A finalist for Southern District of Florida U.S. Attorney once helped put phony court documents in the public docket at the request of state prosecutors, an apparent violation of state law, the Broward Bulldog news Web site reported last week.
Daryl Trawick, a judge in Dade County, Fla., had the clerk’s office at the county court alter the public docket in 2002 to shield an informant in a drug case, the news site said. Then, he kept a parallel secret docket to know what was really happening in the case, the site said.
The fake entries made it seem as if drug charges had been lifted against the informant, Salim Batrony, even though in reality he’d pleaded guilty to money laundering, the news site said.
Florida law prohibits anyone from making changes to court records or proceedings. A violator could face up to a year in prison.
A Tarwick spokesperson declined to comment to the Broward Bulldog. But, according to the Web site, the judge admitted to modifying the court docket in a statement to the Miami Herald a couple years ago.
Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission found no evidence of unlawful activity after it launched a probe into the phony documents, according to the news Web site. The records, however, had been erased from the public docket before the investigation, and the panel never requested saved copies of the phony documents, the Broward Bulldog said.
David Buckner, another finalist for the U.S. Attorney post, also played a role in a similar case, according to the Broward Bulldog.
The former Southern District Assistant U.S. Attorney assisted in secret legal proceedings that involved Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel, who was detained by federal authorities for months following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and filed a habeas corpus petition to contest his captivity, according to the news Web site.
The court proceedings only became public after a court error. Similar court activity is traditionally open to the public. News of the secret proceedings started a national discussion on court secrecy, according to the news Web site.
Buckner, a partner at Miami’s Kozyak Tropin Throckmorton law firm, told the Broward Bulldog he was prohibited from discussing the legal proceedings.
Wifredo Ferrer, an assistant Dade County, Fla., attorney, is also a finalist for the U.S. Attorney post. The names of the finalists were leaked in July.