Circuit Judge George Greer biography
Circuit Judge George Greer biography
March 25, 2005
Declaration Alliance legal counsel
George Greer is a 63-year-old probate judge of the circuit that covers Pinellas and Pasco Counties west of Tampa Bay. He was born in Brooklyn in 1942, and his parents moved the family to Dunedin, FL in the Tampa Bay area just after World War II (St. Pete Times, 3/18/05)
Greer attended Largo High School in Clearwater, FL, and was cited for hunting without a license in 1959, when he was eighteen, and for underage drinking in 1962. Greer attended junior college in St. Petersburg for two and one half years, and then went to Florida State University in 1962. While at FSU, Greer was a housemate of future Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, who transferred to the more academically demanding UCLA. Greer graduated from FSU in 1964, and obtained his law degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1966 (St. Pete Times, 3/18/05).
After law school graduation, Greer returned to Clearwater, and began practicing zoning and land use real estate law on his own, from 1969 through 1992. Greer became politically active in Pinellas County, and ran for Pinellas County Commissioner in 1984 at age 46, challenging the County Commission’s lone Democrat, because Greer opposed Pinellas County’s plan to build a domed stadium to attract a major league baseball team. Greer won this race very narrowly, yet the stadium was later built, and is now known as Tropicana Field (St. Pete Times, 3/18/05).
Greer became well-known as a County Commissioner with close relations to powerful developers in Pinellas County during his eight years as a County Commissioner from the beginning of 1985 when he took office (he was elected unopposed to the Commission in 1988) until he left the Commission for his current judgeship in early 1993. His first reported embarrassment as a Commissioner was the infamous Coopers Point scandal, which has plagued Pinellas County taxpayers for almost twenty years http://www.thestraights.com/articles/coopers-point.htm); Tampa Bay Independent Media Center.
Coopers Point was a mangrove swamp in Pinellas County, which the city of Clearwater had a chance to buy for use as a city park. In 1987, Clearwater’s environmental management director, Michael Kenton, refused to buy the land as a park, and instead approached the Sembler Company to have that developer buy Cooper’s Point for $1 million, with Kenton contributing $15,000 of the purchase cash. Sembler paid Kenton a management fee of $50,000. Just two months later, the Sembler Company and Kenton tried to sell the newly purchased land to the City of Clearwater for $2.6 million, even though Kenton could have bought the land for the city for $1.6 million less ten weeks earlier
The St. Petersburg Times exposed the scandal, but the Pinellas County State’s Attorney James Russell decided he could not prosecute, for the laughable reason that Kenton was a state employee, and thus the state ethics commission should handle the matter as a civil problem. Russell refused to prosecute the incredible Kenton conflict-of-interest violation as a criminal matter. Kenton only had to pay his fee as a state ethics fine
The Sembler Company then hired George Greer’s 1984 campaign aide Timothy Johnson to lobby his old boss George Greer, IN ORDER TO GET PINELLAS COUNTY TO BUY THIS WHITE ELEPHANT PROPERTY. The county had evinced no previous interest in buying the swamp, but in 1989, the re-elected Greer allowed his former aide Johnson to talk Greer and the other commissioners into paying Sembler Company $1.3 M in county money for the land (EVEN THOUGH THE COUNTY RECEIVED NO OWNERSHIP INTEREST), with Clearwater paying the remaining $650K of the $2 million (St. Pete Times, 12/5/89). The Coopers Point park did not even open until 2002, after another $372,406, due to a need for massive maintenance, and then only on certain days for small groups
When Greer was sitting on the Commission, he met with the Mayor of Largo, FL and two commissioners from that city, to try to bully them into allow his clients to build more condominiums than building codes allow on the golf course Greer’s clients owned. In 1990, Greer was publicly criticized for being one of the commissioners who took a $4,000 trip to the Cayman Islands, ostensibly to study water desalinization plants there
By 1992, Pinellas County had 70,000 black residents, but had never had a black county commissioner, because all commissioners had to run countywide
(“ http://www.thestraights.com”). Currently, Pinellas County has two black Commissioners on their seven person Board, Calvin Harris, who was elected countywide in 1998, and Kenneth Welch, elected in 2000, whom Governor Bush appointed to the Board of Trustees of Greer’s St. Pete Jr. College (Pinellas County web site).
During 1992, Sewell Brown of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference asked the first Bush Administration’s Justice Department to challenge the county’s at-large system of electing commissioners, but Greer rebuffed any changes.
Ready to graduate from real estate scandals to a Circuit Judgeship in Pinellas County, Greer announced his run for chief judge of Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit in early 1992. St. Petersburg Times staff writer Jon East wrote an article about Greer’s bid, and titled it, Electing Judges is a Farce. Reporter East noted that Greer’s only credentials for a judgeship were his well-publicized name as a county commissioner and “his healthy campaign bank account” raised from the coffers of developers, contractors, law firms and investment companies. The Times, BACK IN 1992, was concerned that Greer was going to be elected Chief Judge of the Judicial Circuit WHICH, ACCORDING TO A 2002 COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL STUDY, LED THE NATION WITH A SHOCKING 89% ERROR RATE IN DEATH SENTENCES (Wesley Fager, Posted 1/6/05 http://www.thestraights.com, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite all the information about Greer’s questionable ethics, and the Sixth Circuit’s infamous history, GREER RAN UNOPPOSED FOR THE CHIEF JUDGESHIP IN 1992, PROBABLY BECAUSE HIS BANK ACCOUNT SCARED AWAY ALL OPPOSITION (St. Pete Times, 3/18/02, and Jon East’s earlier cited St. Pete Times 1992 article about Greer, Electing Judges is a Farce.
