Matt Klotz – Legal Analysis

matthewklotz
We previously reported that Matt Klotz, a resident of West Boca and Olympic Heights graduate, was arrested for what appeared to be a bomb threat. We now have more details and have reviewed the law he’s accused of violating, as well as the court docket.
Klotz is accused of violating section 790.163 of the Florida Statutes, which is titled: “False report about planting bomb, explosive, or weapon of mass destruction.” According to police, Klotz was at or near the John Legend concert in Mizner Park, and told a private security guard that he had “put a bomb on all the buses.”

That guard then contacted Boca Raton police, who detained Klotz and questioned him. Klotz then admitted making the statement and claimed he did so as a joke and that he thought the guard would have thought it was funny.
Apparently some people take such things more seriously than Mr. Klotz imagined. Police allege that 100 employees were disrupted from their duties, the area was evacuated, the bomb squad was called in and examined eleven vehicles.
boca-raton-bomb-squad
Section 790.163 states: “It is unlawful for any person to make a false report, with intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform any person, concerning the placing or planting of any bomb … and any person convicted thereof commits a felony of the second degree.” Most felonies we report are third degree so this is considered more serious.
The law specifically prohibits suspended or deferred sentences, as well as withholding adjudication.
There is one key legal and factual issue that may work to Mr. Klotz’ favor. The law requires that he acted “with intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform.” Since he said it was a joke and that he thought the guard would think it was funny, there is a question as to whether this case meets that intent requirement.
Our legislators in Florida did consider that, so they included an important provision in the law:

Proof that a person accused of violating this section knowingly made a false report is prima facie evidence of the accused person’s intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform any person.

The term prima facie means that Klotz having knowingly made the false report (which police say he admitted) is enough proof that a jury can conclude he had the intent to deceive. So a judge would not dismiss the case for lack of such proof. It still might be a challenge for the prosecution to persuade a jury that he intended to deceive.
While it doesn’t look good for Klotz, brief analysis suggests he scores low on Florida’s sentencing guidelines. While in theory the maximum sentence for a 2nd-degree felony is 15 years, we think he’s unlikely to get any state prison time. Some time in the county jail would seem more reasonable and he may qualify for a few mitigating factors that would lead a judge to sentence him to probation, and/or mental health treatment, rather than jail.
Mr. Klotz is also accused of violating section 509.143 for resisting the security guard’s effort to detain him. That statute is within a chapter on “lodging and food service establishments” and does not appear to apply to the facts in this case. It will hopefully be dismissed.
One other big consequence of this case is also in the statute:

In addition to any other penalty provided by law with respect to any person who is convicted of a violation of this section that resulted in the mobilization or action of any law enforcement officer or any state or local agency, a person convicted of a violation of this section may be required by the court to pay restitution for all of the costs and damages arising from the criminal conduct.

We’re guessing the cost of the bomb squad examining 11 vehicles, plus the costs of the evacuation, will probably exceed $10,000. Paying that restitution can be one of the mitigating factors that will help reduce the sentence.

Boca Raton Bomb Squad
Boca Raton Bomb Squad

The Sheriff’s blotter shows that Mr. Klotz was released from jail in the evening, after spending around 24 hours in custody.

Lynn University Volleyball Camp

lynnvolleyballThe Lynn University Volleyball team is hosting a volleyball camp on August 2nd. The camp is broken down into 3 groups: Beginning and Intermediate, Advanced Setter and Attacker, and Advanced Defense and Liberos. Kids in grades 4 through 9 (beginning and intermediate) will learn basic techniques and skills for all positions. The camp is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and costs $75. Lunch is included.
The sessions for Advanced Setter and Advanced Defense are for those in grades 8 through 12. The Advanced Setter/Attacker Camp is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and costs $40. The Defense Camp is from 1 to 3 p.m. and costs $40. Players are welcome to stay for both sessions and may order lunch.
For more information or questions, contact Assistant Coach Adam Milewski at amilewski@lynn.edu or 561-237-7229.

