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State Attorney Candidate Forum:  Almost more powerful than God, one of these two men, Brannon v Siegmeister, will have almost absolute power

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Tomorrow, Friday at 1:30 pm, in Courtroom One in the Columbia County Courthouse, Bill Brannon and Jeff Siegmeister will face off in a candidate forum in what may well be the most important vote you can cast in November. Messer's Brannon and Siegmeister are running for the position of State Attorney in the Third Judicial Circuit. The State Attorney is the chief prosecutor of all crimes in the 7 counties of the Circuit: Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor. The State Attorney has few legal constraints on his discretion and prosecutorial discretion, the ability to pick and chose who to prosecute and who not to prosecute, is basically unbridled and a central component of the criminal justice system.

Related Article:
State Attorney Candidate Face Off: Brannon v Siegmeister. Different styles, different experience

Earlier in the race, the Circuit's present State Attorney, Skip Jarvis, made a deal and decided not to seek re-election, rather than risk being indicted by a grand jury for abusing his power. Mr. Jarvis was given a Florida public official EZ Pass, collects his pay checks and runs the State Attorney's Office until either Mr. Brannon or Mr. Siegmeister are elected to replace him. Mr. Jarvis will also receive his pension and all benefits, which is the hallmark of the Florida EZ pass system.

For those not from the area or familiar with TV shows, the term “State Attorney” is synonymous with the more commonly used term “District Attorney.” The State Attorney is constitutionally independent of, and not controlled by, the Attorney General of Florida.

The Office of the State Attorney is established by the Constitution of Florida as an elective office. There are twenty judicial circuits in Florida, each with its own individually elected State Attorney.

The State Attorney’s Office represents the People, protects the innocent, prosecutes crimes, and promotes the safety and well-being of the public, while at the same time seeking justice.

The State Attorney represents of the State in litigation in Circuit and County Courts. He or she is responsible for the screening and prosecuting of criminal cases up to first degree murder.

The State Attorneys also pursue specific civil cases such as, involuntary commitment of sexual predators, bond validation proceedings, consumer issues, and environmental law.

The sole objective of the State Attorney and his Office is supposed to be to seek justice.

In a brief conversation earlier today with candidate Bill Brannon, Mr. Brannon told the Observer that he is best qualified for the job because of his years of varied legal experience. Mr. Brannon told the Observer that he is a CPA as well as an attorney.

He said, "I have worked in both the Public Defender's Office as well as the State Attorney's Office. I was also chosen to be a Magistrate by the 3d Circuit Judges. Years of combined experience give me a unique perspective among the candidates for this position."

Few functions of government carry consequences as far-reaching as the State Attorney’s decision to initiate and prosecute criminal charges.

Few government officials have the power of a State Attorney.

Candidate Jeff Siegmeister did not return calls.

Graphic: Images of Justice by Trevor Goring


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