Greer’s most notable accomplishment, during his first six year term as judge, was to cause needlessly a loss of a life, due to his negligence. During 1998, an estranged wife who presented evidence of her husband’s physical threats to do her great physical harm, sought an injunction to keep him away from her. Greer denied her request for injunction, claiming he was “following the law.” Days later, the husband stabbed the wife to death, and her co-workers picketed Greer outside the courthouse. Despite this disgraceful failure, voters re-elected Greer to another six year term, from 1998-2004 (St. Pete Times, 3/18/05).
After Greer swore to follow the law during his second judicial term, he began challenging hallowed judicial canons with impunity. Greer had to have help on challenging these canons, and Second District Court of Appeal Chief Judge Chris W. Altenbernd, a Muscatine, Iowa native who moved to Florida after Harvard Law School, (and who was appointed to the court by former Governor Bob Martinez twelve years ago) ratified Greer’s misdeeds.
During the trial of the Schiavo matter, the factual issue of whether Terri Schiavo would want to live if suffering serious medical setbacks arose. Because Michael Schiavo and his Hemlock Society lawyer George Felos had no written evidence of her signing a living will, before her mysterious 1990 injuries, Michael belatedly presented uncorroborated (and likely perjured) testimony that Terri would not want to keep living, which is contradicted by her strong reaction as recently as this last Friday when told by attorney Barbara Weller that her feeding tube would be removed.
Under the circumstances of the trial testimony, Greer knew that a guardian ad litem (court appointed representative of a young or incompetent party) should be appointed to represent Terri’s interests, because her husband had a self-serving and conflicting interest in killing her, due to his receipt of her personal injury awards, and his convenience in not having to care for her.
Instead of appointing a guardian ad litem to represent Terri’s interests before the Court, Greer contended that he could evaluate her interest properly. By doing so, Greer violated both Canon 5(E)1 and 2 of the Florida Judicial Canons, which prevent a judge from serving as a guardian except for a member of the judge’s family, and Florida statute 744.309(b), which states the Canon in a statute enacted by the Florida legislature.
Of course, Greer could not have gotten away with such a clear violation of judicial integrity, of Chief Judge Altenbernd of the Second District Court of Appeal had not ratified his action in a 2001 decision issued from that court’s Lakeland, FL. Courthouse (see Empire Journal website listing of relevant case pleadings, www.theempirejournal.com).
During the summer of 2003, former Pinellas County Sheriff and now District 54 Florida State Representative Everett Rice, a longtime political crony of Greer’s, told Terri Schiavo’s lawyer at the time, Patricia Anderson, that Greer had discussed the Schiavo case with Rice, at a baseball game the night before. Anderson reported this clear violation of judicial ethics to the relevant judicial authorities, and sought Greer’s dismissal from the case (for the fourth time), but Judge Altenbernd blandly dismissed Anderson’s most legitimate complaint, and allowed Greer to continue the Schiavo’s case’s terrifying Dance of Death (Empire Journal, 3/18/05 website).
Having violated ethical constraints, moral precepts, judicial canons, and Florida state statutes during his public career of twenty years, Greer entered his 2004 judicial retention election determined to defy Schiavo’s adherents, because he had confidence local and state authorities would not call him to account on any violations.
Greer, who had his usual massive campaign war chest compared to challenger Jan Govan, went to Representative Everett Rice, Pinellas/Pasco State’s Attorney Bernie McCabe, and even sought the Public Defender’s Office’s help in getting himself re-elected ,so he could oversee the final elimination of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Greer violated Florida Statute 104.31 by asking state employees, Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Hellickson, and Assistant Public Defender Paula Shea, to appear in a television commercial FOR PURPOSE OF INFLUENCING AN ELECTION. The commercial, which can be viewed at the Empire Journal website, lauded Greer repeatedly for “his integrity.”
Greer’s 2004 campaign commercial also violated Florida Statute 106.15 by utilizing the services of state employees Hellickson and Shea during working hours, because the commercial was filmed while the Pinellas County court building was open, AND THE 2004 GREER COMMERICAL INCLUDED FILM SHOT IN THE COURTROOM. Other Florida statutes and regulations prohibit STATE COURTROOMS FROM BEING USED FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES (see commercial, which ran on Channel 9 Bay News and Fox News channel in the area), on the Empire Journal website, which clearly shows Greer sitting in the courtroom with his judicial robe on, and shows the state employees being filmed at the court building).
Greer told the St. Petersburg Times in an interview published on March 18, 2005, that he looks back “fondly” on his political days, which according to this newspaper and other sources, never ended when he “ascended” to the judicial bench.
Greer also told a lady who called him about whether he was going to heaven, that he indeed thinks he is going to heaven (St. Pete Times, 3/18/05. Certainly, no one in the Florida political establishment has ever made a serious attempt to inconvenience him at any time, despite mountains of good cause to do so.
Throughout Greer’s judicial career of thirteen years, he has performed in a manner that supports the brutal opinion of Wesley Smith, Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, (and an attorney himself): “Judge Greer’s performance has been so deficient that he should be removed from the case forthwith, if not impeached” (St. Pete Times, 3/18/05).