State Rep. Mia Jones responds to state attorney's letter

Law professor says letter sent to lawmakers could be a problem

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Jason Mealey - Producer/assignment editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Another elected official is pushing back against a letter sent out by State Attorney Angela Corey to the Duval delegation in Tallahassee earlier this week.

Channel 4's Scott Johnson looked into what State Rep. Mia Jones said and spoke to a law professor who said Corey may have not done anything wrong.

The issues began when Corey sent a letter to the Duval delegation laying out the facts, as her office saw them, in the Marissa Alexander case.

Alexander was denied a "stand your ground" defense and was convicted on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. That conviction was tossed and Alexander is waiting for a new trial.

Corey's office released a statement Wednesday concerning her interaction with legislators about the case.

"State Rep. Mia Jones requested a meeting to discuss the facts of this case before Ms. Alexander's sentencing in 2012. Ms. Corey did meet with Ms. Jones and other local leaders," said the State Attorney's Office.

Jones responded Thursday to Corey's information, saying while she did request a meeting in 2012 where she met with Corey, but Jones went on to say:

"Since that time, I have not requested anything from State Attorney Corey as it related to Mrs. Alexander's case, nor any member in her office. I was shocked by the unsolicited email that was sent to me and the members of the Duval legislative delegation. I felt it was inappropriate and unnecessary."

Rod Sullivan, who teaches at the Florida Coastal School of Law, said if the email was unsolicited it's a problem, particularly with the legislature voting on a 10-20-Life bill.

"It's definitely time to affect the outcome of concern on 10-20-Life and that causes me some concern," said Sullivan.

Part of the same statement released by Corey's office Wednesday said they have "received numerous requests for information about the Marissa Alexander case. Those requests have come from the Governor's Office and local legislators."

Sullivan told Channel 4 if that's accurate, he thinks it's appropriate for a member of the executive branch of government, which Corey technically is, to send a letter like this to legislators.

"This is the first I've heard that someone requested it. If someone specifically requested the letter clarifying the state attorney's position, I think it's appropriate for her to respond to other legislators. If she's reaching out without being asked, I think that's a problem," said Sullivan.

Corey's office sent Channel 4 a response Thursday night to the criticism from Jones:

"Legislative committees were holding hearings on a proposed bill that would change the law, and the State Attorney's Office did not want legislators making important decisions based on erroneous facts. Therefore, we armed our legislative delegation with a summary of facts from the public trial record, which was compiled directly from the sworn trial testimony and evidence."

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