There is a history of racial discrimination in the Florida Justice System that spans over 100 years. Whenever a black lawyer exposed injustices in the system, they face the possibility of license suspension or revocation. This has gone on for decades; judges, lawyers, and court clerks, who are responsible for making decisions in our state’s highest courts, can manipulate the lawyer’s “regulation system.”
Marie Henry, a single mother and a veteran, was living the American Dream. She worked extremely hard in college, law school and as a professional to build a wonderful life for her and her daughter, but then, life turned into a nightmare. On March 31, 2015, her dream job and six figure income were taken because she stood up for the legal rights of her family.
In 2009, Ms. Henry’s daughter was arrested for walking up a private street with a group of minority youth, and refusing to give her name to the police. Ms. Henry was not immediately informed that her daughter was arrested and not allowed to make a phone call.
Once Ms. Henry found the location of her daughter, she filed a citizen’s complaint against the officers who arrested her child, for excessive force and false arrest. Instead of the system working to resolve the issues, Ms. Henry was treated as if she was wrong for complaining about the treatment of her daughter. From the very beginning, Ms. Henry only wanted justice for her daughter, but there is a dysfunctional justice system in Florida.
“I filed an ethics complaint against a state attorney, and I filed a motion for disqualification against a circuit judge who presided in my daughter’s juvenile case,” says Marie Henry. “Filing an ethics complaint and a motion for disqualification are lawful- protected activities that could not, and should not have resulted in any action against me or my license.”
For the last year, Ms. Henry has not worked in her chosen profession, because her law license was suspended for “violation of rules of conduct.” According to Ms. Henry, she was never given a definitive legal explanation concerning which laws were broken, and why she was unfit to practice law.
At this point, Ms Henry is living off her savings, and everything that she was taught to believe is turning into a nightmare and a bunch of lies. The treatment that she has received from the Florida Bar has been despicable since Ms. Henry filed the ethics complaint, only after she consulted with the Bar. Instead of the Florida Bar working to investigate her complaints, its agents and employees initiated a system of harassment, retaliation, and unlawful conduct.
“All I ever wanted was to hold the government to the standard that every single American is entitled – transparency, ethics, and accountability,” explained Ms. Henry. “But blowing the whistle only works, when you have political, and economic power.”
Public records show that the citizen’s complaint and an email from the arresting officer of Ms. Henry’s child, became part of the Florida Bar actions against Ms. Henry that ended in the suspension of her license, and the loss of her career.
Ms. Henry sued the city of Mount Dora and its officers on behalf of her child, and also filed a federal lawsuit. Her license was suspended by the Florida Supreme Court without a finding of facts, or explanation of the law that permitted the suspension. It takes courage to demand justice and fairness in a system that is broken and corrupt.