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Florida Prosecutor’s Racism Policy Leaked

An attorney whistleblower from State Attorney Jack Campbell’s office alleges widespread racism throughout Jefferson County office.

// April 17, 2023,

3:38 pm

Updated:March 17, 2024

Update: Campbell confirmed the authenticity of the document (more below).

Mackenzie Hayes was an employee of the second judicial circuit of Florida, working for Jack Campbell’s State Attorney’s Office (SAO) as a prosecutor. Mackenzie tells her story and shocking details of racism in the second judicial circuits office with Our Tallahassee, including a memo that directs staff to offer harsher penalties for Hispanic people.

State Attorney Campbell listens during a workshop with the Leon County Commission, where he opposed marijuana decriminalization | March 22nd, 2022, Max Herrle.

“Oh my god, they wrote down the racism policy”

Hayes worked for Jack Campbell’s State Attorney’s Office between December 5th, 2022, and January 26th, 2023. In that period, she primarily worked in the Leon County State Attorney’s office, working on misdemeanors. Towards the end of January, she was sent out to Jefferson County. 

She only worked at the Jefferson County office for five days.

In those five days working in the office, McKenzie says it was a glaring difference in the state attorney’s office’s culture and views on race. In Jefferson County, the all-white staff of prosecutors would often discuss an “us versus them” mentality when referencing local migrant farm workers.

Hayes says they often just called them “mexicans.” 

“It was very clear that this was a white office, in leadership, staff, attorneys. Both the Leon and Jefferson county offices were like that,” Hayes said.

Campbell’s staff spans six counties and has been criticized for being nearly all-white. Campbell’s offices employ around fifty lawyers and the same number of support staff.

This culture wasn’t limited to just one staff member or one case. Hayes says that fellow attorneys in the Jefferson County office all appeared to embrace this culture. Hayes says she took this picture one day while alone in the office.

A copy of the racist policy taken from the State Attorney’s Office. | Mackenzie Hayes.

Photograph metadata attached to the Hayes’ photo shows its date, January 25th, 2023, one day before her final day on the job, alongside location data matching the Jefferson County SAO location.

The memo is titled “Primary MM (misdemeanor) Plea Offers” and hangs in one area of the Jefferson County office.

“IF EXTENSIVE CRIMINAL HISTORY and/or HISPANIC -> Adjudicated Guilty + Costs,” the memo reads. 

It hangs on a colleague’s desk at the Jefferson County State Attorney’s Office, tucked away at the former public school run in Jefferson County downtown. Government tenants hardly occupy the otherwise non-descript building at 490 West Walnut Street.

“Oh my god, they wrote down the racism policy,” Hayes’ recalled her first thoughts when she saw it. Researching it over the next two days, she found the file on their local server, where she copied it to prove the memo’s existence to the media. Metadata from that file shows the document was created on September 29th, 2022, and the author of the file was a prosecutor who continues to work to this day in the Leon County courthouse on behalf of the Office of the State Attorney.

“I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the policy in all the outer-lying counties,” Hayes said. “It definitely was not the policy in Leon, which just means it’s very targeted and intentional,” Hayes said.

Attorneys are ethically obligated to uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and equality under the law. The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct codifies that “a lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others” and “should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers, and public officials.”

A copy of the racist policy taken from the State Attorney’s Office. | Mackenzie Hayes.

‘Very Targeted and Intentional’

Campbell has argued extensively in defense of his office in the wake of the George Floyd protests. Campbell spoke in defense of the then-recent critiques of law enforcement and prosecutors of their perceived inequities:

“Instead of stereotyping, which we all agree is the wrong way, and has led to a lot of the inequities that we’re fighting,” Campbell said,  suggesting the audience “spend some time with the law enforcement community and some of our prosecutors.”

“You’ll have a much better understanding of what we’re doing in the courtroom,” said Campbell.

“We should all be treated the same under the justice system, and we should all know that we’re being treated the same under the justice system. That’s not happening in Jefferson County,” Hayes said.

“People are being prosecuted differently on the basis of their race or skin color, it’s not right.”

Thursday Update: Since publishing, Campbell has confirmed the documents authenticity, stating to the Tallahassee Democrat in part: Campbell stated that the policy should have stated “Undocumented immigrant,” not “Hispanic,”.

“It’s not what we do. We’re not prosecuting people because of race. We’re prosecuting differently because of their legal status. Because as undocumented, I don’t know what their history is,” said Campbell. 

 

Media may freely reuse videos/b-roll and photos for editorial use with credit Max Herrle // Our Tallahassee

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13 Responses

  1. 18 U.S. Code § 242 – Deprivation of rights under color of law
    U.S. Code
    Notes
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    Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

  2. MacKenzie Hayes is a bloody hero, and Florida’s government has once again demonstrated its commitment to being the most hateful and inequitable misgovernance possible.

  3. This is straight bullshit and I know this for a fact. Jack Campbell has many African-American and Hispanic employees and friends. I worked with an African-American attorney that was personal friends and professional relationship with Mr. Campbell and his staff for many many years. Mr. Campbell is gone out of his way to show what an outstanding state attorney. This is a hostile employee that lasted five days with state attorneys office.

    1. Are you seriously using the “Most of my friends are Black defense?” Even his correction is racist, the fact that the person is undocumented should have no affect on the person’s punishment. They’re not supposed to double down because the person is from another country and they can’t verify their background. There are still counties in the U.S. that don’t update their criminal records nationally, which ultimately has the same result of not knowing a person’s criminal history, IF THEY HAVE ONE. One should NOT ASSUME, just because they came to this country for better opportunities, like Mr. Campbell’s ancestors did, that they are criminals.

    2. When somebody tells you who they are, believe them. The “excuse” for the written error is hilarious, perhaps if you turned your hood around so you can see out the eye holes, you might find the truth. Thursday Update: Since publishing, Campbell has confirmed the documents authenticity, stating to the Tallahassee Democrat in part: Campbell stated that the policy should have stated “Undocumented immigrant,” not “Hispanic,”.

  4. Jefferson County Florida? This does not surprise me at all. I lived there for a few years and know how the majority of caucasian people there think and behave. I once broke down at the Winn-Dixie and this guy stopped to help. He was under my hood when he said to me, “I bet you’re glad one of those n!#@$*s over there didn’t stop to help you.” I told him to get the f!@k out of my car or I would ram the hood down on his neck. I called AAA.

  5. There needs to be a Federal investigation by the DOJ. Each case which involves an Hispanic person needs to be revisited. These folks need to lose their law licenses and I expect there will be huge lawsuits brought. Buckle up, Buttercups! The, “Uh, we meant to say “Illegal Immigrants” are held to a tougher standard than Whites” certainly isn’t going to fly. Wow.

  6. I’ve heard this guy that wrote the racist memo is about to be promoted for the second time since the memo scandal a year ago. These apologies are empty without action.

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