Exposed: Florida’s Judicial Star Chamber

I have written about ordinary citizens who have had their liberty and property taken from them. One of the common threads is the inextricable link between the judiciary and lawyers, who in case after case, appear to represent not their client but rather “the system.” Their mission is to protect and defend “the System” rather than the liberty and property of the people.

In some startling cases I have found that judges and lawyers are in effect ignoring the Florida and US Constitutions to do inextricable harm to the people. Two cases which highlight this “Star Chamber” like system in Florida are that of Holocaust Survivor Marie Winkleman and Florida small businessman Don Baldauf.

The historical abuses of the Star Chamber are considered a primary motivating force behind the protections against compelled self-incrimination embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The following is yet another “Star Chamber” like case involving Nancy Grant from the small town of Arcadia, FL. Because of her personal experiences Nancy became the Chairperson for Florida Jail4judges  in 2003 when the Sherree Lowe, the then Chairperson moved to Oregon. According to Grant, “It is because of my being involved in J4J’s, I think they took my license. I was doing a lot of traveling collecting signatures on our petitions so they had to stop that.” The following is Nancy’s story:

In 2006 I discovered that our local courthouse and county jail were working simultaneously keeping people incarcerated for up to three years without hearings. These people were held incognito forced to take plea deals behind closed doors by audio visual from the judge’s chambers. Family members and friends were not allowed to attend hearings.

I reported this to the local clerk, and to the administrator of our district. Nothing was done to correct the matter. I reported the activities to the Judicial Qualifications, who sent a representative to meet with me but afterwards nothing was done.

It was then that I decided to have a certified paralegal prepare a document titled, (EMD) “Emergency Motion to Dismiss” which contained state and federal law pertaining to speedy trial rights. Basically, the document showed that if a person isn’t taken to trial within a 90 day time for misdemeanors and 180 days for felonies then the person according to law must be released, providing the proper paperwork was filed.

I mailed this document to 55 inmates who had been in the jail over 180 days up to three years. This mailing went into the DeSoto County jail, certified mail/return receipt. These documents were read, signed and filed by the inmates. They began demanding their speedy trial rights and it created a disruption in the illegal commerce of the court.


Judge James S. Parker, 12th Circuit Court of Florida.

Soon after this I was arrested and charged with UPL, Unlicensed Practice of Law. My bond was set at $50,000 and the condition of my bond as instructed by Judge James S. Parker: I was not allowed to communicate directly or indirectly to any inmates or any inmate’s family members about anything going on at the jail or court house.

After 16 months I had a mock trial, prosecution side only, with a special set of jury instructions created just for my case. All 19 witnesses for the state stated I never held myself out to be an attorney or charged. Recently one of the jury members came to where I was living. She said the jury was instructed that they could not leave the room unless they had a guilty verdict. The jury previously had been removed from the courthouse and placed in a special room at the county commissioners building. This lady was the only jury member that held out until she was threatened with harm if she didn’t agree with the guilty verdict.

One month after my trial I was sentenced. I was placed on 15 yrs. probation. Other special probation orders are:

• I am not allowed to file, Pro se on any case.
• I am not allowed to communicate with any inmate in the state of Florida directly or indirectly.
• I am not allowed to drive, the court suspended my license.
• I was fined $22,600. My victim impact score is “0”.

I have no criminal background prior to this event and my driving record is clean. I haven’t driven a vehicle on state highways since July of 2008. I was told by a reliable source that because of my case changes at the courthouse have occurred. Inmates do not stay in jail over a year.

Letters are sent to me from inmates from other states who are being held in county jails for indefinite period of times and forced to take plea deals under threats but I do not respond to them.

lawyer donald h hartery

Donald H. Hartery, Jr.

EDITORS NOTE: You may view Nancy Grant’s case docket at It is docket number 2006 CF 335. There were nineteen people who didn’t testify against Grant brought to her trial by the State Attorney. The prosecuting state attorney was Donald H. Hartery, Jr. from Sarasota, FL. The nineteen witnesses were not interviewed before the trial. When they were put on the stand but they did not say one unkind word against Grant. According to Grant, “Hartery got so angry. He was actually screaming at witnesses during my trial. It was kind of comical because he is a heavy man with a round face and it would get so red when he was shouting. Hartery was no longer a state attorney after my trial.” Hartery is no longer a state attorney and has a private law firm in Sarasota, FL.

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