the presence of numerous people like me and the other genteel but assertive men you saw today threatens the IRS employees under your care, then I ask that you take measures other than posting obviously armed, elephantine CID agents in the room. For example, get the filthy rich IRS to buy bullet proof partitions and seat the IRS employees like Andra Kullman behind the partitions.
I have shown you in the laws above that we have the right to record the proceedings. I have appended below the rights guaranteed by both the USA and Florida Constitutions. Please read them carefully and match them to your job description and your conscience. You will notice that the Constitutions do not empower you or anyone else in government the government to prohibit or prevent access to the IRS hearings nor to prohibit or prevent video or audio recording in the IRS building. You will also notice that the 10th Amendment gives the people all powers not specifically granted to the government.
Thus, any such laws, policies, rules, or customs that prohibit recording or require more than a few minutes’ notice violate the Constitution which you swore to support, protect, and defend. Do you agree that your first job consists of obedience to your oath of loyalty to support the Constitution? I hope you see that it does, for without swearing or affirming that oath first, you would not have your job.
I have made a simple case that we people depend upon you public servants in the CID to protect us, not intimidate us, and to make provision for guaranteeing our safety by the way you arrange meeting rooms, not by assigning humongous men with murderous guns to stand in the hearing rooms like the Nazi SS would. We do not pose a threat to anyone. We want to attend the hearings we must attend without threat or intimidation, to record the proceedings (including lobby entrances and exits) as we wish for later reference or education, and go about our business without harassment and confrontation. You can arrange for that to happen, and I expect you to do so or explain to me what and who prevents you from doing so.
Please contact me after you have read and thought through the information I have presented in this message. I want to learn of your solution so that problems like we had today do not recur. I shall communicate your solution to my friends. I feel certain that we can find a common, peaceful, non-threatening ground of mutual respect in effecting a solution.
By the way, I don’t want to get the press involved, and I won’t unless you leave me no choice. You already work for the most hated organization in the world since the demise of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (“SS”). Did you know that Schutzstaffel means protective squadron in English? Does that ring a bell with you? Didn’t you imply to me that you ordered your minions into the hearing room with Bob McMillian for “protection?” Anyway, bad press will cause people to hate the IRS even more than they already do, and most of my friends will have no compunction about conveying the truths of their observations and experiences to reporters.
I encourage you to order your associates to show more of a cooperative spirit to accommodate the free and responsible exercise of rights by people who show up to attend or witness hearings. I thank you in advance for all the actual good you will do in this matter.
I have sent a copy of this to the following:
David A. Demers, Chief Judge of Florida ’s 6th Judicial Circuit
Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats
Truly, sincerely, and without prejudice (UCC 1-308),
Bob Hurt, All Rights Reserved
+1 (727) 520-6966
I am no attorney. I do not practice law or give legal advice.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state , the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States , than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States , or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States , and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States ; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States , authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States , or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
SECTION 1. Political power.--All political power is inherent in the people. The enunciation herein of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or impair others retained by the people.
SECTION 2. Basic rights.--All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property; except that the ownership, inheritance, disposition and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship may be regulated or prohibited by law. No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.
History.--Am. S.J.R. 917, 1974; adopted 1974; Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 9, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
SECTION 3. Religious freedom.--There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.
SECTION 4. Freedom of speech and press.--Every person may speak, write and publish sentiments on all subjects but shall be responsible for the abuse of that right. No law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions and civil actions for defamation the truth may be given in evidence. If the matter charged as defamatory is true and was published with good motives, the party shall be acquitted or exonerated.
History.--Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 13, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
SECTION 5. Right to assemble.--The people shall have the right peaceably to assemble, to instruct their representatives, and to petition for redress of grievances.
SECTION 6. Right to work.--The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in any labor union or labor organization. The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged. Public employees shall not have the right to strike.
SECTION 7. Military power.--The military power shall be subordinate to the civil.
SECTION 8. Right to bear arms.--
(a) The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.
(b) There shall be a mandatory period of three days, excluding weekends and legal holidays, between the purchase and delivery at retail of any handgun. For the purposes of this section, "purchase" means the transfer of money or other valuable consideration to the retailer, and "handgun" means a firearm capable of being carried and used by one hand, such as a pistol or revolver. Holders of a concealed weapon permit as prescribed in Florida law shall not be subject to the provisions of this paragraph.