Maxine Cheesman: Judge Candidate

Maxine Cheesman at Rancheritos de Boca
Maxine Cheesman at Rancheritos de Boca

Last week I had breakfast with Circuit Court judge candidate Maxine Cheesman. We met at one of my favorite breakfast places, Rancheritos de Boca in Somerset Shoppes. Cheesman is running for an open seat (there is no incumbent) and we previously interviewed the other two candidates for the same spot, Jaimie Goodman and Peggy Rowe-Linn.
We like the other two, and Cheesman also made a strong impression. A few things stand out about her. First, she has a science background which is very rare among attorneys and judges. Cheesman not only has a B.S, but also a Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Miami. She applied that knowledge working for the South Florida Water Management District for 15 years.
Another thing that stood out is her commitment to pro bono service, providing free legal services to the less fortunate. She won the 2012 “And Justice for All Award” from Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society. In our conversation her pro bono work came up again and again.
When we interview judge candidates we ask why the person wants to be a judge. One common answer we don’t like is that they “want to give back.” Getting a $142K job with power is not giving back. Doing pro bono work, as Ms. Cheesman has done, is.
Giving back was not her answer. She talked about fairness, and making sure people get a fair judge. I asked her about what qualities she admires in judges and one thing she said again stood out – patience.
Courts today are driven by pressures to be efficient. When it’s your case, efficiency is not important. Fairness is what matters. A judge focused on efficiency is less likely to be patient and I’ve seen that in my work in courtrooms. This is the first time I remember a judge candidate mentioning patience and that really impressed me.
At this point we are very impressed with all three candidates we’ve met for this seat, and we don’t think we’re going to make an endorsement.
Now that we’ve met with Cheesman the politics of the race are even more interesting. As we mentioned in our previous articles, Rowe-Linn grew up in West Palm Beach. Her campaign tends to appeal to north county voters and Florida natives. Goodman touts that he’s from New York and his appeal seems to work best among south county voters and especially those who are not from here. His office is in West Palm Beach.
Cheesman is the third leg of the triangle. She was born in Jamaica, though she’s been in South Florida for 30 years or more. Like the other three she is based in West Palm Beach, which makes sense for Palm Beach County lawyers as that’s where the main courthouse is. We chose to base ourselves in West Boca because it’s convenient to all three counties in South Florida.
From a partisan perspective Rowe-Linn is more likely to draw Republican votes while Goodman and Cheesman will split the Democrat vote. That might seem like an advantage to Rowe-Linn, but the August primary election will draw more Democrats out to vote because of the Democratic primary for Governor. We’re not aware of any significant Republican primary races in August.
For her part Cheesman of course hopes to impress likely voters of all stripes, but she also will try to bring out people who don’t ordinarily vote in elections like this one. Elections in August have much lower turnout than ones in November.
We should also mention that we met with Jessica Ticktin back in May. She’s running against incumbent Judge Diana Lewis, who has not responded to our requests for an interview.

Tag Your Dogs

From a reader:
Recently there has been an increase of lost dogs being found by caring strangers. I can’t stress enough the importance of a dog wearing a collar with Pet Tags for ID on it.
Not everyone knows about scanning for microchips or may not have the time. For example, you spot a stray dog on the way to work. It would be a lot faster to call the owner per the dogs ID tags than to risk being late or missing work to take the dog to be scanned for a microchip (considering you’re lucky enough that a stranger is going to care enough to do that). Tags can be money people don’t want to spend at the big name pet stores so here is the company I use that is super cheap and mails it right to your home: www.pettags4less.com – Free shipping! I got 3 tags for $5!!
Another side note is to use harnesses when leash walking and only use collars so you dog has ID at all times. Harnesses don’t cause damage to a dogs trachea like a collar can and collars are easy to slip out of. If you are interested in buying a harness for your dog then you might want to check out this review of the best escape proof dog harnesses here.
Last year my friend lost her dog to being hit by a car because she had taken her dog’s collar off. A local friend actually saw her and the dog ran up to her and was friendly. But because she knew that “Lacey Lu” always wore a purple collar, she didn’t think it was her friends dog and didn’t take the dog in. Lacey Lu was hit by a car a block away. That identifying collar could have made all the difference between Lacey Lu making it home safely.
The person who finds your dog may not know how to help reunite your dog with you or may not care enough to put in the effort. Make it easy for that Good Samaritan – please keep collars with tags on your pets at all times. Now, I know many people take them off for fear of choking accidents in the home when no one is there and that’s completely up to you. But accidents happen and your dog can slip out of the house or someone may break in and let them out. Protect our four legged friends.

Lynn University Basketball Camp

lynnbasketballLynn University is offering “Date Nights” on August 1st and 2nd. From 6 to 9 p.m., girls and boys aged 5-12 can learn basketball drills and skills and work on their FUNdamentals. They will also participate in games and competitions. Camp takes place at the de Hoenle Sports and Cultural Center.
Cost is $60 for one night or $100 for two nights. Parents can reserve a spot by registering online. For more information or questions, call Coach Tom Spencer at 561-237-7150 or email him at TSpencer @lynn.edu