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Filing Pleadings while represented not allowed

Posted by John P. Rutkowski | Jun 06, 2019 | 0 Comments

Criminal law -- Pro se filings -- Prohibition -- Multiple unauthorized and frivolous pro se petitions filed while defendant was represented by counsel -- Because defendant failed to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed, clerk of court instructed to reject future pro se filings

LARRY R. WETZEL, Petitioner, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Respondent. Supreme Court of Florida. Case No. SC19-7. June 6, 2019. Original Proceeding -- Quo Warranto. Counsel: Larry R. Wetzel, pro se, Navarre, for Petitioner. No appearance for Respondent.

(PER CURIAM.) This case is before the Court on the pro se petition of Larry R. Wetzel for a writ of quo warranto. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(8), Fla. Const. By order dated March 4, 2019, we dismissed Wetzel's petition pursuant to Logan v. State, 846 So. 2d 472, 479 (Fla. 2003). See Wetzel v. State, No. SC19-7 (Fla. Mar. 4, 2019). Concurrent with the dismissal of the petition, we expressly retained jurisdiction to pursue possible sanctions against Wetzel. Id.; see Fla. R. App. P. 9.410(a) (Sanctions; Court's Motion).

Wetzel is currently charged with five counts of filing a false statement against real or personal property in pending Santa Rosa County case number 572014CF001456CFAXMX. Since 2017, Wetzel has filed five pro se petitions with this Court seeking relief related to those criminal charges. Each of Wetzel's petitions has been accompanied by a plethora of documents that are rambling, indecipherable, and irrelevant to his pending criminal case. Two of those petitions were voluntarily dismissed by Wetzel, but the remainder, including the instant petition for writ of quo warranto, have been dismissed as unauthorized because Wetzel is currently represented by counsel in the above-noted criminal matter and is not entitled to combine self-representation with representation by counsel. See Logan v. State, 846 So. 2d 472, 475 (Fla. 2003). Furthermore, based on Wetzel's vexatious filing history, we issued an order directing him to show cause why he should not be prohibited from filing any further pro se documents in this Court related to circuit court case number 572014CF001456CFAXMX.

Wetzel filed a response to the order to show cause in which he argues that the order is moot and void because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over his case. Upon due consideration of his response, we conclude that Wetzel has failed to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed. Based on his persistent history of filing pro se petitions that are frivolous, meritless, or otherwise inappropriate for this Court's review, Wetzel has abused the judicial process and burdened this Court's limited judicial resources.

Accordingly, the Clerk of this Court is hereby instructed to reject any future pleadings, petitions, motions, documents, or other filings submitted by Larry R. Wetzel that are related to case number 572014CF001456CFAXMX unless such filings are signed by a member in good standing of The Florida Bar. Counsel may file on Wetzel's behalf if counsel determines that the proceeding may have merit and can be brought in good faith.

No motion for rehearing or clarification will be entertained by the Court.

It is so ordered. (CANADY, C.J., and POLSTON, LABARGA, LAWSON, LAGOA, LUCK, and MUÑIZ, JJ., concur.)

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John P. Rutkowski

Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-five years. Prior to going to law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a deputy sheriff before retiring to attend law school. Upon graduating law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a prosecutor in Florida before going in to private practice and representing clients in three states.


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