(c) The legislature shall enact legislation implementing subsection (b) of this section, effective no later than December 31, 1991, which shall provide that anyone violating the provisions of subsection (b) shall be guilty of a felony.
(d) This restriction shall not apply to a trade in of another handgun.
History.--Am. C.S. for S.J.R. 43, 1989; adopted 1990.
SECTION 9. Due process.--No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, or be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense, or be compelled in any criminal matter to be a witness against oneself.
History.--Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 13, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
SECTION 10. Prohibited laws.--No bill of attainder, ex post facto law or law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.
SECTION 11. Imprisonment for debt.--No person shall be imprisoned for debt, except in cases of fraud.
SECTION 12. Searches and seizures.--The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and against the unreasonable interception of private communications by any means, shall not be violated. No warrant shall be issued except upon probable cause, supported by affidavit, particularly describing the place or places to be searched, the person or persons, thing or things to be seized, the communication to be intercepted, and the nature of evidence to be obtained. This right shall be construed in conformity with the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. Articles or information obtained in violation of this right shall not be admissible in evidence if such articles or information would be inadmissible under decisions of the United States Supreme Court construing the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
History.--Am. H.J.R. 31-H, 1982; adopted 1982.
SECTION 13. Habeas corpus.--The writ of habeas corpus shall be grantable of right, freely and without cost. It shall be returnable without delay, and shall never be suspended unless, in case of rebellion or invasion, suspension is essential to the public safety.
SECTION 14. Pretrial release and detention.--Unless charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment and the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great, every person charged with a crime or violation of municipal or county ordinance shall be entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions. If no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm to persons, assure the presence of the accused at trial, or assure the integrity of the judicial process, the accused may be detained.
History.--Am. H.J.R. 43-H, 1982; adopted 1982.
SECTION 15. Prosecution for crime; offenses committed by children.--
(a) No person shall be tried for capital crime without presentment or indictment by a grand jury, or for other felony without such presentment or indictment or an information under oath filed by the prosecuting officer of the court, except persons on active duty in the militia when tried by courts martial.
(b) When authorized by law, a child as therein defined may be charged with a violation of law as an act of delinquency instead of crime and tried without a jury or other requirements applicable to criminal cases. Any child so charged shall, upon demand made as provided by law before a trial in a juvenile proceeding, be tried in an appropriate court as an adult. A child found delinquent shall be disciplined as provided by law.
SECTION 16. Rights of accused and of victims.--
(a) In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall, upon demand, be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, and shall be furnished a copy of the charges, and shall have the right to have compulsory process for witnesses, to confront at trial adverse witnesses, to be heard in person, by counsel or both, and to have a speedy and public trial by impartial jury in the county where the crime was committed. If the county is not known, the indictment or information may charge venue in two or more counties conjunctively and proof that the crime was committed in that area shall be sufficient; but before pleading the accused may elect in which of those counties the trial will take place. Venue for prosecution of crimes committed beyond the boundaries of the state shall be fixed by law.
(b) Victims of crime or their lawful representatives, including the next of kin of homicide victims, are entitled to the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevant, at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings, to the extent that these rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
History.--Am. S.J.R. 135, 1987; adopted 1988; Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 13, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
SECTION 17. Excessive punishments.--Excessive fines, cruel and unusual punishment, attainder, forfeiture of estate, indefinite imprisonment, and unreasonable detention of witnesses are forbidden. The death penalty is an authorized punishment for capital crimes designated by the legislature. The prohibition against cruel or unusual punishment, and the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, shall be construed in conformity with decisions of the United States Supreme Court which interpret the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment provided in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Any method of execution shall be allowed, unless prohibited by the United States Constitution. Methods of execution may be designated by the legislature, and a change in any method of execution may be applied retroactively. A sentence of death shall not be reduced on the basis that a method of execution is invalid. In any case in which an execution method is declared invalid, the death sentence shall remain in force until the sentence can be lawfully executed by any valid method. This section shall apply retroactively.
History.--Am. H.J.R. 3505, 1998; adopted 1998; Am. H.J.R. 951, 2001; adopted 2002.
SECTION 18. Administrative penalties.--No administrative agency, except the Department of Military Affairs in an appropriately convened court-martial action as provided by law, shall impose a sentence of imprisonment, nor shall it impose any other penalty except as provided by law.
History.--Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 13, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
SECTION 19. Costs.--No person charged with crime shall be compelled to pay costs before a judgment of conviction has become final.
SECTION 20. Treason.--Treason against the state shall consist only in levying war against it, adhering to its enemies, or giving them aid and comfort, and no person shall be convicted of treason except on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act or on confession in open court.
SECTION 21. Access to courts.--The courts shall be open to every person for redress of any injury, and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.
SECTION 22. Trial by jury.--The right of trial by jury shall be secure to all and remain inviolate. The qualifications and the number of jurors, not fewer than six, shall be fixed by law.
SECTION 23. Right of privacy.--Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public's right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.
History.--Added, C.S. for H.J.R. 387, 1980; adopted 1980; Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 13, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
SECTION 24. Access to public records and meetings.--
(a) Every person has the right to inspect or copy any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body, officer, or employee of the state, or persons acting on their behalf, except with respect to records exempted pursuant to this section or specifically made confidential by this Constitution. This section specifically includes the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government and each agency or department created thereunder; counties, municipalities, and districts; and each constitutional officer, board, and commission, or entity created pursuant to law or this Constitution.
(b) All meetings of any collegial public body of the executive branch of state government or of any collegial public body of a county, municipality, school district, or special district, at which official acts are to be taken or at which public business of such body is to be transacted or discussed, shall be open and noticed to the public and meetings of the legislature shall be open and noticed as provided in Article III, Section 4(e), except with respect to meetings exempted pursuant to this section or specifically closed by this Constitution.
(c) This section shall be self-executing. The legislature, however, may provide by general law passed by a two-thirds vote of each house for the exemption of records from the requirements of subsection (a) and the exemption of meetings from the requirements of subsection (b), provided that such law shall state with specificity the public necessity justifying the exemption and shall be no broader than necessary to accomplish the stated purpose of the law. The legislature shall enact laws governing the enforcement of this section, including the maintenance, control, destruction, disposal, and disposition of records made public by this section, except that each house of the legislature may adopt rules governing the enforcement of this section in relation to records of the legislative branch. Laws enacted pursuant to this subsection shall contain only exemptions from the requirements of subsections (a) or (b) and provisions governing the enforcement of this section, and shall relate to one subject.
(d) All laws that are in effect on July 1, 1993 that limit public access to records or meetings shall remain in force, and such laws apply to records of the legislative and judicial branches, until they are repealed. Rules of court that are in effect on the date of adoption of this section that limit access to records shall remain in effect until they are repealed.
History.--Added, C.S. for C.S. for H.J.R.'s 1727, 863, 2035, 1992; adopted 1992; Am. S.J.R. 1284, 2002; adopted 2002.
1SECTION 25. Taxpayers' Bill of Rights.--By general law the legislature shall prescribe and adopt a Taxpayers' Bill of Rights that, in clear and concise language, sets forth taxpayers' rights and responsibilities and government's responsibilities to deal fairly with taxpayers under the laws of this state. This section shall be effective July 1, 1993.
History.--Proposed by Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, Revision No. 2, 1992, filed with the Secretary of State May 7, 1992; adopted 1992.
1Note.--This section, originally designated section 24 by Revision No. 2 of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, 1992, was redesignated section 25 by the editors in order to avoid confusion with section 24 as contained in H.J.R.'s 1727, 863, 2035, 1992.
SECTION 26. Claimant's right to fair compensation.--
(a) Article I, Section 26 is created to read "Claimant's right to fair compensation." In any medical liability claim involving a contingency fee, the claimant is entitled to receive no less than 70% of the first $250,000.00 in all damages received by the claimant, exclusive of reasonable and customary costs, whether received by judgment, settlement, or otherwise, and regardless of the number of defendants. The claimant is entitled to 90% of all damages in excess of $250,000.00, exclusive of reasonable and customary costs and regardless of the number of defendants. This provision is self-executing and does not require implementing legislation.
(b) This Amendment shall take effect on the day following approval by the voters.
History.--Proposed by Initiative Petition filed with the Secretary of State September 8, 2003; adopted 2004.